• Podcast: The NFL's Thursday night package

    In the latest NFL "Behind The Headlines" podcast, media writer John Ourand and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss the league's Thursday night package with CBS and the NFL Network as well as the NFL's overall ratings strength.

    Among the comments:

    "The jury is still out on it. … The ratings so far have been good. They're the second-best prime-time package so far."

    "There's a lot of room for growth. That's one of the reasons why it's still in a wait-and-see mode."

    "They basically created another gigantic package. So ratings go up, ratings go down, but at the end of the day if you total the number of eyeballs that are watching NFL games, thanks to this package, it's almost certainly going to go up this year."

    Tags: NFL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Mo'Ne Ball

    Columnist Kevin Blackistone said of the NCAA saying that LLWS P Mo’ne Davis would keep her eligibility after appearing in a Chevy ad, “They trot out this story about Mo'ne Davis and make us think that they're some sort of altruistic organization all of a sudden. Come on!" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/22). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said of the NCAA, "I don't want to give people too much credit for doing something, as Chris Rock would say, that they're supposed to do! This was done well and correctly" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/22).

    FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITY: Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer said of his investment in the Clippers, “I believe it has less downside than almost anything you buy" ("Charlie Rose," PBS, 10/22). Meanwhile, Lakers President Jeannie Buss said of a hypothetical value to the team considering the Clippers’ sale price, “They're not for sale so we'll never know what that answer will be” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/23).

    SEEING ORANGE: ESPN's Keith Olbermann, on the Royals’ displeasure with Marlins fan Laurence Leavy sitting behind home plate during the World Series: “You don't like it? Then stop raising ticket prices so much that the people who own those seats can make enough money to pay for virtually an entire regular season just by selling one game to Marlins man" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 10/22).

    GLAD TO BE HERE: Golfer Zach Johnson said of McGladrey re-signing to sponsor the PGA event in St. Simons Island, Ga., “It doesn't surprise me just because I know how passionate they are about the PGA Tour, how passionate they are about this place” ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 10/22).

  • Podcast: The NFL in London, L.A. prospects

    In the latest NFL "Behind The Headlines" podcast, NFL writer Daniel Kaplan and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss the NFL's return to London this week with a Sunday morning start time on U.S. television, as well as the league's prospects in Los Angeles, stories to watch during the season's second half and the Pro Football Hall of Fame choosing Ron Wolf and Bill Polian as finalists for its Class of 2015.

    Among the comments:

    "What the league is trying to do here is see, if they're going to have more games or even a team (in London), what would scheduling a game earlier in the afternoon mean, not just in attendance in London but for broadcast ratings for an early morning broadcast in the United States."

    "Could this open up new inventory, a new window, where you basically are now having game programming starting from 9:30 or 9 a.m. on Sunday all the way to 11 or 12 on Sunday night?"

    "I don't want to call it head-scratching, but a GM of a team has, I don't want to say a limited impact, but it is just one team. If you look at somebody like Paul Tagliabue or (Steve) Sabol, it's a much broader impact. … I personally don't understand two GMs."

    Tags: NFL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Royals Treatment

    ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "In terms of getting small-market teams like Kansas City to be able to compete and reach a World Series after about 30 years where it just looked like New York, Boston, L.A. were just going to dominate baseball in a way that excluded small-market teams. I think that's important to recognize" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/21). N.Y. Daily News' John Harper said of the MLB postseason, "If you've been watching this at all I don't know how you can't be wrapped up in this” ("Daily News Live," SNY, 10/21).     

    FAN-TASTIC: NBATV’s Chris Webber, on Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer’s attitude: “As a fan, I love seeing that because I know guys that have no dollars to their name that would be that same way if they came in and got to own a team. I think it’s good for the NBA, and I am happy to see somebody really proud to be an owner” (“Open Court,” NBATV, 10/21).

