• The NHL Shift: News and notes, 5/30/2014

    Islanders update: Barroway’s pursuit ongoing

    The potential sale of the New York Islanders to Philadelphia attorney turned hedge-fund manager Andrew Barroway remains up to Charles Wang, the team’s current owner.

    “Charles is still deciding what he wants to do,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Shift at the Sports Business Awards ceremony last week. “No decision has been made.”

    When we pressed the issue and asked Bettman if he was optimistic Wang would complete a sale by the start of the 2014-15 season, the commissioner smiled. “I’m optimistic that Charles will make a decision by then,” Bettman said.

    While Wang wrestles with the idea of selling the Islanders for as much as $400 million before the club moves into Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015, Barroway appears to be the prospective owner of choice of the league office. An industry source this week said the league brokered the initial contact between representatives of Wang (who has declined to comment on negotiations) and Barroway.

    “Other bidders could join the process and the NHL won’t stand in their way,” the source said, “but the league thought Barroway would be good for the Islanders.”

    Although he withdrew from his pursuit of purchasing the New Jersey Devils last summer, Barroway made a favorable impression during that process. Among the team of executives representing him were two highly experienced men. One was Michael Rowe, the former EVP and COO of the Meadowlands, former part-owner and president of the New Jersey Nets, and now the leader of Positive Impact, his own sports consulting firm. The other was Carl Hirsh, managing partner of Stafford Sports, the sports and entertainment facilities and properties advisory firm in New Jersey. Over the last 25 years, Hirsch has facilitated team purchases and arena deals for the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic and Florida Panthers, among many others. He is a former president and CEO of the Spectrum and former president of Spectacor Development in Philadelphia.

    Barroway lives and works in the Philadelphia suburbs.

    “Andy would be a great owner for the Islanders,” Hirsch said this week. “He’s passionate about hockey and he’s resourceful. If he took over the Islanders, my feeling is that the fans and everyone associated with the team would be very fortunate. I have a lot of faith in him.”

    Hirsch and Rowe are not currently involved in Barroway’s talks to buy the Islanders, but their presence on his negotiating team last summer illustrates that Barroway wants, and is willing to pay for, experienced executives.

    Barroway also made a good impression on his potential Devils sellers.

    “We found him to be extremely likable and a gentleman to deal with,” said Rich Krezwick, the former president of business operations of the Devils under former owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek, now SVP of facilities for AEG in Europe. “My sense is that he really wants to own an NHL team and put the best pieces in place to be successful.”

    If Bettman is correct, we’ll know this summer whether Wang will give Barroway, or anyone else, the opportunity to try.


    BY THE NUMBERS

    74 years old: The age of The Rangers Victory Song, which was played as the New York Rangers celebrated their win last night over Montreal at Madison Square Garden to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. The song was written after the Rangers won the Cup in 1940 by J. Fred Coots, an avid fan of the team. Coots, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame — he wrote “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” among his more than 700 songs — died in 1985 at the age of 87.

    $1,200: In the hours after the Rangers’ victory on Thursday, upper-level seats for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final were available at that price on StubHub.

    $952: The most-expensive tickets available on StubHub for tonight’s Western Conference Final Game 6 in Los Angeles between the Kings and Blackhawks. Those seats are in the end zone of the lower bowl of Staples Center.

    22 of 86: Of the 86 games played so far in this year’s playoffs, 22 have gone to overtime. Additionally, the Rangers’ 1-0 win last night was the 39th playoff game decided by one goal.

    1.294 million viewers: That’s the combined NBCSN/CNBC average viewership for playoff games this month, a number that makes this the best May on cable for the NHL postseason since 2000, according to NBC Sports Group.

    10 conference finals games: Called by play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert, who is traveling cross-country almost daily to work the Western Conference Final for NBCSN and the Eastern Conference Final for ESPN Radio in New York. (Albert is the Rangers’ regular play-by-play man for radio). Tonight’s game in Los Angeles will be the eleventh for Albert, who missed Game 1 of the Rangers-Canadiens series.

    0 days of experience: With the introduction of Brian MacLellan as Capitals general manager earlier this week, all of the men hired as general managers in 2014 started their new jobs without any experience as GMs in the NHL. All have either been assistant GMs or served as a director of hockey operations at the NHL level. Still to come is the Penguins’ new GM, replacing Ray Shero. The lineup to date:

    Jim Benning, Vancouver
    Ron Francis, Carolina
    Ron Hextall, Philadelphia
    Brian MacLellan, Washington
    Tim Murray, Buffalo
    Brad Treviling, Calgary

    Tags: On The Ground
  • 2014 IAS: Reaching fans through customized game-day experiences

    Bringing Fans Closer to the Game


    Michele Carr, American Express
    Steve Haener, General Motors
    Ryan Luckey, AT&T
    Jeremy Ragonese, Boulevard Brewing Co.
    Andy Tretiak, Sporting Club
    Gabby Duno Turner, StubHub

    Five brand marketers and a sports property CMO gathered on stage to talk about customized game-day experiences during a panel discussion on Day One of the ’14 Intersport Activation Summit. Discussing fan engagement from pre-event to in-event to post-event, AT&T Assistant VP/Sponsorships Ryan Luckey said, “What we’re trying to do is enhance the fan experience 24 hours out, so you’re beginning your mental process of getting psyched up and checking in. ... It’s how do you continue to build that anticipation and lead more fan engagement as early as 24 hours out.” StubHub Head of Activation & Account Management Gabby Duno Turner touted the brand’s commemorative ticket experience at StubHub Center and Staples Center as its way of sending its brand home with fans. Duno Turner: “It’s been a huge hit with the customers and the fans ... We have lines pretty much out the door at Staples Center at every single event.”
    American Express Dir of Sports Marketing Michele Carr: “How do we continue to talk to you when you’re there? We’ve done these very large fan experiences. ... When you leave, can we keep the conversation going? ... Sending them that email afterwards to say, ‘Here’s all the great things you did today. Continue to enjoy them.’ How can we continue to have brand engagement post-event, which will then make whatever we do for two weeks or one week at U.S. Open even more valuable to us?”

    PARTNER PROS AND CONS: Asked about what brands look for in a sports property, particularly from a technology perspective, Carr cited the American Express-sponsored Boston Celtics mobile pre-game show as an example of the importance of having a technologically advanced partner. Carr: “We very much rely on working with our partners to fish where the fish are. There’s no point in putting our content into the AmEx app because you’re probably going there to check your bill ... So we very much want to leverage the power of our partners in this regard.” Duno Turner added that oftentimes the capabilities of a partner fall short of the brand’s expectations. Duno Turner: “Sometimes you don’t find out what the capabilities are of a partnership until after the deal is signed. We have partners that shall remain nameless that still rip their tickets, so there’s little opportunity for us to be innovative with somebody like that. ... But there are a lot of partners that are very forward-thinking, and those are the people that we really want to collaborate with.” General Motors National Sales Promotion Manager for Cadillac Steve Haener said a hang-up in forging a partnership is when a property “creates sponsorship packages that are so rigid that they’re just trying to hit their sales number versus delivering assets that a company or a brand like myself would need. That’s the danger that some sponsors get caught up in, is being able to amend your packages to deliver on their brand objectives. There’s nothing worse than when you end up with a pile of assets in a sponsorship where you throw out 75 percent of it because you only need the other 25 percent.”

  • 2014 IAS: Marketing Leaders on Consumer Engagement

    Marketing Leaders Speak Out


    Jonathan Copulsky, Deloitte Consulting
    Denise Karkos, TD Ameritrade
    Bob Stohrer, Yahoo!
    Anthony Trama, PVH Corp. Heritage Brands

