• Sports Business Wake-Up!: Future of network's and fantasy in final SMT edition

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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
  • Way Off The Grid: More From The Four Founders & CEOs In This Week's Grid

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    This week’s “Going Off The Grid” feature pulls back the curtain on the lives and personalities of four company founders and CEOs with ties to the sports industry. Here are a few more interesting nuggets about our panelists that we couldn’t fit on the Grid:

    • Digital Royalty Founder & CEO Amy Jo Martin and DraftKings co-Founder & CEO Jason Robins both chose Abraham Lincoln as their favorite historical figures. Brandiose co-Founder Jason Klein went with Rosie the Riveter, while Papa John's Founder, President & CEO John Schnatter chose George Washington.

    Schnatter, on his most valued keepsake: “I sold my 1972 Z28 Camaro to save my dad’s bar, Mick’s Tavern, from bankruptcy. It was my most prized possession and having to part with it took a toll on me over the years, but I knew if I worked hard and did the next right thing that I’d be able to get it back one day. In 2009, I paid a $250,000 finder’s fee for a car I sold for $2,800. Every penny was well spent!”

    Martin, on her most valued keepsake: “While visiting Ethiopia, a little entrepreneur boy sold me a (fake) stone mobile phone he made himself with buttons made of dried seeds and ‘Nokia’ written in marker. After playfully teaching him a lesson in negotiation I was happy to pay more than the asking price.”

    • Both Martin and Klein consider running a marathon their greatest athletic accomplishments. Robins can revel in his high school tennis team’s state championship, while Schnatter won’t ever forget throwing passes with Joe Montana, Peyton and Archie Manning at last year’s Super Bowl. Schnatter: “I’d like to think I have a pretty good spiral for a pizzamaker.”

  • Turner Sports, WME-IMG to partner on gaming league

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    The potential for e-sports to deliver a young, male demo has become so alluring that two of sports media’s biggest companies are partnering to create a new competitive gaming league. On Thursday, Turner Sports and WME-IMG will announce the partnership, a move that provides the clearest sign that the sport is poised to enter the mainstream.

    “I don’t look at this as a TV property,” said Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels. “We’re taking another platform that has a massive amount of viewership in TBS and we’re bringing it to a sport that needs it.”

    The companies would not release details of the deal or say how much they are investing in it. They described the deal simply as a long-term one that took about a year to negotiate. The yet-to-be-named league kicks off next year with two 10-week seasons that will be produced from Turner’s Atlanta studios and carried exclusively on TBS on Friday nights.

    “I don’t think any property has a better hold on that young male audience than e-sports,” said WME-IMG Chief Content Officer Mark Shapiro. “While it has been consoles and online and in-arena up until now, adding that last component of such a powerful medium as television to the equation will ultimately take this to another level.”

    The plan is to produce the league from Atlanta, a city that Turner expects to become e-sports’ East Coast capital, Daniels said. The regular season will be shot with a live, studio audience on a TBS set; the playoffs and championship game could move to a local arena. “We’ve already had inquiries from several arenas that are interested in potentially being the home,” Shapiro said.

    WME-IMG, which has experience in producing 800 events a year, from Professional Bull Riders to golf and tennis events, will produce the live events from Turner’s Atlanta studio. Turner will take the lead on ad sales and sponsorships around the new league, with WME-IMG assisting.

    WME-IMG has made moves in e-sports already and represents most of the top teams, players and commentators. Earlier this year, it bought an e-sports talent agency called Global eSports Management. The companies cited stats that showed more than 205 million people watch e-sports worldwide, including 32 million in the U.S.

    For Turner, the deal fits with the company’s decision to rebrand TBS to attract a younger audience. At the network’s upfront advertising event this spring, it announced plans to push edgier programming and marketing to better attract that younger demo. “It’s a changing landscape out there — both technology and media consumption,” Shapiro said.

    “This partnership is going to have all kinds of legs that maximize and leverage the IMG and Turner portfolio of brands and assets. That’s what this deal is about. It’s about reach. It’s about depth. It’s about scope. And it’s about storytelling and bringing this competition to life. It’s really one of the last frontiers that has been untouched from a traditional sense.”

    Valve Corp.’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” will be the featured game during the league’s first season.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Sports Business Wake-Up: Live from Game Changers in New York City!

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    SHAKING THE TREE: About 450 attendees are expected today at the third annual "Game Changers: The Intersection of Women and Sports" conference in New York City at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square. The Big Apple is contributing some fine weather for everyone traveling to the event: sunny skies, comfortable temps and no travel delays that we know of.

    A TIPPING POINT?: From the U.S. Women's World Cup team to the amazing run of Serena Williams, from the pop culture rise of Ronda Rousey to the historic roles for Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman, the last year could be seen as a tipping point for women's sports and for women in sports. That will surely be the topic du jour, and it will be interesting to see if the positive vibes of the last year result in business optimism for the future.

