Sports Business

Sports Business 15 to Watch: Canadian dollar affecting NHL revenues

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Sports Business 15 to Watch: Canadian dollar affecting NHL revenues

1. As NHL prepares to celebrate its All Star Game this weekend, the continued descent of the loonie toward 60 cents on the U.S. dollar has increased the likelihood of the NHL’s escrow tax climbing over 20% next season. According to the New York Post, the Canadian dollar’s weakness is negatively affecting league revenues, despite the NHL’s seven Canadian teams producing a disproportionate amount of hockey-related revenue; its Rogers Canadian national TV deal also dwarfs the NBC national deal in the U.S. But when that income is reduced by about 30% by the currency imbalance, overall league revenue suffers. Many note that it would not be a surprise if the NHLPA forgoes its 5% salary cap bump next season due to the issue. The struggling Canadian dollar could also have repercussions for the group trying to bring the NHL back to Quebec City, as smaller-market Canadian teams will "need to draw from the league’s revenue-sharing arrangement this season as a result of the currency issue."

2. As the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers look forward to their Bay Area journey, a handful of San Francisco supervisors this week "will introduce an emergency resolution" demanding that the city recoup from the NFL the nearly $5 million it "is expected to spend on city services during Super Bowl 50 celebrations," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Three supervisors last week denounced “what they view as the terrible deal the city has struck with the NFL and the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and demand the two sides renegotiate." Kim this Tuesday will file the emergency resolution, as the setup for Super Bowl City gets underway in downtown San Francisco. Asked whether it is realistic to expect that the city renegotiate in such a short time frame, Kim said, "I can’t guarantee that’s going to happen, but it’s going to be what we ask for." The city of Santa Clara, which is hosting the game at Levi's Stadium there, is getting fully reimbursed by the host committee for city services costs. In the big business that is sports, knowing how to negotiate is just as important as knowing how to tackle.

3. Tech giant Apple is to rekindle its association with the Super Bowl after agreeing to sponsor the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Apple, which famously aired an ad for its Macintosh computers during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, is among a raft of technology companies supporting the regional committee. Under the deal, Apple gains local marketing rights around, and hospitality at Super Bowl 50. It is also permitted to use the host committee’s logo, which features San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and a football and is distinct from the NFL’s official Super Bowl logo, in its communications. Apple is one of several Silicon Valley-based tech companies sponsoring this year’s host committee, alongside the likes of Intel, SAP, Microsoft, Google, HP, and Uber. NFL rules permit Super Bowl host committees, which are comprised primarily of local staff, to sign multiple sponsors in the same category if that category is particularly fruitful in their respective area. To date, the Super Bowl 50 host committee has raised some $50 million in private financing; the committee has committed to donating 25% of that income on local charities.

4. Global solutions provider Globecast was recently chosen by Russian broadcaster Channel One to help integrate European and Asian markets. With this move, the broadcast network hopes to dramatically extend its reach to new audiences around the two continents. Globecast is set to provide dual illumination via HotBird in Europe with an MPEG-4 channel in addition to the existing MPEG-2 service that it provides for the broadcaster. The Russian channel currently carries a mix of news, documentaries, feature film productions, and entertainment content. Biliana Pumpalovic, General Director at Globecast Moskva in Russia, said, “We’re delighted to be helping Channel One make this important step in increasing its reach by delivering its content to a new audience. This partnership is also a good illustration of how Globecast can ensure customers meet both their current and future business objectives in a cost effective way, with no disruption to their service.”

5. As NFL All Stars head to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl, the Oakland Raiders’ Khalil Mack has made NFL All-Pro history. Mack has been named the first player ever selected at two positions – defensive end and linebacker – to the 2015 AP All-Pro Team. Moreover, his teammate, Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper, is one of five finalists for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year. This season, Cooper led all rookies with 72 receptions and 1,070 receiving yards, both franchise rookie records. Along with Cooper, the finalists include Todd Gurley (Rams RB), Tyler Lockett (Seahawks WR-PR-KR), Marcus Peters (Kansas City CB), and Jameis Winston (Buccaneers QB). During the regular season, Cooper led all rookies by winning the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week four times, ahead of Winston (three), Lockett (two), and Kwon Alexander (two). Mack and Cooper share another distinction – both are represented by Lagardere Sports President of Football Joel Segal.

