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September 23, 2015 08:14 PM
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.
September 17, 2015 08:17 AM
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.
September 16, 2015 09:52 AM
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.
Earlier this week:
• Monday: Where they were born.
• Tuesday: Where they went to school.
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.
September 15, 2015 09:57 AM
Today: Where they went to school.
Tomorrow: What sporting events they most want to get to.
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
September 14, 2015 10:09 AM
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.
Tomorrow: Where they went to school
Wednesday: What sporting events they most want to get to.
Where they’re from
This year’s Game Changers were born in cities across the country — and in two cases, from outside this country.
Katrina Adams: Chicago
Tara August: San Diego
Judy Boyd: Wichita, Kan.
Liz DiLullo Brown: Flemington, N.J.
Jennifer Carper: LaGrange, Ill.
Michele Carr: Staten Island, N.Y.
Rebecca Chatman: Alexandria, Va.
Chrysa Chin: New York City
Laura Chittick: Athens, Ga.
Laura Day: Stillwater, Minn.
Lesley Eccles: Scotland
Jaime Faulkner: Cullman, Ala.
Nora Lynn Finch: Henderson, N.C.
Morgan Flatley: Stamford, Conn.
Susan Fulton: Waterloo, Iowa
Dru Hancock: Panama City, Fla.
Amy Huchthausen: Seoul, South Korea
Anna Isaacson: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Jodi Markley: Miami Beach, Fla.
Janey Marks: Warren, Ohio
Mary McCarthy: Iowa City, Iowa
Jaymee Messler: New York City
Kelley Earnhardt Miller: Concord, N.C.
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley: Warrenton, Va.
Courtney Nally: Connecticut
Alison Overholt: New York
Beth Paretta: Farmington, Conn.
Amy Perko: Kannapolis, N.C.
Vicky Picca: New Orleans
Sherri Privitera: Columbia, Mo.
Suzanne Smith: Dobby Ferry, N.Y.
Karen Spencer: Seattle
Kim Stone: Binghamton, N.Y.
Lori Warren: Austin, Texas
Erin Weinberg: Oceanside, N.Y.
Suzy Whaley: Cherry Hill, N.J.
September 4, 2015 09:38 AM
Here's a look at what the athletes playing in the U.S. Open are posting on their social media feeds, and a tracker to show how much their fans are engaging with them.
September 1, 2015 05:18 PM
CBS Sports has decided not to renew David Feherty’s contract. Feherty, who has been with CBS for 19 years, called his last golf tournament with CBS last weekend at The Barclays. Sources said the two sides could not reach an agreement on Feherty’s role on the network’s golf coverage. Feherty has a relationship with NBC Sports Group and hosts an interview show on Golf Channel called “Feherty."
August 28, 2015 02:33 PM
During a committee hearing on Friday, L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino asked Casey Wasserman, chair and CEO of Wasserman Media Group, why Los Angeles lost to Boston for the right to be the American bid city for the 2024 Olympic Games in January. The Boston bid later collapsed amid poor local support, and now L.A. seems likely to bid.
Here’s Wasserman’s full answer:
“I think a few things. One, the USOC process was managed and intended for the staff and the leadership of the USOC, not the board. So every presentation we made in their process was to the chairman, the CEO and certain staffers. When they did a city visit to all the cities, it was the chairman, the CEO and the staff. And at the end of that process, it was both the staff, the chairman and the CEO’s recommendation to have L.A. be the city for the USOC. They decided, though, that they wanted the board to decide that, not the chairman and CEO to recommend that and sort of deem that.
“In that process, Washington and San Francisco were quickly eliminated, and Boston and L.A. became the source of a heated debate, and it became a debate about theory as opposed to reality. Boston’s poll numbers were never good. There were ‘No Boston’ protestors in San Francisco when we made our final presentation to the board, outside the meetings. So, ‘No Boston’ was active from the beginning and continued, and the bid book that they put forward wasn’t a bid book that was defensible.
“But, a board is a board, and they let that board vote. And that board voted, by I believe half a vote — because IOC members on the board get a quarter of a vote; it’s strange — for Boston. There are a bunch of athletes based in Boston on that board, and a couple of executives on the board, and Boston in their mind was a new, fresh city. The one thing about L.A. is this would be our third time hosting, and the USOC — and the most important thing they do, other than train athletes, is bid for Games — and they had gotten some insight from the IOC that maybe a new city would be a better way to approach that.
“But the truth is, a new city with a plan that’s not feasible is not a good city to bid with, and that quickly became evident. That process had to run its course, which it did. And less than a month ago, they came back to us, having pulled out of Boston, to engage with us.”
July 27, 2015 10:00 AM
July 8, 2015 07:00 AM
The NFL has signed a 10-year agreement with Tottenham Hotspur FC to play two regular-season games annually at the Premier League club’s new London stadium starting in 2018, when the venue opens. The parties are scheduled to announce the deal today.
The agreement does not mean the NFL is moving away from Wembley Stadium, where it has staged regular-season games annually since 2007, including three last year. The league fully expects to renew its deal with Wembley, whose contract with the NFL ends after the 2016 season. A deal there would mean the NFL would play games beginning in 2018 at both venues.
“Wembley has been a great relationship for us,” said Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president, international.
However, the league has had concerns about field wear and tear at Wembley, as has The Football Association, which owns the facility. Wembley hosts English national soccer games, and national team members have expressed criticism about the quality of the field in the wake of NFL games at the venue. Scheduling NFL games also is an issue at Wembley because of other special events that are scheduled at the venue, such as this fall’s Rugby World Cup.
At Tottenham, there will be two fields at the stadium: a permanent field for the NFL and, on top of that, a soccer field that can slide out of the venue.
The Tottenham deal also gives the NFL more flexibility in deciding whether to move a team to London or play a fuller slate of games with more teams, Waller said.