Branding the World of Sports

Archive for the ‘Fox’ Category

What will FOX pay to broadcast the Olympics?

Posted by ZA on May 5, 2010

Variety reports that Fox is planning to make a “major run” at securing the rights to broadcast the 2014 Olympics (Sochi) and 2016 Olympics (Rio).  Fox would need to knock off incumbent broadcast partner, NBC, in order to land the Olympics.  NBC has been the television partner for the Olympics since 2000, but have said they lost money to broadcast the most recently Vancouver Olympics.  Fox is rumored to have bid much less than NBC (half is the reported number) for broadcast rights to ’08 & ’10 Olympics.

So how much will Fox bid on rights to the ’14 & ’16 Olympics? My guess is they bid somewhere in the $750 million range for each, which is well below the current broadcast rights on Olympics.  NBC will lay out close to $2 billion dollars for the rights to broadcast the ’10 Olympics and 2012 London Olympics (chart of broadcast rights paid on Olympics).  So the natural questions are why would Fox bid an amount lower than what it costs today?  And does Fox stand a chance to win the broadcast rights for the Olympics?

I think Fox bids $750 million (-ish) for each of Sochi & Rio because that’s what they think they are worth.  No network in their right mind should think that Sochi & Rio are going to have the revenue potential as London (2012) and Beijing (2008).  So Fox’s bid will be closer to what NBC paid in Athens ($793 million) and Sydney (Sydney $705 million) earlier this decade.  And it’s possible that Fox (and others) bid even lower on the 2014 Olympics, because Winter Games do not sell as well in the United States and Sochi isn’t a name destination.

I think Fox will have a shot, but probably loses out to NBC or ABC/ESPN.  NBC has made the Olympics their thing, so I think it’s worth it to them to bid more just so they can continue to be the “Olympic Network”.  ESPN is a sports media juggernaut 365 days a year, so they would have the potential to market the Olympics in a way we’ve never seen.  It just seems those two networks should want the Olympic broadcast rights more, so I think ultimately Fox’s bid will fall short.

Posted in ESPN, Fox, NBC, Olympics, Sports Television | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Who are the best announcers in football?

Posted by ZA on November 20, 2009

The Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily have published their list of the top 25 football announcers for 2009.  The list includes football commentators from both college football and the NFL.  Twelve panelists from the SBJ & SBD rated the announcers to produce the rankings.

Top 25 Best Football Annoucers for 2009:
1. Gary Danielson – CBS
2. Cris Collinsworth – NBC
3. Al Michaels – NBC
4. Phil Simms – CBS
5. Kirk Herbstreit – ABC/ESPN
6. Troy Aikman – Fox
7. Ron Franklin – ABC/ESPN
8. Verne Lundquist – CBS
9. Joe Buck – Fox
10. Jim Nantz – CBS
11. Mike Tirico – ESPN
12. Brad Nessler – ABC/ESPN
13. Brent Musburger – ABC/ESPN
14. Jon Gruden – ESPN
15. Daryl Johnston – Fox
16. Ron Jaworski – ESPN
17. Greg Gumbel – CBS
18. Sean McDonough – ABC/ESPN
19. Todd Blackledge – ABC/ESPN
20. Dan Fouts – CBS
21. Bob Papa – NFL Network
22. Mike Patrick – ABC/ESPN
23. Chris Fowler – ESPN
24. Gus Johnson – CBS
25. Dick Enberg – CBS

Here are the guys that are rated too high:
* Buck – He’s in the top 10 based on his baseball rep.  He’s solidly average in football.
* Gruden – It would be “outstanding” if he could expand his vocabulary.
* Gumbel – Living off his brother’s rep.  He’s okay, but not top shelf.
* Fouts – Top 20, really?  Proves no one is watching those AFC West games on CBS.
* Papa – Who gets to see him broadcast?  Time Warner still doesn’t offer NFL Network.
* Enberg – Great career, but listing him is more of a ‘lifetime achievement award’.

