• TV Timeout: Just Wanna Have Fun

    ESPN's Tony Reali asked whether the NFL's new rule penalizing players for dunking the ball with the goalpost was just another example of the "No Fun League" reputation. But Bomani Jones replied, "This continues the NFL's long-standing tradition of brilliance of somehow getting us to talk about them all throughout the year even when they just put through this itty-bitty rule." ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/25). Donovan McNabb called it "garbage, because now you're taking the fun out of the game." McNabb: "To me it seems like Roger Goodell is trying to make this game into something where we're all becoming robots" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 3/25).

    QUALITY CONTROL: NFL VP/Officiating Dean Blandino said of the league's new instant replay process, “Nothing will change in terms of the stadium operation. You still have your replay official initiating the reviews, and we will still provide that under the hood feed to the in-house stadium, that video board, so that they can see what is going on” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 3/25).

    MARK MY WORDS: NCAA President Mark Emmert appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning, with co-host Joe Kernen saying, "Three years ago the NCAA cut a 14-year deal with TV rights with Turner and CBS for nearly $11 billion. NCAA total revenues for the 2012-2013 fiscal year were more than $900 million." Emmert: “That $900 million you mentioned in the intro is in fact the revenue that flows into the NCAA national office and then flows immediately back out to the schools and universities and pays for all the other sports that are participating in NCAA sports" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 3/26).

    COLLEGE FUNDS: IMG College President Ben Sutton said, "College sports, interestingly, is the biggest provider of college scholarship funding in the country, other than the federal government. We're a big part of that" (“North Carolina Now," UNC-TV, 3/25).

  • TV Timeout: Attention Grab?

    Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban’s comments about the NFL generated plenty of buzz, as commentators have chimed in with their take. FS1’s Trevor Pryce said, “Goodell’s whole thing is international and year-round. He wants games on Wednesdays, Thursdays. If you think we aren’t going towards a point where the NFL is like an NBA schedule, it is coming. Mark my words” (“Crowd Goes Wild,” FS1, 3/24). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "If Mark Cuban owned an NFL franchise, he never would have said this and if an NFL franchise came up for bid on 'Shark Tank' Mark Cuban would bankrupt himself in order to get one. They're not 10 years from an implosion" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/24). ESPN’s Mike Golic said, “I think he is caught up in the sky is falling mentality which I think is out there. … Football is taking the brunt of everything in this, and I think that is a little misguided” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/25).

    SAFE AND SOUND: ESPN's Karl Ravech, on safety measures for pitchers: "It feels like you can't teach old dogs new tricks. You're going to have to get the younger generation to buy into that. Maybe it starts at the Little League level" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN2, 3/25).

    MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK: Falcons Owner Arthur Blank said, “Today’s fans are expecting even more for less, and it is up to us to give them more for less, and to be responsive, and to make sure the in-stadium experience is great” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 3/24).

    PATRIOT GAMES: Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said of a team in London, “I would like to think that before the decade is out, we position a team there and have a team there full-time. I think it would be a great place to expand to. I know in the two games we played in, there were over 85,000 fans. It was like playoff weekends when we went there, the excitement that went on. So I think it is a very exciting place for our future” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 3/24).

    THE BLACK HOLE: FS1’s Mike Pereira, on the Raiders: “They’re a horrible team, they’ve been a horrible team, and guess what? They are playing in a horrible facility, an absolute horrible facility. The whole team needs a makeover” (“Fox Football Daily,” FS1, 3/24).

  • SBJ Podcast: MLB commissioner candidates

    Baseball writer Eric Fisher and senior writer Bill King break down the most likely candidates to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner of Major League Baseball, and what Rob Manfred's role is in the process. The discussion coincides with Fisher's profile of Manfred, MLB's new chief operating officer, on the front page of this week's SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: MLB, Baseball, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Warren Peace

    Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett appeared on Dan Patrick's radio show today, saying he and Quicken Loans "had a few expenses" from their billion dollar bracket challenge, "but we came out okay." Buffett: "I would have preferred to see it go quite a bit longer, but not all the way." He added, "I'd love to do it again. It's up to Quicken whether they decide to do it next year and if they do it again, I'd like to be their insurer. I would hope we could get an arrangement that made it somewhat easier to enter and somewhat easier to win. I'd like to modify it a little bit so people had an even better shot than they had this year." Patrick noted, "I look at how much attention you got with this, I thought it was amazing." Buffet said, "Wait till next year. We're going to come up with something better next year even. We'll make it a lot easier to enter ... and we'll make it easier to win." He added, "We put this together sort of in a hurry this year and we'll have a little more time for next year" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 3/24).

    I'LL FLY AWAY: ESPN's Jemele Hill said of San Diego St. men's basketball coach Steve Fisher expressing his displeasure with the NCAA over the losing team in the Tournament flying home immediately, "Here's a number that everybody should keep in mind: The NCAA recorded a $61 million surplus in 2013 and yet we have that (rule). Their year-end assets were $627 million. That's all I've got to say." ESPN's Michael Smith said Fisher "spoke for a lot of people who are sick and tired of the NCAA eating while these kids are being exploited" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 3/21).

    NEBRASKA BOUND: Broncos QB Peyton Manning sat down with Golf Channel’s Charlie Rymer on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Rymer asked, “Have you actually been to Omaha?” Manning: “I’m going to Omaha, believe it or not, this spring. Omaha has taken on a whole new life. ... They actually challenged their Chamber of Commerce to make a donation to my charity foundation every time I said ‘Omaha’ in a game. I’m going to Omaha in May and their presenting a check for $75,000 to my charity foundation” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 3/22).

    READING ROLE MODELS: U.S. women's national soccer team F Alex Morgan appeared on ABC's "GMA" this morning to promote her third book in a three-book series aimed at middle-school girls, "Win or Lose." Morgan said the book revolves a "middle-school girls soccer team and how they juggle" with school, sports and life. Morgan: "There's so many books out there garnered towards boys and towards male sports, but nothing really just for female sports" ("GMA," ABC, 3/24).

  • SBJ Podcast: Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary

    Baseball writer Eric Fisher and facilities reporter Don Muret, a Cubs fan and former resident of Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood, discuss Wrigley Field's first 100 years, what the park means to Chicago and to Cubs fans, as well as what its future holds. Fisher and Muret combined on an in-depth package celebrating Wrigley Field's anniversary in this week's SportsBusiness Journal.

    Tags: Baseball, Facilities, In-Depth, SBJSBD Podcast
  • The NHL Shift: Numbers and notes, 3/21/2014

    A look at the past week in the NHL:
     
    BY THE NUMBERS

    $5.75 million: Money donated by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik to local heroes since he started the Lightning Community Heroes program in 2011. Through the Lightning Foundation, Vinik donates $50,000 to a worthy recipient at every Tampa Bay home game.

    26: Uniform number worn by New York forward Martin St. Louis, whose Rangers T-shirt has been the top-selling shirt since the beginning of March at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store in Manhattan. The 38-year-old St. Louis, who has yet to score a goal in his eight games with New York, was acquired by the Rangers from Tampa Bay on March 5.

    521,000 viewers:
    The average viewership for NBCSN’s telecast of Detroit-Chicago last Sunday night. That number was up 24 percent over the network’s average for Sunday night games last year, during the lockout-shortened season of 2013.

    3: Average number of scripts or script treatments the NHL receives each week from production companies seeking permission to use team marks in television and movie projects, according to NHL director of communications Nirva Milord.
     


    By the Numbers — “NHL Revealed” version
    Here’s a summary of the league’s seven-part series documenting the Coors Light Stadium Series, Tim Hortons Heritage Classic and player participation in the Winter Olympics.

    479,000: Average viewership for each premiere of the series’ seven episodes combined on NBCSN and CBC. NBCSN drew 136,000 viewers per episode; CBC, 343,000.
    700 hours: Amount of total footage shot for the seven one-hour episodes.
    140: Total crew members involved.
    51: Games covered.
    21: Cities visited.
    2: Marital engagements covered: David Booth of the Vancouver Canucks and his fiancée; Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators and his.
    1: Births covered: Elliana Okposo, the daughter of the Islanders’ Kyle and his wife, Danielle.

     
    STICK-TAP
    To the San Jose Sharks — who partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to give 18-year-old Sam Tageson a day he’ll never forget. On Tuesday, Tageson (who has a heart condition) signed a one-day contract with the Sharks. He participated in the team’s morning workout and then skated out through the shark’s head with the rest of the team to take part in warmups before that night’s game against Florida. He lined up with the starters for the national anthem before being introduced by the PA announcer and leaving the rink to a rousing ovation. “Amazing what hockey can do,” tweeted Sharks defenseman Brent Burns.
    Click here for the video: http://go.sjsharks.com/uLXFj


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

    Game: Chicago at Philadelphia: Tuesday, March 18
    Location: Wells Fargo Center
    In-Charge: Mark Wyatt, music coordinator, Philadelphia Flyers
    “Animals” — Martin Garrix
    “It’s Electric” — Metallica
    “Young Volcanoes” — Fall Out Boy
    “Unglued” — Stone Temple Pilots
    “Dead But Rising” — Volbeat
    “Howlin’ For You” — Black Keys
    “Replay” — Zendaya
    “Love Rollercoaster” — Red Hot Chili Peppers
    “Power Glove” — Knife Party
    “Shepherd of Fire” — Avenged Sevenfold
    “Vilify” — Device
    “One Thing Leads To Another” — The Fixx
    “Adrenaline” — Shinedown
    “Tick Tick Boom” — The Hives
    “What I Like About You” — The Romantics
    “Welcome To The Jungle” — Guns N’ Roses
    “Rock and Roll” — Led Zeppelin

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Sports Marketing Forecast: Reaching the Next Generation

    The closing panel at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports focused on how to reach the next generation of consumers. Brand-side marketers gave their thoughts on a variety of topics, such as where to put dollars, addressing digital natives, bringing some marketing in-house and the importance of having sports as part of marketing budgets.

    Panelists included Honda Assistant VP/Auto Advertising Tom Peyton, Callaway Golf Senior VP/Marketing Harry Arnett, AAA Mid-Atlantic Exec VP & CMO Marke Dickinson, IMG College Senior VP/National Sales Andrew Judelson and Vizio VP/Product Marketing Lily Knowles.

    Dickinson on where his company looks to put dollars: “To reach consumers, particularly within sports, you have to look a little younger. Our core demographic tends to be a little older. Those younger consumers are looking to engage across multiple platforms, so they’re not just looking for one aspect or another. Even if they’re in a stadium, they’re looking to have a mobile experience. So how can we provide content and meaningful experiences and touch points so it’s stimulating and worth their while.”

    Arnett on addressing digital natives (younger demos): “We have an older consumption target, but a younger influence target. The ways to communicate to those groups are so varied. The more that you invest in something you think is going to have a year or two life cycle for younger demos, the more you realize it’s going to have a one-week life cycle. It’s really following the consumption habits of hippies back 35 years ago. So what Callaway has done is invest more in an ability to communicate to them from the creative side knowing that dissemination of that content is likely to change daily.”

    Judelson on properties giving up their own social media vs. having vague links to sponsors: “I definitely don’t think it’ll happen to the level that a partner would be seeking it. I would surmise that the worst words you can hear on the sales side when you discuss social media are, ‘I’ll throw it in as value added.’ If someone is asking for it, there’s discreet value in it. So our ability to monetize social media is very important as a discreet line item in a deal. In our nearly 75 tier-1 college property partners, we have Twitter, Facebook, etc., and those partners see it as more valuable than the official athletic sites that we also control because of the direct connection and linkage to a consumer.”

    Knowles on social marketing: “Last year, we started a program called ‘Fandemonium’ that is sort of a hybrid of a social community and a loyalty program. The goal there was to test the waters to see how we could use social media to get that fan engagement that you cannot get through one event. It has proven successful so far in the first phase. The fans get excited on two fronts. First. we don’t have a huge amount of media dollars to be able to get the word out when we have product launches, so this gets the news out faster. The other thing is that when there are ‘hot’ offers, it helps our retailers to drive traffic in stores.”

  • Biggest opportunities for U.S. sports? Outside the U.S., owners say

    Expansion beyond U.S. borders remains the biggest opportunity for professional sports leagues, a group of four team owners said during a panel session at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan said his NFL franchise has benefitted from playing some of its home games in London. “Shockingly enough, we thought a year-and-a-half ago when we were planning this thing that it was going to be ex-pats and people who were in London buying tickets,” Khan said. “But they are less than a third of it. The biggest segment we have is people coming from Europe buying this. A lot of them really don’t know football. They have no idea where Jacksonville is. It’s wonderful. You see people speaking different languages wearing Jacksonville Jaguars T-shirts.” Khan described the U.S. market as saturated with limited growth opportunities for the league. “Our upside is going to come from overseas,” he said. Josh Harris, Philadelphia 76ers managing partner and New Jersey Devils managing member, identified international expansion as a priority for both the NBA and NHL. “Basketball is making enormous strides all over the world, particularly in China,” he said. “Hockey also is growing internationally.”

