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Mike Tirico will take over Olympics hosting duties from Bob Costas in 2018

Mike Tirico will take over Olympics hosting duties from Bob Costas in 2018

A bit of bittersweet news for lovers of the Olympics: Bob Costas, who has hosted Olympics coverage on NBC since 1992, is stepping away from that role. Mike Tirico will take over for Costas for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. 

The move comes less than a year after Tirico left ESPN to join NBC. In some ways, the successor to Costas is fitting: Tirico was the first student to receive the Bob Costas Scholarship at the University of Syracuse, according to sports media reporter John Ourand. 

Ourand reports that Costas handing off Olympics hosting duties had been in the works since his last contract negotiations with NBC in 2012. 

Lazarus said Costas first brought up the idea of stepping down from the host role during his contract negotiations in '12. At that point, according to Lazarus, Costas said, "I’m good to go through Sochi and Rio and do everything that I’ve been doing. After Rio, let’s reassess." Fast forward to early in the fall before an "SNF" telecast this season, Costas told him that he decided to pass the torch. “I said, ‘Are you sure? Why don't you think about it a little bit,’” Lazarus said. “He thought about it for another couple of weeks. We sat down again, and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do.’"

Costas, 64, will also step away from the hosting "Sunday Night Football" as part of a decision to focus solely on big events like the Super Bowl and Triple Crown. 

“He’ll have an on-going role around our big and iconic events,” NBC Broadcasting & Sports Chair Mark Lazarus said. “But in terms of day-to-day, he’s taking a step back as he heads towards slowing down his trajectory with us.” 

MORE OLYMPICS: NHLPA HEAD 'OPTIMISTIC' ABOUT IN SOUTH KOREA OLYMPICS

4.19.19: Minor league baseball makes big improvements to fan stadium experience

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USA TODAY Sports

4.19.19: Minor league baseball makes big improvements to fan stadium experience

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.

Beyond the Scoreboard Podcast: The Grand Prix of Long Beach, The Masters and more

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard Podcast: The Grand Prix of Long Beach, The Masters and more

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

 

TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST, CLICK HERE​​​​​​

 

  • The Grand Prix of Long Beach revs its engines. The Grand Prix of Long Beach, which began in 1975, is the longest-running street race in North America and one of the longest continually running events in IndyCar racing. The 45th edition of what is now called the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – thanks to the eleventh hour signing of Acura in February after the race lost longtime title sponsor Toyota – takes place April 12-14 with an entire festival of events surrounding the seaside street race. Race weekend comprises 35 commercial sponsors, and a payoff for the city of Long Beach that pumps nearly $34 million into the port city’s economy, according to figures from Beacon Economics. Some of the most significant and enduring events of the long Grand Prix weekend, however, occur away from the track. Young IndyCar driver Zach Veach, who races for Andretti Autosport, is sponsored by Group1001, and finished fourth in Long Beach last year, is looking forward to visiting a local elementary school, where he will talk up an interactive STEM program he is developing in conjunction with education technology leader EVERFI
  • The Masters by the numbers. It’s Masters Week, and as golf fans both avid and casual settle in to watch the year’s first Major, WalletHub has analyzed the tournament from tee to green. The personal finance website’s annual report breaks down everything from ticket and concession prices to the cost of producing each green jacket – $250. Among standout numbers, secondary market badge prices this year average $2,484, ranging from $2,250 on Saturday to $2,619 on Thursday – a 15% increase from 2018 and a direct reflection of Tiger Woods’ resurgence and elevated position in the field. Estimated revenues to Augusta National from 2017 ticket sales are $35+ million, while the event’s overall economic impact on the Augusta area economy is $120 million. Over 250,000 people visit the Augusta area each year for Masters festivities, including 350 journalists from around the world.  Last year’s final round Sunday average viewership was 13 million, up 18% from 2017. And the players themselves will leave Augusta National having shared an $11 million purse, with the winner pocketing a cool $1.98 million this year. My favorite data? 640%. That’s the increase in live telecast hours for the Masters from 1956 (2.5 hours) to 2019 (18.5 hours).  
  • In a similar move to its major league counterparts, Minor League Baseball, in conjunction with Brand Activation Maximizer, revealed the launch of the largest retail program in its history. The “Grilling All-Stars” national retail program will encompass five national brands and activated at select retailers in more than 100 MiLB markets and over 13,000 locations across the country. Participating brands include BUSH’S Beans, Scott Bath Tissue, Scott Paper Towels, Ball Park Buns, and The ORIGINAL Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce. The MiLB season got off to a raucous start next week, with the introduction of four new team brands: the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Las Vegas Aviators, Rocky Mountain Vibes, and the Amarillo Sod Poodles. Grilling All-Stars take note: the Rocky Mountain Vibes’ logo is a hipster version of a yummy S’Mores treat beloved by scouts, campers, and fans of summer everywhere.