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Published by Sports Business Journal, 2020-04-20 12:11:15

Sports Business Journal - January 13, 2020


JANUARY 13-19, 2020
VOLUME 22 ISSUE 38 • $7.95


Tag along with
the NFL’s secret
shoppers as
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aspect of the
fan experience
at a prime-time


Running up the score: Labor negotiations will Sue Campbell is a Future Forward: What
Sports dominates shape the business of tireless advocate for it will take to win over
top 100 telecasts. women’s soccer in U.K. the next generation.
soccer in the U.S.


Come meet us 1/29 & 1/30 Register at


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May his legacy
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never forgotten.



Star Of The Show

With Stephen (left) and Jerry Jones flanking him on the dais, the Dallas Cowboys introduced Mike McCarthy as their new coach at the Star in Frisco,
Texas, last week. The longtime Green Bay Packers coach has a pedigree as a Super Bowl champion, but his hiring came amid increased concern around the
sport about the lack of minority head coaches, as none of the four such openings that had been filled to date went to African Americans.


“ ”The Argos suck. Can I say that?
— New CFL Montreal Alouettes co-owner GARY STERN, on his reasoning for not buying into the Toronto Argonauts


Getty Images (2); @stlouisblues Instagram jan. 15 million The NHL unveiled the jerseys to The rulebook released by the
be worn in the Jan. 25 All-Star XFL, which begins play next
Netflix debuts a Viewers for Fox’s telecast of Xavier’s win
new documentary, over St. John’s on Jan. 5 — Game in St. Louis, receiving month, will include a 1- to
“Killer Inside: The Mind mixed reviews on social media. 3-point system for scoring
of Aaron Hernandez.” which aired right after the Saints- after touchdowns as well as a
Vikings NFC wild-card game — making
it the most-watched college basketball running clock.

broadcast ever on the network. THE METER


The NBA is likely
to table its plans to

re-seed the last
four teams

standing in the
playoffs, as travel

concerns would
outweigh the

desire to have the
two best teams

meet in the Finals.

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 3

FORUM News, notes and plans
from SBJ’s home office
T HIS IS THE FINAL WEEK to submit nominations for the 2020 Sports Business Awards.
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EXECUTIVE EDITOR entries, please make sure you carefully review all the criteria and answer the ques-

THIS WEEK tions as specifically as you can. There are two parts to this request that can significantly The entire contents
SUPER BOWL of this magazine are
enhance or hurt your submission: One, please do your best to answer when we ask about copyrighted by Street &
9 FULL-BODIED Smith’s Sports Business
ACTIVATION business results, impact and comprehensive data on ROO or ROI and corresponding sales. Journal 2020 with all rights
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showcasing several of Leaders Group Holdings
brands with Super Bowl greatly affect both internal and external review of your submission. Over the years, I’ve LLC. Reproduction or use,
strategy. without permission, of
By Terry Lefton sat in a number of meetings where judges have cited the blatant avoidance of answering editorial or graphic content
in any manner is prohibited.
MARKETING the actual questions and the lack of specific details in an otherwise impressive submission Street & Smith’s Sports
15 THE LEFTON Business Journal (ISSN-
as a reason for it being tabled or rejected. 1098-5972) is published
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On-field success leads to Here is a bit on the process: After all entries are received, an internal group of SBJ of the first week of July
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By Terry Lefton West Morehead Street, Suite
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OPINION. . . . . . . . . . 34
FACES & PLACES.. . 37  WE’RE GROWING: As you may have noticed, we are embarking on a number of exciting
CLOSING SHOT. . . . 38 changes here at SBJ. To that end, we are making investments in many areas, and looking to
bring on more and more talent. We currently have openings for more than 10 positions across
Cover image by Getty Images our organization — in sales, marketing, event activation and planning, digital production
and in our newsroom. All of our openings are posted on our LinkedIn page as well as our
4 | JA N UA R Y 13-19, 2020 website, and we encourage you to check them out and spread the word in your network.
We’re growing and are looking for dynamic and smart self-starters to join us.

 FUTURE FORWARD: Our 2020 editorial calendar has been posted, so please download it for
future planning. One of our editorial efforts — a four-part series looking at the future of
sports — kicks off this week. We are constantly asked about what the future sports experi-
ence will look like and what the future of fandom and engagement will be, so we are talking
to a lot of smart people who spend a lot of time studying the future in putting together a
compelling package. I really enjoyed our first installment this week on the future fan and
welcome your questions, thoughts and comments as we continue looking at the opportuni-
ties ahead for the sports industry.

 FEEDBACK WELCOME: A final point — recently in a meeting, a longtime reader was giv-
ing me an earful of where they felt we missed the point on a story. It was a serious yet very
respectful conversation. At the end, I suggested they share their points with our readers in
a letter that we’d run in SBJ. They acted surprised with the offer and hadn’t thought that
the opportunity existed. Well, it does. Our pages can serve as a platform for thoughtful,
yet direct and pointed discussion, and we encourage all of you to reach out if you want to
share a particular point of view on issues in the news.

Abraham Madkour can be reached at [email protected].


PODCASTS Check out our First Look podcast every Monday where we discuss the week’s top stories. Also, check out
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Experiential Marketing
• Sports Executive of the Year





The shield’s

Sports accounted for 92 of the top 100 most-
watched telecasts in 2019, with NFL games
taking up 78 spots alone. BY AUSTIN KARP

Games in 2019, sports rose to record
prominence among the 100 most-viewed
U.S. television broadcasts for the cal-

endar year.

Among the most-viewed broadcasts on TV (ex-

cluding any pregame/red carpet shows and the State

of the Union address), sports accounted for 92 of

the top 100. That figure is up from 88 for sports in

both 2018 and 2016 (Olympics years), and up from

81 in 2017.

Another uptick for the NFL in 2019 contributed

to an even greater presence for the shield, with 78

game windows ranking in the top 100. That is up

from 63 in 2018 and 64 in 2017. The NFL accounted

for 9 of the top 10 most-watched telecasts on TV

— the Oscars ranked No. 9 — and 23 of the top 25.

When taking into account college football, the sport

had 83 of the top 100.

Clemson’s win over Alabama in the College Foot-

ball Playoff title game (No. 17) was the top non-NFL

sports telecast in 2019, aided by ESPN’s megacast

approach. Rounding out the top five non-NFL for

sports: World Series Game 7 (No. 26 overall); the

CFP semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl (No. 43); the men’s

NCAA tournament championship game (No. 49);

and NBA Finals Game 6 (No. 53).

Among the sports outliers this year were the

Kentucky Derby, which used its best audience since

2010 to come in at No. 78 on the chart. The U.S.’s

win over the Netherlands in the FIFA Women’s World

Cup final also cracked the list (No. 100).

Perhaps more evident than ever was the dearth

of scripted TV on the list in 2019. There were seven

non-live programs in the top 100 in 2018. That

shrank to just three in 2019. Looking forward, the

number is likely to get even smaller, with perhaps

the post-Super Bowl show the only recorded pro-

gram to make the list. But live nonsports events

continued to have a presence in the top 100, led by

the Oscars, the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the AP Images

Super Bowl LIII had the largest viewership last year, as more than 98 million people Grammys, the Golden Globes and New Year’s
watched on CBS as the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3.
Rockin’ Eve.
6 | JA N UA R Y 13-19, 2020



by sport
8% ■ Other



1% ■ Kentucky 8 FOX 11/24 NFL NATIONAL WINDOW: COWBOYS- 29,897 58 FOX/ 12/5 “THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”: 18,226

2% ■ MLB 9 ABC 2/24 “THE OSCARS” 29,641 59 NBC 10/6 “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”: COLTS-CHIEFS 18,222

5% ■ College 62 NBC 12/8 “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”: 17,961



65 FOX 10/27 NFL SINGLEHEADER 17,627
66 ABC 12/31 “NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE” 17,529



71 CBS 12/15 NFL SINGLEHEADER 16,859


28 NBC 12/29 “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”: 22,955



32 NBC 9/8 “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: 22,315 82 FOX 10/6 NFL REGIONAL 16,220
83 FOX 9/15 NFL REGIONAL 16,206

33 CBS 2/3 “THE WORLD’S BEST” (POST-SUPER BOWL) 22,245 84 FOX 12/15 NFL REGIONAL 16,098

86 FOX 11/24 NFL REGIONAL 15,585




39 NBC 10/20 “SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL”: 21,550 90 CBS 12/29 NFL NATIONAL WINDOW: 14,966


sport 93 CBS 9/29 NFL REGIONAL 14,745
non sport 43 ESPN/ 12/28 CFP SEMIFINAL: PLAYSTATION FIESTA BOWL: 21,151 94 FOX 12/29 NFL REGIONAL 14,598

Related Related ESPNU/ESPNEWS
Content Content




99 CBS 2/7 “THE BIG BANG THEORY” 14,161

Source: Sports Business Journal research

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 7


runway” for the new venture.

Each team will carry six skaters and one goalie,

while a group of 10 to 20 reserve players will trav-

el with the regulars from city to city. All told, John-

ston said, the league will ask players for an

estimated 30- to 35-day commitment for the first

season. The plan is to get former NHL and profes-

sional hockey players to take part.

Salaries will be the same for all coaches

E.J. Johnston and all players. Though the figures weren’t
(left) founded the specified, Johnston said players would be
league, which will able to make this their full-time job. Cash
have Hockey Hall bonuses will be awarded to both groups

of Famer Craig throughout the season for winning indi-
Patrick as its vidual tour stops, earning year-end awards
commissioner. and making the playoffs, among other bench-

marks. The responses from prospective

coaches have been overwhelming, Johnston

said, saying that the eight who will be announced

later this spring will all either be members of the

Hall of Fame or U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

CBS is the league’s U.S. media partner, as all reg-

ular-season games will air on CBS Sports Network

and the championship weekend in August will be

televised on CBS. Both TSN and RDS are Canadian

media partners. Each Saturday broadcast will be

about three hours, including pregame and postgame,

3ICE bringing NHL’s OT along with the 112 minutes of hockey action spread
format to new league across all seven games. Getty Images is 3ICE’s still
imagery provider, and ASM Global will serve as its
venue and event management partner.

According to Johnston, 3ICE is still considering
15 to 20 different cities for its first season, which
will start with a player evaluation camp and a draft

in either January or February 2021.

STARTING IN JUNE 2021, hockey fans and sports en- Getty Images. Johnston and Williams shared similar sentiments

thusiasts who love the NHL’s wide open 3-on-3 over- Besides watching the 3-on-3 format when it went about their excitement for how 3ICE could experi-

time play will now have a pro hockey league to into effect with the NHL’s 2015-16 season, Johnston ment with the on-ice product, game presentation,

follow that’s built solely around that format. also got an up-close look at it while sponsor integrations and fan engage-

Led by founder and CEO E.J. Johnston, the son attending summer rookie camps for ment.

of former NHL player, coach and general manager the Pittsburgh Penguins and New BY THE “The mantra of our league is fun,
Eddie Johnston, 3ICE is a North American league Jersey Devils over the past few years. NUMBERS innovative and snackable,” Johnston
that will begin after next year’s Stanley Cup play- Though he was initially skeptical, said.

offs conclude. Eight teams will descend upon a dif- after getting enough exposure he 3 For example, what if fans could
became hooked. tap into a voting mechanism within
ferent U.S. or Canadian city SKATERS their smartphone, whether at the
“The oohs and aahs, you get that PER SIDE arena or at home, and pick the sec-
BY MARK J. BURNS for eight consecutive Satur- in a hockey game, but it was con- ond-round matchups? If there’s a
days in a bracket-style format stant,” he said of the in-arena atmo- questionable goal that the two refer-
sphere. “You were on the edge of your
that will include seven games

per day. The winners of each

game advance, picking up one point for a first-round seat. … It was electric.” ees and instant replay cannot con-

win, two points for a second-round victory and three Johnston founded 3ICE in 2017. He 7 firm, maybe the league displays the
points for a championship triumph. spent his own time and money refin- play on the in-arena video board for
ing the concept, developing a busi- GAMES fans to vote on whether they think
The points totals determine seeding in future ness plan and speaking with sharp EACH it’s a goal. Are there fan boosts for
weekends. The ninth weekend of the season will hockey minds including Penguins SATURDAY teams, similar to the power boosts
be the championship weekend. GM Jim Rutherford and Minnesota in Formula E?
Wild GM Bill Guerin, among others.
Each game will have two eight-minute periods While the league would not reveal
with a running clock that will only stop for injuries

or penalties, the latter of which will result in a Last year, he added a C-suite of ex- any league partners, the sponsorship
penalty shot rather than a team playing a man down. ecutives, including naming hockey
model allows for a company’s name,
8“Why does it work?” said Johnston of the 3-on-3 hall of famer Craig Patrick as com- logo and marks to be featured across

game. “Creativity, speed, tic-tac-toe passing. It’s missioner and former NFL executive TEAMS a team’s jersey. As part of the inte-
gration, 3ICE will bake content into
about improvisation and your hockey IQ.” Michael Williams as chief marketing

Johnston’s own playing career ended when he officer. John Schermerhorn and Steve its relationship with sponsors as it

was a teenager, not counting the New York-based Baker will serve as chief revenue flexes its production muscles.
“We’re always going to be wearing
9roller hockey league he still plays in. 3ICE will officers.
combine both his personal interest in the sport with Though Johnston declined com- TOTAL that Hollywood hat,” Johnston said. Courtesy of 3ICE
his professional experiences in advertising, televi- ment on funding specifics, he did say WEEKENDS OF Added Williams: “It’s a complete
sion production and media. Johnston has been that 3ICE has been privately funded COMPETITION
running his own production company, EJD Produc- to date without any corporate in- white canvas as far as what we’re
able to do. … The creativity is the

tions, and had prior stints at Fox Sports, IMG and volvement and that there’s “ample only thing that will be limiting us.”



A-B InBev’s Super plans on tap for seltzer, music fest

FOR ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV, this year’s Super Bowl ing on a new $3 million gondola

activation will be anchored by a familiar tactic, ride, set to open in time for the

but it also will be implementing a new approach in game. Within the facility, A-B

which the country’s largest brewer will use the na- InBev will leverage its exclusive

tion’s biggest sports event to leverage a handful of rights with the host Miami Dol-

its brands, instead of just one or two. phins.

Bud Light Hard Seltzer, which officially launch- A-B InBev also will be enter-

es Monday, will be the show pony taining 600 retailers and whole-

BY TERRY in and around Miami, with the goal salers at a converted “Bud Light
LEFTON being trial-and-conversion in the
rapidly expanding $1 billion-plus Hotel.” The company has been

staging a tricked-out hotel at the

alcoholic seltzer market. However, Super Bowl since it was last in

A-B InBev also will be activating Miami in 2010. Perhaps the most

against its Bud Light, Babe Rosé wine and Stella memorable came for Super Bowl

Artois brands. Artois will even have its own high- XLVIII in 2014, when it converted

end activation area with music and food in South a 1,062-foot Norwegian Cruise

Beach. Previously, the Super Bowl had been gener- Lines ship into a hotel accom-

ally restricted to Bud Light, the brand most close- modating 3,000 guests for the

ly associated with its NFL rights. Bud Light will have branding on a gondola ride outside Hard Rock Stadium. game, played just outside New

However, for larger sponsorships, and the experi- York City at MetLife Stadium.

ential marketing that normally accompanies them, time of year for any beverage marketer and this For the second consecutive year, A-B InBev is

“We’re implementing a full-portfolio strategy now at year will be in the important Los Angeles market sponsoring the Super Bowl Music Festival, in con-

big events and for experiential, because that just — A-B InBev will undoubtedly still be pushing Bud junction with On Location Experiences. This year,

makes sense,” said Nick Kelly, A-B InBev’s vice pres- Light Seltzer, but it will also be leveraging as many it will get the benefit of some added content, with a

ident, partnerships, beer culture and community. as five other brands, including Budweiser, craft one-hour TV special, featuring some other acts from

Expect that kind of full-bore activation for all of brew Golden Road and Michelob Ultra. the festival. The show will run for one hour starting

the brewer’s biggest sports rights. At July’s MLB Outside of Hard Rock Stadium, which will host at 11 p.m. ET the night before the game on Fox, which

All-Star Game — which is staged at an important the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, Bud Light will get brand- will broadcast the Super Bowl for the ninth time.

