SBJ Morning Buzzcast

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: November 29, 2023

Episode Summary

Mark Cuban is having an eventful week. Plus, David Tepper faces the media in a Charlotte, NFL viewership shines on Thanksgiving but has work to do on Black Friday, and SBJ's Dealmakers event is set to begin in D.C.

Episode Notes

Mark Cuban is having an eventful week. Plus, David Tepper faces the media in a Charlotte, NFL viewership shines on Thanksgiving but has work to do on Black Friday, and SBJ's Dealmakers event is set to begin in D.C.

Episode Transcription

If your sports Bingo card this week had Mark Cuban selling a majority stake in the Mavericks, congratulations, go ahead and check that box off. Welcome to your Morning Buzzcast for Wednesday, November twenty-ninth. I'm SBJ's Austin Carr filling in for Abe Madkour. The news first started trickling out early Tuesday evening that Miriam Adelson, the widow of Las Vegas Sands Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson had unloaded around 10% of her family shares in the company, valued at around $2 billion. And those funds will be put toward a majority stake in an unnamed major pro sports team with a deal already in place pending league approval. Given that the Adelson family has long had a base of operations in Las Vegas, many first guesses were naturally Vegas teams. Was it the A's, perhaps the Raiders or Golden Knights, or maybe even an NBA expansion club that seems inevitable to land in Las Vegas.

But alas, just a couple of hours later, that team was identified to be the Dallas Mavericks with NBA mainstay Mark Cuban signing a unique deal with Miriam Adelson and her family that values the club at around $3.5 billion. Cuban would sell majority control in the club, but keep a stake in the team and perhaps most importantly, maintain operational control. He would continue to be an NBA governor and have final say in all basketball operations matters. But make no mistake, this is a seismic shift for one of the most outspoken and influential NBA owners, and it's a big week for Cuban so far, who on Monday also announced he was going to be leaving his long time TV role on Shark Tank in 2025. So some background on the Adelson's. Sheldon Adelson had never really had much interest around pro sports ownership. The family owned the Venetian and other resorts in Vegas as well a ton of casino properties in Asia.

Sheldon passed away in 2021. Miriam is now the 24th richest American per Forbes, and her family has a net worth of just over 32 billion. Should she join the NBA ranks, Miriam would be the second-richest NBA owner behind just Steve Ballmer and his $100 billion dollars nest egg. There is some basketball interest within the family, as one of the Adelson's sons in June bought an Israeli pro-team that plays in Jerusalem and he stated he wants to make that club a powerhouse in the Euro League. The Adelson's also have had a pre-existing relationship with Mark Cuban and stated that there were discussions about building a casino and an entertainment district in Dallas as part of a new Mavericks arena. But gambling is still not on the books in Texas, although both Cuban and the Adelson family have continued to lobby state politicians to get that approved.

Now, there's still a lot to sift through on this story in the coming days and weeks, but obviously a big move in NBA ownership circles and one everyone in sports business wants to pay attention to. Moving over to the NFL, in my hometown of Charlotte, embattled Panthers' owner David Tepper continues to get shelled by local and national media for his handling of the club. Tepper spoke to the media on Tuesday following the firing of another head coach, Frank Reich, just 11 games into his first season at the helm. Tepper defended his actions and preached patience, but came off as highly defensive with the media in a press conference that lasted just 13 minutes, leaving a number of disgruntled beat writers in the room. Now let's check the scorecard for Tepper in six seasons as owner, you've got zero winning seasons, a failed half-built practice facility down in South Carolina.

Six coaches, not to mention three coaches in two seasons for his MLS Club, Charlotte FC, no first round NFL Pick in 2024 and an increasingly apathetic fan base. As Yahoo Sports wrote, "Tepper is winning the race to take the crown as the NFL's worst owner". David Tepper may well end up righting the ship here in Charlotte, but it's going to be a long slog to get there. He's burned through so much goodwill he had with the community, with local politicians, the fan base, it's going to be a tough sell now to bring in coaches, good executives, and get new fans to cheer for this squad. Now, final numbers are finally in for the NFL games on Thanksgiving, and the end result was a second straight year of record Turkey Day viewership for the Shield. Highlights include the second most watched NFL regular season game ever with the Cowboys game in the late window.

The best early window game also happened with Packers-Lions. It's the first time the Lions have placed a game in the top 10 most watched Thanksgiving games ever. You can thank out-of-home viewership for a lot of that audience. And the second-best Thanksgiving primetime game yet since that window was added in 2012, also landed in NBC's Lap. There's just no doubt any longer the NFL owns Thanksgiving. It's a part of the fiber of the day year in and year out now. Now, one area where the NFL maybe didn't see a strong return was the debut Black Friday game with the Jets and Dolphins going into the $100 million experiment for Amazon Prime Video. I expected something close to a record streaming audience for the NFL that would've been closer to around 15 million viewers, which also belongs to Prime Video for the first Thursday night football game this season.

But the Dolphins' blow-out of the Jets delivered just 9.6 million viewers or so. That's just north of Prime's lowest TNF audience this season. Now below 10 million is absolutely short of my expectations even if it was the most watched sports telecast on Black Friday. 9.6 million is just above what NFL network drew for Chiefs-Dolphins from Germany earlier this season, and that was on a Sunday morning. Now we'll see if Amazon has other metrics or tangible benefits they're able to report by having that Black Friday game, whether it's related to shopping or what have you. But this audience of 9.6 million viewers, I definitely think was not where the NFL wanted to be on this number. Some other quick hitters to wrap things up this morning, I thought it was very interesting to hear the four Tennis Grand Slams, we're talking about the US Open, Wimbledon, French Open and Australian Open, considering a partnership with at least the 10 largest other tournaments and their own events to create a premium tour that resembles a tennis version of F-one.

This is the sort of the disruption that we saw with the creation of LIV Golf now challenging the PGA Tour. It was also interesting to hear comments from NASCAR President Steve Phelps making it look like an announcement is imminent on the Cup Series media rights deal. My colleagues John Ourand and Adam Stern reported Amazon and Warner Brothers Discovery remain in pole position for some sort of streaming package. Fox and NBC would obviously return as linear TV partners. Keep an eye out for that announcement. We should also get viewership today on Ohio State-Michigan in the Iron Ball. I expect record numbers for that Big 10 matchup. It was a close game, really good game, and an incredibly big number for the Alabama-Auburn thriller that ended with that catch in the end zone. Some very strong numbers for rivalry weekend on the college side.

And finally, this afternoon in D.C. SBJ's Dealmakers Conference begins. Among the opening day speakers are Ilana Kloss, CEO of Billie Jean Enterprises, as well as longtime NFL-er Malcolm Jenkins, NBC News political analyst, Chuck Todd, also one of the founders of SBD, former NBA player and tech investor, Andre Iguodala, and New Wizards' president of basketball ops, Michael Winger. So that is your Morning Buzzcast for Wednesday, November 29th. I'm Austin Carr, everyone have a great hump day and keep eating those Thanksgiving leftovers.