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11.27.19 Rick Horrow sits down with Phil de Picciotto, Founder and President of Octagon

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USA TODAY Sports

11.27.19 Rick Horrow sits down with Phil de Picciotto, Founder and President of Octagon

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with  Founder and President of Octagon Phil de Picciotto and takes you through the biggest sports business stories of the week.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE



1. Minor League Baseball has announced the continued long-term commitment to its U.S. Hispanic fans and communities with the return of the 2020 Copa de la Diversion campaign and event series. Next season, each of the 92 participating MiLB teams covering 34 U.S. states will transform its on-field brand into a culturally-relevant Hispanic persona, representing an extension of the team’s and community’s identity. MiLB’s Copa-specific website features each team’s unique identity, including the story behind its Hispanic on-field persona, and links for fans to purchase available apparel for select Copa teams. As the New York Times noted, “the local embrace of a professional baseball team is ingrained in American culture.” MiLB performs critical community outreach through programs such as building youth sports facilities and sponsoring creative initiatives in schools. As American communities continue to become more diverse, events like the Copa de la Diversion campaign only serve to cement MiLB’s role as a communal centerpiece across the nation.

2. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan confirmed that he has signed a long-term contract extension. Whan is “completing his tenth year as the LPGA’s leader, the longest tenure of any commissioner in tour history,” according to Golf Channel. During his tenure, Whan has “rebuilt the LPGA with a healthy, diversified foundation, with 33 events” and more than $70 million in total prize money.” When Whan was named LPGA Commissioner, the organization had only 23 events on the 2011 schedule in his first year. “Ten years ago, I’m not sure many of us would have been bold enough to predict where we are our today,” he wrote in an update to members. “Events like the KPMG Women’s PGA, Race to the CME Globe, UL International Crown and Founders Cup weren’t even an idea back then. In fact, 19 of the 33 official events on the 2020 LPGA Tour Schedule weren’t on the LPGA Tour just 10 years ago! Now we have an official team event, five strong majors, multiple events played with men, exciting season-long competitions, events staged in 12 different regions of the world, and TV coverage in over 160 countries.” Well done, Mike – we are proud to call you a friend.

3. The National Lacrosse League’s Alterna Cup begins Friday. On November 29, the National Lacrosse League will usher in a brand-new season-long competition among all five Canadian clubs. Calgary, Halifax, Saskatchewan, Toronto, and Vancouver will be competing for the inaugural Alterna Cup. This Cup was created in partnership with Alterna Savings and Alterna Bank (Alterna), who will be the exclusive banking partner of the NLL in Canada this season. To capture the Cup, Canadian teams will be competing in head-to-head matchups throughout the NLL regular season. To get the action started, the Calgary Roughnecks will pay a visit to the Vancouver Warriors next Friday, November 29 at 10:00 pm ET. Save a little room for lacrosse after you gorge on turkey and football.

4. The 2020 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target is heading to Los Angeles where, for the first time, the MLS All-Stars will face the Liga MX All-Stars on July 29 at Banc of California Stadium. The match will be broadcast on ESPN and Univision networks in the U.S., TSN, and TVA Sports in Canada, as well as on ESPN throughout Mexico and Latin America. “We are so pleased to bring the 2020 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target to Los Angeles, one of the great soccer markets in North America,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a statement. “As we celebrate our 25th season, we wanted to deliver a unique and unprecedented format for our annual All-Star Game. Our first ever game between the best of MLS and Liga MX’s top players is the perfect way to build on the growing relationship between the two top soccer leagues in the region.” The MLS All-Star Game will unfold in the same timeframe that SoFi Stadium, the new home of the Rams and the Chargers, will roll out inaugural concerts before it hosts its first official NFL games. Next summer, it seems, all eyes will be on LaLa Land.

5. NASCAR launches a new OTT platform with NBC Sports. The new live and on-demand streaming platform, TrackPass, will launch on the NBC Gold OTT service next month and will provide access to live motorsports events and archive footage and documentaries, including NASCAR practice and qualifying sessions, but not live races. According to Sports Pro, subscribers will have the option of watching exclusive live race coverage from the American Flat Track motorcycle series, select events from the ARCA Menards U.S. stock-car series, as well as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and live International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) events. The new TrackPass service will cost $4.99 per month or $44.99 per year, while other price offerings include series-specific sub-packages for select motorsports. Creating an OTT offering just for NASCAR fans attracts more millennial and Gen Z audiences while other companies like DAZN or ESPN+ could add them to their roster in the near future.

1.20.20 Rick Horrow sits down Nick Kelly, Vice President of Partnerships, Beer Culture, and Community for Anheuser-Busch InBev

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USA TODAY Sports

1.20.20 Rick Horrow sits down Nick Kelly, Vice President of Partnerships, Beer Culture, and Community for Anheuser-Busch InBev

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with Nick Kelly, Vice President of Partnerships, Beer Culture, and Community for Anheuser-Busch InBev.



LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

  • The NHL 2020 Winter Classic between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars was the least-watched edition of the annual ice hockey game since it was first played in 2008. According to Nielsen, the Stars’ 4-2 win over the Predators on New Year’s Day roped in only 1.97 million viewers for NBC. The figure represents a drop of almost one million on last year’s edition of the game, which saw an audience of 2.94 million tune in for the Boston Bruins’ win over the Chicago Blackhawks. In related news, the NHL has selected the head coaches for its January 25 All-Star Game at St. Louis, with Todd Reirden of the Washington Capitals, Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins, Craig Berube of the Blues, and Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights getting selected due to their points percentage in their respective divisions. Since the upcoming NHL All-Star Game is in the home of the Stanley Cup Champion Blues, the league has high hopes for good ratings and attendance for its annual midseason celebration.
  • In conjunction with the Protect the Pitch program, which continues to lead the industry in-stadium sustainability and clean energy efforts, LA’s Dignity Health Sports Park has installed 12 new Volta electric vehicle charging stations that will be available to guests free of charge at all events. Volta designs electric vehicle charging networks for forward-thinking businesses seeking to provide seamless, simple and free charging. Volta designed Dignity Health Sports Park’s charging network as a foundation for further expansion to match the park’s rising electric vehicle demands. Projecting out based on the average Volta station impact in Los Angeles, Dignity Health Sport Park’s 12 stations will offset an estimated 250,000 pounds of CO2annually. The MLS LA Galaxy and Dignity Health Sports Park have launched numerous sustainability efforts to reduce carbon footprint and become more sustainable through the Protect the Pitch initiative. As increasing numbers of Galaxy fans drive electric cars, Dignity Health Sports Park’s partnership with Volta is a perfect complement to the club’s Protect the Pitch sustainability initiative.
  • WWE made $13 million off of YouTube advertising revenue in 2019. According to Tubefilter, WWE’s YouTube channel is larger than those of the NBA, the NFL, MLB, and the NHL —combined with a whopping 52.8 million subscribers. And WWE uploaded a staggering average of 510 videos per month with content ranging from full matches to behind-the-scenes clips. This had them outpacing their sports league counterparts by hundreds of videos a month. Furthermore, there is no offseason with the WWE so there is always lots of content. In 2019, WWE’s channel brought a monthly average of 756.4 million views, putting in up in the ranks of the most-watched YouTube channels. But WWE is making around $1.40 per 1,000 views, a number far below YouTube’s reported average CPM of $7.60 due to the fact that the wrestling content is not ad-friendly for many sponsors. Even if the WWE only pulled in $13 million, the amount of eyeballs on their content in an era where traditional TV viewership continues to dwindle for all sports may be worth more than AdSense’s earnings for the company.

The Big Twenty: What it means to look back on two decades of heartbreak, jubilation and history

The Big Twenty: What it means to look back on two decades of heartbreak, jubilation and history

20 years.

Two decades.

Five administrations on Pennsylvania Avenue.

A lot happened in and around the District in the last 20 years, and for us, those from here and of here, the sports world flipped upside down.

There were droughts, intense droughts. Then parades, intense parades.

There was heartbreak. There was elation.

To really experience life as a D.C. sports fan, misery became the currency over the last 20 years.

Playoff flops, unbelievable upsets, unfortunate injuries and one painful, gut-wrenching display of the fragility of life.

That despair, that dismay, that depth of loss, eventually, allowed for growth.

And then, out of nowhere, improbably and incredibly, came the boom.

Kahlil Gibran wrote The Prophet in 1923, but one passage in particular applies to life as a DMV sports fan in 2020: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

The sorrow was real. But the joy made the trip worth it.

Nothing will ever top the image of Alex Ovechkin skating to Nicklas Backstrom in the Las Vegas desert. Ovi holding the Stanley Cup high over his head, finally, mercifully, ending D.C.’s championship drought that stretched nearly three decades.

The Capitals finally broke through in 2018, taking down the Penguins in the second round of the playoffs en route to their first ever Stanley Cup Championship, and with that win, the curse was broken.

If that curse was real or perceived didn’t matter.

Perception becomes reality, and as the Caps, Nationals and Redskins all learned during the drought, playoff heartbreak was all too real.

One year later, with the championship door kicked in by the Caps, the Mystics and Nationals joined the party.

The Nats title was almost make-believe, a series of events more improbable than the last, and the final chapter a storybook ending of perseverance.

Those titles are the best moments - obviously. Deservedly.

There were plenty of other moments too, and unfortunately, many of them aren’t pleasant.

Nothing will ever change the shock and sadness of Sean Taylor’s passing. Nothing.

Time won’t be able to dim the glow of Robert Griffin III’s rookie year, even all the losing and the long, slow implosion that followed.

After plenty of long droughts and ugly moments, the area again found college basketball’s peak.

Maryland’s men's and women’s teams won titles and eventually Virginia too broke through to cut down nets.

Baltimore knew no such title droughts as its Ravens proved to be one of the best franchises in football. Twice Super Bowl winners, it’s undeniable that some of the best modern players wore purple. They’ve got statues to prove it.

Legends came back, including huge names like Michael Jordan and Joe Gibbs.

The success of their earlier career didn’t follow, but it was still a wild ride. Another legend said goodbye, but the Ironman Cal Ripken never actually leaves. He’s the Ironman.

The greatest swimmers in the world emerged, and they’re from here. They’re household names now - Ledecky and Phelps.

A Cinderella broke through, and by George Mason making the Final Four in 2006, changed the game for future “mid-majors” forever.

D.C. United won and built a new showcase.

Stephen Strasburg piled up strikeouts and got shut down.

Alex Ovechkin scored. And scored. And scored. Gilbert let us all down.

Trying to boil down two decades of sport is hard. Looking at the totality of the events, the totality of a region divided by state lines and distinct cities and mountains to the west and water to the east, yet still united by sports, speaks to the immeasurable heart and spirit of what being a fan means. The drought is over. Long live the good times.