25 Feb

10 To Watch : 22519

10 TO WATCH FOR THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 25 

MAYOR’S EDITION

  1. While Cactus and Grapefruit League games intensify, baseball sees its most significant participation gains since 2014. According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of people who played baseball in the U.S. “surged 21%” from 2014 to 2018, with nearly 15.9 million participants. Most of the gain has come from casual players who play baseball 1-12 times a year. The ranks of those “dabblers grew 53%, or by nearly 2.3 million people” since 2014. The growth of “more frequent baseball players was a modest 5% over four years.” However, those numbers are better than in most other amateur sports. Tackle football participation “dropped 3.4% in the past five years,” and hockey and soccer saw respective one-year drops of 3.8% and 4.3% in 2018. MLB credits the growth in part to a “program it launched” in 2015, Play Ball, that “holds programs across the nation.” Last year, MLB and USA Baseball also “started a program for schools to introduce the game to kindergarten through fourth-grade students in gym classes.” Drop offs in other sports are clearly baseball’s gain, and MLB is smart to partner with USA Baseball, Ripken Baseball, and other organizations teaching personal growth and leadership skills alongside baseball fundamentals.
  2. And the Oscar for best ad sales goes to…the Internet. Disney-ABC TV Group’s ad sales team confirmed it “sold off the last available unit” for ads during Sunday’s Oscars telecast, and thirty-second spots were fetching $2.1-2.2 million, according to AdAge. But the big ad winner this year is digital. Spending on such digital channels as desktop, mobile, search, and social media is expected to pass traditional media formats in the U.S. this year, according to eMarketer, while spending on non-digital TV, radio, print, and billboards is projected to drop. Digital ad revenue was $26.2 billion in the third quarter of 2018, up 22% versus the year prior, according to a report from PwC U.S. It is highly likely that when the Nielsen ratings come in for this year’s Academy Awards telecast they’ll be down from years past – just like every other appointment viewing mega event including the Super Bowl. But it’s a safe assumption that mobile and social numbers for the global event will leap higher than Spike Lee into Samuel Jackson’s arms following his first ever Oscar win.
  3. Investor Kyrie Irving stars in Beyond Meat campaign. Vegan food maker Beyond Meat has already gotten plenty of attention from athletes minding what they put in their finely-tuned bodies. According to Hashtag Sports, Beyond Meat put one of its new investors, Kyrie Irving, in the center of its new paid media push as the company, which has raised $122 million so far, gears up to go public. More and more NBA players are embracing a plant-based lifestyle that increasingly cuts red meat out of the picture. Irving isn’t the only athlete interested in the venture; other new investors include a variety of retired and current sports stars including Shaquille O’Neill, Chris Paul, DeAndre Hopkins, Victor Oladipo, Lindsey Vonn, DeAndre Jordan, Harrison Barnes, Shaun White, and Luke Walton. Many athletes have sought to raise their performance by changing their diets. Now, they are literally putting their money where their mouths are as they financially back Beyond Meat.
  4. The NBA ranked No. 3 on Fast Company’s 2019 list of the Most Innovative Companies. The magazine noted that in 2018 the NBA “broke attendance records for the fourth straight season,” had total revenue increase 25%, and saw its streaming service grow subscribers by 63%. Another reason for the NBA’s ranking was the NBA 2K League, the “first extension of pro sports into esports, which has 21 teams and games that stream on Twitch.” The NBA last year also “made a deal” with MGM Resorts International, “making it the first pro league to integrate real-time data into a gambling platform and enable the king of in-game micro-betting that keeps viewers watching each and every play.” Other organizations with sports ties that were mentioned in the Fast Company rankings include Disney (No. 4), Peloton (No. 14), and Fanatics (No. 40). While the NBA’s competitive expansion has been undertaken by other American sports leagues, the NBA’s international makeup and the success of its many foreign national players have been major factors in its worldwide popularity.
  5. The Raiders “appear to be close to wrapping up a deal to keep the team playing” at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum this year and “possibly” in 2020. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, an announcement is expected “this week or early next week.” A source said, "It’s for one year for sure, with an option for the second year.” Under the proposed deal, the Raiders would pay $7.5 million this year, with the rent rising to $10.5 million “if the team stays on” through 2020 in the event that its new $1.8 billion Las Vegas stadium is not ready. Of all the relocation possibilities floated in the last couple of months, from playing in San Francisco to Santa Clara to San Diego, staying put in Oakland is the most sensible plan for the Raiders, and certainly for their fan base there. With the Warriors set to relocate across the Bay to San Francisco next season and the A’s continuing to push for a new bayside ballpark, the Raiders will have more of the hometown spotlight to themselves, which could come in handy if their win-loss record doesn’t improve.
  6. The United States Soccer Federation provisionally sanctioned the National Independent Soccer Association as a professional soccer league, clearing the way for the league to begin play in the fall of 2019. Clubs in Atlanta, Charlotte, New England, and Philadelphia have already announced their efforts to be part of the league, with the rest expected to go public in the coming days. Unlike other American soccer leagues, NISA will play a fall-to-spring season with a winter break, allowing time off during December and January. Upstart offseason pro leagues seem to be all the rage in both football and futbol these days. While NISA has not yet announced a TV carriage deal, the cities on board thus far have proven to be strong soccer markets, which should bode well at least for modest success.
  7. Tom Dundon rescued the Alliance of American Football with a big cash infusion, proving he’s not one of Don Cherry’s “Bunch of Jerks.” The Alliance of American Football has introduced NHL Hurricanes Owner Tom Dundon as the league’s new Chairman after his commitment of $250 million last week “enabled the AAF to meet” its financial obligations, according to The Athletic and other sources. Without new investors, there was a “good chance it was going to miss payroll last Friday.” Dundon “will continue in his role” with the Hurricanes. About the AAF, one source said, “Without a new, nine-figure investor, nobody is sure what would have happened.” The Hurricanes have also been in the news cycle recently over the comments made by announcer Cherry about their unique victory celebrations, which recently included a limbo line. The team turned Cherry’s “Bunch of Jerks” criticism into a $32 T-shirt that fans have snapped up close to 5,000 so far.
  8. Hulu kicks off its new live sports campaign with some help from basketball athletes. NBA stars Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have signed endorsement deals with over-the-top streaming platform Hulu. Embiid and Lillard activated their deals during the recent NBA All-Star weekend with TV advertising campaigns and social media posts. The campaign is centered on the concept of the players “selling out” to promote Hulu’s live sports content, as accounts for each of the players would have such hashtags as #ad, #paid, #sponsored, #hulupaidme, #neversellout, and #hulusellouts. Although Hulu is best known as an entertainment streaming platform, it also offers live TV on a short-term contract option. According to SportsPro, Hulu also said it added eight million subscribers in 2018 and closed its fiscal year with more than 25 million total subscribers across its subscription on demand and live TV plans in the U.S. The key will be convincing users to shell out big bucks for its live TV service, which comes in at $39.99 per month.
  9. Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman promotes healthy lifestyles and educational opportunities for young girls and boys at her gala. According to CultureMap Dallas, celebrities such as actor Burton Gilliam, ESPN “Sports Center” anchor Jay Harris, and country singer Imaj mingled with an array of athletes including Deion Sanders, Rick Barry, Ed Belfour, Tim Brown, Homer Bush, and Rick Carlisle among many others on a night when Lieberman presented NBA champion Julius "Dr. J” Erving with a Trailblazer Award, and actor-musician Ice Cube with the Lifetime Achievement Award. All proceeds from the evening go to Nancy Lieberman Charities, which are dedicated to expanding and ensuring that educational and sports opportunities exist for economically disadvantaged youth. Lieberman’s network of charities serves students across the U.S. with basketball camps, clinics, Dream Courts, college scholarships, and school supply programs. It’s a good time for “Lady Magic” to spearhead a gala, as WNBA coverage is on the rise and her storied career and business experience could be crucial for popularizing the women’s league.
  10. Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield raises money for the Special Olympics. The event is a Special Olympics Ohio Cleveland Polar Plunge that raised money for athletes who are petitioning for the full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. According to 247 Sports, the February 23 event at Edgewater beach and Mayfield also gave away a pair of signed Bose headphones to one lucky participant. The quarterback had previously announced that he was teaming up with Barstool Sports to benefit the Special Olympics in the greater Cleveland area with a merchandise line featuring flags, sweatshirts, and T-shirts. 100% of net proceeds go towards supporting the Special Olympics. After Mayfield and fiance Emily Wilkinson played Secret Santa during the holidays and the quarterback played in a charity softball game to benefit victims of the fires and shooting in Thousand Oaks, the No.1 pick shows no signs of slowing down his charitable arm.

