ESPN's Jed Drake Talks World Cup Prep Miami (Ohio)Trustees OK $13M Facility Sporting Park Enjoys Banner Year SEC Network Launch Campaign Previewed Cobb County Getting Road Improvements More Big Free-Agent Deals In MLB Sources: Fox Keeps UEFA Champions League Sports World Pays Tribute To Mandela Classified Advertisements Financial Boon In Store For Arizona State?
SBD/September 7, 2012/NFL Season PreviewPrint All
CBS' ad slots for its broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII are “more than 90% sold out,” according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. The announcement comes “five months before the game's broadcast on Feb. 3, 2013.” The 30-second slots are “going for a record $3.7 million to $3.8 million vs. an average $3.5 million during the 2012 broadcast on NBC.” CBS Exec VP/Sports Sales & Marketing John Bogusz said, “We have a handful of units left. We're pacing well ahead of last time we had the game.” Horovitz notes among the “biggest repeat advertisers: Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Frito-Lay and Hyundai.” Bogusz said that a “‘significant number’ of automakers will be in the game,” although GM has announced it will not return to the game. Bogusz added that there also will be “new advertisers in the beverage and technology categories.” Horovitz adds Kia “will be in the Super Bowl for the fourth consecutive year,” while Cars.com “will be back ... with one 30-second spot.” Coca-Cola Brand Communications Manager Lauren Thompson said the company will participate “with a new approach.” Horovitz: “Sorry polar bear fans: no bears” (USA TODAY, 9/7).
NBC finished with a 14.7 rating and 23.9 million viewers for the Cowboys-Giants game on Wednesday from 8:41-11:30pm ET, marking the third best audience for an NFL Kickoff telecast since the event was created 11 years ago. Cowboys-Giants ranks only below last year's Saints-Packers matchup and the Vikings-Saints game from '10. The game delivered NBC a win in primetime, despite competition from the Democratic National Convention, which featured former President Bill Clinton's speech from 10:30-11:30pm. Dallas-Ft. Worth topped all local markets for Cowboys-Giants with a 34.0 local rating, while N.Y. ranked eighth with a 20.0 rating. Excluded from all Nielsen ratings was the New Orleans market in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. That market last season ranked as NBC's top market for "SNF" (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).NFL KICKOFF AUDIENCE TRENDYEAR
MATCHUPNETRATINGVIEWERS (000)'12 Cowboys-Giants*NBC14.723,900'11 Saints-PackersNBC16.027,169'10 Vikings-SaintsNBC16.527,485'09 Titans-SteelersNBC12.820,909'08 Redskins-Giants**NBC8.613,531'07 Saints-ColtsNBC11.517,791'06 Dolphins-SteelersNBC12.619,196'05 Raiders-PatriotsABC11.718,806'04 Colts-PatriotsABC11.416,879'03 Jets-RedskinsABC12.919,200'02 49ers-GiantsESPN7.6n/a
BILL OF SERVICE: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand reported the rating for Cowboys-Giants "more than doubled ratings for broadcast network TV coverage of the Democratic National Convention." ABC and CBS began their coverage at 10:00pm, but NBC "topped the combined broadcast network audiences for the Democrats' show." During the 10:00-11:00pm hour, there was a "combined total of 19.4 million viewers for convention coverage" on MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS and Fox News, while NBC drew 23 million viewers after 10:00pm (USATODAY.com, 9/6). In DC, Lisa De Moraes writes in the battle of "NFL vs. Clinton -- Clinton wins." Clinton's keynote speech Wednesday night averaged 22.769 million viewers on the five aforementioned channels. That is just 354,000 viewers behind the Cowboys-Giants average in the 10:30-11:30pm window. However, Current TV averaged 197,000 viewers and PBS, for which Nielsen does not give out ratings, "estimated that its Clinton coverage at the DNC averaged about 4 million viewers." De Moraes notes the NFL did begin its season "on a Wednesday night, which is practically a crime against nature." There has "not been an NFL game on a Wednesday night since 1948." Which means "no one really important to NBC -- the network sells 18-to-49-year-old viewers to advertisers -- had ever seen a Wednesday night NFL game" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/7).
BIGGER IN TEXAS: In Ft. Worth, Tinsley & Philpot write in North Texas it was the Cowboys "who ruled the air waves." Forty-eight percent of viewers in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market during the 9:00-10:00pm CT hour "tuned into the football game." About 1.3 million "local viewers watched the game" on KXAS-NBC (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/7).
