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The FCC may have just unleashed the most viable option to compete against “the Worldwide Leader”. NBC Universal and Comcast have the resources to go compete with the boys in Bristol. But rather than me telling you about it, go read this excellent blog post from Dan Shanoff on how NBC Sports Network is setup to try to challenge ESPN.
If NBC Comcast is able to do some of the things Shanoff suggests, then we as fans win. Because as great as ESPN is, they’ll be much better with competition. They are “the Worldwide Leader” but I want to have a second option that is just as good. I want to see Sunday Night Football quality broadcasts brought to more sports. Now that NBC and Comcast are rolling up their sleeves, that might come very soon.
A good article in Ad Age by sports marketing guru, Rich Thomaselli, about the effects of an NBA lockout. The article details who has the most to lose if the NBA does have a lockout next season. There is $1 billion worth of television ad revenue at stake, much of that coming from ESPN. One of the best points in the article is about how ESPN & Turner will fill open time slots in their TV schedules, if there is a lockout. Thomaselli points out that ESPN doesn’t have NHL programming to fill open spots like they did during the NBA lockout in 1999.
That surely has got ESPN execs in Bristol nervous about the possibility of this lockout happening. I mean it’s one thing for them to fill their Monday Night Football time slot if the NFL has a lockout, that is one night a week. It would be something much greater for ESPN to have to find quality programming to fill multiple days of their week in place of their NBA broadcasts. ABC would be scrambling as well to fill in holes, which would be especially painful since they just recorded their highest ratings ever for their Christmas Day NBA broadcasts.
So what happens to avert an NBA lockout? I think the folks at the Worldwide Leader get involved to help negotiations. They will of course say they play no role in league versus labor issues, but they do. ESPN is a brand maker, they can take a player and make him rich just by giving him the exposure that “Madison Avenue” craves. So you better believe that ESPN has the ear of the players and their agents. ESPN also works with the league to set the broadcast schedules and each owner knows the more his team is on TV the higher the value of his franchise climbs. So in the end, I think ESPN helps the NBA to keep playing without a lockout.
Variety reports that Fox is planning to make a “major run” at securing the rights to broadcast the 2014 Olympics (Sochi) and 2016 Olympics (Rio). Fox would need to knock off incumbent broadcast partner, NBC, in order to land the Olympics. NBC has been the television partner for the Olympics since 2000, but have said they lost money to broadcast the most recently Vancouver Olympics. Fox is rumored to have bid much less than NBC (half is the reported number) for broadcast rights to ’08 & ’10 Olympics.
So how much will Fox bid on rights to the ’14 & ’16 Olympics? My guess is they bid somewhere in the $750 million range for each, which is well below the current broadcast rights on Olympics. NBC will lay out close to $2 billion dollars for the rights to broadcast the ’10 Olympics and 2012 London Olympics (chart of broadcast rights paid on Olympics). So the natural questions are why would Fox bid an amount lower than what it costs today? And does Fox stand a chance to win the broadcast rights for the Olympics?
I think Fox bids $750 million (-ish) for each of Sochi & Rio because that’s what they think they are worth. No network in their right mind should think that Sochi & Rio are going to have the revenue potential as London (2012) and Beijing (2008). So Fox’s bid will be closer to what NBC paid in Athens ($793 million) and Sydney (Sydney $705 million) earlier this decade. And it’s possible that Fox (and others) bid even lower on the 2014 Olympics, because Winter Games do not sell as well in the United States and Sochi isn’t a name destination.
I think Fox will have a shot, but probably loses out to NBC or ABC/ESPN. NBC has made the Olympics their thing, so I think it’s worth it to them to bid more just so they can continue to be the “Olympic Network”. ESPN is a sports media juggernaut 365 days a year, so they would have the potential to market the Olympics in a way we’ve never seen. It just seems those two networks should want the Olympic broadcast rights more, so I think ultimately Fox’s bid will fall short.
The Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily have published their list of the top 25 football announcers for 2009. The list includes football commentators from both college football and the NFL. Twelve panelists from the SBJ & SBD rated the announcers to produce the rankings.
Top 25 Best Football Annoucers for 2009:
1. Gary Danielson – CBS
2. Cris Collinsworth – NBC
3. Al Michaels – NBC
4. Phil Simms – CBS
5. Kirk Herbstreit – ABC/ESPN
6. Troy Aikman – Fox
7. Ron Franklin – ABC/ESPN
8. Verne Lundquist – CBS
9. Joe Buck – Fox
10. Jim Nantz – CBS
11. Mike Tirico – ESPN
12. Brad Nessler – ABC/ESPN
13. Brent Musburger – ABC/ESPN
14. Jon Gruden – ESPN
15. Daryl Johnston – Fox
16. Ron Jaworski – ESPN
17. Greg Gumbel – CBS
18. Sean McDonough – ABC/ESPN
19. Todd Blackledge – ABC/ESPN
20. Dan Fouts – CBS
21. Bob Papa – NFL Network
22. Mike Patrick – ABC/ESPN
23. Chris Fowler – ESPN
24. Gus Johnson – CBS
25. Dick Enberg – CBS
Here are the guys that are rated too high:
* Buck – He’s in the top 10 based on his baseball rep. He’s solidly average in football.
* Gruden – It would be “outstanding” if he could expand his vocabulary.
* Gumbel – Living off his brother’s rep. He’s okay, but not top shelf.
* Fouts – Top 20, really? Proves no one is watching those AFC West games on CBS.
* Papa – Who gets to see him broadcast? Time Warner still doesn’t offer NFL Network.
* Enberg – Great career, but listing him is more of a ‘lifetime achievement award’.
Here are the guys that need to be rated higher on the list:
* Franklin – Could easily be the top college football guy on list.
* Musburger – Polarizing figure, but he’s great for the game. Getting old, but still comedic gold.
* McDonough – Always solid, would be rated higher if he were more of a “name”.
* Johnson – The panelists not only rate him too low they slight him with “Youtube generation” comment.
Here are some key names that did not make the list:
* Erin Andrews – ESPN (Put a lady on the list)
* Bob Davie – ESPN
* Dan Dierdorf – CBS
* Ian Eagle – CBS
* Bob Griese – ESPN
* Kevin Harlan – CBS (Should make top 25 in future)
* Craig James – ESPN
* Andrea Kremer – NBC
* Jesse Palmer – ESPN (Should be in top 25 in future)
* Tony Siragusa – Fox
* Dick Stockton – Fox
PS – Could some production assistant at ABC/ESPN do Mike Patrick a favor and get him a better photo?
I don’t usually promote on behalf of the Worldwide Leader (mostly because they don’t need me to) but I think their new “30 for 30″ series is worth watching. And not just because Bill Simmons (aka: the Sports Guy) was responsible for getting the series made. ESPN launched this new series of sports stories that detail important sports moments over the past 30 years. The concept was to select a subject that was well known, but then tell the unknown story behind that topic. Each of the documentaries will be directed by feature films director.
I watched the first one this week called King’s Ransom which was directed by Peter Berg. Kings Ransom was the story of the trade that sent Wayne Gretzky from Edmonton to Los Angeles. Director Peter Berg really got into the behind the scenes dealings and emotions that helped to pull off the deal. He also focused on the pain, anger, anguish that Edmonton fans felt after their star player was traded. He exposed the role that Gretzky played in making the deal happen. He even wrapped it up neatly in the end with most agreeing it was a trade that had to be made. Even thought the deal hurt the Edmonton Oilers and their faithful, it was still a trade that had to happen.
The ratings on this first installment were not stellar, but I think it’s a series that is worth watching. As sports fans we often only hear the big stories in the media. This program, modeled after HBO Real Sports, tells the less known story. That’s personally something that I love. Here are a few of the future episodes that I’m looking forward to watching:
* Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL – airs October 20th
* Muhammad and Larry – Oct 27
* The Legend of Jimmy the Greek – Nov 10
* No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson – 2010
* Jordan Rides the Bus – 2010
* June 17, 1994 (story of OJ Simpson’s run from police in white Bronco) – 2010
* Steve Bartman: Catching Hell – 2010
* One Night in Vegas – 2010
* The Best That Never Was – 2010
Complete list here at ESPN’s 30 for 30 website.
My only complaint about the series is that they are going to make me wait 9 months to see all of these great features.
Who is the top sports media site on the web today? Yahoo Sports according to ComScore ratings (August 2009) of the top sports sites on the web. Although a large portion of that traffic is due to Rivals.com which accounts for almost 1/3 of Yahoo Sports 29 million number. So Yahoo seems to be getting some value from the $100 million they spent to buy the Nashville company in 2007. Rivals has a strong network of college fan communities, although it could be weakening since the top Rivals brass has now exited stage left. But for now Yahoo is on top of one key internet category, who are the other top sports sites?
