• Reaching Millennials may be biggest challenge facing sports

    NASCAR CEO Brian France says figuring out the Millennial fan is a big issue in sports.

    The biggest challenge facing sports in the next few years is determining how to engage Millennials in a way that’s relevant to their demographic, said a panel of league commissioners and team presidents at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports.
    “Everybody’s ability to manage and figure out the Millenial fan and how that continues to unfold this year and over the long term (is the most important issue in sports business),” said NASCAR CEO Brian France.
    MLS Commissioner Don Garber added, “It’s a whole new world and I encourage everyone to spend a lot of time thinking about it.”
    Garber said that the Millenial generation is about 80 million people, and that they view their teams and favorite sports radically different than generations before them. They multi-task. They consume sports on multiple platforms. They may or may not have cable. They want their in-stadium experience to include interactivity.
    Garber pointed to a situation MLS ran into in San Jose as an example of how Millennials’ perspectives can affect sports teams. The Earthquakes opted to charge more for tickets for a game against the Seattle Sounders, and Sounders and Earthquakes fans united through social media to create a supporters group that raised their concerns with the league. They protested together.
    “That’s not something anyone in our generation thought of,” Garber said. “A Giants fan wasn’t hanging out with an Eagles fan to figure out how they were going to deal with away ticket pricing. We better understand that. It’s going to affect the way we do business.”

    YouTube Global Sports Head Claude Ruibal said that while that type of response among Millennials is creating issues for leagues and teams, it’s also creating new opportunities for the sports industry.
    “The social amplification, something like Kick TV (a soccer channel on YouTube that MLS launched) that people are sharing with 10, 20 and 30 of their friends [is] spreading out,” Ruibal said. “You have to see the power of that.”
    Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is trying to engage the Millenial generation with its relaunch of the Toronto Raptors’ brand. It brought on Canadian rapper Drake to assist in developing a new logo and look for the team.
    “We’re using him as an opportunity to understand social media because we absolutely believe that is the platform to reach our future fan base,” said MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke.
    Both Leiweke and Seattle Seahawks and Sounders President Peter McLoughlin said that their soccer teams, Toronto FC and the Sounders, tend to have more young fans. Leiweke noted that avidity among young fans for MLS is now equal to avidity for MLB, according to the ESPN Sports Poll. McLoughlin said that the way they interact with their team is different.
    “They believe they are owners of their own club,” McLoughlin said. “It’s just a whole new world in our business.”
    France said that NASCAR, which has an aging fan base, is working hard to find new ways to engage Millennial fans. It created a Fan and Media Engagement Center to monitor social media, where most Millennial fans communicate, and its top facility, Daytona International Speedway, is adding new social media interaction areas as part of a $400 million renovation project.
    “They’re getting interested in sports differently,” France said. “It’s not the male in the house idea that your father or brother or uncle take you to a game or a race. And then the device — they want the device to have relevance into the actual game. That’s not going to be upon us tomorrow morning, but over the next decade and longer, it’s going to be a very big factor.” 

    Tags: IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports, NASCAR, MLS, Seattle Sounders, Media
  • Breakfast networking at World Congress

    Photos from breakfast networking at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports.

    Tags: ING, IMG, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports
  • Silver: NBA digital model needs a ‘simpler consumer experience’

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the way that the NBA sells games on smartphones and tablets, and the way that fans consume them, is “pretty clunky,” and that he’d like to find ways to simplify the process.

    “The existing combination of blackouts and multiple broadcasters makes it very difficult to present what would otherwise be a simpler consumer experience,” said Silver during a one-on-one interview at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports. “Nirvana would be that if someone was tweeting about a great game, and they say ‘tune in, LeBron has 25 points through the first quarter against Cleveland,’ that you just go ‘click’ and if you’re an authenticated subscriber, you can then get that game. Right now – less because of market considerations and more because of limitations in technology – the only way you can buy our out-of-market package is through an All-You-Can-Eat package of games. And that’s not optimal for a lot of consumers. Our hope is that working with our TV partners, including RSN partners, you can have one combined ecosystem.”

    During the session, Silver hit on a variety of topics, including the league’s TV rights deals, tanking, jersey ads, expansion and ways fans consume the league digitally.

    Here are a few quick hits:

    On jersey ads: “I think it’s inevitable. There are so many programs because of TiVo where people are skipping all the commercials, it just creates that much more of an opportunity for our marketing partners to get closer to our fans and closer to our players. And it gives us an opportunity to have deeper integration when it comes to those forms of sponsorship. … I think it’s going to become more accepted and commonplace by U.S. fans. Most likely within five years.”