    : ESPN's Keith Olbermann, said of MLS firing MLSsoccer.com writer Chris Bianchi for his criticism of the Rapids front office, "If you ever want to be taken seriously your web site cannot just be for propaganda and you can't fire a reporter because one of your worst teams does not like his mildly critical tweet" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 10/21).

    WESTERN PROGRESS? CBS Sports Radio’s Kyle Brandt, on the Rams possibly moving to L.A.: “That's not going to work because L.A. doesn't want the Rams. St. Louis doesn't even want the Rams” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 10/21). Bears WR Brandon Marshall, on a team in L.A.: “From a player's perspective, I think we'll love it. There's so much that you can do in L.A. but the problem is there are so many people from different walks of life and when you have that, I think you create a fickle fan base” (“Around the NFL,” Showtime, 10/21).

    FINDING SOLUTIONS: ESPN's Bomani Jones said, "Only in the NBA, by the way, can you look at your crisis management team and say, 'How do we fix this?' And the answer is, 'We're going to call T.I.'" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 10/21). 

    DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL: Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban said of media-rights deals, "They'll be traditional TV, they're cable, they're broadcast and potentially over the air and that's what will drive the value as well because even online sports still drive consumption" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 10/22).

    : NFL Senior Special Advisor to the Commissioner Lisa Friel said of whether the league was tone deaf to domestic violence concerns, "I think the league was listening to people and they didn't have all the right voices at the table" ("Today," NBC, 10/22).

  • Barclays Center rep: Seeking ‘strategic partner’

    SportsBusiness Journal reported this morning that Barclays Center is for sale. This afternoon, arena representatives provided the following statement, attributable to spokesman Barry Baum.

    “Our goal is to identify a strategic partner as we continue to capitalize on the great performance of Barclays Center and the promise of Nassau Coliseum. The current management team will continue in its existing role.”

    Baum had previously declined comment. The statement confirms that a sale process will commence but also adds the news that the venue’s current management team, which is led by Brett Yormark, will remain.

    Forest City Enterprises, which is selling the Barclays Center stake, is overseeing the $229 million renovation of Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum. That project calls for the arena — home this season to the New York Islanders before they move to Barclays Center — to be redeveloped as a retail and entertainment complex.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Podcast: NBA season preview

    NBA writer John Lombardo and Assistant Managing Editor Tom Stinson discuss how the Cavs are handling LeBron James' return from a business perspective, as well as how the NBA's new breed of GM could change the game, which is the focus of this week's NBA season preview.

    Tags: NBA, NBA Season Preview, SBJSBD Podcast
  • SMS 2014: The Green Scorecard -- Sustainability in Sports

    The Green Scorecard

    Jim Colon, Toyota Motor Sales USA
    Allen Hershkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council
    Omar Mitchell, NHL
    Betsy Wilson, UPS
    Chris Womack, Southern Co.

    While each of the five panelists in the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium’s discussion on sustainability had a slightly different way to define the term, there was a shared sense that sustainability efforts in the sports world will only increase as common sense and good business sense further align.

    “There is significant change on the horizon when it comes to progressing sustainability efforts,” said Jim Colon, vice president of sales at Toyota Motor Sales USA. “How we all adapt to that change is the challenge for all of us.”

    Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist in the urban program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that while there is much momentum around the issue of sustainability, there still could be difficulties finding true cost competitive strategies. However, he noted, even small steps on this front are ultimately big ones. “In the last 10 years, every commissioner in U.S. sports said that global warming matters to us,” he said.

    For the NHL, which recently published its own sustainability report, focus on these issues from sponsors helped to further focus its own efforts, said Omar Mitchell, director of sustainability at the NHL. “When I spoke with Commissioner Gary Bettman, I told him our corporate sponsors are prioritizing sustainability efforts, why aren’t we?,” Mitchell said. “Regardless of what you think of global warming, the mere fact we now have shorter winters impacts the future and growth of our league.”

