1:40 PGA Championship taking a major change — event will take place in May in future. Strategy and overall Masters schedule discusses
3:00 Little League Classic discussed. Commentary on field renovation and promotional strategy for the event
4:10 Oakland A’s new facility — new ballpark site picked, pros and cons.
5:30 CBS continues push into sports streaming. Developing a 247 sports streaming service
6:40 Disney will also launch its own streaming service — ESPN, BAMtech tie-in
8:00 Amazon getting into the ticketing and event industry. Business/corporate strategy and disruption discussed
9:30 The latest news in VR discussed
10:40 Esports impact and Olympics argument
11:55 Liverpool sleeve endorsements controversy - pros and cons and business implications
13:00 Emirates extends sponsorship of FA Cup. Brand equity and sports marketing strategy discussed
13:50 Seattle Sounders partners with IMG to find naming partner; current Xbox deal is ending.
14:40 Philadelphia Union hired a CTO - chief tattooist. Team rationale and explanation of hiring “chief tattooist officer”. Are logos on skin the future?
15:50 NFL preseason discussed briefly, will revisit after interview
17:05 Amy Trask, COO BIG3 interview
29:50 HBO Hard Knocks success, views and overall fan excitement up for all NFL teams
30:50 Daily Fantasy - Daft Kings and FanDuel merger did not go through Growth of the industry and the fantasy arms race discussed
31:50 Next week teased, secrets of NE Patriots success
15 TO WATCH/5 SPORTS TECH: RICK HORROW’S TOP SPORTS/BUSINESS/
MARKETING/TECH ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF August 14
By Rick Horrow with Jamie Swimmer & Ron Socash
Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins
1. The NFL preseason is officially underway and that means HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is too. With the Dallas Cowboys-Arizona Cardinals Hall of Fame Game already passed and a week of preseason games in the bag, Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken center stage for this year’s season of the show. According to SportsBusiness Journal, HBO averaged 671,000 viewers for the season premiere, a number that is “up 32% from last season” when the first episode featured the Los Angeles Rams and faced competition from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. In terms of NFL preseason game viewership, of the 16 NFL teams that had played a preseason game through August 10, 15 of them “posted a ratings increase over 2016 in their home market.” The hype and excitement is clearly building ahead of the NFL season – one which is expected to provide all of the action that it usually does. Viewership is up and drama is high around the league: Ezekiel Elliott will reportedly submit an appeal for his six-game suspension…it will be interesting to see how the league responds to this.
2. The PGA Tour is set to experience a major shift in its schedule for the 2019 with the PGA Championship moving to May in two years. According to News10, the total shift is still being determined, but it is expected to be “the biggest change to the golf schedule in more than a decade.” The PGA of America confirmed its major will move from its mid-summer date that it has occupied for “some 50 years.” Now the PGA Championship will be played a week after Mother’s Day, in between the Masters and the U.S. Open. “We feel May is a far more powerful date for us to contest our major championship,” said PGA of America chief executive Pete Bevacqua. Moving the tournament out of August, the Tour wants to finish the FedEx Cup before the NFL season kicks off to limit scheduling conflicts that could divert fan attention away from the sport.
3. The Oakland A’s are in serious talks to find a new ballpark site, and one of the three candidate sites just picked up a big piece of support. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the A’s just earned the support from the chancellor of the Peralta Community College District, which controls the 13-acre site “between Laney College and Interstate 880.” The site is very appealing to team executives because of its views of Lake Merritt, “proximity to BART and just enough land to create the vibrant, urban ballpark village” that team President Dave Kaval envisions accompanying a new stadium in the Bay Area. In order to build a stadium at this site, the Peralta Community College District would need to be persuaded to sell or lease the piece of land, as well as “uproot its district offices.” The team expected to face more opposition from Chancellor Jowel Laguerre, but the chancellor is more in favor of the plan now that he knows the campus would not have to move. The A’s have been looking for a new site for months now that the Raiders are officially moving to Vegas. Finally, some promising news for a club that has been struggling as of late.
4. Despite the proposed merger between FanDuel and DraftKings falling through earlier this year, both companies are pushing ahead to unveil new fantasy football games ahead of the upcoming season. According to SportsBusiness Journal, FanDuel is introducing a new season-long format called “Championship Leagues,” which allows users to pay a one-time entry fee, much like a traditional fantasy football league, yet operators will “complete weekly redrafts of team rosters.” The focus on season-long games is a big change from the traditional model of daily games that resulted in the company and industry receiving heavy scrutiny. “This is our big jump into the season-long fantasy market,” said FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles. On the other side of the industry, DraftKings is about to roll out a massive new marketing campaign in wake of the upcoming NFL season. The company confirmed that it “will be aggressive, but still nowhere near the levels seen in 2015.” Both companies are looking to rebound and grow business in wake of the failed merger earlier this year. The arms race to control the Daily Fantasy Sports industry is back.