    On managing NBA digital rights: “This is an area we should be partnering. We’re very happy with our current partnership with Turner.”

    On the coming TV deal: “We have two years left on our national TV deal with Turner and ESPN/ABC. What we’ve said to our current partners is that if we can strike the right deals, we’re interested in renewing early. But it’s a great time to be out in the marketplace.”

    Tags: NBA, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports
  • Leiweke: Toronto FC revenue will double in wake of major player signings

    Leiweke says Toronto FC's revenue will double in the next year.

    Toronto FC faced criticism after it spent more than $100 million on players during the offseason, but Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke said the signings will help the club’s revenue double in the next year.
    The increases will come from ticket, sponsorship and media revenue that will follow better play on the field and an increase in interest in the club as a result of new players like Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe, he said.
    Leiweke, who was speaking on the opening panel of the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports, said that total revenue at Toronto FC will increase to more than $75 million and the value of Toronto FC will grow from the $10 million MLSE paid for it in 2005 to $250 million in the coming years.
    “These guys will end up paying for themselves,” Leiweke said of the new players. “We currently lose money. We’ll lose money again this year, but it’s a price our owners are willing to pay to be where we want to be. We have a shot of making that team one of the two or three most relevant brands in all of Canada.”

    The signings were controversial in MLS, which is a single-entity league. Philadelphia Union President Nick Sakiewicz said Leiweke was “breaking the bank” and that he was “frustrated” by the signings.
    MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who was on the panel with Leiweke, acknowledged that the signings had been controversial, but said that they were important for the league as it looks to become one of the top leagues in the world.
    “It’s a big part of our strategy to ramp our investments so the quality of play can compete with all the imported soccer coming into North America,” Garber said. “But at the end of the day, you want to pay players effectively so you can manage your overall spending in respect to your revenue. When you have one team spending $25 million and another spending $4 million, it creates all sorts of issues that could be positive and challenging. … Overall it’s a very positive thing.”
    Seattle Sounders and Seahawks President Peter McLoughlin said that the value of signing those players was on display when Toronto FC beat the Sounders 2-1 last weekend. But he said that the way that the Sounders looked at their biggest signing in recent history, Clint Dempsey, was different.
    “I really struggle with operating a money-losing operation,” McLoughlin said. “People can make that decision that they want to make the investment on a negative cash flow basis to grow the asset value. But what keeps me up at night is losing money. We made a big investment with Clint Dempsey, and the impact it has on your bottom line is something that has to be considered smartly and objectively. I’m sure Tim did. I know we did in Seattle.”
    McLoughlin added that both the Sounders and Seahawks are profitable. 

    Tags: Toronto FC, Media, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports, MLS
  • The NHL Shift: Numbers and notes, 3/14/2014

    A look at the past week in the NHL:

    50 feet: Maximum distance that medical personnel can be stationed from team benches during games, as mandated by the NHL. The close proximity of the Dallas Stars’ doctors from UT Southwestern Medical Center enabled them to reach Stars forward Rich Peverley in 14 seconds and administer treatment after he suffered a cardiac episode during the first period of the Dallas-Columbus game on Monday.

    8/20/2012: The date on which UT Southwestern announced a deal with the Stars to become the team’s official medical provider. It marked the first time a single organization would be managing the entire spectrum of medical care for the club. Among the agreement’s particulars, UT Southwestern staffs every home game with an emergency-medicine specialist, primary care sports medicine physician, orthopaedic sports surgeon, plastic surgeon and dentist. Additionally, the medical center’s logo is on the Stars’ practice jersey.
    80.8 million homes: Good news for the NHL: NBCSN is now available in that many homes, its highest mark yet. The former OLN/Versus was in 78.2 million homes this time last year, and 63.4 million in spring 2006.

    511,000 viewers: The average viewership for NBCSN’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry” matchup this week between Boston and Montreal. It was a rare appearance for one of Canada’s teams in NBCSN’s spotlight game, but people watched: The viewership was higher than the 416,000 viewers for the Wednesday game the week prior, between Washington and Philadelphia.

