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Volume 21 No. 2

Reader Survey

We asked readers to sound off on nearly 100 questions about the state of the sports business, and their responses provide an interesting perspective on the industry.

More than 1,700 votes were cast in the survey, which covered the top leagues and sports, facilities, sponsorship and media. Among the highlights:

Readers take the prospects of an NFL franchise overseas seriously. Nearly 42 percent said the NFL will be the

first U.S. sports property to put a franchise overseas, while in years past the NBA was the most frequent response. Nearly 40 percent of voters expect an overseas franchise will be in place within the next five years.

Wi-Fi access continues to be the area in which readers think sports facilities could do better. Much better, in fact, as 80 percent of readers gave the sports facility industry a grade of “C” or lower for the wireless connectivity it provides to fans.

LeBron James slipped in front of Peyton Manning in voting for the most marketable athlete. New to this year’s survey, we asked readers to identify the athletes they see as the face of Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL, NHL and NASCAR. You’ll find those results, and maybe a couple of surprises, inside.

The NFL’s proposed concussion settlement was identified as the sports business story of the year. And the concussion issue was cited, for the second year in a row, as the biggest threat to the success of the league.

The NCAA took its licks, with more than 60 percent of voters giving the organization a grade of “D” or below for its job on rules enforcement. Readers were evenly split on whether they think Mark Emmert will still be NCAA president a year from now, and on whether they think college athletes should be paid.

ESPN easily garnered the most votes when readers were asked to select the network that has been the most innovative in deploying live content on digital platforms. But voters gave MLB Network a tip of the hat as well, placing the network second over CBS, NBC and Fox.

Turnkey Sports & Entertainment handled the technical aspects of the survey, setting up the online site where readers could vote and then tabulating the results. The survey was conducted Oct. 21-Nov. 8.

The highlights that follow show only the top vote-getters for each of the questions. For additional coverage this week, visit

See the results:

About the industry







Teams & Leagues




Best of the Rest

Want to compare the latest results to previous years? Check out the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 results.

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Biggest sports business story of the year:

NFL reaches $765 million concussion settlement 28.7%
Los Angeles Dodgers sign more than $8 billion TV deal with Time Warner 18.8%
Fox Sports 1 launches 15.8%
NFL signs $1 billion deal with Verizon to stream games 9.2%

Responses 1,719

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Most marketable athlete:

LeBron James 51.9%
Peyton Manning 50.0%
Tom Brady 23.3%
Derek Jeter 16.5%
Tiger Woods 11.4%
Aaron Rodgers 10.2%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 1,721

Biggest threat to sports:

At-home viewing experience hurting attendance 27.8%
Rising ticket prices 20.9%
Integrity of the game 9.6%
Rising player salaries 8.2%
Use of performance-enhancing drugs 6.7%
Athletes’ off-field conduct 6.4%
Losing competitive balance 6.3%
Length of live games 5.2%
Security 3.2%

Responses 1,708

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Most influential person in sports business:

Roger Goodell 38.1%
John Skipper 16.6%
Bud Selig 7.9%
David Stern 5.8%
Sean McManus 5.5%

Responses 1,709

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Events you would put on your
“bucket list” to attend in person:

Super Bowl 42.3%
Masters 35.3%
Summer Olympics 33.5%
FIFA World Cup 29.6%
NCAA Final Four 19.2%
Kentucky Derby 18.6%
World Series 17.1%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 1,729

Sports network with the highest production values:

ESPN 28.9%
Fox 16.7%
NBC 15.1%
CBS 14.5%
Turner 2.8%
They are basically the same 17.5%

Responses 1,093

allen kee / espn

Network that does the best job covering the NFL:

ESPN 26.7%
Fox 22.2%
CBS 16.8%
NBC 13.8%
NFL Network 13.0%

Responses 1,089

Favorite sports-related mobile app:

ESPN ScoreCenter 25.6% At Bat 18.0%
WatchESPN 10.5%
CBS Sports Mobile 9.0%

Responses 1,081

Fox sports

How often you turn the channel to Fox Sports 1:

1-2 days per week 21.1%
3-5 days per week 9.7%
Every day 5.0%
Rarely 35.7%
Never 28.6%

Responses 1,102

bob metelus

Family of networks best positioned to help leagues and sponsors reach Hispanic males:

Univision Deportes 39.0%
ESPN 25.9%
NBC Universal 11.3%
Fox 8.6%

Responses 1,082

Network that has the best chance to succeed:

