Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': Fantasy sports continue to grow


Sports Business '15 to Watch': Fantasy sports continue to grow

1. A deadline is looming to see who is interested in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. The city of Toronto still has not decided whether it will enter the race.  Toronto reportedly is weighing the cost of the Games, plus the ability to reuse facilities and the amount of public support.  Los Angeles expects to spend less than originally thought on its bid for the 2024 Games.  The city is reconsidering a preliminary budget that called for raising $75 million in donations and spending $65 million in the two-year competition for hosting rights.  Hamburg has formally submitted its bid for the 2024 Olympics.  City officials and German Olympic leaders signed the bid application last Wednesday before sending it to the IOC.  The bid still faces a referendum among Hamburg residents on November 29.  All major candidate cities are looking at both 2024 and 2028 as the appropriate window for this bid process.  Despite the problems getting bidders for the 2022 Winter Games, the Summer process has produced very strong, viable, and financially sustainable candidates – including the new Los Angeles process!

2. A win-win in fantasy sports for players and media networks. With the proliferation of fantasy sports over the last few years, participants need to find an edge over their competitors.  That edge can come in the form of real-time information about players on their fantasy team.  The app Sportsmanias has developed a new feature that’s being called a game-changer for fantasy players.  The app allows players to import their fantasy team from the three largest fantasy platforms available – CBS, ESPN, and Yahoo – and stay informed on their players to make smart lineup decisions.  In addition to being helpful for fantasy players, it’s also advantageous for the media networks to drive increased traffic.  As fantasy currently represents a $26 billion per year business, the growth of the industry is larger than any sports segment (nationally and internationally).  Companies are framing their marketing campaigns around “friendly competition,” building on the goodwill from all sites and platforms.  Sportsmanias “Download/Import/Dominate” ad campaign encourages users to seek multiple platforms, but touts their product as “the app that turns fantasy players into champions.”

3. As Major League Baseball heads toward the playoffs, high school and college baseball players rejoice. Big changes could be coming for MLB agents.  The Power Five conferences are considering letting agents negotiate with MLB teams on behalf of high school and college baseball players.  The proposal, which was submitted by the Big 12 last week, will be voted on at the NCAA convention in January.  For years, the NCAA's no agent rule has severely impacted the eligibility of many college baseball players.  If the NCAA approves the new proposal, it would finally let baseball prospects have an agent in the negotiating room with MLB teams, something that widely occurs now against NCAA rules.  The Big 12 proposal is only for baseball, which has arguably the most complicated draft process of any sport.  Overturning the rule would be a victory for agencies like Lagardere Unlimited, which has negotiated over $100 million in MLB contracts.  Merely three years ago, the landscape was dominated by rhetoric suggesting that “student-athletes should not be paid.”  Now, we see high school and college recruiting, competition amongst Power Five conferences and schools for key players – extending to other sports beyond football and basketball.  Obviously, good for the athlete and long-term clarification for the process! 

4. Ready for Daytona Rising:  game-changer is coming to Daytona Beach. ISC plans to break ground on a Cobb Theatres movie complex across the street from Daytona International Speedway by year's end.  If that goal is met, the 12-screen movie theater would likely be completed within the first three months of 2017, making it the first tenant to open at the long-awaited 181-acre One Daytona mixed-use complex.  Other tenants set to open at One Daytona in 2017 include a Bass Pro Shops and a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel.  In total, the One Daytona development is expected to cost $812 million.  It’s separate from an ongoing $400 million renovation of Daytona International Speedway.  The opening of the new “stadium” in February ushers in a new world for spectator comfort, corporate activation, and perception of NASCAR.  Super Bowl 50 and Daytona Rising clearly destined to be the biggest events next February.

5. And don’t forget about international sporting events. The 11th African Games are ongoing in Brazzaville, Congo.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the African Games, as well as their return to Brazzaville, which hosted the first event back in 1965.  The African Games, also called the All-Africa Games or the Pan-African Games, are a continental multi-sport competition held every four years.  For international media distribution, Globecast will provide two flyaway antennas and dedicated satellite capacities from Congo to France, with more than a dozen people dedicated to these efforts.  International events continue to dominate.  Events in Africa will be carefully watched for revenue potential, sponsorship, development, and television distribution (especially with the deployment of Globecast expertise and technology).  Look for Africa to be a major player in the sports scene in the next 20 years.

6. NFL looks to make Thursday night a long-term staple on TV. The NFL plans to decide on a long-term “Thursday Night Football” TV package by early 2016, according to John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal.  While there’s no specific deadline on a decision, league officials want to make sure the winning bidder has enough time to sell advertising and create marketing campaigns for the 2016-17 NFL season.  Looking to satisfy Roger Goodell’s goal of $25 billion in annual revenue by the mid-2020’s, long-term television packages (Internet, television, and multimedia) will carry the day.

7. Are the Chargers close to heading north? The city of San Diego and San Diego County have been unable to come to terms with the Chargers for a new stadium, eliminating any chance of the city holding a January 12 special election on the project.  City officials thought they would have until June 2016 to put a stadium proposal before voters, but city officials and their stadium task force repeatedly ignored the advice of the NFL.  The lack of a stadium deal increases the likelihood of the team relocating to Los Angeles.  Race to Los Angeles heating up, with San Diego, Oakland, and St. Louis scrambling to maneuver around a late 2015 deadline.  NFL certainly attempting to settle this situation by the Super Bowl 50 celebration in California.

8. Trading the swoosh for three stripes. As originally reported by the, but in an article found on the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, Adidas announced a multiyear endorsement deal with Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who will debut new Adidas cleats this season and take a lead role in the brand's upcoming marketing campaigns.  Rodgers will travel on behalf of Adidas to major global sporting events and brand initiatives.  Superstars continue to lead the athlete leverage between Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas.  While other brands are in the mix, these three will pay ever-increasing fees to colleges, leagues, celebrity endorsers, and others for the opportunity to increase market share.

9. Carriage dispute continues in Los Angeles. Time Warner Cable is not planning to air final the Los Angeles Dodgers’ final six regular-season games as a goodwill gesture to fans without SportsNet L.A, a move the network made last year.  TWC has not been able to sell the channel to all area distributors since the RSN launched last year.  The Dodgers are on the verge of making a third consecutive postseason appearance for the first time in franchise history.  Hopefully, the intensity over this issue will force a negotiated end to the carriage stalemate as early as possible – clearly before the beginning of the 2016 season.

10. In college sports, the race to have the biggest and best facilities is real. The University of Florida announced a $64.5 million renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, $20 million more than where university and athletic officials had begun when they put the project out to bid two years ago.  The renovation will include a new concourse and entryway, premium upper deck seating, a state-of-the-art sound system, and a separate entrance for the aquatic center.  New college construction or renovation hits an all-time high – with nearly 95 facilities modernized, planned, or developed through the end of this century.  Facility competition drives much of this, but the necessity to create new revenues to pay stipends, cost of attendance, and other new responsibilities is most important.

11. The next generation of NFL rights – digital. CBS President & CEO Les Moonves said that the network’s OTT video service – CBS All Access – could eventually include NFL games.  To date, the NFL has limited its online and mobile streaming rights to deals with Verizon and DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket, though CBS will live-stream seven games this season.  Look for the next trend in media:  vertically integrated media companies with traditional television, Internet, mobile – comprehensive approaches and larger deals with teams and leagues as a consequence!

12. When a sports sponsorship becomes a sports partnership. Hendrick Motorsports sponsor Axalta broke ground on a 45,000-square-foot Axalta Customer Experience Center that will be located on HMS' campus in Concord, N.C.  Although Axalta has been a sponsor of Hendrick Motorsports for the past 23 years, the move to open a center on the race team’s campus is unprecedented in NASCAR.  Racing has always led the way in creating corporate structures and partnerships beyond the norm.  Look for more corporate real estate partnerships in the future.  They create long-term business ventures that transcend the peaks and valleys of any given race year.

13. NBA jerseys could look different when Nike takes over apparel rights, and that doesn’t even account for possible jersey ads. Nike reportedly will push for an overhaul of the Oklahoma City Thunder's brand identity once it replaces Adidas as the league's apparel partner in 2017.  Nike and the team are already talking, and the Thunder hasn’t ruled out a more explicit weather-related secondary mark.  The big retail companies will put their own stamp on team uniforms, not only to generate increased attention and revenue, but to bring awareness to their brand and the investment they are making.  Also, ads on jerseys within the next two or three years should be a virtual certainty.

14. Why attendance really matters for MLB teams. Increased attendance at Wrigley Field this season will allow the Chicago Cubs to spend more on payroll next year.  Roughly 2.9 million fans will have attended Wrigley Field by the end of the season, resulting in what could be a $21 million increase in player salaries.  The Cubs’ payroll budgets have remained flat in 2014 and 2015 at roughly $100 million each year.  Plan is working perfectly:  Wrigley renovation generates more revenue and excitement; young team over-performs; more revenue created to pay the higher payroll as contracts mature and as new players are added.  The last chapter in the book would include playoff wins and multiple World Series.  Let’s see.

15. Getting ready for the playoffs, MLB at the intersection of sports and technology. MLB At Bat upgrades were unveiled as part of a new Apple TV rollout at a company event last week.  The new MLB At Bat app that will feature HD video at 60 frames per second, split-screen for games, notifications and live data sync with the broadcast.  MLBAM has been at the forefront of new technological innovation – more revenue and an opportunity to create a business that other leagues follow and deploy.  MLBAM working with NHL to expand their Internet business – more to come.

Kelly Crull talks about covering the Bulls with Laurence Holmes

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

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.