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Volume 27 No. 53

SBJ Unpacks: Snyder Blocks Group Seeking Minority Control Of Washington Football Team

Tonight in SBJ Unpacks: Three Washington Football Team minority owners are ready to sell, but Dan Snyder stands in the way.

  • Pitt-Virginia Tech to be first college game with face coverings
  • Virtual NBA Draft draws ESPN's lowest audience in a decade
  • Sinclair-Bally's RSN deal surprises industry
  • WME’s Cavitt Logue on new opportunities for Scottie Pippen
  • SBJ reveals second annual list of New Voices Under 30
  • A look at the convergence of media & sportsbooks

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Clearlake Capital Behind Offer For 40% Stake In WFT

The prospective buyers in a reportedly blocked deal for minority control of the Washington Football Team are Behdad Eghbali and Jose Feliciano -- "billionaire co-founders of Clearlake Capital, a private equity firm based in Santa Monica" -- and Feliciano’s wife, Kwanza Jones, a "singer/songwriter and philanthropist who grew up in the DC area," per the Washington Post. 

The group has reportedly offered to pay $900 million for the 40% combined stake in the club owned by Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman, but majority Owner Daniel Snyder is "standing in the way."

Snyder is "blocking the sale, according to people familiar with the situation, by attempting to selectively exercise his right of first refusal to buy back minority shares of the team before they’re sold to other parties."

Pitt-Virginia Tech To Play With Face Coverings This Weekend

Pitt and Virginia Tech "will be outfitted with face coverings on the field as well as on the sideline Saturday, in accordance with Pennsylvania's new coronavirus safety guidelines," reports ESPN.

In a statement issued Friday, Pitt said, "In alignment with the recent guidance from state officials regarding the current health climate, Pitt's football team will be appropriately outfitted for Saturday's game with face coverings to use on the field and sideline. This is being communicated to Virginia Tech's sports medicine staff as well."

The Panthers and Hokies "would be the first two college teams to wear face coverings in game."

Virtual NBA Draft Draws ESPN's Lowest Audience In Over A Decade

The NBA Draft on Wednesday night averaged 2.65 million viewers across ESPN and ESPNU, marking the event’s lowest figure since June 2009 (2.64 million just on ESPN), reports SBJ's Austin Karp.

The shift of the Draft to November played a part in the drop from previous years, as did the event going virtual vs. in-person. There also continues to be big increases in cable news viewership (two primetime shows on MSNBC and three on Fox News topped the Draft on Wednesday night), while overall TV usage this fall remains down 5% from the same period in 2019. Wednesday night’s telecast from 8:00-11:01pm ET was down 14% from 3.09 million viewers on ESPN/ESPNU/ESPNews.

Two years ago on ESPN alone, the Draft in June averaged 3.07 million viewers.

For more, see Sports Business Daily.

Sinclair-Bally's RSN Deal Surprises Industry

While Sinclair has been in the market for a sportsbook partner for over a year now, its choice of Bally's caught many by surprise, writes SBJ's Bill King.

Most leading sportsbooks are aligned with major sports media companies -- think Fox/Stars Group, MGM/Yahoo or Williams Hill/CBS -- and those deals happened while Sinclair was busy integrating the RSNs into its existing business. But the company made it clear all along that it eventually would strike a sportsbook partnership.

The company now known as Bally’s is a recent creation. It is an amalgam put together by investor Soo Kim, who chairs a small Rhode Island-based casino operator that has used the merger of two casino chains to grow to 14 casinos in 10 states -- eight of which allow sports betting.

For more, see today's issue of SBJ Betting.

WME’s Cavitt Logue On New Opportunities For Scottie Pippen

WME agent Sloane Cavitt Logue said she and her client, Basketball HOFer Scottie Pippen, have done “more during the pandemic than before,” in key part due to the success of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” project. She told SBJ’s Andrew Levin, “It gained so much traction. That film really shows how important Scottie is. … People got to know him and his story.” She added that it was great that the airdate came sooner than expected.

During this time, Cavitt Logue has done deals for Pippen with Michelob Ultra, the Calm App, AMEX and Samsung. And both are keeping their eyes on future crossover opportunities. She said, “One thing he absolutely loves is voiceover, and we’re obviously using that because his voice is so unique.”

Cavitt Logue also addressed marketing budgets in 2021. She said, “I work super closely with the commercials and branding agents and sponsorships in our WME ecosystem, and I see them all over the place.” She called it a “tough question,” but added that she has not seen a disparity any greater than it is right now.

For more insights from Cavitt Logue, including her thoughts on the future of live entertainment in Nashville, check out today’s episode of “SBJ Unpacks: The Road Ahead.

SBJ Reveals Second Annual List Of New Voices Under 30

SBJ this week was pleased to announce the second class of New Voices Under 30. Representing a new generation of sports business influencers, the 30 members of the class of 2020 reflect the diverse and dynamic industry across all sectors -- leagues and teams, agencies and brands, media and finance.

Assisted by a panel of outside judges and founding partners Anheuser-Busch and Turnkey Search, SBJ selected the members of this class for their entrepreneurial spirit, their willingness to take risks and disrupt an industry, their conviction to lift their voices to advance social causes, their talent to make an impact on their organization, and their ambition to reach greater heights in their respective careers.

Convergence Of Media & Sportsbooks

Tonight's op-ed contribution is from Deloitte executives Adam Deutsch, Jordan Wiggins and Lee Teller, who take a look at the convergence of media companies and sportsbooks.
"Acquiring and retaining loyal, satisfied customers is the name of the game in any business and sportsbooks are no exception. As more and more states come online with legalized sports betting, sportsbook operators are racing to acquire customers at significant costs (in some cases as high as $500/customer) believing there is a first-mover advantage partially due to the level of personal information required to create an account in the United States. As a result, media companies with sports broadcast rights have often become a natural partner for sportsbooks seeking access to the widest pool of potential customers."

To read the full contribution, click here.

Speed Reads

  • The Raptors will "open their NBA season next month with Tampa as their temporary home," per the Tampa Bay Times. Unable to "gain an exemption to travel in and out of Canada because of the country’s coronavirus-related travel restrictions calling for mandatory quarantining when returning from the United States, the Raptors will play their home games at Amalie Arena and train in the Tampa Bay area for now." The NBA season begins Dec. 22, and training camp opens Dec. 1.
  • USA Basketball and the national teams from Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico “will be moving into a bubble in Indianapolis over the coming days to prepare for the second round of FIBA AmeriCup qualifying games later this month,” per the AP. This will mark the “first bubble-type format for the U.S. for an international event.” Games will be “streamed on ESPN+, but no fans or outsiders will be allowed inside the bubble for the games.”

  • The Broncos today said that Sunday's home game against the Dolphins "will be the final one with fans in attendance this year" at Empower Field at Mile High, per the Denver Post. Citing a spike in COVID-19 locally, the Broncos indicated that their "decision was made 'in consultation' with state officials and public health experts." At the final three home games, "friends and family of players, coaches and executives will also be prohibited from attending." The Broncos "have been allowed to host a maximum of 5,700 fans" at three home games. The Broncos are the fourth NFL team to backtrack on fan access this week, following Washington, the Eagles and Ravens, reports SBJ's Ben Fischer.

News From Sports Business Daily

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