• Entertainment powerhouse duo Burnett and Downey highlight Day 1 of Motorsports Marketing Forum

    BUCKLE UP: It will be all motorsports, all day at the events center of The Mirage on the Las Vegas strip, as attendees will have more than 10 sessions to take in during the 2015 Daytona Rising/NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum. What to expect: a focus on ideas, understanding and technology. It all starts with a brief look at the new Daytona Rising from ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy. And, following up on her presentation, we’ll present videos throughout the day highlighting three of the facility's fan injector sponsors: Toyota, Chevy and Florida Hospital. The day should provide a valuable time to reflect and to look ahead as the major motorsports series takes a breath after weeks on the road.

    THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT: It's refreshing to see successful people in entertainment (or any industry) stay down-to-earth and approachable. That was the consensus after a fun session last night that opened the conference by looking at the nexus between entertainment and sports, and featured acclaimed producer Mark Burnett, his wife and business partner, Roma Downey, and NASCAR's Zane Stoddard. After a spot-on, two minute sizzle reel that showcased many of their successful endeavors — including "Survivor," “The Apprentice," "Shark Tank," "The Voice," "Touched By An Angel," "The Bible," and "Son of God” — Burnett and Downey talked about how they came to America as young people, broke but with dreams they had dreamed while growing up watching shows like "Kojak," "CHiPS" and "Starsky and Hutch." But they individually charted journeys that eventually made them two of the most powerful and influential people in Hollywood. Buzz during the cocktail hour was how impressed attendees were that both stayed around long after their session, talking, mingling and posing for photos. Tip from both of them: Don't miss "Creed." They watched it over Thanksgiving and both said it was one of the best films they have seen all year.

              It’s all left turns: The sizzle reel showed attendees never-before-seen footage of their movie “Ben-Hur,” including some of the famous chariot race, which took a month to film in Italy. Remarking on their next planned project, a scripted series about NASCAR, Burnett quipped that he was getting used to filming vehicles race around ovals. “Ben-Hur” is set for release next August.

              Clear headlights, full tanks?: Regarding the NASCAR series, which could be telecast as soon as the fourth quarter of 2016, Burnett: “Everyone here knows all the stories of this year, of the larger-than-life characters in the sport. So there’s so much paint on the palette to create a great series. And we’re thinking along the lines of, really, “Friday Night Lights” meets NASCAR. That’s what we are going to be doing.”

              … NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps and COO Brent Dewar came into the speaker room before the session to say hello and share stories with both Burnett and Downey. … Stoddard left his phone on during the session, but we forgive him. He and his wife, Mylin, are expecting their second child at any time. … With presidential candidate Donald Trump being replaced on “Celebrity Apprentice” by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Burnett was asked whether The Governator would have a signature line to replace Trump’s infamous, “You’re fired.” Burnett: "It could be, 'You're terminated.’ Or maybe, 'You won't be back.’”
    Look for more from the opening panel in today’s DAILY.

    ON TODAY’S AGENDA: HEARING FROM THE CHAMP: Fox Sports' NASCAR pit reporter Jamie Little will sit down after lunch with 2015 Sprint Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch, who will open up about his activities around Champion’s Week and what the championship means to his business and brand.

    TECH TALK, CHANGE AND INNOVATION: One of the most anticipated sessions of the day will feature Fuse partner and well-regarded trend analyst Bill Carter talking about ways to market to Gen Z. We’ll have technology sessions examining Microsoft and its plans for how Windows 10 and cloud computing will affect motorsports, and top execs from four tech companies will examine how new applications can assist the sport. Exec Editor Abe Madkour will sit down for two one-on-one interviews during the afternoon. One will be with RTA Chairman Rob Kauffman, who will talk about the possibilities of the much-discussed 'charter' system, which could lead to massive changes in the NASCAR team ownership model. In addition, Madkour will talk with new NHRA President Peter Clifford, who, in one of his first public sit-downs, will offer his vision for the series as it moves to Fox next season after 15 years with ESPN. Other sessions, led by guest moderator Pat Wood, Exec Dir of Motorsport Management at Belmont Abbey College, will examine how tracks are trying to innovate and create memorable events to drive revenue, and highlight four brand leaders who will talk about how they get ROI through their motorsports investments.

    LOOKING AHEAD: The day ends with NASCAR COO Brent Dewar sitting with Madkour as he closes the book on 2015 and looks ahead, and then Daytona Int'l Speedway President Joie Chitwood will bring his energetic outlook to offer a peek into what to expect when the '16 NASCAR season opens at the massively renovated Daytona Rising and Daytona International Speedway.

    WE TREAT YOU RIGHT: Not only did we provide you with a great opening panel yesterday, but we also opened the bar — and the buffet — both before and after the session. (If there’s a better way to guarantee a happy audience, we haven’t found it.) And not only did attendees tell us that the food was good, but they seemed to appreciate the mix of, er, highbrow and lowbrow: beef wellington next to chicken strips, salmon and herb cheese on potato latkes next to chips and pizza. We’ll do what we can to keep everyone similarly well fed today.

    CONFERENCE COORDINATES: After hosting a full house for the entertainment panel, we’re expecting a similar crowd of more than 200 people today in the St. Croix ballroom. Registration, breakfast and exhibits open at 7:30 a.m. PT in the Martinique room. If you’re headed our way from outside the Mirage, you may want to bring a jacket. Weather forecast: Pretty sweet, though a bit cool, with lots of sun and a high of 61.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and the program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators by using the SMT app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #sbjmmf.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    NEXT ON THE CALENDAR: Our Intercollegiate Athletics Forum will be held next week at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square. You can check out the agenda and speaker roster, or register for the conference, by clicking here.

    Tags: Motorsports, GE, ATT, ING, NASCAR, Videos, Toyota, CES, ACC, Ally, NFL
  • MLS Cup conference finals: A look at four teams’ business off the pitch

    The MLS Cup conference finals kick off this weekend. Before the games begin, we checked in with each of the four clubs set to play to see how their on-field success this year has affected their business operations.

    New York Red Bulls: The Red Bulls were hardly a favorite to reach the playoffs when the 2015 season began. Having lost superstar Thierry Henry to retirement following the 2014 season, and with a drastic overhaul of its coaching staff during the offseason, expectations were low.

    What happened, instead, was a season in which the Red Bulls posted the league’s best record. And with the club now in the market for a stadium naming-rights deal, the timing couldn’t have been better.

    “This has been a year where everyone expected us to be challenged both on and off the field, and I think together we’ve really done a tremendous job of rising above any sort of expectations,” said Red Bulls General Manager Marc de Grandpre. “That’s not to say we still don’t have some work to do, but we’re pretty happy with the progress we’ve made.”

    De Grandpre said the club through the course of this year has added more than 2,500 new season-ticket holders for next season. He also said the team’s current renewal rate of 86 percent is a club record.

    “The [playoff] run here has clearly helped,” he said, “with the leverage of being a [season-ticket] member helping to get people their seats for the playoffs.”

    The Red Bulls averaged 19,657 fans for their 17 regular-season home games this year, up slightly from 2014. The club sold out the 25,189-seat Red Bull Arena for its first-round playoff match versus D.C. United last month, and the Nov. 29 semifinal match it will host versus Columbus is already sold out as well.

    Ratings this season on local broadcaster MSG nearly doubled, de Grandpre said. On the corporate side, the club this year relaxed its in-stadium marketing restrictions for partners, opening the door for more deals. Among those that signed on were Yanmar, Bayer Healthcare and Audi. De Grandpre said representatives from 94 current or potential corporate partners attended the club’s first playoff match, with a similar number expected for the coming Columbus match.

    “A lot of folks continue to realize the potential of this sport and our club,” he said.

