SBG: Leeds United Set For Financial Boost SBD: Sources: Fox Keeps UEFA Champions League SBD: Winston News Bumps Ferrell Off "SportsCenter" SBD: Luukko Resigns From Comcast-Spectacor SBD: Executive Transactions SBD: Fox Sells Out Of Super Bowl XLVIII Inventory SBD: TWC Could Seek Record Fee For Dodgers RSN SBD: SB XLVIII To Be Most Expensive Ever SBD: Jeff Behnke To Be NBC VP/NASCAR Production SBD: Executive Transactions
December 6, 2013 01:49 PM
A look at the past week in the NHL and a glimpse at what’s ahead:
• The Numbers
104,173: That’s the Guinness World Records-certified attendance mark for a hockey game the NHL hopes to top at Michigan Stadium for the Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto. The league office will be working with Guinness staff to verify the more than 106,000 fans they believe will attend the Jan. 1 game. The current record also was established at Michigan Stadium, for the “Big Chill at the Big House” between Michigan and Michigan State on Dec. 11, 2010.
2: As in, are two games too many for Yankee Stadium? Tickets went on sale two weeks ago, and plenty of seats remain available for the pair of games at Yankee Stadium during Super Bowl week that make up part of the NHL’s Coors Light Stadium Series. The Rangers play the Devils on Jan. 26 and the Islanders on Jan. 29. One challenge could be team performance: The Islanders are in last place in the Metropolitan Division, while the Rangers and Devils have hovered around the .500 mark so far this season. High prices also could be a problem: As of Wednesday night, it was not difficult to find eight seats together via Ticketmaster in the $198, $238, $288 and $308 price ranges for the Islanders-Rangers game.
23: Years ago on this date (Dec. 6, 1990) that the NHL granted “conditional membership” to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The action was made permanent two weeks later, when the franchise was approved by the Board of Governors, and the Lightning began play in 1992.
25: Number of years spent by Peter Luukko working with Ed Snider at the Philadelphia Flyers and Comcast-Spectacor. The run came to an end Monday, when Luukko resigned as president and COO. Snider could have been speaking for executives all around the NHL when he said of Luukko, “His passion and dedication are legendary in our industry.”
NHL “super shops” are open at Dick’s Sporting Goods locations in Lombard, Ill. (above); West Nyack, N.Y.; and Cranberry Township, N.J.
Photo by:DUSTIN HALLECK / FEINKNOPF PHOTOGRAPHY
10,074: Attendance for the Florida Panthers’ home game against Ottawa on Tuesday. That was the league’s second-smallest crowd of the season — Nashville at Phoenix on Halloween night drew 7,401 — and images tweeted by fans and reporters at the game suggested it was more “announced attendance” than “fans in attendance.”
• Looking Ahead
Monday and Tuesday: The NHL’s Board of Governors meets in Pebble Beach, Calif. Expect it to take the league’s owners about two seconds to approve the recently finalized Canadian media-rights agreement that pays the NHL C$5.2 billion over 12 years, beginning with the 2014-15 season.
December 5, 2013 02:16 PM
Actor Will Ferrell, as Ron Burgundy, today asked Dan Patrick, "Is it true, Chris Berman, Boomer, in a rage he got mad at you because you stole a story of his and he sat on you for an hour, he pinned you down and just sat on you?" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 12/5).
RED-HEADED STRANGER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay, on Burton's U.S. Olympic snowboarding uniforms: "When I first saw it I thought this is something that Willie Nelson wears to breakfast. But over time, looking at it, it is an amazing sort of piece of Americana" (“Crowd Goes Wild,” FS1, 12/4).
YIKES, STRIPES: CBSSPORTS.com's Will Brinson said of the Yankees' signing Jacoby Ellsbury, "Just because you have a lot of money doesn't mean you have to set some of it on fire, it's not a requirement. It's a terrible deal" (“Rome,” CBSSN, 12/4).