25 Feb

15 + 5 + 5 To Watch : 22519

15 TO WATCH/5 SPORTS TECH/POWER OF SPORTS 5: RICK HORROW’S TOP SPORTS/BIZ/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 25 with Jacob Aere

  1. With a firm handshake and swipe of a pen, the San Diego Padres up their quest to create America’s Finest Baseball City. During a press conference officially announcing the signing of third baseman Manny Machado, Padres General Partner Peter Seidler said that Machado’s record-setting, $300 million free agent contract was primarily an instinctual baseball decision. “We obviously talked a lot about this and we feel it makes financial sense for us. But it’s as much of a back of a napkin thing as anything,” he said. Seidler added he is confident there will be an incremental revenue lift from the Machado signing in core areas such as sponsorships, ticket sales, and merchandise. However, the 11th hour deal and the club’s poor on-field performance of late will make more meaningful financial gains a multiyear effort. “Ultimately, revenue follows winning and winning is what will really drive that revenue,” Seidler said. Every business decision comes with an opportunity cost, and for the Padres as well as a San Diego sports fan base still stinging from the loss of the Chargers, it’s hard not to wonder whether that $300 million wouldn’t be better spent shoring up the franchise’s farm system than on one infamous slugger.
  2. While Cactus and Grapefruit League games intensify, baseball sees its most significant participation gains since 2014. According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of people who played baseball in the U.S. “surged 21%” from 2014 to 2018, with nearly 15.9 million participants. Most of the gain has come from casual players who play baseball 1-12 times a year. The ranks of those “dabblers grew 53%, or by nearly 2.3 million people” since 2014. The growth of “more frequent baseball players was a modest 5% over four years.” However, those numbers are better than in most other amateur sports. Tackle football participation “dropped 3.4% in the past five years,” and hockey and soccer saw respective one-year drops of 3.8% and 4.3% in 2018. MLB credits the growth in part to a “program it launched” in 2015, Play Ball, that “holds programs across the nation.” Last year, MLB and USA Baseball also “started a program for schools to introduce the game to kindergarten through fourth-grade students in gym classes.” Drop offs in other sports are clearly baseball’s gain, and MLB is smart to partner with USA Baseball, Ripken Baseball, and other organizations teaching personal growth and leadership skills alongside baseball fundamentals.
  3. As the NFL Combine opens in Indianapolis, Kyler Murray’s decision to choose the NFL over baseball will continue to be hotly debated. Ric Edelman is a founder of Edelman Financial Engines, which helps more than one million people make financial and career decisions. I asked Ric, would you have advised Murray to play in the NFL or go the MLB route? “In the short-term, Murray could make more money playing football,” Edelman said. “But, if he were to become a star baseball player, he would earn more money in the MLB in the long-term. Just look at the numbers. The top 10 draft picks in the NFL get about $17 million plus an $11 million bonus. By comparison, at least 38 MLB players have deals that large. But like all big financial and career decisions, there’s a lot of emotion involved. That’s why I think Murray made the right decision because he’s said that his heart lies between the hash marks. Besides, if the NFL doesn’t work out, he could go back to baseball, like Tim Tebow is doing now.” Murray’s decision will come under even more scrutiny in the wake of Manny Machado’s $300 million deal with the Padres. If Murray is smart, he will heed Edelman’s wisdom and stay on his current course.
  4. And the Oscar for best ad sales goes to…the Internet. Disney-ABC TV Group’s ad sales team confirmed it “sold off the last available unit” for ads during Sunday’s Oscars telecast, and thirty-second spots were fetching $2.1-2.2 million, according to AdAge. But the big ad winner this year is digital. Spending on such digital channels as desktop, mobile, search, and social media is expected to pass traditional media formats in the U.S. this year, according to eMarketer, while spending on non-digital TV, radio, print, and billboards is projected to drop. Digital ad revenue was $26.2 billion in the third quarter of 2018, up 22% versus the year prior, according to a report from PwC U.S. It is highly likely that when the Nielsen ratings come in for this year’s Academy Awards telecast they’ll be down from years past – just like every other appointment viewing mega event including the Super Bowl. But it’s a safe assumption that mobile and social numbers for the global event will leap higher than Spike Lee into Samuel Jackson’s arms following his first ever Oscar win.
  5. Investor Kyrie Irving stars in Beyond Meat campaign. Vegan food maker Beyond Meat has already gotten plenty of attention from athletes minding what they put in their finely-tuned bodies. According to Hashtag Sports, Beyond Meat put one of its new investors, Kyrie Irving, in the center of its new paid media push as the company, which has raised $122 million so far, gears up to go public. More and more NBA players are embracing a plant-based lifestyle that increasingly cuts red meat out of the picture. Irving isn’t the only athlete interested in the venture; other new investors include a variety of retired and current sports stars including Shaquille O’Neill, Chris Paul, DeAndre Hopkins, Victor Oladipo, Lindsey Vonn, DeAndre Jordan, Harrison Barnes, Shaun White, and Luke Walton. Many athletes have sought to raise their performance by changing their diets. Now, they are literally putting their money where their mouths are as they financially back Beyond Meat.
  6. The NBA ranked No. 3 on Fast Company’s 2019 list of the Most Innovative Companies. The magazine noted that in 2018 the NBA “broke attendance records for the fourth straight season,” had total revenue increase 25%, and saw its streaming service grow subscribers by 63%. Another reason for the NBA’s ranking was the NBA 2K League, the “first extension of pro sports into esports, which has 21 teams and games that stream on Twitch.” The NBA last year also “made a deal” with MGM Resorts International, “making it the first pro league to integrate real-time data into a gambling platform and enable the king of in-game micro-betting that keeps viewers watching each and every play.” Other organizations with sports ties that were mentioned in the Fast Company rankings include Disney (No. 4), Peloton (No. 14), and Fanatics (No. 40). While the NBA’s competitive expansion has been undertaken by other American sports leagues, the NBA’s international makeup and the success of its many foreign national players have been major factors in its worldwide popularity.
  7. The NFL suffers another black eye with news of Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s impending arrest for solicitation of prostitution. Kraft, one of the NFL’s most influential figures, was charged Friday in connection with an investigation of several massage parlors in Florida suspected of human trafficking ties. According to the Washington Post, an arrest warrant for the 77-year-old billionaire, whose team won its sixth Super Bowl since 2002 this month, will be issued this week for the prostitution-related charges, both misdemeanors. “The charges against Kraft stemmed from a months-long investigation of several massage parlors in three counties in southeast Florida suspected of forcing immigrant employees to engage in sex acts with customers.” Kraft was among 25 men facing charges. The NFL said in a written statement, “The NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments.” Kraft could certainly face discipline from the league under its personal conduct policy, which covers owners as well as players.
  8. World No. 2, 17-time Major Champion and three-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Rafael Nadal headlines “Rafa & Friends.” The event is the first-ever Eisenhower Cup presented by Masimo – a one-night Tie Break Tens event scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 during the 2019 BNP Paribas Open. Joining Nadal for the $150,000 winner-take-all event at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden are World No. 8 and 2018 French Open finalist Dominic Thiem; World No. 14 and 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic; eight-time ATP Tour winner Gael Monfils; and others. The fast-paced, innovative Tie Break Tens format consists of first to ten-point tie break matches. The players will be divided into two groups for round-robin play, followed by a final match between the group play winners, for a total of seven matches during the course of the evening. All proceeds from the event will benefit four local charities: Masimo’s Patient Safety Movement; Eisenhower Health; Bighorn Golf Club Charities; and Family YMCA of the Desert. The event echoes the “Hit for Haiti” exhibition match organized by Roger Federer in 2010, which raised close to $200,000 for the earthquake torn country.
  9. Tennis World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has a new endorsement with Ultimate Software that includes assignments for his team members. Djokovic is a Lacoste endorser, but will now wear an Ultimate Software patch. Djokovic’s coach, agent, physiotherapist and others will be required to wear an Ultimate Software cap when in the player’s box during matches. The deal mimics one struck last year for another IMG client, Madison Keys. In Keys’ case, it was born out of necessity because Nike, another of her sponsors, would not allow any other logos on her apparel. Florida-based Ultimate Software specializes in HR and payroll software, and also sponsors the Miami Heat and golfer Patrick Reed. An IMG Tennis spokesperson declined to say if the Djokovic team would get paid for wearing the caps. However, Keys’ IMG agent, Max Eisenbud, said the player herself was paying part of her endorsement fee to her team members for wearing the caps. It takes a hatted village to produce a champion tennis player, and it’s only fair that the villagers are compensated.
