• Sports League of the Year: NHL

    The NHL won the 2014 Sports Business Award for League of the Year, a key part of an overall monster night for the league that also saw wins in the Sports Event and Executive of the Year categories. Coming off a work stoppage in to begin 2012-13 season, the league returned to play early last year barely missing a beat with near-capacity crowds, strong TV ratings, the expansion of its Winter Classic into a seven-game series of outdoor events sponsored by Coors Light, and the signing of a massive new media rights pact in Canada.

    Long seen as the distant fourth leg of the Big Four of U.S. professional sports, the NHL buttressed by its media and growing roster of corporate partners now operates with a swagger largely unseen in its long history. “There are so many important building blocks,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “Our partners have been so supportive, ownership has been great, and our players are not only great athletes but great people. We worked really hard coming out of our labor issue in 2004 to create a foundation for growth, and we’re now seeing a lot of fruits of that.”

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  • Dan Rooney accepts Lifetime Achievement Award to standing ovation

    Dan Rooney said thank you in Irish to begin his acceptance of his Lifetime Achievement Award, a nod to his heritage and to his time as ambassador to Ireland in President Barack Obama’s first term.

    The audience gave the legendary owner of the Steelers a rousing standing ovation, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell introduced him by saying, “He is one of the greatest men I know.”

    Goodell mentioned several reasons for his admiration, but the first is perhaps the most striking: Rooney has hired only three head coaches in four decades, the commissioner said, and one is a hall of famer (Chuck Noll), and the other two (Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin) may be.

    Rooney let his son, John Rooney, read his speech, which extolled the Steelers, the NFL, and the incredible growth football has enjoyed in the last 80 years.

    “I can still remember my father telling me he actually paid WWSW to broadcast our football games,” said John Rooney, reading his father’s speech. “He felt it was necessary to have our games broadcast on public radio.”

    “[And] earlier this year there were more than 122 million people who watched the telecast of Super Bowl 48 [XLVIII],” Rooney said.

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  • Sports Business Awards Winners Slideshow

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  • Best in Sports Media: NBC Sports Group

    NBC Sports Group swept all three media awards of the Sports Business Awards, marking the first time the same company has won all three media awards on the same night. NBC Sports Group’s final award was for Best in Sports Media.

    “This is quite a night for the NBC Sports Group,” NBC Sports Group CMO John Miller said. “It’s a remarkable honor. We did have a great year. The Olympics. The Premier League. The growth of the Golf Channel. The National Hockey League with record performance. It was a team effort.”

    NBC Sports Group was honored for a performance during the Winter Olympics that saw more than 76 percent of U.S. TV homes watch some portion of the Games on an NBC channel and more than 10.8 million hours of video consumed on NBC’s digital
    platforms. NBC was honored for dominating prime time for 18 consecutive nights during the Olympics, plus producing the year’s top-rated prime-time show in “Sunday Night Football.”

    NBC has won much critical praise for its production of the English Premier League and made noise during the year by picking up media rights to NASCAR starting next year.

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  • Sports Business Awards 2014: Twitter roundup

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  • Sports Business Awards Winners Slideshow

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  • Sports Team of the Year: Golden State Warriors

    The Golden State Warriors won the 2014 Sports Business Award for Team of the Year, representing perhaps one of the surprise winners of the night competing in the category against league champions such as the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Seahawks. But the Warriors continued a sharp trajectory in 2013 under owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber that produced strong, extensive on- and off-court gains, and a pathway to a new arena in San Francisco.

    Long one of the NBA’s most moribund franchises, the Warriors are now widely seen as a progressive thought leader driving best practices around the sport in areas such as social media, ticketing and digital content. “I always thought that under the right ownership and the right plan, the sky was the limit for this franchise,” said Rick Welts, Warriors president and COO.

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  • Athletic Director of the Year: Kevin White, Duke University

    Duke University’s Kevin White won the Athletic Director of the Year award after a year that saw both on-field success for the school’s­ football team, which reached the ACC Championship Game, and off-field influence —­ White is one of three conference ADs on the television committee. “We’re going through some interesting times in college athletics, that’s perhaps to say the very least,” White said as he accepted his award. “As turbulent as they are, I think we have a great cohort of colleagues. We’re going to find a better day and are working toward that end.”

    After leaving the stage, White said that he felt that he needed to address the upheaval in college sports. “To borrow a phrase from the financial community, we’d been in market corrections before,” he said. “The next iteration will be better, and we’ll figure it out. It’s just a lot of competing interests. It’s a bit of a new frontier. We’ve got an eclectic group of schools in the NCAA, and we couldn’t be more different. It’s a very difficult leadership and management assignment for the parent organization, which is the NCAA.”

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  • Best in Digital Sports Media: NBC Sports Group

    NBC Sports won the 2014 Sports Business Award for Best in Digital Sports Media after a record-setting performance during the Sochi Olympics in terms of traffic, advertising and user authentication, in addition to the company’s expanding live video deployment of NFL football, EPL soccer, NHL hockey and other events. The outfit’s year was also marked by a deepening of its continuing digital partnership with Yahoo Sports and a continued position among the leaders in the most-trafficked outlets in U.S. online sports media.

    Rick Cordella, NBC Sports Digital senior vice president and general manager, accepted the award on behalf of the company and said its efforts in the last year were driven in large part by division Chairman Mark Lazarus and the company’s desire to push the envelope on the distribution of its live rights. “Five years ago, we were among the laggards in the space, and now we’ve become one of the leaders,” Cordella said.

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  • Sports Business Awards: Love for Warriors

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