15 to watch (Week of 4.4.16)
Rick Horrow's "15 to watch"
CSN Bay Area Sports Business Insider Rick Horrow takes you off the field with his 15 top Biz Ball trends for the week of April 4.
Lodging tradition like no other
1. The Masters Housing Bureau, the only rental bureau sanctioned by the Augusta National Golf Club, has seen a 3% increase in listings this year, along with a 3.4% rise in average rental rates. Masters Housing was established in 1970 as a joint venture between the golf club and the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, but this year mark’s a peak for the organization. The average home price last year was $6,400, but that number has risen to $6,600, with rentals now frequently exceeding a week in length. If you’re looking for a hotel stay, that’ll cost you, too. Augusta has 108 hotels, according to Expedia, and was 75% booked for Masters Week as of March 29. The average price for a standard hotel room is $320, and most have a three night minimum. The La Quinta Inn Augusta, 1.6 miles from Augusta National, is charging $534/night – compared with $55/night exactly one month later. The Masters…A lodging tradition like no other.
Eyes on UCONN
2. Heading into the Final Four of the women’s NCAA March Madness tournament – one in which the UConn Huskies are poised to capture an unprecedented fourth consecutive title – ESPN claimed that the first few rounds of action averaged 343,000 viewers, up 46% from last season. The Hartford, Connecticut, market saw higher ratings than other markets, despite the Huskies winning by 52 points and 51 points in the first and second rounds, respectively. This year’s Women’s Final Four also marked the first time in the tournament’s 44-year history that all the competing teams – University of Connecticut, Oregon State University, University of Washington and Syracuse University – had male coaches. According to fivethirtyeight.com, 58.6% of the head coaches in Division I women’s basketball last year were female, down from 66% five years ago. The higher percentage of male coaches overall means the greater likelihood of a male coach leading his team to success. On Tuesday, UConn’s Geno Auriemma will face Syracuse Coach Quentin Hillsman in the final.
3. Global media solutions provider Globecast has expanded its media management and playout capabilities with the addition of a VoD logistics service. Far beyond distribution, the new service eases the pressure on content providers by removing all VoD delivery and preparation complexity while increasing content reach and profitability. The company assembles VoD content packages with all relevant metadata, languages, graphics, subtitles, and promos in the technical formats demanded by individual VoD platforms globally. Critically, Globecast is able to use its linear channel management skills to provide the same level of comprehensive quality control for VoD content. It also manages an extensive network of VoD platform affiliates to help its clients distribute their content easily. Peter Elvidge, Head of Global Media Management, Globecast, said, “This involves taking the headache of meeting the complex specifications of all the platforms away from our customers. VoD Logistics increases Globecast’s ability to enhance content providers’ profitability by delivering efficient media management, distribution, monetization, and contribution solutions.”
4. Just ahead of MLB’s 2016 Opening Day, the league has partnered with Apple to equip teams with tablets, making better use of available statistical data in real time. As a result, every team will now have iPad Pro tablets at their disposal to allow teams to “sift through performance stats from current and past seasons, weigh potential pinch hitter matchups, look at ‘spray charts’ showing where a player is likely to hit a ball and access videos of play from previous games,” according to the Wall Street Journal. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred commented on the deal by saying that giving coaches data loaded with iPads is the “natural next step for the game, and something teams have called for.” MLBAM and Apple together will build a custom software app for teams called MLB Dugout. While financial terms have not been disclosed, this partnership follows a $400 million agreement between the NFL and Microsoft in 2013 that “replaced traditional playbooks with Microsoft Surface tablets.”
Warriors vs Royals?
5. Coming off their first World Series title in 30 years, the Kansas City Royals rival the Golden State Warriors as Sports’ Hottest Business Franchise. In the offseason, the Royals signed 21 new corporate partners and renewed another 11 existing deals. The Royals’ front office confirms sponsorship revenue is up 22% from where it was in 2015. The teams’ partner roster now sits at 150, including several new sponsorship categories. Stoney Creek Hospitality is their first official hotel partner and Creighton University is their first official education partner. Royals Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships & Broadcast Sales Jason Booker broke down the teams’ business development: “The ’14 success allowed us to open some doors, and winning it in ’15 really gave us an opportunity to get some of those across the finish line.” In the Bay Area, back-to-back NBA titles would create equally stellar business opportunities for Golden State. But the real key to the Warriors long-term business health will be the player personnel decisions they make in the off season, NBA championship or no.
Put on for The City
6. Fifty years after its debut, the Golden State Warriors’ “The City” jersey has finally caught on, becoming the team’s top-selling jersey this year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The jersey, designed by late Warriors Owner Franklin Mieuli and featuring the Golden Gate Bridge on the front with a cable car climbing to the stars on the back, was considered a massive failure upon its release. But the design is now so popular that the team built a second court with the 1966 logo “emblazoned in the center,” while Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green rocked “The City” jerseys on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The City jersey "returned in production as one of the NBA’s 'hardwood classics'" in 2001, and the Warriors have been "wearing them as alternate uniforms this year.” While the idea of displaying a city’s imagery on jerseys may have been heavily scrutinized 50 years ago, college and pro teams now show them off frequently.
No shining moment?
7. Turner Sports, official broadcaster of the NCAA national championship game, will bring back the classic “One Shining Moment” montage after the men’s final, albeit a “newly recorded version.” According to the Houston Chronicle, Turner Executive VP/Production & Chief Content Officer Craig Berry confirmed “One Shining Moment’s” return, and commented on Turner’s desire to contemporize the March Madness post-tournament tradition. In the past, Luther Vandross, Jennifer Hudson, and Teddy Pendergrass have all sung the song, but Berry confirmed that this new version will not feature previous artists. Last time “One Shining Moment” was altered – Vandross was replaced by Hudson a few years back – college basketball fans and reporters were outraged. Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times passionately wrote, “The year they had Jennifer Hudson do ‘One Shining Moment,’ I wanted to break every TV in America. Luther. It's always gotta be Luther.”
Food tradition unlike any other
8. Despite The Masters being one of the most iconic and exclusive sporting events in the world, its food prices reflect the opposite. Masters concessions prices are among the cheapest in the world – its famous “Pimento Cheese” sandwich is a mere $1.50. The most expensive food items on the menu are the grilled chicken wrap and the chicken sandwich, each ringing in at $3.00. A domestic beer will cost $3.00 and an imported beer is $4.00. The price of domestic beer has risen 50% over the past 8 years. And while you might think that The Masters food offerings are wrapped in dark green cellophane to mimic Augusta National’s iconic green jackets, the real reason is much more pragmatic: should a Masters patron dare to litter after lunch, the packaging won’t show up on TV. The Masters: a food tradition unlike any other.
Moves could still be made
9. The San Diego Chargers will not yet take advantage of their one-year offer to relocate to Los Angeles alongside the St. Louis Rams. The Chargers hope to put an increased hotel tax before voters in order to fund a new downtown stadium that would open in 2022. By raising the city’s hotel tax from 12.5% to 16.5%, the Chargers would have the capital to finance a $1.8 billion stadium and convention center, along with other city needs, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Hotel owners worry that the 4% increase could deter visitors; yet others note comparable taxes in cities such as Anaheim and San Francisco. In Oakland, the Raiders are facing a $3.5 million lease to stay in Oakland this year. The lease would allow the Raiders to continue to use The Coliseum and its publicly-owned training facility, after last year paying $925,000 in rent for the two facilities. This lease only temporarily solves the Raiders’ stadium problem, with either a new stadium or relocation seemingly unavoidable in the near future.
10. Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State University Buckeyes football team, will remain the country’s third-largest college football stadium, despite its planned seating reduction. The university is set to undergo a $42 million renovation project, losing more than 2,000 seats as a result. The stadium will add 12 luxury suites and 35 loges “as it becomes better-equipped for the changing landscape of spectator sports and entertainment,” according to the Columbus Dispatch. If the plan is approved by the university’s board of trustees, the multi-step project will begin in early 2017, with an anticipated completion before the 2020 season. The biggest bulk of the renovation work will come in 2018 and 2019, with the removal of 2,600 seats from the northwestern section; the university expects a revenue loss of approximately $1.8 million per each year as a result. After the renovations, Ohio Stadium will accommodate 102,854 people, down from its current marker of 104,944. At a general ticket price of $79, the university is averaging more than $8.125 million per game on gate alone.
Gearing up for Rio
11. Poised to have the biggest Olympics advertising sales ever, NBC just surpassed $1 billion in national ad sales for its coverage of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. According to the Hollywood Reporter, this year’s ad sales reached the billion-dollar mark earlier than NBC did for the 2012 London Games. NBC ultimately finished with $1.3 billion in sales in 2012, while generating $946 million in advertising revenue for the 2014 Sochi Games. The minor one-hour time difference between Rio and the East Coast, along with expanded media coverage and streaming, are two of the biggest reasons why NBC has been able to generate so much ad-related revenue this year. NBC "has not yet revealed its streaming plans for online viewing but said digital ad sales were healthy.” Some prime-time advertising is still available a few months ahead of the opening ceremony in Brazil.
Step closer to normalcy
12. 137 days after the November 13 terrorist attacks that left Paris in a state of emergency, the French national team beat Russia in a friendly at the Stade de France this past week. The match marked the first time the French squad played in Paris since two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the stadium in the middle of the France-Germany friendly. French President Francois Hollande was in attendance along with 65,000 other spectators to see his side play; Hollande was also present during the Germany match, and was evacuated after explosions were heard outside the stadium. His appearance marked yet another positive sign for France’s security ahead of this summers’ Euro 2016. Speaking at the French National Institute of Sport & Physical Education following the game, Hollande assured those present that there was “never a question of canceling” the tournament that he said must be played in a response to “hatred, division, fear and horror.”
Sales for Sale
13. While teams across baseball are getting ready for the new MLB season in different ways, only the Chicago White Sox are getting in the zone – the K Zone, to be exact. In Milwaukee, the Brewers have been focusing on their season ticket sales, and despite a disappointing record of 68-94 in 2015, the Brewers have sold more season tickets than expected ahead of their 2016 campaign. Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger noted that good off-season press about the teams’ new players and positive off-season developments have helped bolster ticket sales. Two hours south of Milwaukee, the White Sox confirmed that the “K Zone for Sale” seats down the left-field line, named for star pitcher Chris Sale, will return for the third consecutive year. While that marketing campaign started in just two sections, 154 and 155, the team has expanded into section 156 this season, bringing the “K Zone for Sale” up to 1,100 seats. Sale himself is going to have to work extra hard this season to have numbers that good.
14. Newly appointed FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave “tentative backing” to a joint 2030 World Cup bid by Argentina and Uruguay, reversing FIFA’s history of opposing joint bids, according to Reuters. The bid would hold a special and symbolic value for both nations, as the 2030 games will be the centennial marker for the World Cup. The first tournament was hosted by Uruguay in 1930, and the host nation beat Argentina 4-2 in the finals. FIFA has only held one joint World Cup – the 2002 tournament was played in both Japan and South Korea. FIFA is coming off of a massive international corruption scandal revolving around former president Sepp Blatter, and Infantino wants to make sure that his first World Cup bidding processes are “bullet-proof.” The awards of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar, respectively, were tainted by allegations, but the upcoming 2026 and 2030 elections are poised to be solid.
Warriors want 73 wins
15. With only five regular season games remaining, the Golden State Warriors are on track to rewrite NBA history, trying to become the first team to win 73 games in a single regular season. The defending champions brought a 68-7 record into April, and although they lost to the Celtics Friday night, FiveThirtyEight suggested the Warriors have at least an 85% chance of finishing with 73 wins. The feat has shadowed the Warriors all season long, as many wondered whether they could become the first team with 72 wins since the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls posted a 72-10 mark in 1996. Golden State has already clinched the fourth-best regular-season record of all time. But the team wants more. Head coach Steve Kerr was on that historic Bulls team, and last week he confirmed the Warriors are going for the record. Stephen Curry, the favorite to capture a second NBA MVP award, admitted he also wants to be a part of history: “There's a reason you're still talking about that 1995-96 Bulls team. So yes.”