28 Oct

10 To Watch : Mayor’s Edition 102819

RICK HORROW’S TOP 10 SPORTS/BIZ/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF OCTOBER 28 : MAYOR’S EDITION

with Jacob Aere

  1. Under Armour and Nike announce CEO shifts on the same day. Last Tuesday, Under Armour announced that founder Kevin Plank was stepping down from his CEO role, just as Nike was letting the world know that Mark Parker, a 40-year Nike veteran, was likewise assuming a different role at the $40 billion company. While Under Armour struggled financially under Plank, Parker oversaw a profitable but controversial period for Nike. In Maryland, Plank will become Under Armour executive chairman and brand chief. The changes come as the company’s North American sales are struggling. In Oregon, Parker led Nike through a period of tremendous growth but also saw his leadership challenged by a number of controversies. While Nike earnings are currently ahead of expectations, the company has also been plagued by recent scandals, including a doping accusation that saw Nike shutter its renowned track and field program, and a sexual misconduct and gender discrimination case. Plank will be replaced by COO Patrik Frisk, who will assume the CEO role on January 1. Parker will step down January 13 and be replaced by John Donahoe, CEO of ServiceNow Inc. and chairman of PayPal Holdings.
  2. There’s no shortage of intrigue and excitement surrounding this year’s match up, as the Washington Nationals square off against the Houston Astros in the 115th World Series. As the Series enters its second week with the Astros leading the Nationals 3-2, WalletHub takes a closer look at everything that makes the Series such a special event. For starters, the number 53 marks the combined number of years of the Astros’ and Nationals’ World Series droughts. While the Astros won the Series in 2017, it’s been 51 years since the team formerly known as the Montreal Expos won a championship. Forbes values the two teams at roughly the same number, $1.8 billion, and the two teams have roughly the same team salary allotment, in the $207-$208 million range. The projected ad revenue for FOX for each game beyond the minimum four to win the Series is $45.7 million. And finally, for the eventual winner, the “Commissioner’s Trophy” crafted by Tiffany and Company has an estimated physical value of $19,000.
  3. The San Francisco 49ers will include basic food and beverages in the cost of season tickets starting in 2020, marking a major shift in concessions strategy. According to 49ers President Al Guido, the all-inclusive approach will not extend to season tickets resold on the secondary market, or to single-game buyers. The undefeated 49ers have about 60,000 season-ticket holders in a stadium that seats 68,500. In market research, Guido said season-ticket holders “overwhelmingly” reported they are willing to pay more than what the stadium currently makes on each fan to get concessions included. The non-transferability of the food & beverage deal is possible under Ticketmaster’s mobile ticketing system that assigns unique barcodes to every user. Items that will be free include chicken tenders, beef and vegan hot dogs, hot links, nachos, fries, pretzels, popcorn, peanuts candies, water, coffee, and all Pepsi products. The 49ers and concessionaire Levy have reportedly been studying the change since Levy won Levi’s Stadium business in February, 2018. It took more than a year of research to determine whether it could be done without causing prohibitive financial or operational costs. 
  4. The Green Bay Packers and Microsoft raised $25 million for their TitletownTech business innovation fund. The TitletownTech fund reached its goal of $25 million with the addition of a dozen Wisconsin-based investors, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. The Packers and Microsoft each committed $5 million to the fund, which will invest in high-growth early-stage and existing businesses aligned with industries in northeastern Wisconsin. Other investors in the accelerator program include Boston Bruins alternative governor Jerry Jacobs, Jr. and New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, both of whom sit on the TitletownTech advisory board. TitletownTech, a technology and innovation-focused campus in the Packers’ Titletown District development near Lambeau Field, includes an innovation lab, a business solutions space called a venture studio, and the venture fund’s headquarters. Moving forward, its work will focus on five business silos: sports, media, and entertainment; digital health; agriculture, water, and environment; advanced manufacturing; and supply chain technology. The Packers-Microsoft partnership is just the latest example of how sports franchises are thinking way outside the mixed-use stadium district development box to benefit their communities. 
