The rise of Rick Cordella and the vision of Eddy Cue
And this is your Morning Buzzcast for Monday, September 25th. Good morning, I'm Abe Madkour. Hope everybody had a good weekend and are ready for a big week.
First, it was a big day at NBC Sports on Friday as the 47-year-old Rick Cordella was named NBC Sports new President replacing Pete Bevacqua, who of course left the network in June to become athletic director at Notre Dame. Now, Rick Cordella will report directly to NBCUniversal CEO Mark Lazarus, and this is a big job as Cordella will oversee NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, Golf Channel, NBC Sports Digital, GolfNow and SportsEngine. He will also continue to oversee sports on Peacock and will work with NBC Local on NBC's RSN strategy. Of course, NBC Comcast have a number of regional sports networks.
Rick Cordella takes the top spot as NBC Sports is having talks to renew its current deal with NASCAR and as the network begins to look at a potential deal with the NBA, or for the NBA. And he will be on the road a lot, as Cordella went to South Bend for Saturday's Ohio State Notre Dame game and now is going to Italy this week for the Ryder Cup. So he is a busy man and it's a big job. SBJ's John Ourand reported on Friday that Mark Lazarus interviewed several executives outside of NBC for the job, including former Turner Sports COO, Matt Hong, and Disney's President of Platform Distribution, Justin Connolly.
But Mark Lazarus decided to promote Cordella. He is a 17-year NBC veteran. He is very popular internally among staff. He most recently was NBC Sports' President of Programming, but part of the reason why he got the job comes down to his experience with digital media and streaming. Rick Cordella came up through NBC Sports' Digital Group, which is so important, and that experience is vital as the network navigates the current media climate and the rise of streaming media. Cordella told John Ourand that NBC employees, league partners and advertisers should not expect many changes when he takes over.
Cordella is a great story. I've known him through the years. He is a great story of rising through the ranks. He was an SBJ 40 Under 40 honoree in 2012 and 2014. And one fun fact, he was a member of the Pete Gillen coached Providence basketball team when it reached the Elite Eight in 1997. Rick Cordella, the new President of NBC Sports.
Let's move on to hockey. The Ottawa Senators have a new owner, and he hit all the right notes as Michael Andlauer met with the media on Friday and outlined his vision for the franchise. He leads a group of 11 partners who purchased a 90% stake in the Senators in a deal reportedly that valued the club at $950 million. He will continue the club's efforts to move the team out of its current home at the Canadian Tire Centre, which sits in the suburban marketplace. He would really like to build a new arena in Downtown Ottawa. But he is committed to upgrading the current arena, because he kept talking about improving the fan experience under his ownership.
He's 57 years old. He spoke in both French and English, which was very well received locally, and he talked about taking care of the fans. He talked about the fan experience. He talked about his passion for hockey. All good talking points. He plans to spend plenty of time in Ottawa, which I'm sure local leaders love to hear as well. Meanwhile, he introduced Cyril Leeder as the club's new president and CEO. This is a role Leeder previously held under late owner Eugene Melnyk from 2009 through 2017. Now he returns to the Senators. But a new day with new ownership for the Ottawa Senators.
An eyeopening story out of Bloomberg News that broke late last week indicated that a group of Warriors minority owners are exploring the possibility of selling their roughly 10% stake in the team at an assessed value of $7 billion. Yes, you heard that correctly. This valuation of 10% of the team would value the entire franchise, the Warriors, at $7 billion. However, Bloomberg reported that potential investors in the team have pushed back at that valuation. Now, if that sale were to be made at that figure, it would certainly make the Warriors one of the world's most valuable sports teams.
That $7 billion, it doesn't surprise me that there's getting some pushback, because that would be higher than the Commanders and Broncos sold for. It'd be just under what many thought Manchester United would get if they completed a sale. Majority owner, Joe Lacob, led a group in 2010 that purchased the Warriors for about $450 million. So this story with this valuation of the Warriors at potentially worth $7 billion, wow, that is certainly a story worth keeping your eye on.
The global expansion of sports continues as the NHL played a pair of games over the weekend in Melbourne, Australia as the Kings and the Coyotes drew more than 13,000 fans for each game, one Saturday, one Sunday, marking the first time an NHL game was played anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. This global expansion and growing their global footprint, a big initiative for the NHL. Both teams said they were surprised by the level of interest in the game and the fandom in Melbourne. While in Australia, players from both teams also attended an Australian Football League game at the cricket grounds on Friday night. That had nearly 98,000 fans in attendance. So both organizations got a little bit of local flavor while in Australia. The NHL is certainly pleased with this pre-season effort in Melbourne.
We know the NFL is in London over the next couple of weeks. They'll also play in Germany this year again, and now the league has its eyes on future international games in both Spain and Brazil. The league sent officials to investigate the possibility of playing the first NFL regular season games in Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and San Paulo as soon as next season. That would be a big step for the league. The NFL is looking at the facilities of Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid as potential sites in Spain. Neither Spain nor Brazil have hosted regular season NFL games. This would be a big step in the NFL's global efforts.
And finally, if you read one story this week, read GQ's profile of Eddy Cue. Who is Eddy Cue? Well, he is the man leading Apple's push into live sports. He keeps a low profile, he doesn't do a lot of interviews, so that's what makes this piece so intriguing. The headline of the story is, quote, "Inside Apple's Plan to Change the Way We Watch Sports," and it shows what Cue's mission is. He has worked for Apple since 1989. He is a huge sports fan. He sits courtside at Warriors games. He loves his Duke basketball team. At home, he has nine televisions. Nine televisions in a grid in his media room with a digital ticker relaying scores.
So bottom line, he is a big believer in sports and what it can do for Apple, but he wants Apple to be able to influence the sports it partners with. He wants Apple to influence how to present a game, how to deliver a game, and how viewers can use technology to enhance their experience. He said that Apple wants to partner with sports that are open to being changed by the company. So it's a very good read, well worth your time. It talks about Apple's deal with MLS and how that got done and what the future holds for that. But again, GQ's profile of Apple's Eddy Cue, certainly one of the most influential people in all of sports, worth your time.
And that is your Morning Buzzcast for Monday, September 25th. I'm Abe Madkour. Hope you have a great day. Stay healthy, be good to each other. I'll speak to you on Tuesday.