    Marketers today have virtually limitless ways to reach consumers, but with that flexibility comes the challenge of finding the right ones for their brands. Four marketing leaders discussed how to approach such a wide-ranging media landscape during a panel discussion on day one of the ’14 Intersport Activation Summit. Yahoo! Senior VP/Brand Creative Bob Stohrer summed up the issue, saying, “One of the things I think I’ve personally had to work through a lot is, ‘How do you continue to drive a brand narrative through such a disintermediated media landscape?’” PVH Corp. Heritage Brands Senior VP/Creative Service Anthony Trama: “It’s all about focus. ... The brand story, the brand narrative, the brand voice, you figure that out first. The next part is which mediums will help you amplify that sound, that voice that you want to get out there, and then stay true to it. Trying to stay true to it for as long as you can so that you can start to see the results. Because if you keep changing – bob, weave, turn right, turn left – you never really get to track the performance. You just get this disparity of information back.“ Tracking the ROI of individual campaigns and initiatives has proved to be as difficult a task for marketers.
    Deloitte Consulting Principal Jonathan Copulsky: “It’s very hard for us in our model to say, ‘Because somebody participated in an event that was tied to Deloitte where we were a sponsor, therefore they spent $10 million on our consulting budget.’ That just doesn’t happen. What we can do, and what we do do, is we do a lot of surveys, a lot of attitudinal things. We know that on campuses where we bring our road show with the USOC that the acceptance rates have gone up pretty dramatically, and we know exactly how much it costs us.” Stohrer: “In terms of ROI, we’ll look at things; we get fantasy registrations and some of the hardcore metrics, but I think at the end of the day ... one of the big priorities for us is to maintain sports credibility and leadership, and having an affiliation with teams and properties and venues is one of the things we’re going to continue to look really hard at.”

    AUTHENTIC MESSAGE: TD Ameritrade CMO Denise Karkos discussed how her staff managed to find a tie-in between financial services and the Olympic Games as part of its partnership with the USOC. Karkos: “The struggle that I have is to be really authentic to the spirit of the Games. The messaging is a lot softer for us as a brand. ... In interviewing these athletes, we talked about how they got to where they are in their athletic career. Almost all of them had this notion of marginal gain theory of the little things: shaving a second off your time. ... How you get there is just that small little tweak to your performance. And what a great analogy to financial services. ... Just deposit 100 bucks a month, and just get started and overcome that inertia. ... It was just a really great way to connect the two things.” She added, “My media mix model isn’t necessarily telling me, ‘Should I amp up that message, you’re going to get a higher return.’ I just know that from 21 years in marketing.” Copulsky stressed that what other people say about a brand says more than what a brand says about itself. He said that his staff strives to find the people who influence others about their brand and tries to influence those people directly in “a genuine way.”

    DEAR MR. FANTASY: Staying true to the conference’s San Francisco locale, Stohrer discussed Yahoo!’s partnership with the 49ers in integrating fantasy football into the new Levi’s Stadium. Stohrer: “Fantasy football is really important to us. ... Users did 23 billion minutes on our products with fantasy. Not only do you get scale with that, but you get real engagement.” He noted that the 10-year partnership with the 49ers includes an 11,000-square-foot space in the stadium offering “a really deep, immersive experience.” He stressed that the company wants to achieve stadium-wide integration of fantasy data, as well. Asked whether the constant introduction could dilute the live game aura, he stressed that the goal of the partnership is simply to enhance the cherished live sports experience.

    Tags: Yahoo, Media, Intersport
  • 2014 IAS: USOC's Larry Probst on management, meetings and winning an Olympics bid for the U.S.

    USOC Chair and EA Executive Chair Larry Probst sat for a “One-on-One” interview with SBJ staff writer Tripp Mickle at the Intersport Activation Summit in San Francisco. Speaking before a full house at the Ritz Carlton, Probst said he would like the see the IOC’s Executive Board select the site finalists to host Olympics Games and outlined the process for a possible U.S. bid for the 2024 Summer Games. He also said cost cutting was key to last year's turnaround at EA and explained what he looks for in a CEO.

