15 to watch (Week of 6.6.16)
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 June 6.
Ali the ultimate game changer
1. If not for Ali...Last week, the world lost a seminal statesman in Muhammad Ali. While Ali’s role as a spectacularly talented athlete, social agent of change, and humanitarian are being commemorated worldwide, let’s not forget that Ali also profoundly influenced the sports, entertainment, and media industries. Here are four reasons why: 1) Paydays that pack a punch. There would be no enormous Mayweather bank account without Ali, who paved the way for Mayweather, De La Hoya, Pacquiao, and all the other modern day fighters whose net worth is well over $100 million. 2) WWE and MMA. Ali assisted in establishing the World Wrestling Federation as a cultural phenomenon by participating in the main event of the inaugural WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden as a special guest referee for the featured match between Hulk Hogan and Mr. T taking on “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. 3) Sports promotion. You can also see it right now in ads touting the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ali's mouth -- and cadence -- are also credited for influencing generations of hip hop artists and rappers. 4) Ali's fights in the far corners of the world, from Zaire to Tokyo to Manila, forced television techs like Hank Schwartz to create new ways to broadcast and distribute the bouts.
Mr. Grand Slam
2. In his 12th visit to Roland Garros, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic finally came out on top. After overcoming a first set loss and beating No. 2 Andy Murray, Djokovic completed the elusive career Grand Slam. At 29, he is the second-oldest man, and the eighth overall, to complete the career Grand Slam, joining Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal. (Agassi was 24 days older.) With the French Open champion $2 million Euros in prize money, the Serbian star became the first tennis player to eclipse $100 million in career earnings, a remarkable feat. The Djoker came in at third place on Horrow Sports Ventures/MVP Index Power 100 this past year; only LeBron James and Stephen Curry sit ahead of the world’s best tennis player. Djokovic currently holds all four of tennis’ Slam titles – he’s only the third man to win four consecutive majors, joining Laver and Budge.
Boycott on its way?
3. In response to charges that it violated antidiscrimination laws by not paying U.S. Women's National Team members as much as their male counterparts, the U.S. Soccer Federation officially filed its defense. According to the Wall Street Journal, the USSF "reiterated its position" that USWNT members are "among the best compensated female players in the world, and any disparity with the men is a result of the differing nature of their compensation from club teams or an international World Cup bonus structure set" by FIFA. Key USWNT players also filed a separate lawsuit in February against U.S. Soccer regarding its labor agreement with players. The players who filed the complaint, including Hope Solo and Alex Morgan, have said that they are "considering all their options if they don’t get a new agreement that includes equal pay, including a potential boycott of the Rio Olympics.”
Mile High problem
4. With Sports Authority’s bankruptcy and failure to make quarterly payments, the Denver Broncos are looking to sever their sponsorship agreement with the soon-to-be defunct sporting goods retailer. According to the Denver Post, the Broncos and the Metropolitan Football Stadium District are hoping to keep Sports Authority from “selling or auctioning contracts related to the team and Mile High Stadium;” the retailer has a separate naming rights contract with the stadium district. Under the current contract, Sports Authority is required to make annual payments of between $6-9 million, which are split between the Broncos and the stadium district. Sports Authority’s next scheduled payment to the stadium district is for $3.6 million on August 1, “leaving the district in a holding pattern.” A significant portion of Sports Authority’s trademarks, intellectual property, and leases are expected to be auctioned off on June 23.
Leaders of the social media world
5. While success on the court certainly helps, Facebook Head of Global Partnerships Dan Reed explained how the Golden State Warriors are optimizing the social media platform. Reed noted that the Warriors’ “devotion to social media has paid dividends,” as Facebook is now the team’s No. 1 paid media source. When Joe Lacob’s ownership group acquired the Warriors in 2013, he immediately added 10 employees to its social media department. Besides the Warriors, Reed noted that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is using Facebook at a similarly high level – thanks largely to Brady’s “authentic” posts. The “QB is now a top 10 property in terms of Facebook popularity, individually outranking 22 teams.” Statistics show that Facebook has a significant influence within sports – 65 million users, for example, recorded 265 million interactions on Facebook during Super Bowl 50 in February.
