14 Nov

10 To Watch : Mayor’s Edition 111119

RICK HORROW’S TOP 10 SPORTS/BIZ/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 11 : Mayor’s Edition

with Jacob Aere

  1. Sports investor Bruin Sports Capital received $600 million more to spend. According to the New York Times, Bruin Sports Capital is a sports investment and management company that invests in the technologies of media, marketing, and data surrounding sports. After raising $600 million from two even larger investors – CVC Capital Partners and the Jordan Company – Bruin Sports will be able to expand its portfolio of investments, which already include data analytics, media and streaming companies, and a fledgling drone-racing league. Currently, Bruin, led by Sport Business Handbook contributor George Pyne, has nearly $1 billion invested, including significant stakes in six companies across the modern sports landscape, from sports media start-ups such as The Athletic to a live-event provider selling high-end trips to events like the Super Bowl and the NFL draft. Overall, Bruin Sports Capital’s guiding philosophy is that people under 40 watch and consume sports and media in radically different ways from their parents – and this is likely how the strategic company will invest its newly-acquired $600 million: toward attracting future generations of sports and tech fans.
  2. As “Ford v Ferrari” prepares to open nationwide, with Oscar in its sights, the Raiders have announced Desert Ford Dealers Las Vegas as founding partner of their new Allegiant Stadium. The tie-up also sees Ford, which has five dealerships across Las Vegas, named as the official vehicle of the Raiders. The deal gives Ford a year-round presence throughout Allegiant Stadium including pre-game tailgate activations and naming rights on the north gate entry. Construction on the $1.8 billion stadium is due for completion July 21. Said Raiders president Marc Badain, “We are excited to add another world-wide brand to the Raider family and for the annual activation and tailgating experiences this partnership will provide to our fans.” Set to open this Friday, “Ford v Ferrari” focuses on the relationship between visionary car designer Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon) and British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they worked to develop the Ford GT-40 car that swept the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. In case you’re wondering, the original cars sold and licensed by Ford in the 1960s have great value. A 1965 GT-40 roadster prototype was sold in August at a Monterey, CA auction for $7.65 million.
  3. While the majority of America’s top high school basketball talent chose to spend the year in college where they will earn $0 in wages, LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton chose to spend the year in Australia’s National Basketball League, where they will earn $68,400. Ball was unlikely to be NCAA eligible anyway after playing professionally in Lithuania, but Hampton had full eligibility at an American college. Instead, he chose the path he thought would best prepare him for the NBA. Hampton’s decision embodies the modern challenge facing college basketball, but fears over this becoming the new normal are exaggerated. After all, thanks to a new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon, the “one-and-done” era will likely end soon. And when it does, these alternative paths will be moot. We’ve seen international prospects make noise before, but we’ve never seen two young Americans — both active on social media with big followings: Ball has five million Instagram followers while RJ has 430,000 – playing  overseas while their former classmates play on campuses. Should be a fun storyline to follow this college basketball season and into next year’s NBA Draft.
  4. As MLS once again crowned the Seattle Sounders as their champion, the average value of an MLS franchise has climbed 30% from $240 million to $313 million, according to Forbes. The year-on-year growth outpaces the rising team values in the NBA, which were up 13%, as well as the 11% increase in the NFL, an 8% rise in MLB, and a 6% climb in the NHL. Atlanta United remains the most valuable MLS franchise for the second straight year at $500 million, up from $330 million in last year’s rankings. The club’s revenue soared from $47 million to $78 million, resulting in an operating income of $7 million. Atlanta United are closely followed by the L.A. Galaxy ($480 million), with LAFC ($475 million), MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders ($405 million), and Toronto FC ($395 million) rounding off the top five. Despite the increase in team values, Forbes estimates that just seven of the league’s 24 teams turned a profit last season, with Toronto FC recording the biggest loss of $19 million. However, that has not stemmed the demand from investors looking to own an MLS franchise, even though expansion fees have soared to $200 million
  5. In similar sports engagement news, a new study from Telemundo Deportes was welcome news for brands looking to engage with Hispanic fans. Telemundo Deportes, in partnership with Turnkey Intelligence-MarketCast, reports that Hispanic fans show 15% higher propensity to support sponsors on television and elsewhere than non-Hispanics, “by trying, buying, or recommending a product or service,” according to the study. Additionally, 57% of Hispanic sports fans who consume Spanish-language media would try, buy, or recommend a product or service — a 22% increase over non-Hispanics. Among the report’s other highlights, more than three-quarters of Spanish-language media consumers consider the FIFA Men’s World Cup a “can’t miss event.” 81% of Hispanic sports fans watch sports on television, predominantly at home, and were somewhat less likely than non-Hispanic fans to follow sports on other media platforms such as streaming services, social media, and online news sites. It’s never too early to prepare for the World Cup. Even though the 2022 event in Qatar is later than normal in the calendar due to brutal summer heat in that country – it kicks off in almost three years to the day – brand marketers should take note of this timely study.