  10. The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in front of a “wet sellout crowd of 69,620” as part of the Coors Light Stadium Series. Despite forecasts of strong rains, the Philadelphia Inquirer noted the “heavy stuff didn’t really ever come down.” There was “noticeable pooling along the rink’s edges and particularly in the corners, stopping the puck as if in mud.” Despite the “heavier late-game rain, the plan for NBC remained the same. Also part of the weekend success was the PreGame at the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, the official fan festival. Highlights of PreGame events included the American Legacy Black Hockey History Tour, a mobile museum showcasing black hockey history, and sponsor activations including Coors Light Slapshot; the Dunkin’ Fan Zone; a custom penalty box photo opportunity from GEICO; and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Despite the rain, outdoor hockey prevails again.
  11. ESPN has cemented its plans for global coverage of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Coverage will begin with a live three-hour special on the Opening Ceremony from Zayed Sports City Stadium on ESPNEWS. The 2019 Special Olympics World Games will span March 14-21, and ESPN’s coverage of these Games will include more live coverage of competition than ever before, offering multiple live feeds each day on ESPN3, delivering more than 25 hours of live coverage across venues and competitions including swimming, soccer, volleyball, basketball and more. Additionally, ESPN will produce an evening studio program airing on ESPN2 and ABC, bringing viewers the stories, athlete profiles, and features from around the 2019 World Games, as well as recapping key results from each days’ competitions. Keep an eye out as we make a special announcement regarding the Special Olympics in the near future.
  12. The Raiders "appear to be close to wrapping up a deal to keep the team playing” at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum this year and “possibly” in 2020. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, an announcement is expected “this week or early next week.” A source said, "It’s for one year for sure, with an option for the second year.” Under the proposed deal, the Raiders would pay $7.5 million this year, with the rent rising to $10.5 million “if the team stays on” through 2020 in the event that its new $1.8 billion Las Vegas stadium is not ready. Of all the relocation possibilities floated in the last couple of months, from playing in San Francisco to Santa Clara to San Diego, staying put in Oakland is the most sensible plan for the Raiders, and certainly for their fan base there. With the Warriors set to relocate across the Bay to San Francisco next season and the A’s continuing to push for a new bayside ballpark, the Raiders will have more of the hometown spotlight to themselves, which could come in handy if their win-loss record doesn’t improve.
  13. The United States Soccer Federation provisionally sanctioned the National Independent Soccer Association as a professional soccer league, clearing the way for the league to begin play in the fall of 2019. Clubs in Atlanta, Charlotte, New England, and Philadelphia have already announced their efforts to be part of the league, with the rest expected to go public in the coming days. Unlike other American soccer leagues, NISA will play a fall-to-spring season with a winter break, allowing time off during December and January. Upstart offseason pro leagues seem to be all the rage in both football and futbol these days. While NISA has not yet announced a TV carriage deal, the cities on board thus far have proven to be strong soccer markets, which should bode well at least for modest success.
  14. Tom Dundon rescued the Alliance of American Football with a big cash infusion, proving he’s not one of Don Cherry’s “Bunch of Jerks.” The Alliance of American Football has introduced NHL Hurricanes Owner Tom Dundon as the league’s new Chairman after his commitment of $250 million last week “enabled the AAF to meet” its financial obligations, according to The Athletic and other sources. Without new investors, there was a “good chance it was going to miss payroll last Friday.” Dundon “will continue in his role” with the Hurricanes. About the AAF, one source said, “Without a new, nine-figure investor, nobody is sure what would have happened.” The Hurricanes have also been in the news cycle recently over the comments made by announcer Cherry about their unique victory celebrations, which recently included a limbo line. The team turned Cherry’s “Bunch of Jerks” criticism into a $32 T-shirt that fans have snapped up close to 5,000 so far.
