• Champions Podcast: Len Elmore

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    Writer John Ourand and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour introduce Len Elmore as one of this year's Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business. Elmore has touched virtually all sides of the basketball business, having been an NBA player, an agent, a broadcaster and an executive. This is the fourth in a series of six profiles of the 2015 class of The Champions.

    Tags: Champions, Basketball, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Podcast: ESPN wins WC of Hockey rights

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    Media writer John Ourand joins NHL reporter Ian Thomas and Alex Silverman to discuss ESPN claiming the U.S. broadcast rights to the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in this week's NHL Wrap-Around podcast. Ourand shares exclusive details on what ESPN is paying the NHL to air the tournament, and the trio break down what the deal means for the NHL, ESPN and longtime partner NBC.

    Among the comments:

    "This deal was really a surprise to me because NBC is the home of hockey. NBC has had the NHL for many years now and is doing a very good job with it. … Fox was making a very big play to go get it, and part of the reason is because Fox has FS1 and FS2. ESPN, of course, has its 20 channels, and they need live sports rights to go along with them. This is as much about trying to grab as many live rights as they can, as it is an interest in hockey."

    "Every time we go through an Olympics period, hockey gets huge ratings in the Olympics. Everyone waits for the big bump to go and hit the NHL, and that big bump almost never comes. The same thing happens in soccer with the World Cup. The World Cup for a month takes over the U.S. sports-viewing public, the TV-viewing public. MLS never sees a bump from it. It can’t hurt, but generally to depend on a bump for the NHL regular season to come from this event is really asking a lot."

    "The Olympics is an NBC property. If the NHL does decide, ‘Let’s send our players exclusively to the World Cup and not the Olympics,’ not only does NBC lose out on the World Cup rights, but potentially the hockey interest in the Olympics is not as high."

    "The NHL wants to get on another network. I do think that there’s a big marketing might with ESPN that hits the casual sports fan [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman wants to hit. If you were to promote this or promote the NHL regular season during some of ESPN’s highly rated college basketball games or NBA games, that would be great. ... Ultimately, though, usually the company that writes the biggest check would get it, and I would imagine a partner like NBC that has been such a good partner for the NHL for so long, if they had written the biggest check, I find it hard to believe that the NHL wouldn’t go that route."

    Tags: ESPN, Hockey, Media, NHL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Podcast: Assessing college hoops attendance

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    College writer Michael Smith and Assistant Managing Editor Tom Stinson discuss college basketball attendance being down for the seventh straight year and how schools such as Nebraska, N.C. State and Syracuse have bucked the trend.

    Tags: Basketball, Colleges, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Podcast: This week's NHL Wrap-Around

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    Alex Silverman and hockey writer Ian Thomas assess the NHL's new statistics offering in this week's NHL Wrap-Around podcast.

    Among the comments:

    "There’s definitely been a resistance to showcase these stats that we’ve been talking about for a long time if you’re a fan of hockey. … It’s a big step for the NHL to get involved in this sort of thing, and their point of view is, ‘Now we can do it our way, use our stats, make sure it’s accurate.’"

    "Everyone who has been keeping track of these stats for years has called them Corsi and Fenwick. … I think it was a bold decision by the NHL to change them. It shows that they’re trying to put their own stamp on it. … Their rationale for changing those names being that they think it will make the metrics more accessible to the casual fan. But I would like to see them present that breakdown of what each stat is, put that more on the forefront."

    "I think it’s great that hockey fans do have a place to go for this type of information now that is official."

    "The NBA has really been at the forefront of this player tracking movement. … They’ve made a point of making all that data available for free, with the thought process being, ‘Anything we can do to get the fans more engaged in the game is ultimately going to help us because fans that are more engaged are going to go to more games, watch more games, buy more merchandise and be invested in our product.’ I think that ultimately the NHL will adopt a similar mentality."

    Tags: NHL, Hockey, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Jacksonville case study: The craft beer effect

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    This week in SportsBusiness Journal, we look at some of the trends that executives in the concessions industry are watching. Tom Anastasia, regional vice president for Ovations Food Services, noted how craft beers have become increasingly prevalent in stadiums and arenas.

    Here, he shares an additional story, about what Ovations learned when the company adjusted the mix of taps at a portable stand in Jacksonville — including the financial impact of the change, in terms of fan spending.

    “We performed a case study to verify the popularity of craft beer in a football stadium environment. At EverBank Field in Jacksonville, we added an expanded craft lineup at eight existing draft portables. They weren’t new locations, just a new lineup of flavors to chose from. Initially Anheuser-Busch, our primary supplier at the stadium, introduced some import/specialty brands from their portfolio: Amber Bock, Stella Artois, Negra Modelo and others. Michelob Ultra [also an A-B brand], Miller Lite and Coors Light are also poured at various locations.

    “Previous tap setups had featured standard domestic options along with maybe one craft/import option as a second option. Our research indicates this mix is almost always impacted by product availability. EverBank Field is not different than most venues in the sense that a primary sponsor has more brand selection. While there is no issue with this, it does limit the ability for the consumer to make the choice to trade up to a higher-priced selection.

    “The beers that we placed in the craft designation that really started the shift came mostly from Jacksonville-based breweries: Bold City Killer Whale Cream Ale and Duke’s Brown Ale, Intuition Ale Works’ People’s Pale Ale and Jon Boat, and Green Room Brewing’s Pablo Beach. SweetWater 420 [from Atlanta] and Blue Moon [a MillerCoors brand brewed in Denver] were also added.

