Tidbits, Thoughts & Tips around sports business…
News, notes and nuggets from our Publisher for mid-Oct, 2020
2019-20 NBA Fan Cost Index® Now Live
Congrats to the Los Angeles Lakers on their NBA Championship earlier this week. Special nod to owner Jeanie Buss for becoming the first female owner to win an NBA Championship.
We’ve had a ton of interest in our 2020 MLB Fan Cost Index® and TMR‘s look at projected “gross gameday fan revenue” (GGFR) for baseball. At the beginning of July, Rob Manfred and MLB owners bit the bullet and moved forward with a fanless 2020 season. By scrapping fan attendance for 81 home games, roughly $5 billion in ticket, F&B, merch, parking revenues went POOF!
Before 2020 MLB FCI work had started, and well before the pandemic was even a twinkle in Donald Trump’s eye, we were busy gathering NBA team FCI-related costs. Through a ridiculous amount of twists and turns (see below) in NBA world, we have finally completed the NBA FCI and with it, GGFR calculations for each team.
A preview: even with teams “only” losing between 5-10 home games, the projected GGFR hit for each team is more than $22.8 million.
Now, let’s not throw owners a pity party yet. The “Big 4” leagues (sorry MLS), all continue to rake in huge TV dollars. And sadly, we’ve seen many billionaire owners quickly cut bait with staff, not just furloughts, but full-on layoffs. All to save a few shekels in the short run.
NBA Keeps Moving Along…
I think we all agree that we’ve had more than enough of 2020 already.
Especially Adam Silver and the folks at the NBA. They got a three month jump start on the dumpster fire that is 2020 with the Daryl Morey China Tweet Disaster and as I talk about in our NBA FCI analysis, that was followed by hand-wringing over TV numbers, injuries to stars young and old and the loss of two NBA legends, David Stern and Kobe Bryant—in the same month. Oh and then still barely 70 days into 2020, COVID-19 punked us all.
Once the league had established its safe—and ultimately 100 percent successful—COVID-free “bubble” at Disney‘s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, league attention could shift to engaging all those basketball-hungry fans suddenly unable to attend games.
The NBA boasts a younger, more tech-savvy fan than most leagues and that, combined with having a track record of years of deep engagement across all digital platforms, has been parlayed into a sustained fanbase. Oh, and 1.9 billion followers across social media.
Teams set out to engage season ticket members along with all hoops fans across all social media channels from the earliest days of the shutdown. We saw team social media folks sharing behind the scenes content and messaging (on both virus safety and every day life) from players, coaches and team executives.
A big reason why the NBA is poised to rebound quickly? Silver and the rest of the league’s execs stuck to their principles and continued doing what they always look to do with fans and team marketing partners: communicate, engage and innovate.
Communicate, Engage & Innovate: Tech
In July, Michelob Ultra was unveiled as the new official beer partner of the NBA with the partnership to kick-off at the NBA Restart with the “Michelob Ultra Courtside” a digital experience allowing fans to appear virtually inside the arena and share in the excitement of the game. It was the breakout star of not only the bubble, but across all returning sports.
NBA will have 320 fans each game invited to appear live on the 17-foot Michelob ULTRA Courtside video boards around the court. They will react, even interact, and be heard in real time during games. pic.twitter.com/CRbF3lXXph
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) July 24, 2020
Fewer than 1 percent of NBA fans globally will ever attend a game in person. So, instead of fans feeling left out, the league and a sponsor created a virtual fan product that allowed anyone across the globe to experience the NBA.
All things considered, you have to be impressed with the level of innovation from the NBA and their partners Microsoft & Michelob Ultra. Having fans “courtside”, giving them the ability to chat to each other and virtually react on the television broadcast — it’s dope. pic.twitter.com/Hm9T7kJM8P
— Avish Sood (@AvishSood) August 2, 2020
Communicate, Engage & Innovate: Broadcast
The pandemic’s restrictions not only encouraged the league to double-down on their digital/social engagement but also on enhancing the game broadcast philosophy.
The NBA announced a multidimensional plan for in-venue and broadcast enhancements for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, highlighting a #WholeNewGame with a more connected and immersive experience for fans.
— NBA (@NBA) July 24, 2020
Communicate, Engage & Innovate: Incremental sponsorship
One change is approving the sale of “large abdomen practice jersey presence,” in other words, up to 12″-by-5″ of ad space on the front of team practice jerseys.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 11, 2020
“We are always focusing on how to be innovative and continue to look for opportunities to create more value for fans and our partners,” says Matt Wolf, SVP, NBA Team Marketing & Business. “It is something our fans have taken notice of, and brands have taken notice of, and want to be associated with practice uniforms and practice experiences.”
No Slowing Down Footy Fans in the ‘Lou
The folks at St. Louis City SC, the MLS expansion team coming in 2023, continue to make noise with some impressive fan support. Recently, the team began taking ticket deposits and City SC beats the old 24-hour mark of 30,000 deposits in the first 15 minutes and hit the 50,000 mark before the day was over.
It’s official: STL is a Soccer CITY.
We broke the previous 24-hour ticket deposit record in the first 15 MINUTES! To everyone in our region who placed a deposit, thanks for showing @MLS the passion of our CITY. We’re still accepting deposits at https://t.co/HrnjdHEafI #stlCITYsc pic.twitter.com/lXzXxtl7xA
— St. Louis CITY SC (@MLS4theLou) September 17, 2020
Since then, they’ve added Khalia Collier as VP, Community Relations, and Matt Sebek as Chief Experience Officer. Check our more on those hires and tons of others at our Oct 2020 Roster Moves page.
If you haven’t checked out our four part series on cannabis and CBD in sports business, what are you waiting for? In our latest piece, “The Sponsorship Match Game,” we look at potential brand-property matches that make perfect sense.
Have a weekend and, as always, stay fancentric friends!