• Olympic Ratings: Prime-Time Trends


    Closing Ceremony
    16th Day (Saturday)
    15th Day (Friday)
    14th Day (Thursday)
    13th Day (Wednesday)
    12th Day (Tuesday)
    11th Day (Monday)
    10th Day (Sunday)
    9th Day (Saturday)
    8th Day (Friday)
    7th Day (Thursday)
    6th Day (Wednesday)
    5th Day (Tuesday)
    4th Day (Monday)
    3rd Day (Sunday)
    2nd Day (Saturday)
    Opening Ceremony
    17-DAY AVG.

  • On The Ground: From the Sochi Olympics

    Welcome to the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily website devoted to the Sochi Olympics.

    Beginning today and running through Tuesday, Feb. 25, our On The Ground blog has been converted into a comprehensive daily website devoted to the Olympics and the business behind it. This is the fourth straight Games that we've offered a website focused solely on the business of the Olympics, beginning with Beijing in 2008 (to access the 2012 London Olympic blog, click here).

    SBJ Olympics writer Tripp Mickle is in Sochi providing news updates, people profiles and personal insights from the Games. Tripp has covered the business side of the Olympics for SportsBusiness Journal since 2006, traveling to the last three Olympics. Also included on the site is SBJ's Olympic archives from the months leading up to Sochi.

    We hope you enjoy our coverage.

    Tags: On The Ground, Olympics
  • D'Alessandro Unplugged: Measuring bat speed in baseball

    Former John Hancock Financial Services CEO David D’Alessandro shared his thoughts on a number of topics in sports business and corporate life during a recent lunch with SportsBusiness Journal Executive Editor Abraham Madkour at D’Alessandro’s Toscano restaurant in Boston. On The Ground has featured excerpts of that conversation this week, the last of which appears below.

    We turn the conversation to other sports, and as usual, D’Alessandro’s not at a loss for words.

    “We Americans like our sports fast or violent or with the ability to turn the game around quickly,” he said, while continuing to not believe in the validity of soccer in America yet. He goes around the horn, “I was wrong about the NBA. Years ago, I thought the NBA was going to go soft. But David Stern has done a great job. There is no sport where the players control management and the coaches as much as basketball. I’m convinced that in basketball, two or three superstars decide who the coaches are and when the coaches get fired.”

    Baseball: “Baseball broadcasting is a disaster, but baseball in person is actually a very, very strong play. What is more boring than the broadcasters in baseball? They’re terrible. They’re filling time. If I have to hear one more old broadcaster talking about the quality of the hamburger he had last night in Kansas City versus the last time he was in Kansas City…. And it’s pace of game related. Baseball needs a whole different way to be broadcast. How much focus is there on pitch speed? We all love pitch speed. 'Oh, he is throwing 95 miles per hour! He is getting some movement on his fast ball!' In physics, that’s only half the transaction when the ball is hit. How fast he is throwing the ball and the movement is important, but what is also really important is bat speed. If you have a chip in the bat, a tiny chip that won’t change the bat, and you put one in the ball, you’ll know every time exactly where the ball was hit on the bat, and how much of the ball was actually hit. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know, if the ball is coming 90-something miles per hour, and David Ortiz’s bat speed is 37 or 47 miles per hour, which is down from last year. So, his bat speed is a little slow. Then you’d be able to show where he hit, because the ball flattens. We could actually see the dynamics of what’s happening. And it would make the broadcast more interesting. And if you tie that to the fact that the under-35 crowd is so tied to their smartphones that you could actually simulate that in a stadium and see what’s going on and talk about that in a manner that’s appealing. Why won’t they do that? They measure everything. This is measureable and would be interesting. That is what the commissioner should be spending time on. The subtleties of the game are lost on the younger crowd.”

    For more on this conversation see From The Executive Editor in this week’s SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • D'Alessandro Unplugged: Soccer is 'a stadium play'

    Former John Hancock Financial Services CEO David D’Alessandro shared his thoughts on a number of topics in sports business and corporate life during a recent lunch with SportsBusiness Journal Executive Editor Abraham Madkour at D’Alessandro’s Toscano restaurant in Boston. On The Ground will feature excerpts of that conversation this week.

