SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: August 8, 2022

Episode Summary

Darren Eales departs United; MLB gets a boost at the gate this weekend; Tributes in Canton and Nick Faldo's tearful sign-off.

Episode Transcription

Well, it feels like a quiet Monday in August, as it was a relatively slow news weekend. And today is a bit light. Today is Monday, August 8th, and this is your Morning Buzzcast. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour. First, I want to give a special shout out to Darren Eales, whose last day as President of MLS's Atlanta United is today. On August 22nd, Eales will become Newcastle's CEO, a well-deserved role, that gets him back to the premier league. I'll just say I've watched Darren Eales since he came to Atlanta United in 2014, and he turned an MLS expansion franchise into one of the gold standards in that league and throughout sports. Just a remarkable job of leadership. He is warm, he is engaging. He's obviously very talented and knows the sport of soccer better than just about anyone else I know. Darren Eales, good luck at Newcastle. And, a job well done in Atlanta.

Speaking of good, it was a good weekend at the gate for major league baseball, as Saturday's games drew nearly 600,000 fans. That was the largest one-day total for baseball, since 2019's opening day. Now Saturday's average crowd was more than 35,000 people, 35,000 fans. So, a very good day, Saturday at the gate for major league baseball. Among the big numbers, the A's drew 40,000 at Ring Central Coliseum in a game against the Giants, that was by far the biggest crowd at the Coliseum this season. The previous high was about 24,000 for July 4th game. The team is largely drawing under 10,000 fans, so to draw 40,000 on a Saturday, very noteworthy.

Meanwhile, baseball buzz is beginning to grow in Baltimore as the Orioles beat the Yankees in front of 41,000 fans at Oriole's Park at Camden Yards on Saturday. That's the second largest crowd this season, next to opening day. The Orioles also celebrated the 30th anniversary of that beautiful ballpark Camden Yards. They had a pregame ceremony that included Eddie Murray, Mike Messina, Brooks Robinson. But, excluding opening day crowds ... So take away opening day crowds, Saturday's crowd of 41,000 was the largest at Camden Yards since 2017. That's right. It was the largest crowd outside of opening days at Camden Yards since 2017. So, fans showing their appreciation for the Orioles, but also their appreciation of such a beautiful facility at Camden Yards.

Let's move on. Last year, I attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend and found it to be one of the most enjoyable and productive work events I've been lucky enough to go to. A number of business-side executives, go to Canton. And I'm sure this past weekend was no different as the Hall of Fame inducted its 2022 class. On Saturday, they estimated a turnout of about 11,500, with a large number of fans representing the Jacksonville Jaguars, who turned out to honor Tony Boselli. He was the first member of that organization to be inducted in the Hall of Fame. Former players LeRoy Butler, Bryant Young, Richard Seymour, Cliff Branch, the late Sam Mills, coach Dick Vermeil and longtime NFL referee Art McNally joined Tony Boselli in this year's Hall of Fame class.

And this year, the Hall of Fame tried something a little new, as they brought an actor and producer Keegan-Michael Key to perform for the crowd during breaks between the speeches. He tried to keep things light. And the Hall of Fame ceremony always signals to me that the start of the NFL season is right around the corner. And staying with football, count New York Daily News Media Columnist Bob Raissman as an early fan of NBC's new studio analyst Jason Garrett.  Jason Garrett made his debut on NBC's Football Night in America, before Thursday's Hall of Fame game. Raissman writes that, "Garrett brought energy, enthusiasm and believability. And that Garrett is a storyteller who came with interesting stories to tell." So, one early supporter of Jason Garrett in NBC's studio.

Let's move on to golf. We cover golf a lot on the Buzzcast, because there's a lot going on in the game of golf. We keep talking about the strong participation around the game of golf in a recent quarter report by Callaway Golf is further evidence to that. Callaway Golf rung up record financial results for its second quarter, which was led by Topgolf's continued strong performance. Here are a few details. Overall revenue at Callaway up 22%, compared to the same quarter last year. Net income up 13% from the year before. Callaway's club and ball business up 13%. So, people are spending more on equipment. For Topgolf revenue increase 24%, compared to last year. Same venue sales at Topgolf were up nearly 10%. And there's more Topgolf to come, as two venues opened in the quarter. Eight more are expected to open by the end of the year. So, continued strong showing by Callaway and Topgolf, which also feeds into that narrative of growing participation in the game of golf.

Speaking of golf, LIV Golf will announce perhaps as early as this week that it'll take its series to eight countries in its first season as a league. Next year, LIV will play half of its 12 team league in the US with the rest hosted in different countries. Remember, they keep talking. LIV officials keep talking about growing the game of golf globally. So, they're looking at venues in Australia, Spain, Mexico, Singapore, England, Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Remember, they are positioning LIV Golf as a genuine global tour. This is one way to do it.

Meanwhile, one story to spend some time with is in this week's SPJ where we look at the state of golf ratings on TV. Now, part of the argument by LIV Golf is that it will boost golf-sagging television ratings. But a look at an analysis from say 2013 on, shows that PGA tour events across CBS, NBC and the golf channel has really been steady, solid numbers. They've actually increased up to 7% over those five years. Now, this year viewership is down across those networks for the PGA tour. But, remember, golf is more about ratings. It's also about the demographic it attracts. And ad buyers continue to feel that the golf audience is unique and different.

Now, LIV Golf may continue to argue that it can bring in a younger, different audience, and that could be the case. But, the narrative that golf ratings and viewership are syncing is not quite accurate. And the game does draw a unique demographic to its broadcast. Right now, of course, LIV Golf streams its events on its own site and on YouTube and Facebook. But that narrative around golf ratings will continue to be out there. So, it's a story you're going to want to pay attention to.

And, finally, if you missed it, you'll want to check out Nick Faldo's emotional sign-off at the end of CBS's telecast, Sunday, of the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship, which featured tributes to Faldo. Faldo broke down in tears in the CBS booth as he bid farewell to the lead golf analyst role he has held so well for 16 years. It was quite an emotional sendoff. Nick Faldo, of course, will be replaced on CBS by Trevor Immelman. And so that is your Morning Buzzcast for Monday, August 8th. I'm Abe Madkour. Hope everybody has a great start to the week. Stay healthy. Be good to each other. I'll speak to you tomorrow.