    Here are excerpts from the interview:

    On his difficult transition and the criticism he faced after joining the USOC: “That transition to the USOC was not a lot of fun. ... At first, my friend Peter Ueberroth convinced me to join the USOC board. But it evolved from coming on the board to replacing him as chair. I said, ‘Hey, I don’t know the first thing about the Olympic movement or the Olympic world. This is a crazy idea.’ But Peter is a relentless salesperson and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. … Finally, I agreed, but I quickly learned that I was not ready for it. I didn’t understand the relationship between the IOC and the USOC. I didn’t understand the relationship with the other Olympic constituencies. It was kind of a mess. That first 15 to 18 months was probably the most miserable time of my career.  There were a lot of people saying, ‘Get rid of this guy.’ In that case, one can either run or stick it out. I decided I was going to stick around and make this work. It started with hiring Scott Blackmun (as CEO) and then building a better relationship with the IOC. ... I will tell you, it was not fun. It was really painful. But I am glad I have stuck around. It’s now been a lot of fun.”

    Probst oversaw the selection of two new CEOs – Andrew Wilson at EA in 2013 and Scott Blackmun at the USOC in 2010. On what he looks for in a CEO: “People with high integrity, a high-quality value system … [and] really good listening skills. The people that have to prove they are the smartest in the room all the time, I’m not very interested in. I’m looking for people who are collaborative, yet decisive. Someone who is a good team player. And people who will set the right type of example throughout the company and walk the talk."

    On USOC CEO Scott Blackmun: “Scott is a fully-formed executive and is really good at what he does. He’s a quiet guy, but he leads by example. He’s really thoughtful and he’s really smart. We have a standing call every Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. He has his list, and I have my list. He’s clearly making the decisions at the USOC, and he’s the guy making the calls. I respect that. … Scott is a terrific communicator. He communicates directly with all the constituencies within the USOC universe. That wasn’t the case with his predecessor.”

    On improving the USOC’s relationship with the IOC: “There’s no other way around it. It’s all about the relationships, and the only way to build that is by spending time with these people.”

    On the USOC’s thought process behind a bid for the 2024 Games: “We want to bid. We’d like to bid. We are going through a process where we’re meeting with an undetermined number of cities. We have gone through round one, and we’re going through another round now. At a board meeting on June 10 in Boston, we will probably get it down to two or three cities. Those cities won’t be made public. We are going to try to manage this process so no one’s feelings get hurt or no one is spending too much money on a bid. ... We have to believe we have a pretty significant chance of winning that competition. It has to be as close to perfect as possible, but I think there is a feeling that the Games have to come back to the United States.”

    On the IOC’s challenges in the cities bidding for the 2022 Olympic Games, which include Lviv, Ukraine; Oslo, Norway; Almaty, Kazhakstan; and Beijing, China: “Early on they thought they had some great cities in the mix, [such as Stockholm and Munich]. Obviously, there is an issue in the Ukraine, so that’s in jeopardy. There’s an issue with Oslo, as well. … So, I am not sure where they are going to end up in terms of finalists.”

    On the changes he’d like to see within the Olympics: “Fewer meetings. Less travel. Seriously, the amount of time that people spend traveling to (IOC headquarters in) Lausanne (Switzerland) for three to four hours of meetings is outrageous. Sooner or later we have to embrace modern technology, and do some of these things through video conferencing. The other thing I would change is that I’d like to see the Executive Board decide where the Olympic Games are held (as opposed to being decided by the entire membership). I will probably get in trouble for saying this, but they are supposedly the most sophisticated and knowledgeable people in the membership, so I would like to see the [Executive Board] have more of a say.”

    On turning around EA after rejoining the company in March 2013 and seeing the stock price double in seven months: “It was about managing costs and expenses across the company. We had too many people, and we had to make some course adjustments. We had pretty significant employee reductions and cut out expenses that weren’t necessary. … It wasn’t a major overhaul, it was more of a course correction. I needed to change the thinking and culture around spending in the company. People got the joke and the stock started going in the right direction. We have gained more credibility with Wall Street.”

    On staying ahead of the competition at EA: “At the end of the day in our business, it’s about product quality. You constantly have to add new features, updates, rule changes and things that players will enjoy and engage with. It’s all about consistent quality and then building out new game-playing options.”
    His view on the future of gaming: “Free-to-play is becoming a more significant part of the business, especially in Asia. That’s the business model. More of the business is moving to digital -- smart phone and tablets. More than 50% of our business will be digital compared to packaged goods. People keep talking about the demise of packaged goods, but I don’t see it because the experience is so good. So packaged goods are going to be significant to the business, although declining. Smart phone and tablets will continue to increase.”