    On soccer and other sports:

    “I believe that 100 years from now it could get better. The statistics say that all these kids are playing soccer, but that doesn’t mean they translate into fans. So the next line of defense of course is that we have a large Hispanic population. You know what they want to watch? They want to watch their country play soccer. … Look at NBC’s ratings in MLS. It’s slow, it doesn’t get national enthusiasm, despite the fact that you can fill a stadium. It’s a stadium play. The whole country where you have three not four big league sports in football, basketball, baseball, except hockey. Hockey’s savings grace is it’s violent. We like violence. Look at UFC. It is doing better in ratings than soccer.
    “The reason you buy a sponsorship is to add the credibility of that sport’s brand to your brand. That’s the halo effect.  It actually works the other way too for that sport. If they get major sponsors, it makes them look better too. If I was to sponsor a sport and go big with it, it would be the NFL, because it’s so big now. It has done a fantastic job permeating, even in the offseason. The NFL is still … and it doesn’t matter whether you are a big or small city, the television contract has allowed them to all be equally competitive. Baseball, it’s hard for Milwaukee to be competitive.

    For more on this conversation, see From The Executive Editor in this week’s SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • David Stern Discusses '80s Marketing, Building Boom For NBA, Other Topics

    Former NBA Commissioner David Stern sat down this weekend with TNT’s Ernie Johnson to discuss the end to his 30-year tenure. Stern said, "I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into, but I had grown up as a lawyer and to me the NBA was the client. I think that stayed with me to this day. You protect the NBA, that’s what you do if you’re a lawyer for a client.” Stern said of his early days as commissioner, “We just began taking on the world because the lack of respect that the league had was pervasive from the media, from the networks.” Stern said there was "no such thing as sports marketing" before Michael Jordan entered the league and "we had no new buildings." Stern: "The building boom started in ’87 with The Palace, with the four expansion teams through ’89 and now we’re sitting here some number of years later where every team is playing in either a new or a totally renovated building in the course of the last 30 years.” Stern said the “phenomenon” of Jordan and the Bulls helped the league “realize that there was something going on here” in terms of globalization “that we better get to understand."  

    Stern also discussed difficult issues he had to deal with, including a “refereeing scandal, that was pretty difficult." Stern: "We had to deal with two serious lockouts that threatened the season, we had to deal with Magic Johnson announcing he was HIV-positive at a time when there was no way that you were allowed to test to see whether anyone else was HIV-positive.” Stern said of Johnson’s diagnosis, “We thought that the league was existentially threatened by that because there was such a lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS.” Stern said during labor negotiations, sometimes, “usually from without rather that from within, somebody would play the race card” and make it personal. Stern: “‘David Stern is like a plantation owner’ or something like that. That was the most personal it would get” during labor negotiations. I’m proudest of the diversity that this league has.”

    Stern said of his dealings with Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban, "I don't want to hurt Mark's feelings by indicating that he's not that much of a problem, because he would consider that to be a failure on his part. But let me say the following. One of the first early owners that I had to deal with was a gentleman by the name of Ted Turner and ... he was a bit of a maverick. He was imaginative, iconoclastic. He would break things just for kicks. He was visionary. He was difficult. He was bombastic. He was great and he's a friend and I will say to you that Mark is a friend. He has his own way and in the case of Mark, I am a foil and have been a foil and gladly so because actually we're friends. I have leaned on him for advice."

    Stern said he did not have any “great advice” for new Commissioner Adam Silver. Stern: "He and I have been working together, in some cases day and night, for 22 years and so he has done so much of what we’ve done together on his own watch, in his own way working together with me and others that he doesn’t need a lot of advice.” He added, "The only advice that I can give him is, ‘You got to do it your own way and you can’t be afraid to do something different.’ Change is good” (“David Stern: 30 Years,” NBA TV, 2/1).

    Below, read more of what was said and written about Stern during the final weekend of his 30-year tenure as commissioner.

    ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said of Stern, “He will be celebrated for having great success with this league, and he is also someone none of you would ever have wanted to work for because he was a bully and kind of a jerk who had great success with this league.” ESPN's Bomani Jones added, "The general image of the NBA and the player has changed a lot in the 10 years. A lot of it involved David Stern seeming like a curmudgeon, putting out dress codes and everything else. But look at that league right now. You can say everything you want about the NFL, but the guys in this league don’t get in trouble, they smile a lot for the camera, they bring their kids to press conferences and this is something that everyone could be proud of to see and you can’t divorce David Stern from those changes” (“Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 1/31). Meanwhile, the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said Stern was the "CEO as the league went from, if not necessarily a mom-and-pop grocery store but a chain of small convenience stores, into the international conglomerate that it is today, and he gets full credit for supervising that growth" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/31). 

    ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said Stern “doesn’t want” the spotlight on his way out because “he had it.” Wilbon said “people close to him” should have “gone to David and said, ‘We want you to take another bow in New Orleans All-Star weekend.’ But David doesn’t want it and that’s why it’s not happening.” The net's Tony Kornheiser said the league is "in better shape now than it was when he got it, but I don’t think it’s as good as it was with Bird and Magic and certainly Michael Jordan.” Kornheiser said what Stern "understood more than anybody else is to market to stars. … He let America see his product and that was really smart.” Wilbon added, “Stern had to preside over a more difficult situation than either football or baseball … (and) was unafraid to confront serious, important things and there was no blueprint” (“PTI,” ESPN, 1/31).

    GRANTLAND's Charles Pierce wrote, "There is a natural tendency to treat him as though he were some complicated hybrid of Henry Ford, Don Draper, and Rick Rubin: the man who invented and sold an entirely new product that crossed national and cultural barriers to mainstream a new kind of sports-entertainment complex wah-dee-doo-dah. Much of that is true, but it’s only half the story."

    The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Chris Herring looked back at the "decisions and events that made Stern one of the most successful yet polarizing executives in sports history."

    The SACRAMENTO BEE's Ailene Voisin writes Stern's imprint "extends all over the globe" to N.Y., Beijing, Barcelona, Russia, Argentina, China and, soon enough, India.

    ESPN.com's Marc Stein wrote he "still feels as though Stern has been running the NBA my whole life," which is why "it's even harder to imagine the NBA without him."

    The Cleveland PLAIN DEALER's Mary Schmitt Boyer: "I'm among those who think he saved the league and turned it into a global marketing machine."

    The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Rick Bonnell wrote Stern "did a lot to salvage players’ reputations from times when there was a presumption half the league was doing drugs habitually."

    ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote under the header, "The Many Sides Of David Stern."

    Big East Commissioner and former WNBA President Val Ackerman said, "Without his vision and engagement, the league wouldn't have gotten off the ground. He was the mastermind, and the WNBA was really in line with his vision about how sports and society are intertwined."

    Pistons G Chauncey Billups: "He had a great run as commissioner."

    SPORTSNET.ca's Michael Grange wrote Stern "may rank at the very top" on the list of most valuable people in NBA history, "just as long as we aren’t talking about what Stern did in Canada."

    Tags: NBA
  • SBJ Podcast: Sochi's mountain of challenges

    Olympics reporter Tripp Mickle and SBJ Olympics editor Tom Stinson discuss some of the concerns and issues facing the Sochi Olympics, which are detailed in a front-page report this week entitled "Mountain of challenges."

    Tags: Olympics, SBJSBD Podcast
  • SBJ Champions Podcast: Joan Cronan

    Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and college writer Michael Smith introduce Joan Cronan as one of this year's Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business. As women's athletic director at the University of Tennessee, Cronan was head of the most successful women's athletic department for nearly 30 years. This is the second in a series of six profiles of the 2014 class of The Champions.

    Tags: Champion, SEC, SBJSBD Podcast
  • D'Alessandro Unplugged: 'Stadium naming rights makes no sense to me'

    Former John Hancock Financial Services CEO David D’Alessandro shared his thoughts on a number of topics in sports business and corporate life during a recent lunch with SportsBusiness Journal Executive Editor Abraham Madkour at D’Alessandro’s Toscano restaurant in Boston. On The Ground will feature excerpts of that conversation this week.

    MADKOUR: You were never really a fan of naming rights, were you?

    D’ALESSANDRO: I mean it’s just a big sign really. There is probably a couple people in each of those companies who spends their entire time adding up how many times that sign got named. Do big companies actually need that type of reinforcement? Busch Stadium, really? We put signage at Fenway Park but it was cheap, small money. I’m talking about stadium naming rights, which I think is one of the great, great logistical ploys of all time. Great for the team image and not so great for everybody else.

    Stadium naming rights makes no sense to me. Never has. The logistics justify it, but it’s just a sign, a big sign, but it’s a sign. I mean if you took that much — take an NFL stadium, for example. You get basically the same 50,000 people going to the game every weekend anyways. You have eight regular-season games and most of the companies that have done these deals are companies that are well-known anyways. So what are they buying? I’ve never understood what they are buying. For $20 million a year or whatever the number is, you could buy a lot of GRPs [gross ratings points]. That’s a big play. I think a lot of them do it for ego. Really for ego.