December 5, 2013 08:05 AM
NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher told ’13 Motorsports Marketing Forum attendees the NHRA is “100 percent different” now than when he started in ’96. Schumacher, a 7-time NHRA champion, said, “It’s business (now), and in that we lose some of the fun. We lose some of what built the sport. People want to see the rivalry. … We’re going to lose viewership with these new kids if it’s, every time I get out of a car I have to name sponsors and not talk about the runs.” To change that trend, Schumacher said sponsors would have to “come forward and say, ‘Look, we don’t need to hear Army.’” Schumacher’s longtime partnership with the U.S. Army (since ’00) and his buzz cut hair style have earned him the nickname “Sarge” in the garage, but he said he is “not in there to win for the Army, I’m really in there to win because there’s some sucker in the other lane who thinks he can beat me. That’s ultimately what built me up. We didn’t have names on the side of the car when I started racing.” However, Schumacher believes he is a “perfect fit” for the Army. Schumacher: “I’m not a very good fit for Budweiser. I don’t drink beer. You’ve got to find your guy, find out what he believes in and live with it.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Asked what his plan would be should his Army partnership end, Schumacher said, “Honestly, I don’t know if I would want to drive. If the Army said, ‘We’re done, we don’t want to race anymore,’ I might just be done. I think it’s a great way to end. It’s been an amazing career and I’ve done so many things. Not that I don’t want to drive for 10 more years and run a race team, I just don’t know that you can replace that.” However, if he did have to replace the Army, Schumacher said it would “have to be something tough. I’d have a hard time getting out of the car after the Army and talking about Pampers. It just wouldn’t go right.”
OWNERSHIP FUTURE? The 43-year-old Schumacher drives for his father’s team, Don Schumacher Racing, and said owning his own team down the road might be a possibility. “I’d love to own a race team, I really would,” he said. “I think I would be good at motivating and selecting, which is really what it’s all about.”
December 4, 2013 08:47 PM
NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France told attendees at the ’13 Motorsports Marketing Forum that he “couldn’t be more pleased” with NASCAR’s new TV deal with Fox and NBC. France said, “NBC has put a huge bet on NASCAR. What I really like about it – people will see over time – is for them to be successful … they have to reinvent the presentation part of NASCAR. On-air talent, graphics and how everything is presented. They’re going to do some things that are going to push the envelope.” France said Fox has done an “outstanding job for us,” but added the network will be “pushed, in a good way,” because of NBC’s presence beginning in ’15. Meanwhile, France called the Gen 6 car’s first year in the Sprint Cup Series a success, but said the organization is still working on its competition review in order to have the “closest, most competitive and safest racing in the world.” France: “We think we can do better.”
December 4, 2013 08:03 PM
Kim Brink, NASCAR
Dan Langlitz, Ogilvy & Mather
John Miller, NBC Sports Group
Brink also said NASCAR was not highlighting the unpredictability of the sport enough. But NASCAR attempted to find those missing traits in its “Twist” spot, which debuted during February’s Daytona 500 and featured an array of drivers both young and old. The spot also highlighted the dangers involved in NASCAR. Ogilvy & Mather Account Dir Dan Langlitz said, “It’s not something the core fans are used to seeing, but crucially it’s something that I think provokes reconsideration for new fans.”
TAKING A HUMOROUS APPROACH: Brink said NASCAR’s goal with its “Resume” fantasy racing spot was to bring out the humor and personalities of the Sprint Cup drivers participating: “We would kind of prompt them on what we wanted them to say, but we really just let them roll. At some point we’ll pull on the drama, like with ‘Twist’, but other times we’ll use a sense of humor.” Langlitz: “You don’t very often get to see (drivers) with their helmets off acting like themselves. That’s crucial to building relationships with the fans. That spot was to promote fantasy NASCAR, but it was also to let you know that these guys have personalities. They’re funny. They’re like us.”
REVERSING RATINGS: Average IndyCar viewership in ’13 dipped below 1 million, but Miller said the fact that NBC in the future will carry three motorsports properties should allow the network to cross-promote and send ratings back up. However, NBC instead of carrying all IndyCar events shares the rights with ESPN/ABC, and Miller said that keeps the network from being able to “utilize our full muscle from a marketing standpoint.”