NUMBERS NEVER LIE, OR DISAPPOINT: Patriots President Jonathan Kraft appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday, and CNBC’s Joe Kernen referenced the Pats losing Super Bowl XLVI to the Giants by asking Kraft, “Will you agree with me the Giants got exactly what was coming to them by the Cowboys? Did you and your father send flowers to Jerry Jones? What did you do after that? Did that feel good to you? Just say yes.” Kraft: “The best part of that game was the rating. It trounced everything else on television that night.” Kernen, ever the company man, said, “It was on NBC too, so you’re exactly right. That was the best thing about it" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 9/7).
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he was "frustrated" by NFL Network's carriage battle with Time Warner Cable, telling an industry conference in N.Y. Thursday that the league would remain patient in its negotiations with the country's second largest cable operator. "We've established the market," he said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit. "It's clear what the market rate is for the NFL Network. We're a little frustrated by it, but we made it clear to Time Warner Cable that we'll do a market-rate deal and we'll be as patient as we need to be." Goodell said the league already has completed several renewals with unnamed cable operators for both NFL Network and NFL RedZone. "If there was a problem with the quality, they wouldn't be renewing at the rate they are renewing," he said. "We see, not only the renewals coming in quickly, we actually see increases off of that." NFL Network starts its package of live games next week.
PRAISING REPLACEMENT REFS: Goodell during the conference praised the work of the replacement officials during the Cowboys-Giants opener Wednesday. He said that the league is “prepared to go indefinitely without a labor deal with the group.” He said the “current gap between the league and referees” is about $50M-70M. Goodell said, "I think our officials did a more than adequate job (Wednesday), and I think we've proven that we can train them and get them up to NFL standards." He added, "I think we were dealing from a position of strength from the get-go. We did this 11 years ago. The game does not stop."
CBS Sports Network on Monday will launch an NFL-themed show called "NFL Monday QB," the first of what network execs say will be several NFL-themed shows to appear on the cable channel this season. "We have several other things in the pipeline that we¹re going to roll out," said CBS Sports Exec VP and CBS Sports Network President David Berson. The 60-minute show will occupy the 6:30-7:30pm ET timeslot through the postseason. Monday's debut will air at 5:00pm to account for the earlier "MNF" kickoff in Week 1. The show's premise is to have retired QBs analyze quarterback play from the day before, with CBS Sports' Phil Simms, Rich Gannon and Steve Beuerlein sitting in as the main analysts each week. Fellow CBS analysts Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts and Dan Marino will contribute during the season. Adam Schein will host. "We don't want to break down NFL games like everyone else is doing. We really want to have a different angle," Berson said. "These quarterbacks won't be talking about the games from the day before. Rather, they'll discuss the quarterback play from the day before." The show will tape from CBS Sports Network's N.Y. studios. On Monday, all the analysts will be in studio. As the season progresses, some will join the discussion remotely. Berson said he wants the panelists to have fun while providing smart analysis. "These guys have unbelievable chemistry," he said. "This is going to be fun and interactive. You're going to see more fun on this show than traditional shows that are breaking down NFL games."
Twitter has become a major platform for journalists to break stories, share work and chat with fans. The most popular NFL writers have hundreds of thousands of followers. The most-followed NFL writer in THE DAILY’s survey of Twitter accounts is ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with more than 1.75 million followers. The list below shows Twitter followers for 19 of the top national and local NFL writers. In addition, THE DAILY conducted an e-mail roundtable with three leading national NFL writers -- Schefter, SI’s Peter King and Fox’ Jay Glazer -- on their Twitter use and how its explosion has changed sports media.
NOTE: The number of followers listed for each writer was current as of Thursday afternoon.TWITTER FOLLOWERS FOR SELECT NFL WRITERS
REPORTER/WRITER SITE/PUBLICATIONFOLLOWERS Adam Schefter ESPN1,758,539 Peter King SI919,001 Chris Mortensen ESPN853,885 John Clayton ESPN519,457 Rich Eisen NFL Network407,968 Jay Glazer Fox Sports347,888 Mike Florio NBC/Pro Football Talk327,209 Jason La Canfora CBS Sports235,154 Michael Lombardi NFL Network205,889 Jim Trotter SI62,092 Alex Marvez Fox Sports25,829 Greg Bedard Boston Globe23,014 Sam Farmer L.A. Times20,196 Michael Rosenberg SI.com13,386 Lee Jenkins SI11,714 Mark Maske Washington Post11,675 Mike Klis Denver Post11,435 Clark Judge CBS Sports10,316 Gary Myers N.Y. Daily News6,185
Q: When did you first get on Twitter, and when did you become serious about using it for the NFL beat?