    70: That’s how many pucks were used — 50 real, and 20 foam rubber — when Blues forward T.J. Oshie filmed a commercial for Enterprise Rent-A-Car this week that will run during the playoffs on NBC and NBCSN. Oshie, a breakout star of this year’s Olympics after his heroics in a shootout win over Russia, took shots on an actor who was set up in goal in a jacket and tie with no padding. (Hence the soft pucks).
    6th: The ranking of Chicago Blackhawks owner/chairman Rocky Wirtz in Chicago Magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful Chicagoans of 2014. The top 5 were Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois House speaker Mike Madigan, Pritzker Group co-founder J.B. Pritzker, Cook County board of commissioners president Toni Preckwinkle and Grosvenor Capital Management chairman and CEO Michael Sacks. (Bulls and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was 11th).
    THE LIST: Hockey agents on Twitter

    Several top agents of NHL players have taken to Twitter to get their messages across and engage directly with fans. Here are some of the agents and agencies with the most followers.
    Allan Walsh (Octagon), @walsha: 31,500 followers
    Jay Grossman, @Jay_Grossman: 17,000
    Ben Hankinson (Octagon), @benhankinson: 7,400
    Scott Norton, @NortonSports: 6,700
    Ian Pulver, @ianpulver: 4,000
    Newport Sports, @TheHockeyAgency: 2,400
    CAA Hockey, @CAAHockey: 2,100
    Neil Sheehy, @IceHockeyAgent: 2,000
    Rick Valette (Octagon), @RickJValette: 2,000
    Tobin Wright, @agentwright: 1,900
    Orr Hockey Group, @OrrHockeyGroup, 1,700
    Scott Bartlett (Sports Consulting Group), @SCGscott: 700

    THE PLAYLIST: A look at some of the songs played in-arena during an NHL game

    Game: Capitals at Penguins: Tuesday, March 11
    Location: Consol Energy Center
    In-Charge: Bill Wareham, director of game presentation, Pittsburgh Penguins
    “Someday” – The Strokes
    “Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars
    “Iron Man” – Black Sabbath
    “Safe and Sound” – Capital Cities
    “Lucid Dreams” – Franz Ferdinand
    “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
    “Start Me Up” – Rolling Stones
    “Swoon” – Chemical Brothers
    “Are You Ready?” – AC/DC
    “All My Life” – Foo Fighters
    “Everybody Wants Some” – Van Halen
    “Voyager” – Daft Punk
    “Don’t You Worry Child” – Swedish House Mafia
     “Kashmir” – Led Zeppelin
    “Mind Your Manners” – Pearl Jam

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Forty Under 40 Class Of 2014: Where They’re From

    SportsBusiness Journal this week has profiled the members of its 2014 class of Forty Under 40. In addition to sharing with you their individual stories, we’ve presented here collectively some of their responses to questions we asked them during their interviews.

    Today, in our final entry, we share a little more about who they are — and where they’ve come from.

    Where they’re from

    This year’s Forty Under 40 class members come from 21 of the 50 states, and two of the 40 were born overseas. Among those U.S. states represented, New York can lay claim to the most members of this year’s Forty Under 40 class, with five.

    The full rundown:
    5: New York
    4: California, Massachusetts
    3: Pennsylvania
    2: Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas
    1: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon, Virginia

    Where they went to school

    A total of 31 schools are represented by the 40 executives when we asked them where they received their undergraduate degrees, but The Victors in this category in terms of being able to boast the most Forty Under 40 class members is … :

    5: University of Michigan

    Also with multiple graduates:

    3: Stanford University
    2: Harvard University, University of North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania

    Previous posts:

    Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

    What advice would you give to students who are hoping to work in the sports industry?

    How do you strike a work-life balance?

    Tags: On The Ground
  • NFL TV Timeout: Title Aspirations

    The new NFL calendar year is into its third day, which means free agency is in full swing. With the league salary cap having increased by more than $10M, more teams than expected have found themselves in position to spend money on players. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said, “This is, to me, one of the most fun weeks of the year. It’s a great time. Everybody thinks they are winning the Super Bowl this week. Everybody is happy about getting more money. There aren’t too many people that are disappointed” (“NFL Insiders,” ESPN, 3/12).                                                                                                                                     

    THE AIR UP THERE: Winning the AFC championship last season was not enough for the Broncos, who have gone out and made some of the biggest moves of free agency. S.F. Chronicle's Ann Killion wondered how the Broncos "have all that money to spend.” She added, “They already have a loaded roster, it's crazy. But Denver has definitely made the biggest splash” ("Yahoo Sorts Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 3/12). FS1’s Mike Garafolo, on the Broncos free-agent spending spree: “Once you go to Denver and you sit down in front of John Elway, you’ve seen it over the last couple of days, you see how it happens, that will close the deal” ("Fox Football Daily," FS1, 3/12). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the Broncos "are lapping the field in free agency" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/12). ESPN’s Mark Schlereth said, “The panic button is mashed in New England” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 3/12).

    NEW ENGLAND IN THE FALL: The Patriots did not wait long to respond to the loss of CB Aqib Talib to the Bronocs. NFL Network's Albert Breer said of the contract between the Patriots and CB Darrelle Revis,"On the Patriots side, they displayed 14 years of fiscal responsibility and long-term stability. Where they give on this deal is the term. I'm sure they'd like to get Darrelle Revis signed for a longer term than this, create some stability with that situation” ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 3/12). ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg said, “In a league where the system is absolutely set up for the player to have no leverage, no advantage, every single possible advantage goes for the teams and away from the players in almost all negotiation and contracts, Darrelle Revis has figured out a way to game the system. Darrelle Revis is now entering his eighth year and he will have made over $80 million dollars in his career. … For a non-quarterback, that is unheard of” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/13).

    BAY AREA BICKERING? CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto, on the relationship between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke: "I think that's kind of irrelevant at this point only because … the big fight that Harbaugh has is about a contract, Baalke is only an ancillary issue in his mind. That's really on the back burner now that they're talking about football again." San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami added, “There's going to be tension with these two guys, they're alpha males. They head butt all the time but they both want to win. So they're not going to try to screw each other in the process of putting together a team. They're not that dumb. If they win a super bowl, they're both going to get rewarded for it" ("Yahoo Sorts Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 3/12).

  • TV Timeout: Two's A Crowd

    Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, on the possibility of the Lakers countering the Knicks' offer for Phil Jackson to return to L.A.: “You look at the kind of job that Phil Jackson wants to have and it is exactly the job that Jim Buss already has” (“NBA Gametime,” NBA TV, 3/12).

    ON THE EDGE OF THE SEAT: CSN Senior Exec Producer of Live Events David Koppett, on MLB’s instant replay: "Because it's so new and because there so much scrutiny on it, this is something that fans are really going to be hanging on to see how these challenges turn out" ("Yahoo Sorts Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 3/12).

    : Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten said of Dodger Stadium renovations, "The most important thing we're doing is keeping the look, keeping that familiar quality that fans have loved here more than any other city for the last 50 years" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 3/12).

  • Forty Under 40 Honorees Discuss How To Balance Work, Home

    SportsBusiness Journal this week profiles the members of its 2014 class of Forty Under 40. In addition to sharing with you their individual stories, we’re presenting here collectively some of their responses to questions we asked them during their interviews.

    Today, we present their answers to the following question:

    How do you strike a work-life balance?

    Renie Anderson: Not easily. It is about what you are willing to sacrifice. I run to the train quickly, I have a good support system, and I say “No” to a lot of things I used to say “Yes” to.

    Nate Appleman: I make the most out of the time I have at home. I also do everything I can to arrange my travel schedule around the various family activities. As a kid, I grew up in an environment where my parents made it to every game/event I had. I appreciate that even more now, and even though I can’t have perfect attendance as a father and husband, I do everything I can to be there.

    Bess Barnes: I have an amazing husband who does more than his fair share.

    Jessica Berman: With the amazing support of my husband, parents, in-laws, nanny; it takes a village!

    Amy Brooks: I certainly haven’t figured it all out, but try to have dinner with and put my kids to bed as much as possible, and never (or rarely) miss a really important event in their lives.

    Jeremy Carey: I’m always actively looking for ways to do the things I want with my family and friends regardless of how busy life gets. Even more importantly, I make time for the things they want to do with me.

    Ethan Casson: I look for small amounts of “uninterrupted” time to do things outside of work (movies, dinner with friends, working out).

    Kelly Cheeseman: I make sure to prioritize time that I have available, to spend time with my wife and plan activities where we can be together. It seems simple, but I think many couples forget the simple things. Also, in the last few years, I have focused, to the best of my ability, to avoid spending time on the computer at home working.

    Justin Connolly: Sacrificing sleep.

    Eric Conrad: The time that I’m with my wife and kids, I’m fully vested in that time. It’s tough with travel, but you have to prioritize. For me, it’s work and family.

    Rick Cordella: I really don’t. It’s probably the most difficult thing to achieve and something I do a poor job of.

    Jim DeLorenzo: I have a very understanding and supportive wife who hopefully reads this so I get some points.

    Dave Finocchio: Marrying the coolest girl around helped a lot. Good friends and Tuesday night bowling league also additive.