  5. NFL Players Coalition, Meek Mill, and others host Philadelphia Town Hall event. On Monday, October 28, global music streaming and entertainment platform, TIDAL will be live streaming, for free, the NFL Players Coalition Town Hall Event in Philadelphia. The event, according to a TIDAL release, will feature rapper Meek Mill, co-founder of Players Coalition/NFL Player Malcolm Jenkins, and other influencers discussing what the city of Philadelphia wants in its next police commissioner. Players Coalition aims to make an impact on social justice and racial equality through advocacy, awareness, education, and allocation of resources. TIDAL’s support of key social justice issues has been a pillar of the streaming service’s mission since its inception, and it is committed to amplifying conversations through the platform that will lead to a better future globally. The Philadelphia town hall meeting, and others like it nationally, are testaments to the NFL’s commitment to support social justice issues important to its players, alumni, and fans. Time will tell if the Players Coalition, with the league’s support, will truly be able to influence grassroots issues in the cities in which its games are played. 
  6. Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney and his $9.3 million annual salary have taken over the top spot in the annual USA Today coaches’ salary database. Rounding out the top five are Nick Saban ($8.9 million), Jim Harbaugh ($7.5 million), Jimbo Fisher ($7.5 million), and Kirby Smart ($6.9 million). Notably, the top 83 coaches included in the list of 130 schools earned more than $1 million annually in salary alone. Also, the average total pay for the 122 FBS coaches for whom USA TODAY Sports could obtain compensation figures is $2.67 million, up 9% compared to last season – the increase is the largest in four years. And, for the first time, there is a league in which all of the coaches are making at least $3 million. That league is the 14-school Southeastern Conference, in which the average total pay is $4.95 million. College football coaches have seen salaries sky rocket in the last 10 years, meanwhile college athlete compensation is set to kick off in California come 2023.
  7. The NBA has confirmed that Salt Lake City will host the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. The 72nd   edition of the mid-season exhibition match, which sees teams selected by a combination of fan, player, and media voting, will be staged at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz, February 19 2023. The event will mark the 30th anniversary of the only previous time Utah’s capital city hosted the All-Star Game in 1993, when the Vivint Smart Home Arena was known as the Delta Center. The NBA’s 2023 All-Star festivities will kick off February 17 that year, featuring additional programming for fans at venues throughout Salt Lake City. The league also plans to run a full schedule of NBA Cares and Diversity & Inclusion events. “Along with a rich basketball tradition, Salt Lake City has proven to be a world-class destination for large-scale events and sports competitions,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “I want to thank the Miller Family and the Utah Jazz organization for their commitment to hosting our All-Star festivities and to developing a program that will leave a lasting impact on the community.” Added Jazz owner Gail Miller, “The memory of John Stockton and Karl Malone sharing MVP honors 30 years ago remains strong.  We are excited to create new memories for this generation of NBA fans.” Next year’s All-Star Game is being held at Chicago’s United Center before heading to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in 2021.
  8. National Women’s Soccer League inks an exclusive deal with Octagon for media rights and marketing consulting. According to Sports Video Group, Octagon will provide comprehensive media rights valuation, sales strategy services, and work directly with NWSL executives to secure and amplify new media distribution opportunities. In addition, Octagon’s Marketing division will assist the league with brand marketing, asset development, sponsorship valuation, and fan engagement insights to help generate increases in overall reach and revenue for the league and its teams. Featuring more than 200 of the world’s best professional soccer players, including U.S. Women’s National Team members and two-time World Cup Champions Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and Alex Morgan, as well as international stars Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Sam Kerr, the NWSL is highlighted by 23 current FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions and 58 FIFA Women’s World Cup team members. Budwesier has also launched a campaign focused on finding the NWSL new sponsors as more money is being put into women’s soccer across the globe.
