The Top 10: Stories from SBJ/SBD

We regularly open a few stories to the public – meaning that you don’t have to be a subscriber to read them – and the headline for those stories frequently contains the letters ‘ESPN’. Over the years we’ve learned that a lot of our readers are interested in the goings-on at the network.

I keep a running 30-day tally of the most popular stories across our websites, and the top story on the list today, with almost three times the traffic of the second story, was on ESPN getting ready to cut about 100 employees. All told, ESPN was in the headline of three of the top 10, and you could argue that it was an influential part of two other stories that related to online streaming of sports and cord cutting.

Other notes on the list: six of the 10 stories are about media, three of the headlines include the NFL, and the first item on the list that isn’t about either of those things is a link to our landing page for profiles of the 2017 Forty Under 40.

In previous years, the Forty Under 40 page would have had a lot more traffic, but this year we kept the list behind our pay wall until last Friday, the day after our annual Forty Under 40 banquet. That affected traffic, but we believe our most exclusive content should be offered first to the people who pay our bills.

Here’s the list of the stories that have led our traffic in the last 30 days:

1) ESPN To Cut About 100 Employees; Layoffs To Be Made Public Today
SportsBusiness Daily – 4/26/2017

2) Sources: Romo To Land With CBS; Could Replace Simms As Top Analyst
SportsBusiness Daily – 4/4/2017

3) Amazon Scores With Live-Streaming Rights For NFL “TNF” Package
SportsBusiness Daily – 4/4/2017

4) ESPN Begins Process Of Laying Off Around 100 Reporters, On-Air Personalities
SportsBusiness Daily – 4/26/2017

5) Interest soars in NFL draft as multicity fan event
SportsBusiness Journal – 4/24/2017

6) Five things to know about NFL-Amazon
SportsBusiness Journal – 4/10/2017

7) Forty Under 40 Class of 2017: Introduction
SportsBusiness Journal – 4/10/2017

8) CAA Sports wins race for F1 agency deal
SportsBusiness Journal – 4/17/2017

9) Change is gonna come
SportsBusiness Journal – 4/3/2017

10) Escalated Cord-Cutting, Rights Fees Among Reasons Cited For ESPN’s Massive Layoffs
SportsBusiness Daily – 4/27/2017

Pages & Stages: World Congress speakers in the news

Our speakers make news.

Here are some recent mentions of people you’ll at the World Congress of Sports, which will be held April 19-20 at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Calif.:

Michael Rubin, Fanatics: There was lots of news about Rubin and Fanatics, starting with Editor-at-Large Terry Lefton breaking the news that Fanatics was buying VF’s Licensed Sports Group, which has held exclusive MLB jersey rights since 2005.

As Lefton wrote:

The move continues Fanatics’ rollup of licensing rights, e-commerce operations, along with brick-and-mortar venue sales, and a push into a vertical arrangement, within which it controls much of the sports-licensing business from end to end.

Lefton followed with a report on the implications of the deal. Money quote:

Licensing industry sources today were still assessing the meaning of the deal and had more questions than answers. Fanatics’ already pervasive influence over the licensed-sports industry just increased exponentially with the addition of domestic manufacturing capabilities. However, an industry source said, “The industry just got smaller. Does this mean Fanatics will purchase from fewer licensees?”

Finally, the Daily rounded up reports that MLB will keep work at the Majestic facility in Pennsylvania as part of the deal. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the “symbolism” of MLB gear being made in the U.S. is “really important to our brand.” Read the full report.

Rubin will speak as part of the powerhouse opening panel on Day 1 of the conference.

David Levy, Turner: With March Madness just ended, SBJ’s Michael Smith and John Ourand wrote about the unique partnership between Turner and CBS in one of our most-read stories of the week. Levy, from the story:

“I don’t know if there will ever be another event where talent is shared, backroom is shared, production is shared, the trucks are shared. It’s unique. I don’t know if it could be matched.”

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The Intersection: Sports and Politics

In the age of Trump, I find myself keeping more of an eye these days on the intersection of sports and politics. Here are a few recent items that caught my eye:

— Anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany leader Georg Pazderski told Bayern Munich captain Phillipp Lahm, who led Germany to a World Cup victory in ’14, to focus on football (ahem, I think he means “soccer”) after Lahm said he didn’t want to see “the wrong ones” gain more political power. Pazderski: “Philipp Lahm should look after his football and leave politics to others as much as possible.” Here’s the note in SBD Global and the full story from Reuters.

— OK, so this is not strictly politics, but somehow anything to do with Russia these days reeks of the Cold War and the atmosphere and suspicion that has always been a hallmark of relations between Russia and the U.S.

From SBD Global: After “a week of turmoil” for Olympic hockey, Russia “believes it is poised to be the big winner” at the 2018 Winter Games, according to the AP. The country has waited more than 25 years for an Olympic Gold Medal, and “its top league wants to fight” the NHL for int’l markets, so the absence of NHL players from the PyeongChang Games could be “a golden opportunity.”

I’ve got to think that when they made the decision to not attend the 2018 Games, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his advisers took into consideration the fact that other countries would try to capitalize on the absence of the league. Still, I hadn’t seen any coverage about that until this story.

— Re: The joint bid by the U.S., Mexico and Canada for the 2026 World Cup, Fox’s Alexi Lalas said: “Don’t think for a moment that the political climate in the United States didn’t impact this. A joint Wolrd Cup that includes Mexico probably garners additional support and sends a message.” Read the AP story.

Most people I talk with in the Carolinas seem to think that the NC Legislature has taken all the steps needed to resolve the bathroom issue. Not so fast. From SBD: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Charlotte hosting the NBA’s All-Star Weekend after HB2 was repealed last week “is not a done deal yet.” Silver said that the league will “develop an anti-discrimination policy that will have to be signed onto by participating groups in Charlotte.” … Silver said just because HB2 was repealed, it “does not mean fundamental issues are resolved” as they pertain to protection for the LGBT community. Read the Charlotte Observer story.

— Finally, another note from SBD: In N.Y., Maggie Haberman notes Golden Boy Promotions co-Founder & President Oscar De La Hoya is “broadcasting an ad to promote a Cinco de Mayo weekend match” between boxers of Mexican descent, Canelo Álvarez and Julio César Chávez Jr. The spot, being shown on DirecTV and Dish Network, “shows both men barreling through a concrete wall.” De La Hoya said, “The idea of a wall was a direct hit to Donald Trump.” He added, “This is letting him know that not every Mexican is what he’s stated they are. Mexicans are hard workers.” The story from the NY Times.

 

Let me know what I missed.

Pages and stages: Our speakers in the news

As we approach each of our events, I like to keep an eye on how our speakers are making news across the industry.

Here are some recent mentions of speakers at our World Congress of Sports, which will be held April 19-20 at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Calif.:

Val Ackerman: The Big East commissioner was named to the board of directors of the U.S. Soccer Federation. