SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: November 10, 2023

Episode Summary

Takeaways from the NWSL's impressive deal and from the Ally Tipoff while looking at NFL numbers at the mid-point of the season

Episode Transcription

Well, a special thank you to all the veterans and those serving our country on this Veterans Day weekend. And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, November 10th. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour. Hope you're all doing well. First, a big win and a big deal for the NWSL, which has four-year media rights deals with CBS, ESPN, Amazon and Scripps Sports, sources put the combined value of the deals at $60 million a year. Now that includes rights fees, that includes the cost of production, that includes marketing commitments. Previously, the NWSL covered all their own production costs, but regardless, the deal is 40 times the 1.5 million the Women's Soccer League earned under its previous deal with CBS. Now you'll see a total figure of $240 million over the four years. It's a big, big number, but you do have to include the production and marketing rights that the networks will now absorb.

Regardless, it is a big, big win for the league, teams, Commissioner Jessica Berman and endeavors, Hillary Mandel and Karen Brodkin who advised the league. Now a few things of note, the league clearly thought going with multiple partners was the best way to amplify its games and reach more viewers. They are counting on a great deal of marketing from the partners and cross promotion from the different networks to reach as many viewers as possible. Now, CBS will carry a large number of games, including the playoffs and the NWSL championship on CBS, ESPN will deliver 20 games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2. Amazon will have 27 matches per season, including Friday night regular season matches, and the Scripps' Ion Broadcast Network will air 50 regular season matches in a series of Saturday night double headers. So you have a real mix of the outlets and you have real mix of the windows.

So NWSL Clubs will also be able to do their own local deals. But the bottom line, this is a big, big win for the NWSL and women's sports. We know the league is going to grow from 12 to 14 teams next year. They have teams in Utah and the San Francisco Bay Area, and another two teams in 2026. They already have committed to one in Boston. So we are seeing real gains, real money for the NWSL, a very, very impressive media deal for that league. Let's stay with impressive stories in women's sports, because on Thursday night I took in the Iowa Virginia Tech Ally tip off at Charlotte Spectrum Center and it was really unlike any Women's College Basketball game I've ever been to. This felt almost like a Final four game. Nearly 16,000 fans, young, old, a good mix of Virginia Tech and Iowa alums, a lot of interested fans there just to see Caitlin Clark and it was a true hit.

Caitlin Clark scored 44 points in her regular season debut. Remember, this was an inaugural event. This Ally tip off put on by the Charlotte Sports Foundation was on ESPN2. I thought the crowd was incredibly impressive, considering there wasn't a home school playing, not one with ties to Charlotte, but this shows the genuine interest and enthusiasm around Women's College Basketball and this event, this Ally Tipoff could be a key event on the calendar. Both teams received a payout of $150,000 plus Iowa received an additional $50,000 for travel, and those type of payouts are rare in college women's basketball. And it shows how marquee this event could become. But women's college hoops is strong, it's hot right now. Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, and others are driving so much interest in the game. The play on the court is fantastic. You're going to see tremendous attention on this sport on these teams and on these players this year.

A big surprise in the NBA and in player unions as NBA PA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio is stepping down from the position she has held since January of 2022. She said she will pursue other opportunities, recently retired NBA player, Andre Iguodala, will replace Tremaglio on an interim basis as acting executive director while the union begins a formal search to find her successor. Now, while Tamika Tremaglio wasn't there at the NBPA very long, she came from Deloitte, she did oversee the new seven-year collective bargaining agreement that was finalized in April. And reports said that after that deal she began to discuss the possibility of her departure with union leadership. So the next union leader will be working with the league on a new media deal, which of course, everyone is eagerly anticipating and awaiting.

But I've said before on the Buzzcast, Andre Iguodala is the real deal, he knows the union business very well. He was a longtime member of the executive committee, and at our recent game changers in New York, when asked which individual she was closely paying attention to, Tremaglio mentioned Iguodala because of all the things he can do now that he is retired. So he worked closely with former executive director Michele Roberts before she stepped down. He has a very good relationship with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. So again, no surprise that Andre Iguodala is the new acting executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. Yesterday on the Buzzcast, I noted how strong the college football ratings have been this year. Well, if you hadn't noticed, the NFL is having another very good year in terms of viewership. As we get to the league's midpoint of the season, every broadcaster, every partner has a good story to tell. Listen to this, all told, NFL viewership is at an eight-year high with a per game average of 17.2 million viewers.

That is up 7% from last year according to my colleague Austin Carr, and it's the highest since 2015 through nine weeks. That's just unbelievable in this competitive marketplace. NBC continues to lead all of primetime for Sunday Night Football. Sunday Night Football is up 8% from 2022. Prime Video, Thursday nights, that's up big. It's averaging 12.7 million viewers. That's up from 10.3 million last year. Also, the median age of viewers for Sunday Night Football is 48 years old. That is seven years younger than the audience watching NFL games on linear television, and that's exactly what the NFL wanted. They want to get younger viewers and they knew that Amazon was a path to younger viewers. CBS is seeing its best viewership in eight years and up 5% over last year. Fox is just up 1% overall from last year. But Fox did see the second best game of the season on Sunday with the Cowboys-Eagles game, and that drew 27 million viewers.

And that was the second highest game of the season. Just below the Lions-Chiefs NFL kickoff game. ESPN, up 14% for Monday Night Football, NFL network up 25% season to date. So again, all the network partners seeing quite healthy increases. And one other thing, the teams consistently drawing the most viewers, you can guess, the Cowboys and the Chiefs. Those two have been the most watched teams in the NFL during this season. So the bottom line, a very good schedule, the right matchups, good storylines, all propelling the NFL to some of their best numbers in eight years, which is just incredible in this current media marketplace.

And so that is your Morning Buzzcast for Friday, November 10th. I'm Abe Madkour. Thanks for listening. Have a great weekend. Stay healthy. Be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Monday.