Schefter: From the outset, I used Twitter to share football information, and I remember I had no idea how to turn off the notification every time you get a new follower. I wound up reporting on Jets LB Calvin Pace being suspended (in '09), and all of a sudden, for about 15 straight minutes, my PDA started vibrating and I had no idea what was going on. I thought, "This is new." And I figured out two things: news attracted followers, and it's important to shut off the notification for each time you get a new follower.
King: A couple of weeks before the draft in 2009, Sports Illustrated brought a few staffers in to explain this new medium called Twitter. We'd been behind on a few social media things, so SI asked us to embrace Twitter and hoped we'd spend a few minutes every day answering questions and interacting with fans. That's the only reason I got involved. … Over the last few years, the value of Twitter has increased exponentially. A new media person approached me at the Super Bowl last year and said, "You are your own wire service, with your opinions thrown in.'' … It's really been an interesting multi-dimensional experience.
Glazer: I joined in July 2009. When I first got into it, I was Jay_Glazer, because I thought I had to. I wasn’t verified until I did a Subway commercial with Michael Phelps, he got me verified. ... When I broke the Randy Moss trade [to the Vikings from the Patriots in 2010] a couple years ago, that was the first time my Twitter account got a huge jolt in numbers. I look at it, “I got 7,000 followers in the last few minutes!”
Q: How has Twitter changed the way you report stories, and what is the upside and the downside of using social media for writers?
King: The upside is accessibility to fans. The downside is accessibility to fans. The personal attacks were different to get used to, but if you can understand that 10% of those who respond to you are either cowards or whack jobs, and another 10% will hate your guts regardless of what you say, I think there's something mutually beneficial to it. And I learn from things that people say too. A lot of smart people make me think. ... Then there's the research aspect. I have taken polls on Twitter, and I can ask 915,000 people, "Do you favor an 18-game NFL season?" Within an hour, I have 800 answers from real football fans. … As far as how it's changed how I report stories, when I get some news nugget, it only makes sense to throw it up on Twitter before I write it for SI.com, because in almost every circumstance, by the time it posts for SI.com, someone else will have reported it.
Glazer: When I break huge stories, some of the fun is to look on Twitter for the comments. ... The downside is that you give the knuckleheads a voice ... Ninety-eight percent of fans are the best, but the 2% who are jagoffs are sometimes the most vocal. I love giving the good fans a voice, I’ll talk to them all day. Unfortunately, it gives the troublemakers a voice as well.
Schefter: There is more of a sense of urgency than ever before. ... If a breaking news story surfaces, it can pop up on Twitter at any time. And even if a reporter has a story, and is flushing it out, he or she still can be beat on it with one simple push of a button from another reporter. It dials up the pressure and it makes life even more challenging. It's imperative to be accurate, most imperative, and yet there's more pressure to get the story faster.
Q: How do you primarily use Twitter (i.e. as a promotional tool, way to connect with followers, chance to be more informal and have some fun, way to break stories on Twitter)? How much do you interact with your followers?
Glazer: I tweet before I even call Fox. For me, it’s my number one weapon to put the scoop out there. There’s a process to get on FoxSports.com, there’s a 10-15 minute process. Twitter puts a timeline out there, it kind of gives you a little scorecard.
Schefter: I use it as a daily briefing of NFL news, as well as an opportunity to share interesting reading material, with the chance occasionally to mix in some good charity work. When times are slow, I like to answer questions from followers.
King: I try to answer football questions two or three times a week. I tweet out information when I have it, or observations about football, and I try to have some fun. I like to interact with people on Twitter. It's mostly a fun experience.
Q: Who are your favorite Twitter follows around the NFL?
Schefter: I love tracking fantasy stuff on Twitter. I track Evan Silva from Rotoworld, Fantasyguru, [ESPN's] Christopher Harris and Matthew Berry, and anyone who can provide any insight on who I should and shouldn't take in my draft. There are a lot of people who do a great job on Twitter. I'm a big fan of David Letterman's writer, Eric Stangel. Really like Peter King. Clark Judge is a very underrated NFL reporter who I enjoy following. Big fan of certain writers, too. Really like Dan Wetzel from Yahoo, J.R. Moehringer. I follow 1,133 people and I can say I'm a fan of every single one of them.
King: The usual suspects -- Adam, Jay, Chris Mortensen, Mike Florio, Neil Hornsby and his deft crew at ProFootballFocus.com, Sam Farmer, Judy Battista, Don Banks. I follow (Giants DE) Justin Tuck, (Ravens LB) Terrell Suggs and players who I feel will say something once in a while. Not a big fan of players who use Twitter as a promotional vehicle to tweet out ads for companies.
Glazer: The first person I followed was (Michael) Strahan, because he’s like my brother. I followed the Dos Equis guy for a while. I follow the athletes that I train in the MMA business. For the most part, I have news feeds, news wires. Twitter for me is my news, it’s how I get my news. I have probably 10-15 different feeds ... (Colts Owner) Jim Irsay, you got to follow him, he’s wacky. I follow Brian Banks, he was exonerated for rape, he’s trying to latch on to the NFL. His story is incredible, he has really inspirational tweets. (Fox Sports') Jimmy Johnson -- you’d think he could be a bah-humbug guy, but he is hilarious. I follow coaches, but don’t really follow players. A lot of times, too, with players, it’s not them, it’s somebody doing it for them.
Q: Are there times when you shut down Twitter on Sundays during NFL season, or are you always on it?
Schefter: There are times you have to shut it down. There are times you just put it away for hours at a time. When that happens, you wonder what you're missing. But this is where it has become such a regular part of life. It used to be that when I went to lunch, I would bring a newspaper to read. Now when I go to lunch, I just make sure my iPhone is fully charged so I can read Twitter while I'm eating.
King: I look at it Sunday nights, but during the day, it's pretty hard.
Glazer: Twitter is the probably the worst thing in the world when you’re in a relationship. It’s an addiction, it’s the greatest thing when you have ADD like me … Here’s the funniest thing -- Strahan and I will go out with our girlfriends, the two of us are tweeting each other at the table. They get so mad at us: “Could you please turn off the Twitter?”
Old Spice on Tuesday debuted its new NFL marketing campaign featuring Packers WR Greg Jennings. The two-time Pro Bowler will appear as the brand's newest Old Spice Guy in a series of TV and print ads showcasing the Old Spice Champion product and containing the "Believing in Your Smellf" tagline. Developed with Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Old Spice's "Believe in Your Smellf" campaign features a total of seven TV ads -- three 30-second and four 15-second spots. The campaign's 30-second spot “Film" debut Wednesday night during the Cowboys-Giants game on NBC. The subsequent spots will roll out over the course of the season (Procter & Gamble). In Green Bay, Richard Ryman notes with men as the target market, the ads "will appear primarily during NFL programming." They also "will be seen on YouTube and Facebook" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 9/6). CBSSPORTS.com's Will Brinson noted Old Spice last year "unveiled their first commercial featuring an actual NFL player (instead of a former one) with Ray Lewis riding a Raven." It was "weird, and it was awesome." Jennings' spot is "not necessarily as whacked out as the Lewis commercial, but it's also fantastically bizarre, and it makes the third-straight year that Old Spice has whipped up a creative commercial for the NFL season without producing an ad that's destined to get old quickly" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/4).
NATURAL PREDATOR: Packers LB Clay Matthews has signed a sponsorship deal to promote Gillette's Fusion ProGlide razor during the NFL season. Matthews will appear in digital advertising and in-store displays, as well as star in a new 30-second ad scheduled to debut in October. Fans are being asked to upload pictures of them imitating Matthews' "Predator pose" to Gillette's Facebook page as part of an effort to raise $100,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of America (P&G). The company is donating $1 for each picture that is uploaded to Facebook (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 9/6). Meanwhile, Verizon is running a full-page ad in Friday's USA Today featuring Matthews holding a mobile phone and promoting NFL Mobile from Verizon. The ad's copy reads, "They've Got Their Game Day Strategy. Here's Yours" (THE DAILY).
