Rick Horrow sits down with NCAA analyst Clark Kellogg and brings you the biggest sports business stories of the week.
Listen to the full podcast here.
By Rick Horrow
Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins
- In Phoenix, ISM Connect is once again in the headlines as Kyle Busch earns the Phoenix sweep for his 199th win in NASCAR’s top three series. On Sunday, Busch won the TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway. In October, 2017, smart venue technology pioneer ISM Connect signed a multi-year partnership with Phoenix International Raceway. However, this was much more than a naming rights deal – with ISM, the venue has now received a complete face lift in terms of connectivity and providing a 360-degree interactive fan experience. ISM, which works with nearly every NASCAR track, provides a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for venues that includes robust technological solutions that aim to increase attendance and fan engagement. The company will also work its tech magic in minor league baseball venues, starting this year. In other major NASCAR news, the racing circuit announced that it is pulling its annual awards ceremony out of Las Vegas and taking its Champion’s Week to Nashville. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards will be held December 5 at the Music City Center.
- While the NBA has a robust social media presence, viewership amongst its “core audience” – 18 to 34 year olds – is down 11% season to date and down almost 50% since 2010. According to JohnWallStreet, the league has over 35 million Instagram followers, 3.8 million fans on TikTok, and “several exclusive” Snapchat shows. But Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that the NBA, ESPN, and its partners AT&T and WarnerMedia have yet to figure out how to navigate today’s media landscape. The task at hand is “conditioning a new generation [of fans] that 8 p.m. on Tuesday is 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Because [they’re used to watching content on demand and the game] is perishable.” Silver believes that the NBA can “restore the demographic balance” with a “buy on the fly model” that enables fans to access the league’s most exciting games in progress. While this theory follows the predominant “snackable content” school of thought (aka highlights and look-ins), that tasty bites ultimately lead to fans consuming “meals” (complete games), with a large portion of the target demo opposed to paying for cable, it’s worth wondering if that strategy needs to be revisited.
- Major League Baseball plans All-Star “Election Day.” As part of sweeping changes to its collective bargaining agreement, MLB and the MLBPA are planning to overhaul All-Star voting and create an Election Day for fans to choose the starters, sources told ESPN. An All-Star Election Day has been discussed but never implemented. Under the proposed plan, standard online voting will take place starting this year. The top three vote-getters at each position in each league would be on the Election Day ballot, and whichever players received the most votes on that single day would determine the All-Star starters. The sides view Election Day as “an opportunity to better engage fans and bring more excitement to the All-Star voting process.” The parties are also “discussing increasing prize money for Home Run Derby participants in hopes of convincing the game’s biggest stars to participate.” MLB and the union have also committed to discussing more complicated economic issues in the midst of the current agreement, which runs through December 2021. Reaching any significant deal mid-CBA cycle is rare, and reflects that the current unease around today’s evolving free-agent market is not conducive to labor peace.
With days to go until they open the 2019 AFL season, the Washington Valor finalized its opening day roster and Josh Norman's older brother, Marrio made the cut, the team announced Monday.
Norman came over from the Albany Empire, where he was second in the league in tackles with 68.5. He had his best game of the season last against the Valor, in which he racked up 10 solo tackles and two interceptions - one of which he returned for a touchdown.
“Marrio Norman is a proven, impact defensive back and plays a style of football that fits what we want to do on the defensive end of the ball,” Valor head coach Benji McDowell said in a statement last month. “Marrio provides an immediate upgrade to a position that saw a lot of injuries for us last season. We’re excited to have him here.”
Along with Norman, the Valor added defensive lineman Leon Mackey, who is in his third season in the AFL after spending 2014 and 2016 with the Arizona Rattlers.
Quarterback and ArenaBowl XXXI Most Valuable Player Arvell Nelson, defensive lineman James Atoe, who has appeared in 17 games over the last two seasons and offensive lineman Anthony Parker, who started all nine games last season and was named First Team All Arena in 2017 all return to the Valor this season. While wideout Dezmon Epps, defensive lineman Malik Forrester, defensive back Jadar Johnson and offensive lineman Kasimili Uitalia will see their first action in the AFL this season for the Valor.
The Valor open the 2019 season on the road against the Baltimore Brigade on April 26.
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By Rick Horrow
Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins
TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST, CLICK HERE
- Heads up! This year, Minor League Baseball fans might notice new digital screens and displays at their favorite stadiums. Together with ISM Connect, over 25 MiLB teams will be adding new smart displays to their ballparks. But beyond delivering unique stories and creative ads to fans during each game, these displays are also equipped with smart cameras to measure audience engagement. These smart cameras will help keep ads and content fresh. The cameras record anonymous interactions – how long someone watches the screen or their age range – not individual images of specific people. By measuring foot traffic and engagement, MiLB teams and ad sponsors can better understand who their fans are, what resonates with them, and how they’re experiencing each game. The result is a better, more engaging experience for fans, and a better way for teams and partners to learn how to best serve their loyal audience.
- The Boston Marathon passes $200 million in economic impact, and welcomes seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to its field. This year’s Boston Marathon, held Monday April 15 and carried on NBCSports Network, will be the 123rd running of the race that winds its way 26.2 miles from the town of Hopkinton to the finish line at Copley Square. It is the world’s oldest annual marathon, starting in 1897 after the successful debut of the marathon at the first modern Olympics in 1896. The Boston Marathon is traditionally held on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April. The Boston Red Sox also have a traditional home game on Patriots Day with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch against the Orioles this year. Boston is among the six largest marathons, along with Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. A special prize purse is given to runners who accumulate the most points in the majors. Here’s a bit of trivia: Just five national sporting events were held during the two World Wars, and the Boston Marathon was one. The others? The Kentucky Derby, Penn Relays, Rose Parade, and Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
- La Liga, Spanish soccer’s top-flight league, has been named the eighth biggest brand domestically, according to a report by valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance. The report places La Liga above major Spanish brands such as the insurance provider Mapfre and telecommunications company Movistar. Using its brand strength score metric, a figure based on calculations regarding emotional connection, financial performance and sustainability, Brand Finance gave La Liga a score of 80.7 out of 100. Fashion retailer Zara topped the Brand Finance list overall, with the likes of Santander and Iberdrola also featuring inside its top ten. The new 2019 report marks the first time a sports league has appeared in Brand Finance’s top ten, highlighting the continued growth of La Liga. Brand Finance values the league body at $548 million. Based on monetary value along it occupies 50th place on the list, a considerable drop. However, taking into account the value of participating league clubs – which includes the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – La Liga’s overall value jumps to $4.5 billion, which would place it sixth on that list.