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Beyond the Scoreboard: Title sponsors and major events in Indianapolis

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: Title sponsors and major events in Indianapolis

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST, CLICK HERE

  • Indianapolis is the center of the golf world as the LPGA Indy Women in Tech tournament and educational program unfolds this week. The 2019 IWiT field consists of seven out of the Top 10 LPGA Tour money leaders and 17 Solheim Cup players. There are also numerous activities during IWiT Championship week that focus on women and children in technology: The Indy Women in Tech Summit comprises over 600 tech leaders in the community coming together to discuss diversity and inclusion in the workplace, with a session featuring LPGA Tour Pro Mariah Stackhouse and LPGA Chief Brand and Communications Officer Roberta Bowman. Tournament week will also feature the Eureka! Exchange – a fun and engaging area where kids can interact and have fun with hands on tech activities, curated by industry experts. Finally, Nextech’s Pathways to Tech presented by Saint Joseph’s College of Marian University allows two hundred high school students to learn about the different pathways to tech careers. This is a fun experience at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway pagoda providing an opportunity for the next generation of STEM/Tech leaders to interact with Indy tech companies and professionals.
  • IndyCar headed into its season finale Sunday afternoon at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca with a roughly 10% increase in linear TV viewership and attendance jumps at half of its races this year. This was the first year of NBC Sports’ full-season media-rights pact with IndyCar, which had a new title sponsor in Japanese tech company NTT. According to SportsBusiness Daily, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles believes the series had a good year when looking at key performance indicators, in addition to being a “terrific year on the track.” Miles said, “The two biggest things commercially were NTT as series entitlement partner, and we’re very happy with that…Then NBC – we think they’ve done a great job.” The season finale was held at Laguna Seca this year after the series dropped Sonoma Raceway from its schedule. On Sunday, Josef Newgarden was crowned IndyCar champion as Colton Herta won at Laguna Seca.
  • Online lender Social Finance, known as SoFi, will pay more than $30 million annually for the next 20 years to entitle the new NFL stadium under construction in Los Angeles, making it the largest deal in U.S. naming rights history. According to multiple sources, the partnership eclipses the previous NFL high-water mark of $20 million annually at MetLife Stadium, and Chase’s $30 million annual deal with MSG for extensive promotional rights that stop short of entitlement. It may also eclipse Scotiabank’s $40 million deal to rename Air Canada Centre in Toronto in 2017. SoFi’s CEO is Anthony Noto, the NFL’s former CFO. Along with stadium rights, SoFi becomes a sponsor of both tenants, the Chargers and Rams, and will sponsor the adjacent performance venue. SoFi becomes one of Silicon Valley’s biggest sports spenders; it has spent more than $200 million annually on marketing in recent years. It currently claims 800,000 members, with products including student loans, mortgages, personal loans, and wealth management. The company believes the venue will help it become a household financial brand.

12.13.19 Rick Horrow sits down golf icon Gary Player

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USA TODAY Sports

12.13.19 Rick Horrow sits down golf icon Gary Player

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with golf icon Gary Player and shares his top sports technology & media issues of the past decade.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

1. High Definition (HD). The most essential element for the sports consumer? Watching the game. High definition pushed the envelope this decade so much that now anything non-HD seems archaic – just think about what those old “Wide World of Sports” clips look like. The first major sporting event broadcast nationwide in the U.S. in HD was Super Bowl XXXIV, broadcast by ABC on January 30, 2000. By the 2014–2015 television season, every network show producing new episodes had transitioned to high definition. And virtually all HD technology was developed by global sports league partners, with broadcasting live sporting events that delivered almost the same immediacy as being there a top-line goal for developers. Over 90% of U.S. homes have an HD television, and nearly 30% have a 4K TV. 4K (UltraHD) is here and 8k coming, virtual reality is next, the envelope is still being pushed. 

 

2. Connectivity. WiFi, Bluetooth, mobile data plans, cloud services, the Internet of Things (IoT) and getting devices communicating with other devices have created opportunities limited only by creativity. When devices can interact and share information, the smarter decisions media and tech companies can make. From minor league ballparks to arenas, soccer-specific stadiums, and the almost completed $4.93 billion SoFi Stadium and entertainment complex in Los Angeles, the “Connected Facility” over the last decade has become the absolute standard in sports stadia, empowering teams and vendors every bit as much as fans. At SoFi (named by a tech company, of course), according to CNBC, “Technology that will make the stadium experience unique includes a 70,000-sq-ft Oculus display board that will have 4K double-sided video; 5G communications network; Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of wireless to deliver faster speeds, and digital ticketing provided by Ticketmaster.