Fox Sports 1 41.5%
NBC Sports Network 28.7%
CBS Sports Network 14.4%
Univision Deportes 8.1%

Responses 1,093

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If you could hear only one play-by-play announcer, it would be:

Al Michaels 17.0%
Jim Nantz 15.4%
Gus Johnson 9.3%
Joe Buck 8.8%
Marv Albert 8.1%

Responses 1,091

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Favorite major league website: 32.2% 20.5% 10.8% 8.2% 6.8%

Responses 1,088

How often you watched live video of a sporting event on a mobile device in the past three months:

None 26.8%
1-5 times 39.6%
6-9 times 11.9%
10 times or more 20.7%

Responses 1,100

TV network that has been the most innovative in the deployment of its live content on digital platforms:

ESPN 46.1%
MLB Network 13.3%
CBS Sports 11.0%
NBC Sports Group 9.2%
Fox Sports Group 7.1%

Responses 1,084

randy sager / espn

Afternoon studio program you watch the most:

Pardon the Interruption 37.9%
Around the Horn 8.2%
The Jim Rome Show 6.5%
Fox Football Daily 2.1%
Pro Football Talk 1.3%
Crowd Goes Wild 0.5%
Don’t watch any 43.4%

Responses 1,094

Most OVERPRICED sports property:

NFL 33.6%
NASCAR 10.9%
MLB 7.1%
NBA 7.0%

Responses 992

Most UNDERPRICED sports property:

MLS 14.6%
NHL 13.7%
NCAA 9.5%
MLB 8.1%

Responses 990

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Corporate sponsor you would most want to align with your property:

Nike 39.0%
Coca-Cola 22.3%
Anheuser-Busch 20.5%
Apple 19.0%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 997

Sports property a corporate sponsor would most want to identify with:

NFL 44.9%
MLB 12.8%
NCAA 8.7%
NBA 5.6%

Responses 1,008

If you have two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, and it’s snowing heavily the day of the game, do you stay home or go to the game?

Stay home 23.2%
Go to the game 75.3%

Responses 1,069

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Following the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, when will the next Super Bowl be held at an open-air stadium in a coldweather market?

Within 5 years 22.8%
Within 6-10 years 45.9%
11 or more years 16.1%
Never again 15.2%

Responses 1,066

Biggest threat to the success of the NFL:

Concussions 41.2%
Improved technology for at-home viewing 20.2%
Rising costs for attending NFL games 15.9%
In-stadium fan behavior 8.4%
Player discipline issues 8.1%

Responses 1,057

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The face of the NFL:

Peyton Manning 62.0%
Tom Brady 14.0%
Aaron Rodgers 6.0%
Robert Griffin III 3.0%
Andrew Luck 3.0%

Responses 953

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Most effective NFL team owner:

Robert Kraft
(New England Patriots)
Jerry Jones
(Dallas Cowboys)
Publicly owned, nonprofit corp.
(Green Bay Packers)

Responses 1,039

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Least effective NFL team owner:

Shahid Khan
(Jacksonville Jaguars)
Mark Davis
(Oakland Raiders)
Daniel Snyder
(Washington Redskins)

Responses 1,005

NFL team that has shown the most innovation in its business practices in the last five years:

Dallas Cowboys 28.0%
San Francisco 49ers 14.5%
New England Patriots 11.6%

Responses 940

Would you let your child play organized football?

Yes 50.1%
No 43.9%

Responses 1,060

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Sponsors that do the best job activating around the NFL:

Papa John’s 41.0%
Anheuser-Busch 36.4%
Verizon 22.7%
Visa 19.8%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 1,298

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Most effective MLB team owner:

John Henry/Tom Werner
(Boston Red Sox)
William DeWitt Jr.
(St. Louis Cardinals)
Guggenheim Baseball Management
(Los Angeles Dodgers)

Responses 1,133

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Least effective MLB team owner:

Jeffrey Loria
(Miami Marlins)
Fred Wilpon
(New York Mets)
Jim Crane
(Houston Astros)

Responses 1,087

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Sponsors that do the best job activating around MLB:

Anheuser-Busch 60.4%
Chevrolet 33.8%
MasterCard 31.6%
Bank of America 18.8%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 1,105

MLB team that has shown the most innovation in its business practices in the past five years:

San Francisco Giants 20.6%
Boston Red Sox 16.5%
Los Angeles Dodgers 12.5%

Responses 1,041

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If MLB were a stock, would you buy, sell or hold?

