SBG: Leeds United Set For Financial Boost SBJ: Wasserman in talks to buy Athletes First SBJ: MacDougall runs IMG sale SBD: Luukko Resigns From Comcast-Spectacor SBD: Executive Transactions SBJ: A pay-for-play model SBJ: An alarm for college football SBD: TWC Could Seek Record Fee For Dodgers RSN SBD: SB XLVIII To Be Most Expensive Ever SBD: Jeff Behnke To Be NBC VP/NASCAR Production
November 19, 2013 01:44 PM
I was in my window seat on the exit row when a young man sat next to me. The first thing I noticed were his hands. Not that I have a habit of staring at the hands of the passenger next to me, but his had dirt deeply embedded in his fingernails, with Band-Aids wrapped around four fingers. I figured he was a worker, or maybe a fighter. I hoped the former.
My plan of reading and falling asleep quickly materialized, but we were both startled awake when our baggage bin unexpectedly came open. After that we exchanged small talk, and it quickly turned into one of the most fascinating discussions I’ve had. I inquired about his plans in Orlando, and with a big smile, he told me that he and his family — his wife and three children all spread out throughout the plane — were taking their first vacation in more than 11 years. They were dairy farmers, working a farm with more than 200 animals about 25 minutes outside of Harrisburg, Pa.
Having grown up in Vermont, I am familiar with the brutally hard life of a dairy farmer, and most of the families I knew sold and moved on. My habit of asking questions led to some amazing stories. Joel told me he was the son of an air-conditioner repairman and the family at one time lived on a dairy farm, where Joel fell in love by watching farmers work the land. He went to Penn State for all of five days before leaving to follow his passion of farming. He met his wife at church, and together they rented farmland near Harrisburg before buying their own extensive farm, from which they provide mostly milk to local cooperatives.
I pressed him on the work hours, and his eyes filled with passion as he described waking up at 4:30 for milking, taking 30 minutes to walk up to the house for lunch, and then finishing up anywhere between 8:30 and 10 p.m., when he sits down for dinner and helps his children with their homework before doing it all over again. Seven days a week, 365 days a year. Hence, the first vacation in 11 years. His wife works the farm with him. His children go to public school and then come home and work the farm from afternoon till dinner. This was their first commercial flight.
I kept coming back to, “How do you keep this up? When do you take a break?” His smile grew wider, “I love it, we work together as a family and we all love it.” He said they didn’t take time for movies or TV. “Do you ever watch sports?” I asked. “No, not much into sports.” “So on Sunday, you won’t watch the Steelers game?” “No, we’re working right up till around 9 on Sundays. If we get done early, we may have friends nearby come over for a late dinner.” “What about the holidays? What will you do for Thanksgiving?” “We’ll work and have some lunch and then go out on the farm and work again.” I couldn’t fathom this schedule, and said there must be a guilty pleasure, somewhere, somehow, where he treats himself. “Oh sure, every Sunday afternoon I take a 45-minute nap. If I don’t have that nap, I’m dragging the entire week. And, yeah, I’ll occasionally make some of the freshest homemade ice cream you’ve ever had.”
I was literally in awe of this man’s pride, passion and love of family and life. I pride myself on my work ethic, having watched my parents work in my dad’s dental practice six days a week to get seven kids through college. But even they had a day of rest, or better yet, house and yard work. Joel and his family represent a different type of work ethic.
I walked off the plane with him and he introduced me to his family, all wide-eyed with excitement and anticipation for their trip to Disney, but with a clear look of fatigue, for they had been up since 3 a.m. to do their farm chores before heading to Harrisburg airport. I doubt I’ll ever see Joel again; I hope I do. I wondered if I could last a weekend on his farm. But for 60 minutes on that Sunday afternoon, few people have made me think more — about life, lifestyles and perspective — than he did.
November 18, 2013 09:13 AMMedia reporter John Ourand and SportsBusiness Daily Assistant Managing Editor Austin Karp expand on Ourand's column this week on the strength of the NFL on television. Among the discussion:
■ "What's most surprising to me about this is that of all seasons, I was really expecting this season to show a decrease."
■ "It doesn't matter what team … it's just market agnostic with the NFL."
November 18, 2013 09:12 AMMedia reporter John Ourand and Assistant Managing Editor Tom Stinson talk about Turner Sports' plans to have team-focused telecasts for this year's NCAA Tournament semifinals across TNT and TruTV, while maintaining the traditional primary telecast on TBS.
November 15, 2013 11:55 AM
A look at the past week in the NHL and a glimpse at the week ahead.
• THE NUMBERS
“2 to 12”: That, according to a source, is new Sabres President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine’s time frame, in terms of weeks, to hire the team’s next general manager. LaFontaine, the popular former Sabres player, was hired by owner Terry Pegula in a shake-up Wednesday that included the firing of GM Darcy Regier. LaFontaine, whose only team front office experience had been a six-week stay as an adviser to New York Islanders owner Charles Wang in 2006, is expected to be methodical in his approach. His first step will be asking for permission from other teams to interview their executives on his list of candidates. Why a maximum of 12 weeks? The two-week Olympic break begins Feb. 9, so 12 weeks gives the new general manager time to settle into the position before the NHL trade deadline on March 5.
15: The number of franchises (from the league’s total of 30) that have played to 100 capacity six weeks into the 2013-14 regular season, through last night’s games. Maxing out tickets in the realigned Eastern Conference are Montreal, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston and the New York Rangers. In the West: Chicago, Calgary, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Jose, Minnesota and Winnipeg.
12 – 15 – 20 – 100: Those are some of the positive business metrics for the surging Phoenix Coyotes, who are off to a 13-4-3 start on the ice in the first season under the new ownership of George Gosbee, Anthony LeBlanc and their partners. The Coyotes signed a 12-year broadcast rights agreement this week with Fox Sports Arizona, on the heels of reaching a 15-year concessions deal with Levy Restaurants. According to LeBlanc, the team’s co-owner, president and CEO, ticket sales are up 20 percent, and suite sales are up almost 100 percent. “We’re also tracking towards having the best year in Coyotes history in corporate sponsorships,” LeBlanc said. “Now, of course we started from a lower number, but it’s going great.”
8,620: The weight, in pounds, of the Minnesota Wild’s new Zamboni once it is filled with 277 gallons of water for ice-resurfacing. The Zamboni, unveiled this week, will be wrapped in advertising by Toyota, the club’s official automotive partner. Officially known as a Model 546, it’s the first new Zamboni purchased by the Wild since the club debuted with the Excel Energy Center in 2000.
8: Start time for the first originally scheduled prime-time regular-season NHL game on NBC since NBC Sports re-acquired NHL rights in 2006. The Coors Light Stadium Series game from Soldier Field on Saturday, March 1, between the Blackhawks and Penguins was moved this week to NBC from NBC Sports Network, with game time set for 8 p.m. ET. (The 2011 Winter Classic aired in prime time on NBC, but that was after the game was postponed because of rain from its originally scheduled afternoon start.)
• LOOKING AHEAD
MONDAY: Expect details on the NHL’s upcoming “24-7”-style access show to be divulged. The program, which will run on NBCSN and CBC, will spotlight players from their participation in the Coors Light Stadium Series through the Olympics (SportsBusiness Journal, Sept. 9-15).
November 15, 2013 09:43 AM
TV Focus Group
Jed Drake, ESPN
Perkins Miller, WWE
Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports
ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake responded to questions about how analysts are chosen and evaluated, saying, “There is no real science to this. It’s more art. The one thing with analysts is that they come from a world where performance is defined absolutely and positively by statistics and they go into a profession where there are no real statistics. … There is a fair bit of research and focus group work, but in the end, you have to go with your gut. What I generally tend to think is that the people entrusted with these decisions have made more right decisions than wrong ones over a period of time. That’s how we ended up with [“MNF” analyst] Jon Gruden. … And when you have the sort of natural magnetism that he has, I think that draws people in.”
Fox Sports Senior VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill, discussing the new talent hires for FS1 and FS2, said, “I think every property is different. You’re looking for something different in college basketball vs. UFC vs. baseball vs. a studio show. The studio shoes we have are pretty varied, and a person that makes sense for ‘Fox Football Daily’ might not make sense for ‘Crowd Goes Wild.’ In all cases, we’re looking for people who are dynamic, who are storytellers and can be informative and concise. They’ve got to be people that you want to hang out with. I think we can lose sight of the fact that people are inviting us into their homes. We’ve got to make sure we’re putting people into their living rooms that they would want to have in their own house.”
The fans also gave their opinions on the proliferation of advanced stats being used in sports broadcasts, to which WWE Exec VP/Global Digital Media Perkins Miller jokingly said of the company’s “Monday Night Raw” program, “I can promise you a stat-free zone on Monday nights.”
November 15, 2013 09:22 AM
Changing the Fan Experience
Noah Fischbach, NFL
David Jurenka, Xbox Entertainment Studios
Scott Rosenberg, Roku
Gerard Waldron, Covington & Burling
A major focus of the panel was the new deal between Microsoft and the NFL around the company’s Xbox One launch. Noah Fischbach, vice president of emerging products and technology with the NFL, said that having league apps on Xbox One at the outset is “additive” for the league. Fischbach: “The fantasy experience is a great example. You’ll now be able to watch your Sunday afternoon game on CBS or Fox and have your fantasy experience right there. … You won’t need to go get a second device. … For us, we think it’s going to be really interesting to see how much more people consume our content. … The Xbox One was built for this next generation and you can really do multiple things at once.”