  9. The sports world aims to tackle ocean plastic pollution. According to SportTechie, a research expedition embarked from the southwest coast of the U.K., on a two-year mission to sail westward around the world. The crew aboard the S.V. TravelEdge, a 73-foot floating laboratory, will travel 38,000-nautical-miles and cross all five of the world’s major ocean gyres, regions where rotating currents lead to the accumulation of floating plastic waste. The 300 women joining the all-female rotating team will investigate to find solutions to plastic pollution. The “eXXpedition Round The World” is being organized by sailor Emily Penn, who is among a growing group of athletes and people connected to the sports world that is advocating for and taking action to protect the environment. Another goal of Penn’s journey is to create a global network of ambassadors who can advocate to help solve the problem. She has been working with a larger environmental organization called 11th Hour Racing over the last few years to give talks and run workshops for other sailors to learn how they can play a role in tackling plastic pollution. By having athletes tackle environmental problems head on, they can use their social influence to be advocates for policy and lifestyle change.
  10. Seven NFL dads partner with Pampers to install changing tables in their local communities. According to Business Wire, Pampers’ commitment to install 5,000 changing tables across North America by 2021 secured the help of seven hands-on NFL dads today. In honor of October 26’s National Make a Difference Day, Pampers is leading the installation of changing tables in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Detroit and Charlotte so all parents can #LoveTheChange in public places. The seven players include Sterling Shepard of the New York Giants, Tevin Coleman of the San Francisco 49ers, Marvin Jones Jr. of the Detroit Lions, Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles, Derek Wolfe of the Denver Broncos, Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears, and Dontari Poe of the Carolina Panthers. The changing tables help to address the changing table inequality for men who care for babies and by using seven NFL dads the topic will gain more limelight.

28 Oct

15+5+5 To Watch : Week of October 28th 102819

15 TO WATCH/5 SPORTS TECH/POWER OF SPORTS 5: RICK HORROW’S TOP SPORTS/BIZ/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF OCTOBER 28

with Jacob Aere

  1. The NBA now allows teams to carry sponsor relationships overseas as its international push continues. As the NBA regular season gets underway in earnest, the Wall Street Journal reports that each team will be able to work with up to two sponsors on advertising campaigns outside the U.S. and Canada, “an expansion of the league’s global marketing activity.” Previously, teams couldn’t participate in marketing campaigns or events outside their home markets. While that rule remains in place in North America, teams now can have their logos and their players appear in other countries — such as at a retail sponsor’s store — or they can distribute non-game content on a sponsor’s social media channels in those international markets. The new international opportunities come into effect just as the NBA has been embroiled in global affairs. Though the change comes into effect amidst the chaos and uncertainty around the NBA’s future in China, the NBA Board of Governors approved the new international marketing rules at an NBA league meeting in April. NBA executives believe the change can boost global revenue as well as create brand recognition where none has existed before.
  2. Under Armour and Nike announce CEO shifts on the same day. Last Tuesday, Under Armour announced that founder Kevin Plank was stepping down from his CEO role, just as Nike was letting the world know that Mark Parker, a 40-year Nike veteran, was likewise assuming a different role at the $40 billion company. While Under Armour struggled financially under Plank, Parker oversaw a profitable but controversial period for Nike. In Maryland, Plank will become Under Armour executive chairman and brand chief. The changes come as the company’s North American sales are struggling. In Oregon, Parker led Nike through a period of tremendous growth but also saw his leadership challenged by a number of controversies. While Nike earnings are currently ahead of expectations, the company has also been plagued by recent scandals, including a doping accusation that saw Nike shutter its renowned track and field program, and a sexual misconduct and gender discrimination case. Plank will be replaced by COO Patrik Frisk, who will assume the CEO role on January 1. Parker will step down January 13 and be replaced by John Donahoe, CEO of ServiceNow Inc. and chairman of PayPal Holdings.
