Bowlsby's exit; basketball tournaments post nice gains; MLB links with Dairy Queen and Ohio Univ. honors an alum
Well, it was great to be in Boston on assignment yesterday with my colleague Ben Fisher. Tomorrow and Friday, I will be at Augusta, so if you'll be at the Masters either Thursday or Friday, please let me know. Love to see you. I know it's challenging to meet up there, but let's make an effort.
This is your Morning Buzzcast for Wednesday, April 6th. Good morning. I'm Abe Madkour, hope everybody is doing well. While the Big 12 will be looking for its first commissioner in a decade, after Bob Bowlsby announced he would step down from the position later this year. Bob Bowlsby succeeded Dan Beebe in 2012. He'll stay in the role until his replacement is found. The Big 12 will begin working with a national search firm to find Bowlsby's successor, and the search will begin in the next few weeks.
As our Michael Smith noted in his SBJ college newsletter, Bowlsby was the athletic director at Stanford and served for a decade in the top spot longer than any previous Big 12 commissioner. But the last year has been incredibly challenging to Bob Bowlsby and we've noted it in the Buzzcast, how difficult it was when Texas and Oklahoma left the Big 12 for the SEC, but despite those bruising setbacks, Bob Bowlsby was able to hold the Big 12 together. He was able to bring in Cincinnati, BYU, Houston and UCF to the Big 12, but he will move on.
The Dallas morning news outlines possible replacements for Bob Bowlsby. Here are some of the names they floated. Oliver Luck, Texas Tech Athletic Director, Kirby Hocutt. Big 12 Executive Associate Commissioner, Ed Stewart, Colorado's Rick George, West Coast Commissioner, Gloria Navarez. Those were just some of the names floated as possible successors.
Bob Bowlsby is 70 years old. He has been a quiet, steady hand throughout his years in collegiate sports. But you could tell when looking at him over the last year, that the events of the past year or so, wasn't the way he wanted his long run in college sports to end. Bob Bowlsby will be stepping down, leaving the Big 12 later this year.
Let's stay with college sports because the final numbers are in for the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments and they cap off a successful month of tournament basketball. First, let's start with the men, the Kansas North Carolina title game finished with a total audience delivery of just over 18 million viewers on TBS, TNT and TruTV. Now that number, 18.1, was up 4% from the 17.5 million viewers for Baylor Gonzaga last year on CBS.
Now these figures include March Madness live streaming. This number will go down as the third best ever, for a college basketball game on cable. Remember, every so often the game switch off CBS to cable. This will go down as the third highest on cable. Number one was Wisconsin, Kentucky, a semifinal in 2015. Number two was this year's UNC Duke semifinal, so number three would be the Kansas North Carolina title game.
So good numbers for the men's tournament. The other major positive story was around the women's tournament that continued to grow in appeal. Sunday night's championship game earned its highest viewership in nearly two decades. Yes, nearly two decades. The South Carolina Yukon game drew nearly five million viewers on ESPN and ESPN2. It is the most viewers for the woman's title game since Yukon, Tennessee in 2004. Yes, you heard that right. Since 2004. This game is up 15% from last year's Stanford Arizona title game.
So what's the bottom line here? Well, ESPN's deal to carry the women's tournament runs for two more seasons, and this will be a very interesting negotiation to watch. Remember, those rights are bundled in with other NCAA rights and now it's considered largely undervalued, many expect and hope the NCAA will the women's tournament away from this package when its rights next come up in two years, and sell the women's tournament on its own, so that is something to watch. But the bottom line, again, very strong numbers for the men's and women's college basketball tournaments.
Let's move to baseball opening day. Tomorrow, Thursday, but this scene like a smart natural sponsorship. Yes, baseball and ice stream. SBJ's Terry Lefton is reporting that just before opening day, Dairy Queen is the newest MLB corporate sponsor. Look to see television spots that will include the likes of Bryce Harper, Tim Anderson, Cody Bellinger and others, in commercial spots for Dairy Queen. Dairy Queen's rights will include the Stackburger as Major League Baseball's official burger and the Blizzard as MLB's official treat.
Now, this is the first sports league sponsorship for Dairy Queen. Our SBJ Atlas notes that Dairy Queen does have around a dozen sports deals, mixed between college and minor league teams. Remember Taco Bell, they have been doing that, Steal a Base, Steal a Taco, promotion in the World Series since 2007. They will still be involved with baseball. They will retain post-season Major League Baseball sponsorship rights, but Dairy Queen getting national regular season rights in the quick service restaurant category. Dairy Queen is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which of course is parent of the fellow MLB corporate sponsor Geico, so Major League Baseball landing Dairy Queen as its newest sponsor.
Let's move to talent news because the New York Post went inside the deals as ESPN recently resigned Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski, and let's just say, these deals are significant and they show how valuable ESPN believes these insiders to be. The New York Post reports that ESPN could spend more than $80 million combined on the two. Each deal will span five years. Adam Schefter will make around $9 million per year, while Woj will earn in the $7 million range per year from ESPN. Those are just big numbers.
The New York Post added it all up. Counting the deals for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, ESPN just spent about $250 million on the four media personalities. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski. So those are some big deals for ESPN and shows the value that they are placing on talent right now.
We'll end on a couple of quick hitters. Look for Drive to Survive to come back for a fifth season. Yes, this pushes back on some of the chatter that the series may not return on Netflix, but Formula 1 does plan to bring back Drive to Survive for a fifth season. Filming for next year has already begun. The series debuted its fourth season last month and the total audience for the fourth season has already exceeded that of season three, according to formula one officials. That is just amazing. It proves again, the increasingly growing audience around Formula 1. The engagement numbers just continue to grow, and one has to wonder how much higher they can go before they level off.
Let's end around people. I know. There are plenty of sports business alums from the successful program at Ohio University, so I thought they'd be interested to know that the University of Tennessee Athletic Director, Danny White, was honored with Ohio University's Distinguished Alumni Award. He graduated from the school's dual degree MBA, MSA program in 2005. Of course, Danny White was at Central, Florida for years, now at the University of Tennessee. Congratulations to Danny White, one of the many good people in the sports business.
Finally, the new SBJ I factor, presented by Allied Sports features my interview with Danielle Maged, who was recently named Chief Commercial Officer of NFT Platform, Fanaply, Danielle, a great person, a great storyteller, really well known and well respected in the sports business. I thoroughly encourage you to check out her SBJ I Factor interview, presented by Allied Sports.
So that is your Morning Buzzcast for Wednesday, April 6th. Again, I'll be in Augusta Thursday and Friday. David Albright will bring you the Morning Buzzcast. Until then, stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll talk to you again on Monday.