Sports Business

Sports Business '15 to Watch': More NFL games in England?


Sports Business '15 to Watch': More NFL games in England?

1. Fantasy sports are under review. Massachusetts is launching an investigation into Boston-based website DraftKings as a way to learn about the company’s business practices. Among the questions investigators will try to answer are whether DraftKings contests are legal under state law and whether contests violate any federal laws. The move comes as DraftKings and its main competitor, FanDuel, spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising around the start of the NFL season. The legality of daily fantasy has frequently been questioned, but the game is protected by federal legislation that permits general fantasy sports. Look for investigations of all types and sizes — congressional, state, federal, legal, etc. It’s not so much that fantasy is illegal. The loophole under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is clear. Rather, it is the opportunity for taxable revenue that might drive these investigations.

2. But the Massachusetts investigation doesn’t make fantasy illegal, so how can you win your league? The SportsManias app is a game-changer in fantasy sports. Fantasy players can import their teams from CBS, ESPN or Yahoo and receive real-time news feed on their players from the top experts and news sources. This will give them an edge to make smarter roster moves. The SportsManias app makes it easy for consumer to access content from the best sources, giving them an edge while increasing traffic for media companies. It’s as simple as downloading the SportsManias app, importing your team and dominating your league. Fantasy players are massive consumers of media surrounding their teams. A DraftKings survey found that 70 percent of respondents said their sports consumption increased after they began playing daily. A FanDuel survey found that 50 percent of users watched more sports on TV as a result of daily fantasy play. Clearly, this app is a tide that lifts all boats.

3. The value of pro sports teams — and NFL teams in particular — keep increasing. As originally reported by the Forbes, but in an article found on the SportsManias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, the Dallas Cowboys are worth $4 billion, topping Real Madrid’s $3.26 billion to become the most valuable sports franchise in the world. The Cowboys are the most valuable franchise in the league for the ninth consecutive year. Forbes says the average NFL franchise is now worth $2 billion, a 38-percent increase from last year. The increased values are due in part to a $39 million increase in national television rights fees. The Forbes survey gives credence to the continuing increase of the economic juggernaut called the NFL — and a potential $25 billion revenue target by the mid-2020s.

4. A winning rebranding for a major sports and entertainment industry. Lagardère Group has relaunched its global sports business as Lagardère Sports, a division of Lagardère Sports & Entertainment (LS&E). The new LS&E, which replaces the name Lagardère Unlimited, is one of four major divisions of the Paris-based conglomerate. LS&E will be headquartered in London and comprises Lagardère Sports and Lagardère Live Entertainment. Lagardère Group built the company through the acquisitions of sports agencies and firms in six different nations. All of the U.S. companies as well as sports marketing agencies Sportfive, World Sport Group, IEC in Sports, Sports Marketing & Management and Lagardère Unlimited will be run under the LS&E brand. The agency partners with 70 European football clubs, 10,000 hours of programming, manages over 300 events and represents more than 280 athletes. The rebranding represents a significant effort to integrate and consolidate the service into a global game changer in the industry.

5. International sports business news. The NFL’s growth in the U.K. continues as league execs are looking at the possibility of playing a full season of games in the country within the next five years. The league will host three regular-season games at London’s Wembley Stadium this year. With last season’s three International Series games all sellouts, the league believes it can play even more games in the U.K. long-term. Meanwhile, Telstra has announced the rebrand of recently acquired business Globecast Australia to Telstra Broadcast Services, unveiling the new brand at the International Broadcasting Conference (IBC) in Amsterdam. The move cements Telstra’s commitment to providing deeper capabilities in media services for customers in the broadcasting industry. International headlines continue to dominate, especially with the media giants like Globecast, Telstra and other international entities.

6. Big changes could be coming to college sports. NCAA championships could be played in states that allow sports wagering, coaches could contact recruits via social media without restrictions and men’s basketball players could enter the NBA Draft multiple times without jeopardizing their eligibility, under proposals to be reviewed in Division I. These concepts are among 72 proposals that will be voted on by Division I this academic year. Of the 72 proposals being considered by the NCAA, 14 would change rules in the areas of autonomy granted to the Power 5 conferences. The new-found emphasis on team and conference competition for high school superstars might give rise to new standardization and more uniform rules. Ironically, the discussion on whether to pay student-athletes is no longer as relevant as how to structure their payments in a more uniform and competitively friendly way.

7. A creative (and long overdue) sponsorship deal on the verge of coming to the NBA. More than 60 years after the NBA instituted the 24-second shot clock, the league is close to signing its first timing sponsorship deal, according to John Lombardo & Terry Lefton of SportsBusiness Journal. The NBA reportedly is in advanced talks with multiple watch brands and technology companies for a deal that would designate the sponsor as the official timing partner of the league and would include all timing aspects of an NBA game. The value of this deal will not be known until companies like TAG Heuer and Tissot give their best offers. However, the agreement would include licensing rights for the watch category, national broadcast exposure, in-arena advertising and a great opportunity to generate new revenue from a traditional use. The NBA always cares about time, and it also cares about money.

8. How to maintain a home-ice advantage. As originally reported by the Tampa Bay Times, but in an article found on the SportsManias app, the site that provides fans with real-time information on their favorite teams, a new ticket policy by the Lightning will limit season-ticket resales in an effort to keep tickets out of the hands of scalpers and secondary markets. The preemptive measure is in anticipation of higher local demand following the team's postseason run. Fans had until late August to cancel their plans due to the new ticket-resale policy. The team will also begin a partnership with a ticket resale company to collect micro and macro data on customers. Look for the following trend: requiring season ticket holders to attend certain games and events in order to keep their priority and preferences.

9. The biggest athlete endorser doesn’t even play anymore. NBA legend Michael Jordan made $100 million last year from Jordan brand shoe sales, more than the $94 million he made in on-court earnings during his 15-season basketball career. Jordan's finances were recently disclosed in a court case over the use of his likeness. They indicated that Jordan made nearly $540 million from 2000 to 2012 from sponsors including Nike, Gatorade and HanesBrands. Jordan remains one of the few athletes who actively transcends sports. Clearly, his ability to hit left-handed pitches, and manage the Washington Wizards, did not come into play in his global branding accomplishments.

10. A long-running carriage dispute continues. The Pac-12 Networks have rejected a proposal by DirecTV’s parent company, AT&T, that would have allowed carriage on the satellite provider, but threatened the networks’ business model and long-term profitability. The proposal by AT&T reportedly included an equity stake for the telecom provider and likely would have forced the Pac-12 Networks to redo existing distribution deals at a lower subscription rate. Probably too late to resolve this issue by the end of the Pac-12 football season. However, as the Los Angeles Dodgers cable dispute demonstrates, a reasonable end to the cable wars is necessary for the lucrative Southern California sports viewer.

11. Hendrick Motorsports continues an impressive few weeks on the sponsorship front. Lowe's has extended its longtime relationship with Hendrick Motorsports by signing a two-year agreement that will continue its full-season primary sponsorship of Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 NASCAR Sprint Cup team through 2017. Meanwhile, HMS and Johnson also have agreed to a contract extension through 2017. The deals come after another sponsor, Axalta, recently broke ground on a customer experience center on the HMS campus. Sponsorship musical chairs continues to dominate the NASCAR landscape. Bedrock motorsports companies like Lowes should always be there. Companies like Axalta should be nurtured as dynamic newfound long-term revenue sources.

12. The NFL’s judge, jury and arbiter, no more? NFL owners are prepared to negotiate with the NFLPA about changing commissioner Roger Goodell’s role in the league’s player disciplinary system, with a goal of reaching an agreement before the end of this season. Ceding power would be a big loss for Goodell, who negotiated for the right to rule on player appeals in the last CBA. The discipline process has dominated the media headlines since the beginning of the 2014 season. However, the revenues available for the league (and its owners and players) have never been better. Clarification of a transparent and sustaining process is necessary to continue to move the league in a unified, positive direction.

13. Is the NHL one step closer to Las Vegas? AEG expects to have a naming-rights partner for its under-construction Las Vegas arena signed within the next two months. The facility will host as many as 140 events a year if the NHL awards a franchise to Fidelity National Financial Chair Bill Foley’s group. Capacity at the Las Vegas arena will be 17,500 for hockey and 18,800 for basketball. Look for Vegas to be awarded a franchise sooner than later — probably at a fee of over $500 million. The Seattle, Quebec City, Phoenix interplay will probably continue after that. The Coyotes might hold the key to that second expansion slot, if it exists.

14. And is a new arena in Milwaukee one step further than expected? Milwaukee Bucks investor Mike Fascitelli said that the team will complete its downtown arena project one year later than expected and is now targeting an opening to coincide with the start of the 2018-19 NBA season. Until Fascitelli’s remarks, Bucks execs had maintained the team still planned to break ground this year on the $500 million project. Governor Scott Walker’s presidential aspirations have had a significant impact on the Bucks local arena controversy. Since the revenues are primarily generated from team-related income taxes (which would not exist but for the arena and franchise), the public/private partnership should be relatively easy to sell and implement.

15. For one NASCAR track, timing is everything. Richmond International Raceway has asked NASCAR to move the track’s spring race from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. RIR has scheduled two Saturday night races since 1998, and is the only track with a pair of prime-time events. However, RIR officials believe a change to the afternoon might draw a different audience. Each NASCAR track is in a competitive race within its market to remain entrepreneurial and flexible — especially with competition among other sports, entertainment and other options. Kudos to RIR to make bold moves based on fan convenience.

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