  3. There’s no shortage of intrigue and excitement surrounding this year’s match up, as the Washington Nationals square off against the Houston Astros in the 115th World Series. As the Series enters its second week with the Astros leading the Nationals 3-2, WalletHub takes a closer look at everything that makes the Series such a special event. For starters, the number 53 marks the combined number of years of the Astros’ and Nationals’ World Series droughts. While the Astros won the Series in 2017, it’s been 51 years since the team formerly known as the Montreal Expos won a championship. Forbes values the two teams at roughly the same number, $1.8 billion, and the two teams have roughly the same team salary allotment, in the $207-$208 million range. The projected ad revenue for FOX for each game beyond the minimum four to win the Series is $45.7 million. And finally, for the eventual winner, the “Commissioner’s Trophy” crafted by Tiffany and Company has an estimated physical value of $19,000.
  4. The San Francisco 49ers will include basic food and beverages in the cost of season tickets starting in 2020, marking a major shift in concessions strategy. According to 49ers President Al Guido, the all-inclusive approach will not extend to season tickets resold on the secondary market, or to single-game buyers. The undefeated 49ers have about 60,000 season-ticket holders in a stadium that seats 68,500. In market research, Guido said season-ticket holders “overwhelmingly” reported they are willing to pay more than what the stadium currently makes on each fan to get concessions included. The non-transferability of the food & beverage deal is possible under Ticketmaster’s mobile ticketing system that assigns unique barcodes to every user. Items that will be free include chicken tenders, beef and vegan hot dogs, hot links, nachos, fries, pretzels, popcorn, peanuts candies, water, coffee, and all Pepsi products. The 49ers and concessionaire Levy have reportedly been studying the change since Levy won Levi’s Stadium business in February, 2018. It took more than a year of research to determine whether it could be done without causing prohibitive financial or operational costs. 
  5. Three-time NBA champion and international superstar Stephen Curry is joining the Callaway Golf Co. family, entering a partnership that will feature co-produced original content. “I am beyond excited for the opportunity to work with Callaway Golf. Their ability to think outside the box on how we can collectively grow the game of golf is second to none,” the Golden State Warrior star said. “I can’t wait to begin rolling out some of our ideas to make golf more accessible to boys and girls around the world.” Curry’s previous endorsement deals include such brands as Chase, CarMax, Infiniti, Palm, and Brita. His high-profile shoe deal with Under Armour also includes an equity stake in the company. Content-wise, Curry has a creative content deal with ABC that includes the miniature golf competition “Holey Moley,” recently renewed for a second summer season, and a food-focused program hosted by his wife Aisha. When you factor in all of his endorsement deals, Curry reportedly earns over $80 million per year. 
  6. The Green Bay Packers and Microsoft raised $25 million for their TitletownTech business innovation fund. The TitletownTech fund reached its goal of $25 million with the addition of a dozen Wisconsin-based investors, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. The Packers and Microsoft each committed $5 million to the fund, which will invest in high-growth early-stage and existing businesses aligned with industries in northeastern Wisconsin. Other investors in the accelerator program include Boston Bruins alternative governor Jerry Jacobs, Jr. and New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, both of whom sit on the TitletownTech advisory board. TitletownTech, a technology and innovation-focused campus in the Packers’ Titletown District development near Lambeau Field, includes an innovation lab, a business solutions space called a venture studio, and the venture fund’s headquarters. Moving forward, its work will focus on five business silos: sports, media, and entertainment; digital health; agriculture, water, and environment; advanced manufacturing; and supply chain technology. The Packers-Microsoft partnership is just the latest example of how sports franchises are thinking way outside the mixed-use stadium district development box to benefit their communities. 
  7. NFL Players Coalition, Meek Mill, and others host Philadelphia Town Hall event. On Monday, October 28, global music streaming and entertainment platform, TIDAL will be live streaming, for free, the NFL Players Coalition Town Hall Event in Philadelphia. The event, according to a TIDAL release, will feature rapper Meek Mill, co-founder of Players Coalition/NFL Player Malcolm Jenkins, and other influencers discussing what the city of Philadelphia wants in its next police commissioner. Players Coalition aims to make an impact on social justice and racial equality through advocacy, awareness, education, and allocation of resources. TIDAL’s support of key social justice issues has been a pillar of the streaming service’s mission since its inception, and it is committed to amplifying conversations through the platform that will lead to a better future globally. The Philadelphia town hall meeting, and others like it nationally, are testaments to the NFL’s commitment to support social justice issues important to its players, alumni, and fans. Time will tell if the Players Coalition, with the league’s support, will truly be able to influence grassroots issues in the cities in which its games are played. 
