Published January 10, 2012
Editor's note: Here is the weekly look at the intersection of sports and business by Rick Horrow and Brian Finkel with an eye to the bottom line on the following topics:
Still Want Football?
College football bowl season might be over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean college football season is. In case last night’s game left you clamoring for more college football, diehard fans can look forward to the AstroTurf® NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, a brand new event on January 21 at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles that showcases the talents of draft-eligible collegiate players.
The game will be broadcast on the newly-rebranded NBC Sports Network, and coached by NFL legends Dick Vermeil and Tom Flores. Said AstroTurf president Bryan Peeples, “AstroTurf and the NFLPA are on stage at the Home Depot Center together arm-in-arm.”
Bottom Line: The NFLPA chose to partner with AstroTurf after visiting their Georgia-based manufacturing facilities and people, as well as the Center for Athletic Field Safety at the University of Tennessee, which is funded by the synthetic turf leader.
Sports TV Deals
A stalemate between Time Warner Cable and MSG Network has left 1.3 million New York Time Warner Cable (TWC) company subscribers without MSG’s two regional sports networks. The RSNs carry nearly 400 Rangers, Knicks, Islanders and Devils games each year. MSG also has rights to Sabres games in Buffalo.
With TWC and MSG stealing the headlines, Disney and Comcast quietly agreed to a comprehensive 10-year carriage agreement. The deal includes transmission of all nine domestic ESPN channels and allows Comcast subscribers to stream ESPN content through broadband, mobile and wireless devices.
Possibly the best example of the evolution of sports TV, Google may bid on English Premier League rights as a way to strengthen an Internet TV platform it expects to announce this year. Apple was rumored to be interested in the rights as a way to establish Apple TV in the U.K., but the company reportedly has removed itself from the bid process.
Bottom Line: The rising cost of sports television rights has resulted in some volatile carriage negotiations in recent weeks. It may be only a matter of time until cable operators turn to a-la-carte programming as a way to keep subscribers from cutting the cord.
Derrick Rose - New Shoe Deal
He isn’t as recognizable as Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, but Derrick Rose’s bank account could soon resemble those of the NBA’s most high-profile stars. Rose, the 2011 NBA most valuable player, is close to signing a lifetime endorsement contract with Adidas. The deal reportedly is worth $250 million over 10 years, which would give the Chicago Bulls star the most lucrative shoe deal in the NBA. Also adding to his riches, Rose recently signed a five-year, $95 million extension with the Bulls.
Bottom Line: The magnitude of the deal illustrates how important Rose is to Adidas’ basketball strategy. Rose’s shoes already outsell LeBron James Nike shoes in China, and are second only to Kobe Bryant in the huge, relatively untapped market.
Ironically, if Rose continues to improve as a player, he could do for Adidas what Bulls legend Michael Jordan did for Nike.
Super Bowl Firsts
Every Super Bowl is special, but this year’s broadcast from Indianapolis will be unique for a few different reasons. I mentioned a few weeks ago that for the first time ever, the Super Bowl will be available for streaming through Verizon mobile devices and online, where viewers will have access to multiple camera angles, live stats, and replays of Super Bowl ads.
Another first for NFL, the league announced it will present its year-end awards during a TV special the night before the Super Bowl. Among the awards announced during the “NFL Honors” event on NBC are the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the A.P. MVP and the A.P. Coach of the Year.
Even the ads are setting milestones and making headlines. NBC sold out of its ad inventory for the game broadcast, averaging a record $3.5 million per 30-second spot. Incredibly, some ads sold for as much as $4 million. Adjusted for inflation, the average cost for a 30-second commercial in Super Bowl I was $266,500.
Bottom Line: Regardless of who plays in the game, count NBC amongst the biggest winners.
Rick Horrow is the "Sports Professor," and is the Sports Business Analyst for Fox Sports. He has been the Visiting Expert on Sports Law at the Harvard Law School, and has authored "When the Game Is on the Line" and "Beyond the Scoreboard: An Insider's Guide to the Business of Sports." His show "Beyond the Box Score" is posted on a weekly basis on FoxSports.com, and the latest emerging trends in sports business can be found at www.horrowsports.com.
Brian Finkel is Creative Director for Horrow Sports Ventures. You can follow him on Twitter @TheFinkTank.