Buy 28.8%
Sell 24.0%
Hold 47.2%

Responses 1,136

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The face of MLB:

Derek Jeter 20.0%
Mike Trout 13.0%
David Ortiz 12.0%
Miguel Cabrera 11.0%
Bryce Harper 10.0%
Alex Rodriguez 6.0%

Responses 961

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Grade David Stern’s performance over 30 years as NBA commissioner:

A 43.1%
B 43.3%
C 10.7%
D 2.4%
F 0.5%

Responses 1,028

Face of the NBA:

LeBron James 84.0%
Kevin Durant 6.0%
Kobe Bryant 5.0%

Responses 932

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Sponsors that do the best job
activating around the NBA:

Sprite 40.4%
Kia Motors 39.3%
Nike 36.7%
Gatorade 35.5%
Adidas 24.5%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 1,298

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Most effective NBA team owner:

Micky Arison
(Miami Heat)
Mark Cuban
(Dallas Mavericks)
Peter Holt
(San Antonio Spurs)
Mikhail Prokhorov
(Brooklyn Nets)

Responses 1,001

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Least effective NBA team owner:

Michael Jordan
(Charlotte Bobcats)
James Dolan
(New York Knicks)
Atlanta Spirit
(Atlanta Hawks)
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
(Toronto Raptors)

Responses 971

NBA team that has shown the most innovation in its business practices in the last five years:

Brooklyn Nets 25.3%
Miami Heat 12.6%
Dallas Mavericks 12.0%

Responses 931

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Face of the NHL:

Sidney Crosby 68.0%
Alexander Ovechkin 9.0%
Patrick Kane 5.0%

Responses 639

Sponsors that do the best job activating around the NHL:

Bridgestone 37.9%
MillerCoors/Molson Beer 30.8%
Tim Hortons 24.5%
Verizon Wireless 20.1%
Geico 19.4%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 731

How well has the NHL rebounded from the effects of the two recent lockouts?

Fully recovered 27.1%
Somewhat recovered 49.1%
No change 7.9%
Somewhat declined 9.7%
Greatly declined 3.1%

Responses 831

NHL team that has shown the most innovation in its business practices in the last five years:

Chicago Blackhawks 21.6%
Los Angeles Kings 12.6%
Pittsburgh Penguins 7.7%
Boston Bruins 7.3%

Responses 699

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Holding six outdoor NHL games in the 2013-14 season is:

Too many 60.0%
The right amount 29.6%
Too few 4.3%

Responses 822

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Most effective NHL team owner:

Rocky Wirtz
(Chicago Blackhawks)
Mike Ilitch
(Detroit Red Wings)
Jeremy Jacobs
(Boston Bruins)
Mario Lemieux/Ron Burkle
(Pittsburgh Penguins)

Responses 756

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Least effective NHL team owner:

Charles Wang
(New York Islanders)
James Dolan
(New York Rangers)
Vincent Viola
(Florida Panthers)
George Gosbee
(Phoenix Coyotes)

Responses 727

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League that will be the first to place a franchise outside North America:

NFL 41.9%
NBA 27.1%
MLS 9.9%
NHL 7.4%
MLB 7.3%

Responses 1,189

When a U.S.-based league will place a franchise outside North America:

Within the next five years 37.0%
Within the next 10 years 46.3%
More than 10 years from now 11.7%
Never 2.9%

Responses 1,189

Most innovative sports property:

NFL 21.9%
NBA 16.8%
MLB 13.4%

Responses 1,164

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Property/organization with the most growth potential:

MLS 28.5%
UFC 10.7%
MLB 9.9%
NHL 8.2%

Responses 1,076

League that does not face enough media scrutiny over its athletes’ use of performance- enhancing drugs:

NFL 56.3%
NBA 28.4%
NHL 19.1%
MLB 12.1%

Responses 1,191

League that gets the best grade for its testing and regulations for performance-enhancing drugs:

MLB 43.5%
NFL 15.4%
NBA 7.9%
NHL 6.9%

Responses 1,298

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Grade the overall sports facility industry for the wireless connectivity it provides to fans:

A 1.4%
B 17.6%
C 44.3%
D 27.5%
F 9.1%

Responses 952

What facilities and their tenants should focus on to improve the fan experience:

Wi-Fi connectivity 60.3%
Parking/traffic flow 42.5%
Concessions pricing 38.3%
Rowdy fans/drunkenness 34.0%
Concourses/pedestrian flow 15.5%
Seating quality/dimensions 14.7%
Video/scoreboard system location/quality 14.0%

Note: Respondents could select three

Responses 974

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Where you would most like to sit:

18th green at Augusta 21.7%
Green Monster seats at Fenway Park 13.3%
Courtside at Madison Square Garden 9.9%
At home in front of an 80-inch HDTV 9.8%
Courtside at Staples Center 9.2%

Responses 977

If you haven’t been to any of these venues and were given an option, which one would you most want to visit?

Augusta National 34.1%
Fenway Park 14.7%
Lambeau Field 10.3%
Wrigley Field 8.5%
Madison Square Garden 7.5%

Responses 964

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Face of NASCAR:

Jimmie Johnson 46.0%
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 23.0%
Jeff Gordon 7.0%

Responses 686

NASCAR’s new TV deal with Fox and NBC will:

Help ratings and viewership 47.7%
Have no effect on ratings and viewership 39.1%
Hurt ratings and viewership 5.3%

Responses 854

The new, NASCAR-owned and controlled has been:

A success 18.7%
A work in progress 35.8%
A failure 4.8%

Responses 846

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Grade how NASCAR Chairman Brian France handled this year’s race manipulation scandal:

A 24.5%
B 28.3%
C 34.0%
D 9.0%
E 4.2%

Responses 812

Form of open-wheel racing that has the better growth potential in the U.S.:

Formula One 45.2%
IndyCar 30.4%

Responses 823

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Sponsors that do the best job activating around NASCAR:

Sprint 32.4% 23.3%
Coca-Cola 22.8%
Lowe’s 19.6%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 812

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Will Mark Emmert still be NCAA president a year from now?

Yes 43.9%
No 42.5%
No opinion 13.7%

Responses 996

Do you donate to the athletic program of your alma mater?

Yes 37.0%
No 51.1%
Prefer not to answer 11.9%

Responses 1,008

Should college athletes be paid?

Yes 48.4%
No 48.4%
No opinion 3.3%

Responses 1,007

Grade the NCAA’s effectiveness in dealing with rules enforcement:

A 2.0%
B 10.7%
C 24.9%
D 29.9%
F 32.5%

Responses 1,011

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Companies/brands that have done the best job aligning with college sports through corporate sponsorship:

Allstate 35.7%
Capital One 25.4%
Home Depot 24.4%
Nike 23.0%
Buffalo Wild Wings 21.4%

Note: Respondents could select three.

Responses 964

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Most effective conference commissioner:

Mike Slive, SEC 35.3%
Larry Scott, Pac-12 19.6%
Jim Delany, Big Ten 18.0%
John Swofford, ACC 9.7%
Val Ackerman, Big East 3.4%
Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 2.2%
Mike Aresco, American Athletic 1.9%

Responses 1,004

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The state of professional golf now compared with five years ago:

Much stronger 6.1%
Somewhat stronger 27.9%
Same 22.7%
Somewhat weaker 34.0%
Much weaker 4.9%

Responses 1,078

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The state of professional tennis now compared with five years ago:

Much stronger 4.5%
Somewhat stronger 16.0%
Same 23.7%
Somewhat weaker 35.3%
Much weaker 15.4%

Responses 1,078

If you were a sponsor, which professional tour below would you invest in if you could select only one?

PGA Tour 70.9%
ATP World Tour 12.3%
WTA Tour 4.9%
LPGA 3.3%

Responses 1,071

Global property you would most want to be associated with if you worked for a sponsor/brand:

Summer Olympics 46.2%
FIFA World Cup 46.1%
Winter Olympics 7.7%

Responses 1,072

If you were a sponsor of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, what would concern you the most?

Security / protests 60.2%
Logistics / transportation 24.3%
State of Brazil’s economy 12.8%

Responses 1,076

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Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports will play a significant role in sports:

Agree 40.1%
Disagree 44.5%
No opinion 15.4%

Responses 1,091

If you were a sponsor, would you invest in the UFC?

Yes 39.3%
No 53.5%

Responses 1,077

Action sports property best positioned for growth:

X Games 34.1%
Dew Tour 15.4%
U.S. Open of Surfing 10.0%
Street League 4.7%

Responses 1,071

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Ratings for the Sochi Games will be:

Flat with vancouver (13.8 average Nielsen rating) 24.9%
Up from Vancouver 17.7%
Down from Vancouver 51.1%

Responses 1,075

Biggest issue facing the IOC:

Cost of hosting and presenting the Games 37.1%
Brazil falling behind in infrastructure development for the 2016 Games 26.1%
Controversy around Russia’s anti-gay legislation 15.0%
Process for selecting host cities 14.7%
Landing new TOP sponsors 3.8%

Responses 1,066