  8. FIFA has announced that this year’s Women’s World Cup in France was watched by a record-breaking 1.12 billion viewers across all platforms. According to SportsPro, the figure, which accounts for viewers watching on TV at home, on digital platforms, or out-of-home, smashes the number recorded during the previous edition of the international women’s soccer tournament in Canada in 2015, when more than 750 million watched the event. FIFA added that 993.5 million viewers in2019 watched at least one minute of coverage on TV alone, while 481.5 million tuned in via digital platforms, up from 86 million in 2015. In addition, the U.S. women’s national team’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the final was the most-watched Women’s World Cup match ever, with an average live audience of 82.18 million. The tournament was aired by 62 broadcasters across 205 territories, with many participating teams’ matches breaking viewing records in their home markets. Notably, the 2018 FIFA men’s World Cup final between France and Croatia roped in a combined global audience of 1.12 billion, the same number that FIFA says tuned in over the course of the entire women’s tournament.
  9. A senior NFL official has said the league is planning to schedule back-to-back games in London for one of its franchises as part of its discovery process in bringing a team to the UK permanently. 2019 marks the second year out of the last three that the NFL has staged four games in the British capital. In 2017 and 2019, those four games involved eight different teams. Now, the NFL will test one team playing successive matches in the city as it further explores the long-touted concept of having one of its 32 franchises being permanently situated in London. Chris Halpin, the NFL’s chief strategy and growth officer, told the London Times, “As part of our long-term effort that is something we want to see to test out a team being in London for two games over a week…That is a key element of exploration of a franchise in London.” Although the league is yet to decide on an official organization that could move overseas, the Jaguars have an agreement to host one game season in London through 2020 and have regularly been mentioned as the team that is best fit to move to the UK. 
  10. Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney and his $9.3 million annual salary have taken over the top spot in the annual USA Today coaches’ salary database. Rounding out the top five are Nick Saban ($8.9 million), Jim Harbaugh ($7.5 million), Jimbo Fisher ($7.5 million), and Kirby Smart ($6.9 million). Notably, the top 83 coaches included in the list of 130 schools earned more than $1 million annually in salary alone. Also, the average total pay for the 122 FBS coaches for whom USA TODAY Sports could obtain compensation figures is $2.67 million, up 9% compared to last season – the increase is the largest in four years. And, for the first time, there is a league in which all of the coaches are making at least $3 million. That league is the 14-school Southeastern Conference, in which the average total pay is $4.95 million. College football coaches have seen salaries sky rocket in the last 10 years, meanwhile college athlete compensation is set to kick off in California come 2023.
  11. The NBA has confirmed that Salt Lake City will host the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. The 72nd   edition of the mid-season exhibition match, which sees teams selected by a combination of fan, player, and media voting, will be staged at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz, February 19 2023. The event will mark the 30th anniversary of the only previous time Utah’s capital city hosted the All-Star Game in 1993, when the Vivint Smart Home Arena was known as the Delta Center. The NBA’s 2023 All-Star festivities will kick off February 17 that year, featuring additional programming for fans at venues throughout Salt Lake City. The league also plans to run a full schedule of NBA Cares and Diversity & Inclusion events. “Along with a rich basketball tradition, Salt Lake City has proven to be a world-class destination for large-scale events and sports competitions,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “I want to thank the Miller Family and the Utah Jazz organization for their commitment to hosting our All-Star festivities and to developing a program that will leave a lasting impact on the community.” Added Jazz owner Gail Miller, “The memory of John Stockton and Karl Malone sharing MVP honors 30 years ago remains strong.  We are excited to create new memories for this generation of NBA fans.” Next year’s All-Star Game is being held at Chicago’s United Center before heading to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in 2021.