    Quick hits:

    Daryl Jones, general partner, Ice Arizona, and owner, Phoenix Coyotes, on buying the team: “We bought a bankrupt hockey team in the desert, which to most people is a crazy proposition. We can probably get to break-even in the next couple of years, which is a big route for a franchise that had been losing $30 million plus per year.”

    San Diego Padres lead investor Peter Seidler on buying back into baseball: “The business has changed so much, if you compare it to 1998. At that time, baseball had probably something like 30 years of consecutive battles with the players union, and that was damaging to the game. A season was cancelled. A World Series was cancelled. Since then there’s been labor peace, which is a big driver to the success of baseball, as well as the explosion in national TV contracts and local TV contracts.”

    Khan on buying a team: “If you set the NFL aside, all of the other sports franchises value is something of a state of mind. I don’t think you should get into a sport just because the value is going to go up. You have to see the kind of money and some of the benefits you are going to get out of it.”

    Harris on operating teams as businesses: “These businesses are flipping from being live entertainment businesses like an event to being media businesses. The value of these businesses are going up and the cash flows are going up. Certainly the NFL is the most profitable sport. Both the NBA and NHL are making great strides in terms of improving profitability and getting to significantly positive free cash flow.”

    Harris on revenue sharing: “It’s amazing to see some of the richest people in the world argue over revenue share in the NBA. I won’t name names. There are so many issues that come up that if the league can get the ownership groups to take off their individual city hats and team hats and put on a team hat, it may be a little less good for you than, maybe, for someone else. The league does a very good job in focusing the ownership group on the greater good, whether that be sponsorship deals, media contracts or tricky issues like revenue share, where you can’t have a league five big market teams. You need to work out how the small market teams are going to be able to survive. That’s a tricky issue.”

    Khan on the difference between the NFL and English Premier League: “The NFL is partnership. It’s a centrally controlled institution. The NFL would be bigger than some of the 32 clubs put together. The EPL is like a loose collection of federations, something like Italy in the 1840s. With relegation [and] promotion, you really don’t know who’s going to be in it or not be in it. So you don’t have all the best practice sharing and the camaraderie, the fellowship and the partnership that you have in the NFL.”

    Jones on hockey’s biggest challenge: “For hockey, especially in our market, it’s really growing the game. Hockey is the fourth sport in the U.S. and the top sport in Canada. The challenge for the league and owners is to broaden, educate and expand the game in the U.S.”

  • Legendary Pictures’ Thomas Tull on mixing love of sports and entertainment

    Legendary Pictures Chairman and CEO Thomas Tull readily admits that he is living a dream as the boss of a major film studio in Hollywood and part owner of his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.

    “I’m literally the luckiest guy on the planet, because when I was a kid I was a movie geek,” he said. “I loved Batman, Superman and Godzilla, and, it turns out, I get to make those, which is crazy. And the Steelers… I don’t know where the leprechaun is, or whatever, but it’s been a pretty crazy ride. “

    Tull has tailored his ability to tell stories to both of his passions, film and sports.
    During a one-on-one interview at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports, Tull said, “Whether you’re selling tickets in a theater, or DVDs, or live experiences on sports, we all have to realize that there are many more entertainment choices today than have ever been available before, so the competition is tougher, the bar is higher for that experience. And people also — whether they’re passionate about Batman, or passionate about the Steelers, or the Yankees, or whatever — want to have a deeper connection and experience.”

    Tull said a critical concern for the sports experience is “having things in-game, the experience in the stadium, and having the communal experience that you can’t experience at home, no matter how big your TV is or whether it’s HD. “

    Tull also talked about how to use content to drive the fan experience.
    “My first inclination as somebody that kinda tells stories for a living is to get personal,” he said. “What people are used to now with social media is little snippets and deeper looks into people’s lives or circumstances.”