5. CBS is continuing its push into sports streaming as the network recently hinted at an upcoming service that it plans to unveil in the near future. According to Ad Age, CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Les Moonves told investors that “a 24/7 live-streaming outlet devoted to sports was in the works.” The future offering is still in the early stages of development and does not yet have a name, but it is expected to be modeled after CBSN, the streaming news service. CBS currently plays a pivotal role in the sports media and broadcasting world, with deals in place with the NFL, the PGA, and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. “We are going to look to differentiate ourselves from the ESPNs and the Fox Sports, and, well, we think we have a great opportunity for success,” said Moonves. CBS already has an online sports group “in place down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.” Streaming around the clock continues to evolve for all major networks – CBS already has the infrastructure in place to make this successful.
6. The Milwaukee Bucks have signed motorcycle company Harley-Davidson as their jersey patch sponsor for this coming season. According to ESPN.com, the company’s “iconic orange, white and black logo” will appear on the left breast of the Bucks’ traditional green, white and black jersey. Harley-Davidson was originally founded in Milwaukee, giving the team a hometown sponsor. This move of picking up a local company as a jersey patch sponsor is similar to what many other NBA franchises have been doing when it comes to finding the right partner. Harley-Davidson has been a longtime sponsor of the Bucks, “with reserved parking outside the Bradley Center for Harley owners and a fourth quarter ‘Rev up’ with the team’s mascot, Bango.” Ironically, motorcycle riding is prohibited in NBA contracts, so “don’t expect to see Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo sign an endorsement deal with Harley and get a free bike.” Signing local companies to jersey patch sponsorship deals has been an evolving trend for NBA franchises – expect this to continue going forward, bolstering local economies and business.
7. It’s not every day that a professional sporting event is playing in an intimate, historic setting. According to the Buffalo Agency, the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates will square off at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and will be labeled as the “Little League Classic.” BrightView, MLB’s sports turf consultant, employed Sports Tuft Managers Association (STMA) earlier this year to renovate the field at BB&T Ballpark. In total, 4,500 tons of sand and root-zone material were laid out to prepare the natural grass surface; the teams also “removed 1.5 feet of physical mass, constructed the playing surface and set infield and outfield sod the week of May 30.” The ballpark’s renovations had to meet MLB specifications, while also suiting the needs and likes of the Williamsport Crosscutters, the inhabiting team. It’s great to see professional sports being played on a smaller stage sometimes, giving fans a more intimate look at our national pastime.
8. The New England Patriots are flying in a class of their own, both on and off the field. According to ESPN.com, the Patriots have become the first NFL team to buy their own plane to fly to games. But the defending Super Bowl champions not only bought one Boeing 767, they bought two. The Pats now boast two wide-body jets and “retrofitted them with all first-class seats, some of which recline completely.” Team officials denied commenting on this purchase, declining to say whether the planes are new or not. Depending on “miles flown and condition,” a Boeing 767 can cost anywhere between $5 million and $65 million, while a new jet could cost up to $200 million. NFL teams only play 10 road games a year typically – two preseason, eight regular season – so franchises have not necessarily had the incentive to invest in planes. When you win Super Bowls at the rate that the Patriots do, buying your own 767’s to fly to games is a luxury that Robert Kraft and Co. can afford.
9. Esports have gained so much popularity and traction over the past few years that Paris 2024 officials are now seriously considering adding it to the Olympics in France. According to BBC, esports, a competitive form of video gaming, has a “global audience of about 320 million,” and is set to be included in the 2022 Asian Games, which will mark the first time esports will be featured as a medal event. “We have to look at it because we can’t say, ‘It’s not us. It’s not about Olympics,’” said Paris 2024 co-President Tony Estanguet. “The youth, yes they are interested in sport and this kind of this. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try if we can find some bridges.” The 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia will feature eports contests as a demonstration, similar to what the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics did by featuring an “eGames showcase.” It will be interesting to see this decision unfold. The popularity of eports is undeniable, but do they belong in the Olympics?
10. University of Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk just celebrated his one-year anniversary of the job in grand fashion. According to The Rolla Daily News, the Mizzou athletic department has been experiencing record donations in the short time that Sterk has been at the helm. In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, Mizzou brought in $50.7 million for the Tiger Scholarship Fund, which “more than doubled the amount raised in the previous fiscal year.” The boost in donations work well with Sterk’s plan to renovate the south end zone, which has an estimated price tag of $96.7 million. One big hurdle for Sterk is still to turn around the success of the men’s football and basketball teams though – the most profitable NCAA sports. Those two teams “had a combined winning percentage of 0.273.” On the other hand, Sterk noted that Mizzou’s “nonrevenue sports” helped the university finish 33rd in the Director’s Cup, the highest spot ever achieved. The numbers came back good for Sterk, but if his football and basketball programs do not start performing on the court, the funding could stop before he knows it.
11. English Premier League side Liverpool FC has signed a new jersey sleeve sponsor, but fans are not thrilled about the announcement. According to the London Mirror, Liverpool recently announced a five-year, £25 million deal with Colorado-based financial services company Western Union, prompting an outrage among the Reds fans. The extra income will help the already-lucrative club, but fans “complained how it looks aesthetically.” Fans started chiming in on Twitter commenting on the left sleeve logo: “Football shirts are going to end up like Formula 1 cars,” said one fan. This year marks the first season EPL clubs will be allowed to have sleeve sponsors, which is a result of the league moving away from a single title sponsor and incorporating more sponsors on tiered levels. New sleeve sponsorship deals are spurring up almost every week for EPL teams, similar to what is happening in the NBA with jersey patch deals.
12. The Seattle Sounders of the MLS have teamed up with WME-IMG to help them land a new naming rights partner. According to SoundersFC.com, the club is looking to find a new partner for an “assets package” that includes putting the company’s name on the front of their jersey, match day pitch and training facility. The team currently has a deal in place with Washington-based Xbox, though that engagement is set to expire at the end of the 2018 MLS season. The club hired WME-IMG because of the company’s past success in helping its clients land lucrative jersey sponsorship deals – most notably the new jersey patch deals in the NBA. WME-IMG “helped lead naming rights deals for the Boston Celtics,” which resulted in a deal with General Electric for $7 million per year. SportsBusiness Daily noted that “the package valuation could be in the eight-figure range,” further stating that most clubs “generate $3-to-$4 million per year on jersey sponsorship deals.” This strategic partnership could pave the way for other franchises to engage in such talks with companies like WME-IMG if their “assets package” turns out to be as lucrative as the Sounders hope it will be.
13. Disney is making some serious moves behind the scenes regarding its streaming services. According to The Verge, Disney’s previously-announced ESPN streaming service will be launched next year. The streaming service will host a broad spectrum of sports and events, but will also include “purchasable add-ons for those who closely follow individual sports like baseball, hockey, and soccer.” The new streaming service will not be its own application. Rather, it will be available inside the already-existing ESPN app. “The ESPN-branded multi-sport service will offer a robust array of sports programming, featuring approximately 10,000 regional, national, and international games and events a year…” as written by Disney in an official statement. This news comes on the heels of the company ending its licensing deal with Netflix and after purchasing a majority stake in BAMTech, “the MLB-founded video juggernaut behind many of the most popular sports and TV streaming services.” Investing in BAMTech gives Disney a competitive advantage over other players due to the service’s expansive steaming capabilities. This could be just the start of a streaming revolution for Disney.
14. Dubai-based Emirates has signed a new three-year deal to remain the title sponsor of the FA Cup. According to Sports Pro Media, the world’s oldest club soccer competition will keep its title sponsor until at least 2021 after resigning the airline. Back in 2015, Emirates became the first-ever title partner of the 146-year-old soccer tournament. While financial details have not yet been disclosed by either side in this agreement, the original deal was valued at $13 million annually. Apart from just title sponsorship, Emirates is set to receive a “range of in-venue and media branding rights, with the Emirates logo also featuring on the ribbons tied to the trophy in the winners’ colors.” “We remain incredibly proud to continue our role as the first ever title sponsor of such a prestigious and historic tournament,” boasted Emirates President Sir Tim Clark. Emirates is an established brand in the international soccer world. This move only deepens the airlines’ commitment to sport marketing.
15. Becoming the first Major League Soccer team to employ an official team tattooist, the Philadelphia Union have a new CTO. According to Philly.com, the team’s CTO – Chief Tattoo Officer – is Jay Cunliffe, the owner of Aston’s Bonedaddys Tattoo. You might think this is some big joke for the team, team Vice President of Marketing Doug Vosik defended the move: “The CTO will be another professional resource for our players, just like trainers [and] … nutritionists. If a player wants a tattoo, now they know they can call an artist who can work to their tastes and their specific schedules.” The team initially announced the position back in February and began fielding applications; more than 150 candidates from around the country and world applied before the pool was cut down to the final 13. In the end, the portfolios were turned over to players and staff to make the final decision. Interesting, fun and innovative move from the Union to bring on a CTO. Look to see if other teams start incorporating similar roles to engage the community and accommodate players simultaneously.
Top Sports Tech
1. Reuters - Amazon is looking to expand its convenient shopping success into the world of sports. Amazon is working on agreements with United States venue owners in order to secure the ability to sell event tickets. As a result, ticket selling giants such as Ticketmaster and StubHub will have a new and recognizable name competing with them online. In the past two years, Amazon has begun new projects such as Amazon Fresh. With this move into the world of sports and events, Amazon is continuing to grow its reach as an all-around brand that affects many different consumer markets. An excerpt from Reuters: “The Seattle-based company sees the U.S. ticketing market as ripe for attack. Consumers dislike ticket fees, and venue owners, sports leagues and teams want more distributors for their tickets as they seek to boost sales.”Perhaps their entry into the ticket market was overdue, but Amazon is starting to plant the seeds of what could be a disruption into what we’ve typically seen while looking to purchase event tickets. Another selling point for Amazon to invest in this market is their desire to attract more customers to become Amazon Prime members. Customers who make accounts on Amazon to purchase tickets likely to buy an Amazon Prime account in the future. Amazon has a lot of reasons, and the track record to back them up.
2. Technology advancement has begun to affect the world of Yoga. Launched this year, the Naboso Yoga Mat brings a new sensation to the activity that millions of Americans partake in every day. The Yoga Mat, a piece of equipment that seems fairly simple, is getting a new feature that consumers may find interesting. From the Naboso website: “Introducing the first-ever yoga mat specifically designed to stimulate the small nerve proprioceptors in the bottom of the feet and palms of the hands. Numerous research studies have demonstrated that the material used in current yoga mats actually de-activates and blocks the proprioceptors in the feet and hands. This translates to decreased stability and neuro-feedback during yoga exercises.” Naboso is finding a new and interesting way to change how people experience Yoga. By adding a new wrinkle in the activity that helps people achieve a higher level of stimulation, Naboso has effectively added a new feature to Yoga through technology. While the Mat itself is fairly expensive at $110, the investment may be worth it for dedicated people who practice Yoga every day. This new piece of equipment could give everyday Yoga instructors a new way to experience their exercises, and spread the use of the equipments to their students.
3. SB Nation- Disney announced this week that it is removing its movies from the Netflix streaming service by the end of 2018. This will allow Disney to move forward with its plan to create an independent streaming service for its own products, shows, movies, and other media properties. The streaming service is expected to launch in 2019, but it will not be exclusively showing movies and TV shows. Disney’s streaming service will also include content from ESPN. This content is expected to include games from MLB, NHL, MLS, along with some collegiate sports and Grand Slam Tennis events. On how Disney specifically plans on entering the sports streaming arena, here is an excerpt from SB Nation: “Most importantly, Disney is planning on running the entire sports operation with the technology of BAMTech — formerly a part of MLB Advanced Media. Disney officially bought a majority stake in the company with a fresh $1.58 billion investment.” Due to the recent success of streaming services along with the increased demand for the ability to watch sports live on a mobile device, Disney is venturing into new territory on their own. Their new streaming service will allow for traditional Disney and Sports fans alike to easy cross over from movie, show, and game all on the same portal.
4. Virtual Reality is starting to take off in the gaming, television, and sports market. In Manchester, England, a technology company is at work on a virtual reality application that will allow for life-like soccer training to be conducted through their system. Multiple Premier League teams have expressed interest in using the technology already, with implementation possible as early as 2018. The use of the system could lead to an easier path back from injury for players looking to regain their feel from the game. Now, a player who has suffered from an injury like a torn ACL can start to slowly regain what they’ve lost. Because of their inability to play consistently, because of injury, the virtual reality application would give a massive edge to players who are out for an extended period of time. Coach Mike Phelan: “I think it benefits both amateur, professional, and grassroots. You can pressure into the situation - pressure you can’t create until it’s live. Players love the buzz of something like this. I think technology is part of the sport now.”
5. SportsTechie.com - College sports fans are getting a new way to connect with their college teams across a variety of different sports and Universities. Hopscotch, a mobile application platform developer, has created an app where fans can follow every sports team from a specific university and receive updates right to their phone or mobile device. Hopscotch aggregates tweets, posts, and messages from each University’s Athletics Department and puts them all in one place. This will give die-hard fans or each university easy access to a bevy of news that used to take multiple searches and applications. While Hopscotch is competing with Bleacher Report’s Team Stream, Hopscotch is looking to add a new wrinkle for college fans that is more specific. Because a casual fan of a university can get all of their school’s updates in one place, Hopscotch is appealing to anyone looking for a central location to get their sports news.