    On his management style: “I would describe my management style as tough, but fair. I have high expectations for myself and the people I work with. I set tough, but achievable, objectives; ambitious, but achievable objectives. I am very direct with everyone. That’s my style.”

    On the best spectator experience he’s ever had: “The 2006 World Cup final in Berlin, [when it was] France-Italy. Those people are crazy. Absolutely crazy.”

    On who will buy the Clippers: “Larry Ellison has a way of getting what he wants, and he’s got a lot of money. My money is on Larry.”

  • IAS 2014: State of the Sports Sponsorship Industry

    The Sales and Marketing POV


    Larry Baer, San Francisco Giants
    Dave Finocchio, Bleacher Report
    Charlie Besser, Intersport
    Eric Shanks, Fox Sports
    John Tortora, San Jose Sharks
    Rick Welts, Golden State Warriors

    A diverse group of six sports executives gave the crowd of more than 400 people at the ’14 Intersport Activation Summit an insightful discussion in the first panel of the day, titled “The State of the Sports Sponsorship Industry.” Panelists from sports media, franchises and marketing talked about the significance of getting brands closer to the field of play as a means of cutting through sponsorship clutter. Fox Sports COO & Exec Producer Eric Shanks cited Samsung’s $100M “big bet” on NBA officiating and coaching technology as an example of becoming “weaved into the sport.” Warriors President & COO Rick Welts discussed the role that jersey sponsorship will inevitably play in brands getting on the court. Welts: “That puts the brand on the player, so I think that could be the most valuable piece of inventory we have. “ Asked if he would encourage a client to make a significant investment in an NBA jersey sponsorship, Intersport Founder, President & CEO Charlie Besser said, “I love the exposure ... Obviously the brand and the brand personnel has to match up with the team. ... It’s a wonderful, wonderful platform, and very hard to get.” MLB Giants President & CEO Larry Baer said that the team has used “non-traditional inventory” to get brands closer to the diamond in ways that do not “pollute the game.” He cited the Giants’ transformation of the batter’s eye at AT&T Park into a sustainable vegetable garden as an example of a positive, creative way to capitalize on space around the field of play, while Shanks reflected on Fox working with MLB to put branding for the film “Avatar” on the bases at several ballparks.

    NEW AGE, NEW APPROACHES: Bleacher Report Founder & GM David Finocchio summed up the big question facing digital marketers, asking, “How do you go beyond the 320x50 banner ad?” He cited the brand’s My McDonalds FantasyStream application, which delivers fans updates pertaining to the players on their fantasy football teams, as an example of how to effectively engage with a digital audience. Baer discussed how teams can effectively reach fans online by enlisting players to blog and use social media. Baer: “We have people who work for the Giants who help players interested in blogging, but who aren’t able to or feel ill-equipped to sit down and churn something out. “ Welts echoed the sentiment, saying that it is a team’s responsibility to not only educate players about the potential negative effects of social media, but also the positives. Finocchio countered, saying, “There are stars everywhere ... Will people share this content on the web. That’s the standard.”

    FENDING OFF AMBUSHERS: An inquiry from the audience about the challenge of combating ambush marketers and protecting official sponsors seemed to shed light on just how difficult an endeavor it is. Shanks: “I hate to pass the buck, but it’s partly on the brand side. [Being an official sponsor] is part of it, but so is activating. You have to do both. You have to prevent the ambush by making sure that you own the entire chain going from the player, to the team, to the league, to the network, to the screen at home.” He cited the upcoming FIFA World Cup as an example, saying, “Who knew adidas was the official and Nike is not? Nike is killing it.” Besser noted that marketers “need great ideas that capture the imagination of the audience, so that the ambushers just don’t have a chance to be as relevant.” Shanks: “Sometimes the ambushers feel like they have to have better ideas because they’re the underdogs.” Besser: “That’s how they win.”