  12. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the governing body for the men’s game, has announced the appointment of Andrea Gaudenzi as its next chairman. The Italian, 46, will serve a four-year term, beginning January 1, according to SportsPro. Gaudenzi effectively replaces outgoing executive chairman and president Chris Kermode, who was all but forced out by Novak Djokovic and a small group on the ATP Players Council earlier this year. Kermode’s hopes of securing a third three-year term at the helm of the men’s tennis governing body relied on a vote at an ATP board meeting in March involving tournament and player representatives. Gaudenzi takes the reins following a highly accomplished ATP Tour career during which he won three ATP titles and reached a career-high ranking of 18. Most recently, he sat on the board of ATP Media, leading the successful restructuring of the business which serves as the ATP Tour’ broadcast arm. Following his appointment to the chairman role, it is possible the ATP will look to hire a president, essentially splitting Kermode’s role in two. Gaudendi’s appointment concludes an extensive leadership recruitment process undertaken over the past six months by the ATP board
  13. FIFA expands to China for Club World Cup. According to Cynposis, the FIFA Council delivered a unanimous decision to embrace China PR as the host of the first edition of the new and expanded FIFA Club World Cup. The tournament will be played between June and July 2021 with the final list of venues set to be decided by FIFA and the Chinese FA. Qatar will host the remaining two editions of the tournament’s current format, with the 2019 competition getting under way on December 11. The participation model to determine the clubs that qualify from each confederation will be finalized in a consultation process between FIFA and the six confederations. Meanwhile, human rights organisations have condemned Fifa’s decision to stage a revamped version of the Club World Cup in China due to ongoing political tensions between The Republic of China and Hong Kong. Amid social and political pressures from the West against China, FIFA has embraced the country as a future international market while the NBA has began to back away.
  14. A new football league unveils its inaugural schedule. The XFL unveiled its 2020 schedule which will serve up a 10-week regular season that starts February 8 at 2pm with the DC Defenders hosting the Seattle Dragons on ABC, followed by the Los Angeles Wildcats traveling to Houston for a game against the Roughnecks at 5pm on FOX. According to Cynopsis Sports, the eight-team league is divided into two four-team divisions, East and West. The XFL East features the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, and the Tampa Bay Vipers while the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons comprise the XFL West. Overall, ABC and ESPN will combine to televise 22 games during the 2020 XFL season, concluding with the inaugural XFL Championship on April 26. ABC will televise 14 games with most telecasts starting at 2p on Saturdays and both ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to carry eight games, all on Sundays. The XFL season is being broadcast after the end of the NFL season which finishes in early February, but the XFL needs to be careful to not make the same mistakes as the AAF, which collapsed after just three months into its inaugural season in 2019.
  15. The NBA season is underway and China is ramping up its policy against the basketball league. According to The Wall Street Journal, China greeted the start of a new NBA season with media blackouts, missing sponsors and airbrushed images. During the first week of the NBA season, Chinese broadcasters ignored key games, including last Thursday’s opener of the hugely popular Houston Rockets. For other matchups, the NBA’s media partners limited coverage to text play-by-play or modified it in other ways that combined to reduce the league’s connection to a Chinese fan base of over half a billion. Now that the season has begun, the league is also dealing with anti-China activities inside U.S. arenas. Fresh from a mid-year agreement to pay $1.5 billion to the NBA to stream games online in China, Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings Ltd. carefully curated basketball content last week, showing only one of Tuesday’s two season openers and cutting images like the NBA logo. At this point the most difficult part of getting NBA games back to legally airing in China may be limiting fans who have been wearing shirts and holding posters in support of Hong Kong.

