Picks are in; MLB lands two sponsorship deals; Eyes on D'backs and Diamond Sports and the names behind the decisions and breaking down Team and League Of The Year Categories
For many of you, these next two days are the best days in sports all year. Good luck to all of you with your NCAA brackets. I'm just going to listen to whatever my producer, Reggie Walker, says and picks. Reggie, who do you have?
On the men's side, we're going with Alabama, the Crimson Tide. Best team in the country right now. We're going to go with them and South Carolina on the women's side. Another undefeated season, they win back-to-back championships.
So Reggie offers his picks. Alabama, South Carolina sound good to me. We will be watching a lot of college hoops over the next three weeks. It will culminate with the men's Final Four in Houston, which is hosting the event for the fourth time. And the men's final will be Monday, April 3rd. The women's Final Four will be held in Dallas with the women's final on April 2nd. And of course, all of that leads into Masters week, but enjoy your NCAA tournaments.
And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Thursday, March 16th. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for joining on the BuzzCast.
We know that Jim Nance is set to call his final NCAA men's basketball tournament, but CBS made a move to shore up its college basketball coverage by resigning Greg Gumbel to a contract extension, so Gumbel will continue in his role as host of the network's college basketball coverage. He'll host the men's basketball tournament studio show for CBS. This marks his 25th year of hosting the March Madness show. But the news also is that Greg Gumbel will be stepping down from play-by-play duties on NFL games after more than three decades of being part of CBS' NFL coverage. He's done play-by-play for the last few years. He's called two Super Bowls during his time. He started with CBS as host of the NFL Today pregame show from 1990 to 1993, so that tells you his long run. I've always enjoyed Gumbel's style and substance, and he's had a great run with the NFL on CBS and will continue to have a great run on CBS' college basketball coverage, so some news there on CBS and Greg Gumbel.
Let's move to some sponsorship news at Major League Baseball as it prepares to start its season. SBJ's Terry Lefton reported that T-Mobile has renewed as a sponsor for an additional five years. T-Mobile has been very active with its rights in Major League Baseball. And remember, the All-Star Game this summer is in Seattle at T-Mobile Park, so that will be a big brand play, as well. Now Lefton also reports something interesting. Look for T-Mobile to try and tie its 5G network to baseball's vast technology ambitions, so 5G could become part of the system for when Major League Baseball moves to robotic balls and strikes, which is likely for the '24 season, so to the bottom line, interesting. T-Mobile renewing its deal but also trying to integrate its technology into the action and game, so keep your eye on that.
Staying with baseball, it has landed some new corporate sponsorship business as it has signed Zoom to a multi-year deal. You'll see Zoom branding during in-game replay reviews on select national broadcasts. Also, MLB's replay room in New York City will now be called the Zoom Replay Operation Center, so you'll see a lot of Zoom branding during the in-game replays. And in addition, Zoom will be featured extensively and used to provide information during the MLB draft. So MLB gets a key renewal with T-Mobile and new business with Zoom as its season starts in just a couple of weeks.
Staying with baseball and Diamond Sports Group, which we've talked a lot about on the Buzzcast, SBJ's John Ourand reported that the first big test of whether Diamond Sports will continue to pay all of its rights fees to teams will come at the end of today, at the end of Thursday. That's the deadline for Diamond Sports to make its rights fee payment to the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose games air on Bally Sports Arizona. Now Diamond Sports already is late with its payment to the team, has a grace period until Thursday to pay, so we'll keep our eye on that. Also, keep your eye on Diamond's rights fee payment to the San Diego Padres. That is a concern of the company's according to Ourand. Diamond Sports is set to make that payment before Opening Day. Sources said that it has looked at the Padres deal as being too generous, it's being too rich for its blood right now, so that payment could be in jeopardy. So these are two teams we'll certainly keep our eye on, the D-backs and the Padres.
Meanwhile, The Athletic dug into Diamond Sports' bankruptcy filing and notes that a four-person conflicts committee is helping to run the company during Chapter 11, and you will know these names. Diamond Sports CEO is David Preschlack, and that's been well reported. But some other names assisting Diamond Sports during this time are interesting and noteworthy. One is former NFL COO, Maryann Turcke, another is former Fox Sports executive, Randy Freer, and a third is former Vulcan Sports executive, Bob Whitsitt. Yes, trader Bob, all those years ago during his run overseeing the Trailblazers, and at one time he oversaw the Seattle Seahawks as a key executive under Paul Allen. I have not heard Bob Whitsitt's name in some time. He obviously is being part of this group helping to run Diamond Sports during its Chapter 11 proceedings.
Let's move on. Big 12 commissioner, Brett Yormark, we talk about him a lot on the Buzzcast, as he continues to try and amplify the image of the Big 12, and here's another example. The Big 12 will partner with the NFL to hold its own conference-wide pro day next year at the Ford Center in Frisco, Texas. That's at The Star, that beautiful Cowboys facility in Texas. He'll hold this pro day before the NFL draft, and this marks a first. It's the first conference-only combine, or pro day, that I can think of where NFL scouts will come to The Star in Frisco and assess Big 12 football players. Every school in the conference is expected to participate, and they will not hold pro days at their own campus, instead, doing this one conference-wide combine. Of course, there will be a TV component, and NFL Network will televise the pro day, and while the public can't access or watch the actual workouts, Yormark has thought of something else. They'll do a Big 12 fan fest outside of the event at The Star in Frisco, Texas. So again, another step by Brett Yormark to grow and elevate the Big 12 brand.
Let's mention two items related to timing. First, NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, said that all the bids on the Ottawa Senators have been received, and that interest in the franchise has been robust. And he said it could be a matter of only weeks before the team officially is sold.
Shifting to the Pac-12, Arizona president, Robert Robbins, says he expects the Pac-12 to finalize a media rights deal within the next couple of weeks, and he said the dollar figure will be better than the Big 12's recent extension with ESPN and Fox. That was worth around $32 million per school every year, so that's the bar he is setting. He said a deal should be done in a couple of weeks, and it will be more than the Big 12's.
And as we've done all week, let's break down some of the nominee categories for the 2023 Sports Business Awards that'll take place May 24th in New York City. We've done a few of the categories, Best in Sports Betting, Deal of the Year, Event of the Year, and Sports Facility of the Year. Today, let's talk about two big ones, Sports Team of the Year and Sports League of the Year. The nominees for Sports Team of the Year, Angel City FC, the Buffalo Bills, the Florida Panthers, the Golden State Warriors, LAFC, and the San Diego Padres. Each of those six organizations had very stellar years. I don't think I need to explain why any of them are nominated for Sports Team of the Year. Sports League of the Year, it is a hefty bunch and it is a strong category. The nominees are Big 10 Conference, Major League Soccer, NASCAR, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and the Women's National Basketball Association. So seven leagues up for League of the Year. Again, these will be two very competitive categories. Should be interesting to see who emerges as the winner. This event will be the biggest night of the year in sports business. It will sell out, so buy your ticket soon. We'll break down other categories in future episodes of the Buzzcast.
And so that is your Morning Buzzcast for Thursday, March 16th, day one of the men's basketball tournament. Women's hoops tournament starts tomorrow. Enjoy these next couple of days. They are always very exciting. So I'm Abe Madkour, thanks again for listening to the Buzzcast. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Friday.