SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: January 19, 2024

Episode Summary

What's worth watching in '24; AZ Cardinals make changes on biz side and longtime NCAA exec set to sign off

Episode Transcription

Well, isn't this pretty much everyone's favorite NFL weekend? Four big games throughout Saturday and Sunday. Hope you're all able to relax and enjoy. I know I certainly will. And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, January 19th. Good morning. I'm Abe Madkour. Let's get right to the NFL and let me bring in my producer, Reggie Walker, who knows football so well. He's who I turn to for my guidance. Reggie, who do you like this weekend and why?

Reggie Walker:

I think the Ravens and the 49ers, certainly both number one seeds, I think they advance. I just think that their talent defensively, particularly, will overwhelm these younger quarterbacks. And then I like Detroit at home. It'll be close early, they'll pull away late, they'll kind of wake up. And then, I can't believe I'm doing this, but they're hot right now. It's hard for me to pick against Patrick Mahomes, but I'm going to go with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

Abe Madkour:

Good picks. Solid picks. You heard it there first from Reggie Walker. We'll see how he did on Monday. So in case you missed it, this week's SBJ asked sports business executives for their thoughts, predictions for the year and ideas to improve sports. Here are some of the highlights, and I'll keep it anonymous for now and just state what their ideas or predictions are. First, flag football will be the fastest growing youth sport in America. That was one. NWSL viewership will outpace MLS. That was another. More teams will take control of their own local media rights. Interesting point there. Streaming companies take a further step into sports, with Netflix entering its first sports rights deal and Amazon taking its first minority ownership stake in an emerging sports league. The theme of women's sports was predominant throughout the predictions. It's like this one. More brands will invest in women's sports. And there was a lot on college sports such as this prediction. Revolution and evolution in college sports will continue to drive attention, controversy and unmatched fan passion.

There'll be stories of women's college sports and what it means for future broadcast deals. There'll be stories on the 12-team college football playoff. There'll be multiple stories about NIL, Pang athletes and the potential of a new division one subdivision. So a lot of great points of view, a lot of great ideas. If you haven't read this special report, it's worth your time as a great table setter for what's ahead. That's in this week's issue of Sports Business Journal.

Let's get to some other news. Warner Bros. Discovery, hearkens back to its past as its rebranding its US sports division from WBD Sports to TNT Sports for all productions and content. Now, count me as a fan of that move. Much easier to identify with. And I don't think anyone ever thought that Warner Bros. Discovery Sports ever rolled off the tongue. So now you have Bleacher Report and Golf Digest and other owned-and-operated sports efforts all under the TNT Sports umbrella. And of course sports programming across TNT and TBS and truTV will be branded TNT Sports, so a smart, clean branding solution at TNT Sports.

From an easy brand change to one more difficult, Orlando City and the NWSL Orlando Pride have signed a new ten-year stadium naming rights agreement with Inter&Co. Yes, that's a Brazilian company that provides financial and digital commerce services. So they'll go from Exploria Stadium, which has been the name of the building since 2019, and it will now be called Inter&Co Stadium or Inter and Company Stadium. I'll just say, that will not be easy for local fans. Now, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. MLS stadium naming rights are typically valued in the mid seven figures per year. Oak View Group consulted with Orlando City on naming rights, valuation and strategy, but a new name for the downtown soccer specific stadium in Orlando, yes, Inter and Co Stadium.

Big changes at the Arizona Cardinals under Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Walls. First, the team has moved into a new business headquarters in Tempe. The space is bigger. It'll be home to more employees of the organization. Photos of the new office show it to be that open concept collaborative office space that we see all over offices now. It will host all of the teams non-football employees. So that's finance, that's marketing, biz dev, ticketing, community relations and content. Jeremy Walls joined the Cardinals in August after years of working under Tom Garfinkel at the Miami Dolphins. And one of his main goals was to review the team's entire business side operation and make changes. And he has made changes. He set up a new structure that includes more than 40 recently hired employees who form a newly created sales and service team that will focus on the fan experience and all the Cardinals business.

Now, Jeremy Walls has also reportedly moved on from other executives, some longtime executives at the organization. ESPN reported that the Cardinals have parted ways with three high-ranking employees at the vice president level or above. And there were some other moves as well. The departures include CFO Greg Lee, who has been in that position for almost 15 of his nearly 18 years with the team. Also, the team parted ways with their vice president of business development and their vice president of digital content, both longtime employees. The team's senior vice president of corporate partnerships, Steve Ryan, he will leave on his own later this offseason. He's been with the team for 20 years. 20 years with the Cardinals, Steve Ryan, well-known, he will leave later this offseason. So the bottom line, major changes at the Arizona Cardinals on the business side under Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Walls.

Let's finish up with two quick hitters. The NFL and the city of Indianapolis have reached an agreement to keep the Combine in the city through 2025. There was talk that the NFL could start moving the Combine to other locations, but for now it's staying in Indianapolis. And finally, a hat tip to longtime NCAA executive Joni Comstock, who announced her retirement Wednesday, effective March 1st. She is senior vice president of Championships for the NCAA. We all know, those championships are traditionally run very, very well. She has served in her position since joining the NCAA National Office in 2006, well regarded, a great run for Joni Comstock who will retire on March 1st.

And so that is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, January 19th. I'm Abe Madkour. You have Reggie Walker's divisional playoff picks. I'd love to hear yours. Shoot them to me. Let me know who you're picking this weekend. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Monday.