Branding the World of Sports

Archive for September, 2009

President Obama is the X factor on 2016 Olympics

Posted by ZA on September 28, 2009

I’ve been up & down about Chicago’s chances of landing the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Early on I was high on them because I thought the United States was due to host another Olympics and Chicago is the right choice, right now.  But soon after a dispute between the IOC and USOC changed my mind, I thought the USOC had ruined Chicago’s chances to host the Summer Games.  The USOC eventually decided to back down on their decision to launch the Olympic Network without the IOC support, so that initial issue was resolved.

But then a few weeks ago another big issue came up which made me sure that the Chicago 2016 Bid Committee had no chance to win the vote of the IOC.  A poll came out showing that less than half of Chicago residents were in favor of hosting the 2016 Olympic Games.  So I once again assumed that Chicago’s hopes of landing the Games were shot.  I even got plenty of comments from Chicago residents that all seemed to agree they didn’t want the Olympics in their town.

So what changed?  Why did I go from feeling that Chicago was out of this vote (not just once, but twice) to feeling they are the odds on favorite?  President Barrack Obama changed my mind.  It was confirmed by the White House that President Obama will travel to Denmark for to make the pitch for Chicago in-front of the voters of the IOC.  This is the same Barrack Obama who did what many thought would be impossible in winning the 2008 Presidential election.  The charismatic leader who has captured the attention of the entire globe.  He is almost always the coolest guy in the room wherever he goes, and certainly has a leg upon the PM of Japan, King of Spain or President of Brazil.

How can the IOC say ‘no’ to President Obama?  They can’t, he’ll show up and sway the vote in-favor of Chicago.  Much to the consternation of Rio de Janeiro, who was thought to be the front runner.  It’s called holding an ace up your sleeve and the Chicago Bid Committee waited for the perfect moment to play their trump card.  I would be shocked if the IOC doesn’t then vote Chicago as the host of the 2016 Summer Games.

Posted in Olympics | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

NBA star on the rise: Kevin Durant

Posted by ZA on September 22, 2009

This New York Times article is a glimpse into the life of Oklahoma Thunder forward, Kevin Durant.  The Times labeling his as a “Rising Star” within the league, which could soon be an understatement.  Durant seems to be on the verge of becoming one of the marquee players in the NBA, the same way he did in high school and college.  I watched him during his one season at the University of Texas and he’s an athlete that has a near limitless upside.

I think Durant will continue to use his time in Oklahoma City to hone his game and mature his body.  Then when he’s a free agent, he’ll take his game to one of the big media markets (e.g.- New York City) to become a star.  He’s a low key, fly under the radar type of guy – so it’ll take that type of move to thrust his name into the national conversation.  But it’ll be his play on the court that keeps the media and fans talking about him, because there is very little on the court that he cannot do.

I also expect the endorsement dollars to start to flow once KD is in a major market (current Kevin Durant endorsement deals).  His current deals with EA Sports, Gatorade, Nike and Upper Deck should only grow bigger.  And plenty of new brands will line up to get one of the top, young athletes in sports to endorse their produce.  They’ll love how his polite, almost shy demeanor compliments the fiercest competitor that comes out on the basketball court.  Durant will be a millionaire many times over before he’s 30 and quite possibly once of the best basketball players of this generation.

Kevin Durant photo from

Kevin Durant photo from

Posted in Athletes, Gatorade, NBA, Nike, Sports Brands | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top sports media sites – August 2009

Posted by ZA on September 21, 2009

Who is the top sports media site on the web today? Yahoo Sports according to ComScore ratings (August 2009) of the top sports sites on the web.  Although a large portion of that traffic is due to which accounts for almost 1/3 of Yahoo Sports 29 million number.  So Yahoo seems to be getting some value from the $100 million they spent to buy the Nashville company in 2007.  Rivals has a strong network of college fan communities, although it could be weakening since the top Rivals brass has now exited stage left.  But for now Yahoo is on top of one key internet category, who are the other top sports sites?