    “In our analysis, based on data collected over the course of the Jaguars’ 2014 regular season, we compared the consumer selection at the venue overall versus locations that serve a wider selection of craft beer options alongside the domestic beers. If you take a sample of the entire stadium, the ratio is 84 percent domestic draft beers sold compared to 16 percent craft/premium draft beers sold. This is misleading as a representation of what the consumer would choose if there were more options at more locations.

    “When we look at a prime draft portable location that has domestic and craft/premium options, the mix changes drastically. Given the choice at this location, the mix changes to 61 percent domestic and 39 percent craft. The craft beers are sold at a dollar more per unit for the same size. These incremental dollars add up across many points of sale and over a whole season. This is evidence that given the option to trade up to a premium product, a very large segment of our consumers are willing to pay more for a premium product.

    “It’s important to note that this was not the first introduction of craft beers in Jacksonville. Our lineup for craft beers on our package carts has been extensive for a number of years. This is simply an analysis of the shift when adding these flavors in draft. Very often the focus on draft is geared towards a sponsor product [typically one of the major domestic brands]. The point of the analysis was to show our clients that there is financial benefit to straying outside of the old exclusivity model.”

    Tags: On The Ground, Facilities
  • Champions Podcast: David Falk

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    NBA writer John Lombardo and Champions editor Tom Stinson introduce David Falk as one of this year's Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business. Most identified as being Michael Jordan's agent, Falk has been a leader in both NBA contract negotiation and the marketing of athletes. This is the second in a series of six profiles of the 2015 class of The Champions.

    Tags: Champions, NBA, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Goodell Runs 40 For St. Jude

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    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ran a 40-yard dash in the NFL’s New York office (watch video here) as part of a benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, akin to last summer’s Ice Bucket challenge. The video will air on NFL Network’s “Total Access” tonight.

    “He has thrown down the gauntlet to Eisen,” said NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger, referring to the network’s anchor Rich Eisen, who runs a 40-yard dash every year at the NFL combine.

    NFL Network executives would not disclose Goodell’s time.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Podcast: Las Vegas' NHL push

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    Alex Silverman and hockey writer Ian Thomas chat with Alan Snel of the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the city's push for an NHL franchise in the wake of Tuesday's ticket-drive launch in this week's NHL Wrap-Around podcast.

    Among the comments:

    "I think the Foley ticket drive will be an interesting litmus test to see if this market can make the transition from not only being a big sports event town in a major league sense, but now support a major league team for a season that’s more than 40 games. … Las Vegas to me has always been a fascinating wild card of a city because our market is driven more on events than seasons.'"

    "The catalyst in this hockey drive is the new MGM-AEG arena being built right now. … Obviously you’ll have your purists, but I think a big chunk of the fans will be visitors who will be among the 40 million walking up and down the Strip on a typical year and people who want to see the arena. I think the arena is going to be as much an attraction as the NHL team itself."

    "They’re looking at 54 percent of the visitors to the arena being tourists and 46 percent being locals. To have an NHL team you’d hope that the 46 percent locals would be a lot higher.'"

    "Las Vegas reminds me a little bit of the Florida markets in a way – very tourism-based, but not a lot of corporate headquarters. … We probably have, I’m guessing, a half-dozen to 10 gaming industry and casino companies that will probably buy up the suites and a smattering of other local businesses, but Las Vegas is not a corporate-rich community."

    Tags: NHL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • Schiller: Dramatic Win Raises America's Cup Profile In U.S.

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    SportsBusiness Journal this week reports on NBC Sports Group acquiring the exclusive U.S. television and digital media rights for the next America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs and America’s Cup Finals, set to take place in Bermuda in 2017.

    Veteran industry executive Harvey Schiller, a member of SBJ’s 2013 class of Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business, was one of the people who brought the deal together. Schiller is commercial commissioner for the 2017 event, and in talking about the deal last week, he noted the impact of how the U.S. team won the Cup in 2013 with a dramatic rally.

    NBC had the U.S. broadcast rights for coverage of that 2013 event, as well.

    “After the last event in San Francisco [in 2013], we’re getting more and more interest from the public and from sponsors as well. Before 2013, if you asked anyone on the street what they knew about the America’s Cup, it likely wasn’t much. But now, many will say ‘Wasn't that a great comeback?’ It’s partly due to the television coverage that is the case.”

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: Answered Prayers?

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    ESPN’s Buster Olney, on the Padres offseason after agreeing to terms with free-agent P James Shields: “It's mission accomplished for the Padres in terms of changing the perception of this team and trying to make it a team that could be a playoff contender in this summer” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 2/9). The N.Y. Post’s Joel Sherman said, “They were … the most aggressive this offseason. Part of it is learning from history. The teams that win the winter don’t always win the summer” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Net, 2/9).

    TOM-FOOLERY: Patriots WR Julian Edelman, to actor Josh Duhamel, with whom he presented the Grammy for “Best Rock Album” last night, “Josh, thanks for standing in for (Patriots QB Tom Brady). You guys look enough alike” (“The Grammy Awards,” CBS, 2/8).

    WALKING A TIGHTROPE: ESPN’s Field Yates said of Panthers DE Greg Hardy’s domestic violence charges being dismissed, “If the NFL treats this as if the incident never took place because the charges have been dropped, what kind of message are you sending? At the same time, the NFL personal conduct policy is specifically tied to the outcome of court cases. … It’s going to be a very tricky one for the NFL to manage” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 2/9).

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