  6. The New York Knicks and New Jersey Devils broadcasts will soon feature FanDuel betting. According to Bloomberg, FanDuel will become an official sports gaming partner for broadcasts of the NBA’s Knicks, as well as the exclusive sports gambling partner for broadcasts of the NHL’s Devils. Also, New York Rangers hockey telecasts will include FanDuel commercials, but not betting-related content. Devils telecasts will have updated betting odds in a scrolling sidebar during each intermission. The partnership also will include a mix of in-game and halftime spots, branded content, and commercials. Prior to the Knicks halftime show, the network recently began showing a five-minute segment called “Inside the Lines,” devoting that time to look at the NBA betting landscape. A similar one-minute NHL-focused show will air leading into every Devils pregame show. Sports betting companies increasingly are signing deals with pro sports teams and media entities in places where betting on games is legal, and more teams will sign deals with betting partners as state by state legislation continues to relax on sports betting.
  7. Privacy-focused messaging app Signal is making waves in the NBA, NFL, and NCAA. Tampering issues loom over professional sports and a widespread federal investigation still lingers over the NCAA landscape, meaning that the desire for privacy, encryption, and even disappearing messages has increased. For public schools in college sports, the app has emerged as an outlet to avoid jeopardy under Freedom of Information Act requests and to circumvent NCAA amateurism rules. In pro sports, Signal is used to combat the uptick in tampering enforcement. According to Yahoo! Sports, all the messages, photos, and documents passed back and forth are heavily encrypted on Signal. In the NBA and NFL, Signal spans every level from players to executives. In the wake of an NBA free agency period in which news of deals was broken prior to the formal start of the free agency round, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced stricter enforcement of rules for tampering and salary-cap circumvention. While the Signal app was originally created for use in politics, the sports world has been using its security features to avoid legal repercussions for phone conversations or texts or, simply, an escape from stardom.
  8. Total advertising on connected TV devices and platforms will grow 37.6% in 2019 to hit $6.94 billion, forecasts eMarketer – and surpass $10 billion by 2021. “When looking at ad revenues, YouTube, Hulu and Roku are the leaders in this market,” eMarketer lead analyst Eric Haggstrom shared with Cynopsis. “Users of these platforms are likely either cord-cutters or cord-shavers. That means some TV ad buyers are willing to pay a premium to reach users who are difficult to reach via traditional TV ads. These platforms are also bulking up their targeting, programmatic and attribution capabilities in order to attract buyers from the digital world.” While these numbers comprise all programming, including sports, major recent deals that pro sports leagues have done with the likes of Amazon and YouTube prove that they understand where the content consuming world is going and are already headed in that direction.
  9. Boston Marathon Charity eclipses $100 million in donations for cancer over its 20 years. According to Tucson.com, Boston Marathon runners participating on behalf of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since 1990 have surpassed the $100 million fundraising mark. The research center says more than $500,000 has already been raised by runners in next year’s race, putting it over the threshold. Dana-Farber was one of the first charities allowed to use the Boston Marathon as a fundraiser. More than 500 runners are expected to take part in the 2020 race as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge. They are hoping to raise $6.25 million. 100% of the money raised from the team’s Boston Marathon runners supports promising cancer research in its earliest stages. The Boston Marathon is the pinnacle of marathon and media coverage and the race will make positive headlines as multiple charities will be highlighted on the day of the event next year, April 20, 2020.
  10. Phillies coach Charlie Manuel will sleep on the street for charity. According to Crossing Broad, Manuel will be sleeping outside on a Philly street along with Larry Bowa and Phillies executives to raise money for the Covenant House “Sleep Out” program, which supports homeless youth. Charlie went on Twitter to explain that his family had 11 kids and that he “grew up poor,” so it’s a cause he can relate to. As of Friday, $1,415 of the $5,000 goal had already been raised. The sleep out will take place on November 21 and is not about pretending to be homeless. It’s an act of solidarity with the 4.2 million young people who experience homelessness each year. It’s a decision that we can’t stay indoors while so many kids remain outside. The funds raised will be donated to Covenant House, a shelter for kids experiencing homelessness and trafficking. Covenant House offers these young people respect and unconditional love, and their continuum of care provides essential services to help kids transition from homelessness to independence. Manuel is raising awareness of homelessness in Philadelphia and speaking from a place of respect, as he too suffered financial struggles in his childhood.