    That pursuit of a naming-rights partner continues, as well. Team and stadium owner Red Bull GmbH has held those rights since the venue opened in 2010.

    “We’re still exploring the idea of perhaps bringing on a naming-rights partner, but we’re having great conversations on the topic that are ongoing now,” he said. “I’ve heard many say naming-rights deals typically take 24 to 36 months, and I’m a little optimistic we can get it done sooner if we choose to go that route.”

    Portland Timbers:
    Compared to the other three MLS semifinalists, it’s a bit harder for the Portland Timbers to quantify a playoff bump. The club has sold out every match at 22,000-seat Providence Park since the Timbers entered the league in 2011. Portland has a season-ticket waiting list that’s more than 12,000 people deep and has had a league-best 99 percent or better season-ticket renewal rate in each of its seasons.

    Majority owner and team CEO Merritt Paulson said the club’s standing leaguewide in terms of sponsorship revenue is strong, and the club continues to see good numbers for both its TV ratings and its digital metrics.

    “For us in the playoffs, it’s all about the team performance,” Paulson said. “You obviously have those incremental ticket sales and some other added benefits, and it’s obviously not something that we take for granted, but it’s not significantly material from a business perspective.”

    The opportunity that does exist, Paulson said, stems from a newly developing fan segment: an older demographic.

    “When you look at our market as a whole, typically like most MLS teams, we skew towards a younger audience,” he said. “In general, if you’re under 40 or a millennial, you’re more prone to be an avid Timbers fan. … [But] more and more of that older demographic [is] paying attention and starting to adopt our team, as well as maybe some folks who haven’t been as interested in soccer.”

    Paulson points to those fans as a means of growth.

    “This team’s relevancy in this market is perhaps unique across MLS, and we’re not worried about sellouts necessarily. However, the intangibles gained from increasing our relevance and our brand to those non-Timbers fans is immense,” he said. “I know that’s a tougher thing to measure, but I can’t overstate just how much I’m feeling that and seeing that.”

    FC Dallas:
    In a crowded Dallas sports market, FC Dallas executives are working to avoid a repeat of 2010.

    After the club made it to the championship in 2010 but lost, the team wasn’t able to capitalize on that on-field success and build a broad franchise base that’s taken hold long-term. Now, five years later — and following one of the more exciting finales to an MLS playoff match (a stunning penalty shot win against Seattle) — the team feels it is better positioned to make those inroads.

    “It’s very hard for a team to flip a switch and say, ‘We’re in the playoffs, and here we are,” said Jimmy Smith, the team’s chief financial officer. “In these last few years, we’ve put a number of things in motion to be more in tune with the market and so that we have a foundation so when there is that additional excitement, we can capture it.”

    Those steps have included development of both English and Spanish-language radio broadcasts. On TV, this club this year moved from a past split between Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and local outlet TXA 21 to having all non-nationally televised games on TXA 21 this year. That channel is available to all Dallas/Fort Worth cable subscribers in a basic cable package, while TWC is part of a premium sports package.

    The team also is marketing the upcoming National Soccer Hall of Fame that will be part of a newly constructed second level of the team’s Toyota Stadium, located above the south end zone and set to open in 2018. The team is already taking deposits for the new premium seats that will come from that stadium project.

    Smith said the club’s first playoff game this year was at capacity at 20,500-seat Toyota Stadium, with expectations to either meet or exceed that for the next game.

    FC Dallas averaged 16,244 fans a game during the regular season, down 5 percent from 2014 despite the team having one of the league’s best records. But Smith said this year’s ticket base included a new high-point for season-ticket sales, and the pace of sales for 2016 surpasses that — speaking to the deeper inroads the club is trying to make with North Texas sports fans.

    “We know this is a very competitive market, so we’re excited that in certain aspects we’ve become the focal point in the sports discussion,” Smith said. “Compared to 2010, this is at least three, four or five times bigger in terms of excitement, and is putting us in a position in 2016 where we’ll be way ahead of where we need to be, something that can sustain us for years to come.”

    Columbus Crew:
    In the 2014 MLS playoffs, the only bigger disappointment for the Columbus Crew than its loss to New England in the Eastern Conference semifinals was its attendance in the home leg of the series: a paltry 9,040 fans.

    Fast forward to this year, and the team has sold out its coming home game and is preparing for a record crowd of more than 21,000 fans.

    “When we closed 2014, we made it an overarching club goal to grow our playoff attendance,” said Crew President Andy Loughnane.

    The team started having playoff meetings internally as early as April to discuss what the best strategies would be. It developed new timetables to begin its ticket sales and discussed what pricing it should use. It even decided to allow fans to purchase playoff tickets as early as August, which Loughnane said made it the earliest among MLS clubs. In 2014, tickets did not go on sale until October.

    Columbus also rolled out a significant grassroots campaign across the city over the last few months, highlighting that it is not only the only professional team in Columbus to win a major professional sports championship, but also that it is the last major pro sports franchise in Ohio to win a championship, back in 2008. It also brought out that MLS Cup and presented it at more events throughout this year, something Loughnane said the club felt it wasn’t leveraging enough.

    At the same time, the club this year saw its sponsorship revenue increase 45 percent compared to 2014. The team’s naming-rights deal with Mapfre Insurance and its deal with EAS Sports Nutrition for naming rights of its training facility were substantial drivers.

    Merchandise sales were up double digits, fueled by the Crew’s rebrand late last year. Food and beverage per caps also were up, by 24 percent. Columbus switched from Sodexo to Levy Restaurants for stadium service prior to start of the season and introduced a number of more locally focused concession options at the venue throughout 2015.

    The overall strategy that the team has laid out has helped the Crew gain more than 1,000 new season-ticket holders from last year, and expectations are that the team will surpass that number of new signings for 2016.

    But, Loughnane said, the Crew isn’t done yet.

    “We’re certainly proud of our accomplishments, but collectively we know we have a long way to go before we’re satisfied with our performance,” he said.

    Tags: On the Ground, Franchises
  • Sports Business Wake-Up: Day 3

    We had a strong two days at the 2015 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium in New York. Many thanks to all of the speakers, panelists, exhibitors and attendees who made this year’s event a success. Probably the biggest theme over the two days: Dealing with change, both the kind that happens to you and the kind that you make happen.

    MIXING IT UP: We really had no idea what to expect from our inaugural Fan Engagement pitch competition, but we thought it might be fun. It was, and then some. Five companies gave whirlwind 4-minute pitches to the audience and a panel of judges, showcasing their technology intended to improve fan engagement and the customer experience. With Exec Editor Abe Madkour acting as host to keep the program moving, each contestant answered questions from our four judges — Steve Horowitz of Inner Circle Sports, Omid Farhang of Momentum Worldwide, Kathy Carter of Soccer United Marketing and David Abrutyn of Bruin Sports Capital. Then the contestants gave a last-ditch, 15-second pitch while the judges compared scorecards and the audience voted. It all led up to that excruciating moment when the results were announced. And this moment was more excruciating than most. Farhang, who had the task of announcing the judges’ verdict, said: “The winner, by a hair, is Jason Brenner [of Verve].” Brenner yelled “Yes!” Fellow judge Carter said, “Wrong.” And then Farhang, in horror: “Did I screw it up?” Abrutyn: “You screwed it up!” The audience erupted, Brenner threw up his hands, and Madkour said, “Can we get some new judges? Some who know math?” The actual winner on the judges’ scorecards was Kirk Berridge of Fan Media Network. But, in a bit of poetic justice, Brenner did win the audience vote. The whole experience gave us a lot to talk about, laugh about and learn from. Read more about it in today’s Daily.