Tech Top Five

  1. YouTube Founder Chad Hurley is secretly building a sports fan game called GreenPark. According to TechCrunch, Hurley is hunting for what comes after fantasy sports as he envisions a new way for fans to play by watching live games and cheering for the athletes they love. GreenPark Sports is launching in the spring of 2020 and boasts an all-star team with co-founders, Nick Swinmurn, who helped start Zappos, while another, Ken Martin, created marketing agency BLITZ. They’ve raised an $8.5 million seed round led by SignalFire and joined by Sapphire Sport and Founders Fund. GreenPark could seize upon a desire for online sports allegiance and community, and provide an outlet so that people can lose themselves by playing on teams for a virtual scoreboard. Rather than calculating results after the match like in fantasy sports, GreenPark wants to be entwined with the spectacle as it happens. Although exact details have been withheld, future users can expect a massive multiplayer online fan arena where players battle to represent who is the best super fan. 
  2. Instagrams’ House of Highlights aspires to become a true media company. According to Front Office Sports, Omar Raja’s 2015 brainchild has grown to a place where superstar athletes like LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Cristiano Ronaldo are just three of the more than 14 million followers the account currently has on Instagram alone. Since Bleacher Report acquired House of Highlights in 2015, the media company’s Instagram following is growing at a rate of 300,000 followers per month. With over 14.5 million followers to date, it recently became the first U.S. sports publisher to surpass ESPN on a social media platform. Although it has focused on the NBA and basketball content in the past, the company is beginning to expand its coverage by showing how sports are at the intersection of youth culture. It now has 1.6 million YouTube followers as well as over 1 million Tik Tok followers and continues to build its relationships with athletes around the globe while growing a larger female following online. 
  3. National Women’s Soccer League inks an exclusive deal with Octagon for media rights and marketing consulting. According to Sports Video Group, Octagon will provide comprehensive media rights valuation, sales strategy services, and work directly with NWSL executives to secure and amplify new media distribution opportunities. In addition, Octagon’s Marketing division will assist the league with brand marketing, asset development, sponsorship valuation, and fan engagement insights to help generate increases in overall reach and revenue for the league and its teams. Featuring more than 200 of the world’s best professional soccer players, including U.S. Women’s National Team members and two-time World Cup Champions Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and Alex Morgan, as well as international stars Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Sam Kerr, the NWSL is highlighted by 23 current FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions and 58 FIFA Women’s World Cup team members. Budwesier has also launched a campaign focused on finding the NWSL new sponsors as more money is being put into women’s soccer across the globe.
  4. Russel Wilson’s TraceMe startup is acquired by Nike. According to Sports Pro, the National Football League star was formerly the executive chairman of TraceMe, helping the company earn $9 million in funding from the Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group; Jeff Bezos’ fund, Bezos Expeditions; and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, among others. Founded in 2017, TraceMe’s original platform was designed to connect celebrities with “superfans” via behind-the-scenes content and community features before the company pivoted, shedding staff to launch Tally in November 2018. Tally, which had secured a deal with the Los Angeles Rams around an interactive mobile prediction game, was aimed at rights holders and broadcasters to help aid interaction around events and fits into the mold of casual sports betting. TechCrunch reported that the main interest of the deal was TraceMe’s intellectual property, as Nike may look to connect its sponsored athletes with fans at a higher and more tangible rate
  5. Formula 1 trials a Twitch broadcast for Mexican Grand Prix. According to Sports Pro, the deal allowed fans in Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden to watch every session of the race weekend live and for free via twitch.tv and Twitch’s mobile app. The one-race agreement saw several interactive and gaming elements integrated into Twitch’s coverage of the Grand Prix. Each session was co-streamed by a select group of in-market personalities, including German gaming influencer PietSmiet. In addition, Formula One will include a data extension alongside the broadcast that will allow Twitch users to predict the performance of individual drivers over ten-minute segments of the race. The predictions will then be ranked and displayed according to their accuracy. These digital elements allow for F1 to reach a younger audience, meanwhile Twitch is ramping up its co-streaming feature, which is already used for broadcasts of the NBA G League and Australia’s National Basketball League NBL in addition to individual streams of the National Women’s Hockey Leagueand Thursday Night Football fixtures.