December 4, 2013 06:46 PM
The Ultimate Fan Experience
Gary Darcy, NHRA
Jay Frye, Hulman Motorsports
Geoff Moore, Circuit of the Americas
Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR
LOOKING AT THE ECONOMICS: Circuit of The Americas Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Geoff Moore said spending habits largely dictate whether fans will attend an event. “It comes down to what events people are willing to spend money on,” Moore said. “The fan has to take into account the total cost of their trip to your venue. We have to do a better job of being the concierge to the fan to help them find the best combination. That’s been a bit of an evolution for us.” Meanwhile, NHRA Senior VP/Marketing Gary Darcy said fans of NHRA “still have a very high interest in the sport,” but their personal economic circumstances “are preventing them from coming.”
ABILITY TO CONNECT: In addition to the on-track product and star power among drivers, O’Donnell said that NASCAR puts a prime focus on fans being able to access digital properties while at the track. “It’s the connectivity,” O’Donnell said. “It’s not necessarily going to bring hundreds of thousands of new fans to the track, but it is going to shore up the expectations that any fan has. We’re seeing tracks invest heavily to put these plans in place. You see that with Daytona and Texas with the big board.”
ONLY AT THE TRACK: Moore said that for November’s F1 Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americas “invested a lot of money” in creating “unique areas around the track” for fans to explore. Moore: “The big advantage that tracks have is that you can have the physical experience you can’t have at home. We gave the fans access to areas they hadn’t had before … people responded in an overwhelmingly positive manner.”
December 4, 2013 05:39 PM
December 4, 2013 02:59 PM
Denver Post columnist Woody Paige, on the T'Wolves offering tickets along the opposing team's tunnel so T'Wolves' fans could high-five the Heat: "If I'm one of the 300 who buys those tickets that when they put us down there in the tunnel when the Heat come by we all turnaround and face the other way and just put them down" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 12/3).
FALL ON THE SWORD? NPR's Mike Pesca said of the NFL Network's Thursday night game this week featuring the Jaguars and Texans -- who have a combined five wins on the season -- while NBC, ESPN, Fox and CBS are carrying more desirable matchups: "They want to give those partners the great games. If it falls on the NFL to show the Jags versus Texans on their in-house network, that's okay" ("Morning Edition," NPR, 12/4).
KICKED AROUND: FS1's Warren Barton: "If this was a normal company, Sepp Blatter would have been sacked by now. But he doesn't. He walks around, he seems like he's invincible to any criticism. He never takes any responsibility on his shoulders" ("Fox Soccer Daily," FS1, 12/3).
December 4, 2013 02:00 PM
Motor Sports Network's Dustin Long has been covering this year's Motorsports Marketing Forum and filed stories from the first day's sessions. Here are the links:
- Lesa France Kennedy on Daytona Rising and why ISC didn't buy Iowa Speedway
- Is a driver an athlete? Jimmie Johnson's talk with Donovan McNabb
- The addition of Jeff Burton to the NBC broadcast team for 2015
December 4, 2013 01:04 PM
Creating Great Digital Content
Annie Fast, Network A
Dylan Kwasniewski, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Ryan Schumacher, Sprint
Zane Stoddard, NASCAR
Zack Sugarman, Wasserman Media Group
Wasserman Media Group Social Media and Digital Senior Dir Zack Sugarman said athletes starring in digital content “need to feel some sort of ownership, to get excited about the project, for it to be successful. More times than not they’re going to bring something up that no one else in the room has said before.” Kwasniewski agreed, and said he had “a lot of creative control” in the “Flat Out” series.
BEING ABLE TO RELATE: Sprint National Sponsorships, Sports Marketing Manager Ryan Schumacher said, “From a sponsor’s point of view, we want the untold story that makes Dylan or Jimmie Johnson relatable to the avid fan. That’s what it’s all about. … We want that connection. It’s the untold stories that make it relatable to get someone to engage in that content.” Stoddard added, “What we need (athletes) to understand is that we need to know how they feel. For people to get engaged, they have to care about our drivers and subjects of our stories.”
GOING MOBILE: Fast said that 40 or 50% of views for Network A “are on a mobile device … so it’s a very personal connection.” Fast: “The audience is right there. They’re able to comment and feel like they’re part of the story sometimes.” Schumacher also said Sprint’s mobile traffic “is through the roof.” Schumacher: “Anything you produce, from mobile content to branded content, if it’s not mobile optimized, don’t waste your time with it.”