SBJ/October 17-23, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Texans latest NFL club to bring radio in house

The Houston Texans, as part of their new 10-year radio deal, are taking most of their operations in house. The club will hire the announcers and sell the ad inventory. Texans President Jamey Rootes described the new deal, announced before the meetings began, as a collaboration with CBS Radio Network in Houston, but the club has editorial control when the deal kicks in on March 1.

The CBS Radio affiliates already carry the Texans’ games and have done so since the team’s debut in 2002.

The move continues the trend of NFL clubs forgoing radio rights deals and bringing operations in house. Teams have been doing this in part because rights fees were falling, but also to control the editorial message and offer commercial partners more inventory.

Rootes
“It is much more comfortable to have a rights fee, but we think we can do even better, which is proven out in TV,” Rootes said. When the Texans took in their TV rights for preseason games several years ago, the club was able to receive twice the rates for ads by packaging the spots with other Texans commercial inventory, Rootes said.

The radio deal includes nine hours of broadcast time on game days and a total of 15 hours a week during the season, and then at least once-a-week coverage in the offseason.

Rootes said the move was long planned and was unrelated to the new collective-bargaining agreement, which gives teams an increased share of local revenue streams.

GETTY IMAGES
The breast cancer “pink” promotion may serve as a model for a Veterans Day effort.
CAUSE ORGANIZATION: The league might replicate its celebration of breast cancer awareness this month with a similar push for Veterans Day. While it’s unclear whether the promotion will be ready by next month, Mark Waller, the NFL’s chief marketing officer, said the league would like to honor veterans in a more coordinated fashion than it has in the past. The league for several years has launched an aggressive breast cancer awareness effort, complete with pink cleats, hats and towels. While many teams honor veterans around the Nov. 11 Veterans Day holiday, the effort does not have the same coordinated push that the breast cancer awareness initiative does.

Waller
Waller also mentioned next year perhaps better organizing the throwback-jersey trend. Many teams wear throwback jerseys during a particular game. The league might move to have the clubs do it all on the same weekend.

ESTATE PLANNING ACTION: Owners here approved estate-planning moves by the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos. Sources said shares of the teams were moved into the trusts of the children of the teams’ owners — Bob McNair, Wayne Weaver and Pat Bowlen, respectively. With franchise values rising, passing on a team is increasingly difficult because of estate taxes. By slowly moving shares into a trust while the owner is alive, it reduces the estate tax hit if the team passes to the next generation,

U.K. OK, BUT FOCUS ON LONDON: Waller said the league was not sending any messages in approving a resolution to play overseas games in the United Kingdom instead of just London. The league needed to renew its plan for overseas games here, and much of the attention focused on the push to play more than one game a year in London. The league will decide how many on a year-by-year basis. The resolution passed, however, did not say London, but rather the United Kingdom, and Commissioner Roger Goodell did tell reporters the league could be interested in cities like Birmingham and Manchester. But Waller said the U.K. designation was more a byproduct of the league’s country-by-country marketing approach and that the plan for now is to play in London at Wembley Stadium.

Trask
Ross
NAMES AND NOTES: Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will be the guest host of “Squawk Box” on CNBC on Nov. 18. He said he plans to have Goodell on as a guest. … Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask chose not to attend this meeting, saying she felt her place was with the team just days after the death of owner Al Davis. She typically has attended meetings and represented the franchise in votes in recent years. The Raiders actually played in Houston the Sunday before the meetings began. Marc Badain, the team’s chief financial officer, represented the Raiders at the meeting, which began with a five-minute NFL Films tribute to Davis. … Speaking of missing faces, this was the first meeting in about five years without Proskauer Rose attorney Bob Batterman. He was the outside adviser to the league during the recent labor strife, and with a new CBA now in place, he has no need to attend any more meetings. He said via email that he received several emails from NFL executives noting how odd it was to have a meeting without him. … A discussion of the league’s credit line was pulled from the agenda. While the finance committee discussed possible future changes, apparently there was nothing serious enough to warrant a full ownership discussion.

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