POS Top Five

  1. Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier has donated $5,000 every time his team wins a playoff game. According to WUSA, Dozier made the pledge before the postseason began through Big League Impact Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2013 by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and his brother Trey Wainwright. Going into Game 6 of the World Series, the Nationals have won ten postseason games. That means Dozier has pledged $50,000 of his own money so far to charity. As part of the "All Win Campaign,” Dozier chose to donate to a high school he helped build in Ferrier Village, Haiti and Itawamba Crossroads Ranch in Fulton, Mississippi. In 2018, Dozier rallied his teammates and fans to help raise $280,000 to build the secondary school in Haiti which allowed local children the opportunity to continue education through 12th grade, while Itawamba Crossroads Ranch, near Dozier’s hometown, provides a live-in community for adults with special needs. Fans can join Dozier’s mission by pledging a donation for each future Nats playoff win as well. As the Nationals are making a push from a wildcard team to now winning it all, Dozier’s total donation could swell to $60,000 just from his personal contributions alone.
  2. For the second straight year, the  Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins will be donating $22 to charity for every point on the season. According to Clutchpoints, Wiggins managed to total 1,321 points and that translated to a donation of $29,062 to charity during the 2018-2019 campaign. And the money went towards supporting underprivileged children who face barriers in participating in organized sports. Wiggins is entering his sixth season with the Timberwolves and is coming off a respectable season with averages of 18.1 points and 4.8 rebounds. After the controversial Jimmy Butler departed the Timberwolves last season, there should be even more offensive responsibility for Wiggins out of the gate, which could translate into bigger donations for underprivileged youth.
  3. Indian’s Carlos Carrasco wins the 2019 Roberto Clemente award for his philanthropy and extraordinary character. According to CBS Sports, Carrasco and his wife Karry’s many charitable endeavors includes providing box lunches for the homeless from the front porch of their home in Florida every other Sunday in the offseason. They also fund a scholarship for single mothers and have donated money for clothes, food, medicine, and school supplies to the underprivileged in the United States, Colombia, Venezuela, and Africa. Additionally, Carrasco was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia earlier this year that sidelined him for much of the season. He returned to the team as a reliever after rosters expanded in September, but still had a big impact off the field all season.  Last year, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina won the award and he has now passed the torch to the Venezuelan Carrasco who is trying to aid his home country during times of extreme hunger and lack of living supplies.
  4. The sports world aims to tackle ocean plastic pollution. According to SportTechie, a research expedition embarked from the southwest coast of the U.K., on a two-year mission to sail westward around the world. The crew aboard the S.V. TravelEdge, a 73-foot floating laboratory, will travel 38,000-nautical-miles and cross all five of the world’s major ocean gyres, regions where rotating currents lead to the accumulation of floating plastic waste. The 300 women joining the all-female rotating team will investigate to find solutions to plastic pollution. The “eXXpedition Round The World” is being organized by sailor Emily Penn, who is among a growing group of athletes and people connected to the sports world that is advocating for and taking action to protect the environment. Another goal of Penn’s journey is to create a global network of ambassadors who can advocate to help solve the problem. She has been working with a larger environmental organization called 11th Hour Racing over the last few years to give talks and run workshops for other sailors to learn how they can play a role in tackling plastic pollution. By having athletes tackle environmental problems head on, they can use their social influence to be advocates for policy and lifestyle change.
  5. Seven NFL dads partner with Pampers to install changing tables in their local communities. According to Business Wire, Pampers’ commitment to install 5,000 changing tables across North America by 2021 secured the help of seven hands-on NFL dads today. In honor of October 26’s National Make a Difference Day, Pampers is leading the installation of changing tables in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Detroit and Charlotte so all parents can #LoveTheChange in public places. The seven players include Sterling Shepard of the New York Giants, Tevin Coleman of the San Francisco 49ers, Marvin Jones Jr. of the Detroit Lions, Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles, Derek Wolfe of the Denver Broncos, Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears, and Dontari Poe of the Carolina Panthers. The changing tables help to address the changing table inequality for men who care for babies and by using seven NFL dads the topic will gain more limelight.