    Jessica Gelman: Teamwork. I am fortunate to be a part of two great teams, both personally and professionally. I am very blessed to have an all-star wife at home and an all-star team at work.

    Jonathan Gibson: I probably don’t, to be honest. It seems cliché to say, but I have never had a job where it felt like work. I love what I do, so it is hard to turn it off. Jessica (my wife) is a great influence on me in many ways and does a good job of trying to make me check out from work when I am home in the evenings or on the weekends.

    Alison Giordano: It’s a constant challenge.

    David Greenspan: Forego sleep.

    Kirsten Hunt: I rely on Outlook for everything, including “me” time, because when that reminder pops up, I can’t ignore it.

    Tucker Kain: Consciously taking time to spend with family and friends, all while doing my best to avoid checking my emails and phone messages.

    Joe Karlgaard: I integrate. My family life is part of my work, and my work life is part of my family.

    Ed Kiernan: Even in New York City, I try to make it home most nights for dinner with my family. I get to the gym more often than I don’t, and weekends are for hanging with my sons (especially carting my oldest to sporting event after sporting after sporting event). And I never travel just to travel.

    Chris Klein: I like to work out and spend time with my family.

    Josh Kroenke: Time management is the key to any good personal/professional balance.

    Damani Leech: My wife forces me to have it.

    Andrew Lustgarten: Having great bosses at the NBA who respect and let me get my work done and see my family.

    Rod Moskowitz: It’s bad enough that I have to hear from my mom and dad on a weekly basis asking when I’m going to get married. Trust me: I’m working on it.

    Ahmad Nassar: Prioritization and relying on technology to get out of the office but still be on top of things.

    Will Pleasants: Technology helps, but you learn to respect everyone and give them all the time they need and deserve.

    Brian Schulz: My job is very physical besides being mental in terms of thinking on the go and substituting different things that you thought were going to happen but you have to call an audible for. So, I like to work out; I swim. I do a lot of thinking when I swim. I try to stay in shape that way and I think that’s how I do the whole work-life balance. It keeps me centered.

    Donte Scott: Wake up early (assuming I go to sleep), get involved with the kids’ sports, and try to keep my laptop off until we’ve gotten the kids off to bed for the night.

    Emmanuel Seuge: I wake up early in the morning when everyone sleeps and I try not to work when I come back from the office at night.

    John Shea: Having a good wife is the key.

    Jared Smith: We’ve found a lot more balance since moving to L.A. I struggle with it as much as anybody, but we try.

    Henry Stafford: Bring energy to everything you do. Whether it is at work or at home or taking care of oneself.

    Josh Swartz: Very delicately, particularly with a spouse who has an amazing career.

    Lowell Taub: I include my family in my work life whenever practical (Knicks games, Eagles games, Olympics, Dew Tour, etc.) and try to spend as much time with my family as I can — and be present while I am doing it.

    Igor Ulis: This is a tough one. I try to stick to a routine with my kids. There are weekly activities (swim team, skiing, etc.) to make sure we spend quality time and bond. My wife and I try to sneak in weekend getaways every so often to help keep things in perspective.

    Araceli Villegas: A rock-solid support system and investing as much quality time at work as I do quality time at home.

    Pete Vlastelica: I love being outdoors. Conveniently, when I am enjoying nature, it’s almost impossible to work.

    Chris Wujcik: Get as involved as possible with my kids’ activities.

    Coming tomorrow:
    Where they’re from, and where they want to school: We tell you which state and which undergraduate school can lay claim to having the most members of this year’s Forty Under 40 class.

    Previous posts:

    Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

    What advice would you give to students who are hoping to work in the sports industry?

    Tags: On The Ground
  • TV Timeout: Are You Experienced?

    PGA of America President Ted Bishop, on the task force that will explore creative growth of game procedures: “We need to redefine what the golf experience is. … We want to explore some really innovative alternative methods of playing the sport … a way to introduce a different segment of society into the game” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 3/12).

    MORE THAN STEAKS: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, on the significance of the College World Series to Omaha: “It's huge. We spent $140 million on the stadium just to take care of the College World Series and that is one of the reasons I bought a quarter of the Triple-A franchise 20 some years ago, to help ensure it stays in Omaha. … Omaha would be a different city without the College World Series” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/12).

    WHEELING & DEALING: FS1’s Mike Garafolo, on NFL free-agency: “How’s that CBA look to you by the way? It looks pretty good right now” (“Fox Football Daily,” FS1, 3/11).

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