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Cubs Merchandise (Counterfeit) and (Licensed) is really hot right now

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The Chicago Cubs are the hottest team in baseball.

Thursday, Cubs merchandise was lining the front of a local megastore here in Indianapolis, IN. Mostly shirts announcing the Cubs as 2016 division winners. All of which was licensed apparel through Major League Baseball.

As I’m looking at the rows of shirts, I’m thinking ‘wow, I didn’t realize Indianapolis was so in tune with the Cubs and the pennant race.’  And I can’t remember a time when local stores kept up to the date as the season progresses. Especially merchandise for a baseball team. (We don’t have a pro team in Indianapolis) .

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-5-55-26-pmNone the less, all sorts of creative baseball memorabilia which usually bypasses the tightly licensed agreements MLB has with its vendors has popped up for years. The Cubs players themselves donned  David Ross a “Grandpa Rossy” t-shirts which appear to be only distributed amongst the team, but variations have appeared online, unlicensed from all appearances.


The Cubs meanwhile are cracking down on vendors around Wrigleyville, a section of Chicago around Wrigley field in which an entire micro-conomy exists because of the boys in white and blue.

Now, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, the Cubs are suing vendors around Wrigley Field for trademark infringement. Selling Merchandise that represents the Cubs without a license.

According to the report, “In a 32-page complaint (read it below), the league and team allege that dozens of individuals are violating trademarks with counterfeit merchandise, “deliberately free riding on the success of the Cubs” without a license or permission.

The Cubs seek to ban by court order the sale of unlicensed Cubs goods around Wrigley field.

The tradition of selling Cubs “stuff” without a license has been going on and around the streets of Clark and Addison for years, but perhaps for the first time in the franchise’s history, people actually care.


Mike Tirico, one of ESPN’s biggest stars, is leaving for NBC

in Sports Business/Sports Media by
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—Shocking to say the least.

Mike Tirico was ESPN, until Monday.

Word broke that the network’s presumable No. 1 for all major events, including the voice of Monday Night Football, College Basketball, the NBA, and the Masters is leaving ESPN for NBC Sports.

Sports Business Daily first reported the news. 

Tirico has been with the network nearly 25 years.

Tirico is a formidable giant of the  ESPN network and the sports broadcasting world.

As SBJ points out, Tirico would likely be the heir apparent to Al Michaels at NBC who may retire at the end of his current contract in 2017.

Tirico at that point may take over Sunday Night Football duties.


The Cooper Report: NBA Jersey Sponsorships to begin in 2017

in Sports Business/Sports Media/Sports TV by
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-DigitalSportsDaily.com takes a look at some of the most notable sports business and media stories of the past week.

One of the biggest stories to come from the professional sports world this week is that the NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a 3-year pilot program. NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated that “Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting ways.”

    • Each NBA team will be responsible for selling and maintaining its own sponsorships.
    • Unlike sports such as soccer, where the sponsor name dominates the front of the jersey, the NBA’s jersey sponsorships will be much smaller – measuring approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and be adjusted to fit the dimensions of each sponsor’s logo.
    • The logos will appear on the front left of the game jerseys opposite the Nike logo.

Last week, the NCAA and its media partners, CBS and Turner, announced an eight-year extension to their original 14-year, $10.8 billion deal, which went through the 2024 men’s basketball tournament. The new agreement extends to 2032, and allows the NCAA to have early access to roughly $400 million of the revenue from the extension.

    • Reason: The NCAA’s current deal has substantial built-in increases, going from $740 million this year to $761 million in 2017, $782 million in 2018, $804 million in 2019 and $827 million in 2020. Those increases do flatten to zero from 2021 through 2024.
    • The NCAA negotiated for more money from both CBS and Turner to build up the annual increases during those years, and will have the flexibility to take the upfront money as early as 2021 and spread it out from 2021 through 2024. These increases are important to schools, especially those outside the power five conferences. They rely heavily on that annual revenue from the NCAA to grow their individual budgets.
    • More than 90 percent of the revenue from the Turner/CBS contract goes back to NCAA member schools.

Speaking of the NCAA, UPS, a March Madness sponsor, has decided to exit its NCAA partnership after six years. The global shipping powerhouse confirmed that its current contract with the NCAA expires in August and will not be renewed. A company spokesman said that UPS is going through a review of sponsor relationships – a regular activity – and that the NCAA deal didn’t fit with an upcoming shift in marketing and communications strategy. UPS originally signed its NCAA partnership in 2010 and renewed it two years ago. The company exercised an option in the most recent contract to exit the deal.

It remains to be seen whether UPS will continue with its heavy ad buy around March Madness on Turner and CBS in the future. 

“We are hopeful that they will continue to advertise in the tournament,” said Mark Lewis, the NCAA’s executive vice president for championships and alliances.

“We certainly are disappointed to have them leave. It is a great company, and they did a lot of very good activation with their sponsorship.”

UPS has been a heavy investor in collegiate sports over the past decade, and used the NCAA tournament for years as a platform to highlight its logistics expertise. They worked with creative agency Ogilvy to create the “We love logistics” campaign, and that message became central to the company’s march madness advertising.

Other Sports Media tidbits to note:

  • ABC’s and ESPN’s Viewership and Ratings went up for the NBA Regular-Season. (Thanks Golden State)
  • NBC announced the 2016 “Sunday Night Football” & “Thursday Night Football” schedules. Oh yes, it’s almost that time of the year again. 
  • The Golden State Warriors broke the NBA record for wins in a season with 73 last week, on the same night that the great Kobe Bryant played his last game. Those two games were the two most-watched NBA regular-season finales ever on ESPN.
  • The Buffalo Sabres ended the Pittsburgh Penguins’ run atop the NHL’s local TV ratings chart, despite a sub-.500 record.
  • NRG Stadium is undergoing a complete overhaul of its food service operation with a big piece occurring before the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston. The project is estimated to cost around $20 million.
  • NFL agreed to a $10 million deal to stream “Thursday Night Football” on Twitter.


Clippers Going Digital: Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer developing team-run OTT service

in HOOPS/Sports Business/Sports Media/Trending by
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—The efforts of owner Steve Ballmer to monetize the Los Angeles Clippers’ product across media platforms may change the way NBA teams shape their localized media deals.

The billionaire former Microsoft CEO has informed TV networks that he plans on holding back the majority of the Clippers’ traditional digital rights in his upcoming deal so that the team has the ability to launch a “second-screen over-the-top” service to supplement its games.  Those digital rights may not include live game action, but will offer in-game programming such as player-specific cameras, in-game highlights and real-time statistics – though no specific content has been firmly decided upon by Balmer and his people. 

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Ballmer’s strategy would be historic in terms of media deals, as it would mark the first time that an NBA team has withheld a substantial portion of digital rights from a regional network to launch a team-run OTT or over the top service. The former Microsoft CEO vowed to bring a new approach to team ownership when he purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion in August of 2014, and this would be a monumental step toward that initiative.


Balmer’s net worth is estimated to be 22.7 billion USD (Forbes, 2015), so it’s apparent that this comes down to control more than money. He originally had the intention of keeping all of his media rights within the organization, including streaming games on his newly introduced OTT platform – yet ultimately decided from a business perspective it was a better decision to sell the Clippers’ live TV rights and keep a significant portion of digital rights for his OTT service. The service has been designed to supplement television, not to replace it and the Clippers would more than likely create the content in-house and charge for it, although no pricing model has been determined.

The Clippers’ current rights deal with Fox Sports owned Prime Ticket ends after this NBA season and pays the team an average of $25 million per year, a sum that is considered below market for an NBA team in the country’s second-largest media market. The team has been negotiating with Fox officials for several months, but the sides have continued to disagree about how much the teams’ digital rights are worth.

“Irrespective of whether we go back to Fox or to the Dodgers network or what we do independently, the Clippers will absolutely pursue a digital product that is separate and apart from the traditional rights,” said Steve Greenberg, managing director of Allen & Co. which is representing the Clippers in their ongoing negotiations. “It is a cutting-edge concept, and Steve Ballmer is a cutting-edge guy, and we are absolutely going down that road. We have a lot of interest from nontraditional media companies. The timing is, come next October, we need to have a TV home and we think we will. We are in the backstretch.”

Time will tell if the Clippers decide to renew their local contract with Prime Ticket, or if they take their business elsewhere. It will also be interesting to see how Ballmer’s OTT service pans out once October comes around. Regardless, this outside-the-box thinking that’s pouring out from the west coast is a monumental step surrounding digital rights in the NBA – something that may ultimately affect the entire professional sport industry in the near future.

Thanks to Rex Ryan, Kathryn Smith makes history in Buffalo 

in Pigskin/Sports Business/Trending by

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have hired Kathryn Smith to be their special teams quality control coach, making her the first full-time female member of an NFL coaching staff. The team announced the move in a release…

The Associated Press reports Wednesday the Bills hired Kathryn Smith as their special teams quality control coach.

Just how does one become the first female assistant coach in NFL history?

12 years of hard labor in the New York Jets administration as an administrative assistant is how.

Smith most recently served as Rex Ryan’s assistant in New York with the Jets before moving along with Ryan to Buffalo this season.

So Rex Ryan gets some credit, in an ironic twist, for moving the game forward.

Texas says Daily Fantasy Sports is illegal

in Sports Business/Technology/Trending by

Texas joins New York and Illinois in saying that daily fantasy is illegal gambling and prohibited in the state.

ESPN reports that the state of Texas, via its attorney general, has declared daily fantasy sports illegal according to the laws on the books in the state.

Per ESPN, the Attorney General said:

“Paid daily ‘fantasy sports’ operators claim they can legally operate as an unregulated house, but none of their arguments square with existing Texas law. Simply put, it is prohibited gambling in Texas if you bet on the performance of a participant in a sporting event and the house takes a cut.”

Source: Texas declares daily fantasy games illegal, saying they are prohibited gambling

Goodbye Don Orsillo

in Daily Buzz/Sports Business/Sports History/Sports TV/Yardwork by

—You are seeing it more and more.

Major Networks, of which I consider NESN, are replacing their larger than life, personality-filled broadcasters, with company men. No offense to Dave O’Brien.

O’Brien: Knowledgeable baseball man, smooth, but he’s not going to say anything that will really excite you or surprise you.

Don Orsillo will surprise you. He entertained legions of Red Sox fans, and baseball fans for that matter, for the last 15 years as the voice of the Red Sox on television.

The Red Sox and NESN will not renew his contract after this season.

Essentially firing Orsillo.


Beginning next season, Orsillo is replaced by ESPN’s Dave O’Brien who has been doing radio for the club for the last nine years.

There are petitions online, Twitter is aghast,  RemDawg shared his thoughts, but none of that will matter, once the decision is made, the decision is made.

Perhaps not in this case, as O’Brien is not a bad replacement, but in general it seems that networks now prefer the humorless robots to call the games. Gone are the Harry Carays, the Jack Bucks, the Harry Kalas’ of the world.

Say hello to the faceless ones and baseball is losing its boyhood charm.


David Beckham on FIFA “It is time for FIFA to change”

in FIFA Scandal/Sports Business by

Soccer Star David Beckham released the following statement via the Associated Press on Wednesday concerning allegations of misconduct among FIFA officials:

“Some of the things that we now know happened were despicable, unacceptable and awful for the game we love so much.”


“Whilst it has not been good to read some of the headlines surrounding our sport recently, I hope at last we are now moving in the right direction.”

“Football is not owned by a few individuals at the top, it belongs to the millions of people around the world who love this sport. It is time for FIFA to change and we should all welcome it.”

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