15 to Watch (Week of July 19)
Rick Horrow's "15 to watch"
CSN Bay Area sports business analyst Rick Horrow presents his top sports news/marketing/deal-making/business/corporate/endorsement issues for the week of July 19.
Riveting British Open across the pond
Jordan Spieth has taken the golf world by storm this season, which has translated into thousands of new followers across social platforms. Spieth’s follow count across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram crossed the 1 million threshold following his playoff win at the PGA Tour John Deere Classic, according to data from analytics firm MVPindex. Spieth had around 500,000 followers when he won the Masters this April, seeing a 76 percent jump after capturing the green jacket. He then saw a 13 percent increase after winning the U.S. Open in June. He also significantly benefits his sponsors, and generates substantial interest that Lagardere Unlimited can capitalize on. Incidentally, MVPindex was co-founded by Spieth’s father Shawn.
Milwaukee Bucks arena opportunity
As originally reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Senate approved a $250 million funding plan for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena. The State Assembly must still approve the measure, but for the first time in months, the arena proposal has momentum. The NBA has given the Bucks until Fall 2017 to vastly improve or replace their existing arena. Governor Scott Walker may have had a false start, but the Fall 2017 deadline may stir significant progress; Las Vegas and Seattle are anxiously waiting.
Finally, soccer in Miami?
David Beckham has reached a deal with the city of Miami to build a $250 million soccer-specific stadium on land next to Marlins Park. The location provides for the opportunity to create a thriving sports and entertainment district in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. The stadium itself will be privately financed. While all sides trumpet a victory, facility development in South Florida is a long and tedious process. Stay tuned.
More money for student-athletes
A U.S. district judge orally approved a combined $60 million settlement against video-game manufacturer Electronic Arts, Collegiate Licensing Company, and the NCAA over the use of players' names, images, and likenesses in video games. About 400 to 450 current athletes – along with more than 20,000 former athletes made claims against EA, CLC, and the NCAA. Note the significant victories may mean small dollars for all 20,000 former athletes, but significant revenues ahead for future players in all sports.
Significant process in St. Louis and Los Angeles
NFL executives met with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to discuss financing for a proposed St. Louis Rams stadium. The NFL reps received a comprehensive update on the status of the proposed $998 million stadium planned for the city's riverfront. The state’s stadium task force is counting on the city to provide a portion of the stadium funding. Nothing has changed regarding process; incumbents have an opportunity to create a definitive plan in St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland before the NFL begins the next round of “franchise musical chairs.”
NBA labor peace up for grabs?
The NBPA wants teams to open their books after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver indicated that several franchises are operating at a loss. NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts in the past has challenged the principle of a salary cap and mocked the suggestion of NBA owners losing money. The union can opt out of the current CBA in 2017. New free agency has set all records, and a $90 million+ salary cap in the next two years should hopefully spur a settlement.
The retail juggernaut continues in college sports
The University of Michigan’s new apparel deal with Nike is worth a reported $169 million over 11 years, with an option to extend for an additional four years. The pact tops Under Armour's 10-year, $90 million deal with Notre Dame as the most lucrative in college sports. Michigan is one of those top priority branded schools, but others will clearly follow suit given the numbers and financial precedent.
The FIFA backlash
A U.S. Senate subcommittee last week held a hearing into the corruption scandal surrounding FIFA. The hearing covered what involvement or knowledge U.S. Soccer officials had of the possible criminal activity at FIFA, as well as questions about worker rights at Qatar stadium sites. U.S. Justice Department indictments lead to political hearings at the U.S. Senate level, ultimately leading to a new election and potential unseating of Qatar in 2022.
Major League Baseball newest multipurpose facility: Atlanta Braves
As originally reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Braves and Live Nation have struck a deal to develop and manage an entertainment venue adjacent to SunTrust Park. The venue will have standing room-only capacity for 4,000 and feature about 40 music and comic shows annually. The theater is designed to help drive activity to the site on non-gamedays. Latest example of a well done master development plan spurring economic activity around a suburban ballpark.
NFL economic issues: More legal uncertainty
DirecTV and the NFL are facing a class-action lawsuit alleging that their exclusive agreement for NFL Sunday Ticket is anticompetitive and harms commercial entities. The suit seeks to recover damages for the overcharges and an injunction against the enforcement of the exclusivity provision of the NFL's agreement with DirecTV. DirecTV attempting to solidify its case as one of the “major players” in the NFL media industry.
NBA media grab
ESPN next season is expanding its NBA coverage by televising Saturday night games on ABC. Starting on Jan. 23, ABC will air games beginning at 8:30pm ET, preceded by "NBA Countdown." With the addition of the Saturday night games, ESPN will offer NBA telecasts on four days a week from January to April. NBA coverage has expanded based on league popularity, superstar identification, and major corporate sponsorship.
Real meaningful FIFA change: Corporate unrest
Coca-Cola has told FIFA that it wants an independent third-party commission to oversee the organization’s reform amid several reports of corruption. Coke wrote to FIFA that it believes establishing an independent commission is the most credible way for FIFA to approach its reform process. Best way to cause massive FIFA reform is intense and universal sponsor angst. Coke is the next in line to make that case.
MLB All-Star troubles
Fox had 10.9 million viewers for the MLB All-Star Game, just above the event’s record-low audience in 2012. The 2015 All-Star Game viewership is down 4% from 11.3 million viewers last year, and down 25% from 14.6 million viewers in 2009. Ratings continue to decrease, even though all networks should receive kudos for their attempted creative restructuring of the Home Run Derby, etc.
NFL off-season economic issues: Part Two
As Apple prepares to launch an over-the-top TV service, there’s some speculation that the tech giant could offer a special NFL package. Apple CEO Tim Cook at a recent media conference was spotted chatting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft. NFL attempts to create other media partners to put pressure on traditional media bidding processes – DirecTV is a good example, and Apple may be next.
MLB positive attendance trends
At the midway point of the MLB season, league-wide attendance is up 0.4% compared to the same period last year. Coming off their World Series appearance, the Kansas City Royals are seeing the league’s biggest year-over-year attendance gain of 47.8%. The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the league in per game attendance at 46,279. In the Bay Area, San Francisco Giants average 41,670 attendance after 47 home games; 0.2 percent increase; 99.4 percent capacity; 1.96 million attendance. Oakland A’s average 22,369 attendance over 44 games; 63.8 percent capacity; 7.3 percent decrease; 984,000 attendance. A tale of two other cities: Chicago Cubs average 34,785 attendance after 45 home games; 7.1 percent increase; 89.2 percent capacity; 1.57 million total attendance. Chicago White Sox averaging 21,937 attendance at 39 home games; 6.7 percent increase; 54 percent capacity; 855,000 total attendance.