    That sponsor relationship can also be a big help to get the ball rolling on both sides, said Betsy Wilson, director of global sponsorships and sustainability communications at UPS. “It’s important to our brand to be with a brand that is looking to lead in this space,” she said. “Nobody can solve these problems on their own.”

    Wilson highlighted UPS’ relationship with the NCAA, in which the two have partnered to reduce carbon dioxide output at events like the Final Four.

    Ultimately, said Chris Womack, executive vice president of Southern Co., while sustainability efforts need to have an effect on the environment, they still need to make an impact on the bottom-line. “It’s important to make sustainability-related decisions and do it for the right reasons,” he said, “but at the end of the day, these are not philanthropic organizations, and they need to make good business sense.”

    Quick hits from the panel:

    On new all-electric auto racing class Formula E:
    Hershkowitz: “At some point in the future, we’re not going to have the ability to burn petroleum to race cars.”
    Womack: “There is still uncertainty if it can be sustainable from a business perspective.”

    On what they are keeping an eye on:
    Womack: Carbon capture technology
    Mitchell: Renewal and retrofitting of local hockey rinks
    Hershkowitz: Focus on biodiversity efforts from leagues and sponsors
    Wilson: Formula E
    Colon: Fuel cell technology

  • 2014 Social Media & Sports Series: Digital, Social and Mobile Trends

    Digital, Social and Mobile Trends

    Roland Lange, YouTube
    Vishal Shah, NFL
    Crowley Sullivan, Campus Insiders
    Bret Wilhoite, T3Media

    The challenge of defining an authentic message, a broad plan for programming social media content and the expected launch of more over-the-top networks were the focus of a panel centered on consumer engagement at the Sports Business Journal/Daily Social Media & Sports Series, which launched this year as an additional component to the annual Sports Marketing Symposium.

    The panel included Roland Lange, head of sports content partnerships for YouTube; Vishal Shah, a media strategist for the NFL; Crowley Sullivan, general manager of Campus Insiders; and Bret Wilhoite of T3Media sports operations. A prevailing theme was the need for authenticity in interacting with users. Though the term can be difficult to define, the social audience has made it clear what is not authentic.

    On authenticity:
    Wilhoite: “When you’re having a social message or using a social channel to communicate with your fan base, if it’s not authentic, they’re going to see through it right away and you’re actually going to create a bigger forest fire than what you’re trying to achieve.”

    Sullivan: “Avoiding that advertorial approach is something that I think is really important.”

    On programming social media:
    Shah: “It’s certainly not a broadcast schedule when I refer to programming. It’s almost an ethos. You’re sitting there thinking, what is the best, most recent piece of content for that particular channel and that particular time with the storylines that you have. You have to understand the cadence of each of those networks. ”

    Lange: “We know that a lot of our young users use [social media] in the afternoon. Our older users use it after work extensively. You have to think about their personal schedules and who you are trying to reach.”

    On over-the-top networks:
    Shah: “It’s not just mobile anymore, it’s connected devices, in general. The prolific quantity and installed base is only going to increase. The amount of time spent towards media is only increasing. We don’t find [the NFL’s OTT network] to be necessarily cannibalistic to television. It truly is additive. It enables you to create truly personalized experiences for your fans… It’s not a trend. It’s reality.”

  • TV Timeout: California Dreaming

    MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal said of the Dodgers hiring Andrew Friedman, “It’s a good idea to pay the brains of this outfit. If you are the Dodgers and you are trying to pay the best players, why wouldn't you want to get the best general manager?” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 10/14). S.F. Chronicle's John Shea, on the Dodgers: "They have to use smarts a little bit more and maybe dollars a little bit less" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 10/14). MLB Network’s Kevin Millar said, “Now it is time for the Dodgers to listen twice as much as they speak. Listen to what he is saying. Just listen to some plans and maybe Andrew Friedman is going to do the same.” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 10/14).

