• Game Changers 2015: Where they’re from

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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: Where they were born
    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.

    Tags: Game Changers, On the Ground
  • Social at the Open: How athletes are using social media to connect with fans

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    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.

    Tags: Media
  • CBS parts ways with golf commentator Feherty

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    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."

    Tags: CBS, Golf, NBC, Golf Channel
  • Wasserman offers insight into 2024 bid choice

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    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.”

    Tags: Wasserman Media Group, USOC, Olympics
  • Podcast: SBJ's Mike Slive tribute

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    College writer Michael Smith and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss Mike Slive's impact on intercollegiate athletics, his management style and what the future holds, as part of SportsBusiness Journal's tribute to the former Southeastern Conference commissioner.

    Tags: Colleges, SBJSBD Podcast
  • NFL signs 10-year deal to play games at new Tottenham stadium

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    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.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Commencement ceremonies include wisdom from sports industry

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    SportsBusiness Journal this week offers a look at several members of the sports industry who spoke to college graduates at commencement ceremonies across the country this spring. Here are some additional speakers who shared anecdotes and words of encouragement with the members of the class of 2015.

    Domonique Foxworth
    National Basketball Players Association, COO
    University of Maryland
    “I loved being a football player, but I always thought of myself as more, and luckily, I found more to do. The season I tore up my knee [2010] was also the same year my daughter Avery was born and my wife was finishing up law school, so I put all of my energies into becoming a full-time dad. It was also the year that the players union of which I was first a rep then executive committee member then finally president started negotiating with the NFL. Talk about preconceived notions — first in the NFL and now in my role heading the day-to-day operations of the National Basketball Players Association. I have encountered more than a few who ask why athletes making millions need a union at all. I understand where that question comes from. As professional athletes, we are extremely fortunate, but we are not immune to being taken advantage of either. Workers’ compensation, rights for gay athletes, protection from corrupt agents and advisers — the issues are still one of respect and fundamental fairness. Dignity is a right for everyone, and sometimes it has to be fought for — and a power of a union or any group for that matter to demand those things comes from the cohesion of its members. That’s something I believe, and it drove my work with the NFLPA and now the NBPA.”

    Lindsay Czarniak
    ESPN, anchor
    James Madison University
    “For me, my passion, and it took me years to find this, is when I know someone I’m interviewing is sharing something special, something unique with me that they haven’t shared before. It’s like when an NFL player admits the toughest thing about success was to cut out lifelong friends that weren’t good influences. When the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski cried like a baby when he knew his injury could be so bad that he could never play football again. It’s when Dale Earnhardt Jr. told me that it takes him 10 beers to get him onto the dance floor. That’s what I chase, and that’s what I want you to continue to discover. This is not an overnight thing. Some of you may know it now, some of you it may take years down the road. But you need to find that feeling, what your ‘why’ is for doing what you do.”… Above all, be respectful and be kind to everyone. Everyone has a story. You don’t know that story. And that goes for anybody out there: the general manager of a Major League Baseball team or the man working security at an arena where you are broadcasting.”

    Shane Battier
    ESPN analyst, former NBA player
    Duke University, Fuqua School of Business
    “We lost four first-round draft picks to the [1999] NBA draft. … The cupboard was bare. Everyone came out and said Duke was done, all they have is a bunch of role players and young freshman coming in. While I was working in a public relations firm in Chicago that summer, I got a call from Coach K one day. He said, ‘Shane, how you doing?,’ and I said, ‘Pretty good,’ and he said ‘Are you ready to lead us back to the Final Four next year?,’ and I said, ‘Well, coach —’ and, Click! He hung up on me. [He] calls back same time next day and says ‘Shane, sorry about yesterday. We must have gotten disconnected. Are you ready next year to average 20 points and 10 rebounds and to win the ACC tournament?’ And I said, ‘Coach, it’s pretty funny,” Click! I finally wised up the third time, when he called back and said ‘Shane, are you ready to lead us back to a national championship, a place where it’s about our standard of play?’ And I said, ‘Yes, coach. I am ready. I am ready to uphold the standards of what Duke basketball, what Duke University, is all about; the reason I came to the greatest school in the entire world. And he said, ‘That’s what I’m waiting for.’ That was a lesson that hit home to me.”

    Marty Smith
    ESPN, reporter
    Radford University
    “Learn to listen. If you learn to listen, it will benefit you. That one took me a lot of time I want to save you. Listen. Your parents, co-workers, friends, siblings: They all have interesting things to say. Be selfless and attentive that way. Shut up and listen a minute; you’ll be better for it. Some of the greatest leaders in our history were and are great listeners. In today’s world of constant pestering, great listeners stand out. Good listeners often demand attention and command respect. If you’re selective, they will be invariably attentive to you. That’s one reason I am where I am in sports journalism. …
    “I urge you to help others. It’s the greatest professional reward in this life. It’s hard to understand right now, as you’re getting ready to have this diploma in your hand. It’s hard to understand what ‘paying it forward’ means, but as you age a little bit and have a greater context, I promise you, nothing feels better.”

    Archie Griffin
    Ohio State University, senior vice president of alumni relations
    Ohio State University
    “Your failures in life do not define you. How you handle that adversity, how you pick yourself up off the ground and come back the next day is a true measure of your worth. … Consider this: Some of your classmates faced such a situation on Sept. 6, when Virginia Tech came into this very stadium and beat our beloved football Buckeyes. Remember that? All was lost, we thought. A season ended before it had properly begun. Well, someone forgot to tell the guys in Ohio State’s locker room. They buckled down and came together to overcome great odds, overcoming the loss to the Hokies, the season-ending injury of two quarterbacks, the unthinkable tragic death of a teammate, all while the outside world told them they had no chance at a championship. Yet, when the clock hit zeroes and the confetti fell, the Ohio State Buckeyes were national champions. The most remarkable season in the history of Ohio State football, and they were there because they believed in themselves, they supported each other, and they did not let their collective fumbles stop them from achieving their dreams.”

    John Harbaugh
    Baltimore Ravens, head coach
    Stevenson University
    Note: The following recounts a game from when Harbaugh was an assistant coach at Western Michigan University, working under his father, Jack, who was head coach.
    “We’re down by six points with about a minute left in the game, and we’re driving for the winning score. We complete a 40- to 50-yard pass down the field, and things are looking good, and I look back and there’s a yellow flag flying in the air. Guy says ‘Holding against them,’ and I said ‘You’ve gotta be kidding!’ I did not agree with the call. (Does that surprise you?) We shook it off, offense goes back to the line, and we throw another pass that was completed again, and what do we get? Holding a second time in a row. It’s a conspiracy! So I ripped off my headset, turned around, and threw them as far as I could. I can picture it today: They’re twirling around like a helicopter, flying through the air over the team. They land right in front of the opposing team’s band and student section. I turn around, and there’s my dad, head coach. You know what he said? ‘Go get ’em.’ I said, ‘What? What??’ And he said, ‘The headphones.’… Never since have I thrown headphones. Sometimes we learn lessons the hard way.”

    Tags: On the Ground
  • ESPN Execs Offer Insight Into Recent Web Site Redesign

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    ESPN on April 1 launched its redesigned web site, and the risk thus far has rewarded the Worldwide Leader. Below are insights from three ESPN execs that were not included in the original article of Thursday’s Daily:

    *On the influence of mobile:

    • ESPN VP/Digital Media Research & Analytics David Coletti: “60% of our total ESPN.com users only log on through their smart phones or tablets, and since people using smaller screens typically spend less time per visit, it’s become really critical to think about increasing the frequency of visits. The Now tab certainly fills that need because it’s in real time and users interact with it, giving people a reason to check back in often.”
    • ESPN.com VP/Editorial Digital & Print Media Patrick Stiegman: “We’ve focused on content at the mobile site first and expanded that back out to the desktop as opposed to the other way around.”