    WHAT'S ON THE AGENDA: This year’s conference has a heavy focus on decision-makers and influencers, as a wrap up from last year's event suggested that more leaders — and more men — had to weigh in on the tough questions facing women's sports. (In a column he wrote after last year’s event, SBJ/SBD Executive Editor Abe Madkour quoted former Women’s Sports Foundation CEO Kathryn Olson, who looked at the attendees in the room and said, “I hope when you have this event next year, there are more men in attendance. If we’re talking to ourselves, we’re not getting anywhere.”)

    So, kicking off this year’s conference is a panel including USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, NCAA President Mark Emmert, NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush, Octagon President Phil de Picciotto and WNBA President Laurel Richie. This power panel will set the tone for the day, and while it may not have the fireworks from last night's GOP debate in California, expect questions like these:
    — Will women support women's sports - from buying tickets to watching TV to funding corporate sponsorship?
    — What’s the status of compliance of Title IX on college campuses?
    — Can women's soccer sustain its mid-season bounce?
    — Why should the WNBA expand?
    — What women are poised to break out in Rio?
    — How can female athletes make inroads with Madison Avenue?
    We’re also eager to hear Blackmun talk about the Olympics for the first time since the final bid cities were announced for the 2024 Games.

    BRENNAN AND RHODEN IN FOCUS: National commentator Christine Brennan returns to the conference to lead two sessions - one on growing collegiate and Olympic sports programs for women and another featuring top female sports executives discussing how to grow executive level opportunities for women in sports.

    Meanwhile, N. Y. Times columnist Bill Rhoden, who wrote a provocative column this summer about the sparse level of support for women's sports, leads a diverse group looking at investment opportunities in women's sports. Both panels should spark good discussion.

    SILVER LINING: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will sit down with Madkour to kick off the afternoon. These two are no strangers on stage, so expect lively talk about the viability and growth of the "W," and where the NBA and USA Basketball can grow the women's game on a global stage.

    WHAT ELSE TO LOOK FOR: There’s a lot of buzz about an appearance by Ogilvy & Mather CEO Shelly Lazarus, who will be a featured interview this afternoon; actress, author and entrepreneur Alyssa Milano, who will be on stage at noon; and a special breakfast panel on career building that kicks off the morning, moderated by Glenn Horine, president of H&H Consulting.

    CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONVERSATION: If you’re in the room today (and if you’re not, where are you?) we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. If you’re following from afar, monitor the hashtag #sbjgc and our Twitter feed, @SBJSBD.

    GAME CHANGER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: If you watched the exciting last two days of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, you probably saw USTA CEO (and 2015 Game Changer) Katrina Adams at Arthur Ashe Stadium congratulating the finalists. Here are a few of her personal highlights from the event:
    Shelter from the storm: “The excitement of redefining ‘spectacular’ with the erection of Phase 2 of the roof was the hot topic of the tournament.”
    The ‘Grand’ effort: “Serena’s attempt to win the Grand Slam had all viewers on the edges of their seats. (Her) defeat by the ever-so-bubbly Roberta Vinci left a sense of emptiness … but (Vinci’s) energetic and fun-filled interview filled all hearts with joy for her own accomplishment.”
    America’s future stars: “Having an all-American junior boys finals is a testament to the success of our young players. In a rematch of the junior French Open Final, Taylor Fritz got revenge over Tommy Paul for his first Grand Slam junior title. The junior girls final also featured an American, Sonia Kenin, falling short but not without winning the hearts of many. The future of American tennis is alive and strong.”

    HONORING THE GAME CHANGERS: The day ends with recognition of the 2015 Class of Champions, 30 of whom are expected to attend. They will be feted with a group photo and champagne reception. For the full list and their stories of success and achievement, see this week's SBJ. Also read "what skill" they are using in their job and an attribute they look for in hiring. Finally, in a new feature in SBJ, Val Ackerman kicks off a regular column on women's sports by looking at the dearth of women in leadership roles.

    Also, kudos to SBJ Assistant Managing Editor Mark Mensheha, who will be in New York for today's event, for leading this special editorial project. Be sure to read his thoughts on putting together this section.

    NEXT ON THE CALENDAR: The 2015 Sports Media & Technology conference is coming up on Oct. 28-29 in New York. To register or view the agenda, visit the event home page.

    Tags: GE, Game Changers, ING, ATT, SEC, Marriott, Apple, Ping, NFL, Ugg
  • Game Changers 2015: Dream events

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    This week’s issue of SportsBusiness Journal features profiles of our Game Changers for 2015.
    Here’s some additional information about the 36 women we profiled.

    Today: The sporting events or venues they most want to get to.

    Earlier this week:
    Monday: Where they were born.
    Tuesday: Where they went to school.


    Dream events
    This year’s Game Changers have been to (and worked at) many of the world’s top sporting events, but there are still games and places they want to see.

    Here’s what they told us when we asked them: What sporting event or venue have you not been to but most want to get to?