    QUICK HIT:
    Welts, on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s handling of the Donald Sterling scandal: “Every sport or league or team goes through crises, but I think what has transpired in our league over the last month will be Harvard Business School study on the right way to handle a crisis, and turning it into a positive for the league. ... I’m very proud of how Adam’s handled this.”

    Tags: San Francisco Giants, Intersport, Fox, San Jose Sharks, Golden State Warriors, Media, Franchises, NBA, MLB
  • 2014 IAS: Jeff Goodby on using context to make marketing more effective

    In the opening session of the 2014 Intersport Activation Summit, Jeff Goodby, co-chairman and partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, drew on his years of experience to advise brands about the best way to get value from their sponsorships. “It’s true I’ve worked with every team in the Bay area,” Goodby said to a large crowd in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. “Because I’m old.”

    Goodby showed videos and slides of work done by his firm that touched a variety of brands and properties, including the NBA, NFL, Super Bowl, Doritos and Adobe.

    Noting the fact that television viewers are less likely to time shift sports than other programming, Goodby said that marketers shouldn’t rely on that as the main basis for their sponsorship. “TV is not as dependable as it used to be,” he said, because there is so much content competing for fans’ attention. It’s more important, he said, to build context around your brand that will connect with fans through the sports, teams and players they love.

    “What you need to do is [build and] maintain a surprising intimacy with your audience," he said, "so that they say, ‘They know that about me? They know what I’m thinking about this team?’”

  • SBJ/SBD's weekly NHL Wrap-Around podcast

    As the Stanley Cup Finals near, staff writers Christopher Botta and Alex Silverman discuss the latest hockey news in SBJ/SBD's "NHL Wrap-Around Podcast." Among the topics:

    Surprise at the internal hire as GM for the Washington Capitals.

    The NHL General Manager of the Year candidates.

    The salary cap is projected to increase to roughly $70 million next year and what that means.

    And NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr saying that lockouts will be the norm among salary-cap sports in the future, and what fans and players can make of that.

    Tags: NHL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Warriors video celebrates ‘Team of Year’ award



    The Golden State Warriors created a great video to celebrate their win as Team of the Year at the 2014 Sports Business Awards.

    Tags: Golden State Warriors, Sports Business Awards
  • TV Timeout: Livin' On A Prayer

    PFT’s Mike Florio, on Jon Bon Jovi potentially becoming part owner of the Bills: “If Bon Jovi is part of the group, he won’t be the ‘money guy.’ He doesn’t have the money that it takes to own the team. He would be, most likely, the face of the ownership group” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 5/21).

    ROYALTY: Sacramento Bee's Marcos Breton said of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson saving the Kings, “He had the pedigree as a former elite NBA player, but also the skill set of someone who now is in the political realm, he's been in education, he's a phenomenal fund-raiser with big-time connections to CEOs and he's able to walk through the corridors of power and have people return his phone calls" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 5/21).

    STILL WAITING: SNY's Jonas Schwartz, on Mets GM Sandy Alderson: "Alderson, of course, has taken the patient approach to rebuilding the Mets without the help of a large payroll. The fact remains the team is still losing under his regime and he hasn't produced an impact player yet" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 5/21).

  • Recipients of the 2014 Sports Business Awards

     

    A look at the winners at the Sports Business Awards tonight at the Marriott Marquis Times Square:

    Best in Sports Technology: Experience

    Best in Sports Event and Experiential Marketing: GMR Marketing

    Best in Sports Television: NBC Sports Group

    Sports Facility of the Year: Madison Square Garden

    Best in Talent Representation and Management: Excel Sports Management

    Best in Digital Sports Media: NBC Sports Group

    Athletic Director of the Year: Kevin White, Duke University

    Lifetime Achievement Award: Dan Rooney
     
    Sports Event of the Year: 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

    Best in Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services: CAA Sports

    Sports Team of the Year: Golden State Warriors

    Best in Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services: Team Epic

    Best in Sports Media: NBC Sports Group

    Sports Sponsor of the Year: Pepsi Beverages Co.

    Sports League of the Year: National Hockey League

    Sports Executive of the Year: Gary Bettman, Commissioner, National Hockey League

    Tags: On The Ground
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