SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: August 11, 2023

Episode Summary

A weekend in Springfield and will NBC fuel BIg Ten Saturday?

Episode Transcription

This is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, August 11th. I'm Abe Madkour, thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. A number of global soccer leagues kick off this weekend. And I could argue one of the biggest stories in sports business over the last decade has been the elevation of interest in the Premier League, especially in the United States. And so much of that comes from the expanded coverage by NBC. And it's hard to believe, NBC goes into its 11th season of Premier League coverage starting today, Friday, and into the weekend.

One could argue the popularity of the Premier League is higher than ever in the United States. Last year, Premier League games averaged 527,000 viewers on NBC and USA and CNBC, and that was up 3% over the previous year, and the second highest average since NBC sports started covering the league in 2013. Again, very healthy numbers in very interesting windows for NBC. I know so many diehards who believe that this has really changed the face of the Premier League in the United States. Now, NBC, of course, will look to build on that this year.

Meanwhile, one of the most talked about leagues also kicks off on Friday as the Saudi Arabian Soccer League starts. And this comes after the Kingdom spent great sums of money on some big name players and had their eyes on even bigger names. Now, we've talked about this on the Buzzcast as the Kingdom's goal is to make the Saudi Pro League a global player in soccer. And while they did get some big names, huge offers to Messi and Mbappé were rejected. But the league starts today, Friday, and we will see if it can gain a following of fans seeing some star players, including Ronaldo, play in different settings.

In terms of seeing this league, the Saudi Pro League has a number of broadcast deals around the world. They're going to be televised in Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Mexico, China, but they will not have any distribution or exposure in the United States. But I know many people in the global sports community are certainly watching how this league performs.

Let's move on. What a week in college sports. And don't take your eye off the ball because we'll need to be watching the ACC over the next few days as schools in that conference need to make a decision within the next week about whether they intend to leave the conference. There is a deadline, Tuesday, for schools to notify the ACC if they want to leave and change conferences for the 2024 season. Now, we've talked about this on the Buzzcast. Florida State has been vocal about possibly leaving the conference, but multiple reports believe that no school will really leave just yet.

And while the ACC has been quiet in the realignment process, they are still looking at potentially adding Stanford or Cal. And Stanford or Cal are awaiting a decision from the ACC about possible membership. If they don't go to the ACC, the Mountain West Conference is a possibility, and they are ready if those schools are looking for a new home. A lot of the puzzle pieces are still out there and still need to come together in this crazy week in college sports.

Staying with college sports, one source I spoke to in New York recently told me that they felt the biggest story this fall in sports business would be what the Big Ten does with its new media deal and its new media partners and its new game schedule. They just felt it wasn't getting enough attention how the Big Ten would potentially dominate Saturday viewing during this football season. You have the early Big Ten game on Fox. You have a 3:30 Big Ten game on CBS. And this source especially pointed to the primetime game Saturday night on NBC. Their point to me was the NBC's Big Ten Saturday night schedule and all the marketing around it would truly amplify coverage and interest in the Big Ten with a consistent primetime window with all the national marketing behind it.

That starts September 2nd. You have Penn State hosting West Virginia. It marks the first time the Big Ten will have a Saturday primetime window on broadcast TV, and many of the Saturday night games will have Notre Dame football as a lead into that coverage. And you'll see NBC put all of its marketing muscle behind this, and you even saw it this week, where NBC's Today Show had the mascots from, I think it was, Maryland and Rutgers and Minnesota on that show. Now, I don't think this is close to what NBC did around Sunday night football, but I do believe this will be a highly valuable piece of programming inventory and a big, consistent spotlight for the Big Ten. And that could be the storyline every Saturday this fall.

Let's shift to basketball. I've been upfront on the Buzzcast of my admiration of former Golden State Warriors executive, Bob Myers, who I find incredibly knowledgeable and just talented and likable. Now, Bob Myers is ready for his next move. He is nearing a deal with ESPN to provide coverage on NBA countdown as an analyst, according to the New York Post, which first reported the news. I have heard this in my circles as well.

I think Bob Myers would be great. He knows the game, he knows the league. He's negotiated contracts as both an agent and an executive. He knows the players, the coaches, the refs, and he also knows the league office and the sensibilities of Commissioner Adam Silver and other league executives. I believe he'll be able to offer real-time, present-day insight into what is going on at the NBA. And I believe he could be one of the most successful game analysts on air.

I want to stay with basketball because the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023 will be inducted on Saturday in Springfield, Massachusetts. I know a number of executives going this weekend. I bet not many of the Buzzcast listeners have been to Springfield, Massachusetts. It's a small enclave in western Massachusetts. It was close to my home state of Vermont, so I would frequently visit it and go to the Hall of Fame.

The basketball world will take over this small city over the weekend to celebrate the Class which is headlined by Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker. The telecast will be on NBA TV, 8:00 PM Saturday. I noted the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony earlier this week on the Buzzcast, and maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I do find a lot of powerful and valuable takeaways from these Hall of Fame Weekends. They're great stories of people who truly help build the sports industry.

This weekend, you'll have the legendary coach, Gene Bess, presented by Chris Bosh, John Calipari and Roy Williams. You'll have Pau Gasol, presented by Toni Kukoc and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. You'll have the longtime coach from nearby Amherst, David Hixon, presented by Jim Calhoun and John Calipari. You'll have legendary Purdue coach, Gene Keady, presented by Jerry Colangelo and Tom Izzo. You'll have Dirk Nowitzki, presented by Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. Tony Parker, presented by Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. Gregg Popovich will be presented by David Robinson, Ginobili, Duncan and Tony Parker. And this is interesting. You'll have Dwyane Wade, presented by Allen Iverson.

On the Women's Committee, you'll have Becky Hammond presented by Cheryl Swoopes and Theresa Witherspoon, and the longtime Texas A&M women's coach, Gary Blair, presented by Van Chancellor and Witherspoon. Again, a great weekend in Springfield, Mass. If you get a chance, listen to some of these induction speeches, because they're filled with great stories, memories and valuable lessons.

That is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, August 11th. I'm Abe Madkour, thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. Have a great weekend. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Monday.