    : ESPN’s Taylor Twellman said of the sparse crowd for the U.S. national soccer team’s match at FAU on Tuesday, “I have been skeptical from the beginning about MLS working down here. It already failed. They need a stadium first and foremost” (“Honduras-U.S.,” ESPN, 10/14).

    : SNY's Marc Malusis said the Mets moving in the fences at Citi Field shows "just how much they missed originally with the ballpark that they put together" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 10/14).

    MODERN-DAY LEADER: ESPN's Paul Finebaum, on retiring SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: “I think of him as one of the most influential people in the history of intercollegiate athletics. As we stand today, he's the most influential person in college athletics" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/14). SEC Network's Gene Chizik: "He was so far ahead of his time in terms of being a forward thinker for not just the SEC, but for NCAA athletics … and expanded the footprint of this league" ("SEC Now," SEC Network, 10/14).

    ESPN's Bomani Jones said of the NBA experimenting with a 44-minute game, "Who asked for this? … I have no reason to think this is necessary" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/14).

    : Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer, on competing with the likes of Oprah Winfrey to buy the team: “I wasn't quite sure how to compete with anybody, I'll be honest. On the other hand, I kind of decided what I thought the team was worth" (“Jim Rome on Showtime,” Showtime, 10/14).

    : ESPNW's Jane McManus said of potential changes to the NFL’s player conduct policy, "I really do think the NFL needs to be leaning toward transparency with all of this. You really can't move forward without really looking at and addressing what's happened in the past" ("OTL," ESPN2, 10/14).

  • SMS 2014: The sponsor perspective on large global sporting events

    Sponsor Perspectives on Big Events

    Scott McCune, moderator
    Marko Blagovic, Dow Chemical
    Brian Goldstein, McDonald's
    Eelco van der Noll, Anheuser-Busch InBev

    The benefits of investing in partnerships with the Olympics and World Cup, even for brands that aren’t endemic to sports, go beyond just monetary return on investment, according to a panel of sponsors discussing large global sporting events at the 2014 CSE Sports Marketing Symposium.

    The panel, one of two devoted to the topic of large events, was moderated by McCune Sports CEO Scott McCune and featured Marko Blagovic, director of sports marketing for Dow Chemical, McDonalds head of the FIFA World Cup Brian Goldstein, and Eelco van der Noll, a global executive for Anheuser-Busch InBev.

    The panelists agreed that signing on to massive global sports events presents unique challenges, such as markets that are tough to penetrate, geo-political issues and logistical struggles. But each believes that the benefit outweighs the difficulties.

    On the benefit of partnering with global sports events:
    Blagovic: “There are important [issues, such as] how do you engage the whole community when you operate in a different place? And how do you get more into the government markets, which is an important segment that we weren’t so successful in before, but the IOC partnership I think has opened so many doors for us.”

    Van der Noll: “[The World Cup] is the biggest drinking occasion in the world. It reaches every corner of the world. It allows us to activate beyond our global brand and catch up.”

    On strategy and ROI:
    Goldstein: “We use this as an opportunity to not drive brand awareness, but to just look at it as an overall branding opportunity to let people see a different side of McDonalds and in many ways change their perception of what they think of the brand… When we do research after the fact and we look at our brand, it’s not about ROI. It’s really hard to define an ROI on something like that. It’s more about a return on our objectives for the changing perception, people trusting our brand and looking at our brand in a different way.”

    On non-partner brands and ambush:
    Van der Noll: “We’re pretty relaxed about it. We don’t care about designations or official sponsors. It’s meaningless to consumers. There’s really not much you can do with it. I think [with] a property like FIFA – our properties are very involved in the sale of assets, rights opportunities that simply don’t come if you ambush. It also goes the other way. I think that consumers sort of understand and have an appreciation that there are bottom-feeders, for lack of a better word, and companies that really make a meaningful contribution to their experience of the World Cup.”

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