SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: May 23, 2023

Episode Summary

How NFL came to flex "Thursday Night"; Bidders emerge for '27 Women's World Cup; Top talent take home Sports Emmys and an Octagon leader set to retire.

Episode Notes

How NFL came to flex "Thursday Night"; Bidders emerge for '27 Women's World Cup; Top talent take home Sports Emmys and an Octagon leader set to retire.




Episode Transcription

Abe Madkour:

We have our force event today in Chelsea that looks at the Nexus between sports, entertainment, fashion, and lifestyle. And then we have the Sports Business Awards Wednesday night. SBJ has two full days here in New York and we certainly hope to run into you while we are here. And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Tuesday, May 23rd. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. At the NFL Owners' meetings in Minneapolis on Monday, owners approved flex scheduling for Thursday night football starting this season during weeks 13 through 17. Remember we had talked about this on the Buzzcast. This was tabled in March and now it gets approved here in May. The vote passed by a 24 to eight margin. The Giants, the Jets, the Packers, the Bears, the Raiders, the Lions, Bengals, and Steelers all voted against the measure.

I would call those some of the old-school teams and ownership groups who didn't like the inconvenience this would cause mostly to fans. So there were some slight changes to the measure that was tabled back in March. Only two flexes are allowed all season and they must be done with 28 days of advanced notice, so nearly a month. An SBJ's, Ben Fischer reported that is nearly double the 15 days notice that was originally proposed in March. So that would help fans plan their schedules better, and that's something owners wanted. But it could potentially undermine the concept as Ben Fischer noted, "A team could play four games before the decision to flex and the game in question. That's more than enough time for a team's season or fortunes to change. And that's why it will be used only in cases where the originally scheduled teams are not ready for primetime."

So think about a team that's really performing poorly. They would get flexed out. It should also be noted that the move is clearly aimed to please Amazon. The NFL's biggest new partner, the NFL wants to keep Amazon happy. They want to show streaming companies that they would be treated just like the traditional broadcasters. And all of those traditional broadcasters have some late-season flexibility. And so that's why it was important for the NFL to have this for Thursday Night Football. The resolution is for this season only unless no games are flexed. In that case, it will carry over to the 2024 season. So some pretty interesting nuance to that new Thursday Night flex rule. In another piece of business news, Green Bay will be the host of the 2025 NFL Draft, and how good could that look on television? Yes, you can question the size of the market, but you certainly can't question interest in football in that market.

The Packers have wanted the draft for many years, and they've worked hard to get draft ready, meaning they had to develop the area around Lambeau Field and the Titletown area. They had to add more hotels and restaurants and just open space, so they land the draft. Detroit will host it next March and then Green Bay in 2025. Meanwhile, as we mentioned last week, the NFL did make it official in announcing that Super Bowl 60 in February of 2026 will be at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara home of the 49ers. The 2024 host will be Allegiant Stadium in Vegas. Then you've got the Superdome in New Orleans and then you've got Santa Clara in 2026. Meanwhile, news continues to proceed that Tom Brady is close to becoming a minority owner in the Las Vegas Raiders. I believe this only needs NFL approval. He would become only the third player in NFL history to become an owner in a team.

The other were George Halas and Jerry Richardson. It's not clear how much Brady will purchase or how big his stake will be, but it's likely to be a small stake in the team. Remember, Tom Brady already has a relationship with Raiders owner Mark Davis, as they are both partners in the Las Vegas Aces. Brady has a minority stake in that WNBA team, which is also owned by Mark Davis. Now, I still find it hard to believe this won't impact Brady's mega deal with Fox Broadcasting. They say that this is all clear, but you would think it would be difficult for Brady to be able to call games Raiders games or even those of the team's AFC West rivals objectively. But this is yet to become an issue and maybe it won't be, but we'll see in the days ahead. On yesterday's Buzzcast, we talked about the emotional return of Brittney Griner over the weekend and how the Mercury drew more than 14,000 fans for their home opener on Sunday.

But it wasn't just at the gate that Griner drew an audience. SBJ's, Austin Karp reported that ESPN drew more than 680,000 viewers for Griner's return on Friday night. That was her first game back that marked the best WNBA regular season audience in nearly 25 years. And that strong rating was for a game that started at 11:35 Eastern Time. It aired after the NHL's Western Conference Final game. And so early returns are that Britney Griner's return could be very big business.

We've got some news about a couple of big global events coming up. First, the 2024 Paris Games are going to be quite the spectacle. We have talked on the Buzzcast about the Paris organizer's, ambitious plans around the games such as the opening ceremony on the Seine River. Most sources I have spoken to close to the games are very aware of the security and audience challenges now that would present on an opening ceremony. Now Reuters is reporting that game organizers are planning to install the Olympic flame on the Eiffel Tower. The flame would not be put at the top of the tower, and it's not clear whether it would stay on the tower throughout the games, but that is an early idea. And obviously, these plans are in the early stages, but these Paris Games promise to be quite grand indeed.

Meanwhile, four groups all signed bidding agreements to host the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2027. The athletic reported that the four interesting parties are Brazil, South Africa, a joint bid from Belgium, the Netherlands in Germany, and a joint bid from the US and Mexico. So those are the four bids. Now, the bid groups will have to complete detailed documents and attend a bid workshop in August during the Women's World Cup in Australia. The host will be decided by FIFA in May of 2024.

And remember, if the US lands the Women's World Cup in '27, we are looking at a major run of global events in the United States. Think about the Men's World Cup in '26, the Women's World Cup in '27, and the Olympics in LA in '28. That would be quite a run. Congratulations to all the winners at the Sports Emmys, which were held Monday at a ceremony in New York City. NBC's coverage of the Olympic Winter Games and Fox's World Cup coverage were big winners. Meanwhile, ESPN was the night's biggest winner among outlets as the network won 13 Emmys. Bryant Gumbel also received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here are some other interesting honors I thought. For Outstanding Personality and Studio Host, the winner was Mike Tirico for NBC in the Golf Channel. For Outstanding Personality Play-by-Play, the winner was Mike Green at ABC. Outstanding Personality Studio Analysts, the winner, Ryan Clark on ESPN beating such names as Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neill and Jay Bilas. Outstanding Personality Event Analyst, the winner, Peyton Manning for ESPN, and Outstanding Personality Reporter. The winner was Lisa Salters on ESPN and ABC. And finally, the Outstanding Personality in Emerging On-Air talent winner was Greg Olsen from Fox.

And finally, some names in the news. First, the PGA Tour has tapped longtime industry executive Joie Chitwood to lead the 2026 President's Cup that has slated from Medinah Country Club near Chicago. Joie Chitwood has been a tournament director of the Arnold Palmer Invitational since 2020. He has vast experience in motorsports. He was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Daytona International Speedway and Chicago Land Speedway. And now Joie Chitwood will handle the renovation at Medinah before they host the 2026 President's Cup. And we will have more on this special leader as she gets closer to her retirement.

But a big hat tip to Octagon, the executive vice president, chief marketing Officer, and Chief University Officer, Lisa Murray, who is retiring at the end of August after over 30 years with the company, Lisa Murray joined Octagon in 1992 as head of the agency's MasterCard account before she moved up and became one of Octagon's most senior executives. She became the first woman to be named chief marketing officer of a major sports and entertainment agency. She's been a great leader and a mentor to so many people. She was on SBJ's Most Influential List in 2005. She was named to SBJ's Game Changers class of 2011. Like I said, a leader, a mentor, and an even better person. Congratulations to Octagon's Lisa Murray, who is retiring at the end of August after over 30 years with Octagon. And that is your Morning Buzzcast for Tuesday, May 23rd. I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening to the Buzzcast. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you tomorrow.