QB CLUB: In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted Packers QB Aaron Rodgers "has filmed a new ad" for State Farm that will "appear later this fall." The spot will "be in a similar comic vein with the earlier State Farm ads" (JSONLINE.com, 9/5)....An UGG Australia ad featuring Patriots QB Tom Brady went up several days ago on the side of a Boston building to join a similar ad in N.Y., but while the Boston ad is "big, New York is waaaay bigger." M&C Saatchi Account Dir Mark Tanno, whose firm is the agency of record for UGG, said, "It was not purposeful in terms of the size difference in the markets ... it was basically a decision based on the best space available in both cities" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/7)....Giants QB Eli Manning appears in a "new round of Toyota spots featuring spokescharacter Coach T." The debut spot aired during Wednesday's Cowboys-Giants game. Future spots in the campaign will include Pro Football HOFers Joe Gibbs and Mike Ditka (ADAGE.com, 9/5).
The Buccaneers Thursday confirmed "what had been expected for days: Ticket sales for Sunday's season opener against the Panthers fell short and the game will not be shown on local television," according to Stephen Holder of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The Bucs this season adopted the new NFL blackout rule that requires a minimum of 85% of non-premium seating be sold to lift a blackout. However, the team last Friday said that 9,000 seats "were unsold, making it unlikely they could move that many in six days." It is unknown how many seats remain unsold. There had been "optimism that the game could surpass the blackout threshold given the number of incentives." The game is "billed as a celebration of Ronde Barber's 200th consecutive start, marked by discounted concessions, free parking and a fan giveaway." It also is the "first game of the Greg Schiano era, and the new coach has been selling his team as a group that fans can be proud of" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/7). In Orlando, George Diaz writes under the header, "Cloudy Skies Forecast For NFL Teams In Sunshine State." Diaz: "Everything goes in cycles, I suppose, but for the three NFL franchises in the Sunshine State, it's pretty much gloom and doom again as we get ready for some football this weekend" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/7).
JETS NOT BLACKED OUT: ESPN N.Y.'s Rich Cimini reported the Jets have yet to sell out MetLife Stadium "in the traditional sense" for their game Sunday against the Bills, but fans will "still see the game on local TV." Jets Owner Woody Johnson said, "We won't be blacked out. Whether we've sold every seat, I don't know." Cimini noted the Jets will "satisfy the sellout rule for this game because they've sold the required number of tickets -- an amount predetermined by the team, per league rules" (ESPNNY.com, 9/6).
The Cowboys are worth $2.1B, "more than any sports team on the planet" short of EPL club Manchester United, according to this year's list of the "NFL's Most Valuable Teams" compiled by FORBES. The Cowboys for the '11 season generated $500M in total revenue, "a record for an American sports team." The team also posted operating income of $227M, which was $108M "more than any other football team and more than either the entire" NBA or NHL. Meanwhile, the average NFL team is now worth $1.1B, up 7% from last year. The two teams that "rose the most in value" from '11 to '12 were the Vikings (22%) and the 49ers (19%) as "both teams secured financing for new stadiums." On average, "revenues increased 6%" during the '11 season, to $276M per team. Operating income averaged $41M a team compared with $31M during the '10 season, and player costs "increased just 4%" (FORBES, 9/ '12 issue). Cowboys Exec VP & COO Stephen Jones addressed the valuation of the Cowboys and alluded to the fact that his father, Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, "won't sell" the team. Stephen Jones: "We'll never know what it's worth" (SI.com, 9/6).'12 FORBES NFL TEAM VALUATIONSRKTEAMVALUE1 YR
CNBC’s Brian Shactman reported revenues for the Giants increased by 10% last season, but “increasing revenue is actually not necessarily the key to the team in terms of taking advantage of winning” Super Bowl XLVI. Giants Senior VP & CMO Mike Stevens: “We had a lot of companies call up and say, ‘You’re probably going to hit us with a Super Bowl success fee,’ and we said no. We’d rather extend the deal a couple of years, and we did that almost universally across the board.” Shactman noted the team’s major sponsors are “all blue-chip names,” and the team expects “some new sponsorship deals to be announced in the near future.” Shactman: “After their last Super Bowl win in ’07, they more than tripled their profits. You probably won’t expect that in the coming year” (“Street Signs,” CNBC, 9/5).