    For more on this conversation, see From The Executive Editor in this week’s SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: John Hancock, On The Ground
  • The NHL Shift: Numbers and notes, 1/31/2014

    A look at the past week in the NHL and a glimpse at what’s ahead:


    1983: The year NHL COO John Collins graduated from Long Island University, as celebrated in a print ad by the college highlighting Collins and other LIU graduates, including Pokémon marketer Al Kahn and Douglas Elliman Real Estate Chairman Howard Lorber.

    60: The number of passengers on board an aircraft chartered by the NHL to take league executives, broadcasters (Jeremy Roenick, Barry Melrose and others), and guests from Los Angeles after the Dodger Stadium game last Saturday night to New York in time for the Sunday afternoon game in the Bronx.
    2 million: The audience on NBC for the Rangers-Devils game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, making it the most-watched regular-season NHL game in network history, outside of NHL Winter Classic games.
    682,000: The audience on NBCSN for the Rangers-Islanders game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. That’s 6 percent above what the network has been averaging for its “Wednesday Night Rivalry” package this season.

    $278.26: The average price on the secondary ticket market for the Rangers-Islanders game, the highest of the three Stadium Series games played so far, according to ticket price aggregator TiqIQ. That number, however, will almost certainly be eclipsed by the Soldier Field game on March 1. For that Blackhawks-Penguins game, the average ticket price in the secondary market this week was a whopping $353.

    7,000 gallons: The amount of hot chocolate made for the two Yankee Stadium games by concessionaire Legends Hospitality.

    11,458: The Carolina Hurricanes’ season-low attendance mark at last Saturday afternoon’s game against Ottawa, for understandable reasons. The game was scheduled for the night before, but a postponed game in Philadelphia earlier in the week set up a chain of events that forced the Hurricanes to switch the game from a Friday night to the much more challenging Saturday afternoon. The team continues to offer exchanges, which so far, according to a source, have amounted to “a few thousand tickets.”

    • Plus/Minus: Coors Light NHL Stadium Series
    Plus: All three games in the 5-day span this week were sold out: more than 55,000 at Dodger Stadium for Kings-Ducks, and a pair of crowds in excess of 50,000 for the games at Yankee Stadium featuring the Rangers, Devils and Islanders. Better still: No-shows were few and far between — impressive, considering the frigid temperatures in New York.

    Minus: The debut of “NHL Revealed,” the league’s seven-part documentary. A very good show had one flaw with its first episode: It so blatantly plugged the forthcoming Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium games that it sometimes came off as an advertisement.

    Plus: The Dodger Stadium game was pulled off with panache. The teams entering the field from behind the outfield wall, Wayne Gretzky dropping the ceremonial opening faceoff, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Kiss adding glitz and fun, beach volleyball being playing on the field — the entire package was a production worthy of Hollywood.

    Minus: The choice of CeeLo Green as the featured entertainment for the Rangers-Islanders game in the Bronx may have been a natural link for NBCSN — Green is one of the judges on NBC’s “The Voice” — but it wasn’t warmly received by hockey fans.

    • Looking Ahead
    Feb. 7: Coinciding with the league’s Olympics break, a roster freeze starts at 3 p.m. ET and continues until 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 23. Since the trade deadline is March 5, that means there are very few shopping days remaining for general managers to acquire that star to help them contend for a Stanley Cup — or to unload some high-priced players and continue a rebuilding program.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: Pick Me!

    Fox NFL analyst Brian Billick said of cold-weather Super Bowls, “I think Roger Goodell is going to have a problem if this goes off as it appears it might. It looks like a decent day. You better know that Chicago, New England, Baltimore, Philadelphia are going to be lining up outside the offices on Park Avenue of the NFL saying, ‘Hey, what about us?’” (“Fast Money Halftime Report,” CNBC, 1/29).

    OUT OF THE ORDINARY: NBC’s Tony Dungy on the level of hazing Dolphins OT Jonathan Martin endured: “I couldn’t picture anything like this going on in the locker rooms that I was involved in” (“Today,” NBC, 1/29).

    NOT ANOTHER BATTLE: Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde said of the NCAA’s response to the threat of players unionizing, “The last thing they want is to fight this battle and have this be a real battle” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” NBCSN, 1/29).

    USING THEIR HEADS: CBS Sports Net’s Doug Gottleib said of the new protective caps available to MLBers, “Isn’t it crazy baseball players have been wearing cups forever, but they haven’t protected their heads forever?” (“The Lead Off,” 1/28).

    OUT OF HARM’S WAY? U.S. Olympic snowboarder Danny Davis said of security concerns at the Sochi Games, “I think where we are up in the mountains we’re pretty safe. I’m just going to let that be something we don’t worry about” (“Today,” NBC, 1/29).

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