SBJ/June 23-29, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • League refines its NFL Now expectations for clubs at summit

    With weeks to go before the launch of the NFL Now digital network, the league used its recent Digital Media Summit to outline the expectations placed upon clubs for the new venture and quell their initial concerns.

    Much of the third annual summit, held at NFL Media headquarters in Los Angeles after two years in Austin, Texas, as an adjunct to the South By Southwest festival, was devoted to the specifics of NFL Now. The service is to debut in August and will provide a customizable stream of football content across digital platforms including desktop, mobile and streaming video devices.

    After the venture was announced during Super Bowl week, some clubs expressed concern that NFL Now could conflict with their own websites, and industry sources said there are still pockets of resistance around the league. But four months later, many of the specifics have been completed and presented to the clubs.

    Among the key refinements: A requirement for clubs to provide 21 to 25 video segments a week during the season for NFL Now has since been supplemented with time components. The tweak will allow clubs developing particularly long segments of content to edit it into smaller chunks and have it count more against their base obligations. Also, any content produced by teams for NFL Now will also be usable on the team sites.

    “We spent a fair amount of time at the summit talking about all of this,” said George Scott, NFL Digital Media general manager of club sites. “Any time you launch a new product, there’s going to be some apprehension. This is definitely a huge change in terms of what we are asking of the teams. But we sense much more excitement around this now than when it was first announced.”

    Kevin Griffin, Cleveland Browns vice president of fan experience and marketing, said the weekly content requirements for NFL Now present an aspirational element for teams beyond what had been occurring on their own sites. “By this sheer volume of content that’s now being created, it’s up to us to be really creative and figure out new and interesting ways to meet those obligations,” Griffin said.

    Scott declined to outline the specifics of the content obligations or revenue model inherent in NFL Now. But he said clubs will share in advertising and subscription revenue generated by the venture, and that there are incentives for teams to sell inventory within the platform.

    Among the key goals for NFL Now is to broaden its overall distribution footprint and get league content onto new and emerging platforms. A focus has been to secure agreements with companies such as Amazon, Yahoo, Roku and Microsoft, among others, with more deals expected by the fall.

    “This platform has incredible potential to further engage NFL and Falcons fans and also creates a platform to reach a younger demographic on their schedules and devices,” said Jim Smith, Atlanta Falcons executive vice president and chief marketing and revenue officer.

    The Digital Media Summit included senior level league officials such as NFL Media Chief Operating Officer Brian Rolapp, Scott, and Chief Digital Officer Perkins Miller. Also on the agenda were presentations and discussions with outside speakers such as Patrick Donahue, Los Angeles Kings manager of digital media; Jeff Mirman, Turner Sports vice president of marketing; Josh Nafman, Pepsi senior digital brand manager; and executives and writers from comedy site Funny or Die.

    Staff writer Daniel Kaplan contributed to this report.

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  • Price moves to PGA of America

    When Pete Bevacqua reviewed all of the PGA of America’s commercial pieces, what he didn’t see was one person who ultimately was in charge of it all.

    Bevacqua, the PGA’s CEO, believes he has streamlined those aspects of the PGA’s business by hiring Jeff Price, the former Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and MasterCard executive, to be chief commercial officer.

    Jeff Price, most recently of Sporting News,  becomes the PGA’s chief commercial officer.

    All of the PGA’s media, both broadcast and digital, marketing, sponsorship, merchandising, communications and international ventures will flow up to Price, who will report to Bevacqua and work from PGA headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Price’s first day will be Aug. 1.

    Along with the addition of Price, the PGA’s chief marketer, Kevin Ring, will add the responsibilities of partnership management and sales.

    This latest round of assignments closes the gaps created by the departure in April of Kevin Carter, who formerly was the chief business officer and led the sales efforts.

    The PGA’s patron partners include Mercedes-Benz, Omega and Samsung. National Car Rental is an official partner, and Standard Life Investments is a global partner of the Ryder Cup. KPMG also recently signed on as title sponsor of the new Women’s PGA Championship, a joint effort between the PGA and LPGA.

    “Jeff has the broad experience we were looking for to handle all of the different elements, and to make those areas as successful as possible,” Bevacqua said. “Jeff has a love of the game and the professional experience, especially in golf, to really stand out.”

    Bevacqua said he hired Connecticut-based RSR Partners to assist with the search.

    Price, who recently oversaw the transformation of Sporting News from a print product to a multiplatform digital sports video company, said he’s known Bevacqua from golf and sponsorship circles for close to 10 years. Price had begun his own company after parting with Sporting News last year when the PGA job became available.

    “Pete has really established himself as an innovative leader, and I love what he’s done in almost two years at the PGA,” Price said. “We recently reconnected and began talking about the commercial potential of the PGA, and that led to this new role. When you think about a lot of the PGA’s possibilities, especially digital and mobile, the golf space is still very much wide open.”

    Ring opened the PGA’s first office in New York a year ago. He will report to Price.

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