FALCONS: Falcons Owner Arthur Blank in a Q&A with the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION's D. Orlando Ledbetter noted the team wants to get fans inside the Georgia Dome in time for the start of games. Blank said, "We have tried to do that by creating Falcons Landing, which [brings] people hopefully to the Stadium site a couple of hours before the game. ... We've created a number of packages as far as concessions in our building that create some opportunities for fans to come in and enjoy some food and drink at a little better pricing. I think we're doing whatever we can ... to avoid the traffic and get the best parking that's available." He added, "We need all of the fans in their seats at the start of the first quarter. Not the middle of the first quarter or after that. They do make a difference in how our team plays" (AJC.com, 9/7).
PACKERS: In Green Bay, Richard Ryman noted Packers season-ticket holders "have until Sept. 20 to decide if they want new seats in the south end zone, which are under construction and will be available in 2013." The seats they "give up and those unclaimed in the new section will be made available to the waiting list of 100,000 later this fall." The Packers are "estimating at least 3,800 people will be offered seats" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 9/2).
PANTHERS: In Charlotte, Joseph Person noted with the DNC in town, Panthers players and coaches said that they were "glad they chose to leave Charlotte five days before their Sunday opener" against the Buccaneers. Panthers LB Jon Beason said that the "positives of the trip outweigh the negatives." Coach Ron Rivera said that being away "has been good for team-building." Rivera: "Hopefully it helps us to accomplish what we want, not just getting the opportunity to go out and play a football game but continuing to work as a team coming together" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 9/5).
RAMS: ESPN.com's Mike Sando noted Rams coach Jeff Fisher "brings his own prop: the NFL's most recognizable mustache." Fans purchasing tickets through a "Stache Bash" promotion "will receive their very own fake Fisher 'staches to wear" at Edward Jones Dome" (ESPN.com, 9/4).
L.A. City Council member Jan Perry is “seeking to speed the City Hall approval process” for AEG’s proposed downtown football stadium, according to Dakota Smith of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Perry submitted a resolution Tuesday “to reduce the public hearing notice period for the stadium's development agreement to just 10 days.” Under city rules, the City Council “doesn't vote on major projects until 24 days after the development agreement between the city and developer” is made public. The resolution is “expected to be voted on next week by the City Council.” Meanwhile, the city's Planning Department Thursday “released the development agreement to City Hall staff.” The agreement calls for AEG to “pay for millions in improvements to the area around the stadium," including $10M to "add another platform at the Metro Blue Line and Expo Line station at Pico Boulevard," and $2.4M to "fund a study to add a northbound lane to the US-101 Hollywood Freeway near downtown.” In addition, to mitigate traffic, the agreement requires AEG and Dodger Stadium officials to “coordinate measures when there are concurrent events planned for both sites.” The Planning Department report “recommends approval of AEG's project” (LA DAILY NEWS, 9/7).
Blessed again with a full preseason and sales cycle, fantasy football is recording historic levels of growth, generally exceeding the 10% annual spikes seen for much of the past decade. ESPN.com fantasy football registrations have grown 15% from '11, and its base of registered players has exceeded 5 million, double its mark from just four years ago. The company is believed to have joined only Yahoo in surpassing that threshold. NFL.com fantasy participation is up 40% from last year, albeit from a lower base. Many other smaller outfits are similarly recording year-over-year growth rates well in excess of 20%. Fantasy football content consumption also is up strongly. ESPN in particular said its fantasy football podcast featuring Matthew Berry averaged 593,000 downloads per show in August, up 118% from the same month in '11. "These have been probably the best six weeks in the history of the business," said RotoWire President & co-Founder Peter Schoenke. "Sales are up very strongly, and the fantasy football business has hit another gear even I didn't think it had." The return of a normal cycle for the business follows a lockout-fueled situation last year in which the business was essentially dormant until late July, roared quickly back to life following the new labor deal, and then settled into historically normal patterns. This year, fantasy football participation has expanded both in terms of breadth and depth, with many new players entering the market, and those returning to fantasy football often increasing the number of teams they manage.
MOBILE HOME: Mobile technology also has played a major role in the growth, as a wide variety of smartphone and tablet apps have significantly expanded how, where and when users play. ESPN's new iPad application for fantasy football last night ranked No. 2 among all free apps on iTunes, and previously held the top overall spot. "This really mirrors what's going on with the league generally," Berry said. "I don't think the growth of the NFL has stopped, and everybody who follows the NFL is a potential fantasy player."