    UNPLUGGED: One of the most talked-about discussions featured the prescient and ever-quotable John Lewicki, head of Global Alliances for McDonald’s, who deftly used his time on stage to bemoan the lack of marketing creativity and flexibility at the team level, and to share his thoughts on exclusivity, the state of reform at FIFA and the preparations around Rio for the Summer Games. Gillette’s Global Director Sports Marketing Greg Via seconded Lewicki’s frustration with certain partnerships and talked about recently being called by two different properties whose introduction was, “We’ll offer rights-of-first-refusal on this deal, but we are talking to your competitor.” To which he said, “Go ahead. Just sell it to them.” Via couldn’t explain the flawed approach except to suggest that teams are under more sales pressure than ever.

    MARKETING CLASS IN SESSION: Watching Momentum CEO Chris Weil interview Verizon Exec VP/CMO Diego Scotti offered a good, inside look at marketing discipline from two industry veterans. They talked approaches, strategies and concepts, but also shared a sense of humor. At one time, when talking about Verizon’s NFL sponsorship activation, the smooth Argentine-native Scotti looked at Weil and said, “I don’t want to give you too much credit because the fees will go up. It’s always about the fees.” Weil, laughing, replied, “I can’t believe we’re having a fee discussion in front of these people.” After going over some of Verizon’s activation, Weil deadpanned, “The work is great. I don’t know who did it for you!”

    REACHING MILLENNIALS: “I think millennials are the first generation who understand that they don’t own a brand, but that they want to have a huge role in how that brand is portrayed,” said Bob Ruhland, vice president of marketing for Buffalo Wild Wings, during a discussion about the new ways that fans can participate in creating content. Johnny Volk, head of social media for StubHub, added, “Fans don’t want to be talked to, they want to be talked with.” The panel took a look at some of the success stories from brands that have tried to become a part of the social fabric. Volk summarized with this: “Trending topics are like a party. Is your brand invited to the conversation? If they are, then yes, participate and be on pulse.” More in today’s SBD.

    LEARNING FROM AN EXPERT: Any panelist or speaker who wants to know how to engage an audience could learn from Amex VP Deborah Curtis, who was the subject of a featured interview conducted by Momentum’s Heather Salkin. In a wide-ranging interview that covered everything from virtual reality to Taylor Swift, Curtis not only gave expert opinions and analysis, but included the audience in the answer to every question, making eye contact, giving insightful and entertaining answers and allowing everyone in the room feel as though she was talking directly to them.

    A FEW QUOTES WE LIKED:
    — Scotti: “We marketers create a lot of junk, because a lot of the work we do is just not good.”
    — Ruhland: “I think what we’re going to see is that advertisers and marketers will become more transparent when collecting content, and more genuine. The biggest change I’ve seen is fans can smell bullshit a mile away.”
    — Lewicki, on E-Sports: “I understand it’s a game and it’s technology, but truly you’re disparaging athletes, to be honest with you, if you’re saying that this is a sport. This is entertainment content, it’s absolutely huge, it’s something we all have to watch as brands. But from a pure sports standpoint, we get involved in it, but we struggle to say that it’s actually a sport.”

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: There was lots of social action around the conference. You can view the tweet stream, which includes quotes from many of our panelists, on Twitter by searching the hashtag #sbjsms. Among the tweets we liked:
    @analevanko: Only a sports conference would include a competition face off, great idea.
    @arinsegal: The results of the #SBJSMS shark tank are similar to the Miami game...
    @freereid: Enjoying the #Momentum and #AMEX panel with Deb Curtis at #SBJSMS. Agree about starting with fan to push into new and old tech.
    @IMRESports: Good insight on using new technology: Start w/ the fan in mind. Pick the right moments. Don't just do technology for technology sake
    @CraigStacey1: You know you are at a great conference when they play THE POLICE and ROXY MUSIC during the breaks.
    @MirumSports: Solid day two wrapping up at #SBJSMS. Insightful conference with incredible content value, hospitality & organization by @sbjsbd

    And a special thanks to some of the people who helped keep the conversation going: @Chuck_Cain, @cannonjw, @freereid and @ottogrl.

    FUN WITH OUR SPONSORS: Yesterday we mentioned some of the giveaways offered by sponsors and exhibitors. Here’s a quick follow-up:
    — — Lisa Promise of DraftKings was the winner of an Apple Watch given away by Cendyn Arcaneo.
    — — The winner of Rentrak’s Apple Watch giveaway was Ceo Wimmer of the UFC.
    — — Omnigon will name its winner later for the free month of its Bracket Pro application.
    — — And StubHub has been contacting, via Twitter, the winners of $100 gift certificates from among those who tweeted their favorite sports moments of 2015 with the hashtag #sbjsms.

    And considering that we are all sports fans here, we took a look at the moments that our attendees tweeted. Here are a few we liked:
    @mjfoxy12: Buckeyes National championship victory
    @hamswims: Best sports moment of 2015? The @BlueJays playoff chase/run
    @Justin_Pipes: Favorite sports moment when Mike Conley came back in the #NBAPlayoffs after breaking his face
    @ottogrl: My favorite sports memory this year was seeing the @mets at the #worldseries in both KC and Queens!
    @Chuck_Cain: Fav sports experience 2015-my son, dad & me at the @ProFootballHOF for @JeromeBettis36 induction
    @PetersonDerek: favorite sports memory of 2015? Easy. @royals #TakeTheCrown. … Hopefully they #takethenextcrown too.

    NEXT ON THE CALENDAR: Our Daytona Rising/NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum will be held in just a few weeks in Las Vegas. You can check out the agenda and speaker roster, or register for the conference, by clicking HERE. Then we will be back in New York for some holiday cheer and our last event of the year: the Intercollegiate Athletics Forum.

    Tags: ING, Marketing Symposium, ATT, CES, GE, Ally, Audi, Soccer, SEC, Media, Ugg, FIFA, Gillette
  • Sports Business Wake-Up: Day 2

    If any theme emerged from the first half day of the Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium, it was change — both adapting to it and creating it. Just look at the crowds as you pass through Times Square to understand the challenges and opportunities. Thousands of people, alternately talking with a companion and using a mobile device, and few wanting to deal with marketing messages on those devices. (A little ironic, considering that Times Square itself is just one big marketing device.) Fifty-five percent of our attendees answered a poll by saying that marketers will have mobile devices figured out within two years. Some thought that was a bit optimistic, but when you hear from someone like Anheuser-Busch’s Lucas Herscovici, who is pushing for a marketing revolution, you can get a sense of where the industry is going.

    CONFERENCE CONNECTIONS: The Astor Ballroom was consistently full on Day 1, and we’re expecting about 400 people again today at the Marriott Marquis. The first sessions start at 8:45. After a beautiful Wednesday, the weather gets a little dicier today, with a chance of rain off and on, so plan accordingly.

    DRIVING CHANGE AT A-B: “We are not walking away from sports at all,” said Anheuser-Busch’s Lucas Herscovici yesterday during a featured address. “We need to do sports differently.” Doing things differently was a theme throughout the presentation. “I have change in my DNA,” he said, “and I like driving change. … If we’re not breaking things, we are not trying hard enough.” Herscovici outlined many of A-B’s plans and strategies for sports and experiential marketing, and highlighted efforts being made around its team sponsorships and its sponsorship of Thursday Night Football. For more more from his presentation, see today’s SportsBusiness Daily.

    SUDS FLOWING: Can’t say we’ve held many conferences where product was more strategically placed and distributed than during Herscovici’s featured address. After taking the stage to The Beatles’ “Revolution,” he showed a brief video and then had hotel staff go up and down the ballroom handing out ice-cold Bud Lights. Not surprisingly, almost everyone accepted, and many grabbed more than one. What a way to endear yourself to the crowd.

    PRODUCT PLACEMENT, TAKE TWO: Coca-Cola VP Ivan Pollard was pointing from the stage to an associate in the front row toward the end of the opening session. Turns out he was thirsty, and he was promptly handed a bottle of Coke. The drink delivery — and consumption — were clearly picked up on the big screens in the ballroom.

    IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY….: More than one person commented that PMK*BNC Co-Chairman & CEO Michael Nyman, a featured one-on-one, reminded them of someone — though they didn’t exactly agree on who. Exec Editor Abe Madkour opened his interview by asking Nyman if anyone ever told him he looks like Doug Flutie. “When I’m in Boston,” Nyman said, with a laugh. Later, other attendees said Nyman had a striking resemblance to actors Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) and Scott Bakula (“CSI: New Orleans”).

    GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Discovery Education President & CEO Bill Goodwyn is smooth on stage. He’s also good at putting pressure on his fellow panelists. Before introducing NFLPA President Ahmad Nassar and EA Sports’ Daryl Holt, Goodwyn assured the audience that, “Trust me, these are the two most charismatic and dynamic speakers you’ve ever seen.” Now, Nassar and Holt both acquitted themselves well, but we do think we saw them squirm just a little bit when Goodwyn set them up. The three also announced a new initiative that will use sports in classrooms to inspire students to more science, technology, engineering and math pursuits. Read more about it in today’s Daily.

    WE’RE JOURNALISTS. WE LIKE REAL FOOD.: We don’t know about you, but the hors d’oeuvres that were rolled out before the first session yesterday were just the kind of tail-gating fare we love (and we heard enough comments to know that many of you felt the same way). Mini-cheese burgers, hot dogs and pigs-in-a-blanket, cheese-covered potato skins, empanadas … We almost needed a nap before the conference even started.

    BUT WE LIKE FANCY FOOD, TOO: SBJ and Momentum hosted the SMS Speakers Dinner last night at Aureole, New York Chef/Owner Charlie Palmer's flagship restaurant, located within the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. More than 50 people took the short walk from the Marriott Marquis to enjoy Executive Chef Marcus Ware’s delicious menu. After cocktails, the first course was Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine with pomegranate, black truffle and brioche, as well as a green salad with marinated tomatoes, shaved vegetables and a citrus vinaigrette. A main course featured beef tenderloin with potato dauphinoise and roasted carrot puree and a free range chicken with farro risotto, celeriac and wild mushrooms. If you had room for dessert, you could share Pastry Chef Pierre Poulin’s offerings of a milk mousse with praline crunch and manjari ice cream, as well as vanilla panna cotta with berries and strawberry consomé. Overheard conversation at one table: debating the Trump appeal, why Carson is resonating and two Democrats wishing they had an alternative to Hillary.

    ON TAP FOR TODAY: Following the theme of change set by Herscovici, and others, during Day 1, we’re throwing a little something different into the mix today.
    — — SPECIALTY SESSIONS: First up, we’ll offer two concurrent sessions that delve into the nitty-gritty of two challenges faced by many companies in the sports industry. Over in the Empire Complex on the 7th floor, Cendyn Arcaneo’s Trey Hammett will lead a discussion into managing corporate tickets and entertainment to deliver results. In the SoHo Complex, Rentrak’s Gary Warech will lead a deep dive into leveraging analytics to evaluate and negotiate sponsorships.
    — — SHARK TANK?: And this afternoon, we’ll host our own competition for five emerging companies. Each will present their technology to a panel of judges — and to the audience — and at the end both the judges and the audience will pick a winner. Be sure to place your vote for the company that you think has the best product.

    There’s much more on the agenda to round out the day, including how to structure deals that are creative and flexible, embracing new technologies, focusing on fans and best practices for branded content.

    QUOTES WE LIKED:
    — Herscovici, touting A-B’s sponsorship of Thursday Night Football: “Thursday is when the weekend starts for millennials.”
    — Momentum CEO Chris Weil, taking the stage with a laugh line after being introduced by SBJ/SBD Publisher Richard Weiss: “As title sponsor, I’m here on stage because … well, this is what I get.”

    SOCIAL ANIMALS:
    There was lots of social action around the conference. You can view the tweet stream, which includes quotes from many of our panelists, on Twitter by searching the hashtag #sbjsms. Among the tweets we liked:
    @Blake_Lawrence: First day of #SBJSMS going too quickly. Digging the content thus far. Kudos to @sbjsbd
    @MomentumWW: Lucas Herscovici from @AnheuserBusch knows great consumer engagement: serving beers for his talk at #SBJSMS
    @IMRESports: Theme of first session at #SBJSMS: authenticity, exclusivity, accessibility and agility with content. "Fast is good, but good is better.”
    @bwilliamsPR: Could @IBMWatson end up in an #NFL draft room in the future? Can he pick for the @nyjets
    @michaelaneuman: Looking forward to @sbjsbd #sbjsms today where industry leaders come together to make the world of sports marketing a smarter investment

    And a special thanks to some of the people who helped keep the conversation going: @CraigStacey1, @Chuck_Cain, @arinsegal and @richardnblack.

    SPOTTED: Mirum Sports' Stephen Mariucci, the son of former NFL coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci, walking up to introduce himself to NFL Director of Football Development (and 14-year NFL player) Matt Birk after a session on high school sports.

    FUN WITH OUR SPONSORS: If you weren’t among the many who watched Maria Sharapova’s serve blow by them yesterday, be sure to put on the virtual reality goggles today and take a turn. It’s a great chance to experience the activation that Momentum designed for American Express without fighting the crowds at the U.S. Open. We’ll admit that Maria made us feel a little small and a lot slow, and that most of the balls we made contact with went over the fence, but we’re confident that you’ll have a much better result.
    Stop by other sponsors to check out these offerings:
    — — Cendyn Arcaneo will give away an Apple Watch this afternoon in a 3 p.m. drawing.
    — — Omnigon is giving away a free month of its Bracket Pro application.
    — — StubHub will raffle three $100 StubHub gift certificates to those who tweet their favorite sports moments of 2015 with the hashtag #sbjsms.
    — — Rentrak will hold a drawing for an Apple Watch, which will be mailed out after the winner chooses their band color.
    And be sure to stop by other booths in the exhibit area to pick up selfie sticks, USB drives, mobile batteries and more.

    BE LIKE BILL: Coincidentally, while #sbjsms attendees were trying out the VR experience, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates tweeted about his own efforts to virtually return Sharapova’s serve.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and the program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    YOUR THOUGHTS MATTER: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators, and answer the occasional poll question that we’ll put on the screen in the ballroom, by using the SMS app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #sbjsms.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    WHAT WE DID LAST WEEK: We had a great time and learned a lot at the 2015 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference. You can read about it here, check out the social media action here and view photos here.

    NEXT ON THE CALENDAR: Our Daytona Rising/NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum will be held in just a few weeks in Las Vegas. You can check out the agenda and speaker roster, or register for the conference, by clicking HERE. Then we will be back in New York for some holiday cheer and our last event of the year: the Intercollegiate Athletics Forum.

    Tags: GE, ING, CES, ATT, Marriott, ACC, Football, Ally
  • Sports Business Wake-Up: Day 1

    GOOD MORNING FROM GOTHAM: Working out in the spacious 23rd floor gym at the New York Marriott Marquis you can't miss Warriors guard Stephen Curry dominating Times Square. A massive LED board features Curry dribbling and shooting while dressed in a stylish Express For Men suit. It shows again how far Curry has come into the marketing mainstream -- just look at yesterday's Closing Bell for his latest deal -- and could be a topic of discussion over the next two days at our 2015 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium.

    CONFERENCE CONNECTIONS: Yes, we are back again this week, with about 400 people expected today at the Marquis. We’ll have a slightly different schedule: registration kicks off at 12:45 p.m., with the first panel following at 1:45. All sessions will be held on the 7th floor of the hotel. If you’re not staying at the Marquis, add a little extra time for travel. All the construction around Midtown is making for some brutal traffic. Weather forecast: Pretty sweet for today, with lots of sun and a high of near 70 degrees. The city’s sports mood: Still stinging from the Mets’ loss, but at least the Rangers and Islanders both won last night.

    BEHIND THE AGENDA: Themes of dynamic changes to the marketing, sales and sponsorship landscape fill the two days. How are brands adjusting to this new world order? And where are the sweet spots in both engagement and experiential?

    VETERAN MARKETERS KICK IT OFF: Today opens with a panel on dealing with changes in technology and media consumption. Among the topics that Editor-at-Large Terry Lefton will raise:
    — — How do we crack the code on mobile advertising, and give consumers something they will actually want?
    — — Which combination of marketing tactics is working best today?
    — — How long will we be able to count on sports to a) aggregate a huge audience that will b) watch an enormously expensive ad created to go in c) an equally expensive ad slot?
    On the panel: Lisa Baird (USOC), Daniel Cherry (Devils/Prudential Center), Mark Krolick (United Airlines), Ivan Pollard (Coca-Cola Co.), Jason Alan Snyder (Momentum Worldwide) and Noah Syken (IBM).

    THE POP CULTURE MIX: We’ll follow that panel with a featured interview with Michael Nyman, CEO of PMK*BNC, who will talk with Executive Editor Abe Madkour about how brands can successfully attach to celebrity or athlete endorsers. Where is it authentic? Where does it feel forced? And Nyman will offer insights into the trends he's seeing in content creation and content marketing.

    LUCAS IN THE SPOTLIGHT: One of the most often-asked questions in the sports marketplace is, What are the plans for the new team at Anheuser-Busch? You'll hear about those plans in one of the most anticipated sessions of the day. New VP/Consumer Connections Lucas Herscovici created massive buzz with his comments to SBJ in June, which were a clear warning shot to properties: “It’s not about signage, logos and doing defensive [property] deals. It’s about choosing the right partners and the right passion points to drive the convergence of media, content and experiences.” Look for Lucas to outline details of the new mission today in his one-on-one with Lefton.

    THE NEXT FRONTIER: We always hear that the next growth area of sports business is high schools. Today we’ll hear from five experts about that space, among them former NFL player, and the league's football development director, Matt Birk.

    BY THEN YOU'LL BE READY FOR A BREAK: After making you think for a full afternoon, we’ll reward you with a drink and some hors d’oeuvres (seared tenderloin, mini-crab cakes, chicken and cheese empanadas). The reception starts at 5:30 in the exhibit area outside the main ballroom.

    AND FOR THE VIP DINNER?: SBJ and Momentum will host an exclusive Speakers Dinner tonight at Aureole at One Bryant Park. Cocktails start at 6:30, dinner at 7:30. We’ll give you a full report tomorrow morning. If you know of any other gatherings of SMS attendees, let us know the who, when and where.

    ON AND OFF BROADWAY: If you want to hit any games tonight, you’re out of luck. The sports calendar is sadly lacking. If it's theater you're interested in, "Hamilton" is an almost impossible ticket, as are the previews of Al Pacino in "China Doll."

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and the program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    YOUR THOUGHTS MATTER: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators, and answer the occasional poll question that we’ll put on the screen in the ballroom, by using the SMS app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #sbjsms.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    WHAT WE DID LAST WEEK: We had a great time and learned a lot at the 2015 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference. You can read about it here, check out the social media action here and view photos here.

    NEXT ON THE CALENDAR: Our Daytona Rising/NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum will be held in just a few weeks in Las Vegas. You can check out the agenda and speaker roster, or register for the conference, by clicking HERE. Then we will be back in New York for some holiday cheer and our last event of the year: the Intercollegiate Athletics Forum.

    Tags: ING, Marriott, Closing Bell, GE
  • Sports Business Wake-Up!: Future of network's and fantasy in final SMT edition

    We had a terrific two days at the 2015 Sports Media & Technology conference in New York. Many thanks to all of the speakers, panelists, exhibitors and attendees who made this year’s event a success. Day 2 of SMT featured CBS boss Les Moonves going in-depth on the state of sports, entertainment and networks, plus our first-ever eSports panel, more on the daily fantasy landscape and a riveting discussion on the state of media content. Here are a few highlights:

    MOONVES: NETWORKS ARE ALIVE AND WELL: During a one-on-one session with guest interviewer Ben Grossman, Moonves weighed in on everything from skinny bundles to skyrocketing rights fees. A few highlights:
    — On the state of network TV: “I’ve been hearing that network television’s been dead since the day I took this job over 20 years ago. … Network is still pretty damn important, and pretty damn successful.”
    — On the NFL: “The NFL is pretty important to the networks. It’s pretty important. They know it. I must say, they use their leverage appropriately, and you take it with a smile because, guess what, you need the NFL.”
    — On the impact of digital media: “The economics have changed in how we’re getting paid, but, at our core, we’re still producing great content, and that’s what it’s all about.”
    Though he is one of the most influential people in media, Moonves arrived at the conference absent any entourage, went early to the speaker room and chatted briefly with NBC's Sam Flood and Fox's Jamie Horowitz before sitting down to talk with SBJ/SBD Executive Editor Abe Madkour, Grossman and CBS EVP Communications Dana McClintock. Moonves was scheduled to be in Foxboro last night for the Dolphins-Patriots game, the final Thursday Night Football game on CBS for the season.
    For more from the Moonves interview, see our writeup in SportsBusiness Daily.

    THE STATE OF MEDIA CONTENT: The opening panel of Day 2 was a wide-ranging discussion of media content that included competing visions on building an audience from network execs Horowitz and Flood. Flood: “We’re not looking to serve everyone in the audience. We’re looking to serve the specific audience that we have. Short term, you’ve got to be what you are and be in love with the sports you have.” Horowitz responded: “We’re here to compete. There’s no doubt about it. It’s a perfectly acceptable business and strategy that NBC is pursuing, but it’s not the one that Fox is pursuing. We’re here to compete all hours of the day, seven days a week. We’re not going to concede any ground to ESPN. Not now, not in the future…” More from this panel in today’s SBD.

    THE REALITY ON FANTASY: DraftKings CEO Jason Robins, during a one-on-one interview, said he was stunned at the quick spread of an “unfounded” story about misuse of information by one of his employees, but that his company has responded well to the crisis. “I’m hoping that in the not-too-distant future, it’s died down enough that it’s not taking up the dominant portion of my day,” Robins said. “But right now, [we are] just making sure that we’re doing all the things we can to be open and transparent, and to show people that we’re a good company, that we’re doing things the right way, we’re behaving responsibly, we’re taking any issues very seriously, we’re very open and interested in cooperating with any authorities that would like to have input in this area. And I think if we do those things that everything will work out.” Robins also talked about working with competitor FanDuel to set standards for best practices and oversight of the industry. Read more in today’s SBD.     

    QUOTES WE LIKED:
    — Moonves, on the World Series: “Can the Mets come back? Absolutely. … Although, there’s a part of me, even though I’m an old-school Mets fan, competitively, wants the game over in four. I don’t want Fox to get three more of those great numbers.”
    — Horowitz, on whether GIFs are a fair use of sports images: “The question is ‘Is it really a highlight?’ A photo, you would be OK with; a highlight, you would not be OK with. The question is, Where on that spectrum does a GIF fall?”
    — Robins: “You know you’ve made it when you’re actually the subject of a question at a presidential debate.”