  15. Breakdancing is among four sports shortlisted by the Paris 2024 organizing committee for inclusion at the Olympic Games. According to SportsPro, organizers have proposed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that surfing, sport climbing, and skateboarding also retain their places as additional sports on the program in five years’ time. The IOC will consider the proposal before putting it to the executive board at its next meeting of representatives March 26-28, and must reach a decision by December 2020. Surfing, sport climbing, and skateboarding are all making their Olympic debuts at next year’s Games in Tokyo, but 2024 would mark the first time the multi-sport event has featured breakdancing. Breakdancing competitions at Paris 2024 would take the form of head-to-head battles in a similar format used when the sport was included at last year’s Youth Olympics in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires. Paris 2024 said breakdancing was an “obvious choice” for inclusion given that France has the second-highest levels of participation in the discipline behind the U.S. However, the move was considered a blow for sports such as baseball, softball and karate, the additional sports included on the Tokyo 2020 program.

Top Five Tech

  1. Qatar sports channel beIN Sports has been linked with a possible acquisition by the French company Canal Plus. If the move were to be completed, Canal’s sports rights would increase and its subscriber base would swell to 3.5 million. Although Canal + has struggled with some of its subscriber base shrinking in recent months, this potential deal, which should be completed by summer, would help to address that issue. According to Broadband TV News, both beIN Sport and Canal + lost a substantial chunk of coverage of the French football federation under last May’s deal with Mediapro, which in 2020 will receive rights to cover eight out of 10 weekly Ligue 1 matches. Back in June 2016, the Autorité de la Concurrence barred Canal from an exclusive distribution agreement with beIN Sports, so this is an attempt to at least pull even in a market that it used to dominate.
  2. The NHL receives an extension from Snapchat to add hockey highlights and curated stories. According to Variety, the NHL is delivering a new weekly highlights show on Snapchat to recap the top 10 plays of the previous week and will produce Curated Our Stories for select games and marquee events, making the NHL the first pro sports league to use Snapchat’s third-party curation tools. The NHL is bolstering its Snapchat presence because the league sees unusually high engagement on the platform, particularly among users under 30. Millions of hockey fans share images and videos on the platform every day, and the expanded NHL-Snap partnership includes Bitmoji outfits for all 31 of the league’s teams as well as utilizing geofilters for every team’s home arena. “NHL Highlights,” which will hit Snapchat’s Discover every Wednesday, is produced by Disney Streaming Services, which also operates the NHL app and NHL.TV out-of-market subscription-streaming package in partnership with the league. NHL’s social media engagement numbers are the best of the big American sports. By increasing the volume of digital content, the NHL should see more fans gravitate to the league.
  3. Hulu kicks off its new live sports campaign with some help from basketball athletes. NBA stars Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have signed endorsement deals with over-the-top streaming platform Hulu. Embiid and Lillard activated their deals during the recent NBA All-Star weekend with TV advertising campaigns and social media posts. The campaign is centered on the concept of the players “selling out” to promote Hulu’s live sports content, as accounts for each of the players would have such hashtags as #ad, #paid, #sponsored, #hulupaidme, #neversellout, and #hulusellouts. Although Hulu is best known as an entertainment streaming platform, it also offers live TV on a short-term contract option. According to SportsPro, Hulu also said it added eight million subscribers in 2018 and closed its fiscal year with more than 25 million total subscribers across its subscription on demand and live TV plans in the U.S. The key will be convincing users to shell out big bucks for its live TV service, which comes in at $39.99 per month.
  4. The AI-Powered SendtoNews (STN) signs a multiyear deal with NASCAR Digital Media. According to Media Post, NASCAR Digital Media signed a multiyear deal with AI-powered sports content and monetization service SendtoNews just ahead of last week’s Daytona 500 to give NASCAR access to STN’s user network of 1,600 publishers and its Smart Match video platform. As part of the deal, STN will host a library for its publishers comprising NASCAR race highlights, in-car footage, driver interviews, and other footage from the NASCAR Cup Series, XFinity Series, and Truck Series, adding millions of unique views to NASCAR’s content. STN reports that its platform provides a 99% unduplicated audience when compared to NASCAR’s owned-and-operated properties which should allow the brand to reach new audiences without duplicating efforts across its own. SendtoNews is the most recent deal to try and boost NASCAR’s dwindling fan base and push the sport back into the limelight.