6. While baseball has no “buzzer beaters,” MLB hit one this past week by settling a federal lawsuit regarding the league’s TV market territories and blackout policies mere minutes before trial was set to begin. While details of the settlement have not yet been disclosed, the New York trial was projected to last two weeks and include high-ranking league and team officials. Plaintiffs and defendants debated over whether MLB’s current market territories and blackout policies violated federal antitrust laws and restricted consumer choice. The proposed agreement would see the league offer its MLB.TV streaming package for $84.99 per year for the package for the next five years, according to USA Today, with the option of upgrading for a full league deal for $109.99. These moves appeared to address many of the issues raised in the lawsuit, leading to the 11th inning settlement.

7. The NBA is once again going all-in for the Chinese New Year, February 3-21, planning a slate of promotions around the festivities. Included in the marketing is a new NBA Chinese New Year television spot, entitled “Dining Table,” featuring Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Jeremy Lin sharing a Chinese New Year reunion meal with a Chinese family. Activation will include the Warriors, Rockets, and Wizards wearing special Chinese New Year uniforms paying tribute to Chinese culture; 51 live games broadcast and streamed by 10 broadcasters in Greater China, showcasing all 30 NBA teams for the first time; and the Chinese New Year Celebration Season of Giving initiative for underprivileged communities in China. As the NBA continues to make China one of its most important international priorities, expect more of these tie-ins throughout the Chinese calendar year.

8. The Farmers Insurance Open at equally legendary Torrey Pines gets underway this week, and it is getting in the music business as well. When you think of a theme song for a San Diego sporting event, you usually conjure famous crooner Bing Crosby and his “Where the Surf Meets the Turf” tune penned for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Now, the Farmers Insurance Open has announced a partnership with Pacific Records, in which songwriter Gary Hyde and the San Diego-based label's production team have produced a theme song, titled “Momentum,” for the tourney's 2016 marketing campaign. Hyde started out in Nashville playing piano at the world famous Carousel Club, performing with such notable artists as Glen Campbell and Kris Kristofferson. After many recording projects with top industry producers, Hyde focused locally on anthems for the San Diego Gulls, a Del Mar Thoroughbred Club refresh, and now, the region’s signature PGA Tour event. As part of the partnership, Pacific Records artists will perform during the Post Party Concert Series presented by Harrah's Resort Southern California.

9. Facebook has strapped its football helmet on for good. The social media giant launched its first official sports product around last weekend’s NFC and AFC Championship games. Dubbed the “Facebook Sports Stadium,” the site allows Facebook users to follow games through posts, stats, and videos centered on specific games. “We want to make this a rich, second-screen experience and really bring to light something that already exists on Facebook,” said Facebook Head of Global Sports Partnerships Dan Reed. The Facebook Sports Stadium features four tabs that users can navigate. One collects Friends posts about the games; one aggregates the Facebook posts and videos posted by the teams, league or media; one provides real-time updates; and one provides up-to-the-minute statistics. While the feature rolled out during one of the NFL’s busiest weekends, Facebook execs expect to roll it out for all sports. While no official partnerships are in place, leagues, teams, and broadcasters will now be able to more easily tap into the online sports fan community.

10. 20-time Premiere League champion Manchester United has added golf equipment, footwear, and apparel bearing its crest and colors to the ten-year, $1.28 billion apparel deal it signed with Adidas in 2014. “We know that there are thousands of golfers on the terraces of Old Trafford each week and around Europe, and to be able to partner with the club to create this range of bespoke merchandise is a fantastic opportunity,” said David Silvers, managing director of TaylorMade-Adidas Golf in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. ManU representatives in turn expressed confidence that the partnership would be a year-round way to expand the brand. "We believe the range of Manchester United golf attire and accessories produced will be popular with our fans across the globe,” added Manchester United group managing director Richard Arnold. United are currently five points off the top four for the 2015-2016 season, having won only three of their last 13 matches.

11. Will we one day see a Super Bowl in London? As the NFL’s universe turns its attention to Santa Clara and Super Bowl 50, NFL Executive Vice President, International Mark Waller last week confirmed that the U.K. "is 'on track' to have its own American football franchise within six years." Waller said, "I felt in 2007 it was always a 15-year journey. I think we're on track to deliver that. I fundamentally believe we will deliver that. ... We are in a unique position as a sport because of the way our season is structured – we only play one game a week. It's not something other American sports could do.” Now that the NFL’s Los Angeles situation is finally getting settled, look for the league to put even more energy and resources into international expansion over the next few seasons.

12. The countdown to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is on, but stateside, USA Track & Field has a new hurdle to leap before it turns its attention to Rio. The legal team behind O’Bannon v. NCAA has another target in sight: USA Track & Field and the USOC. Hausfeld LLP and outspoken middle distance runner Nick Symmonds filed suit in Oregon last week claiming antitrust violations. At issue are advertising restrictions at July's Olympic Trials. Symmonds said, “This is round three of 12 that I will fight over the course of my career or my lifespan.” The only plaintiff is Run Gum, a caffeinated gum company co-founded by Symmonds. If O’Bannon v. NCAA is any indicator, this latest lawsuit will not be settled until long after the last race in Rio concludes. Regardless, every step in the legal process is moving to put in place real compensation for amateur athletes.

13. In St. Louis, the NHL Blues will almost be the only game in town. After the Rams depart for L.A. this year, Blues officials said that becoming the city’s second-largest franchise "does expect to provide an economic boost" for the club, but it "hasn’t happened overnight and won’t happen without continuing with plans that were laid out long before" last week’s Rams news, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The Rams’ departure "will make available millions in sponsorships and leave thousands of season-ticket holders without a sporting venue to call home." The Blues "have been insistent on not coming across as opportunistic during what has been widely considered a loss for the city." But in the coming weeks, they will be "checking on which doors closed in the past might have a chance of reopening." In the fast-break world of pro sports, teams have to seize revenue opportunities every chance they’re given.

14. College football’s Southeastern Conference had $527.4 million in total revenue for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2015. This is the first fiscal year in which the conference "began receiving money from the formation of the SEC Network and from the new College Football Playoff," according to tax returns cited by USA Today. The total revenue figure is "more than 60% greater than the SEC reported" the previous fiscal year. The conference announced last spring that it "would be distributing" about $455.8 million to its 14 member schools -- or about $31.2 million per school. The SEC ended 2015 with a $17.2 million annual revenue surplus, the league's best surplus since $7.6 million in 2008 and likely its "greatest single-year surplus." Media rights fees increased by close to 50%, and the conference also had "enormous growth in its revenue from postseason events," reporting $162.8 million in such revenue, a 65% increase over 2014. On and off the field, the SEC continues to be the gold standard in college football.

15. The Indianapolis 500 has its first-ever presenting sponsor, with PennGrade Motor Oil signing up ahead of the 100th running of the event. The D-A Lubricant Company-owned brand will sponsor Indycar’s marquee race until 2018. May’s race will officially be known as the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, in a deal estimated to be around $5 million in total. Indiana-based D-A Lubricant has historic ties to the race, having sponsored entries in the 1950s. Last year the company returned to the event as a sponsor of driver Graham Rahal, who finished fourth in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. To promote its new presenting sponsorship deal, D-A Lubricant will release a new line of PennGrade Motor Oil products with packaging that carries the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and IndyCar logos. Said Mark Miles, chief executive of IMS and Indycar rights holder Hulman & Company, “PennGrade Motor Oil, with its deep understanding of the heritage and tradition that fuels the Indy 500, is the perfect presenting sponsor for the world’s greatest race.”

Karla Swatek contributed to this story.

Kelly Crull talks about covering the Bulls with Laurence Holmes

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NBC Sports Chicago

Kelly Crull talks about covering the Bulls with Laurence Holmes

Laurence Holmes hosts the "House of L Podcast" in addition to his role on radio and as host of the Football After Show for NBC Sports Chicago.  On the podcast, Holmes provides a more in-depth look at media and how it works.

The most recent episode is an interview with our own Kelly Crull, who in addition to covering the Chicago Cubs during games will be working as a sideline reporter during Bulls games this NBA season.

Crull talks to Holmes about the challenge of covering two beats, one beginning immediately after the start of the season. . Crull talks about returning to her first love, basketball, and also sheds light on what drives her in her career. The pair also discuss locker room and clubhouse etiquette

The Daily Line: Week 7 Football Picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

The Daily Line: Week 7 Football Picks

The Supreme Court opened the door for sports betting legalization with its May ruling that struck down a 1992 law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. Sports betting is not yet legal in Illinois, but with football season underway, former Northwestern offensive lineman Eric Olson will take a weekly look at the odds surrounding the action on the field.

YTD record: 21-7 against the spread (11-1 in last 12)

New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears 10/21 12:00pm CT

Line: Pats -3
Betting Percentages Split: 76% of the tickets on the Pats
The play: Bears +3

Listen here. I am not being a homer. In fact, I am from the Boston area and have been rooting for the Patriots my entire life. This is simply a great spot for the Bears. You have a Patriots team that is coming off the biggest win any team has had this season, beating the seemingly unbeatable Kansas City Chiefs in primetime. On the other side, you have a Bears team that just turned in one of the most disappointing performances of the season, losing outright to the Miami Dolphins and Brock Osweiler as a 7 point favorite. The Pats have been terrible outside of Foxboro and this is probably the best team they have faced on the road thus far this season. Additionally, this line has stayed firm at 3 and has even moved to 2.5 in some places despite the massive bet discrepancy favoring the Pats. What does that tell us? That the Pros are all over the Bears and refuse to move the line despite the public being all over New England. Ride the home town team catching points at Soldier Field.

Buffalo Bills vs Indianapolis Colts 10/7 1:00pm CT

Line: Colts -7
Betting Percentages Split: 55% of tickets on Colts
The play: Bills +7

If you have been reading my column throughout this NFL season you know I love bad NFL games. Go where nobody wants to go, get dirty and pick gross teams. I also have been pretty successful picking my spots betting on the Bills this year and I love going back to the well here. Simply put, the Colts should not be laying 7 points to ANYBODY at this point of the season. Sean McDermott decided to go with Derek Anderson this week and according to reports, this was to the delight of the locker room as they do not have to endure another Peterman Pix-Six Bonanza. I think this could give the Bills a little spark and anything that Anderson has left in the tank will be on display Sunday against the worst defense in the NFL. Circle those wagons, take the Bills and the points.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs 10/21 7:20pm CT

Line: Chiefs -6
Betting Percentages Split: 75% of tickets on the Chiefs
The play: Bengals +6

Good loses are a real thing in the NFL when it comes to betting perception. Not a single person is knocking the Chiefs for their primetime loss to the Pats in Foxboro. I think Vegas could have set this line at a touchdown and the public would still jump all over the Chiefs. What does that tell you? I think this a questions bettors need to ask themselves more often. What it probably tells you is that Vegas values the Bengals more than the general public does and they aren't as bought into the Chiefs hype. Side with the house, fade the public and take a very solid Bengals team getting 6 points playing a Chiefs team having to get up for two straight primetime games.

New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons 10/22 7:20pm CT

Line: Falcons -5.5
Betting Percentages Split: 75% of tickets on the Falcons
The play: Giants +5.5

I said that week of 10/7 was my grossest set of picks to date. What happened that week you ask? I went 5-0. Pick your spots and bet bad teams in the NFL. It works. This league does not operate the way you want it to and you have to be willing to make picks that feel ‘off’. Here is another example of that. By any eye test, this makes no sense. The Giants are in the running for the worst team in the NFL and the Falcons, while overall disappointing, still have shown flashes of their talented roster that brought them to Super Bowl two years ago. However, when you move past the surface, you see a matchup that actually really favors the Giants. The Falcons are ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball and the Falcons have one of the worst defenses in the league and will not be able to exploit the Giants porous O-Line like other teams have. I think these matchups are why Vegas set this line so low and why it has even moved in the Giants direction despite heavy public Atlanta action. Hold your nose and bet the G-men. 

Bonus College Game

Mississippi State vs. LSU 10/20 6:00pm CT

Line: LSU -6.5
Betting Percentages Split: 60% of tickets on LSU
The play: Mississippi State +6.5 (get 7 if you can)

LSU is the most overvalued team in the country. They have actually been out-gained in 4 of their 6 wins. That is an ABSURD statistic that just screams regression as the year carries on. Mississippi State has a really, really good defense and should be able to fluster Joe Burrow all day long. The Bulldogs put it to LSU last year and I expect them to show up again. Take Miss State and the points. Sprinkle the moneyline while you’re at it.