SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: May 12, 2023

Episode Summary

The NFL schedule release triggers business activity, Notre Dame enters the open market for an apparel sponsor and the Senators ownership bidding may lose one of its celebrities.

Episode Transcription

Amid all the fanfare and discussion of the 2023 NFL schedule release on Thursday, you might have missed the announcement from NBCUniversal that in addition to its flagship NBC Broadcast Network, the streaming service Peacock will be the primary home for coverage of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. There was no mention of plans to provide games coverage on NBCU's family of cable networks, so those details may still be to come. Either way, the prominence of streaming in the announcement was interesting, as many networks with both linear and streaming options continue to look for the right mix of driving the distribution business and serving customers.

Good morning. It's Friday, May 12th. This is your SBJ Morning Buzzcast. I'm David Albright, filling in for Abe Madkour. If you think about it, every NFL club has known since January which teams it will play in the 2023 season. They just didn't know the order, which results in the schedule release event that occurred throughout the day on Thursday. Now the teams and their fans know days and times with a few exceptions, which means today is when the real work begins. That's because, as our Ben Fischer reports in his SBJ Football Newsletter, even beyond the TV slots, the schedule release triggers the following significant business activities at the team level.

Single game ticket sales. This has been a major point of emphasis at the league office, which has pushed teams to be more strategic and aggressive in how they price and market their remaining inventory. None of that can happen until the dates and times are set. Logistics. An NFL team needs to book between 150 and 200 hotel rooms as well as meeting space in eight or nine cities, often during the fall convention season and the highly competitive winter holiday travel weekends. Operations teams start making calls within minutes of seeing the schedule, and prices go up with each passing day. Most operations experts hope to present a final proposal to senior leadership by the weekend and negotiate final terms next week. And of course, gambling. Sports books don't put a line in a game until you know the date and the time.

A trickle-down effect from the NFL's schedule will be seen across college football. The Capital One Orange Bowl has agreed to move its game from 8:00 PM Eastern to 4:00 PM on Saturday, December 30th, to accommodate the NFL's decision to play a Lions-Cowboys game at 8:00 PM that night on ABC and ESPN. The NFL decided to play its week 17 Monday Night Football game on that Saturday night instead of on Monday night, January 1st, in a move that allows the two college football playoff games to be played that night without NFL opposition. Meanwhile, the Peach Bowl in Atlanta was moved from December 29th to noon Eastern on Saturday, December 30th, and will precede the Orange Bowl game. And the Cotton Bowl game in Dallas, previously set for December 30th, has been moved to December 29th.

Notre Dame's exclusive negotiating window with current apparel sponsor Under Armour has expired, thrusting arguably college football's most valuable brand into the open market, according to SI. Notre Dame's 10-year contract with UA, believed to be worth $90 million, ends after next season. While Under Armour remains a potential suitor, the Irish are expected to draw bids from other high profile apparel companies such as Nike and Adidas. Over the last several years, Under Armour has worked to cut costs by restructuring or ending sponsorship contracts. The company canceled deals with UCLA, Cal, Hawaii and Cincinnati, but does continue to outfit a handful of major college programs.

Actor Ryan Reynolds' bid for the Ottawa Senators is apparently not moving forward. Reynolds was attached to a bid to acquire the NHL franchise led by a real estate developer Remington Group. The planned sale of the Senators, announced in November following the death of longtime owner Eugene Melnyk, has garnered plenty of interest and is shaping up to be a bidding war among celebrities. Snoop Dogg announced he is part of a bid led by Los Angeles-based businessmen Neko Sparks, while The Weeknd is part of a bid by Toronto billionaires Jeffrey and Michael Kimel. Reynolds' request for an exclusive window to complete the deal was denied, which led Reynolds to pull out of the process. The deadline for interested groups to submit final non-binding offers is May 15th, which is next Monday.

Advertisers spent an estimated 32.4 million during NBC's five-hour Kentucky Derby telecast last Saturday, a figure that's down 5% from what was spent in 2022. That's according to an analysis of data by our David Broughton. The decline was prevalent among the biggest spenders as this year's top 10 advertisers spent 10% less than last year's top 10. Ford, an official Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby sponsor since 2020, was again the leading brand, dishing out 5.3 million to air 13 spots on NBC. That's up from the 4.9 million the auto brand spent last year on 12 spots. Woodford Reserve, the event's longest-tenured sponsor, spent $300,000 less this year on its TV allocation, but the whiskey brand was still number two among all TV advertisers.

We'll end on a programming note. In this week's Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Pat McAfee appears to be on the cusp of leaving his $120 million FanDuel deal in favor of ESPN. Andrew and John discuss why McAfee would make the move and what benefits ESPN would get from this deal. They also offer a preview of ESPN's second NFL booth that will be calling five games this fall. Other topics on this week's pod, ESPN's decision to not take its NBA studio show to the Western Conference Finals, the PAC 12's seemingly endless media negotiations and the likelihood that the WNBA will double its rights fee revenue. You can download the Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And that's your SBJ Morning Buzzcast for Friday. I hope everyone has a great day, an even better weekend. An early Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. We'll see you back here Monday morning.