    THE THIRST FOR DIGITAL: Conference sponsor Microsoft ended the gathering by taking a deep dive into digital, hosting a workshop and panel discussions about reaching fans on all devices, and on how tech innovations are affecting fans, coaches and athletes. Attendees were entered in a drawing for several prizes. The winner of a Surface Pro 4 was Oliver Miller. Winners of a NASCAR driving experience were Claire Elliott, Wade Floyd and Scott Kellman.

    LIVE FROM NEW YORK: For the second year, through our partnership with NeuLion, we did interviews with key speakers and panelists throughout the conference and posted them online. To access our SMT Live content, visit https://smtlive.neulion.com and sign up to see interviews on your PC, smartphone and tablet. Among the interviews posted since yesterday’s email: PGA Tour’s Rick Anderson, World Surf League’s Paul Speaker and the NBA’s Steve Hellmuth.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS:
    There was lots of social action around the conference. You can view the tweet stream, which includes quotes from many of our panelists, on Twitter by searching the hashtag #sbjsmt. Among the tweets we liked:
    @grossman: Congrats to my friends at @sbjsbd on a massively successful Sports Media & Tech event. I learned a ton and networking was impressive
    @dannykeens: Always a pleasure being peppered with questions by @Ourand_SBJ in front of industry peers.
    @JonSchwartz1: Impressed by what all 3 networks had 2 say this AM re consumption habits of today’s fan. Particularly, how tv & digital work 2gether.
    @LindaMThom: Sorry @katiertang — @dannykeens from @TwitterSports says Gif is pronounced G-if not J-if #sorrynotsorry

    And a special thanks to a few people who really helped keep the conversation going: @emmettknowlton, @franklinavenue, @MikeFlynn826 and @JonSchwartz1.

    — — — DON’T MISS NEXT WEEK’S SPORTS MARKETING SYMPOSIUM: Our lineup for this year’s conference includes top marketers on the challenges of technology and changing consumer patterns, top sponsors on structuring flexible and creative deals, and a Hollywood insider on bridging the worlds of brands, entertainment and sports. We’ll also have our own version of “Shark Tank,” with five emerging companies pitching their products to win the votes of the audience and a panel of judges. For agenda and speaker details, or to register for the event, click here. — — —

    Tags: Media, ATT, CES, CBS, ING, In-Depth, NFL, GE, Most Influential, NBC, Fox, Football
  • Sports Business Wake-Up!: Day 2 of SMT

    With rainy skies in New York City, Wednesday was a great day to stay inside and listen to some of the top minds in the business inform, debate and argue about technology, fantasy games and, of course, the future of the bundle and OTT. There will be a little more sunshine today, which should brighten the mood despite the home-town team losing big last night in Game 2 of the World Series. So you won’t need your umbrella as you make your way to Day 2 of the 2015 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. All sessions will be held on the 4th floor of the hotel, which you can access using the escalator from the lobby.

    MOONVES IN THE HOUSE: Expect a full house for an appearance by the always colorful Leslie Moonves, who sits for a 40-minute one-on-one with guest interviewer Ben Grossman. Moonves is sure to touch on cord cutting, the skinny bundle, the state of CBS' sports portfolio and the strength of the network's impressive NFL ratings. And Grossman will also push on the future of the NFL's "Thursday Night Football" package, which has quickly emerged as one of the top packages on television, as well as on whether there are too many TV shows, dealing with frenemies in the business, the disconnect between media companies and Wall Street, where sports rights are headed, and the latest on Super Bowl 50. Moonves is always provocative and his relationship with Grossman, who started his career working for SportsBusiness Daily, goes back to Grossman's days as editor of Broadcasting & Cable magazine. Should be a fun one.

    ENTOURAGE: Moonves' entourage from CBS is likely to be smaller than normal. We hear that both CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS Sports President David Berson will not be able to attend the session featuring their boss. Both were scheduled to be in Foxboro last night for dinner with Patriots owner Robert Kraft before tonight's Dolphins-Patriots AFC East tilt.

    THE REALITY ON FANTASY: DraftKings CEO and co-founder Jason Robins will participate in a one-on-one interview with Staff Writer Eric Fisher, discussing what has been one the most notable stories this year in the entire sports industry. Robins' 2015 has already included high-profile partnerships with MLB, ESPN, NASCAR and several NFL teams, a massive $300 million funding round led by Fox Sports, a large run-up in users, as well as the current scrutiny around the entire daily fantasy sports business.

    TAPPING INTO eSPORTS: With the increasing profile of eSports, we’ll end the conference with our first-ever panel devoted to the topic. Among the questions we’ll look at as we explore the effect that eSports is having on the industry:
    — What’s behind the flurry of deals and investments?
    — Can eSports break into mainstream media, and does it need to?
    — What can other sports and leagues learn from the success of eSports?

    MAN ON A MISSION: ESPN President John Skipper had a lot on his mind — and a lot that he wanted to say — during his one-on-one session with Executive Editor Abe Madkour yesterday. Skipper was firm throughout his 30-minute interview, continually engaging the audience with point after point about ESPN's achievements. And he was more than ready to counter the current headlines about subscriber erosion and talent loss in Bristol. "We don't have a talent drain,” he said, adding, "We miss those people and their contributions. We wish them well. Sort of." But it was apparent that continued comments from Bill Simmons claiming a lack of support and resources for Grantland have perturbed the ESPN boss. Asked about the perception that Simmons lost his job over criticism of Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL, Skipper responded: “That's completely wrong. Of course it's wrong. … That is an inaccurate narrative. He left to pursue other opportunities, which I believe he will succeed at. … I do not appreciate his suggestion that he did not get supported. That is just inaccurate. … We had a very robust staff on Grantland. I'm very proud of what those people did. I appreciate what Bill did, as well. It is tiresome to have to continue navigating the noise around that, and I think that's my final word on that today."

    Next year, let's get IAC Chairman Barry Diller and Skipper on the same stage. Skipper didn't mince words when asked about Diller's comments accusing ESPN of operating in a “false economy” in which a few viewers get a subsidized ride from a mass of cable subscribers who don’t watch ESPN. “That is an inaccurate, inappropriate, woefully uninformed narrative. I believe, at this point, that it is willfully inaccurate,” Skipper said. “I would ask that he stop flapping his lips.”

    CUTTING THE CORD: There’s no doubt anymore that more consumers are exercising their right to cut the cord, but our first panel of the day didn’t seem too worried about it. At least not yet, though Time Warner Cable’s Melinda Witmer noted that cord cutting “is accelerating, and it feels like the pace of acceleration is taking people by surprise…” Tennis Channel’s Ken Solomon said he views cord cutting as a chance to reach a new audience, but one that may not sit on a couch and watch linear TV. As if to make the point, he held up his smart phone, which was streaming the WTA Finals from Singapore. More from the panel HERE.

    WHEN CONSUMERS GET CHOICE, WILL THEY LIKE IT?: Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin, who impressed the audience with her frank and contrarian stances, said the proliferation of OTT and more consumer choice is a case of “be careful what you wish for.” Martin: “The consumer says, ‘I don’t like three bundle choices. I want more choice. I want over-the-top choice.’ And the problem is where that takes you in the logical extreme is you have a thousand channels of choice. … As we unbundle the TV ecosystem, we’re moving into chaos, which is a synonym for innovation, but it’s going to create havoc with the consumer, too.” Look for more from the panel in today’s SBD.

    DISRUPT OR BE DISRUPTED: We ended the day hearing from Microsoft Chief Evangelist Steve Guggenheimer on transforming sports with technology. The examples of data use were fascinating, and if you missed his talk, or just need a refresher, Guggs put much of the info in a blog post.

    — — — COMING NEXT WEEK: MOMENTUM SPORTS MARKETING SYMPOSIUM: Our lineup for this year’s conference includes top marketers on the challenges of technology and changing consumer patterns, top sponsors on structuring flexible and creative deals, and a Hollywood insider on bridging the worlds of brands, entertainment and sports. We’ll also have our own version of “Shark Tank,” with five emerging companies pitching their products to win the votes of the audience and a panel of judges. For agenda and speaker details, or to register for the event, click here. — — —

    QUOTES WE LIKED:
    — Skipper: “We do not have a narrative problem. What we have is an internal narrative of continued dramatic success.”
    — Witmer: Cord cutting “is accelerating, and it feels like the pace of acceleration is taking people by surprise, more than that it is happening.”
    PGA Tour’s Rick Anderson: “Our social media platform is skewing WAY younger,” though he conceded that “younger” is relative. “Twenty-five is way younger for us.”

    SEEN, HEARD AND EATEN: A full room of nearly 60 people attended last night’s SBJ/NeuLion Speaker Dinner at Del Frisco’s private wine room. Guests dined on Del's Salad and blue cheese lettuce wedge, with entrees of filet mignon, salmon fillet with Tchoupitoulas sauce or roasted chicken breasts with Provencal sauce. Sides were shared chateau potatoes and steamed broccoli, with desserts of chocolate mousse and cheesecake with strawberries. The parting gift from NeuLion was a cool, branded thermos. Among those spotted were Yahoo Sports' Ken Fuchs, HBO's Shelley Brindle, Twitch's Andy Swanson, legal eagles from Proskauer and Covington & Burling sharing a table (including Proskauer's Rob Freeman and Sean Alford dining with Covington's Doug Gibson, Bruce Wilson and Peter Zern — no inside scoop on what legal scoops were discussed!). They were also joined by Raine Group's Colin Neville. The conversations were loud and lively, and, of course, the World Series was playing for the sports-loving crowd (except for Table 5, which got shafted a little bit by being placed UNDER the TVs). No truth to the rumor that some wanted to watch the GOP debate on CNBC instead. Hot topics of conversation included the future of eSports, which will be prominent on today’s agenda, and Skipper’s forceful delivery of his talking points, with one notable attendee telling us how impressed he was at the way the ESPN boss handled some potentially uncomfortable topics. There was also talk about New Jersey’s push to have legalized sports betting. (Later in the evening, the state’s governor, Chris Christie, had perhaps the line of the night in the Republican presidential candidate’s debate. Responding to a question of whether daily fantasy should be regulated, Christie fired back, “We have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al-Qaida attacking us. And we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop? Can we stop?”)
    At the same time as the Speaker Dinner, Omnigon’s Dave Nugent and Sports Media Advisors’ Doug Perlman were hosting another post-SMT dinner not far away. About 15 guests enjoyed the food and company at Bryant Park Grill, then walked over to Proper West to watch the game.

    THE THIRST FOR DIGITAL: Conference sponsor Microsoft will take a deep dive into digital after lunch today, featuring a workshop and panel discussions about reaching fans on all devices, and on how tech innovations are affecting fans, coaches and athletes. Be sure to drop off your business card for a chance to win a Surface Pro 4 or a NASCAR driving experience at the NASCAR track of your choice.

    LIVE FROM NEW YORK: For the second year, through our partnership with NeuLion, we’re doing interviews with key speakers and panelists throughout the conference and providing them on demand. To access our SMT Live content, visit https://smtlive.neulion.com and sign up to see interviews on your PC, smartphone and tablet. Interviews available now: Tennis Channel’s Solomon, Time Warner Cable’s Witmer and BTN’s Michael Calderon.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS:
    There was lots of social action around the conference. You can view the tweet stream on Twitter by searching the hashtag #sbjsmt. Among the tweets we liked:
    @SloaneKelley: The mood after the Bills/Jags live stream was like an election night at a precinct as teams waited for final numbers.
    @PCasarico: (On the Skipper interview): This was definitely a highlight at the #sbjsmt. Felt a little like a congressional hearing.
    @mike_burch: Seems we’re demanding more transparency from daily fantasy industry than we do from wall st.
    @joefav: Great line from Paul Speaker @wsl: “we are in business when the waves come.” Not something stick and ball sports worry about, lol
    @TheWilliamMao: Is #TVEverywhere login misuse “not an issue” bc it isn’t material, or bc behavior isn’t accurately tracked + measured by operators?
    @jbgreen3131: very astute comment. How do you stop cord cutting. “Stop having kids” good content wins out

    And a special thanks to a few people who really helped keep the conversation going: @emmettknowlton, @CUSportsBiz, @MikeFlynn826 and @joefav.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    SEND US YOUR QUESTIONS: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators throughout the day using the SMT app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #sbjsmt.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Be sure to follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    — — — DON’T MISS NEXT WEEK’S SPORTS MARKETING SYMPOSIUM: Our lineup for this year’s conference includes top marketers on the challenges of technology and changing consumer patterns, top sponsors on structuring flexible and creative deals, and a Hollywood insider on bridging the worlds of brands, entertainment and sports. We’ll also have our own version of “Shark Tank,” with five emerging companies pitching their products to win the votes of the audience and a panel of judges. For agenda and speaker details, or to register for the event, click here. — — —

    Tags: ING, Neulion, Media, Crowne Plaza, ACC, CES, CBS, NFL, Football, GE, Super Bowl, ATT, Fox
  • Sports Business Wake-Up: SMT Day 1

    CONFERENCE CONNECTIONS: About 350 people are expected today at the 2015 NeuLion Sports Media & Technology conference in New York City at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. All sessions will be held on the 4th floor of the hotel, which you can access using the escalator from the lobby. If you’re not staying in the hotel, you might want to keep an umbrella handy. There’s some rain expected in the city today, though tomorrow we should see some sun and 70 degrees.

    ON THE AGENDA: For every opportunity that technology presents, it offers a  challenge to overcome. That push and pull of progress and problems will be a major theme of the conference, and our morning sessions today will set the tone. Few of our conferences have taken place with so many panel topics that could also be headlines in the news – the challenges to Daily Fantasy Sports, changes at ESPN and the explosion of wearable technologies, to name a few.

    SKIPPER LEADS OFF: Starting at 8:45 a.m., ESPN President John Skipper sits down with Executive Editor Abe Madkour and talks publicly for the first time since ESPN laid off more than 300 employees in one of the toughest weeks in the company’s 36-year history. Expect him to discuss what led to those moves, where ESPN can grow and how seriously the cable bundle is being threatened. It will be interesting to see how the ever-thoughtful Skipper, who is known to staunchly defend the sports media company, portrays the current narrative around the company. You won’t want to miss this session.

    I SEE CORD CUTTERS: Cord cutting seems to be the equivalent of climate change these days. Some people believe it will bring dramatic change to the industry, others deny its existence, and others say it is happening, but it really doesn’t matter. Media Writer John Ourand will talk to a panel of distributors and affiliates to bring a little clarity to the issue. Among the questions he’ll put to them:
    — How are “skinny bundles” affecting the bottom line?
    — How much of a problem is “password sharing”? 
    — How long can they rely on sports to be the backbone of the bundle?
    On the panel: Ben Grad of Verizon, Ken Solomon of Tennis Channel, Melinda Witmer of Time Warner Cable, and Dana Zimmer of Tribune Media Co.

    YOU WEAR IT WELL: We’ll round out the morning with one of the most forward-thinking executives in talking about wearable technology. Intel’s Steve Holmes will discuss how these innovations can change the face of sports. After that one-on-one, Ourand will lead a session with five entertainment and sports executives on the state of the OTT business. Our stretch run before a buffet lunch will be a look at the controversy surrounding Daily Fantasy Sports, as four executives look at where this part of the industry is headed.