14 Nov

15+5+5 To Watch 111119

15 TO WATCH/5 SPORTS TECH/POWER OF SPORTS 5: RICK HORROW’S TOP SPORTS/BIZ/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 11

with Jacob Aere

  1. Monday is Veteran’s Day, and sports entities are lining up their tributes. For starters, San Antonio-based insurer USAA is supporting ESPN’s annual veterans initiative which this year commemorates the 100th anniversary of the holiday. The insurance company’s activation will be highlighted by athletes, coaches, and celebrities issuing “shout-outs” to members of the military during SportsCenter and tributes on other ESPN platforms. Running November 7-11, ESPN’s America’s Heroes: A Salute to Our Veterans fare began with an hour-long SportsCenter special from Fort Campbell Military Base in Kentucky on November 7 on ESPN2. First Take aired live from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona the following day. In addition, the annual Armed Forces Classic was played from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska that night. And anyone watching football, basketball, and hockey over the weekend couldn’t help but notice the platoons of paratroopers, scoreboard salutes, and abundance of camouflage on all sidelines. Putting aside anything that divides us in sport and elsewhere, on Monday, all Americans should pause and say “thank you for your service” at some point during the day.
  2. Sports investor Bruin Sports Capital received $600 million more to spend. According to the New York Times, Bruin Sports Capital is a sports investment and management company that invests in the technologies of media, marketing, and data surrounding sports. After raising $600 million from two even larger investors – CVC Capital Partners and the Jordan Company – Bruin Sports will be able to expand its portfolio of investments, which already include data analytics, media and streaming companies, and a fledgling drone-racing league. Currently, Bruin, led by Sport Business Handbook contributor George Pyne, has nearly $1 billion invested, including significant stakes in six companies across the modern sports landscape, from sports media start-ups such as The Athletic to a live-event provider selling high-end trips to events like the Super Bowl and the NFL draft. Overall, Bruin Sports Capital’s guiding philosophy is that people under 40 watch and consume sports and media in radically different ways from their parents – and this is likely how the strategic company will invest its newly-acquired $600 million: toward attracting future generations of sports and tech fans.
  3. College basketball is underway, and we may soon see an end to the sport’s infamous “one and done” scenario. The “one-and-done” era began in 2006 when the NBA implemented a controversial age eligibility rule. And all signs point to that rule being changed back prior to the 2022 draft, restoring the legal right of 18-year-olds to declare out of high school. As Axios noted, “in other words, the sport you’ve come to know over the past decade-plus — the landscape you’ve grown so familiar with — might soon collapse into oblivion. Enjoy it while it lasts.” Axios also noted that it’s been 23 years since a national basketball champion emerged west of Lawrence, Kansas, and that “the Eastern Time Zone has produced 21 of the past 22 national titles! Will the drought continue?” New college hoops coaches to watch this season include former NBA coaches Juwan Howard (Michigan), Jerry Stackhouse (Vanderbilt), and Fred Hoiberg (Nebraska); while Mick Cronin (Cincinnati to UCLA), Eric Musselman (Nevada to Arkansas), Buzz Williams (Virginia Tech to Texas A&M), and made lateral moves.
  4. While the majority of America’s top high school basketball talent chose to spend the year in college where they will earn $0 in wages, LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton chose to spend the year in Australia’s National Basketball League, where they will earn $68,400. Ball was unlikely to be NCAA eligible anyway after playing professionally in Lithuania, but Hampton had full eligibility at an American college. Instead, he chose the path he thought would best prepare him for the NBA. Hampton’s decision embodies the modern challenge facing college basketball, but fears over this becoming the new normal are exaggerated. After all, thanks to a new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon, the “one-and-done” era will likely end soon. And when it does, these alternative paths will be moot. We’ve seen international prospects make noise before, but we’ve never seen two young Americans — both active on social media with big followings: Ball has five million Instagram followers while RJ has 430,000 – playing  overseas while their former classmates play on campuses. Should be a fun storyline to follow this college basketball season and into next year’s NBA Draft.
  5. IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have a new owner. History was made last week for IndyCar, as the Board of Directors of Hulman & Company entered into an agreement to be acquired by Penske Corporation, selling principal operating assets, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), the NTT IndyCar Series, and IMS Productions to the corporation. This ended a legacy with the Hulman family and the racing series, as IMS was purchased by Tony Hulman and Hulman & Company in 1945, although the family will have an opportunity from Penske to remain involved with both the series and the speedway, according to ESPN. Said Tony George, Chairman of Hulman & Company, “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the centerpiece and the cathedral of motorsports since 1909 and the Hulman-George family has proudly served as the steward of this great institution for more than 70 years. Now, we are honored to pass the torch to Roger Penske and Penske Corporation.” Penske is well respected within motorsports, and the deal will no doubt benefit all IndyCar stakeholders, from IMS itself to sponsors like Group1001, which backs young IndyCar driver Zach Veach. 