6. Bill Simmons new site, The Ringer, has officially gone live. This marks Simmons’ first project since his former site, Grantland, effectively shut down following Simmons’ dismissal from ESPN. The Ringer currently sports a 43-person staff, of which “seven writers will cover culture and seven will take on sports,” according to the Washington Post. Aside from Simmons, one of the site’s most prominent writers is Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Obama, who will cover politics during the ongoing Presidential Primaries and into the election. Favreau credited Simmons as the main reason he joined the site, saying, “There is something to be said for Simmons’s style of writing and talking…I like how broad that is. And I also think there’s an element of not taking themselves too seriously. That’s sort of a Simmons trait and also a trait of a lot of the writers he’s worked with in the past.” Nonetheless, The Ringer has the makings of a serious success.
Wins add up with losses for Cubs
7. The league-leading Chicago Cubs have used an interesting sponsorship revenue strategy during the team’s climb to the top. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts spoke at the 2016 Intersport Brand Engagement Summit at Wrigley Field, illustrating how the Cubs have developed sponsorship revenue since the team switched ownership in 2009. Regarding the Cubs’ decision to cut down the number of official partners, Ricketts said, “If you have too many partners, not only do you not service them as well as you’d like to service them, but they don’t feel the ties or commitment to the team.” The team has elected to focus on making fewer deals, with bigger sponsors. Coinciding with an increase in sponsorship revenue, the Cubs have also dramatically increased their charitable giving and involvement in the community – one of the team’s primary goals. The franchise has gone from contributing “a few hundred thousand dollars and maybe one volunteer project a year” to giving away over $3.5 million last year.
Making the move
8. After 54 years in Doral, the PGA Tour is moving the WGC-Cadillac Championship out of South Florida to Mexico City, according to the Miami Herald. Outgoing tournament Chair Butch Buchholz confirmed the moving, pegging the Tour’s decision on its inability to find a title sponsor to replace Cadillac. Referring to PGA Tour executives, Buchholz said, “I believe they are sincere when they said they didn't want to leave an event with a 54-year history. They've got an obligation to their board and they couldn't find a sponsor so they had to move…The PGA Tour didn't have a choice. If you don't have a sponsor what can you do?” Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump bought the event’s host resort in 2012, renaming it Trump National Doral Miami. Those close to the event speculate whether Trump’s presence in Doral scared away potential sponsors, but Buchholz countered, “Cadillac was going to leave. It had nothing to do with Trump."
Eiffel Tower incentive
9. French media giant Orange, official partner and digital provider for Euro 2016, and parent company of Globecast, is continuing its “Orange Sponsors You” campaign ahead of the month-long tournament by unveiling a “major operation in collaboration with the city of Paris.” According to Sports Marketing, Orange is giving social media users the power to light up the Eiffel Tower based on the number of tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts shared in support of each participating country. Starting June 10, every night the Eiffel Tower “will display the colors of the country that generates the most discussion on social media.” The tower will be lit “10 minutes after the final whistle of the final match of each day of the tournament,” and will stay lit until midnight. All posts will be counted each day, and “the country with the most mentions will see its flag displayed on the Eiffel Tower.” In addition, Orange plans to project the most creative social media posts on the tower itself.
Olympic problems rising
10. An onslaught of problems, ranging from major to minor, have risen just ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. But the most recent major hiccup comes with the city canceling its contract with the company constructing the Olympic velodrome. Tecnosolo, the company tasked with building the Olympic indoor cycling venue, filed for bankruptcy protection about two months ahead of the Games, according to Reuters. The municipal government said that Tecnosolo “did not have the conditions to continue being technically responsible for the construction of the velodrome.” The velodrome represents “the most delayed of Rio’s permanent Olympic venues,” with a test event set for April getting canceled a month prior because it was not ready to use. Despite this setback, the organizing committee and the city expect the necessary construction to be finished by Olympic organizers in June and July.