Getty Images

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 9


The Research gives NBCUniversal
Market breakdown of Olympic tastes

A MEASURED LOOK HEADING INTO 2018, executives at the usually watch on linear TV. They Next, NBC linked its own research
AT THIS WEEK’S skew slightly older, liberal and male. to Nielsen data, giving marketers an
HOLDINGS NBCUniversal-owned cable channel idea of what programming each kind
n 12% are “stargazers,” who con- of Olympic fan watches (one chart
BUY Bravo contemplated how to convince sider Olympians celebrities and cross-references your Olympic view-
want to know their personal drama. ing habits with which NBCU cable
FORE-THOUGHT their viewers to watch the Winter They tend to watch digitally through- channels you most likely watch.)
out the day and are more likely to About a year ago, they ran the num-
Topgolf is eyeing its potential IPO later Olympics. post online. These tend to be Gen X, bers again to prepare for Tokyo,
this year with a valuation of $4 billion, parents, well off financially and which confirmed the general pattern.
and it has chosen banks to work with, It’s not that fans of the “Real House- highly educated.
including Bank of America, JPMorgan That data tells them where to pro-
Chase and Morgan Stanley. The driving- wives“ and “Project Runway” aren’t n 20% are “torchbearers” — these mote which athletes on owned prop-
range-as-party-destination has seen are the true believers. They consume erties, helps them target paid ads
impressive growth since it opened its potentially inter- as much as they can, through all more precisely on social media, and
first location in 2000 and has become platforms. This group is often young- also is available to NBCUniversal’s
BY BEN ested — NBC-com- er, and well-earning Gen X or mil- own advertisers.
increasingly popular in the U.S. FISCHER missioned research lennial parents.
shows that nearly It also helps drive fans to the right
SELL n 16% are “heartstrings,” who love viewing destination. One persistent
nine out of 10 Amer- the behind-the-scenes stories, inter- frustration of the “Major League
SIDE EYED national connections and mostly Americans” is that team sports such
icans follow the follow artistic sports like gymnas-
Top WTA players like Sloane Stephens Katie Ledecky checks almost every
said they were shown a lack of respect Olympics to one degree or another tics, diving and figure skating. These box from the survey NBC conducted
by organizers at the ATP Cup and the skew female and liberal. with research firm LRW to determine
WTA’s Brisbane International, where — it’s a question of how to turn their what Americans are looking for.
n 12% are “Major League Ameri-
most of the women’s matches were viewers’ attention to sports. cans” who root for the U.S. exclu- as basketball get relegated to cable
pushed to side courts to accommodate sively and usually follow mainstream while the NBC broadcast in prime
the first ATP Cup, a multinational team Armed with new audience segmen- sports like basketball, boxing and time focuses on gymnastics, track
hockey that are featured during the and swimming. But with sophisti-
event. Logistics are complicated, but tation research from NBC Sports, Games. These tend to be older, male cated segmentation research, NBC
the problem needed a better solution. and white, often with conservative can steer viewers to the right chan-
Bravo found the trick: A 20-second views. nels for their interests from the start.
promo that looked just like a “Real n 11% are “Highlight Heroes,” a That cuts to the core of NBC’s
RED-HANDED? mostly younger, more non-white theory: With this level of viewer data
Housewives“ opening, except it group that follows niche sports, — plus a full slate of cable, broad-
Major League Baseball is investigating wants the best competition regard- cast, digital and social platforms
the Boston Red Sox for allegedly was Team USA members sharing less of country, and mostly watches — the network thinks it can over-
digitally. come declining TV viewership and
stealing signs during the 2018 season, their snappy, brash catchphras- keep fans engaged in ways the tra-
a year in which the team won the World Researchers then did qualitative ditional mass-market broadcast
es. “The only diamonds I need interviews with individuals to fur- methods can’t.
Series and one year after it was fined ther test the concept. Later, NBC-
by MLB for using an Apple Watch to … ” said skier Julia Mancuso ran a sweepstakes that “We can be personalized,” Storms
steal signs. With punishment due soon promised a chance to win an Olym- said. “We can get them what they
related to the Astros’ sign-stealing with a steely glare and dramatic pics jacket if you answered a 14- want, when they want it, and get
investigation, MLB may have a widening point questionnaire. One million them to the right place.”
pause that “Housewives“ fans people responded.
problem on its hands.
recognized, “are double black
1 0 | JA N UA R Y 13-19, 2020

With a mandate to wring every

penny of value out of the Olym-

pics to make up the multibillion-

dollar rights fee, the

NBCUniversal promotional ma-

chine will soon reach full capac-

ity heading into the 2020 Tokyo


It’s a massive undertaking,

and one in which the Games’

biggest strength — its extraor-

dinarily broad appeal — has also

become a challenge in an era when

consumers are accustomed to per-

sonalized messages. That’s where

the segmentation research comes in.

“You could go around the room and

ask everyone, ‘What’s your connection

to the Olympics? Why do you watch?’

and every single person is going to

give you a different answer,” said NBC

Sports CMO Jennifer Storms.

For the second time, NBC hired

research firm LRW to help determine

what each American wants out the

Olympics. About a year before the 2018

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, LRW

surveyed 3,002 people with 20-minute

online interviews. The research re-

vealed that the 88% of Americans who

care about the Olympics can be loose- Getty Images (4)

ly lumped into six categories:

n 16% are purists, who love tradi-

tional Olympic sports, follow the best

athletes regardless of country, and



AR problem may be solved Virtual reality
in ‘dream it, do it’ decade eyewear was on
display at the CES
BY ERIC PRISBELL “I was watching the convention in Las
[NFL playoffs] and Vegas.
IF YOU THINK that virtual reality’s failure to catch on trying to have a nice
means that altered-reality eyewear will never glass of wine with interactive arts
become ubiquitous among sports fans, you may friends and my for Nexus
want to think again. husband and I’m on my Studios. As long
phone checking how as four years
A much different notion emerged from the annual old Tom Brady is and ago, Apple CEO
CES convention in Las Vegas last week: Revolution- why he is throwing Tim Cook
ary eyewear is expected to be coming to the fan passes that people predicted that
experience near you — just not tomorrow. don’t catch,” said Alex AR use will
Wallace, head of news, become as
Right now, augmented reality and related technol- entertainment and common as
ogy remains ahead of the actual hardware, said studios for Verizon Media. “It should be in my “eating three
Michael Davies, senior vice president of field and glasses. Those are knowable facts. I want to watch a meals a day.”
technical operations for Fox Sports. The race is on sports game with data. You don’t consume a “Imagine a pair of sunglasses that wrap closely to
for a company to create eyewear with the ideal single-screen experience. And your phone is not your eyes,” Ritchie said. “You could wear these
design, comfort level, size and price point to make it sociable and it’s not happening in a way I want it to things all day. You could have an immersive VR or
a necessity for sports fans. happen.” AR experience. I don’t know if that’s what Apple will
release, obviously, but it would be the holy grail.”
The long-term vision is that once 5G — with its Wallace joked that VR has not taken off because While Davies deemed this decade the age of
promised high bandwidth and low latency — is fully “it’s bad for my hair any time I put on the ugly “dream it and do it,” he noted that even some of the
implemented, an experience so immersive for fans headset.” But Apple’s less clunky AR eyewear smallest glasses on the CES show floor did not look
will be possible and desired, enabling them to wear reportedly expected to be unveiled by 2023 could like something fans would want to wear for long
non-cumbersome eyewear to enhance their viewing be a game-changer, “moving everything forward periods of time. When the right eyewear is ultimately
experience with AR displays, an overlay of advanced because Apple has the ability to make things unveiled, he added, fans will want to put them on
analytics and any data tailored to their preferences. desirable,” said Luke Ritchie, the head of XR and with ease instead of needing to “boot them up or
In short, it will revolutionize how fans watch games worry about the battery or anything.”
at home or in the stadium.

Getty Images

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 1 1



Behind the scenes with the NFL’s League
Observation Program, which tracks
everything that happens at a stadium on
game day to better understand — and
enhance — the fan experience.


W ITH EIGHT AND A HALF MINUTES REMAINING in the first quarter of a “Thurs- the clubs also ask for feedback on specific programs, usually new
day Night Football” matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the
New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 12, Ravens quarterback
Lamar Jackson took the snap and ran 5 yards to the New York 6-yard
line. The late-arriving crowd gave a slightly louder than usual cheer, recognizing that efforts or known challenges. On this night, I have been invited to

the league’s probable MVP had just broken Michael Vick’s 13-year-old record for most tag along with Hyams and Tubito. In all, the two have acted as

rushing yards by a quarterback in a season. observers at 51 games over the past four years and would each do

However, there was no mention of the record on either of the 200-by-36-foot video so eight times this season, though this is the first time they’ve

boards that dominate the back of the stadium’s end zones. Nor was there an announce- worked together. The game doesn’t kickoff until 8:20 p.m., but our

ment over the public address system. And that was just the way the NFL — and a day will start much sooner.

couple of league employees sitting in Section 206 — wanted it. ■ 4:40 P.M. — I enter the lobby at the Renaissance Harborplace

Jackson’s achievement — he finished the season with 1,206 rushing yards — would Hotel, where Hyams and Tubito are waiting for me. We discuss

not be noted until after Baltimore capped that drive with a touchdown, when the ad- the plan for the evening and what they’ll be looking for. There’s

ditional crowd noise would not adversely affect the Ravens offense. That’s the depth one twist coming that will light up social media, and Hyams and

of thought the league expects stadium game-day operations staffs to have, and it’s just Tubito are already expecting it.

what Glenn Hyams and Tim Tubito of the League Observation Program were expect- ■ 5:18 P.M. — We’re less than a mile from the stadium, but Tu-

ing as they took detailed notes on everything happening in and around M&T Bank bito drives his personal SUV that he had driven down from New

Stadium on a bitterly cold evening. York. After the game he will drive the roughly 200 miles back so

Hyams’ day-to-day role is as the NFL’s manager of club business development, and he can be home for his young daughter’s birthday party the next

Tubito is the league’s director of event presentation and content. Tonight they are day. Driving also allows us to test out the parking lots. It’s a late-

known as secret shoppers, and they are performing a task that takes place, usually arriving crowd because it’s a work day, which makes parking

unseen, at all 256 regular-season games: observe every detail of a stadium’s off-field easier for us but will later raise the stakes for staffers trying to

operations, and file a report for the team in question. manage the traffic.

Those on assignment often come from the NFL’s New York headquarters, where this ■ 5:44 P.M. — We arrive at the Ravens Walk, the outdoor experi-

year 93 people from a variety of departments volunteered for the role, or sometimes ential marketing area between M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole

from another NFL team not playing in that Park at Camden Yards. On a night in which tem-

particular game. They are given regular Two league employees are peratures drop into the high 20s, some problems Getty Images
tickets, usually for a club seat, as Hyams performing a task that takes place are obvious: “I think these heaters aren’t working,”
and Tubito had been on this night. Execu- at all 256 regular-season games: Hyams says, looking into the DiamondBack Resorts
tives for the home team have been expecting observe every detail of a stadium’s activation. A few minutes later, they see that the
their arrival, but individual staffers in re- one employee at the Verizon tent was on his phone,
tail, parking and other such areas don’t not engaging with passersby.

know that they are being graded. off-field operations and file a report A bright spot: The friendly worker at the bag
The league’s Club Business Development for the team in question. check booth clearly articulates the stadium’s bag
policy and answers Hyams’ questions accurately.
division aims to evaluate everything, but



At times, the stadium video crew focuses on a

player, and then shows his stats next to his live
image on the two main video boards that hang in

both end zones. Jackson has dedicated music play-

ing when he takes the field, helping hype up one of
the biggest stars in the league.

■ 8:02 P.M. — Less than 20 minutes until game time,
the stands still seems to be at least 85% empty. Tu-

bito and Hyams predict a late rush. “If it’s still like

this at 10 minutes out, that’s not good,” Hyams says.
■ 8:05 P.M. — It’s “Champions Day,” on which every

high school football state championship team in

Maryland is introduced on the field. Earlier Hyams

and Tubito had praised a large sign by the field

entrance outside the stadium,
which clearly told several hun-

The massive score- dred participants where they
boards at M&T need to report for a timely
Bank Stadium introduction. “This is a good
didn’t alert fans to way to connect with the com-
Lamar Jackson’s munity,” Hyams says. As game
record-setting time approaches, those high
run until after schoolers create a tunnel for
Baltimore’s offense the player introductions that
had left the field. stretches from the corner of

one end zone all the way to

midfield. It goes smoothly.

■ 8:10 P.M. — As expected, most fans take their
seats as the kickoff nears. Ushering people into

their seats in time for pregame ceremonies and the

start of the game is a persistent challenge at sta-
diums. The Ravens believe the player-introduction

traditions started by legendary linebacker Ray
Lewis in the team’s early days have trained fans to

consider it important.

After the dazzling light and pyrotechnic show
that is the player introductions, Tubito is impressed.

“That’s as good as it gets,” he says. “Every part of

Hyams takes his name so he can give him a positive movement difficult, even when in line. He praises the building was integrated into the show, and ev-
review. Elsewhere: the Bud Light concert stage is the labeling on clothing racks, but knows from a
too close to activations that also have amplified previous site visit that Cleveland’s First Energy erything was so cohesive.” At one point, the sta-
sound, causing a jarring mix of noise. Also, the Stadium has rafter signage that makes it easy to
Under Armour tent is expertly produced, and the find the appropriate clothes in a very crowded area. dium lights go down, giving fans the chance to
Maryland Zoo earns high praise for offering fans participate by waving their giveaway glowstick.
a photo opp with real ravens. ■ 6:45 P.M. — The guest assistant at the the eleva-
tor to the club level is in an exceptionally good mood, Tubito also praises the purple LED lighting on the
■ 6:10 P.M. — Just outside of the Hamburg Street handing out high fives. “You don’t get that at a lot
gate, three men approach us and identify themselves of stadiums,” Hyams says, noting her name. A few Ravens band’s drums as an example of the attention
as Baltimore plainclothes police. They are suspi- minutes earlier, a worker informs us how to get to to detail. Video boards show multiple angles of the
cious of our note-taking, photography and close the club section, and then chases us down when he
attention to the surroundings. We each prove our sees that we are going the wrong way. Both employ- players taking the field.
identities and are free to move on. ees were noted for praise in the final report. By game time, the team says 50,000 people are in

■ 6:15 P.M. — Hyams asks an employee for an ex- ■ 6:50 P.M. — We buy food in the club level. The the stadium. That’s up from the 10,000 who had ar-
planation on mobile ticketing. She wrongly says Ravens lowered food prices in 2018, and a large
fans can use a screenshot of a ticket for entry. An- Chicken Philly sandwich and a water costs me $14. rived an hour before kickoff, while about 15,000
other worker is unsure of the answer and describes Tubito praises the digital signage above a main bar more arrived in the first hour after the game start-
the clothing of someone who might. Ravens officials that displays photos of fans at the game who have
want feedback on worker knowledge, which Hyams used the hashtag #RavensFlock on social media. ed. That still leaves about 6,000 no shows, despite
and Tubito later report is good overall. “We’ve got The staff is friendly and helpful. There are also
2,500 people here, for all those people to be on the some unexpected surprises: One worker serving the listed attendance of 70,545 in a 71,008-capacity
same page is a huge challenge,” said Roy Sommer- me the sandwich goes off message and tells me she
hof, the team’s senior vice president of stadium is a Washington Redskins fan. stadium. Even with the late-arriving crowd, Ravens
■ 7:27 P.M. — We enter our section. The seating officials said the ingress speed met expectations.
■ 6:25 P.M. — We line up to enter the stadium and bowl is still nearly empty as the teams warm up. ■ 8:21 P.M. — The Ravens have a new experiment
have to wait about five minutes, mostly because Tubito says the pregame warmups are an important
the gates are just opening. Mobile ticketing works time for the producers who operate the live audio- at this game, a “mixed reality” feature on their main
fine, and employees make sure every fan receives visual presentation. “This is when your diehards
a purple Styrofoam light stick, to be used during are in their seats,” he says. “It’s a chance to educate video boards: an animated raven is superimposed
the pregame player introductions. fans and to pump up your own players.” He’d know, over live video of the stadium itself, creating the
having previously been in charge of the Jets’ game-
■ 6:33 P.M. — While surveying the official Ravens day entertainment and venue presentation. appearance that a bird the size of a commercial
store, Hyams notes its cramped space that makes plane has flown into the stadium, done a lap and

perched on the west goalposts. This is the twist

Hyams and Tubito were expecting, but their muted
response matches that of the crowd. The raven re-

turns later and, says Tubito, “It seemed like they

found better ways to utilize it, that combined with

fans getting used to it made it a real positive.”