  6. As “Ford v Ferrari” prepares to open nationwide, with Oscar in its sights, the Raiders have announced Desert Ford Dealers Las Vegas as founding partner of their new Allegiant Stadium. The tie-up also sees Ford, which has five dealerships across Las Vegas, named as the official vehicle of the Raiders. The deal gives Ford a year-round presence throughout Allegiant Stadium including pre-game tailgate activations and naming rights on the north gate entry. Construction on the $1.8 billion stadium is due for completion July 21. Said Raiders president Marc Badain, “We are excited to add another world-wide brand to the Raider family and for the annual activation and tailgating experiences this partnership will provide to our fans.” Set to open this Friday, “Ford v Ferrari” focuses on the relationship between visionary car designer Carroll Shelby (played by Matt Damon) and British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they worked to develop the Ford GT-40 car that swept the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. In case you’re wondering, the original cars sold and licensed by Ford in the 1960s have great value. A 1965 GT-40 roadster prototype was sold in August at a Monterey, CA auction for $7.65 million.
  7. The ATP tested wearable technology for the first time during its just-completed Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The Association of Tennis Professionals says the technology will allow players and coaches at the annual 21-and-under men’s tennis tournament to quantify the demands of the competition, practice load management, and make performance decisions based on objective data. The wearable devices will have a GPS receiver and sensors that measure velocity and direction, acceleration and force, rotation, and body orientation. The technology will also measure a player’s heart rate. The data generated from the device will only be available to each player and those that they choose to give access to. It will be displayed in the form of maps showing player movements and actions, while players and coaches will also get post-match and post-practice reports. They will also be able to synchronize the data with match footage.  Wearable technology is the latest innovation to be rolled out at the Next Gen Finals, which also feature shorter sets to four, electronic line calling through Hawk-Eye Live, a 25-second shot clock, in-match player coaching via headsets, and video review. Next up for the ATP: the season finale at London’s O2.
  8. As MLS once again crowned the Seattle Sounders as their champion, the average value of an MLS franchise has climbed 30% from $240 million to $313 million, according to Forbes. The year-on-year growth outpaces the rising team values in the NBA, which were up 13%, as well as the 11% increase in the NFL, an 8% rise in MLB, and a 6% climb in the NHL. Atlanta United remains the most valuable MLS franchise for the second straight year at $500 million, up from $330 million in last year’s rankings. The club’s revenue soared from $47 million to $78 million, resulting in an operating income of $7 million. Atlanta United are closely followed by the L.A. Galaxy ($480 million), with LAFC ($475 million), MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders ($405 million), and Toronto FC ($395 million) rounding off the top five. Despite the increase in team values, Forbes estimates that just seven of the league’s 24 teams turned a profit last season, with Toronto FC recording the biggest loss of $19 million. However, that has not stemmed the demand from investors looking to own an MLS franchise, even though expansion fees have soared to $200 million.
  9. We’re past the halfway point of the 2019-2020 NFL season, and FOX expects Super Bowl LIV ad pricing to set record. FOX said it expects to get the highest prices ever for its commercials for this season’s Super Bowl, set to take place in Miami on February 2, 2020. Speaking on FOX’s earnings conference call with analysts last Wednesday, FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch said that “we’re confident pricing will certainly be the highest cost per 30 second spot of any Super Bowl.” Prices for Super Bowl spots have been well in excess of $5 million in recent years. Categories that are already spending money with FOX for the big game include the companies engaged in streaming wars (think Netflix, Amazon, Hulu), tech companies, pharmaceutical marketers, and financial services companies led by insurance companies such as GEICO, Progressive, and State Farm. Back in May, FOX announced that they were cutting one commercial break from each Super Bowl quarter in an attempt to combat criticism about the volume of breaks in the game. Of course, this also makes Super Bowl ad inventory scarcer – and more expensive.
  10. New research from video platform Imagen suggests a generational shift is happening among sports fans across the major U.S. pro leagues. Millennial and Gen Z fans are showing a desire to interact with sports content beyond live games, and a strong preference for more personalized engagement with content. Four times as many millennial and Gen Z fans watch more than three hours of non-game sports content each week compared to Baby Boomers, 78% of fans enhance their live experience with non-game content by dual screening while watching a live game, and 39% of millennials are willing to pay for exclusive online sports content. What’s the takeaway for the TV industry? “The study we conducted surfaced a number of interesting insights for content owners and rights-holders across the sports media landscape,” Ryan Rolf, Imagen CRO, told Cynopsis. “Game broadcasters should do more to embrace second screening through official companion apps and social streams or otherwise risk fans consuming content in-game via competing platforms.” The biggest takeaway? Influencers should be embraced for their authenticity and implemented into programming that breaks down the traditional wall between teams and their fans, rather than teams holding them at bay.
