SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: January 24, 2024

Episode Summary

Start your morning with Buzzcast with Austin Karp: Wall Street likes WWE’s deal with Netflix; Bills-Chiefs sets a new Divisional weekend record; Ohio State athletics sees a record year for revenue; NHL viewership stays hot and the World Surf League heads to ESPN.

Episode Transcription

Adrián Beltré, Todd Helton, and Joe Mauer. Not bad for the class of 2024 headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Great players going to be included in Cooperstown. I know I had them on my fancy team a number of years. Happy to see those guys make it.

Rise and shine. This is your Morning Buzzcast for Wednesday, January 24th. I'm Austin Karp. Reaction to the WWE's deal to take Raw to Netflix in 2025 as part of a 10-year $5 billion deal seems to be getting a lot of positive reception at least on Tuesday. TKO Group, the parent company of WWE and UFC, finished the day with its stock price up 16% from the close on Monday and is up in pre-market trading again on Tuesday.

So why so much love? Looks like a good number of analysts were expecting an increase closer to 40 or 50% on the average annual value of the Raw deal. Well, this Netflix deal takes Raw from an average annual value of 265 million currently on cable TV to 500 million when it starts January 2025. That's closer to an 89% uptick.

Wall Street also liked the stability of the deal at 10 years, even if there's going to be a five-year opt-out in there. And after Netflix reported its Q4 earnings yesterday, they delivered another 13.1 million global subs. And WWE's most-watched weekly show is now going to be exposed to almost 260 million global homes, and that number could even climb closer to 300 million by the time this all gets going. That is a huge audience. Showing, again, why this deal made so much sense for WWE and TKO Group.

WWE president Nick Khan laid out his perspective on the deal during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show yesterday, saying there were a number of offers on Raw's media deal. He also pointed at this deal coming together only after a couple of months and that the opportunity to be first movers with Netflix was a big selling point.

While both sides right now plan for Raw to remain on Mondays, Khan did note the show could also work on another night, and he cited an enhanced Disney NFL package as competition. Translation: that's ESPN adding so many ABC simulcasts to almost every one of its Monday-night football games this past season.

A lot of competition there on Monday, so interesting to see if it eventually does move off Monday. Obviously, Raw has been there for many, many, many years.

Next up for TKO Group, a UFC deal, as their ESPN partnership currently goes through 2025. And Netflix has proven that there is a new player in town for potentially sports rights, as that game of musical chairs always heats up.

Any sports property with an oncoming deal had to be, at the very least, intrigued about this emergence of Netflix into the live rights market. Platforms like Amazon Prime Video aren't going away. ESPN+, Apple TV+, Peacock also still in a number of conversations. But this Netflix move is going to make speculation around any big deal more intriguing in years to come.

Let's put a bow on some NFL divisional numbers. The Chiefs thriller brought in just over 50 million viewers for CBS on Sunday night. That's the best NFL divisional game audience ever, passing a Cowboys-Packers game back in 2017. Hat tip to at-home viewing added this year.

And Chiefs-Bills wasn't just big for a divisional game. It was bigger than three of the last five AFC Championship numbers and bigger than each of the last five NFC Championship game numbers. For the four games in the round, CBS/Fox, NBC, and ESPN/ABC averaged 40 million viewers, which is the best for the divisional round since 1988 and up 7% from last season.

Once again, thank you to at-home [inaudible 00:03:49] helping out that number. But up is up, and the NFL continues to crush it on TV. I expect strong numbers again this weekend for both the AFC and NFC Championship matchups.

Abe Madkour talked in the Buzzcast last week about the massive financials coming out of Austin for the Longhorns athletic department. Now we got a peek into the Buckeyes numbers, and they are big. Ohio State's athletic department had a record-breaking year in operating revenue in fiscal year 2023, generating around 280 million, which edged out Texas A&M for the most nationally.

The only other athletic department to ever generate more than what Ohio State made last year was Oregon four years ago, but that was driven mostly by a $270 million contribution to renovate the historic Hayward Field track and field venue.

The Buckeyes revenue increased 11% year-over-year. Most of that came from more football ticket sales and because Ohio State had eight home games in 2022 compared to seven in 2021. OSU's football program generated more than 127 million in the fiscal year with a surplus of 55 million, while men's basketball had revenues over 24 million with a profit of almost 10. Now, those sports subsidized the rest of Ohio State's 34 sports in the athletic department, and those had costs exceeding revenues by almost $56 million.

With the NHL All-Star game coming next week, here's a quick glance at some numbers for Gary Bettman and co on TV. The league is up 26% on national TV. That's ABC, ESPN, and TNT. Those early Connor Bedard games really were strong for each partner, and I'm sure the league wants to get him back on the ice as soon as possible.

On the RSN side, local numbers look to be rising among a number of US clubs. The Blackhawks lead the way with a 59% gain on NBC Sports Chicago, while the Rangers are up 39% and on pace for what would be the Broadway Blues' best season on MSG Networks since 2014/2015.

Out on Long Island, the Islanders games also are up 37%. Some final quick hitters to wrap things up this morning. Cosm is partnering with NBC to bring select live broadcasts of the Premier League, Notre Dame and Big Ten football, and horse racing to the immersive technology company's forthcoming shared reality venues in LA and Dallas. That's per my colleague Rob Schaefer.

Cosm's LA venue is scheduled to open at the end of Q2 in Dallas by the start of football season. If you haven't ever seen what Cosm's tech looks like, check it out online. It's very cool stuff. The Cosm venue's core offering is an 87-foot-diameter LED dome that combines spatial audio and 8K video to create this immersive effect. It's very cool stuff, very high-tech. A very unique offering for sports viewing.

Fairleigh Dickinson, which knocked off number-one Purdue in March Madness last year, continues to milk its Cinderella moment. First, there was a regional TV deal with YES Network in 2023, and now a naming rights deal for the school's New Jersey arena, a five-year pack with Bogota Savings Bank. Why a big deal? FDU is now the only school in the Northeast Conference to have a naming rights deal on their primary arena. Very big deal for them.

Our facilities maven Bret McCormick reports Camping World Stadium got funding approval from the Orange County Board of County Commissioners for $400 million in renovations, along with a 100,000 square-foot multipurpose venue to host other various events. McCormick also noted that Michigan State spent around $3 million on its new LED board setup at Breslin Center for this season.

Some World Surf League news from my colleague Rachel Axon. The league is taking its events to ESPN airwaves in the US. That begins next week with an event in O'ahu. The WSL also inked some new sponsorship packs, including a deal with Lexus. The league also extended deals with Apple Watch and Red Bull among others.

And finally, a plug to check out this week's Sports Media Podcast which drops today. Andrew Marchand and I dig into the WWE deal, Netflix's future prospects in sports, how Tony Romo and Jim Nantz handled the Chiefs-Bills game, and more.

That is your Morning Buzzcast for Wednesday, January 24th. Abe Madkour is back for Buzzcast on Thursday. I hope everyone has a great hump day, and talk to you all soon.