Getty Images ■ 8:22 P.M. — The game starts. For the next three
hours, Hyams and Tubito observe all of the sound

and images used to enhance the game, and watch


W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 1 3


left: The late- Shoppers help
arriving crowd NFL tackle issue
causes some
logistical head- THE NFL may be singularly dominant in television viewer-
aches, but the ship, but it is nevertheless facing a problem that is vexing
team says the leagues across the country: declining attendance. League-
ingress speed wide average ticket sales for the NFL hit a 15-year low in
meets expecta- 2019, and no-shows plague even the most beloved, success-
tions. ful franchises.
below: Tubito
(left) and Hyams Many experts consider this to be the unavoidable result
each went to of the growth in home entertainment quality and the
eight games this escalating cost of attending games. The NFL, however,
year as observ- does not cede the point.
ers, but this was
their first time “A fundamental tenet of the NFL is to ensure that the
teaming up best place to watch NFL football is in-stadium,” said Bobby
together. Gallo, senior vice president of club business development.

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13 the game entertainment: “They front-load a Since the 2013 season, the NFL has been sending secret Getty Images (2); Ben Fischer
lot of the sponsor obligations, and just play shoppers to every game, having them evaluate every aspect
how the fans around them respond to video to the crowd in the second half.” This means of the fan experience without oversight from the club.
and public-address prompts, which entertain- less programming and more long music breaks This year, 93 NFL employees acted as observers. After the
ment features work, which don’t and why. and casual crowd shots. game, they produce a report that is then shared with team
officials and includes praise where warranted and sug-
■ 8:36 P.M. — After the Ravens open the scor- ■ 10:53 P.M. — The video board shows Lyft- gests changes as
ing with Mark Ingram’s 6-yard touchdown run, branded content explaining how to find ride- applicable.
Tubito and Hyams note that replay footage shares after the game. “Rideshare pickup is
from NFL Network looks “stretched” on the something no team has really solved yet,” In 2018, the
rectangular video board at the back of the west Hyams says. league added a
end zone. Also, they note the lack of audio on voluntary peer
the highlights, which made it so some fans ■ 11:25 P.M. — The Ravens win, 42-21. A sta- review process,
didn’t realize what was being shown. Later, dium employee hands out pre-printed Balti- and now every
their report will read, “Consider implement- more Sun covers celebrating the team’s second game is re-
ing the radio call over the highlights.” straight AFC North title. Hyams praises the viewed by either
move because many fans miss having the a league or dif-
■ 8:42 P.M. — The Ravens devote a media physical memento a ticket stub used to provide. ferent club’s of-
timeout to the “Hometown Heroes” content Hyams and I walk back to our hotels. ficials. Teams
feature on the big video board. “The footage use those re- Average ticket sales for the league’s
was clearly framed and having the hero ■ MONDAY, DEC. 16: Although it wasn’t due ports, along with games reached a 15-year low in 2019.
close off with a ‘Go Ravens, Beat the until later in the week, Hyams and Tubito the Voice of the
Jets’ shout was a nice touch,” the re- submit their written report to the Ravens. It Fan surveys fans get after they attend, to score customer
port would later say. has two parts, one on stadium operations and service and game operations/entertainment performance.
a 12-page section on game entertainment.
■ 8:44 P.M. — Just before New York’s While the reviews do not cover things such as cost of
Sam Ficken attempts a 49-yard field ■ THURSDAY, DEC. 19: Hyams and Tubito join attendance — the primary reason people don’t attend more
goal, the stadium video board flashes a conference call with Ravens officials to go live sports events, according to SBJ’s most recent Reader
a sign: All fans win a free six-piece over their reports. Not all of the feedback is Survey — it does include everything from the parking lot
McNuggets order from McDonald’s accepted. For instance, the team decides to experience to the graphics and replays on video boards.
when opponents miss a field goal. Then not follow Hyams’ suggestion to add public-
Baltimore’s Patrick Ricard blocks the address voiceover to a “sizzling stats” feature, Even if a club’s usual practice isn’t wrong, exactly, it
kick. The main video board and the because they’ve had fan feedback about too might be updated or tweaked to better serve the different
ring boards light up in McDonald’s red much PA. But another note in the report was kinds of fans coming to the game. Sometimes teams cater
and yellow: Free McNuggets! Even bet- immediately acted upon. They noted that fans too much to the casual fan over the diehard, or vice versa.
ter, another positive review from Hyams and really engaged with the TV timeout feature Fan expectations about football production are driven by
Tubito. “Pass 4 Cash,” but couldn’t see the action well broadcast innovations, so the stadium has to keep up.
because of a high, wide camera angle. Two
■ 9:33 P.M. — With the Ravens leading 21-7 weeks later against the Steelers, the Ravens “Since I’ve started doing this, the fan has evolved so
just before halftime, the Jets are driving into switched to hand-held cameras on the field for much, and they are evolving so quickly, so part of what
Baltimore territory and video boards flash: the feature. we’re doing is keeping up with how they’re evolving and
“Visitors want quiet. Please respond accord- what they’re looking for in the game,” said Tim Tubito,
ingly.” In their report, Hyams and Tubito will director of event presentation and content at the NFL,
call that “Very unique and effective fan prompts who is a regular secret shopper.
that always seem to rile up the crowd.” The
crowd has another reason to cheer when safe- Teams don’t have to take the feedback but they always
ty Chuck Clark intercepts a Sam Darnold pass. appreciate it, said Jay O’Brien, vice president of broadcast-
ing and game-day production for the Baltimore Ravens.
■ 9:44 P.M. — On such a cold night, the official Tubito and Glenn Hyams, manager of club business de-
halftime show — including the All-Star Stunt velopment, were the two league observers at the Ravens’
Dogs — doesn’t keep many people in their seats. Dec. 12 game against the Jets. “Since [Hyams] travels to a
Most go to the concourse to get out of the wind. lot of other NFL games, his report is pretty valuable,”
M&T Bank Stadium isn’t alone among NFL O’Brien said. “He compares us to the Lions at one place,
venues in that the seats are still mostly empty he says, ‘Here’s something the Lions do that may work for
when play resumes. you.’ That’s completely different feedback from what our
own fans give us.” — B.F.
■ 10:16 P.M. — With the Ravens leading com-
fortably, Hyams notes the shift in tone from





said Kevin Rochlitz, the Ravens’ senior vice president

and chief sales officer.

Suites in Baltimore were already sold out, but the

team’s success catalyzed early renewals there also,

meaning “we’ll sell out again, but much earlier,” said

Rochlitz. “When you have two losses and it’s already

December, you’re just better organized to have a jump

on all of next year.”

The Green Bay Packers totaled 13 wins

The 49ers’ strong this season for only the third time in the
play boosted ticket team’s storied history — six more vic-
revenue at Levi’s tories than in 2018.
“We don’t sell results,” said Chad Wat-
son, the team’s director of sales and

business development. “In real time, we

don’t have much inventory remaining,

but this kind of season just gives us sales momen-

tum we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

As with any team, a lot depends on when and which

prior deals are expiring. Many of the 49ers’ biggest

went for five years from the stadium’s opening, so

On-field success leads to they had already been renewed or replaced. No huge
renewals are pending for the Ravens or Packers, either.

■ NUTMEG ON ICE: SportsNet New York is side-

sales wins for NFL teams lighting in the event business with the first “Con-
necticut Ice” hockey festival Jan. 25 and 26 at
Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. Cadillac,

Nissan, the Hospital for Special Surgery, Trav-

A N ONGOING MISSION during our 35-plus years at the intersection of elers, PC Richards and Town Fair Tire are among
sports and commerce has been correlating — or at least attempting the principal sponsors for the event, which will
to correlate — professional teams’ on-field performance with off-field include youth and prep games clinics, and a tourna-
ment matching four local collegiate hockey powers:

sales success, whether through sponsorships, media or hospitality. It’s doubt- Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, UConn and Yale. All four

ful that anyone selling those assets is so unenlightened as to attempt doing of those games will be televised on SNY.

so primarily on the basis of wins and losses, but those certainly don’t hurt,

as we learned by canvassing sales-types at NFL teams with the best records ■ COMINGS & GOINGS: Fanatics has named Gina

in the league. Sprenger its first chief strategic retail officer. In this

For the San Francisco 49ers, the top seed in the NFC playoffs, sales have role, Sprenger will lead all merchandising, inven-

never been more robust. The team’s 13 wins this season have only been ex- tory management and field operations for the com-

BY TERRY LEFTON ceeded once in the franchise’s golden history. Add the power of a legacy brand pany’s strategic retail division, which includes
located in one of America’s most affluent areas, as well as the creature comfort flagship stores, stadium and in-venue retail locations

of a home stadium that is still relatively new, and the result is a fertile sales as well as special events, including the Kentucky

ground even in underperforming on-field years. Derby and the NHL Winter Classic. Sprenger, who

What 49ers CRO Brent Schoeb defines as “core local revenues” — the com- joined Fanatics in 2016 as senior vice president and

bination of tickets, suites and sponsorships general merchandise manager, will oversee

— is the best since the team moved into Levi’s 175 flagship, venue and event properties

Stadium in 2014 and “the highest in our 74- across professional and college sports, which

year history,” he said. That’s even before a also includes oversight of

playoff game (or two) is added. A strong on- Gina merchandising, field op-
Sprenger will
field performance is described by Schoeb as be the first erations, and inventory
the “best fuel to stoke an already-burning fire.” chief strategic management.
retail officer at
As is often the case, sales get moved up. She will continue re-
“Multiple” 10-year leases on suites have been porting to Jack Boyle,

renewed earlier, Schoeb said. And there have Fanatics. global co-president of

also been early sponsorship renewals, includ- direct-to-consumer re-

ing ones with Black Oak Casino Resort, Mountain Mike’s Pizza and Vivid tail. Sprenger also joins the executive leadership

Seats. “Our stretch goals have become our goals now,” he said with a laugh. team of CEO Doug Mack. She replaces Mike Mar-

The 49ers started the season with two road games, which turned out to be tin, executive vice president of retail, the former

an advantage. After winning both, en route to an 8-0 start, the team was able head of retail at Staples, who left Fanatics in De-

to dynamically price the less than 10% of home game tickets that were still cember after a little more than three years. … An-

generally available. The result was a seven-figure bump in ticketing revenue drew Fishkin joins Connect Partnership Group,

Getty Images; Fanatics buoyed by the three largest crowds in team history, including a record 71,500 Dallas, as director of corporate partnerships, after

for a 37-8 win over the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 24, a figure which may be five years with Navigate. He’ll continue to be based

eclipsed in this year’s playoffs. in Chicago.

Similar to the 49ers, a great season in Baltimore, where the Ravens set a fran-

chise record by winning a league-high 14 games, has led to a boost in interest. Terry Lefton can be reached at

“It’s all about new business and we have a lot of them knocking on our door now,” [email protected].

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 1 5


More people work other businesses than tradi-

tional television than those who work on televi-


When McCarley started nine

Rory McIlroy years ago, Golf Channel had 330

visited the employees. Today, it has close

channel’s to 1,200. Golf Channel has jobs
Orlando today that didn’t exist a few
headquarters years ago.
last month and
had plenty of “We like to talk about being

questions about at the intersection of golf and
its other lines of technology,” McCarley said.
business. “Anyone who’s been in this

business for the last five years

completely changed and trans-

formed the way they operate a business. They

had to.”

McCarley said Golf Channel adopted the strat-

egy to embrace digital businesses early on.

SPORTS MEDIA “Those are the types of things that you’re hear-

As Golf Channel celebrates ing and reading about every day,” he said. “You
25th anniversary, moves beyond
traditional TV come into focus can’t just hear about it and read about it. You have

to be doing it. It’s better to be leading the way than

being led.”

McCarley described the Golf Channel culture as

more entrepreneurial, which helps employees em-

brace change more than others.

“We’re working at a startup that happens to be

R ORY MCILROY traveled to Golf Channel’s backed by one of the most powerful media compa-
Orlando headquarters Dec. 13 for two days
of meetings that had nothing to do with The channel’s last 25 years were dominated by nies in the world, in Comcast,” McCarley said.
the transition from analog to digital, McCarley said.
“But the next 25 years is going to be how the overall “There’s a risk-taking and entrepreneurial spirit

that has led to a lot of these ancillary digital busi-

television as the golfer conducted some interviews game — not just the media and technology part — nesses.”

and cut promos for the network. gets advanced by digital media and Even as Golf Channel pursues digital businesses,

As co-founder of GolfPass, which technology.” the television network continues to grow. During

NBC Sports Group launched last Golf Channel has embraced golf its first week in 1995, the channel had 15.5 hours of

February, McIlroy was more inter- businesses that have little, if any- live programming. Next week, it will have 102.5

ested in Golf Channel’s subscription thing, to do with television. hours of live program-

businesses — everything from setting It manages Golf Business ming — 61% of the net-

up tee times to booking travel. Solutions, which has rela- work’s schedule.

As Golf Channel celebrates its 25th tionships with around 10,000 “We put a real em-

anniversary this week, McIlroy’s visit golf courses in 40 countries phasis on creating an

offered a window to how network ex- and provides the technical influential voice in the

ecutives view their overall business. platforms that run and oper- game,” McCarley said,

No longer is Golf Channel simply a BY JOHN OURAND ate golf courses — every- citing news coverage
television network. thing from booking tee
and on-air commenta-

“It’s a technology company more times to monitoring employee time tors. “It takes time to build credibility. We’ve got a

than anything,” said Mike McCarley, cards. platform that starts with news and a slate of live

president of golf for NBC Sports Group. “Because of the way technology and media have tournaments that are surrounded by news. But it

McCarley sees McIIroy taking a similar ambas- evolved in the last 25 years, and really the last 10 also has instruction, high-quality storytelling and

sador role with the Golf Channel’s digital busi- years has been the most significant of it, there’s high-end documentaries.”

nesses as Arnold Palmer did with the channel. ways that people engage with golf that they’ve never

“Rory looks at the next 25 years as, ‘What is Golf contemplated before,” McCarley said. “Golf Chan- John Ourand can be reached at jourand@sports- Follow him on Twitter @
Channel 2.0?’ He talks about the digitization of golf,” nel launched as the first single-sport television Ourand_SBJ and read his twice weekly newsletter.

McCarley said. network. It’s grown to be so much more than that.