    DATA, MONEY AND TECH: Afternoon sessions will examine the role of big data in sports, how private equity is feeling about deal flow in the sports media space, and the latest in 4K streaming. You’ll want to catch the NFL’s Hans Schroeder and Yahoo’s Ken Fuchs as they discuss what they learned from Sunday’s live-streamed Bills-Jaguars game from London. And what better way to end a full day than hearing from Microsoft’s Chief Evangelist, Steve Guggenheimer, on the future of digital disruption.

    READY FOR A COCKTAIL?: After eight hours of thought-provoking content, attendees will unwind and network over a few drinks and some hors d’oeuvres (filet mignon, lobster medallions, Maryland crab cakes, etc.). The reception starts at 5:30, giving attendees plenty of time to grab a drink before Game 2 of the World Series. Speaking of which: here’s the front-page New York Times story on technical glitches during the Fox broadcast.

    PRESENTING SMT LIVE: For the second year, through our partnership with NeuLion, we’ll offer interviews with key speakers and panelists throughout the conference. To access SMT Live, visit https://smtlive.neulion.com and sign up to stream content to your PC, smartphone and tablet. Also, be sure to check out NeuLion’s 4K theater, which will be set up in the event foyer.

    FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD: NeuLion and SBJ/SBD will host an exclusive Speakers Dinner tonight at Del Frisco’s private wine room. Cocktails start at 6:30, dinner at 7:30.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: All the information you need about the conference — agenda, speakers, venue, etc. — can be found in the conference app and program guide. You can download the app from the iTunes store or the Google Play store, and you can use any device to view our digital program guide.

    YOUR THOUGHTS MATTER: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators throughout the day using the SMT app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #sbjsmt.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Be sure to follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    NEXT ON THE CALENDAR: We’ll be right back in NYC next week for the 2015 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium. You can check out the agenda and speaker roster, or register for the conference, by clicking HERE.

    Tags: Neulion, Media, Crowne Plaza, ACC, CES, ING, GE, ESPN, CHL
  • TV Timeout: Mendoza Line

    ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza said of her playoff broadcast debut, “Honestly, I was so nervous going into it and it's something that I've been preparing for for years. I think I was just more worried about what the reaction would be because any time there's a change or something different, there's usually a lot of resistance. I think the most thing I was excited about was the aftermath and how much support there really was” (“GMA,” ABC, 10/8).

    IT'S OVER WHEN IT'S OVER: Radio host Dan Patrick said of FIFA President Sepp Blatter being suspended, “Let me know when he gets fired. Once the sponsors start to bow out, that’s when people, management, makes changes. That’s when it works. Not, ‘Ah, you know what, he made a mistake.’ It’s ‘Oh, wait a minute, we are losing millions and millions of money? Oh, we need to suspend him’” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 10/8).

    DUCK HUNT: ESPN’s Tom Luginbill said of the Univ. of Oregon’s Mach Speed Pioneer uniforms featuring a silhouette of Lewis and Clark alongside the duck mascot looking through a telescope and pointing west, “I love all of their uniform things but that’s a bad one” (“Championship Drive,” ESPNU, 10/7).

    HELPING HAND: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said of the possibility that NHL players might not seek help for cocaine use because they fear league discipline, “If Gary doesn’t find out and somebody arrests you, or if somebody doesn’t find out but you are using drugs that cause you to go off the rails and not be able to compete at the highest level, you have jeopardized your career” (“Hockey Central,” Sportsnet.ca, 10/7).

    BILLS OF GOOD: The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham said of Bills and Sabres Owner Terry Pegula, “You have somebody like Terry Pegula come by, dropping out of the sky essentially and saying, ‘Your team's not going anywhere. You're going to have hockey for the rest of your lives. Your grandchildren are going to have hockey. Your grandchildren are going to have the NFL here,’ and he seems too good to be true” (“60 Minutes Sports,” Showtime, 10/6).

    GET IT RIGHT: The San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami said, “The one thing you keep hearing is if the NFL goes back to L.A., they don't want to fail and the Raiders have failed with Mark Davis’ dad in L.A…and they don't want to have a repeat of anything like that. That's why they are working so hard to make this the grand bargain” (“Sports Talk Live,” CSN Bay Area, 10/7). Meanwhile, ESPN’s Trey Wingo said of the NFL’s Committee on L.A, “Is this an NFL owners’ meeting or a Tribal Council at ‘Survivor?’ It sounds very similar” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 10/7).

    FRENEMIES: CSN New England’s Gary Tanguay said of whether Patriots Owner Robert Kraft will want revenge on the Cowboys because team Owner Jerry Jones supported NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the Deflategate scandal, “The NFL ownership...is a viper pit. There are no friends in there. They’re all billionaires and they pretend to be friends” (“Arbella Early Edition,” CSN New England, 10/8).

  • National Car Rental signs 20-year, $158 million deal to name St. Louis NFL stadium

    National Car Rental has agreed to name a prospective St. Louis football stadium for 20 years and $158 million, a development that occurs hours before NFL owners are to gather to discuss possibly moving the city’s franchise to Los Angeles next year. The stadium would be called National Car Rental Field.

    The deal was arranged by the St. Louis stadium task force and signed with the St. Louis Regional Sports Authority, which would own the stadium. The St. Louis Rams had no role in the deal. The club’s owner, Stan Kroenke, wants to move his team to Inglewood, Calif.

    “The commitment to keeping the NFL in St. Louis is as much a civic commitment as a brand commitment,” said Patrick Farrell, chief marketing and communications officer for Enterprise Holdings, which owns the National Car brand. Enterprise, which is privately owned, is headquartered in St. Louis. Farrell also cited the league’s demographics as aligning with the car brand’s core customers.

    Dave Peacock, the co-chair of the nearly year old stadium task force that is striving to present a viable stadium proposal to the NFL, approached Farrell three months ago about a founding partner deal. Farrell called back and asked about naming rights.

    “I nearly fell out of my chair,” said Peacock, who was aided in the negotiations by Premier Partnerships.


    Whether the announcement changes the NFL/Los Angeles dynamic is unclear, though it could undercut the argument that St. Louis is not an NFL market. Kroenke, sources said, made that argument in August to his fellow owners, worrying about the market’s growth potential. Peacock pointed out the market ranks 15th in the NFL in terms of corporate base.

    Owners at the Wednesday meeting in New York will focus largely on relocation fees, but the gathering also provides an opportunity for owners like Kroenke to lobby their peers. The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have an alternative stadium site in Carson, Calif.

    The league’s relocation bylaws require owners to make a good-faith effort to keep their team in its home market before the owners as a whole will approve a move. Twenty-four votes are required for a relocation.

    For National, which spends $10 million to $15 million annually advertising on NFL broadcasts, the deal is a return to the naming-rights game. Under previous ownership, the brand attached its name to the Florida Panthers arena, but that deal came undone in 2007 when the company filed for bankruptcy protection.

    Since that time, the new owners have spent $200 million reviving the brand, Farrell said. Some of that has gone to sports sponsorships, such as with the PGA of America and the St. Louis Cardinals. But the football stadium would be far and away its largest deal.

    There are no other car rental naming-rights deals in major U.S. sports.

    National is not the first company to align with a prospective stadium. Farmers Insurance agreed to sponsor a downtown LA stadium proposed by AEG. Farmers got great exposure as the viability of the site was debated over the years. However, when AEG could not reach agreement with the NFL, the sponsorship expired.

    Assuming the NFL does not delay a decision to relocate by another year, National Car will know far sooner whether it has a stadium to name. The league is expected to choose one of the two Los Angeles-area sites later this year or within the first two months of 2016.

    Tags: NFL, National Car Rental, Football, ING, GE, Sports Authority, LA Rams, Ping
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