David Jurenka, vice president and executive producer at Xbox Entertainment Studios, on which live sports will be on Xbox One at its launch: “We’ll have the NFL and ESPN at the launch. … But we’ve also had UFC pay-per-view events over the last few years, as well as partnerships with the leagues — NBA, MLB and NHL with their out-of-market packages.
Scott Rosenberg, Roku’s vice president of business development, content and services, on having most of the major pro leagues on the platform, said, “It’s a nice growing vertical for us. We’ve got great relationships with the leagues. Sports is a complex business, but it’s one that we continue to lean into more and more as we add league or sports news apps to the experience and bring networks on.”
Rosenberg, on the need to improve network architecture, “We’ve broken service providers around live events because they didn’t anticipate demand. But that is mostly a failure to plan.” Jurenka: “That certainly happened to us during the first year of showing ‘Sunday Night Football.’”
November 14, 2013 03:03 PM
FASHION POLICE: ESPN's Tim Legler, on the short-sleeve uniforms many NBA teams will wear during Christmas Day games: "I just can't do the sleeves. I'm sorry, I can't. I know that it’s become sort of popular over the last few years to try to figure out ways to tinker with what is the traditional basketball uniform. But I just don’t get into the tight-fitting, sleeve look for a basketball player." Legler said the jersey looks like something you'd wear "if you were going to ride a bike" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/14).
GLOBAL GROWTH: Golf Channel's Rich Lerner, on creating opportunities in Latin America through the PGA Tour: "They are intent on growing their Hispanic fan base; demographics demand that they make every effort. Hispanic population in the United States, as you know, is growing rapidly. Economies here in South America are expanding at a quick rate, the Olympic Games come to Rio in 2016, and I think the idea with this 14-event, eight country NEC series, places like Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, the idea is to maybe produce a singular star because stars, in the opinion of Tim Finchem and I think I would agree, stars attract potentially new fans to the game" (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 11/14).
Elsewhere on the tube today:
- Joe Torre's Safe At Home Foundation will profiled on Saturday's "CBS This Morning"
- UFC President Dana White appeared on "SportsCenter" to promote Saturday's 20th anniversary event in Las Vegas
November 14, 2013 01:55 PM
Realities of TV Everywhere
Matt Murphy, Disney & ESPN Media Networks
Matthew Strauss, Comcast Cable
“We’re really just beginning to scratch the surface,” said Matt Murphy, Disney & ESPN Media Network senior vice president of digital video distribution, speaking at the 2013 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology conference. “It’s going to continue to grow. We just need to continue to reduce the friction in the authentication process.”
Murphy and Matt Strauss, Comcast senior vice president and general manager of video services, said the next iteration of TV Everywhere will be to overlay additional enhancements and services beyond just supplying digital video on an anywhere, anytime basis.
“Time shifting has now become fully integrated into everything we do and how we watch TV,” Strauss said. “But the next iteration of TV Everywhere is going to be about live content, and what we’re now working on is how we incorporate additional experiences around this. What that’s going to be exactly I don’t know. But I see a lot of creativity happening around this. Video itself is almost sort of table stakes at this point. The question now is, What is the experience we’re going to create around this?”
* Last year’s London Olympics remain the most popular TV Everywhere to date for Comcast. “It was really the first time many consumers watched a live event on a mobile device,” Strauss said. “There were a lot of learnings there.”
* Piracy and sharing of TV subscriber passwords remains an issue as TV Everywhere expands, and Comcast even goes so far as to monitor Craigslist postings for improper sales of subscriber log-ins. “It’s an issue to some extent,” said Strauss. “We obviously watch it, and there are business rules that govern this. But our hope is that as personalization increases, the desire to share passwords should lessen.”
November 14, 2013 01:12 PM
The Sports Bubble
David Bank, RBC Capital Markets
Reagan Feeney, DirecTV
Doug Perlman, Sports Media Advisors
Steve Raab, SNY
Mark Silverman, Big Ten Network
Some thoughts from the panel:
Steve Raab, SNY president: “I don't think there’s a bubble. Maybe there’s a leveling off. A bubble implies something popping, and I don’t see that.”
Doug Perlman, founder and CEO of Sports Media Advisors: “This is not irrational exuberance.” Perlman cited competition for creating value.
Reagan Feeney, vice president of content for DirecTV, had words of caution: “Our average cost is already over $100 [for the consumer's monthly bill]. These costs are up and somebody is going to have to pay for them.”
Mark Silverman, president of the Big Ten Network: “Sports is the last live place where you watch television. Certain sports properties generate more value. Premium properties are always going to be worth a lot.”
David Bank, managing director at RBC Capital Markets: “Where is the bubble? I don’t see it. I’m not paying a lot more. I’m getting a lot more.”
Feeney: “We’re already seeing networks make tough choices. There has been some disruption. You can see it.”
Raab: “The burden is on the partnership between the property and the rights holder to justify the value and make it work.”
November 14, 2013 11:47 AM