A ho-hum FOX SPORTS’ MIKE DAVIES attended CES allegedly installed in a rolling dog toy. AI thin, cleverly roll-able, and, in some cases, Golf Channel
CES? last week. I asked the senior vice president is a necessary and useful moniker for an transparent televisions.”
of technical and field operations for his easily measurable cross-section of the
Fox Sports’ Davies thoughts. He seemed more pessimistic show.” n “The promise (if not the actuality) of
sees little ground- than other reports I’ve seen. 5G was in every corner of the show.”
breaking tech at n “Virtually every display manufacturer
this year’s show. DAVIES: showing 8K televisions truly looks n “While some of these enhancements
n “It’s again a year of overarching impressive — at least with 8K demo at CES 2020 were improvements on things
content as there isn’t any real content we saw in 2019, little was truly ground-
buzzwords at CES. Artificial intelligence is available right now since producers still breaking. The huge exception is the
one of the most used and, perhaps, the are migrating to lesser forms of UHD. Sony robotic cat (with AI), which is a marked
most ambiguous: from human imagery in was a true standout. Other displays improvement over the real thing in every
the form of Neon’s chatbot AI’s to the AI continue evolving the trend of impossibly single way.” — J.O.




Steinberg: Tua will be ready for NFL draft
LABAMA QUARTERBACK Tua Tagovailoa Steinberg has been rep-
should be able to work out for clubs before
this April’s NFL draft and will be picked resenting players since the

1975 NFL draft and has rep-

at the top of the board despite recovering from in- resented eight overall No.

jury, his agent, Leigh Steinberg, said last week. 1 picks, but was out of the

“We certainly expect he’ll be able to do a pro pass- business for several years

ing day and individual team visits — enough for in the early part of the 2010s

draft evaluation,” Steinberg said. “It may not be while he battled legal and

Alabama’s Pro Scouting Day, right? It may be a later financial troubles and alco-

date.” holism. Since relaunching

Steinberg Sports & Entertainment last week in 2015, he’s represented

signed Tagovailoa, who two first rounders — Ma-

had been projected as the homes and Paxton Lynch

potential No.1 pick prior in 2016.

to suffering a hip injury Steinberg will celebrate

that required surgery. NFL 10 years of sobriety in

agents Chris Cabott and March. “My comeback was

Steinberg will represent maintaining my sobriety

him. and being a good father,”

Tagovailoa was flown to Steinberg said. “But it’s

a hospital and underwent been fun and maybe it pro-

surgery after suffering the vides inspiration to any-

BY LIZ MULLEN injury in a Nov. 16 game Leigh Steinberg (right) and agent Chris Cabott will represent Tua Tagovailoa. one out there having tough
against Mississippi State.
Steinberg said the quarterback is recovering well from a hip injury. times to realize a second

Although the news looked act can be just as fun as

grim initially — he was this again, like we did with Mahomes?” referring the first.”

screaming in pain as he was carted off the field to Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs quar-

— doctors expect him to make a full recovery. terback, who was picked No. 10 overall in the 2017 ■ BEGREAT SIGNS NFL DRAFT CLASS: BeGreat

“He was already walking around without crutch- draft. In January 2017, Steinberg was telling people Sports has signed Wisconsin running back Jona-

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Steinberg Sports & Entertainment

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 1 7


next big

Virtually every level
of soccer in the U.S. is
negotiating new labor
deals. Will the sport’s
recent growth pay off
for players?

also seen a dramatic increase in the organization
E NGLISH SOCCER STAR WAYNE ROONEY seems 2019 2009 and sophistication of professional players, who
to have enjoyed his short stay in MLS with have demonstrated that they are committed to work-
D.C. United, particularly the relative ano- Avg. annual salary $371,538 $120,874 ing to secure the rights that they deserve both on
nymity with which he could enjoy a pint or walk $411,996 $133,706 and off the field.”
down the street with his family. Avg. guaranteed
compensation 38.1 67.8 USWNT EQUAL PAY FIGHT
But Rooney openly disdained one aspect of MLS 55.8 91
life: the travel. He publicly highlighted the issue % of players making 6.8 1 In November, just four months after the U.S.
several times during his 13 months in the league, $100,000 or less (base salary) women’s national soccer team won its record fourth
particularly how MLS teams require players to fly 8.3 1 World Cup, U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klaus-
across the country like regular passengers and not % of players making ner ruled in a California courtroom that the team’s
professional athletes. $200,000 or less (base salary) players, who filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer
charging violations of the Civil Rights Act, were
The lack of charter flying is exacerbated by MLS’s % of players making $1 worthy of three class statuses.
enormous geographic footprint, and the players million or more (base salary)
view it as symbolic of the fundamental issues un- One class status would require U.S. Soccer to pay
derlying the ongoing collective-bargaining agree- % of players making $1 its women players equally under the Fair Labor
ment negotiations between MLS and the MLS Play- million or more (guaranteed Standards Act, and means any player who was even
ers Association. compensation) called into a national team camp by the U.S. since
2015 — let alone played in a match — was eligible
“Talk about the league trying to become one of the Source: MLS Players Association for inclusion in the players’ lawsuit. Another class
better ones and increase the quality, this would help seeks damages, including back pay, and the third
that,” said Alejandro Bedoya, a veteran Philadelphia sports, not just soccer. class seeks the prevention of future discrimination. Getty Images
Union player and an active MLSPA member. “That SBJ spoke to people with knowledge of or direct
is something that I believe needs to change. Taking The national team players — not the USWNT
care of the players, the players become a priority.” involvement in all of these situations. They agreed players union — filed the lawsuit last March seek-
that the concurrent labor activity represents a mo- ing relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,
MLS’s CBA negotiations with its players union ment of necessary maturation for pro soccer in the which prohibits gender discrimination by employ-
is one of several active labor situations in Ameri- U.S., though some thought the timing could also be ers and speaks to the players’ experience as a whole,
ca’s professional soccer scene. merely coincidental. Whether it’s coincidence or not just compensation. Court documents highlight-
something bigger, what happens in these scenarios ed, for example, a lack of charter flights for the
The United Soccer League Championship and over the next year will have an immense effect on women’s team compared with its male counterpart.
the USL Players Association are negotiating what the sport’s near-term future in America.
could become the league’s first CBA, while the Na- Two issues are at the heart of U.S. Soccer’s defense.
tional Women’s Soccer League Players Association “The soccer industry in the United States has
is proceeding cautiously, knowing that overly ag- seen historic growth in the last decade, and we ex-
gressive action could bury its fledgling league. pect that growth to continue through and after we
host the 2026 World Cup,” said MLS Players Asso-
No group of American pro soccer players more
aggressively pursued its demands in 2019 than the
U.S. women’s national soccer team, which is tangled
in a lawsuit with the U.S. Soccer Federation over
not only equal pay but equal investment. The
USWNT Players Association’s lawsuit could have
far-reaching implications throughout women’s



Alejandro Bedoya (cen- Norway, Australia and New Zealand already offer four more additions on deck in the coming years.
ter) is among the MLS equal pay to their women’s and men’s national Growth in MLS spurred soaring team valuations

players who have called teams. Whether the U.S. joins that group through — LA Galaxy was the most valuable team in 2008 at
for better travel options. a settlement with its female players or a May trial $100 million, while the Colorado Rapids were the

remains to be seen. least valuable in 2019, at $190 million — and equally

One is that the USWNT MLS PLAYERS WANT enormous fees for expansion teams. The league’s
players union collectively MORE INVESTMENT most recent addition, Charlotte, reportedly paid $325
bargained its current com- million to join.

pensation system, ending Standing before reporters in November ahead of Recent reporting from various outlets has made

up with a different deal the MLS Cup final in Seattle, MLS Commissioner clear that, while many MLS owners don’t turn prof-

than the men’s team play- Don Garber said, “MLS has transformed from a league its, they all receive substantial cuts of profits from

ers, who are paid in bo- on the rise to a league that has arrived as one of the Soccer United Marketing, MLS’s marketing arm,

nuses. In a unique deal, great major leagues in our country, and I think, exists offsetting some of their losses. And players know

U.S. Soccer, which is heav- as one of the top leagues in the world.” that because they’ve done a deep study of the

ily involved with the Members of the league’s players union don’t fully league’s finances as part of the CBA negotiating

NWSL, pays women’s na- agree. During the MLSPA’s 90-minute conference call process.

tional team members who with reporters in November, Foose and players Jeff “We just feel we need more of that revenue share

also play professionally in Larentowicz, Diego Rubio and Bedoya made clear among the players, to see the increased investment

the NWSL base salaries of that the players’ demands are focused on the league into our players, our teams,” said Bedoya.

between $167,500 and truly becoming what Garber said it already is — a The league’s media rights will be up for bid in

$172,500. That payment destination league for players, whether American or the middle of the next CBA’s duration, throwing a

covers their play for both international. challenging wrinkle into current negotiations.

entities. MLS players hold up the char- USL CHAMPIONSHIP “We are continuing our dis-
U.S. Soccer’s second ter flight issue as an example CONTINUES SPAN OF cussions with the MLS Players
of changes needed to reach the Association to finalize a new
argument is that any dif- next echelon. MLS teams can STRONG GROWTH Collective Bargaining Agree-
ference in compensation

stems primarily from the take up to four charter flights No. Teams Teams ment,” MLS President and

vastly different prize per season, but many teams Year teams added lost Deputy Commissioner Mark

money FIFA offers men don’t use any of their four, ac- 2011 12 0 0 Abbott said last week following
and women players in its cording to Foose. 2012 11 0 1 meetings with the union. “We
tournaments. Taking have had many productive meet-
“It isn’t a CBA issue in the 2013 13 2 0

those two points together, other sports and shouldn’t be ings and are scheduled to meet

U.S. Soccer argued that in ours,” said Foose, who has 2014 14 4 3 regularly during the coming

some of its female players been with the players union 2015 24 13 3 weeks. We view these discus-
earned more than their since its 2003 launch. “It is an 2016 29 6 1 sions not merely as transac-
male counterparts over infrastructure issue that is tied 2017 30 3 2 tional, but also as an
the course of the last five to player performance, and, if opportunity to spend time with

years, meaning they we’re going to say that we have 2018 33 7 4 players to talk about ways we

couldn’t be discriminated against. all these aspirations, then this 2019 36 7 4 can together make our league
But Klausner wrote that U.S. Soccer cited no case goes directly to whether or not stronger. Although there are

law to support its premise and said that players’ those are true statements.” Source: Sports Business Journal open issues, both the league and

“injury is concrete.” The players claim the only MLS players also want true research the players association are work-

reason they were paid more during that period is free agency — currently they ing hard to reach agreement.”

because they played 19 more games than their male must be 28 years old and have played eight years
in the league to be eligible for free agency — and a USL SEEKS FIRST CBA

Across the globe, women’s sports entities — es- less complicated player acquisition and compensa- The USL’s voluntary recognition of the newly

pecially those that operate under governing bodies tion system. The players association wants MLS to formed players union in late 2018 was an encourag-

alongside male teams — will be closely watching begin taking the guardrails off its competition, ing initial gesture, according to attorney Steve Gans.

the results of the USWNT players’ action. Finland, allowing clubs to put their teams together how- “Both sides recognized the need to work togeth-

ever they see fit and forcing them er in establishing the league’s first ever collective-

to compete against each other for bargaining agreement,” said Gans, who represents

player signings more than they the USLPA, “and that the implementation of a CBA

currently do. would be mutually beneficial progress for both par-

“We need to stop being a league ties and for soccer in this country.”

where there is over-centraliza- The dissolution of NASL in 2017 left the 33-year-

tion, where there is over-tinker- old USL as king of America’s minor league soccer

ing and where there is this notion hill, and, in January 2019, the USL was recognized

that you design a competitive by U.S. Soccer as the country’s official second-tier

football league in a boardroom league. It was a seminal moment for an organiza-

or by an accounting system,” said tion that in the last eight years has grown from a

Foose. “It needs to be done by the 12-team outfit to its current 36 teams. The USL’s

people who know the game and increased numbers are impressive given that 18

know their franchises.” teams left the league’s top division during that same

MLS’s organizational choices eight-year stretch. Further club additions and sub-

in pursuit of stability have paid tractions are currently in the works.

off. The league’s strategy has The players’ push for unionization and improve-

Getty Images prioritized growth over profit, ments in their working conditions, likely including

evinced in its expansion from 16 a minimum salary floor, and the USL willingly sitting

A fan of the U.S. women’s national team used a World Cup victory celebra- teams in 2010 to the 26 clubs that down with them speaks to the league’s increasingly
tion in New York City last summer to call for equal pay in the sport. will start the 2020 season, with

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 1 9


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19 attendance by more than 20% and bringing major new The state of
American pro soccer
solid footing. Expansion fees now reportedly cost between sponsors into the fold, including Budweiser, following
$5 million and $7 million, a huge jump from the Forbes- labor movements
reported $250,000 it cost to join the league in 2012. the FIFA Women’s World Cup win during the summer.
“The stability of the lower leagues is stronger than It’s currently without a figurehead after league Presi- SOCCER TEAM
it’s ever been,” said Jeremy Alumbaugh, a former ex-
ecutive with the USL’s Saint Louis FC and current dent Amanda Duffy announced last week that she’s After 28 USWNT members last
managing director for Chattanooga FC. year first filed a lawsuit against U.S.
joining the Orlando Pride’s front office. Soccer over unequal pay, among
For the USL, Alumbaugh said a CBA “wasn’t a prior- other complaints, the governing
ity 10 to 15 years ago; the priority was stability and The NWSLPA, which represents the league’s non- body contested the allegations,
longevity of clubs.” saying that the women’s team
national team players (USWNT players have their own collectively bargained its own deal
Unlike MLS, the USL gives its owners more freedom while FIFA’s different payouts for
in how they operate, which helps explain the varying union), formed in 2017 and officially unionized in late men’s and women’s teams played a
degrees of success and failure in the league over the last role in the pay disparity. The lawsuit
decade. A USL CBA could establish baseline standards 2018. Balancing the players’ goals and aspirations with remains in the discovery phase and
for business operations and player compensation and a trial is set for May 5, if mediation
conditions, forcing the weakest franchises to improve. the reality of the league’s still shaky financial footing fails again.

“Anything that’s going to add stability to lower has been one of the group’s biggest challenges. U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL
leagues of play is a positive,” Alumbaugh said. “I think SOCCER TEAM
it’s safe to say it’s going to be good for the game.” “We understand where the league is and stability is
In the shadows of the higher-
It’s appropriate that USL and MLS are engaged in the No. 1 goal for everyone, including us,” said Aver- profile women’s equal pay fight, the
CBA negotiations at the same time, because their futures USMNT has been negotiating a new
are intertwined after signing a player development buch, a former NWSL player and U.S. women’s na- collective-bargaining agreement for
almost a year. The previous CBA
agreement in 2013. Nine MLS clubs’ reserve teams play tional team member. “We want to work with the league expired in 2018, but U.S. National
in the USL Championship, including Real Salt Lake’s Soccer Team Players Association
affiliate, Real Monarchs, which won the USL Champion- as partners and allies in progress and look out for the general manager J Hutcherson said
ship title in November. Three more MLS reserve sides no deal is imminent. USMNT players
play in USL’s League One. MLS reserve players compet- experience of the players and make sure it’s continu- are operating under the expired
ing in the USL are still members of the MLS Players 2018 agreement.
Association and covered under the MLS CBA. ing to grow in terms of financial compensation, profes-
As for USL players, their demands haven’t been fully sionalism and all the things surrounding that. Of the three soccer leagues with
expressed publicly. Gans said only that “the USL is players unions, MLS is the most
currently in receipt of a proposal from the USLPA ad- “But never at the detriment of the league.” successful and its players are likely
dressing the issues most important to players across in the strongest position given the
the USL Championship.” Averbuch said the PA’s input was considered during league’s interest in sustaining the
momentum amid continued
“We’re excited about the progress being made,” USL the crafting of recent changes to player compensation expansion. The two parties’ 2015
spokesperson Ryan Madden told SBJ. “The negotiations CBA expires Jan. 31, and the sides
have been collaborative and communicative through- and acquisition rules that the NWSL were negotiating last week in
out and we’re very much looking forward to the first Washington, D.C. The MLS season
collective-bargaining agreement in league history.” announced in No- is scheduled to begin Feb. 29.

are tempering the players were The USL and USL Players Associa-
Yael Averbuch, co-executive director of the NWSL their goals for not represented in tion are negotiating what would
Players Association, said her group takes a nontradi- added benefits the room when de- become the league’s first CBA. The
tional approach to labor relations. That’s in large part most recent conversations between
because no American professional women’s soccer with the reality cisions were made. the two sides occurred less than a
league has lasted longer than three years until the of the league’s The league raised week ago, Jan. 8-9, in Tampa.
NWSL, which just completed its seventh season. still shaky maximum salaries
finances. to $50,000 (from NATIONAL WOMEN’S
The league had a successful 2019, growing its average SOCCER LEAGUE
$46,200) and mini-
The NWSL is the most peaceful of
mum salaries to $20,000 (from $16,538), the five labor situations in soccer.
The NWSL Players Association has
while inflating the league salary cap taken a nonaggressive approach to
dealing with the league, with the
19.3% to $650,000. The NWSL also common understanding that the
NWSL needs to stabilize before its
introduced allocation money for the players can take any collective
first time, funding available beyond
— Mark J. Burns
the salary cap that teams can use to
pay elite foreign players.

A representative from the NWSL

said “a more flexible cost structure

provides teams with fewer financial

resources the ability to remain competitive, while at

the same time allowing the rules to evolve, which pro-

vides time to assess the impact of the changes, and if

needed, make appropriate adjustments.”

With most American-based women’s soccer players

not making the kind of money usually associated with

professional sports, the NWSLPA at least wants in-

creased life security for its members. So, the group

was pleased to see the NWSL drop its cap on housing

and auto expenses that teams can provide players, end

one-year limits on contracts, and remove restrictions

on the number of guaranteed deals teams can offer.

“Focusing on the players’ stability and their ability

to plan their lives is really huge,” Averbuch said.

Those subtle but important changes become even more

critical as the future of U.S. Soccer’s organizational

and, more critically, financial support of NWSL — the

federation said it had contributed over $18 million to

the league — is becoming less certain. U.S. Soccer’s

contract to manage and operate NWSL was supposed

to wind up by the end of 2019, but the deal has been

extended at least another year, according to NWSL.

“I think of it as kind of like sending your kid off to Getty Images

college,” Averbuch said. “So, it’s a big transition pe-

riod for the league to now move into this next phase,

whatever that looks like.”

2 0 | JA N UA R Y 13-19, 2020



Covering iconic events and athletes or sports business storylines of the past decade, these new releases can fill out your reading list this winter.
By Kody Timmers

No Way But to Fight: Start By Believing: Larry Making of a Miracle: Serena Williams: Tennis An Athletic Director’s
George Foreman and the Nassar’s Crimes, the The Untold Story of the Champion, Sports Legend, Story and the Future of
Business of Boxing Institutions that Enabled Captain of the 1980 and Cultural Heroine College Sports in America
Him, and the Brave Gold Medal-Winning U.S.
By Andrew R. M. Smith Women Who Stopped a Olympic Hockey Team By Merlisa Lawrence Corbett By Robert E. Mulcahy III
Publish date: Jan. 10; Monster Publish date: Feb. 15; Publish date: Feb. 14;
University of Texas Press By Mike Eruzione Roman and Littlefield Publishers Rutgers University Press
By Jon Barry and Dan Murphy with Neal Boudette
Smith lays out the evolution of Publish date: Jan. 14; Publish date: Jan. 28; Harper This account on Williams’ life In this memoir, Mulcahy dives
the Olympic gold medalist and Hachette Books examines her influence on not into his 10 years leading
two-time world heavyweight As the “Miracle on Ice” turns only tennis, but on political and Rutgers University athletics,
champion’s career, tracing his Barry and Murphy detail the 40, U.S. captain Mike Eruzione, cultural issues like feminism, offering insights along the way
path from poverty in Houston stories of the women who who scored the game-winning racism in sports and the on both the history of college
to worldwide fame. fought to gain justice and goal, recounts the Americans’ marketing of female athletes. athletics and the path ahead.
reclaim their sport. legendary upset of the Soviet
Union from his perspective.

Buzz Saw: The Improbable Seven Days in Augusta: Tanking to the Top: The The Back Roads to March: Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask
Story of How the Behind the Scenes at Philadelphia 76ers and The Unsung, Unheralded,
Washington Nationals the Masters the Most Audacious and Unknown Heroes By Jon Pessah
Won the World Series Process in the History of of a College Basketball Publish date: March 24;
By Mark Cannizzaro Professional Sports Season Little, Brown and Company
By Jesse Dougherty Publish date: March 10;
Publish date: March 24; Triumph Books By Yaron Weitzman By John Feinstein Pessah takes a thorough look
Simon & Schuster Publish date: March 17; Publish date: March 3; at the beloved and quotable
Cannizzaro pulls back the Grand Central Publishing Random House Yankees legend, shedding
The Washington Post’s curtain on the crown jewel of more light on the first-
Nationals beat writer chronicles golf’s major tournaments, A look at the worst-to-first plan A deep dive into the lesser- generation immigrant who won
the team’s stunning and giving fans a look at that led the 76ers out of known underdogs, Cinderellas 13 World Series championships
unlikely march to postseason everything ranging from the mediocrity and into the NBA’s and small-time programs that while also becoming a war hero
glory, as seen from inside the par-3 contest to green jacket upper echelon. dream of the NCAA tourney. and cultural giant.
dugout and front office. rituals.

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 2 1


A Champion For Women’s Sports

Sue Campbell is a tireless ambassador for women’s soccer in England. While raising participation rates

in the sport is one goal, the ultimate target is seeing the Lionesses bring home a World Cup trophy.


S UE CAMPBELL, the head of
women’s football for England’s
Football Association, has pre-
sided over a dramatic rise in the

popularity of women’s soccer in the

United Kingdom and still has one im-

portant goal to fulfill: winning a major

trophy with the Lionesses.

When she took on the challenge in

2016, Campbell was given three goals:

double the fan

SUE base; double
CAMPBELL soccer par-
ticipation lev-

n POSITION: Head of els; and win

Women’s Football, the Women’s
Football Association World Cup in
n LOCATION: London
The first
Eaton Grammar School;

Bedford College of two have been
Physical Education; achieved.
University of Leicester Now, Camp-
bell hopes the
Youth Sport Trust;

government adviser; Lionesses can
chairman, UK Sport; eclipse the
head of women’s semifinal they
football, FA reached in


PROFESSIONAL France this haul of medals at the 2012 London ing to watch the women play is a fan- Campbell is a former PE teacher and
ACHIEVEMENT: summer and Olympics. tastic statement where the game has played netball for England.
London 2012 Olympics, win a major gotten to,” Campbell said.
hitting Team Great champion- “Sue was championing the women as the men at the Lioness level, in terms
Britain’s medal target in sport agenda when it was the right Campbell chatted recently with U.K. of sports science, sports medicine.
thing to do rather than the fashionable players about equal pay following news
n BEST BUSINESS ship: the thing to support,” said Andy Sutherd- that women’s players in Australia had “But I think it’s things like commer-
ADVICE: Surround World Cup, en, head of international brand con- struck a landmark deal to earn the cial rights [where there is an issue].
yourself with great the Olympics sulting for Creative Artists Agency. same as their male counterparts. Eng- If a man turns up to do a promotional
people and give them (as part of “A woman of high intellect, integrity land’s top players, Campbell said, are piece for a partner, they get paid an
roots to grow and wings and foresight. Everything running “very realistic” about what can be awful lot more than the women.”
through the veins of female sport has achieved, realizing that men’s soccer
to fly. Team Great her DNA.” in Australia and the U.S., where there The popularity of the women’s game
has also been a push for equal pay, is may be on the rise, but Campbell is
Britain) or the Campbell is enjoying playing a role not the juggernaut it is in England. not standing still.
in raising the profile of women’s soccer.
European Championships. A record crowd of 77,768 watched the “Equal pay is not what they are talk- “I am enjoying it, I wouldn’t want
Lionesses’ match against Germany on ing about; what they are talking about to stop,” she said. “I have always said
England will start as one of the fa- Nov. 9, which Campbell said shows the is equal opportunity,” she said. “They while I have the energy and I can make
game is now at a “tipping point.” want fairness. They believe their sur- a sensible and good contribution, I
vorites for all three. One stumbling roundings are just as good as support will stay. While I can, I will.”
“To have a crowd of that size com-
block to World Cup and Olympic glory John Reynolds is a writer in London.

could be Team USA, the 2019 Women’s

World Cup champions.

Campbell, who spent a year at the

University of Maine, is a big fan of

the American high school system,

which she says “generates great ath-

letes,” contrasting it with the U.K.

school sports system that she says is Bigger than football

in decline. “They [American girls] BARCLAYS LAST YEAR became the first sponsor of the associating yourself with a real iconic brand around girls and
Women’s Super League in a three-year deal worth more women. It’s not just about football, it is bigger than that.
come into sport athletic,” she said. than $13 million, including about $650,000 in prize
money. The Football Association called the deal the “For example, Barclays is interested in this in terms of
Should the Lionesses win a major biggest investment in a U.K. women’s sport by a brand. equality in the workplace, helping to develop more
women though their business. They are in not just for
trophy, it would round out a long ca- Sue Campbell said it goes well beyond the financial football. They are in it for a broader and bigger reason.
reer devoted to sports, education and “I think that has made the partnerships we have gotten
“I think there is a big difference between sponsoring the — and the emerging ones we are getting — really
charity for Campbell. The former PE men’s and sponsoring the women’s game,” she said. “With meaningful. It’s not just somebody coming in branding
the men’s game, you are associating yourself with a very something. It literately is somebody coming in with a
teacher played netball for England at well-established big brand. In the women’s game, you are joint mission to change things. And that makes it very
powerful for us.” — J.R.
the under-21 level, was chairman of

UK Sport (2003-10), has been awarded

Commander and Member of the Order Getty Images

of the British Empire honors for her

work, and played a crucial role in

Team Great Britain winning a record





If you are 50 years old, you were among the first to grow inside
up with dozens of cable channels. If you are 40, you came
of age alongside the internet. If you are 30, you saw the part 1
emergence of the cellphone. If you are 20, your cellphone
has always been a smartphone. If you are 10, you’ll soon use DEMOGRAPHICS, PAGE 24
that smartphone to stream your favorite influencers.
The future audience for
Technology evolves quickly. It changes how we consume sports is diverse, faced
sports, and even who consumes sports — in stadiums and with economic challenges
arenas, at home and in our palms. and willing to ask for what
it wants.
The only thing constant is change. By Bret McCormick

In the pages that follow, we introduce a quarterly DELIVERY, PAGE 28
feature that will examine some of the changes expected
to affect the sports business over the next 20 years. Higher expectations will
In Future Forward, we’ll look at technology, but also drive innovation and
demography. At preferences and aversions. At influences and customization of the fan
ideas. We’ll ask not only how, but who and why. experience, both in-venue
and on-screen.
The series begins as all things do in the sports business, By Eric Prisbell
with the fans, and three D’s that bear particular watching
— demographics, delivery and demand. DEMAND, PAGE 31

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M Millennial and Gen Z fans
create their own game-day
experiences and are loyal to
teams that support and
simplify that process.
By Bill King

JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 2 3



chasing the next
generation of fans

Sports aims to connect with a future audience that is diverse in
thought and ethnicity, challenged by economic turmoil and not
afraid to ask for what it wants. By Bret McCormick

n 2040, members of four that group, many of whom will be empty nesters, sports tent going forward. And it means that the Getty Images / Photo illustraion by Liz Spangler
is the safest bet for traditional sports fan spending. sports industry needs to start winning the fight for
American generations — X, millen- But the three generations that follow will consume young people’s shorter attention spans. Now.
nial, Z and Alpha — will be in, or most of the sports industry’s attention and resourc-
entering, their prime adult spending es in the next two decades. “People don’t just become sports fans when
years. Gen Zers and millennials in they’re adults,” said Menefee, SSRS/Luker on
particular will be between the ages In Menefee’s opinion, one fear should bounce Trends’ executive vice president of strategic intel-
of 31 and 59. Together, those two around the sports industry’s collective thoughts ligence.
groups will make up 41% of the U.S. population; late at night: its struggle to make lasting connec-
only one-third of Americans will be older than mil- tions with young fans. He shared SSRS/Luker on Millennials and Gen Zers’ unprecedented racial
lennials. Trends polling data that shows, among 12- to 34-year- and ethnic diversity, the unique reasons behind
What impact will these generations have on the olds, the percentage of avid fans of the NFL, NBA, their time and resource allocation, and their tech-
sports industry in the next 20 years? Looking at MLB, NHL, college football, college basketball and nology-centric existences will challenge, and shape,
their formative experiences and generally shared pro soccer all dropped in the past 20 years, as much sports business.
behaviors gives clues to some possible answers. as 7% for some sports.
By 2040, Gen Xers will be between the ages of 60 “This Gen Z is going to upend sports,” said Todd
and 75. Sports industry pollster Chad Menefee thinks Fewer young people developing avid fandom Merry, chief marketing officer for Delaware North.
means there are likely to be fewer people in the “Some [in the industry] are going to prosper, and
others are going to have a tougher time.”



generational dna  CHANGING FACE vide tickets to a variety of sporting events, concerts
OF AMERICA  and festivals in the chosen city. Inwego general
A generation is a group of MILLENNIALS manager Chris LeCraw said that 80% of the com-
individuals born in a similar he diversity of the pany’s subscribers are millennials or Gen Zers.
period of time that experienced Born between 1981 and 1996, generations at or approach-
a shared set of formative life millennial childhoods occurred ing adulthood will change “One hundred percent of them tell us they tried
experiences. Sports Business during the economically America during the next two something new that they would never have other-
Journal used widely accepted successful 1990s, but the decades. wise done before,” LeCraw said. “They tell us that’s
definitions of the five most generation came of age during  Nearly half of Gen Z is a racial what they love about it.”
recent generations to look at 9/11, lengthy and costly Iraq or ethnic minority (48%), at least 9%
each generation’s unique DNA. and Afghanistan wars and the more than any other American gen- The increased diversity and global exposure of
— Bret McCormick Great Recession. Millennials eration in history. these generations contribute to their liberal lean-
were the first to grow up with  U.S. Census Bureau statistics ings, according to Brookings’ William Frey. Fifty-
BABY BOOMERS the internet. They also were the from 2017 showed that every age of nine percent of registered millennial voters are,
first to feel the effects of Title IX Generation Alpha is composed of or lean, Democratic, according to Pew Research
Born in the years 1946 to 1964, legislation — millennial girls more minority children than white Center, and even conservative Gen Zers are more
baby boomers are named for the embraced sports participation children, a generational milestone in centrist than older Republicans. Millennials came
period of 18 straight years with from the earliest ages like never the nation’s history. of age as same-sex marriage, marijuana and gam-
elevated birth rates that before.  According to the Brookings In- bling became increasingly accepted or legalized.
followed World War II. Boomers stitution, at least a quarter of millen-
were the first generation to GENERATION Z nials speak a foreign language at home CONTINUED ON PAGE 26
grow up natively with television (compared with 11% of baby boomers
and rock ’n’ roll, and their Gen Zers were born between in 1980), and millennials are three GEN Z’S DIVERSITY
childhoods coincided with 1997 and 2009. Gen Zers are times as likely as boomers to marry
America’s huge postwar complete digital natives and across racial lines. Generation Z will be the most diverse generation in
economic growth. Many most can’t remember life Many millennials and Gen Zers have American history, according to U.S. Census Bureau
boomers came of age during the without smartphones, social a foot in two cultures. Even those who projections. The bureau’s population projections
politically tumultuous 1960s media, fantasy sports, mobile don’t still seem comfortable trying for 2060 say that the fastest-growing racial or
and ’70s, experiencing Civil purchasing or streaming. different things because they have ethnic group in the U.S. during the next four
Rights, assassinations of key They’re more comfortable world views broadened by increasing decades will be people who identify as “two or
political figures, feminism and communicating digitally than in diversity and internet and social more races,” with a growth rate of 200%.
the Vietnam War. person. Gen Zers grew up with media. Sports business is responding
America’s first black president, to that willingness. Merry said that  1968 BABY BOOMERS  1986 GENERATION X
GENERATION X constitutionally backed Delaware North changes menus at its  2002 MILLENNIALS  2018 GENERATION Z
same-sex marriage and stadiums on a weekly basis, almost
Gen Xers were born between increasingly legal marijuana. always including new offerings from 39%
1965 and 1980 and were the first around the globe. 30% 48%
natives of personal computers, GENERATION ALPHA Ticketing is another area where
video games, cable TV and the younger generations’ willingness to 18%
automated teller machine. Born in 2010 or later, this is the try new things can pay off for sports
They’re also the first generation first generation entirely born in properties. Atlanta-based company 40% 30% 20% 10%
to grow up with both parents the 21st century. The oldest Inwego offers monthly subscriptions Source: Pew Research Center
working. Gen X experienced key Alphas will turn 10 years old in in each of seven select cities that pro-
20th century moments of world 2020, so there isn’t much
peace and reconciliation, information about them yet. But
including the dissolution of the they are the first generation in
Soviet Union, the crumbling of history whose parents widely
the Berlin Wall and the end of used mobile device screens as
South African apartheid. But pacifiers. The long-term effects of
economically, Gen X became the that are unknown. Expect Alphas
first generation less well off than to continue accelerating many of
the preceding one. the diversity, education and
technology trends that started
with millennials and Gen Z.



W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M


of Legends World
Younger generations are also cause- ne question could have a big say in Championship opening he tech fluency of
motivated. A Nielsen report on millen- the sports industry’s 2040 health: What ceremony included Gen Z is the defining gen-
nial shopping habits showed that 70% impact will the Great Recession and stu- team introductions, the erational characteristic that
of respondents were more likely to buy dent loan crisis have on millennials’ future unveiling of a five-sided will most affect sports. Gen
from a company that was perceived to financial security and decision-making? That’s Louis Vuitton trophy Xers and millennials are digitally
handle a social issue well. especially important for black and Hispanic mil- case, and a concert savvy, but Gen Zers have only known
lennials, who were disproportionately affected by featuring holograms. a world abundant with digital conve-
What that means in 20 years for sports both, according to Brookings research. nience and entertainment options. A
properties, leagues and broadcasters The Great Recession contributed to what’s been Pew report from 2018 noted that 95%
could make “sticking to sports” a less called millennials’ “slow start.” For much of the of teenagers had a smartphone and
appealing option in 2040. last decade, millennials showed either a reluctance that 45% of them said they were online
or an inability to engage in the big purchases con- almost constantly.
“I think how sports institutions react nected to adulthood. Accordingly, the competition for
and interact with these very racially But the slow start hasn’t stopped them from spend- Gen Z’s attention is unprecedented.
diverse millennials will say not just how ing altogether. Charles Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth A 2017 Think with Google report on
well the sports industry is doing but a Report indicated that 48% of millennials have spent the group said that 71% of 13- to
good barometer of how the country will more money than they can afford to participate in 17-year-olds spent three or more hours
be dealing with its diversity,” Frey said. an experience with friends, while 49% are influenced per day online watching video, and
by social media to spend money on experiences. Both nine out of 10 teens play video games
CHANGING VIEWS figures were higher than Gen Z or the general popu- on either their computers, smart-
lation. The Schwab report also indicated that 61% phones or game consoles, according
Millennials and Generation Z continue of Gen Zers pay more attention to how their friends to Pew.
to liberalize America. Among are spending versus their own saving, and that “This is an audience, which is prob-
registered millennial voters, 59% are, they’re heavily swayed by social media influencers. ably the most highly educated that
or lean, Democratic. And even Expect the sports industry to increasingly play we’ve seen, that has the most informa-
conservative members of Gen Z up the experiential and social aspect of offerings tion at their hands, that has a number
appear more centrist than their over the next two decades. The Atlanta Braves of alternative options for their leisure
Republican counterparts in older hosted several “Selfie Sundays” this season where time available to them,” Watson said.
generations, according to Pew fans were allowed onto the playing field to take self- “And they demand innovation.”
research. As the NFL, NBA and MLS ies with Braves players, and they also let Braves Winning the attention of millenni-
were reminded during the last few players take turns playing DJ during batting prac- als and Gen Zers is the challenge for
years, political and social issues are tice sessions. The players’ music playlists were then the sports industry. But because their
often unavoidable. How sports deal posted on Spotify for fans to access. phones are always in their hands,
with those issues — and what sports As the Braves have found, most Gen Zers would LeCraw said they’re easier for sports
fans expect from their reactions — will rather take a selfie with a pro athlete and share on marketers to reach than previous
be very different by 2040. social media than get an autograph. That’s a good generations. If done well, that could
trend for sports, which is full of social influencers, lead to increased brand exposure over
whether star players or the celebrities sitting (or the next 20 years, crucial for reaching
standing) courtside. a group of people motivated by their
“Sports are going to have to keep up with that digital lives to spend money.
trend,” said Doug Watson, Riot Games head of es- Those same phones can also poten-
ports insights, “otherwise alternative forms of tially provide properties with valuable
entertainment and influencers are going to start data on fans that can be used to tailor
cutting away at the underlying business models.” their experience. The ever-faster pace
of change will make those kinds of
business insights invaluable.
“You can’t stop learning about these
people. This is a constantly changing,
fluid group,” said Delaware North’s
Merry. “We know we have to continu-
ally take the temperature of this group,
understand what they want.”

 DISAPPROVE  APPROVE A Nielsen report on millennials’ consumption habits listed four key
life milestones: having a job, living away from parents, marrying,
GENERATION Z 38% 61% and living with a child. In 1975, 45% of adults ages 25 to 34 had
62% reached all four of those milestones. In 2016, only 24% of 25- to
44% 34-year-olds had reached all four. Great Recession-related
37% economic pressures are often credited with the biggest
contribution to millennials’ later starts to adult life.




Note: Share of respondents who didn’t 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Riot Games
answer not shown.
Source: Pew Research Center Source: Pew Research Center



No part of the sports industry is more TV out of its 2020 advertising budget ‘This is what america is’:
closely linked to Gen Z than esports. entirely shouldn’t come as a surprise. a multiethnic future for sports
Esports offers unprecedented access
to its stars, streams everything, and Instead, the Navy will spend 97% Will sports teams and leagues people all of the time, and not
uses cutting edge technology for viral of its advertising dollars — about still be holding heritage months just a certain time of year. They
moments during big events. In pursuit $33 million — online. The bulk of that — celebrations of specific will recognize themselves,
of younger fans, traditional sports will will be shifted into esports, in which ethnicities, races or countries — connect their values and who
continue to borrow ideas like those from the Navy will become a prominent by 2040? If they are serious they are, and they will see that in
competitive video gaming. sponsor and field a team. Research about reaching America’s how we talk about the league and
showed that the Navy could find its increasingly diverse audiences our clubs.”
Esports was well positioned to ascend target audience — 17- to 28-year-olds over the next two decades, the
because of millennials and Gen Zers’ — in the digital realm. answer will be no. Bruce said cultural fluidity
affinity for video games — 97% of male begins with language. English
teens play video games, according to Lou DePaoli, the New York Mets’ Heritage months are already and Spanish live alongside each
the Think with Google report — but it executive vice president and CRO, out the window at Major League other in many American
will likely grow its position as a cul- knows that Generation Alpha, whose Soccer. The league prides itself households, and in the stands at
tural force in the coming decades be- members have grown up with screens on what it calls cultural fluency, MLS matches.
cause of how it resonates with as pacifiers, are well on their way to evident in its 2019 “Our Soccer”
millennials and Gen Zers in key ways: joining that digital realm, too. campaign. The campaign “Spanglish has been connected
an innovative digital-first product that featured pop singer Prince Royce to contrived marketing,” Bruce
is accessible on demand, on any device, “I have a granddaughter who is and was voiced in English, said. “But if you go into any of our
and inexpensively; that’s full of cultur- 2 1/2, and I’ve seen her — this was at Spanish, French and Spanglish (a stadiums, any of our dressing
ally influential star players; and that’s a year and a half — pick up my daugh- mix of Spanish and English). rooms, you will hear Spanish and
played/watched/discussed by a diverse ter’s iPhone and she knows instinc- English being thrown together in
and global audience. tively when a notification comes in, to “The way we look at it comes the same sentences. So, we’re
flick it up to get it off the screen,” from this idea of what North able to weave the two languages
So, recent news that the U.S. Navy, DePaoli said. “So, 20 years from now, America is becoming,” said together.”
just two years removed from spending when she’s maybe working in profes- David Bruce, MLS’s senior vice
$20.2 million on TV advertising, cut sional sports, or is an athlete or just a president of brand and Soccer’s global appeal
fan, what’s it going to be for her?” integrated marketing. “It is positions it to thrive in a more
younger, it is more diverse, it is diverse America. The same could
SMARTPHONE GENERATION more connected to the world. As be true for a sport like baseball,
a result of that, our sport and our which has a hugely international
Generation Z is the first digital native generation in American history. As such, league is a reflection of where player pool, but a fan base that
many of the generation’s members have never known life without smartphones, America and Canada are going.” hasn’t reflected that diversity.
social media and mobile purchasing. Gen Z’s ability to quickly learn and
understand new technology, a skill shared by millennials and many in MLS intentionally picked Adrian Williams is trying to
Generation X, should encourage the sports industry to hit the gas on tech and culturally fluid influencers like change that in Atlanta. He’s the
digital innovation during the coming decades. Prince Royce, born in the Bronx Braves’ senior director of
and of Dominican descent, and diversity and community
A Think With Google report looked at three different age brackets in Miguel, who is African American marketing, becoming the first
2017; at what average age did each group receive their first smartphone? with a Mexican parent. Those person in MLB with such a job
choices show the kinds of people title when he was hired three
AGE BRACKET IN 2017 13 to 17 18 to 24 25 to 34 that MLS wants to include in its years ago. Of all Williams’
tent. projects, the Braves’ Hispanic-
 AGE WHEN FIRST 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 focused sub-brand “Los Bravos,”
SMARTPHONE “This is what America is,” launched in 2017, has been
ACQUIRED Bruce said. “We pitched a especially successful.
position to build our brand so
Source: Think With Google report on Generation Z from 2017 that it’s able to speak to these The Braves’ Spanish-language
social media accounts led all of
 Merchandise around the  Los Bravos, launched in MLB in growth and engagement
Braves’ Los Bravos Hispanic- 2017, has helped spur Spanish- since last May, according to
focused sub-brand is among the language engagment across the Williams, and Los Bravos
MLB club’s bestsellers. Braves’ social media accounts. merchandise is among the club’s
top-sellers, thanks to interest
Atlanta Braves (2) from all types of people, not just
Hispanics. Ticket packages for
2019 games with Los Bravos
activations were some of the
organization’s top sellers.

“You saw this true embrace of
culture and people coming
together to learn and understand
about the Latino community,”
Williams said. “Why? Because
their favorite players are Latino,
they see their favorite players
wearing Los Bravos gear and so it
became kind of this safe space for
connections between cultures
and communities.” — B.M.

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 2 7



relying on a
tech turning point

Expectations of future generations will drive sports to innovate,
customize and broaden the fan experience, whether it’s in venue
or on the screen. By Eric Prisbell

n dec. 12, more than 70,000 enhance their experience in venues, in living rooms fans are going to come to expect: optionality and NBAE/Getty Images / Photo illustraion by Liz Spangler
fans at M&T Bank Stadium mar- and anywhere else they choose to consume sports. customization.”
veled at what appeared on video
screens during a Baltimore Ra- Over the next two decades, technology will emerge Sports technology of the future will take shape
vens Thursday night home game: to fit the habits of what will be the two most im- at the same time teams and leagues across almost
a giant digital image of a raven portant generations in the sports economy: millen- all sports confront significant headwinds in their
soaring through the air and then nials and Generation Z. Through interviews with ability to attract fans to live events. Amid declining
sitting atop the goal post crossbar. When shared on more than a dozen league and team executives and attendance numbers across several sports, namely
social media, the Ravens’ video of the feature sports technology innovators, one consensus crys- college football and MLB, technology — and perhaps
amassed nearly 4 million views. tallized about what to expect from sports technol- a giant digitized raven flying around stadiums is
Is the Ravens’ mixed-reality display a preview ogy in 2040: Increased personalization and a start — is expected to play a large role in counter-
of how sports fans’ world of tomorrow will be trans- engagement will be at the heart of what fans will ing that trend.
formed? seek and receive — all in real time.
As technology continues to evolve at a rate that “We have to make sure that whatever we are of-
accelerates each year, 5G cellular networks — which “The themes are choice and customization,” said fering on TV for the viewer at home, that we are
enable delivery of large amounts of data at aston- Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president of offering close to that experience in the ballpark,”
ishing speeds — and artificial intelligence promise strategy, technology and innovation. “We are going said Lou DePaoli, the New York Mets’ executive
to unlock previously unimagined doors for fans to to move away from a world where there is one way vice president and CRO. “Or you’re just going to
to consume the product to a world where there are see people say, ‘Why would I go when I could just
10 to 20 ways to consume the product. That’s what stay home?’”



 A REASON TO SHOW UP  But there is a fine line separating cool and gim-  ACCESS TO INFORMATION 
micky. As Whitney Wagoner, director of the Warsaw
everal teams, especially in baseball, Sports Marketing Center at the University of Or- fter growing up with social media
have already begun to think creatively, egon, succinctly notes: Gen Zers “can see through and mobile devices, Gen Zers are not en-
trying to appeal to younger generations bull.” thused about one-size-fits-all experiences.
by offering ticket packages that give fans They already consume sports differently.
access to more varied social experiences in ven- “They are really skeptical about brands and hate Jim Cavale, the founder of INFLCR, which helps
ues. Offering more communal in-venue experi- inauthenticity,” she said. “They are digital first but build brands for college athletes and college ath-
ences is a step in the right direction but likely they have a really sensitive BS meter.” letic programs through social media, added that Gen
not enough. Z sports fans are much less likely to spend three
Technology for fans in stadiums needs to catch The Dallas Cowboys earned positive reviews for hours attending or even watching live broadcasts
up, and teams know it. early experimentation with AR potential after AT&T of one entire sporting event. They are much more
The Mets, for instance, have had several discus- rolled out its 5G wireless network at AT&T Stadium likely, he said, to follow it in real-time on social media.
sions the last few years with augmented reality in February. Fans who attended Cowboys home The younger the generation, the more they seek a
vendors. DePaoli said he watched the Ravens’ ani- games this season were able to participate in AR one-stop shop for all information needs. Ask Don
mated mixed-reality showcase with great interest. scenarios that placed them beside their favorite White, the co-founder of the AI-powered engagement
And he noted that in March an augmented reality player by using a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smart- platform Satisfi Labs in New York, whose own children
display of a wyvern — a mythical dragon-like crea- phone. always want to know why virtual assistant Siri doesn’t
ture — appeared on the world’s largest LED baseball have every possible answer and why they have to ask
scoreboard in a Korean Baseball Organization sta- 5G, and the technology that it empowers, is going any human any question when they attend games.
dium. While clearly innovative, it is just the begin- to give fans a reason to return en masse to venues “One comment was, ‘How come when I’m home,
ning of AR possibilities that will aim to both at some point, said Blake Davidson, the founder I know what’s going on, and how many points that
entertain and inform fans. of Charlotte-based Game Seven Partners, which guy has and that he is 10 steals away from a record
“The pitcher is doing his thing and the crowd is works with brands on strategy and business de- but when I’m next to you at the game, I don’t know
engaged with the dragon. OK,” DePaoli said. “If velopment. all of that?’” White said. “Why is information pushed
that is what it takes to get younger fans involved, to the viewing audience and not to the live audience?”
I think the key is not just to have a dragon flying “You have to make it a really special experience,” The same applies for instant replay reviews. Fans
in, but at some point, how do you use it to augment Davidson said of executives’ challenge to bolster in the stadium often are the last to see the definitive
the actual experience of the game? I think that will attendance in the future. “We are going to be in a camera angle that home viewers have access to.
be very important.” world where you’re either looking through glasses
that are really easy to use, or some other device, CONTINUED ON PAGE 30
and you’re going to see a lot of data and different
things that enhance the overall experience.”