Giants asking for money
11. The San Francisco Giants are once again looking to the city "for millions of dollars in property tax refunds, claiming that the value of AT&T Park has dropped well below" the $200 million that the team "paid to build it 16 years ago," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The franchise wants its property tax bill slashed in half for the years 2011-2014, which would amount to about $8 million. In addition to property taxes, the Giants "pay the city" more than $10 million a year "in payroll, parking and other taxes and in lease payments." Ten years ago, when the Giants asked for similar tax refunds, the team came out a bit richer, as the Assessment Appeals Board "eventually ruled that the ballpark’s correct value" was about $230 million and awarded the Giants $3.6 million in refunds.
Party in Orlando
12. The NFL Pro Bowl is set to move from Hawaii to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium in 2017-2018, according to the NFL. Orlando will also receive the Miami Dolphins-Atlanta Falcons August 25 preseason matchup, and could host the University of Miami’s season opener against Florida A&M if Sun Life Stadium renovations are not finished by September 3. The Orlando Sentinel noted that the Falcons-Dolphins game "will mark the first time" since 1997 that the NFL "has played a preseason game in Orlando." Sources close to the league said the preseason game wasn’t moved because of ongoing Sun Life Stadium renovations, rather, “the NFL asked the Dolphins to move the game to help market" the Pro Bowl. Despite the pending two-year departure from Aloha Stadium, many speculate that the Pro Bowl will return to Hawaii.
Money Bags Messi
13. CIES Football Observatory has named Barcelona’s Lionel Messi as the world’s most expensive soccer player at $235 million. According to the London Daily Mail, CIES calculated player values based on “several factors, including age, length of current contract and potential suitors.” Behind Messi at $223 million sits FCB teammate Neymar, and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo comes in $153 million, good enough for No. 3 on the list. All 100 players who made the list “are employed by clubs in Europe’s top five leagues” (EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Budesliga). Premier League champion Leicester City has "three representatives in Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante.” One player who has an ever-rising value is Manchester United budding star Anthony Martial. The 20-year-old was bought for an initial fee of $52 million, but according to CIES, Martial is now valued at a “staggering” $124 million.
14. With the Cleveland Cavaliers battling the Golden State Warriors in a so-far lopsided rematch of last year’s NBA Finals, the NBA and Twitter are partnering to distribute exclusive 360-degree content from before and after each game. Official NBA partner Samsung is also involved in the deal. The 360-degree video will focus primarily on pregame warm-ups and player introductions, as well as postgame celebrations. Via Twitter, hashtags will allow fans to generate Finals and basketball-themed emojis, such as the Warriors’ and Cavs’ logos and the Larry O’Brien Trophy – building off the seven million tweets during last year’s Finals that contained hashtag-triggered emojis in an attempt to get fans more involved than ever before. If the winless Cavs don’t change their game plan, however, that 360-degree view is going to go dim pretty fast.
Red River Rivalry takes a turn
15. FS1 will air this year’s Red River Rivalry, discontinuing ABC’s 18-year streak of broadcasting the Oklahoma-Texas matchup, according to the Norman Transcript. The Big 12’s broadcast rights are shared between Fox and ABC/ESPN, and Fox had the top pick for games scheduled on October 8. Fox’ broadcast channel cannot air the game due to its obligation to cover the MLB postseason. Last year’s Red River Rivalry drew 4.99 million viewers on ABC, as this game is annually one of the “highest-rated marquee games of the season.” In comparison, “FS1's most-viewed telecast all-time was set with Michigan-Utah in the opening week of the season with 2.89 million viewers.” Despite FS1’s push over the past few years to become a major player in college sports, it is all but certain that this year’s matchup will draw a significantly smaller viewership number than the nearly five million who tuned in last year. Michigan-Ohio State, Duke-North Carolina, the Iron Bowl, and Army-Navy should remain on high alert.