    Katrina Adams: Kentucky Derby.
    Tara August: World Cup.
    Judy Boyd: NCAA Final Four.
    Liz DiLullo Brown: Wimbledon. I love tennis, but as a spectator — not working it.
    Jennifer Carper: Billabong Pipe Masters. I’ve been to Pipeline but never for the event. It would be amazing to see the professionals surf there.
    Michele Carr: Wimbledon.
    Rebecca Chatman: The Masters.
    Chrysa Chin: I must go to the Kentucky Derby.
    Laura Chittick: I’ve never been to Camden Yards.
    Laura Day: The Olympics.
    Lesley Eccles: Without doubt, it has to be the Super Bowl. I’m planning on attending Super Bowl 50 next year and am very excited about that prospect.
    Jaime Faulkner: I want to go to the Olympics. I know how hard it is to run one ballpark. I can’t imagine the effort it takes to put that on.
    Nora Lynn Finch: The Kentucky Derby. Speed, endurance and courage: What’s not to love about the world’s most famous horse race? With Louisville in the ACC now, maybe the Derby can come off my bucket list.
    Morgan Flatley: FIFA World Cup.
    Susan Fulton: World Cup, men’s or women’s.
    Dru Hancock: I have been to Wimbledon but not during the actual competition. That’s on my bucket list.
    Amy Huchthausen: Summer Olympics.
    Anna Isaacson: A World Cup final (men’s or women’s).
    Jodi Markley: Summer Olympics — specifically, the gymnastics competition.
    Janey Marks: St Andrews.
    Mary McCarthy: Kentucky Derby.
    Jaymee Messler: The Olympics.
    Kelley Earnhardt Miller: Olympic gymnastics.
    Benita Fitzgerald Mosley: Winter Olympic Games.
    Courtney Nally: Women’s World Cup. I played soccer growing up and still have a love for the sport.
    Alison Overholt: Wimbledon.
    Beth Paretta: F1 race at Spa Francorchamps.
    Amy Perko: Summer Olympics.
    Vicky Picca: The Kentucky Derby and Wimbledon. The history and pomp and circumstance at those events are unrivalled.
    Sherri Privitera: A game at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, and a game at Alabama.
    Suzanne Smith: I have not worked in the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium yet, but it’s not like I’m saying, “I hope I get a Dallas game so I can go to the stadium.” Each place has its own charm and is special for different reasons. … I love doing the NFL; I’m passionate about it.
    Karen Spencer: My husband is a cyclist and used to race, so I started paying more attention to the Tour de France over the last few years. I would love to experience it in person someday.
    Kim Stone: It is on my bucket list to go to Wimbledon and soak up all the tradition and splendor of it.
    Lori Warren: Wimbledon.
    Erin Weinberg: Hands down, taking my dad to the Masters.
    Suzy Whaley: Super Bowl.

    Tags: On The Ground, Game Changers
  • Game Changers 2015: Where they went to school

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    This week’s issue of SportsBusiness Journal features profiles of our Game Changers for 2015.
    Here’s some additional information about the 36 women we profiled.

    Yesterday: Where they were born.
    Today: Where they went to school.
    Tomorrow: What sporting events they most want to get to.

    Their schools
    The list of alma maters for this year’s Game Changers is a long one — because there’s only one school that can lay claim to having had more than one of the women on campus for undergraduate studies. That school: the University of North Carolina, where both Kim Stone and Suzy Whaley were undergraduate students.

    Katrina Adams: Northwestern University
    Tara August: San Diego State University (grad school: University of San Francisco)
    Judy Boyd: California State University, Northridge
    Liz DiLullo Brown: Kutztown University (grad school: East Stroudsburg University)
    Jennifer Carper: University of Arizona
    Michele Carr: Fairleigh Dickinson University
    Rebecca Chatman: Princeton University
    Chrysa Chin: Hobart and William Smith Colleges
    Laura Chittick: Columbia University (grad school: Yale School of Management)
    Laura Day: Lakewood Community College
    Lesley Eccles: University of St Andrews
    Jaime Faulkner: Baylor University
    Nora Lynn Finch: Western Carolina University (undergrad and grad school)
    Morgan Flatley: Dartmouth College (grad school: Harvard Business School)
    Susan Fulton: Iowa State University (grad school: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
    Dru Hancock: Ohio State University (undergrad and grad school)
    Amy Huchthausen: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
    Anna Isaacson: Barnard College
    Jodi Markley: University of South Florida (grad school: Simmons College)
    Janey Marks: Rollins College
    Mary McCarthy: University of Wisconsin (grad school: New York University, Stern School of Business)
    Jaymee Messler: University of Maryland
    Kelley Earnhardt Miller: University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    Benita Fitzgerald Mosley: University of Tennessee
    Courtney Nally: University of Southern California
    Alison Overholt: Harvard University
    Beth Paretta: Boston University (grad school: University of Vermont)
    Amy Perko: Wake Forest University (grad school: University of Richmond)
    Vicky Picca: Duke University (grad school: New York University)
    Sherri Privitera: University of Nebraska (undergrad and grad school)
    Suzanne Smith: Temple University
    Karen Spencer: Seattle University
    Kim Stone: University of North Carolina (grad school: University of Miami )
    Lori Warren: Texas A&M University
    Erin Weinberg: CW Post/Long Island University
    Suzy Whaley: University of North Carolina

    Tags: Game Changers, On the Ground
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