ESPN will commemorate The Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary on Monday nights throughout the NFL season with "Legend to Legend," a collaboration with the Universal Music Group that will combine "MNF" highlights with songs from the band. ESPN is licensing 16 Rolling Stones songs, with four different songs being selected per month. They will be used for four weeks at a time on "Monday Night Countdown," on bumpers and teases within the "MNF" broadcast, and in a post-"MNF" game highlight segment on "SportsCenter." "Legend to Legend" elements will be identified with a branded logo and animation highlighting 50th anniversary and incorporating the band's tongue logo (ESPN).
GETTING SOME FACE TIME: In Chicago, Fred Mitchell noted Bears WR Brandon Marshall "has signed on to be a regular contributor" for WMAQ-NBC, as he will "appear on the station's Sports Sunday show." Through his TV appearances, Marshall also "intends to expand the scope of his Project Borderline, a nonprofit organization devoted to raising awareness for borderline personality disorder, a malady that he has been struggling with for several years" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 9/6).
PHASING OUT: In DC, Barry Svrluga notes when the Redskins open the season Sunday at the Saints, radio analyst Sam Huff "won't be in the broadcast booth, where he has sat for Redskins games for 37 years." Former NFLer Sonny Jurgensen will "serve as the analyst alongside play-by-play man Larry Michael." Huff will "still join Jurgensen and Michael in the booth for the Redskins' eight home games as well as two on the road, against the rival Giants and Cowboys, but his curtailed schedule is an acknowledgment, in a roundabout way, that he has lost a step in recent years" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/7).
THE DAILY presents a comprehensive list of the official corporate partners of the NFL for the '12 season. NFL corporate partnership benefits vary from deal to deal, but they typically include category exclusivity, use of league marks for advertising and promotional purposes, event signage, media exposure through radio, print and TV ads, as well as various hospitality benefits. The group below does not include media or apparel partners, or any pending renewals that expired at the end of the '11 season.
SPONSOR CATEGORYSINCE Gatorade Isotonic Beverage'83 Visa USA Payment Systems Services'95 Campbell’s Soup Soup'98 FedEx Worldwide Package Delivery Service'00 Frito-Lay Salted Snack/Popcorn/Peanuts/Dips'00 General Motors Car & Passenger Truck'01 Mars Snackfood Chocolate & Non-chocolate Confectionery'02 Pepsi Soft Drink'02 Dairy Management Inc. Dairy, Milk, Yogurt, Cheese'03 Bridgestone Tire Sponsor'07 National Guard HSPD/7on7 (Not a Promotional Sponsor)'09 Procter & Gamble (Gillette;
Head & Shoulders; Vicks; Old Spice)
Grooming Products, Fabric Care/
Hair Care, Household Needs'09
Verizon Wireless Telecommunication Service'10 Barclays Official Affinity Card/Rewards Program
(NFL Extra Points)'10
Papa John’s Official Pizza'10 Castrol Official Motor Oil'10 Anheuser-Busch Official Beer'11 USAA Insurance/Military Appreciation'11 Bose Official Home Theater System'11 Marriot Official Hotel'11 Xbox Video Game Console'11 Quaker Hot Cereal'12 Procter & Gamble (Tide; Duracell) Household Cleaning, Battery Power'12 Lenovo Computers (Desktop, Laptop,
Sports execs feel offering wireless Internet access in all stadiums is the change being offered by the NFL that will most improve the gameday experience for attendees, according to a poll conducted in August by Turnkey Sports Poll. Fifty-five percent of execs polled said wireless in stadiums is the best bet to improve the in-game NFL experience, while 28% said offering smartphone apps to let fans listen to the players wearing microphones on the field would be the best answer. Execs were also asked which issue will draw the most attention during the season. Forty-eight percent of respondents said concussions and 24% said player behavior off the field (Turnkey Sports Poll).Which of the following planned changes by the NFL
will most improve the gameday experience for attendees?
RESPONSE% Offering wireless internet in all stadiums55% Offering smartphone apps to let fans listen to players
wearing microphones on the field28%
Loosening regulations on crowd noise12% Not sure/No response5%Which of the following topics will draw the
most attention this upcoming NFL season?
RESPONSE% Concussions48% Player behavior off the field24% Finding a team for L.A.8% Improving the in-stadium experience8% Players/management relationship6% New blackout rule4% Not sure/No response3%