 

3. Media rights. This past decade was defined by mega deals in sports media rights. Whether it’s new networks, broadcast rights, digital rights, streaming rights, on-demand, or over the top, the media rights deals now are now not uncommon to be in the billions. U.S. sports rights are estimated to be worth a total of $22.42 billion in 2019, about 44% of the total worldwide sports media market, according to SportBusiness Media. And a rising number of major sporting events available via streaming services is set to drive the revenue for global broadcast rights beyond $85 billion by the end of 2024, according to a recent Rethink TV report. The Sports Rights Forecast to 2025 paper shows the global value of sports rights currently at around $48.6 billion, though the report predicts an increase of 75% over the next five years due to a growth in audiences choosing direct-to-consumer (DTC) content.

 

4. Ticketing. Going to a sporting event is still core to the sports experience. In this past decade, the ticketing business saw tech-related advances like dynamic pricing, paperless tickets, and digital second market sellers, all of which backed by data and CRM. As with so many things in our lives now, your mobile phone is now your sports ticket. At that Next Big Thing sports tech lab otherwise known as SoFi Stadium, CNBC notes the SafeTix digital ticketing provided by Ticketmaster “uses a rotating entry token that refreshes an encrypted barcode every 15 seconds to prevent counterfeiting and improve security. The digital ticket will also send customized messages to the ticketholder on a host of things — from VIP events to updates on parking information and merchandising offers.” And just last week, Swiss ticketing firm Viagogo agreed to buy StubHub for $4.05 billion, looking to leverage the brand globally.

12.9.19 Rick Horrow sits down with Julie Edelman, Global Client Partner of Google

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USA TODAY Sports

12.9.19 Rick Horrow sits down with Julie Edelman, Global Client Partner of Google

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick sits down with  Julie Edelman, Global Client Partner of Google.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

1. It's hard to believe, but we have reached the end of yet another decade. And in the business of sport, it’s been a busy one. Here are Rick Horrow’s top 15 sport business/law trends and issues of the decade just ending. Stay tuned throughout December for his top 15 sports technology and media picks, as well as his most influential philanthropic/corporate social responsibility actions in sports, and an early look at the year and decade ahead.

2. State by state, legal sports wagering outside of Nevada sportsbooks takes hold, with massive business implications. On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting. Since the ruling, 19 states have legalized the practice, with Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee passing legislation this year. Additionally, 24 states have pending legislation. Legal sports wagering has already had a profound effect on virtually all American professional sports, casting a wider fan base net, spurring innovation in sports media and e-commerce, and birthing an entire cottage industry of related new companies. Sports teams are embracing fans who wager – Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Washington Wizards and Capitals, is only the latest ownership group to install a sportsbook in their venue. And tens of millions of tax dollars on net sports betting proceeds are adding income streams to state and community coffers. 

 

3. College football adds a real playoff. After years of avoiding adding yet another game to the college football season via the auspice of the Bowl Championship Series – a selection system that created five existing bowl matchups involving ten of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision’s top-ranked teams – the NCAA in the 2014-2015 season finally embraced the College Football Playoff (CFP), a bracket tournament between the top four teams in the country as determined by a selection committee, culminating in a championship game at a neutral site. While the payout for the semifinal teams is a modest $6 million, the playoff format delivers tens of millions in additional revenue to the schools, conferences, and contract and access bowl host cities – a handful of which, including New Orleans this year, get to double down on hosting duties and economic impact.

 

4. After 20 long years, Los Angeles gets an NFL team back in 2016. In fact, it gets two. Largely thanks to billionaire and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Los Angeles has now positioned itself to be the center of the sports universe for the next decade and likely longer. The two-decade span in which Los Angeles lacked an NFL team was brought on in part by the obsolescence of Los Angeles’s existing stadiums, the unwillingness of the NFL to add expansion teams after 2002 (when the Houston Texans premiered) or relocate any other teams, and an inability to agree on a plan to build a new stadium, despite several proposals that were vetted but never landed a team willing to relocate under the developers’ terms. Kroenke’s privately-funded SoFi Stadium opens next July with a Taylor Swift concert and will house both the Rams and the Chargers. Additionally, the $4.963 billion venue will host Super Bowl LVI in 2022, the CFP National Championship Game in 2023, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. L.A. is now synonymous with mega sports events.

 

5. Rob Manfred became the 10th Major League Baseball Commissioner during a period of labor peace and unrest in almost everything else. At the beginning of the decade, baseball was still healing from its steroid era, a span in the 1990s-2000s where home runs were plenty and performance-enhancing drug testing scarce. Former Commissioner Bud Selig was largely credited with cleaning up the sport, and in 2015 Manfred inherited a league that was in decent baseball shape but desperately trying to stay relevant to the next generation of fans. Slow play was an issue…but a pitch clock somehow made games even slower. PED bats were gone, but the balls appeared to be corked. And Manfred’s decade ends with a nasty sign-stealing scandal involving the World Series champion Houston Astros. One bright spot in baseball continues to be its vast minor league system, which ensures pro baseball is played throughout America’s smaller communities – MiLB saw attendance in 2019 surpassed 44 million fans annually. As baseball’s Winter Meetings convene next week in San Diego, MiLB President Pat O’Connor and industry experts present a solution to improved facilities that rests in three key areas: time, money, and space.