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Volume 26 No. 63
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SBJ All-Access: Zucker, WWE In Focus On Last Day Of SMT

The 2019 Endeavor Streaming Sports Media & Technology conference wrapped up on Wednesday with some strong Q&As. We started the day with Sinclair Broadcasting giving a glimpse into its RSN strategy, followed by a candid talk with CNN's Jeff Zucker about political news and the future of sports for WarnerMedia. The morning wrapped up with Fox Sports and WWE talking about the success they've seen in moving the "Smackdown" property to Friday nights.

It's time to roll into our next event today -- the Lagardère Sports Esports Rising conference. Getting things started will be Lagardère Sports & Entertainment Exec VP/U.S. Commercial Mark Riccio, who will talk to attendees about the state of esports. We've also got sessions on expectations for the esports industry, what's driving growth, incremental revenue opportunities, the development of Overwatch League, sponsorship ROI, franchise valuations, mobile gaming, measurement/data analytics and youth consumption.

 

JEFF ZUCKER HITS ON NEWS, SPORTS

CNN's Zucker (r) talked about how he handles being a Twitter target of President Trump
  • Public impeachment hearings were beginning in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, meaning a big day for news outlets like CNN. But that didn't stop WarnerMedia Chair Jeff Zucker from coming out to the conference to talk about his role and how his company operates within news and sports.

    • On being away from CNN HQ during impeachment hearings: “The teams that are handling the coverage back in New York and Washington are actually happy I’m not there, because they’ll only get half of the number of emails they normally get.”

    • On being targeted by President Trump on Twitter: “It doesn’t bother me. I’m used to it at this point. It’s like I see it and just laugh. I’m very aware that he does this. I know why he does this, and I really don’t pay attention to it.”

    • On the future of B/R Live once the HBO Max streaming service launches in May: “Live programming -- live news, live sports -- is not part of the first phase of that launch. But it is something that will be part of HBO Max down the road. What does that mean, or what is that timing? I can’t say for sure. Is it two years? I don’t know yet. But it’ll be the second or third phase of HBO Max.”

  • Check out more from Zucker's chat with John Ourand in today's issue of Sports Business Daily.

 

FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER FOR WWE, FOX

Wilson and Shanks chatted about moving the WWE's "Smackdown" property to Friday nights
  • Fox Sports chief Eric Shanks and WWE's Michelle Wilson spoke about the success the parties are having with the first year of "Smackdown," which, as part of the new media-rights deal, moved from Tuesday to Friday. That Friday night window traditionally has fewer homes watching TV in the U.S, but both Shanks and Wilson have been pleased with the WWE numbers since the program launched there on Oct. 4. "The reality is that when you look at the numbers, and why I think it’s a great fit for Fox, is it’s really multi-generational,” Wilson said. “35-40% of the viewing audience are women. It’s all age groups. Right now, when you look at the 18-49 demo, we’re winning Friday nights now on Fox. I think there’s this misperception that it’s just for young men, and while that is a sweet spot for us, our demographics are obviously much more family.”

  • Shanks: “A big part of the deal was working with the WWE to get it to Friday night, which is a big, big change for them. Lining it up so that our strategy of owning the weekend -- Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday -- could come to fruition. All the stars aligned.”

 


SEEN & HEARD

  • Lagardère hosted a private reception last night at Whiskey Red's in Marina Del Rey to kick off the event. Being near the marina, guests had a range of seafood offerings (thank you crab legs for being in season). Those were part of a full raw bar with shrimp, oysters, crab cake sliders and several other passed hors d'oeuvres. Among those in attendance were SBJ's Abe Madkour, Activision Blizzard's Brandon Snow, Lagardère's Dominic Curran and Mark Riccio, Pigeon Consulting's Steve Lauletta, Wise Ventures' Brian Cargo, Adidas' Milos Ribic and Zoomph's Lee Schwemmer and Amir Zonozi.

  • Deltatre's Jeff Volk and Inner Circle's Steve Horowitz walked around three miles near the marina before Wednesday's conference started. Volk and Yahoo Sports' Geoff Reiss also had an impassioned discussion on the future of streaming last night.

  • We've got a throwback set up outside the main ballroom today -- an arcade version of "Pac-Man's Pixel Bash." Stop by! We're tracking high scores during the conference today.

 

SOCIAL ANIMALS

  • We were once again using #SBJSMT during this year's Sports Media & Technology conference on Twitter. Some of the tweets that came our way:

    • Monumental Sports' Zach Leonsis: "Great trip to #SBJSMT where I got to catch up with a lot of fellow colleagues to talk media, esports, and sports betting. LA is one of my favorite cities so it’s fun to have productive days there. Now off to the Barça Sports Technology Symposium in Spain!"

    • Tech platform Greenfly: "We had a great first day at #SBJSMT, learning from some of the best in #sportsbiz!"

    • LPGA's Brian Carroll: "Awesome conference in LA with @Endeavor_Stream Sports Media & Tech conference. #sbjsmt"