Here are the guys that need to be rated higher on the list:
* Franklin – Could easily be the top college football guy on list.
* Musburger – Polarizing figure, but he’s great for the game.  Getting old, but still comedic gold.
* McDonough – Always solid, would be rated higher if he were more of a “name”.
* Johnson – The panelists not only rate him too low they slight him with “Youtube generation” comment.

Here are some key names that did not make the list:
* Erin Andrews – ESPN (Put a lady on the list)
* Bob Davie – ESPN
* Dan Dierdorf – CBS
* Ian Eagle – CBS
* Bob Griese – ESPN
* Kevin Harlan – CBS  (Should make top 25 in future)
* Craig James – ESPN
* Andrea Kremer – NBC
* Jesse Palmer – ESPN (Should be in top 25 in future)
* Tony Siragusa – Fox
* Dick Stockton – Fox

PS – Could some production assistant at ABC/ESPN do Mike Patrick a favor and get him a better photo?

Posted in CBS, College Football, ESPN, Fox, NBC, NFL, Sports Television | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

Darling of sports marketing hits the skids

Posted by ZA on December 8, 2008

NASCAR…the fastest-growing, best-run sports business in America...” – Fortune Magazine, September 2005

For years NASCAR has been the sport that sponsors pointed to as an example of strong brand identification and growth.  NASCAR fans were known as the most fiercely brand loyal group of sports fans, this side of English Premier League soccer. The NASCAR fans are the ones who drove around with numbers on the back of their car signifying the driver they support.  They shopped at the stores their drivers pitched (you would never fan a Tony Stewart at Lowe’s) and used the products their drivers wore on their sleeves.

Now things are starting to change at NASCAR, those same fans are not turning out in the same numbers at the track or on television.  And sponsors are finally starting to reduce, or drop entirely, their sponsorships of NASCAR.  Long-time sponsors like Kodak are leaving entirely (22 year relationship) and others like Sears and General Motors are significantly scaling back their investments in the sport.  The big US automakers are being forced to rethink their investment in the sport.  NASCAR drivers are without sponsors heading into 2009 and NASCAR just laid off 1000 employees.  It seems everything and everyone involved in NASCAR are starting to tap the brakes.

The question is how long will the downturn last for NASCAR? And will NASCAR comeback just as strong once the economy, and the automakers, gets going again?  Both are impossible to answer right now because no one can accurately predict the effects of their economic downturn.  What I do know is that NASCAR once again needs to change.

NASCAR has evolved in a large way before, moving from a regional sport supported by people in the South to a sport that commands more sponsorship dollars ($3 billion per year) than the NFL.  It has shed its hillbilly, redneck reputation and being a darling of the corporate world picking up huge deals with brands like Fox and Sprint.  Now NASCAR must change again, again evolving to ensure it can stay afloat in the wake of these tough economic times.

NASCAR needs to continue to diversify, adding more drivers from other cultural backgrounds like Juan Pablo Montoya.  Don’t believe me?  The most popular driver in Formula One right now is a Lewis Hamilton, an Englishman who is black.  Hamilton has become such a phenom on the F1 circuit that he had to move from his home country, England, to Switzerland to avoid being mobbed on a daily basis (and to save a few dollars on taxes).  I know the old guard probably gets tired of outsiders, like me, beating this drum but a more diverse group of drivers will increase exposure.

NASCAR also might consider tweaking  some other things like shortening a few races to appeal to a more mainstream television crowd.  They could also do some more skills type competitions, that auto racing purists might hate, but would appeal to the casual fan.  Look at the success the NBA All-Star Game, MLB All-Star Game and Pro Bowl have been as showcases for their sports.  Also trimming the number of cars in the field from 40+ back to a more manageable 30 would help, as currently 12 drivers are without sponsors heading into 2009.