  11. In similar sports engagement news, a new study from Telemundo Deportes was welcome news for brands looking to engage with Hispanic fans. Telemundo Deportes, in partnership with Turnkey Intelligence-MarketCast, reports that Hispanic fans show 15% higher propensity to support sponsors on television and elsewhere than non-Hispanics, “by trying, buying, or recommending a product or service,” according to the study. Additionally, 57% of Hispanic sports fans who consume Spanish-language media would try, buy, or recommend a product or service — a 22% increase over non-Hispanics. Among the report’s other highlights, more than three-quarters of Spanish-language media consumers consider the FIFA Men’s World Cup a “can’t miss event.” 81% of Hispanic sports fans watch sports on television, predominantly at home, and were somewhat less likely than non-Hispanic fans to follow sports on other media platforms such as streaming services, social media, and online news sites. It’s never too early to prepare for the World Cup. Even though the 2022 event in Qatar is later than normal in the calendar due to brutal summer heat in that country – it kicks off in almost three years to the day – brand marketers should take note of this timely study.
  12. As a handful of golf’s global stars prepare for the big 5-0, PGA Tour Champions announced the 2020 tournament schedule, featuring 27 events and culminating with the fifth annual Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs. In 2020, the Tour will hold tournaments in four foreign countries and 18 states, with total prize money of nearly $59 million. The 2020 season will mark the first year of PGA Tour Champions eligibility for a number of the game’s biggest names. World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els celebrated his 50th birthday on October 17, while 17-time PGA Tour winner and 2010 FedEx Cup Champion Jim Furyk, 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, 2011 Players Champion K.J. Choi, and World Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson will all turn 50 in the next 12 months. Mickelson, perhaps in a nod to his newly svelte frame – he claims he has lost more than 15 pounds – is certainly not slowing down in his role as a pitchman. Last week, he signed a reported equity deal with Heineken to promote its Amstel Light brand. 
  13. Sinclair Broadcast Group has recorded a 47% increase in total yearly revenues to $1.125 billion, for which the majority of growth is attributed to its sports portfolio since acquiring 22 RSNs from Disney. Chris Ripley, Sinclair’s CEO, has revealed to investors that 75% of the company’s income is created through its sports and news programming, and is now “weighed heavily toward sports.” Compared to financial statements at the end of September 2018, Sinclair’s overall revenue has grown from $766 million. Although advertising and distribution revenues generated by Sinclair’s news content ($651 million) still account for the majority of the company’s income, Sinclair’s sports segment accounted for more than 98% ($352 million) of its revenue growth in the 12 months since. Ripley has also confirmed that the group is planning to increase its ownership of the 24/7 multi-platform Stadium sports network. Stadium was formed in May 2017 in a joint venture with Sinclair’s former American Sports Network (ASN) division and two U.S. TV streaming services, Campus Insiders and 120 Sports. Sinclair paid more than $14 billion to secure all 22 former FOX networks from Disney. 
  14. The NBA altered its bylaws prior to the start of the 2019-2020 season to allow teams to sell sponsorship packages outside of the U.S. and Canada for the first time. League rules previously prevented teams from participating in any ad campaign or sponsorship event outside of their home market. However, NBA chief innovation officer Amy Brooks told JohnWallStreet that the companies currently participating in the league’s jersey patch program – two-thirds of which have an international presence – indicated that the time was right “to grow [the NBA] brand and our partners’ brands globally.” Loosening bylaws surrounding international marketing rights should help the league grow revenues and connect with fans in other regions. The Washington Wizards were the first NBA franchise to take advantage of the rule change, signing an agreement with Japanese tech conglomerate NEC. The Wizards made Rui Hachimura the first Japanese player ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 2019.
  15. Airbnb is set to announce a global sponsorship with the International Olympic Committee running through the Los Angeles 2028 Games, according to SportsBusiness Journal. The deal would represent a significant shift in the home-sharing platform’s sports marketing strategy as Airbnb prepares for its IPO in 2020. According to SBJ, the deal would focus on Airbnb’s “experiences” strand, which allows hosts to offer access to their hobbies, skills, or expertise as part of offering out their homes for rent. The arrangement is not intended to infringe on the hotel and hospitality business that Olympic organizers require to stage the Olympics. Recent partners joining the IOC’s global TOP program have made significant investments, with a joint Mengniu Dairy and Coca-Cola deal back in June being valued at $3 billion over 11 years. Currently, 13 companies comprise the TOP program, getting category-exclusive rights to every Games, the IOC, and national Olympic committees.