    Tull also just closed a deal for data analysis company Stratbridge, which, he says, will add efficiency in targeting sports and film audiences.

    “People are willing to put their lives, their likes, their dislikes, their social conversations online in a way that you can take a look at,” he said. “And, for us, it’s about not targeting people who have absolutely no interest. It’s about taking people who are persuadable -- that if they had the information and you engage with them in a way that’s compelling to them -- they would want to buy the movie ticket, go to the game, whatever it is that you’re selling.
    “Because of the amount of entertainment choices that are available, we want to be very targeted, and we want to get to people who can be persuaded. If you’re absolutely going, and you’re a fan, we want to spend some time on you, but not as much. And if you’re absolutely not going, then that’s a tough way to spend money.”

    Quick hits:

    On what he looks for from brands that partner on films: “When we have these kinds of partnerships, we will sit down … and ask them what their goals are. Because, frankly, to have someone write us a check to do a product placement thing and be at the premier, maybe you get that check once, but we want to have … a deeper, richer experience with brands that make sense to be next to ours. We talk about being around, among and infused into the entire experience. It all has to be elegant. We couldn’t put Nike in “42.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Or in “300,” for that matter. The point is you have to pay attention to the brands, understand what their goals are and how they want to connect, and, regardless of the check or the check size, if the answer is, ‘We just can’t do that,’ then it’s not interesting to us.”

    On becoming a part owner of the Steelers: “I’ve been a lifelong diehard Steelers fan since I was a little boy, and when Mr. Rooney called me at the end of 2007 and said, ‘How would you like to be my partner?’, I stammered something, said yes, went home and told my wife, and she said, ‘How much?’ And I said I had no idea, I just said yes. True story. She’s very proud of me. It’s as cool as I thought it would be, and it’s a real privilege to be a part of.”

    On what he’s learned from Steelers owner Dan Rooney.: “Many things. First of all, carry yourself with class and dignity at all times. And whether it’s your industry, in this case it’s the NFL, he truly puts the NFL first constantly. And is constantly thinking about what’s right for the league. The way he treats the players, the rapport he has, and also seeing the big picture, and constantly taking a step back and asking what are we really trying to accomplish here.”

    On the type of sports stories that can work as big theatrical releases: “I think you have to have something where the characters and the human story connect. Is it something that connects with people? That even if you’re not a sports fan you can go and understand what’s going on? ’42’ happened to be set in the baseball world, but I would argue that the Jackie Robinson story is much bigger than that, and much more important. For us –- and I happen to be a big fan of what he did for this game and this country -– those are some of things that we look at.”

  • TV Timeout: Action Jackson

    The buzz created by the Knicks’ hiring Phil Jackson as team President continued as he was at MSG last night. ESPN’s Avery Johnson said, “I give James Dolan, their owner, a lot of credit. He went out and hired, what I call, ‘The best sports algorithm in basketball.’ He solves problems.” ESPN’s Jalen Rose added, “The Knicks did a very good thing. They spent up to $60 million for basically $250 million worth of press” (“NBA Countdown,” ESPN, 3/19). 

    LEADER OF MEN: ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio, on new NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Troy Vincent: “Vincent is only 43. He could be on the commissioner’s track. He’s a guy, who at one point, was going to be the Executive Director of the players’ union” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 3/19).

    X MARKS THE SPOT: ESPN’s Jorge Sedano, on corporate logos on NBA uniforms: “I love it. Make the money. Maybe that will help teams or help the NBA, who has had an issue with the salary cap because teams have more revenue” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 3/20).

    HITTING THE BOOKS: President Obama appeared on ESPNU’s "The Herd" this morning to discuss various topics, including the NBA age limit and NCAA Tournament. He said, “When I see low graduation rates in the programs, when you get a sense that the kids are not getting the education they should, it’s not a priority for them to graduate. Often times if they get cut or hurt, the scholarships may not be sustained. That is when I think the schools need to reexamine what they are doing” ("The Herd," ESPNU, 3/20).

    GROUND FLOOR: ESPN's Bomani Jones said of the NFL suing rapper M.I.A. for $16.6M for her giving the middle finger during halftime of Super Bowl XLVI, "This is the thing about rich people, when they really want to bring the hammer to you they don't cuss you out. They try to sue you into the ground” ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 3/19).

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