MLB wants you to “Enjoy The Show,” Charter and Sinclair sign another extension and Kevin Durant gets into the arena business.
Whether you were in New Orleans last night, or watching on TBS, you were treated to a fantastic final game of the college basketball season as Kansas overcame a historic deficit, 16 points in the first half and 15 at half time, to finish off a 72-69, down to the wire win over North Carolina and claim the Jay Hawks fourth National Championship and first since 2008. And that wasn't the most buzz worthy thing that took place on Monday. Another practice round by Tiger Woods at Augusta, this time with Justin Thomas and Fred Couples, continues the drum beat that the five-time Masters champion looks more and more like he'll be in the field when the tournament starts on Thursday.
Good morning, it's Tuesday, April 5th. This is your SBJ Morning Buzz Cast. I'm David Albright filling in for Abe Madkour.
Major League Baseball is launching a new creative campaign ahead of Thursday's opening day that takes aim at a younger demographic and features reigning American League MVP Shohei Ohtani entitled Enjoy the Show. The campaign kicks off with a promo that will premiere on MLB social platforms, run on national and international broadcasts, and be used by teams in their stadiums. It was produced with English and Spanish voiceover, as well as Japanese subtitles for international distribution. Toward the end of the 32nd ad that highlights the ballpark experience, Ohtani asks, "So, you in?"
The promo campaign is ongoing with spinoffs planned for the season that will recognize compelling moments on and off the field. The Enjoy the Show campaign also hits the road in the form of a multi-city tour, as MLB brings the ballpark experience to special fan events at local neighborhood parks around the country. Fans on Tuesday and Wednesday can celebrate the new season with giveaways, ballpark themed snacks, photo ops with team mascots, and the chance to mingle with local MLB greats leading up to Thursday's opening day. Markets included in the MLB's park tour are Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington DC.
Sinclair and Charter worked out another short-term extension on their negotiations for the Bally Sports RSNs with multiple sources expressing optimism that the two sides will agree to a deal within the next few weeks. Charter, which operates the Spectrum Cable Systems, and Sinclair first worked out a negotiating extension on March 31st. Sources described that at extension as a short-term one with both sides prepared to agree to a series of short extensions to get this deal past the finish line. If the two sides can agree on a deal, which also would include Sinclair's local broadcast stations, it would give Sinclair a measure of stability in the volatile RSN marketplace, which is facing a double whammy of rising costs combined with a falling subscriber base. Sinclair has announced plans to launch a local sports direct to consumer app around its RSNs by this summer, it needs to work out a deal with Charter to make sure it has the rights to stream live pro games in the markets where Charter carries Sinclair's RSNs.
Ontario Sportsbooks took their first bets on Monday, opening up what will be the second largest legal betting territory in North America with about 12 million adults over the minimum betting age of 19, reports our Bill King. Based on the 1.6 billion monthly handle in New York, and totals hovering or around one billion in New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania, all significantly less populous than Ontario and its Toronto hub, it's reasonable to expect the handle to quickly settle in around that number in Canada's largest province. As a deeply rooted Canadian sports media brand headquartered in Toronto, the Score may have the most legitimate claim to home field advantage of any of the 30-plus operators expected to launch in Ontario, a group that will include all the brands now familiar in the US.
Oakview Group has commenced work on the yearlong renovation of Baltimore Arena, which will cost roughly $150 million and be done in partnership with 35 ventures and Baltimore Development Corp. Reports are Brett McCormick, OVG and 35 ventures, which is backed by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman, are funding the project entirely. The renovation will add seats and suites, refurbish concourses, upgrade concessions and change the 60 year old building's overall appearance. Sustainability will be front of mind, including new low flow and waterless fixtures, LED lighting and locally sourced materials. Post renovation, the venue will accommodate 15,000 people, and a source said that OVG has begun the process of finding the arena's next naming rights partner.
In some people news, Baylor has agreed to a new 10-year contract with Mack Rhoades. The contract, approved by the school's Board of Regents and announced by president Linda Livingstone on Monday, will allow the 2021 SBJ Athletic Director of the Year to finish his career in Waco. Rhoades had been mentioned as a possible candidate for the upcoming AD opening at Penn State. Longtime industry vet, Eric Conrad, is leaving Univision later this month, after 11 years with the network. The former ESPN and NBA exec most recently was executive vice president of sports programming and acquisitions at Univision. Conrad, who says he's pursuing other opportunities in the sports industry, helped lead the launch of Univision Deportes Network and was the lead negotiator on dozens of sports media rights deals, including UEFA Champions League, Concacaf Gold Cup, Copa America MLS, and various Liga MX club rights. Conrad was an SBJ 40 Under 40 honoree in 2014.
And our John Ourand has learned that Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt will be Fox Sports' top USFL announcing team this season. Menefee and Klatt will be in the booth when the league kicks off with an opening game that will be simulcast on both Fox and NBC. Fox Sports is expected to make an announcement on Menefee and Klatt within the next two weeks, along with other play-by-play analyst and sideline reporter teams for the new league. The league officially starts on April 16th at 7:30 PM, when the Generals and Stallions play each other from Birmingham. Two years ago, Fox Sports paired Menefee and Klatt on its XFL telecast.
Finally, a couple of programming notes. Climate change is here and making an impact on sports. While a level of unpredictability will always exist, there are ways to help mitigate the effects it has on athletic events through utilizing sustainable field management systems and analyzing historical data to understand trends. Register for Wednesdays SportTechie live event, mitigating the impact of climate change in sports, go to live.sporttechie.com for more details. And if you haven't already, mark May 18th for the 2022 Sports Business Awards. The ceremony will be live and in-person at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. For more information on the program and how to attend, go to the events page on sportsbusinessjournal.com. And that's your SBJ Morning Buzz Cast for Tuesday. I hope everyone has a great day and we'll see you back here tomorrow morning.