ABC earned a 3.5 overnight rating for the South Korea-Illinois Little League World Series World Championship yesterday, the highest for the net since '09. The figure is up 35% compared to last year’s championship game, when Japan defeated California. Saturday’s Illinois-Nevada U.S. championship game garnered a 3.6 overnight, the highest for a LLWS game on ABC since '09. That figure is a 71% increase over last year’s California-Connecticut matchup. Finally, ABC earned a 1.7 overnight for Saturday’s South Korea-Japan Int’l Championship, up 6% from a 1.6 overnight last year for Japan-Mexico (Josh Carpenter, Staff Writer).
HITTING PAY DIRT: In Chicago, Ed Sherman writes the "big winner" of the LLWS was ESPN, which was provided with the "best bargain in TV sports this year." ESPN "hit the jackpot with incredible storylines that captivated the country." The net last year signed an eight-year, $60M extension to televise the LLWS through '22, and this year's event brought "quite a return" on investment (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/25). But in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, "If I were a rich man: I’d buy the TV rights to all the Little League World Series games, then prevent all of them, except the championship game, from being televised. For the final, I’d have it shown on tape after its heavily edited to ensure that no child -- no 12- or 13-year-old who plays baseball -- suffers any greater humiliation, sorrow and blame than any child who plays baseball or does anything else ever should" (N.Y. POST, 8/25).
MR. PRESIDENT, LINE TWO! In Chicago, Paul Sullivan reports the Jackie Robinson West team "was getting ready to go live on ESPN after Sunday's loss to South Korea in the Little League World Series championship game when manager Darold Butler's phone rang." It was President Obama's reps, "calling to get Butler on the line so Obama could congratulate him and the team on their great run." Butler: "I said 'Can you call me back in 5-10 minutes?' So they called back, and that's when I talked to him." Butler, when asked if he actually told the president to hold, laughingly said, "Don't say it like that. We were walking on stage (to go) live at that time" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/25).
The NFL is "on the verge of a deal with DirecTV for its Sunday Ticket package that will see its average annual rights fee increase" to $1.3-1.4B over the next decade, according to Kaplan & Ourand in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. DirecTV’s rights fee will "increase by a mid-single-digit percentage each year in a deal that will sync up with the NFL’s other TV deals, which run into the next decade." ESPN’s deal runs through the '21 regular season while the CBS, Fox and NBC deals go into '22. It is "not clear exactly when DirecTV’s new Sunday Ticket deal would end," but sources said that it would be either '21 or '22. The NFL and DirecTV still need to "iron out some issues, particularly as it pertains to digital rights," but sources said that those issues are "not big enough to derail the deal." DirecTV’s current four-year deal for Sunday Ticket "ends after this season and carries an average annual value" of $1B. The new deal is expected to "grant DirecTV over-the-top rights for people who cannot install a DirecTV satellite dish -- a feature the satellite company already plans to roll out for this season." Over the past year, DirecTV and the NFL have "negotiated everything from NFL Network carriage to NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen’s new talk show." Eisen’s show "debuts in October and is a partnership between DirecTV and the NFL’s over-the-top service, NFL Now." All of these talks are "interrelated with Sunday Ticket" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/25 issue).
DraftKings Inc., a Boston-based daily fantasy sports company, has purchased local rival outfit StarStreet, the second acquisition this summer by DraftKings and the latest move in a period of marked growth for the company. The purchase of StarStreet follows a recent purchase of N.Y.-based DraftStreet. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. DraftKings recently closed on a $41M Series C round of venture capital funding designed to fund the company’s ongoing growth phase. N.Y.-based investment bank The Raine Group led the funding round, continuing a marked period of activity within digital sports for that company following its recent role advising the sale of Stats LLC to Vista Equity Partners and its acquisition of a majority position in online recruiting destination BeRecruited. Existing investors Redpoint Ventures, GGV Capital and Atlas Venture also participated in the latest funding round for DraftKings. The large round brings DraftKings’ total investment capital to nearly $75M since it launched in early ’12 and provides another signal to the mushrooming growth of the daily fantasy sports industry. “We think this is a real validation of the market for daily fantasy,” said DraftKings co-Founder & CMO Paul Liberman. “For us, this is a scale play where we’ve been able to take on the customer bases of these companies and reach a far wider audience.” Meanwhile, DraftKings this fall will debut its NFL Fantasy Football Millionaire series, a series of contests during the NFL season in which the company will award four separate $1M prizes. The prizes are believed to be the largest ever in daily fantasy sports. DraftKings now ranks second behind FanDuel in users within daily fantasy sports, but claims larger prize payouts.
THE MMQB's Peter King reports NBC's Cris Collinsworth last week agreed to "buy a significant stake" in analytical website Pro Football Focus. Collinsworth will "use his influence to help grow the company and seek out new business for it." PFF has "made a business of analyzing the performance of every player on every snap and grading their performances against every other player at the same position." The site "has done such a thorough job that 13 teams have contracts with the company." The deal "came together in a couple of months this summer, culminating last week" (MMQB.SI.com, 8/25).
FEMALE PERSPECTIVE: ADWEEK reported the September issue of Marie Claire magazine is "revisiting the Fangirl’s Guide with a new booklet highlighting real women’s NFL game-day rituals." The magazine also will include "a pull-out poster featuring the new NFL Thursday night schedule." Marie Claire was "careful not to speak down to its readers" in its editorial content, and instead "treated them like, well, fans." Both Marie Claire inserts are "sponsored exclusively by the NFL, featuring its 'Together We Make Football' campaign." Singer Jordin Sparks and model Erin Heatherton are "showcased sporting team apparel" (ADWEEK.com, 8/24).
THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT: Patriots President Jonathan Kraft said what makes the new NFL Now app "so great" for fans is that in one location, fans will have an app that is "going to aggregate the best content from all NFL sources that you would be interested in and bring it to you how you want it, where you want it, when you want it." He said, "If you’re a fan of the Patriots, it’s going to bring you everything from our organization, but (also) everything from around the AFC East (and) the opponent we’re playing that week. It can know who’s on your fantasy team and bring you that information and really you can help set the parameters so that it’s NFL content when you want it, how you’re watching on any device and exactly what you want to see” (NFL.com, 8/22).
BARBER SHOP SINGER: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Fox NFL analyst Ronde Barber has "taken large strides as an announcer." Barber is calling Buccaneers preseason games to "get ready for his second season on Fox, and he's much more relaxed and efficient with his analysis." His "most interesting comment" during Saturday's Buccaneers-Bills game was that the Bucs "have a lot of good players but only two great players" in DT Gerald McCoy and WR Vincent Jackson (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/25).