Top 10 Sports Media Sites (August 2009)
1. Yahoo Sports (includes
3. NFL Internet Group (includes all team sites)
4. Fox Sports (includes
5. (which counts traffic from all team sites)
6. Fantasy Sports Ventures
7. CBS Sportsline
8. Fanhouse
9. Sports Illustrated sites (includes FanNation)
10. Stack Media
Honorable Mention: NBC Sports (includes Pro Football Talk)

Posted in CBS, ESPN, Fox, Internet, NBC, Sports Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Most viewed college football game in ESPN history?

Posted by ZA on September 15, 2009

The game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and USC Trojans on Saturday, September 12th, 2009 was the most watched college football matchup in the history of ESPN.  ESPN reports that over 10.6 million people watched USC defeat Ohio State in a thrilling game in Columbus, Ohio.

The USC/Ohio State game was the highest rated cable broadcast since Florida State played Miami in 1994.  The highest rated regular season game in 2008 was the Texas Longhorns versus Texas Tech Red Raiders, which tallied a 7.5 rating and had over 8.5 million households watching.  USC versus Ohio State, in Los Angeles, was the 2nd highest rated regular season game in ’08, which over 7.8 million viewers.

[Assist: Sports Business Daily]

Posted in College Football, ESPN, Sports Television | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chicago residents don’t support the bid for 2016 Olympics

Posted by ZA on September 15, 2009

Whenever you are rolling out a new product or service you want to make sure you secure the support of some “anchor clients” who will help to provide early momentum.  These should be key individuals who will have some influence (direct or indirect) over the clients you are trying to sign.  Having anchor clients in your pocket make it easier to walk into any room and pitch your product, because you can throw their name around as someone who is already on-board.

The group who is running the Chicago bid to host the 2016 Olympics certainly followed this rule.  Early on they made sure they had the support of President Barrack Obama and a plethora of other Olympic athletes, Chicago businesses and local celebrities.  This assembly have helped make Chicago one of the four finalists in the bidding process to host the 2016 Summer Games.

But the Chicago 2016 Bid Committee forgot to gain the support of one key group of individuals.  The residents of the City of Chicago.  A Chicago Tribune poll found that only 47% of Chicagoans were in favor of the city’s bid for the Olympics.  A huge 84% said they do not approve of using public money (i.e.- tax payer dollars) to fund the 2016 Summer Games in their city.  Chicago residents do not want to be on the hook for cost overruns or other infrastructure costs which may fall back on them.

As AdAge points out, this is not the type of support you want to show just a few weeks prior to the IOC vote.  Less than half of the population of your city is in favor of hosting the Olympic Games?  That is not the recipe for success when bidding on a multi-billion dollar Games.  Surely the bid committees from Madrid, Rio and Tokyo will make sure these survey results wind up on the desk of every voting member of the IOC.  And after all of the money spent by the Chicago 2016 Bid Committee to land the games, this lack of public support might wind up being their downfall.  Here’s hoping they are scrambling to put together their own poll which will show a much more favorable result for the city.


Posted in Olympics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

“The kid from North Carolina” aka: Michael Jordan

Posted by ZA on September 9, 2009

A great article from Yahoo Sports on Nike’s decision to sign Michael Jordan.  The original deal signed back in 1984 was for $500k and a piece of the profits from Nike sales of Jordan products.  The deal eventually catapulted Nike from a top sporting goods company to a global brand.

Some more interesting tidbits from the article:
* Nike’s total revenue in 1984 (year MJ signed) was $900 million, in 2008 Nike had $18.6 billion in revenue.

* No one at Nike had ever met Michael Jordan when they agreed to sign him to an endorsement deal.

* Nike produced so much black & red apparel with Jordan that “at one point there was a run on the world’s supply of red-colored thread”.

It’s a good article by Dan Wetzel, it’s worth a read.

Posted in Apparel & Shoes, Athletes, Endorsement Deals, NBA, Nike, Sports Brands | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who is the most valuable franchise in the NFL?

Posted by ZA on September 3, 2009

Forbes annual ranking of the most valuable sports teams has once again crowned the Dallas Cowboys as the most valuable team in the National Football League (NFL).  Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys and their stadium (Texas Stadium) from Bum Bright for $158 million dollars in 1989.  Twenty years later the Cowboys are now valued by Forbes at over $1.6 billion dollars.

Most valuable NFL franchises in 2009 (ranked by Forbes):
1. Dallas Cowboys ($1.6 billion)
2. Washington Redskins ($1.5 billion)
3. New England Patriots ($1.3 billion)
4. New York Giants ($1.18 billion)
5. New York Jets ($1.17 billion)
6. Houston Texans
7. Philadelphia Eagles
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Chicago Bears
10. Denver Broncos
Click here to see entire list of 2009 most valuable NFL franchises by Forbes.

The NFC East is the richest division in the NFL, the entire group is represented in the top 10 most valuable teams in the league.  Not surprising to anyone who follows football, the Oakland Raiders were rated as the least valuable franchise in the entire NFL.  Way to go, Al Davis!


Posted in NFL | Leave a Comment »

The NFL is too focused on controlling their brand

Posted by ZA on September 2, 2009

The NFL has the largest television contract among the four major U.S. professional sports leagues.  In-fact the paid media rights to the National Football League are surely the largest in the World, along with the Olympics and Premier League.  So there are a lot of dollars at stake for the NFL, which means they are extremely vigilant about how their product is distributed.  You’ve probably heard their “This broadcast cannot be redistributed without the express written permission of the NFL…” warning at the beginning of football games so often that you hardly notice it anymore.  But that pre-game warning is just part of the NFL’s strategy to protect their marks.

Now the NFL is expanding their protection to include a ban against social media.  The NFL is restricting players, coaches, league personnel or media from engage in social networking during games.  The purpose is to prevent a media member from twittering the activity on the field, which would be a form of redistribution that potential violates their television rights deal.  As if a reporter in Cleveland posting something on his Facebook page is going to ruin the entire Browns/Steelers broadcast for CBS.

I mean come on, isn’t this taking things a little too far?  I personally think it would be a more enjoyable experience if while watching the game on TV (on an NFL sponsor network) I was also able to read Peter King or Chad Ochocinco’s thoughts on the game.  Maybe Chris Cooley or his wife would post some scoop from the locker room that would totally enhance the game watching experience.  But that is exactly what the NFL does not want.

The NFL does not want some practice squad player posting from the New England Patriots locker room that Tom Brady was injured during a meaningless preseason game with the Washington Redskins.  They want to control the message and feel that’s the only way to protect the integrity of the game and their (high paying) media partners.  Which is dead wrong in my opinion.

The world today is too wired to try to control the message all the time.  Twitter, Facebook, etc. are meant to be means of distributing information to the masses.  The internet is the great equalizer in that it makes it easy to quickly spread information.  True, often that information might not be correct.  But to try to control that message to inhibit people from sharing their thoughts, ideas or opinions isn’t going to work.  It’s like trying hold a gallon of sand in your hand; it’ll first start to slip through your fingers and then eventually come pouring out.  The NFL would be better served to realize this now and refrain from trying to restrict entirely the information, but perhaps rather limit the information (e.g.- no distribution of injury related information).  They’d stand a much better chance of achieving their objective if they started with a reasonable goal.

I personally cannot wait until Ochocinco twitter’s after his first touchdown of the season.  It’ll be great to see how the league tries to penalize him.

Posted in NFL, Sports Television | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Listen to my Business of Sports segment on ESPN Radio

Posted by ZA on September 1, 2009

I’m doing a guest segment on ESPN Radio each Monday & Thursday at 4:50pm.  The topic is the business of sports and particularly focuses on the games each weekend that will have most impact on future ticket prices.  Example: If Oklahoma State beats Georgia this weekend, that is likely to increase demand (ticket prices) for their games against Texas and Oklahoma.  I’ve been doing the spot for a few weeks now and I think it’s pretty informative each week…based on the feedback I’ve been getting from people who listen.

Click here to listen via live streaming on their website.

Posted in Random Stuff, Sports Marketing | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »