Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': Manfred makes his mark


Sports Business '15 to Watch': Manfred makes his mark

  1. MLB’s new pace of play rule changes have proved successful thus far, with the average game this season being completed nearly ten minutes faster than last year.  Among the changes that were implemented are a between-innings clock and making hitters keep a foot in the batters’ box.  Rob Manfred makes his mark yet again – 48 percent asset appreciation, nearly $10 billion in revenue, international expansion and a quicker game as a consequence of relatively modest rules changes.  America’s pastime continues to get stronger on a regular basis.
  2. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that just 16% of NFL players go bankrupt within 12 years of retiring.  While the number is troublesome, it’s far less than a 2009 Sports Illustrated report that said 78% of players are bankrupt or in financial trouble within two years of retiring.  There's a need for all involved to take significant responsibility in improving these numbers: the player and his family, coaches and management, the Players Association and the league itself.  As the economics get bigger and the stakes get higher, these issues will be more significant in the years ahead.
  3. Lagardère Unlimited Golf solidified its PGA Tour dominance with an impressive 1-2 finish at Augusta at the 2015 Masters Tournament.  Twenty-one-year-old phenom Jordan Spieth won his first Masters green jacket, while legend Phil Mickelson finished second at the tournament.  The company has done a stellar job in restructuring the Under Armour relationship for Jordan Spieth while not overexposing him. Phil Mickelson provides significant “business experience.”  The two clients (in addition to the rest of the athletic stable) provide significant diversity, experience and corporate reach over time.
  4. National and international television distribution is a major component of the economics of teams, leagues and television networks.  Globecast is expanding significantly throughout North America, complementing its worldwide presence.  Part of the Orange international conglomerate, Globecast manages and transports over 10 million of hours of video and rich media each year, across five continents.  Some examples of their major sports events include the ESPN Cricket World Cup, Roland Garros and the Tour de France.  More efficient and lucrative international distribution means more revenue for teams, leagues, players and the industry as a whole.
  5. The NBA and Coca-Cola have ended their partnership after 29 years.  Coke used its NBA league sponsorship to help revive its Sprite brand in the 1990s.  The NBA has already reached a five-year deal with Pepsi to take over rights to the sponsorship category.  The NBA always leverages one large sponsorship/partnership deal into a larger one.  
  6. As originally reported by the L.A. Times, but in an article found and accessed from the SportsManias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, the MLBPA is preparing for a fight with the Los Angeles Angels should the team try to recoup money from Josh Hamilton.  Hamilton is set to make $23 million this season, but he may not play for at least another month while he recovers from substance abuse issues.  Another example of the risks involved in “superstar athlete brand management.”  Hamilton seems to be approaching this issue with great respect and care, but the corporate sponsors and team owner will continue to monitor the impact on their respective brands.
  7. Nike is close to reaching a deal with the NBA to become the league’s new apparel partner.  While the framework of an agreement reportedly has been reached, there are still several details that need to be finalized before signing a deal.  Nike's new on-court rights will take effect before the 2017-18 season.  Nike and Under Armour continue to fight it out on and off the court, with adidas still involved. As the NBA apparel issue is resolved, next up: jersey sponsorships and the revenues that follow.
  8. Lagardère’s North American expansion continues at a rapid pace, and the award nominations continue to stream in.  LU received two nominations at the prestigious Sports Business Awards, as a finalist in the categories of “Best in Talent Representation and Management” and “Best in Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services.”  Major North American expansion of a worldwide conglomerate means more opportunities for athletes, event promoters, teams, leagues and the industry as a whole.  High quality competition is good for everyone.
  9. The NBA averaged a league record 17,826 fans per game this season, as almost 22 million fans attended games.  NBA teams also had 700 sellouts, passing the previous record of 676 sellouts from 20 seasons ago.  The Chicago Bulls led all teams with 21,866 fans per game.  Another successful NBA season at the gate, coupled with $9 billion in revenue, the $2 billion Ballmer sale raising all values and other substantial NBA benefits leading into the playoffs.
  10. Taking advantage of MLB’s shift on liquor sponsorships, the Kansas City Royals signed a multiyear deal with McCormick Distilling to produce limited-edition Royals-branded bottles of its 360 Vodka.  The Royals join the Cubs as the only two teams licensing its logo for liquor packaging.  Look for this as the “tip of the alcohol iceberg”; teams should actively pursue liquor sponsorship deals (as long as they are tastefully done and coupled with the admonition against excess).  This should very easily expand into all other sports at a rapid rate – more money for everybody.
  11. As originally reported by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, but in an article found and accessed from the Sportsmanias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, the Browns unveiled new Nike-designed uniforms with the word “Cleveland” displayed prominently on the front, making them the only team in the NFL with just the city name on front of the jersey.  Besides the city name, the Browns will be the only NFL team with its nickname on the pant leg.  The team will couple the nondescript helmet orange with a “busier” jersey and pant leg.  More money for the team, more money for Nike and more merchandise sales for the NFL.  Now a note to the Browns player personnel department: couple the logo excitement with positive team performance.
  12. Army has rebranded its athletic department and will now be known as “Army West Point.”  The school collaborated with Nike for 18 months on the rebranding, but also consulted the U.S. Army and Academy leadership, current and former cadet-athletes, coaches, historians and West Point graduates.  Another example of reaching the secondary logo and merchandise market through another method.  Not just changing logos and colors, but actually rebranding the athletic department – change of image, merchandise, logos, etc.
  13. Through Globecasts’s global reach and local presence on each continent, Globecast secures contribution, international distribution and broadcasts production for every type of sporting, news and festive events.  Globecast broadcasters get mobile and fixed satellite uplink/downlink, multicast distribution on any screen, including an IP feed broadcast who can be embedded into any web portal during the event.  Key in the television industry is to provide international reach, diverse services and an opportunity to more efficiently enhance revenues.  Look for Globecast to continue to be a major player in all aspects of media transmission and distribution.
  14. Georgia Tech is hosting a Rolling Stones concert at Bobby Dodd Stadium as a way to generate additional revenue to help cover the full cost of attendance.  Georgia Tech AD Mike Bobinski estimates that holding the concert could add an extra $500,000 to the school’s athletic department budget.  More schools will create more concerts for more additional revenue as well.  As the pressure on schools to provide more revenue for student-athletes grows, look for diverse merchandise, possible alcohol sales, corporate stadium names and additional stadium events like the Rolling Stones, across America.
  15. The NFL and Harris County are at odds over NRG Stadium improvements in advance of Super Bowl LI.  The NFL wants the luxury boxes and club seats at NRG Stadium to undergo a $50 million upgrade at the county’s expense, but county commissioners say the use of public money is a non-starter.  As new stadiums complete their initial financing/lease period, teams are renegotiating improvements based on latest technological and architectural advances.  In most cases, public/private partnerships remain critical in the base lease, subsequent renewals and refinancings for the overall facility as well.

The Daily Line: Week 6 Football Picks


The Daily Line: Week 6 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.

Eric is traveling this week so Bears producer Paul Aspan will fill in with a weekend of picks. Unlike Eric, he certainly does not have a Masters in Predictive Analytics and his football ‘career’ came to a crashing halt a few Falls ago with the loud pop of a hamstring on a Lincoln Park flag football field. Suffice it to say, you should not expect him to replicate Eric’s 11-1 heater over the last two weeks.

Steelers at Bengals, Sunday 12PM CT

Spread: Bengals -2

Betting Percentage:  62% of bets on the Steelers; 75% of the money on Steelers

The pick: Steelers +2

I just don’t believe in the Bengals. Whether they’re 4-1 this year or 8-0 in 2015, there has to be some psychological impact knowing that your ceiling is the Wild Card game. The Steelers have won six straight games against Cinci, and I’m trying to figure out what exactly the Bengals do well. Yes they score points (thanks for pointing that out).  But their defense isn’t very good, they don’t get off the field on third down and they’re actually middle of the road in every offensive category: passing, rushing, 3rd down…everything outside of the one that matters most – scoring (where they’re 5th) - they’re somewhere between 12th and 23rd in the NFL. It’s not like the Steelers convinced me they’re fixed by beating Atlanta last week, but they do get to the quarterback (they lead the NFL with 19 sacks) and if this is a last score wins game, I’ll take Roethlisberger over Dalton all day.

Bears at Dolphins, Sunday 12PM CT

Spread: Bears – 3.5

Betting Percentage:  61% of bets on the Bears ; 55% of the money

The Pick: Dolphins +3.5

This line jumped from Bears -1.5 to -3 almost immediately, and late in the week it’s creeping higher. Everything points to the Bears this week, which I hate as far as taking their side. The Dolphins offensive line could be down three starters against the best pass rusher in the entire NFL in Khalil Mack. Starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil has practiced on a limited basis this week but is in the concussion protocol and watching his backup Sam Young get destroyed by the Bengals late in the Dolphins Week 5 collapse has to have the Bears foaming at the mouth. Home dogs have been hot (4-0 ATS last week), so I’m going back to that well and counting on the hook to make the difference.

Which brings me to a home dog teaser.

Two 12 PM CT games

  • Dolphins +3.5 vs Bears
  • Raiders +3 vs Seahawks (in London)


Two 3:25PM CT games

  • Titans +3 vs Ravens
  • Cowboys +3 vs Jaguars


Tease them all up 6 points at +260 odds (a $10 bet would win $26), and it looks like this:

  • Dolphins + 9.5
  • Titans +9
  • Cowboys +9
  • Raiders +9


Yes, I’m including the Raiders in my home dogs teaser. Who were the original Raiders? Pretty sure guys like Blackbeard and Jack Sparrow were British as hell. Factor in Mark Davis’ Beatles haircut and the Raiders should feel right at home at Wembley. The Seahawks had their Super Bowl last week, throwing everything they had at the Rams. They appeared to get past the Earl Thomas contract / injury backlash and the Russell Wilson favoritism fall out but this feels like a house of cards that might now just fall apart.

The Ravens – as we discussed on The Daily Line podcast – disgust all of us with their inconsistency. They’re currently 10/1 to win the Super Bowl which is insane, and I can’t not take the points against Joe Flacco with a Titans team that suffered a not all that unpredictable letdown in Buffalo after beating the defending Super Bowl champs the week before.

The Cowboys red zone defense balled out against the Texans but once again Jason Garrett’s (lack of) strategy & job security is already a hot topic in Big D. And speaking of QBs you can’t trust, Blake Bortles made sure to remind everyone last week with a nice little 4 INT game in Kansas City.

And I’ll just add this to the Dolphins: they lead the NFL in interceptions (10) as they suit up against young Mitchell Trubisky. Now that I’ve tried to pounce on the hot home dogs trend (16-6 ATS this season), here’s to hoping it waits at least one more week to regress.

Obscure College Pick of the Week:

Middle Tennessee State vs FIU Saturday 6:30PM CT

Total: O/U: 56.5  

Betting Percentage: 37% Bets, 64% of the money on the Over

The Pick: Over 56.5

To be honest I was just looking for a lopsided discrepancy between the percentage of bets (public money) and percentage of money (sharp money). And I knew I didn’t want to take an under because cheering for no points is no fun. So here we are.

The total opened at 58 and dropped to 56.5. Only 37% of the bets are on the over, but 64% of the money is on the over, so count me in on the over. And if that’s not enough of a draw for you, this is a battle for first place in Conference USA’s East division and features a father-son Coach-QB combo of Rick Stockstill & Brent Stockstill for Middle Tennessee State. Just don’t ask me how (or if) I plan on watching this game on Saturday.

The Daily Line Podcast, Chicago edition : Debut episode

NBC Sports Chicago

The Daily Line Podcast, Chicago edition : Debut episode

On the debut episode of the Daily Line on NBC Sports Chicago, Ryan McGuffey and Paul Aspan are joined by VSIN’s Joe Ostrowski & Sam Panayotovich to take a look at the Bears and the rest of the NFL thru the eyes of the sports bettor.

How Vegas views the Bears after their 3-1 start and heading into Sunday’s game as a favorite in Miami. Is there any value on the Bears at 25/1 to win the Super Bowl or Khalil Mack at 28/1 to win MVP?

Plus NFL teams that are frauds and for real after 5 weeks. And of course a 6-pack of picks to get you thru the weekend. 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below