    *On striving for uniformity across platforms:

    • Stiegman: “If you recall to our previous world, we had an app experience in mobile and  we had a mobile web experience that did not look and feel or behave like the desktop browser experience, so we were literally programming three different content types. Now, we have essentially one seamless feed.”
    • ESPN Senior VP/Digital Product Management Ryan Spoon: “Sometimes people tell me that they like the redesign or they like the mobile app, and they’re actually referring to the other one. To me, that’s a positive because it suggests that we have started to blend the universe, blend the way they look to a point where the content is starting to mirror itself.”

    *On the evolution of ESPN.com’s purpose:

    • Stiegman: “There was a time when what ESPN.com content was was created and posted by editors. What we are now is a doorway to all things ESPN. What that means is if you go to the NFL section of ESPN.com, you’re not just getting what the NFL editor of ESPN.com wants to post there or content that he or she is assigned. What you’re getting instead is content from all aspects of ESPN around the NFL.

    *On different aspects of the redesigned site:

    • Stiegman: “Deciding what and when to post to the Now feed versus the main-content feed has taken some getting used to because we don’t want to step on each others’ toes. But at the same time, it’s given us a lot more flexibility in terms of presenting content in a meaningful, real-time way.”
    • Spoon: “There also are some pages, such as fantasy, that we have not rolled out total updates to and currently have a transitional experience -- one part modern and one part the older site. I had personal nerves as to whether this would make for a jagged experience, but it really hasn’t been problematic at all.”

    *On overall takeaways:

    • Spoon: “The more we can get people to log in and tell us who they want to root for, the more we can program and deliver great consumption points.”
    • Coletti: “I think we’ve made some smart decisions highlighting the ability to personalize and highlighting more content in an accessible way. Users seem to be responding to it.”

    Tags: ESPN, Media
  • Discovery Lands European Olympic Rights Through ’24

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    In a stunning development, Discovery Communications has landed Europe’s Olympic media rights through 2024 for $1.48 billion (€1.3 billion).

    The U.S.-based Discovery now controls all European media rights – broadcast, pay-TV, digital and mobile – to four Olympic Games in 50 European countries and territories, excluding the Russian Federation. The deal takes effect with the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.

    Discovery and the International Olympic Committee agreed on the deal about a week ago. It was announced formally this morning and covers 2018 in South Korea and 2020 in Tokyo. Sites for the 2022 and 2024 Games have not been announced.

    The deal means that European broadcasters – the ARD and ZDF in Germany, for example – will have to sublicense Olympic packages from Discovery if they want over-the-air access to the Games. Plus, it marks a major step forward for Discovery’s Eurosport channel and online presences, which will be a main outlet for Olympic programming.

    Previously, the IOC has sold rights to local European broadcasters. Or it has sold rights to other pan-European companies such as SportsFive International or the European Broadcasting Union, who turned around and sold them to local broadcasters. This deal is different in that Discovery expects to keep most of the rights, though it does plan to sublicense them in some markets.

    “We have 26 years of doing business here in Europe,” Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav told SportsBusiness Journal/Daily. “We were investing all across Europe when most media companies were retreating. We feel like it is a perfect fit. If you put the Olympics together with Eurosport and our ten channels in every country and our broadcast networks, we could bring meaningful value to the events, and we could promote them across all of our platforms.”

    The deal does not cover France and Britain in 2018 and 2020; previously, France Télévisions and the BBC picked up those rights. But Discovery will hold all rights in those markets in 2022 and 2024.

    Another significant part of the deal will see the IOC partner on an Olympic TV channel with Discovery and Eurosport that will be distributed across Europe.

    “Above all, this agreement ensures that sports fans in Europe will be able to enjoy excellent coverage of the Olympic Games and Olympic sports, both during and outside Games time, on their platform of choice,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a prepared statement.

    In fact, it was when Bach publicized his desire to launch an Olympic channel last summer that Zaslav looked into acquiring the rights and kicked off an eight-month negotiating process.

