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Volume 27 No. 84

SBJ Unpacks: NFL Moves Ravens-Steelers To Sunday Afternoon

SBJ Unpacks will not return until Nov. 30 because of the Thanksgiving holidays. Enjoy the long weekend!

  • Ravens-Steelers moved from Thanksgiving to Sunday afternoon
  • NBA postpones 2021 All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis
  • Nick Saban out of Iron Bowl after positive test
  • Pelicans land new jersey patch sponsor
  • NHL's Jan. 1 plans could be in jeopardy
  • How "Big Noon Kickoff" has evolved on Fox
  • Golf Digest encouraged by latest audio strategy pivot
  • Utilizing sports diplomacy as an engagement tool

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Ravens-Steelers Moved To Sunday Following Positive Tests

The NFL announced this afternoon that Ravens-Steelers has been moved from Thanksgiving night to Sunday afternoon. 

The shift comes "following positive coronavirus tests for a number of Ravens players." In all, Baltimore has "had five players and four staffers test positive this week, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter."

The league in a statement said, "This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts."

NBA Postpones 2021 All-Star Weekend In Indianapolis To 2024

The NBA this afternoon officially postponed the 2021 All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis to 2024. The next three destinations for All-Star Weekend are now Cleveland (2022), Salt Lake City (2023) and Indianapolis (2024).

The N.Y. Times' Marc Stein reports the NBA does have plans for a "revised NBA All-Star 2021" that will be "announced at a later date."

Nick Saban Tests Positive; Out For Iron Bowl

Alabama coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not coach Saturday's game against Auburn, per the Tuscaloosa News. According to a statement released by the school, Saban received the positive test this morning and is showing "very mild symptoms." Because Saban is symptomatic, the test "will not be categorized as a potential false positive."

Saban, 69, will "have to isolate for at least 10 days, which would put his return on Dec. 4, one day before the scheduled regular-season finale at Arkansas," per ESPN

Last month, Saban "received what was eventually deemed to be a false positive test." After initially testing positive, he had "three consecutive negative tests and was able to coach the Crimson Tide's win over Georgia." 

Alabama is undefeated and No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Shopping App Ibotta Becomes Pelicans New Jersey Patch Sponsor

Shopping frequency/loyalty app Ibotta will be the new uniform patch sponsor for the Pelicans when the NBA season tips off Dec. 22, reports SBJ's Terry Lefton. Ibotta replaces McCormick’s Zatarain’s spice brand, which had the Pelicans’ patch rights since the 2017-2018 season.

Included in the sponsorship is arena signage, along with social and digital assets. Consumers can also get discounts on Pelicans merchandise using Ibotta’s cash back rewards app, which the company claims has been downloaded more than 40 million times since it was founded in 2012.

Rakuten, a competitor of Ibotta, has been the Warriors patch sponsor since 2017, when it signed what is still the league’s biggest uniform advertising deal, reportedly worth $20 million a year.

Impression Sports & Entertainment brokered the deal for Ibotta; both companies are based in Denver.

The Pelicans become the third team to announce a new jersey patch sponsor ahead of the NBA season, joining the Clippers and Celtics, who have partnered with Honey and Vistaprint, respectively.

NHL's Jan. 1 Plans In Jeopardy

The "lack of progress over the last five days in crafting protocols for 2020-21 would seem to jeopardize the NHL's targeted Jan. 1 puck drop on a hypothetical 60-game regular season," and a 48-game season "beginning the third week of January appears the more likely objective," according to the N.Y. Post's Larry Brooks.

There "has been a lull in the talking since the NHL hit the NHLPA with its request last week for additional salary deferrals and an increase in the escrow cap that would amount to approximately $300 million flowing to ownership" for 2020-21. The six-year CBA agreed to by both parties in early July during the Return To Play negotiations "stipulated that the players would defer 10 percent of their pay with escrow capped at 20 percent."

Players thus "would have been guaranteed 72 percent of their face-value pay for the coming season." Citing liquidity issues, the league now is "asking players to defer 26 percent of their pay while increasing the escrow cap to 25 percent." That "amounts to a guarantee" of 55.5% for 2020-21.

Read more in Sports Business Daily.

Brady Quinn Talks Year 2 Of "Big Noon Kickoff"

Fox' college football pregame show "Big Noon Kickoff" is navigating its sophomore season amid the pandemic, but analyst Brady Quinn still feels the show has been able to evolve amid trying circumstances. 

Quinn told SBJ's Thomas Leary that expanding the show from one to two hours this year has helped the crew of Urban Meyer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Rob Stone develop chemistry. Quinn: "Extending the show has allowed us to actually evolve. Urban kind of leads the way. It’s rare when you get someone who’s been as successful as he has and also just recently has left the game to be able to talk from a schematic standpoint. That’s insight you can’t get anywhere else. Then I think when you add in the additional segments -- Matt & I being able to break things down from a quarterback’s eyes. Or Reggie -- arguably one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football history -- to be able to tell you how he sees it -- it’s just unique. You don’t have any other college football pregame show that’s anywhere close."

Quinn admitted this season has come with its own unique set of challenges, including a Saturday earlier this month where the crew was sidelined in L.A. out of an abundance of caution. Quinn is ready to get back to campuses on a week-to-week basis when the time is right, but for now is content to roll with the punches. "We’ve had to adjust due to COVID. Ideally we’d obviously like to be at games and be there in person. … I think we’ll continue to keep evolving as college football evolves." 

For more from Quinn on his media pursuits, see today's issue of Sports Business Daily.

Golf Digest Encouraged By Early Results Of Revamped Audio Strategy

Golf Digest over the summer launched its latest podcast, “Local Knowledge,” as part of a new audio strategy to lean further into the publication’s storytelling history. Hosted by Daniel Rapaport, Alex Myers and Keely Levins, the bi-weekly pod features deep dives into unique topics – from the near demise of Augusta National in its early existence to the life of the modern PGA Tour caddie.

Five months after its launch, the pod reached the No. 1 spot among golf podcasts in the U.S., according to Golf Digest Digital Editorial Director Sam Weinman told SBJ’s Thomas Leary, “We’re encouraged. … We were confident in the idea, but … to actually see the results and see that people are responding to it is a testament to the fact that we’re on the right track.” 

Weinman attributed part of the podcast’s popularity to a focus on quality over quantity, with each host having several weeks to identify and shape their respective episode to attract both the hardcore and casual golfer. “We spend a lot of time not only talking about story and the scripts, but really what is that entry point or title that’s going to hook people? Not in a click-baiting way … but really thinking about stories that have a really intriguing hook.”

Outside Contributors: Sports Diplomacy As An Engagement Tool

Today's oped contribution is from Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff, a consultant and historian working at the intersection of sports, communications, and diplomacy. She is also a contributing writer on global sports for CNN International, the Washington Post, The New Yorker and more. She writes under the header, "Sports Diplomacy As An Engagement Tool."

"Globalization of the sports industry means that the wider sports ecosystem has a role to play. And at this moment in time, the industry should tap into the sports diplomacy framework as an impactful tool to more clearly communicate, represent, and negotiate about the U.S., including its sports culture. Although presently difficult to do so in person due to the pandemic, leagues, teams, companies, as well as athletes, coaches, media, and sponsors should utilize the sports diplomacy prism of our Zoomified, Twitter-centric world to (re)engage with colleagues, friends, and fans around the world and serve as a corrective to the erosion of U.S. cultural cachet."

To read the full contribution, click here.

Speed Reads

  • The NFL has "filed to intervene in the lawsuit against Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder by his three limited partners," according to The Athletic. While the NFL has "not as of yet filed a motion to explain its intervention (the league is now listed on the docket as an intervenor), it is not hard to discern why: the league's rules require disputes among ownership partners to be settled privately." An NFL-appointed arbitrator has "already been assigned by the league just for this disagreement."

  • Yahoo Finance's Reggie Wade writes under the header, "Nike Had A Great October, But The Sportswear Industry Faces A Challenging 2020 Holiday Season." Despite lower overall sales in October, big brands Nike, Adidas and Under Armour "did see some gains." But NPD VP and Senior Sports Industry Advisor Matt Powell said October in reality was "really an outlier." Powell: "There were many more limited release shoes than a typical October. Brands were very aggressive on pricing around Prime Days. So. no, I do not think the October result is sustainable. Brands and retailers will have trouble offsetting the releases from last year’s holiday, as social distancing rules will prevent crowds.”

  • Beats by Dre has "kicked off its next ad series, again showcasing Gen Z talent and topical, thought-provoking messages" starring tennis player Naomi Osaka, according to Adweek's T.L. Stanley. "Flex That," from creative agency Virtue Worldwide, N.Y., is "made up of a series of three vignettes" starring Osaka, Grammy-nominated rapper-songwriter Cordae and rising artist Flo Milli. The 30-second spots are "part of the introduction for a few Beats product called Flex, targeted at young consumers and priced at $50."

  • Bleacher Report's Howard Beck on Twitter confirmed his 7-year-run at the outlet has ended. Beck: "Grateful for all the experiences, memories and friends, proud to have spent this chapter of my career with so many amazing, talented people." Among those mentioned in Beck's farewell thread were David Levy, Dave Finocchio and Scooter Vertino.

News From Sports Business Daily

During this crisis impacting the sports business, we want everyone to be up-to-date on the latest news and information. Select stories from Sports Business Daily are free, outside the paywall, for the foreseeable future. Below are the headlines: