With the first three months of 2013 in the books, we take a look at the most-read stories of the first quarter in SportsBusiness Journal, SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Daily Global.
SBJ’s Top Five Stories — with an extra …
■ At Tennessee, Big Orange battles red ink (Jan. 28): Michael Smith’s story detailing the financial hole facing such a storied SEC program drew massive attention and is among our most-read stories of all time.
■ Fox and ESPN: What’s behind unlikely alliance? (March 4): Readers sought insight after another media deal positioned the two network rivals to surprisingly work together again.
■ ACC panel will study whether to launch net (Jan. 14): The question of whether to launch another college sports network was an unexpected entry into our top five most-read.
■ NY Super Bowl won’t catch NFL out in the cold (Feb. 11): Next year’s Super Bowl in a cold-weather climate is one of the hottest stories in sports business, as evidenced by this package of stories about the NFL and city of New York’s preparations around Super Bowl XLVIII.
■ With 1 not done, Fox goes for 2 (Jan. 21): Fox Sports’ first reported plans for a possible second all-sports network, to complement its Fox Sports 1 launch this August, shows the amount of interest in the media arms race.
■ For hoops teams, swag season is here (March 11): An annual favorite: What’s in the gift bags for student athletes during March Madness.
SBD’s Top Five Stories — plus one …
■ Next Slate Of ESPN “30 For 30” Films To Include Jimmy V’s Title Run, ’83 NFL Draft (Jan. 25): Everything ESPN does makes news, and new documentaries from the widely popular “30 For 30” series received major pick up on Twitter and other social media sites.
■ Adidas Set to Unveil Short-Sleeve Jerseys For March Madness (Feb. 27): The company’s changes to the Golden State Warriors’ uniforms didn’t seem to receive the same attention as when it was reported that Adidas was also going to tweak the uniforms of some of its college programs during March Madness.
■ ESPN Matchs NBC's Offer For Big East Football/Basketball Rights (Feb. 21): Many anticipated that the Big East was set to become a new staple in NBC Sports Network’s programming roster, but ESPN’s move, breaking on a Thursday, caught many by surprise.
■ Roger Goodell's Compensation Nearly Tripled To $29.49M in '11 (Feb. 15): Salary stories are commonly among the most popular. This one broke on the Friday of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend and received big play not just because of the NFL executives listed but also because it made Goodell the highest-paid commissioner in sports.
■ DirecTV Ending NASCAR Hot Pass Programming Due To High Cost, Low Demand (Jan. 7): This story had both widespread industry and consumer appeal. Industry observers are watching DirecTV’s sports strategy, and because it directly affected consumers, the story went viral on many NASCAR-centric fan sites and blogs.
■ Musburger Criticized For Comments About McCarron’s Girlfriend; Media Buzz Has Legs (Jan. 8): Nothing generates clicks like Brent Musburger calling out a fan in the stands and starting a national, cultural talking point.
SBD Global’s Top Five Stories
■ David Beckham’s Contract With Paris St. Germain Structured To Avoid Big Tax Bill (Feb. 5): The future of one of the world’s top sports and cultural personalities remains of interest to global readers.
■ Survey: EPL Fans More Passionate About Their Teams Than NFL Counterparts (March 11): An exclusive survey that compared the interests and behaviors of EPL fans to NFL fans showed some surprising results.
■ Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell Looks Beyond The Borders Of Scotland (Feb. 26): The health of the Scottish Premier League and the future of Third Division club Rangers has consistently been among the most-read stories of SBD Global.
■ John Henry Defends Against ‘Concerns’ That Owning Liverpool Is A Distraction (Feb. 13): The focus, attention and actions of the Fenway Sports Group remains one of the most followed stories across all of our publications.
> BATTLE ROLLS ON: In case you missed it, some news recently about an esteemed member of our Champions Class of 2012: Bill Battle, the former Crimson Tide football player who founded Collegiate Licensing Co. and is one of the most well-respected people in the business, was named the new athletic director at the University of Alabama after his longtime friend and former teammate Mal Moore decided to step down due to health issues. Sadly, Moore, 73, died on Saturday.
When I first heard the news that Battle was Alabama’s top choice, I wondered if he’d seriously consider it. At 71, I figured Battle and his wife, Mary, were focused on the joys and comforts of retirement. But as he said at his introductory press conference in Tuscaloosa, Ala., “I thought to myself, if I didn’t do this, I would regret it for the rest of my life because it’s an opportunity to pay back the university, if I can, a great debt that I owed the university. If I don’t do it, it would be a big mistake.”
That surely sounded like the Battle I’ve known over the years. In reaching out to him last week, it was clear that he has more to give. He told me that he feels good and that he’s got the energy for the role, adding, “I look forward to this challenge.”
Good for Bill. It’s going to be fascinating watching his return to intercollegiate athletics, but in a new role and on a different side of the table, which brings so much pressure. And needless to say, our thoughts and prayers are with Mal Moore's family.
I’m looking forward to seeing a number of you this week in Naples, Fla., at our IMG World Congress of Sports. I hope you have a chance to say hi.
Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.