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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

There is about a month before Fox presents its '17-18 upfront slate to advertisers, and the company's sports division "would like media buyers to start looking ahead to the fall," when its NFL, college football and World Series coverage "make the net a must-buy for marketers looking to reach the greatest possible number of consumers at once," according to Anthony Crupi of AD AGE. Fox Sports has "embarked on a sort of home-and-away barnstorming tour of the country's top media-buying agencies." Serving as the "play-by-play man for the bulk" of the company's upfront pitch is Fox Sports President & COO Eric Shanks, who is promoting that Fox' Sunday afternoon NFL slate is "arguably the most desirable football package on the tube." Meanwhile, Fox this year begins a new six-year, $1.44B deal with the Big Ten, that includes the annual Ohio State-Michigan game airing on the net. Fox Sports' current upfront push "marks only the third time the unit has held a series of autonomous agency presentations." The sales team last year "embarked on a six-city tour that touched down in major markets" like Chicago, Dallas and S.F., while a '13 event in N.Y. "served as the coming-out party for the cable network FS1." Fox "traditionally has set aside just a few minutes for sports during its formal mid-May upfront event," but some buyers believe Fox Sports "should assume a far more prominent role" at the May 15 event at N.Y.'s Beacon Theatre (, 4/20).

Cubs players have dominated online jersey sales since the team won the World Series last fall. A new list of top Majestic player jersey sales on since the end of the ’16 World Series shows Cubs 3B Kris Bryant leading the league, followed right behind by teammates 1B Anthony Rizzo at No. 2, 2B Javier Baez at No. 4 and LF Kyle Schwarber at No. 5. Bryant, also the NL MVP last year, has had the top-selling jersey at the league’s online shop since his rookie year in ’15. Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw ranked third in the latest list, breaking up the Cubs’ hold on the top five. Yankees C Gary Sanchez also cracked the top 10, ranking ninth despite playing just 53 games last year after being called up to the majors, and just five this year before going on the disabled list with a biceps injury. The average age of the top 20 players on the new list is 26.5, the youngest such list of any of its type ever released by more than a year.

Cubs 3B Kris Bryant
Cardinals C Yadier Molina
Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo
Giants P Madison Bumgarner
Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw
Mets LF Yoenis Cespedes
Cubs 2B Javier Baez
Red Sox RF Mookie Betts
Cubs LF Kyle Schwarber
Nationals RF Bryce Harper
Mets P Noah Syndergaard
Indians SS Francisco Lindor
Dodgers SS Corey Seager
Braves 1B Freddie Freeman
Giants C Buster Posey
Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia
Yankees C Gary Sanchez
Astros 2B Jose Altuve
Angels CF Mike Trout
Blue Jays 3B Josh Donaldson

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is "probably the NFL’s best tight end," and he is "undisputably the league’s greatest marketer and most unimpeachable brand," according to DJ Gallo of THE GUARDIAN. Gronkowski was at it again on Wednesday, when he "poked his face into Sean Spicer’s press briefing" before the Pats were honored for winning Super Bowl LI and asked, “Need some help?” The idea that Gronkowski can "catch, drink and spike a beer" is as "on-brand and as authentic as you can get." However, thinking Gronkowski is "nothing more than a fun-loving, beer-guzzling, meathead does even someone called 'Gronk' a disservice." He is at the very least "in on the joke and knows enough to surround himself with people who will make sure the Gronk brand keeps a perfect 100% rating." Gallo: "Rob Gronkowski is real. Gronk is at least partly an act. ... But no one cares. Gronkowski’s image, whether 99% or 69% manufactured, works. Even Patriots haters don’t dislike the guy. He’s good and fun and harmless" (GUARDIAN, 4/21). FANRAG SPORTS' John McMullen wrote Gronkowski "is a welcome breath of fresh air" for the NFL. His spring started with an in-ring appearance at Wrestlemania 33 and continued Wednesday when he was "pictured bumping fists" with President Trump at the White House. Gronkowski's antics at times "might get a little old, especially the partying aspect of Gronkowski’s antics." However, to this point, he has been an "invaluable asset to a league that is regarded as buttoned-up and stuffy." Few position players "could dare dream of having similar Q-ratings" to Cavaliers F LeBron James or Warriors G Stephen Curry. Gronkowski "overcomes all of those hurdles with personality, and his extracurricular activities this month are good for the game and his peers" (,4/20).