    “When I read his comments [about an Olympic channel], I just thought, ‘This should be us,’” Zaslav said, pointing to Eurosport, which reaches 130 million homes with a heavy mix of Olympic sports content – more than 40 percent.

    Upon reading Bach’s comments, Zaslav called his friend Dick Ebersol, the former head of NBC Sports who is closely associated with producing the Olympic Games in the United States. Ebersol agreed to be an unpaid adviser to help Zaslav get to know the executives who run the IOC. In late summer, the two met in Zaslav’s New York office, along with Discovery Networks International President JB Perrette, to develop a plan.

    “They asked me to introduce them into the IOC world,” Ebersol said. “We came to Switzerland in October of last year, and I introduced them to Christophe De Kepper, who is the director general of the IOC. We sat down for about two-and-a-half hours, which gave David and JB the great opportunity – which they took more than full advantage of – of really showing De Kepper what they were all about.”

    The IOC eventually hired IMG as a consultant and accepted bids for the European media rights June 15. Discovery placed one of the bids, but it is not known which other media companies participated.

    For Zaslav, the long-term Olympic deal ensures that his European networks will have programming that generates huge ratings at least every other year.

    “It clicked pretty early on because the ambition of the IOC was to look for someone who was going to invest substantially in the Olympics, but also to take the Olympics to every demographic on every platform and be committed to promote Olympic sports and Olympic athletes all year round,” said Zaslav. “When we look at the Olympics, we see it not just as sports content and not just as great content for Eurosport, but we also think it’s great IP for the future of our company. Unlike IP that’s related to movies, it’s dependable. You know that the Olympics every other year for 17 days is going to be a worldwide event. We have the ability to drive that and build it.”

    Zaslav plans to use the Olympics association to grow Discovery’s European business.

    “We think that we can use the Olympics to build Eurosport,” he said. “We could use it to enhance our overall presence here in Europe. And just being associated with the rings, with the IOC and with the Olympics, it’s a perfect fit for Discovery, which is a purpose-driven brand that has great values around quality content satisfying curiosity.”

    Discovery owns the Eurosport TV channel, several broadcast networks and the Discovery suite of channels. Eurosport has a pan-European feed, and localized Eurosport channels in each country. That will allow Discovery to localize Olympic programming to each market.

    Discovery says it operates an average of 10 channels in every European market, including a broadcast presence in Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Nordic countries.

    As part of the deal, Discovery committed to put at least 200 hours of the Summer Games and 100 hours of the Winter Games on free-to-air television in Europe. Discovery has told the IOC that it will sublicense packages in many markets to maintain that commitment.

    Tags: Europe, ING, Media, Russia, Ally
  • Jeff Vinik: Always where the action is

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    SportsBusiness Journal this week looks at Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and the developments he’s spearheading with both the team and the city.

    Jeff Vinik watches his son catch a foul ball ahead of Angels catcher Jeff Mathis during the 2007 ALDS between Boston and Los Angeles.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Vinik bought the Lightning in 2010. Before that, he was known most widely for managing the Magellan Fund at Fidelity Investments and then for starting his own hedge fund. But there was a moment during that time when Vinik was of more interest to the financial press than the sports media that he was thrust into the headlines of the sporting world.

    During Game 2 of the 2007 American League Division Series between Boston and Los Angeles, the Red Sox trailed the Angels 3-2 in the fifth inning. With one out and two on, Red Sox star Manny Ramirez popped up a pitch between the dugout and the first base bag. As Angels catcher Jeff Mathis went to reach into the crowd to snag the foul ball, a teenager also reached out — and claimed the ball first. No catch. Ramirez went on to earn a walk to load the bases, Mike Lowell followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game, and Boston ultimately would go on to win the game, the series and the World Series.

    Vinik, who had season tickets as one of the Red Sox’s minority-stake owners, was sitting right next to that teenager. It was his son Danny, who later threw out the first pitch at Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

    — Ian Thomas

    Tags: On The Ground
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