  5. Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost starred in a new commercial for Verizon that ran during the Sunday night’s Academy Awards broadcast. According to the Kansas City Star, Yost has "credited a cell phone with being the reason he is alive today.” After a “horrific fall from a tree stand at his farm in Georgia” following the 2017 season, Yost’s pelvis was “shattered and he was unable to get help.” He was able to use his cell phone to call his wife and was “airlifted from his property and had emergency surgery.” From now on, if inquisitive reporters were to ever ask Yost “who are you wearing?” he’s most likely to say, “Verizon.”

Power of Sports Five

  1. Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman promotes healthy lifestyles and educational opportunities for young girls and boys at her gala. According to CultureMap Dallas, celebrities such as actor Burton Gilliam, ESPN “Sports Center” anchor Jay Harris, and country singer Imaj mingled with an array of athletes including Deion Sanders, Rick Barry, Ed Belfour, Tim Brown, Homer Bush, and Rick Carlisle among many others on a night when Lieberman presented NBA champion Julius “Dr. J” Erving with a Trailblazer Award, and actor-musician Ice Cube with the Lifetime Achievement Award. All proceeds from the evening go to Nancy Lieberman Charities, which are dedicated to expanding and ensuring that educational and sports opportunities exist for economically disadvantaged youth. Lieberman’s network of charities serves students across the U.S. with basketball camps, clinics, Dream Courts, college scholarships, and school supply programs. It’s a good time for “Lady Magic” to spearhead a gala, as WNBA coverage is on the rise and her storied career and business experience could be crucial for popularizing the women’s league.
  2. Three female coaches in the Alliance of American Football are just the beginning to hire more women in the sport. According to CBS Sports, Jen Welter alongside Birmingham Iron defensive line assistant Lo Locust and Arizona Hotshots wideouts assistant Jennifer King are the three women currently coaching in the new AAF league. The AAF’s head of football development, Hines Ward, noted that the blueprint for hiring the women in the league was the NFL’s Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship. Locust, a longtime assistant coach at various levels, from high school to arena, spent the past year as a defensive line intern with the Baltimore Ravens, while King was an intern with the Carolina Panthers. Ward says that the AAF is a league of opportunity and after a $250 million bailout during its second week, it’s good to see that certain initiatives may separate it from the NFL and allow the football league to create its own identity.
  3. Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield raises money for the Special Olympics. The event is a Special Olympics Ohio Cleveland Polar Plunge that raised money for athletes who are petitioning for the full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. According to 247 Sports, the February 23 event at Edgewater beach and Mayfield also gave away a pair of signed Bose headphones to one lucky participant. The quarterback had previously announced that he was teaming up with Barstool Sports to benefit the Special Olympics in the greater Cleveland area with a merchandise line featuring flags, sweatshirts, and T-shirts. 100% of net proceeds go towards supporting the Special Olympics. After Mayfield and fiance Emily Wilkinson played Secret Santa during the holidays and the quarterback played in a charity softball game to benefit victims of the fires and shooting in Thousand Oaks, the No.1 pick shows no signs of slowing down his charitable arm.
  4. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainright’s charity makes its mark in the Dominican Republic. Wainwright is also the co-founder of non-profit organization, Big League Impact (BLI). According to Yahoo Sports, their goal is to connect players and fans with communities in need around the world. In 2018 alone, BLI raised a total of $1.07 million for communities in need with help from 24 total major league players, a partnership with Yahoo Sports, and the generosity of thousands of fans. Last December, Wainwright and others spent time in the Dominican Republic and in partnership with Food for the Hungry, BLI created the “Striking Out Poverty” campaign. Through “Striking Out Poverty,” $200,000 was raised for various projects across the Dominican Republic including baseball fields, water systems, and food and farming programs. Players like Wainwright will be hosting events at Top Golf locations as well as private fantasy league drafts in stadiums across the country to raise awareness about Big League Impact for the upcoming season.
  5. The Chelsea and Manchester City Carabao Cup final matchup at Wembley will feature a focus on mental health. According to Sports Mole, the mental health charity Mind has already forged a two-year partnership with the English Football League that started at the beginning of this season. As part of its collaboration with the EFL and Carabao Cup, Mind ran a host of activities related to mental health before the last Sunday’s afternoon matchup in order to raise awareness and highlight the support the charity provides. By bringing mental health initiatives to a widely watched football event, Paul Farmer, Mind CEO, hoped to ensure fans that they always have somewhere to turn to when dealing with mental health problems. More than just another big ‘football’ clash, this Carabao Cup final blended a social initiative into the English Football League.