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 2 9


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29  Through mixed-reality streaming, here’s a contrarian view. The late iconic former NBA
technology, the Baltimore Commissioner David Stern said in a lengthy September interview
Technology is expected to change that. Imagine a future sports Ravens created the image with Sports Business Journal that, while society’s current focus
world where a smartphone — even without use of an app — will of a giant raven soaring is on streaming and what’s possible on mobile, innovation will
be capable of providing a multitude of information and video over M&T Bank Stadium eventually lead to the return of the so-called Big Screen.
with a simple voice command, and do it immediately, far beyond on Dec. 12. The video
what virtual assistants can do today. was a hit on social media. “Why are we busy with these second-screen experiences — how
about the first screen?” Stern said. “8K in a 70-inch LG Samsung,
By 2040, Luke Ritchie, head of XR & Interactive Arts for Nexus Sony, whatever? My God. Maybe I’m a captive to my history, but
Studios, believes fans may be accustomed to wearing contact why would I want to watch the NBA Finals on my iPhone when I
lenses or light eyewear while attending games. The eyewear, he can watch them on my 72-inch, Dolby surround-sound connected
said, would enable fans to not only see enhanced data and graph- TV? It’s going to come back. The pendulum is going to swing.”
ics, but it will be personalized to their preferences, much like
Instagram photo filters. Regardless of screen preference, one innovation that MLB’s
Marinak foresees is artificial intelligence and machine learning
“It will render high-end graphics over a 5G connection — that’s taking home-viewing fans from game to game each night. Press
reasonable,” he said. “And there is no reason that as fast as you a play button and let a computer decide what live action to show
get a broadcast TV replay, that you can’t project on the left side you because it knows you’re a New York Yankees fan or a Mike
of your eye the replay that you want to see. The in-home experi- Trout fan or a lover of bases-loaded situations in any game.
ence will be brought into the stadium experience.”
In the sports world of tomorrow, technology will customize
White is looking forward to the day when you can tackle your the experience to suit fans’ preferences.
entire pregame checklist while driving to a game (or relaxing in
a self-driving car) with the help of a virtual assistant: Order ahead “It’s more personalized highlights, more personalized overlays
for your kids to eat at the stadium and have food arrive when they and packages depending on how avid of a fan you are and how
get seated; buy groceries to arrive at your house when you return; much data and information you want when you’re watching a
upgrade your tickets to club-level suites and even improve your game,” Marinak said. “Viewers can pick what is most compelling
parking spot after receiving an alert that one lot is already full. for them, and you can extrapolate that over the long run to be a
truly personalized experience with dozens and dozens of options
The virtual assistants, White said, “will be your remote controls so that you can consume the content in a way that’s most compel-
for life.” ling for you.”


hen fans watch games at home, either streaming
on a secondary screen or on a large primary screen, the
key will be personalization. From graphic overlays on
telecasts to a seemingly infinite array of camera angles
to the ability to choose or even be your own broadcaster and at-
tract a following, the only limitation will be fans’ imagination.
Already, NBA TV offers a streaming option to watch games
that include commentary by influencers. What’s more, Second
Spectrum’s player tracking technology is providing fans with
statistical overlays.
As the NBA’s director of programming and content strategy,
Sara Zuckert believes 5G will unlock a “whole world of oppor-
tunity to us related to the telecast.” In the summer of 2019, the
NBA for the first time delivered a broadcast provided entirely
by smartphone cameras using 5G mobile technology and enabling
new camera angles to capture on-court action.
As 5G continues to be rolled out, “you’re going to have the
incredible ability to create really amazing sports viewing expe-
riences that you can take anywhere,” said Jeff Gerttula, execu-
tive vice president and GM of CBS Sports Digital. “It will just
be really easy to watch whatever you want to watch wherever
you are. The quality of the stream is going to be at a level that
we really can’t comprehend.”
For those who believe that the future belongs exclusively to


Anyone who saw the Baltimore Ravens’ video of a giant bird circling M&T Bank Stadium could be forgiven for hoping the crowd survived the experience unscathed

— except that the massive black raven swooping around the venue was a mixed-reality creation and didn’t actually exist. The bird was shown on the stadium’s video

boards throughout the Ravens’ Dec. 12 game and in videos posted on the team’s social media accounts that night. The NFL team worked for several months on the

project with the California-based fan experience company Famous Group and it made quite the splash once revealed to the wider world.

258,000  VIEWS  ENGAGEMENTS Source: Baltimore Ravens






fueling interest
on their terms

Millennial and Generation Z sports fans are creating their own
game-day experiences and showing loyalty to teams and leagues
that support and simplify that process. By Bill King

Getty Images / Photo illustraion by Liz Spangler can the stands behind the goal but gathering several nights a week to create the giant the 5,000 seats behind the goal, where fans not only
at Mercedes-Benz Stadium during tifo artwork that they then raise in the stands. Foo- choose the supporters group that they most close-
an Atlanta United game and you will tie Mob is as much about Atlanta culture — food, ly identify with, but also have a say in their experi-
find the requisite accoutrements of drink and social life — as it is soccer, welcoming the ence on match days.
a soccer supporters group — drums, casual fan who may be new to the game. The Faction
horns and, of course, scarves in is the family-friendly supporters group, with a pre- “That concept of organically generating energy,
various combinations of the club’s red, black and game tailgate sectioned off from the rest. with the fans leading vs. us telling them what to
gold, stretched wide and held high. do, I think that ties back to something that really
All MLS clubs have at least one recognized sup- Chief among the reasons Atlanta United has resonates with that millennial or Gen Z audience,”
porters group. Most have several. Atlanta has four. obliterated MLS attendance records, averaging said Catie Griggs, Atlanta United’s vice president
Terminus Legion was the first of them, born even about 52,000 fans per game since inception, is its of business operations. “They don’t want to be told
before MLS chose the city for expansion. Resurgence appeal among millennials, who make up about 25% what to do. They don’t want to be told when to cheer.
prides itself as being the rowdiest and most commit- of the city’s metro population. They tend to be the They’ve got very strong opinions about that — be-
ted, not only chanting and singing and waving scarves, club’s most avid fans. lieve me, they share them.

For the reason behind that, look no farther than CONTINUED ON PAGE 32

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 3 1



“This is something where they have a sense of ownership and Despite the increase in the number of FBS schools from 120 in 2010 to 129 in 2018, and a
pride. They believe this is their team — and not because most 7.6% increase in the number of home games over that period, overall attendance
of them grew up supporting us, because they didn’t. It’s because decreased by 1.9% and average attendance dropped by 8.9%.
they truly believe that they are part of what makes this team
special. And I agree with them.” TOTAL ATTENDANCE (DOWN 1.9%)
There may be no better example of a sports fan experience
built to suit a millennial or Gen Z fan than the way that support- 34m
ers members buy their season tickets. Of the 5,000 seats reserved
for them — the most of any stadium in MLS — 3,400 are general 32m
admission. That means friends can sit together, regardless of
whether they buy their seats together, whether as a group of 30m 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
four or a dozen.
Five hours down I-75 from Atlanta in Gainesville, University 46k
of Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin has taken notice of
the culture of soccer supporters groups and the ticketing and 44k
game operations approach that clubs take with them.
Like many major college football programs nationwide, Flor-
ida has seen a decline in student attendance, a development that 40k 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
would shock those who remember students packing into every
last seat available for decades. NO. OF GAMES PLAYED
Only 20 years ago, the Gators regularly filled 21,500 seats held
for students. Now, they hold 18,000 and often end up with 2,500 800
unsold. And even the sold tickets do not all translate to filled
seats: Students arrive late and leave early with increased fre- 750
700 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
With a winning team, a high-caliber opponent, a convenient
kickoff time and good weather, they will show up in numbers Note: At home stadiums only (excludes neutral site games). Attendance data separating 2019 neutral-site Getty Images
and on time and stay through the end. But they have little toler- games from home stadium games had not been released by the NCAA as of press time.
ance when those variables are short of ideal. Source: SBJ analysis of NCAA data

“They may show up in the second quarter and leave in the
third quarter,” Stricklin said. “They came. They got scanned.
But they’re on to other things. It has not held their attention.
They have no fear of missing out and they move on. They don’t
feel like they’ve missed anything.”

We point out Florida’s dilemma not because it is in worse shape
than others in this regard, but because it has become typical,
even at the nation’s elite football schools. The alumni and gen-
eral seating sections remain much as they have been, a product
embraced by baby boomers and Generation Xers and at least
tolerated by millennials, so long as the Wi-Fi works.

But for today’s students, who have never known a time in which
they didn’t carry the internet in their palms, expectations have

“We need to be creative about how our student section is laid
out,” Stricklin said. “The old worst seats in the house, cram
them in — I’m not sure that works anymore. You go to a soccer
game and they have these cheering sections that have a differ-
ent vibe. They’ve got something cool there and it’s not the same
as where everybody else is sitting. To me, that’s the future of
the student sections — those supporters areas at the soccer


illennials and gen zs together will make
up 41% of the U.S. population in 2040, according to
census projections. Based on life stage and work stage,
they will be expected to drive the majority of the sports
To anyone who has paid attention to the progression of mil-
lennials and the older cohort of Gen Zs as sports fans and con-
sumers up until now, this may be cause for concern.
Social scientist Rich Luker began polling U.S. sports fans on
avidity, consumption habits and a range of other matters 25 years
ago with what became the ESPN Sports Poll and is now known
as SSRS/Luker on Trends Sports Poll, creating what is the deep-
est treasure trove of fan data available. In 2010, as the internet



began its rapid migration from the came because they watched 8% fewer games and TURNKEY SPORTS POLL
home to the palm, Luker began to no- 6% fewer minutes per game, averaging 1 hour, 12
tice sizable shifts in aspects of fandom minutes. The following are results of the
that had been relatively consistent Turnkey Sports Poll taken in
previously, particularly among teens. That predilection for smaller portions could December. The survey covered more
provide a road map for sports properties as they than 2,000 senior-level sports
The youngest fans always have mi- search for ways to secure their fan bases. Anoth- industry executives spanning
grated from favorite sport to favorite er key may lie in the manner in which the sports professional and college sports.
sport, and that continued, with soccer and media industries convert interest into revenue,
and competitive video games showing said McKinsey partner Dan Singer. What is the biggest challenge
increasing popularity. But for the first for sports leagues as they build
time, the poll showed a decline in avid- McKinsey found that millennial sports fans re- strategies to engage the fan of
ity for sports in general. ported using streaming sites and apps for sports the future?
content almost twice as much as their Gen X pre-
It set off an alarm that Luker has decessors, a trend that has accelerated even more COST OF ATTENDING LIVE SPORTING
been sounding ever since. for Gen Z. Both also are more inclined to express EVENTS
their fandom by interacting with content on social
“At the most basic level, people tend media. The fact that they aren’t likely to watch as 43%
to start off the most interested they’ll much sports doesn’t mean they see themselves as
ever be in sports in middle school or less committed fans. TIME COMMITMENT TO ATTEND LIVE
late elementary school and then it SPORTING EVENTS
declines over time,” said Chad Mene- “What I’m saying is I think the biggest [question]
fee, executive vice president of stra- in the industry is less about how often and how 27%
tegic intelligence at SSRS/Luker on much consumption there will be digitally,” Singer
Trends. “The fact is, there are fewer said, “and more about how quickly we can monetize DECLINE IN LIVE TV VIEWING HABITS
people who are interested in sports that engagement.”
at the earliest ages. So there are like- 16%
ly to be fewer people in the tent going All of this makes one wonder what will happen
forward.” as Gen Zs enter the workforce and have children, RISE OF ESPORTS AND OTHER
and millennials advance into the life stage that NONTRADITIONAL SPORTS
The consequences of that shift have traditionally has fueled the sports economy and
been increasingly visible. High school set up the next generations to do the same. 7%
sports participation dropped last year
for the first time in 30 years, following As an associate athletic director at Arizona State DECLINING YOUTH SPORTS
a pattern of decline in youth sports and the University of Texas and now as a consultant PARTICIPATION RATES
in the last decade. Those who do be- to college programs across the country, Steve Hank
come fans are less inclined to watch developed a practice of segmenting fans in college 7%
entire games on TV or show up and stadiums, encouraging programs to survey alumni,
 Student attendance stay for entire games when they get students and fans and then tailor varied game-day Which of the following 50+
at Florida’s Ben Hill to college. experiences that cater to the different segments. mainstream sports leagues
Griffin Stadium is not as is most popular among the 52%
automatic as it once was. A recent McKinsey analysis of “The experience for the student needs to be dif- following age groups?
 Fewer youngsters Nielsen data showed that while NFL ferent than the experience for the alumni, which
are developing a love viewership among millennials de- needs to be different from the casual fan, and you 13-17 18-34 35-49
of sports, leading to clined 9% during the 2016-17 season, need to present and program all of those differ-
questions about how the number of millennial viewers ently,” said Hank, who is working with UF to rede- NFL 13% 38% 77%
teams and leagues will actually increased by 2%. The decline sign its game-day experience. “We can either adapt
respond when those and build our experiences to that or stick our heads NHL 3%
children become adults. in the sand and say we don’t understand. If we do NASCAR 2%
the latter, and some of that has occurred, it will MLS
have severe consequences for franchises and uni-
versities moving forward.” 21%

Atlanta United has the benefit of self-identified MLB 4% 6%
supporters clubs who help craft the experience at NBA 3%
its games. But it also drills down beyond that, con- 9%
ducting surveys after each game, collecting 800 to 3% 5%
2,000 responses. 40%

Getty Images “The reason we are seeing ongoing success is we 2%
really do listen to our fans’ feedback,” Griggs said. 5%
“We’re making changes on that and communicating 9%
to them that we’re changing.
57% 41% 7% 3%
“Not only pretending to listen to your fans, but
truly listening and then closing the circle and let- Source: Turnkey Intelligence in
ting them know ‘We did this because of you’ goes conjunction with Sports Business
a long way. Everyone wants to be heard. And with Journal. Turnkey Intelligence specializes
these younger generations, there’s an expectation in research, measurement and lead
to be heard in a way that didn’t exist before.” generation for brands and properties.
Hank pointed to surveys and focus groups as the
driving force behind the massive Bevo Blvd. fan
fest that updated the game experience at Univer-
sity of Texas home football games.

“If you don’t build the relationship and start
speaking to each of them in terms that are relevant
to them today,” Hank said, “you’re going to have a
very hard time engaging them in 20 years.”

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 3 3


New ‘campuses’
would prioritize
female athletes

I F YOU LOOK AT athletic schedules, you’ll probably see a pat-
tern: Boys’ and men’s teams get the most popular time slots.
Meanwhile, girls’ and women’s teams often practice and
play at earlier, less desirable hours. One more thing you might

notice: At the college level, it’s not uncommon for women’s teams

to play and practice in smaller, older facilities. Meanwhile, the

men get bigger, newer, better equipped facilities. At the pro level,

women’s teams often struggle to find homes that fit their fan

bases and their budgets.

“In most contexts, whether it’s high school, college or profes-

sional, girls and women are typically perceived as second-class

citizens,” said Nicole LaVoi, co-director of

BY SHIRA the Tucker Center for Research on Girls &
SPRINGER Women in Sport at the University of Min-

When men’s sports are the priority, it sends

a damaging message. And that message per-

petuates the culture, system and larger narrative around wom-

en’s sports: They’re less important, less worthy of your time

and investment. All of this is familiar territory. It happens with

the many inequalities in women’s sports, whether you’re talking

pay or broadcast schedules or game times or facilities.

What can be done about it? Similar to activist investors, can

activist women’s sports fans come together and create change?

There’s a group in Greater Boston that thinks so. They may be

on to something. It’s too early to judge the group’s business fan support of women’s teams (SheIS) or
sports organizations that equally promote
The group is called Sports for Women. The group’s goal is plan. But what about the potential impact women’s teams under the same ownership
(Portland Thorns).
ambitious: Create a national network of sports campuses pur- of its big idea and its big-swing approach?
Imagine, maybe a decade from now, a
posely built for women’s teams and players. The state-of-the-art Facility-related issues in women’s sports dozen campuses dedicated to women’s
sports with a variety of fields and state-of-
facilities will make female athletes the priority. The athletic are symptoms of a larger cultural and sys- the-art equipment. The optics alone would
be powerful. Then, there’s the potential
facilities will be available to athletes of all levels from recre- temic problem. Can you change the system impact on the field and on revenue. It’s a
simple equation: More and better facilities
ational to high school to college to pro. The planned centerpiece by going after the symptoms and chipping for female athletes lead to more and better
training opportunities lead to better ath-
of each campus is a stadium designed to best accommodate away? LaVoi understandably voiced caution letes lead to better competition lead to a
bigger draw for teams and fans lead to more
women’s pro sports teams. about the plans on those revenue generated.

The idea for Sports for Women was in- “We’ve got to drive grounds. Shorter term, it’s important to recognize
spired by the downfall of the Boston Break- our own bus. We need “The real root of the the driving force behind Sports for Women.
ers. The women’s pro soccer team folded The activist fan, not just the activist athlete,
in early 2018, in part because it struggled to build a different problem is that sport has may be the way of the future. Sure, not every
been constructed for fan has the time and resources to start an
organization. But the more people coming
to find a stadium that was the right size sports economic men, by men, and run by up with different ideas, trying different tacks,
and the right price. Kate Painter, the found- model for women.” men,” LaVoi said. “Until the better.
er and CEO of Sports for Women, was a we address that systemic
That’s particularly true when it comes to
Breakers fan. Frustrated by what happened problem, we could have loyal women’s sports fans who are as much
on the front lines as the athletes. Or, at least,
with the team, she wanted to do more than mourn its disap- a lot of great ideas, but they’re not going to they should be.

pearance. get any traction because the system is set up Shira Springer ([email protected]) covers

Painter has created a small leadership group and an advisory for us to fail.” stories at the intersection of sports and society

board that includes business and sports executives. The group That’s frustratingly true. But it shouldn’t for programs on NPR and WBUR, writes a

has lined up supporters, too, ranging from women’s pro leagues stop groups from trying different cures. If column on women’s sports for the Boston

to a Boston-area car service. The leaders are looking for 100 or Sports for Women or any other organization Globe and teaches journalism at Boston

more acres of land where they can build the New England cam- wants to try, then more power to them. Rais- University.

pus. They see the multipurpose campuses generating revenue ing awareness, finding a platform, bringing

by charging teams to play, practice and take classes there. more people into the conversation and creat-

“What we see with this campus is an opportunity to poten- ing women-first optics are always important

tially build something that derives revenue and creates a sports steps toward change. Potentially, Sports for

economy for women,” Painter said. “The whole point is to take Women can do all that.

that revenue and put it back into women’s sports directly, rath- There are some good examples where

er than filter it through someone else who’s driving the bus. symptom-based strategies make an impres-

We’ve got to drive our own bus. We need to build a different sion, if not a small impact on the larger cul-

sports economic model for women.” ture. Think about athletic apparel companies

Sports for Women is ambitious. It’s also very early in the con- focused exclusively on female athletes

cept building process, never mind the actual building process. (Oiselle) or organizations that work for more



The coming sports DTC squeeze play

C ABLE NETWORKS have provided material, the NHL, NFL and NBA come up in the next five main relevant — though at the risk of loosening
growing rights fees and mass exposure for years, two things will happen: its negotiating leverage. At the same time, teams
major sports properties for decades, col- can attract, and better serve, new-age “never”
1. Recognizing that sports is the linchpin (tenu-

lectively establishing sports’ supremacy within to- ously) holding pay TV together, the “must-have” fans who wouldn’t even consider becoming virtu-

day’s programming bundle. However, MVPD major pro leagues will strike especially aggressive al MVPD subs.

subscriber counts continue falling, and despite ris- rights fee increases from existing media compa- The new DTC offering is a differentiated product,

ing per-subscriber fees to counteract the circula- nies. which provides the team with a direct business re-

tion decline, the available revenue won’t remain as 2. The pro leagues will morph their offerings, lationship with the majority of fans that aren’t

robust as originally anticipated when the current continuing to offer “traditional” linear coverage, ticket or traditional cable buyers, helps them ce-

slate of deals were consummated. Sports rights while adding co-branded or sport-branded apps, ment their relationship in a way that is impossible

holders therefore will need to reconsider how best packages or platforms, which go beyond the his- via a three-step intermediated RSN (team/net-

to deploy their content assets as the “squeeze play” torical one-way delivery mechanism, and create work/distributor/fan). With growing wholesale

ensues: The most powerful few rights holders take added engagement, social, and business integra- network pricing, RSNs find attaining high penetra-

an even larger share of rights revenue in upcom- tion to new audiences. tion from MVPDs more challenging. As the pene-

ing deals; while the media environ- But what will be left for remaining tration falls, these new combination opportunities

ment bifurcates and virtually BY ED DESSER rights holders, after the powerful will start to look more attractive to teams, while
everyone else finds that neither the AND JOHN KOSNER few make their next set of deals? permitting RSNs to moderate rate growth. Of
money they hoped for, nor the full dis- course, RSNs are loath to allow buy-arounds.
The answers might come first local-

tribution they’re used to, remains. ly. Here, we expect high-level team af- This new world will provide significant busi-

Cable gained favor over traditional finity, combined with the changing ness opportunity for streaming companies, app

telecasts as it reached majority penetration de- economics and ownership of RSNs in the Sin- developers and performance marketers. Staring

cades ago, and the “dual revenue stream” enabled clair/Amazon era (Amazon just bought part of into this coming, grinding, fundamental change,

it to outbid broadcasters for live sports rights. But YES for a seat at this table), to accelerate adoption rights holders would be wise to start thinking

as cable’s penetration flags, and broadband cover- of new models. For example, imagine if a team through their new models now. Just as they have

age grows, rights holders are confronted with a sold its traditional rights to an RSN (or ironically had to confront digital ticketing, the secondary

new choice between revenue and reach. They must a broadcaster), but then also launched (or part- market, and demand for new types of in-venue

seriously consider hybrid approaches to reach nered with its RSN to create) a new team-devoted congregating spaces, teams will now face churn

both traditional viewers and engage younger “ca- premium OTT product which combines game and piracy. Making the new economic media

ble-never” fans. And not

just cable, but also the op- What will be left for remaining rights holders, after the powerful
portunity of wide broad-
few make their next set of deals?
band reach, apps/sites
favored by audiences under

30 (like Twitch and You-

Tube) and direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings. Yes, feeds, additional cameras/angles/replays, with a models work will require ongoing marketing,

today’s 65%-75% cable network penetration of TV live stats feed, integrated betting, social interac- new offers and tailored packaging. In this “new

homes is still acceptable to most sports properties tion with other under 30-something fans, a special normal” of ADD fans, unlimited quality non-

when coupled with superior rights fees, but once team event, merchandise, and game tickets only sports competition, and changing fan expecta-

that drifts closer to half or less over the coming de- for these new digital “fan club” subscribers tions, that’s the way to still thrive in a world

cade, it will become necessary to re-slice the rights across innovative forms of mobile (e.g., a tighter where only the strong survive.

“salami.” play-by-play shot), and direct home video distribu-

This has already begun to occur, as the NFL of- tion. Though the RSN might pay less (like MVPDs Ed Desser is president of consulting firm Desser

fers “Thursday Night Football” on broadcast do for nonexclusive network affiliates that are Sports Media Inc. ( John Kosner is

(Fox), pay TV (NFLN) and streaming via Yahoo, also available free over-the-air via antenna), it is president of Kosner Media LLC, a sports and digital

Amazon Prime, and Twitch platforms. Baseball confronting falling subs and increasing price re- consulting company (

has added a package on YouTube (formerly on sistance from MVPDs, and therefore needs to find Together they ran the NBA’s media operations in the

Facebook). We believe as national packages like some economies like nonexclusive rights to re- ’80s and ’90s.

Writer’s candid story shines light on kind gestures

I RECENTLY READ [staff writer Ben Fischer’s] thank window where they can take their mind off of their being associated with and involved in sports and
to have a platform to impact others. His letter
you letter that ran in the Dec. 16-22 issue struggle and enjoy a life experience. touched me by letting me know that creating
normalcy for someone may make life a little less
of SBJ, and I wanted to thank him for How you Admittedly, there are times when I have scary.
sharing his (and Mandy’s) personal story. see it wondered if this gesture (which seems
trivial in the grand scheme of things — after It was great to read the news that Mandy is in
Since 2006, I have worked with the remission.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to all, the battle on the field is only a game Please thank Ben, again, for being so open with
his readers. His story impacted this one.
invite a family who is dealing with cancer and does not compare to the real world
Don Smolenski
in their life to every Eagles home game. I provide battle of cancer) was meaningful. President, Philadelphia Eagles

them with 50-yard-line tickets, two sideline Ben’s thank you letter reminded me that it does

passes, and I give them a bag of swag when I matter. His last two paragraphs so eloquently

spend a few minutes with them before the game. described the impact that is possible. It not only

My goal is to provide them with a three-hour warmed my heart, it also affirmed the privilege of

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 3 5




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Where the Leaders in Sports Business Convene


Monarch Beach Resort | Dana Point, CA

Honoring the Next Generation of Sports Leaders


New York Marriott Marquis | Times Square, NYC

Honoring Excellence in Sports Business


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Melissa Key / Charlotte Business Journal; Nicole Lee / NHL; Brian Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images; Kyle Hess Photography; Steinlight Media SOCCER ROYALTY FROM THE BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and above: Bridgestone executives Amber Holm, VP, marketing consumer and customer
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles announced that Major League Soccer is coming to the engagement; Christine Karbowiak, EVP, vice chair, chief administrative officer
Queen City during an event at the Mint Museum on Dec. 17. and chief risk officer; CMO Philip Dobbs; and CFO Amanda Mathis attend the
Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day in Dallas.
below: Dallas Stars Foundation President Marty Turco; NHL Chief Brand Officer/
The Atlanta Hawks closed out EVP Brian Jennings; Terry Flowers, headmaster, St. Philip’s School & Community
2019 with a Lady Ballers Holiday Center; Dallas Stars President Brad Alberts; and Dallas Stars players Denis
Clinic Powered by Georgia Gurianov, Anton Khudobin, Jamie Oleksiak and Jason Dickinson attend the
Power at Decatur High School Winter Classic legacy initiative event at the St. Philip’s School & Community Center
on Dec. 31. During an afternoon in South Dallas for the donation of a new ball hockey court.
#PowerForward session ESPN
basketball analyst Andraya Carter
led a panel discussion with Atlanta
Dream head coach Nicki Collen;
Pharlone Toussaint, Atlanta
program officer at the Laureus Sport
for Good Foundation USA; and
NASM Elite Trainer Sondi Carter.


16W Marketing
co-founders Frank
Vuono and Steve
Rosner joined Pro
Football hall of
famer Joe Namath
at a recent studio
taping of television
program “Game
Time with Boomer

W W W . S P O R T S B U S I N E S S J O U R N A L . C O M JANUARY 13-19, 2020 | 37


Tiger Woods made his 2019 debut at the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, finishing in a tie for 20th place at an event he has won seven times.

Swing States

The PGA Tour will get 2020 off to a strong start with its traditional five-week West Coast run
that this year marks the return of star players, a new title sponsor and new broadcast voices.


THE PGA TOUR’S West Coast swing in- to it,” said Tyler Dennis, senior vice Gone are some of the network’s long- Greatest Show on Grass.” The event
cludes some of the tour’s longest- president and chief of operations for time analysts, including Gary McCord is often the tournament with highest
running events on some of the most the PGA Tour. “It’s got a lot of tourna- and Peter Kostis, while two-time Ryder attendance of the season.
iconic courses and features the biggest ments that have been around for a long Cup captain Davis Love will make his
stars, such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mick- time and we see a lot of excitement.” broadcast debut for the network. Next comes the AT&T Pebble Beach
elson and Rory Mcllroy, each of whom Trevor Immelman, Frank Nobilo and Pro Am from Feb. 6-9, where golf and
will be making his 2020 debut. The West Coast swing’s four other Michelle Wie will also be part of the celebrity annually meet at the iconic
events also figure to drive interest. CBS golf coverage that begins a new seaside Pebble Beach course. This
This year’s five-week run also ush- After the American Express comes the year’s Pebble Pro Am has a notable
ers in some major changes beginning twist, as PGA Tour Commissioner Jay
on Jan. 16 with The American Express “In the FedEx Cup era, there is a new dimension Monahan partners with his dad, Joe,
Pro-Am in La Quinta, Calif. The tour’s to the parts of the seasons and the fall has gained for a father-son pairing in the event.
newest tournament title sponsor takes more prominence, but the West Coast swing is a
over an event that harks back to 1960 The final West Coast event is The
and the Bob Hope Classic era. It is the big deal because it’s got that feel to it.” Genesis Invitational, to be held in
first time AmEx has been a title spon- Pacific Palisades, Calif., from Feb. 13-
sor since it partnered with the WGC- Farmers Insurance Open Jan. 23-26 at look this year following the retirement 16. It will be beefed up with a more Getty Images
American Express from 1999-2006. Torrey Pines in San Diego, where Tiger of lead producer Lance Barrow. selective, invitation-only field of 120
Woods traditionally begins his season. players and a $9.3 million purse, the
“In the FedEx Cup era, there is a Mcllroy will also tee it up for the first The always-raucous Waste Manage- highest on the West Coast swing.
new dimension to the parts of the time in 2020 at the Farmers. ment Phoenix Open follows the Farm-
seasons and the fall has gained more ers from Jan. 30-Feb. 2, with crowds “It is one of my favorite times of
prominence, but the West Coast swing The Farmers will see the debut of swarming the TPC Scottsdale course the year,” Dennis said. “I love all the
is a big deal because it’s got that feel a revamped announcing crew for CBS. and its iconic stadium holes for “the places and the history. It is a fun five


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Preview + Business

of Motorsports

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DAYTONA 500, Sports Business
Journal will examine NASCAR’s 2020
sponsorship model and new schedule.

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