But one thing that NASCAR needs to change for sure, is they must change the way they fund their sport so they are not so reliant on corporate sponsorships.  NASCAR teams get up to 80% of their revenue from their sponsors, which typically equates to nearly $20 million per year for the sponsors.   There are not going to be as many companies who can afford to throw down $20 mil a season for operating costs, plus the supporting millions required to promote their brand in that sponsorship.  With a declining ROI on NASCAR sponsorships large companies are going to pass on that investment opportunity, and smaller brands will only be able to tackle a portion of it.  That will leave most NASCAR teams scrambling to find dollars to keep the lights on, instead of focusing on racing.  Other professional sports teams don’t operate that way, and NASCAR won’t be able to either if they want to keep growing.

Update: NY Times did a piece on Nascar’s sponsor cash crunch.

Posted in Fox, Nascar, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Brands, Sports Marketing | Leave a Comment »

Do you really want to watch sports in 3-D?

Posted by ZA on December 3, 2008

Personally I think HD is enough, but Fox doesn’t think so. Fox Sports is planning to show BCS Bowl Games and the Daytona 500 in movie theaters that will allow viewers to watch in 3-D. Fox roped in Tommy Hilfiger to the deal to provide the glasses. More on this from USA Today.

I feel bad for the sideline reporters who already have the challenge of trying to look good for the HD cameras, and now will have to prepare to come across in 3-D. Poor Suzy Kolber, forced to deal with drunk Hall of Famers and unkind television cameras on the sidelines.

Nascar wrecks look more real in 3-D

Nascar wrecks look more real in 3-D

Posted in Fox, Sports Television | Leave a Comment »

BCS moving to ESPN/ABC to start a playoff

Posted by ZA on November 3, 2008

It appears the days are numbered for Fox’s rights to broadcast college football’s top bowl games.  The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is asking $800 million dollars for Fox to retain the rights to broadcast the four BCS games; the BCS Championship Game, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl.  ABC already holds the broadcast rights for the 5th BCS game, the Rose Bowl.

The BCS is asking Fox to up their annual spend from the current $82 million per year up to $132 million per year.  The theory behind that dramatic increase is that doing so will cause Fox to balk, which will then allow the BCS to solicit bids on the open market from other networks.  The favorite to win a bidding war on the open market?  ABC/ESPN who would then hold the rights to all of the major bowl games, and have the ability to play some on ABC and others on their cable sports juggernaut, ESPN.

The reason the BCS will select ABC/ESPN over Fox?  Money.  Not only will they be able to bid the two entities against each other to get a richer deal, but ultimately landing with ABC/ESPN increases their exposure.  ESPN is a dedicated sports network that will continually run promotions for the BCS series throughout the year on in-game programming and Sportscenter.  ABC also already owns the rights to broadcast college games, which Fox does not.  The increased exposure for the BCS will add up to much larger sponsorship dollars. 

Once that happens I expect the next major change for the BCS to be the announcement of a college football playoff.  One that will initially start as a plus one game after the four major bowls are played (Fiesta, Orange, Rose & Sugar), but will eventually expand.  The expansion will add the Cotton Bowl, played at Jerry Jone’s new stadium, as the 6th BCS bowl game.  The expanded BCS will now be able to seed the top 8 teams entering the bowl season and have them play a winner take all knockout format.

The reason the BCS will morph into a playoff format?  Again, money.  The thing holding back a playoff format right now is the old guard from the bowl games.  They are concerned their games will be made irrelevant by a playoff and still have enough power to stand in the way of that progress.  But that old guard won’t always have that much clout and eventually the system will change because a playoff series in college football is what the fans want.  And in this case that “want” translates into lots of dollars for the BCS.  Higher TV ratings, more tickets sold and bigger sponsorship opportunities are what will ultimately get us a college football playoff.

Posted in College Football, ESPN, Fox, Sponsorship Deals, Sports Marketing, Sports Television, TV Rights Deals | 1 Comment »