Top 10 Sports Media Sites (August 2009)
1. Yahoo Sports (includes Rivals.com)
3. NFL Internet Group (includes all team sites)
4. Fox Sports (includes Scout.com)
5. MLB.com (which counts traffic from all team sites)
6. Fantasy Sports Ventures
7. CBS Sportsline
9. Sports Illustrated sites (includes FanNation)
10. Stack Media
Honorable Mention: NBC Sports (includes Pro Football Talk)
The game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and USC Trojans on Saturday, September 12th, 2009 was the most watched college football matchup in the history of ESPN. ESPN reports that over 10.6 million people watched USC defeat Ohio State in a thrilling game in Columbus, Ohio.
The USC/Ohio State game was the highest rated cable broadcast since Florida State played Miami in 1994. The highest rated regular season game in 2008 was the Texas Longhorns versus Texas Tech Red Raiders, which tallied a 7.5 rating and had over 8.5 million households watching. USC versus Ohio State, in Los Angeles, was the 2nd highest rated regular season game in ’08, which over 7.8 million viewers.
The detente in the sports drink war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi is officially over, and Coca-Cola’s Powerade is coming out swinging. Powerade has launched their first major marketing campaign since 2001 and the current campaign paints a target squarely on the back of chief rival, Gatorade.
The new Powerade campaign mocks Gatorade as being an “incomplete” sports drink because it lacks a couple of the electrolytes that Powerade has in their new formula. The campaign will become the first advertiser to take over the cover of ESPN The Magazine, which it will do with a cover flap that says “You wouldn’t want an incomplete cover. Don’t settle for an incomplete sports drink” next to a Gatorade bottle. The inside flap of ESPN will show a Powerade bottle with the tagline, the “complete sports drink”.
This campaign is a bold move for Powerade, taking a ‘challenger strategy’ by clearly singling out their competition. But it a strategy that parent companies Coca-Cola and Pepsi have engaged in before across other beverage categories. In this case Powerade has very little to lose by comparing themselves directly because has over 75% market share in the sports drink category (compared to 22% for Powerade).
And there may never be a better time for Powerade to attack because Gatorade is in the midst of a rebranding project. Making their move while Gatorade transitions their brand might allow Powerade to capitalize on some consumer confusion; getting people who suddenly don’t associate with the Gatorade brand to reach for a Powerade instead. Sun Tzu said in “The Art of War” that “all warfare is based on deception.” Powerade seems to be taking a cue from him in this war for sports drink supremacy.
Tale of the Tape: How does Gatorade versus Powerade stack up? Parent company: Gatorade is PepsiCo. Powerade is Coca-Cola Company. Founded: Gatorade in 1965. Powerade in 1988. Marketshare: Gatorade has ~ 77%. Powerade has ~ 22%. Calories (main product): Gatorade has 158. Powerade has 195. Official sports drink: Gatorade has MLB, NFL & NHL. Powerade has Nascar, NCAA, PGA & US Olympic Team. Top endorsers: Gatorade is endorsed by Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning & Tiger Woods. Powerade is endorsed by LeBron James, Ryan Howard and Venus Williams. (View complete list of endorsers.)
What does Tiger Woods return mean to golf? Everything, because right now Tiger Woods is the face of golf. While he was injured television ratings declined, tournament attendance was down and sales of golf merchandise slumped. Now that Superman is back, all is right in the world of golf.
So who stands to benefit most from Tiger’s return? There is a long line, but let’s take a look at who is the happiest this week that Mr. Woods will be teeing it up again.
* Tim Finchem – The PGA Tour Commissioner said “There is nobody that’s more pleased than me.” Finchem went on to say that the tour performs “pretty good” without Woods, but is “great” when Tiger is playing.
* Nike – Retail golf sales have been in a slump, but there’s nothing like getting the top endorser on the planet back from injury. Expect to see Nike Golf get a little bump that misses the rest of the industry.
* TV – The Golf Channel, NBC and even ESPN who has rights to 2009 The Masters will all benefit from Mr. Woods return. TV ratings for golf tournaments have been slumping since last June when Woods was injured, so any news is good news for golf broadcasters.
* Accenture – One of Woods sponsors is the title sponsor for the tournament where he starts his comeback from knee surgery. Coincidence? I think not. I predict a lot of people will be flipping on the television this weekend to see how Tiger is faring.
* Golf fans – A tournament without Tiger isn’t really a tournament.
Nike is so excited that Tiger is back that they have created a commercial to celebrate the event. Below is the Nike “The Good Life” commercial that will air on the Golf Channel and ESPN networks. The spot features Nike sponsored golfers Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Stewart Cink & Trevor Immelman enjoying life on the PGA Tour without Tiger Woods.