Top Five Tech

  1. The New York Knicks and New Jersey Devils broadcasts will soon feature FanDuel betting. According to Bloomberg, FanDuel will become an official sports gaming partner for broadcasts of the NBA’s Knicks, as well as the exclusive sports gambling partner for broadcasts of the NHL’s Devils. Also, New York Rangers hockey telecasts will include FanDuel commercials, but not betting-related content. Devils telecasts will have updated betting odds in a scrolling sidebar during each intermission. The partnership also will include a mix of in-game and halftime spots, branded content, and commercials. Prior to the Knicks halftime show, the network recently began showing a five-minute segment called “Inside the Lines,” devoting that time to look at the NBA betting landscape. A similar one-minute NHL-focused show will air leading into every Devils pregame show. Sports betting companies increasingly are signing deals with pro sports teams and media entities in places where betting on games is legal, and more teams will sign deals with betting partners as state by state legislation continues to relax on sports betting.
  2. Privacy-focused messaging app Signal is making waves in the NBA, NFL, and NCAA. Tampering issues loom over professional sports and a widespread federal investigation still lingers over the NCAA landscape, meaning that the desire for privacy, encryption, and even disappearing messages has increased. For public schools in college sports, the app has emerged as an outlet to avoid jeopardy under Freedom of Information Act requests and to circumvent NCAA amateurism rules. In pro sports, Signal is used to combat the uptick in tampering enforcement. According to Yahoo! Sports, all the messages, photos, and documents passed back and forth are heavily encrypted on Signal. In the NBA and NFL, Signal spans every level from players to executives. In the wake of an NBA free agency period in which news of deals was broken prior to the formal start of the free agency round, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced stricter enforcement of rules for tampering and salary-cap circumvention. While the Signal app was originally created for use in politics, the sports world has been using its security features to avoid legal repercussions for phone conversations or texts or, simply, an escape from stardom.
  3. Spalding hosts holiday shopping event on social media. According to Mobile Marketer, basketball maker Spalding will host a two-hour shopping event on social media to give fans a chance to buy limited-edition gear. The “Spalding.com Holiday Slam” will be headlined by NBA players Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan on November 24. Spalding will sell 30 items, including new basketballs and hoops, in a collaboration that also will include former L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the NBA, and global travel brand Sprayground. The shopping event will be hosted at a special microsite and on Spalding’s @spaldingball account on Instagram and @Spalding handle on Twitter. Some of the proceeds from the shopping event will be donated to the NBPA Foundation and LA84 Foundation’s joint Court Refurbishment Program that provides places for kids to play basketball in Southern California. By following a model of well-known exclusivity similar to an online sneaker drop, it’s likely that the Spalding merchandise will sell out quickly and may influence future marketing tactics in other sports.
  4. NBA TV linear network goes direct to consumer on digital platform. According to SportsPro, the channel includes more than 100 exclusive live NBA games per season and has been added to the NBA’s official website and app, alongside on-demand video content, and will enable viewers to access NBATV content using mobile and connected devices. The offer is available for $6.99 per month or $59.99 annually, and will also continue to authenticate fans who get NBA TV via a pay-TV operator. The move comes after NBA Digital recently debuted a new NBA TV franchise called Center Court, which features a series of 20 live 2019-2020 NBA games with enhanced viewing options. They include new camera angles with footage captured exclusively on smartphones, live on-screen group chats with celebrity influencers, in-depth analytics and statistical graphics, and social media integration. The NBA has also announced an expansion of its existing media partnerships in the Philippines to distribute NBA League Pass, amidst turbulence in China that has put that country and the league at an impasse.
  5. Total advertising on connected TV devices and platforms will grow 37.6% in 2019 to hit $6.94 billion, forecasts eMarketer – and surpass $10 billion by 2021. “When looking at ad revenues, YouTube, Hulu and Roku are the leaders in this market,” eMarketer lead analyst Eric Haggstrom shared with Cynopsis. “Users of these platforms are likely either cord-cutters or cord-shavers. That means some TV ad buyers are willing to pay a premium to reach users who are difficult to reach via traditional TV ads. These platforms are also bulking up their targeting, programmatic and attribution capabilities in order to attract buyers from the digital world.” While these numbers comprise all programming, including sports, major recent deals that pro sports leagues have done with the likes of Amazon and YouTube prove that they understand where the content consuming world is going and are already headed in that direction. 

Power of Sports Five

  1. Fútbol Más Foundation and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) look to integrate Venezuelan migrants to Peru. According to sportanddev, Fútbol Más Foundation started a project in partnership with the IOM, which seeks to promote the well-being and integration of youth between 6 and 18 years old through socio-sportive activities. 150 boys, girls, and teens are part of the project “El Balón No Tiene Banderas” (The Ball Has No Flags). Families from both nationalities and members of the management team participated to kick-start the socio-sportive workshops and meetings, leader courses, and the intercultural festival that will benefit the communities through the commitment to a protected and inclusive childhood all through the power of soccer as a unifier. Fútbol Más, a non-profit organization, emerged in Chile in 2007 and is currently working in Chile, Ecuador, France, Haiti, Kenya, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru. While Venezuela continues to see famine throughout the devastated country, El Balon No Tiene Banderas looks to help relocate youth and families in need to the much safer location of Lima, Peru.
  2. Boston Marathon Charity eclipses $100 million in donations for cancer over its 20 years. According to Tucson.com, Boston Marathon runners participating on behalf of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since 1990 have surpassed the $100 million fundraising mark. The research center says more than $500,000 has already been raised by runners in next year’s race, putting it over the threshold. Dana-Farber was one of the first charities allowed to use the Boston Marathon as a fundraiser. More than 500 runners are expected to take part in the 2020 race as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge. They are hoping to raise $6.25 million. 100% of the money raised from the team’s Boston Marathon runners supports promising cancer research in its earliest stages. The Boston Marathon is the pinnacle of marathon and media coverage and the race will make positive headlines as multiple charities will be highlighted on the day of the event next year, April 20, 2020.
  3. Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis donates $3 million to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. According to MLB, Chris and Jill Davis donated $3 million to the UMD Children’s Hospital at the University of Maryland Medical Center, which made their donation the largest ever received by the hospital from a Baltimore sports figure. Hospital officials said the funds would be allocated for the expansion of a state-of-the-art pediatric hybrid catheterization and operation room used to fight congenital heart disease. The Davises have long been active with the hospital, where their second daughter, Evie, was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect in January, 2018 and spent nearly a year under doctors’ watchful eyes before being medically cleared near her first birthday. Davis is a three-time nominee for MLB’s prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, and his family hosted a charity home run derby called “Crush’s Homers for Hearts” at Oriole Park at Camden Yards during each of the last three summers. To date, the event has raised more than $250,000 for UMCH Children’s Heart Program. While Davis’ on-field struggles have now totaled four straight seasons of subpar batting averages and strikeout numbers, his off-field contributions continue to make him a welcome athlete in Baltimore.
  4. The Pittsburgh Penguins will honor the military with a Veterans Day Celebration. According to the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins honored military veterans at this past Saturday’s game against Chicago at PPG Paints Arena by wearing special black-and-green camouflage jerseys in the pre-game warmup. The jerseys will then be autographed and auctioned online, with proceeds benefiting Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania. Additionally, ten veterans from the Veterans Leadership Program and their guests watched Saturday’s game from a party suite, courtesy of the Penguins and the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, while stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin donated their charity suites to veterans from the Veterans Leadership Program and their families. With Veterans Day taking place on Monday, November 11, the Penguins are making sure to honor those who allow for the freedoms of others to enjoy hockey on a regular basis.
  5. Phillies coach Charlie Manuel will sleep on the street for charity. According to Crossing Broad, Manuel will be sleeping outside on a Philly street along with Larry Bowa and Phillies executives to raise money for the Covenant House “Sleep Out” program, which supports homeless youth. Charlie went on Twitter to explain that his family had 11 kids and that he “grew up poor,” so it’s a cause he can relate to. As of Friday, $1,415 of the $5,000 goal had already been raised. The sleep out will take place on November 21 and is not about pretending to be homeless. It’s an act of solidarity with the 4.2 million young people who experience homelessness each year. It’s a decision that we can’t stay indoors while so many kids remain outside. The funds raised will be donated to Covenant House, a shelter for kids experiencing homelessness and trafficking. Covenant House offers these young people respect and unconditional love, and their continuum of care provides essential services to help kids transition from homelessness to independence. Manuel is raising awareness of homelessness in Philadelphia and speaking from a place of respect, as he too suffered financial struggles in his childhood.

12 Nov

Former Pitt Athletes Turned Entrepreneurs Making Waves In The Healthy Water Space

by Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

There are few categories that are as competitive as the water space, and the amount of dollars being invested in sales and activation is staggering. From cause marketing to fitness to a mass audience water, for many reasons, is hot.

One company that has steadily built its brand is Ready Nutrition, Launched in 2012 by Pittsburgh entrepreneur and former Pitt Panther basketball captain Pat Cavanaugh, Ready has gone after the healthy lifestyle youth market, tackling obesity and sedentary lifestyles with a product that has zero sugar, one of the only in the market. Cavanaugh has taken his company literally to the grassroots, and will eclipse $100,000 million in sales very soon. This week Ready made another big leap in engagement, bringing on Los Angeles Rams star, and Pittsburgh native, Aaron Donald not just as an endorser but their first ever outside investor. We asked Cavanaugh to break down the category, the company and how and why he has brought along the two time NFL Defensive Player of the Year on his team.

How has the company set it apart in a very very competitive field?

Our biggest assets and differentiation without question is our culture, our employees and our mindset. We are focused on making the highest quality products possible and making our best better. We like to spend our time on how we can be better for our customers. I see so many brands spending time and money on why they are better than someone else. The Ready mentality speaks to athletes about what they can control in achieving their goals—Effort and Attitude….and what they put into their body.  We remind them (at all levels) – it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish that counts. We think our Ready Water and all the products we develop fuels their body and feeds that mentality.

No sugar is something that we are seeing in many places yet you have been going on your own, what do your clients say is the deciding factor of choice?

Zero sugar is certainly one trend across all sports nutrition including the sports hydration space, but what we’ve seen are companies still using artificial sweeteners, flavors and food colors.   Our customers and our athletes want products with a clean label and have functional ingredients that will optimize their performance. We also know that just because a product contains all-natural ingredients doesn’t mean its ideal for athletic performance. Sugar alcohols such as erythritol is a good example of an ingredient that is natural, replaces sugar yet may not be best suited for some athletes from a GI perspective. Understanding our customers and what they were looking for resulted in our all-natural protein water with no artificial ingredients or sugar alcohols — just natural sweeteners and natural electrolytes with quality protein.   And, of course, no sugar.  This combination of functional ingredients for hydrating athletes—along with our widely recognized great – has really resonated with our customers.

You have been in the space of nutrition for several years, how did water become the breakthrough part of the business?

As a former college athlete myself, I watched the marketing surrounding supposedly better-for-you sports drinks even though there were still high levels of sugar, sugar alcohols and artificial ingredients in a number of these products.  Water has always been championed by nutritionists as a perfectly good way for most athletes to hydrate depending on the length and intensity of their workout. We asked ourselves why couldn’t we add to that functionality by developing a great tasting protein-infused water that had none of the artificial ingredients or sugar alcohols. And we think our Ready Water is right on-trend with what athletes are looking for in their fueling products.

Explain the partnership with NCAA schools; how does that work when the face the dollars of a Gatorade or a Powerade for example?

Yes, these traditional sponsorship deals continue but there’s certainly been a shift in emphasis and philosophy at schools knowing what we know now about how nutrition can impact athletic performance.  We’re finding that a lot of schools, Power 5 Schools and the like, that may be getting free product recognize the benefits of our Ready Water for their athletes and is being requested by both strength coaches and their nutritionists. So while the schools may get a certain allocation of free product in their sponsorship deals with other brands, they are buying our product by the pallet. In addition to our Ready Water, we do have our own nutritionists that can provide support and guidance for the schools who may not have a full-time nutritionist on staff.

Your relationship with Aaron Donald goes back to the roots at Pitt, what was the deciding factor in having him come on as your first investor?

We have a mentality behind the Ready® brand that focuses on what you can control:  Effort and Attitude.  That hard work wins.  That you can succeed by outworking your competition.  That with the right attitude combined with hard work-you can achieve your goals. No one works harder than Aaron.   He was a recruit with only 4 scholarship offers and now is a 2-time Defensive MVP.  Talk about going from a humble start to the peak of his profession!   Aaron has always been invested in the mentality of our brand—that’s the kind of person I welcome as an investor in the brand.  

How is his role structured?

Besides being an investor and endorser who loves the product,  we will rely on his experience as an athlete who is very particular on what goes into his body, to help develop and formulate additional best in class sports nutritional products.  But more importantly, we knew of Aaron’s passion for being involved in the community.  That’s why we will work together and focus on high school and youth athlete platforms such as Ready’s Mobile Training Table program of educating athletes on proper sports nutrition and Ready Talks with Aaron that give advice to athletes on achieving their goals.

Is this a one off deal or will you look to other athletes as endorsers and investors?

We are always selectively looking for athletes that love our products, but more importantly, live our brand in terms of our mentality.  There are certainly prominent names out there that fit the bill.  We won’t necessarily be focused on well-known names, but rather successful athletes that have a story to tell of overcoming adversity and having the reputation that it’s been the hard work they’ve put in–both past and present—that has been at the foundation of their success.

The cause side of water has become very intriguing to athletes. Is there an element of clean water campaigns tied to this or is it just about nutrition?

That’s certainly on our radar as a future cause as the brand continues to rapidly grow and evolve providing a larger platform for us to address the issue.   It certainly allows athletes to be on the international stage, championing the issue of clean water availability in developing countries.   With water being such an integral part of our brand—this would be a great opportunity to address for both us and our future athlete partners—both internationally and domestically with some of the clean water environmental concerns.

You don’t have the massive spending dollars on marketing of your competitors. What is the longer play here for the brand?

Obviously in our position we have to rely on the power of social media strategies and selected partnerships to continue to get our brand message across both in the U.S. and abroad.  Our 200+ college teams and 4 conference deals will continue to be integrated with our high school and youth programming. Additionally, we’re about to announce a partnership (Official Sports Drink) with an organization that has over 700,000 athletes across over 40 different sports.  That’s significant brand exposure for us with our core customers and their families.  We will focus much of our mass media marketing dollars strategically within regional markets that align with retailers that continue to come on board.

Where is the company when we come back and talk in a year, and then three years?

One year from now, our Ready Water sales will continue to accelerate and we will have doubled our international footprint. We will have expanded our roster of athlete partners across sports and genders. We will have achieved our 2020 goal of helping 200,000 athletes achieve at least one goal they set for themselves through our Mobile Training Table and Ready Talks Programming.

Three years from now, we will have made a series of acquisitions of select companies, to increase our production capabilities; expand our talent base and continue to develop best in class products. We will have market-specific product development teams in key international regions in addition to our existing U.S.-based team.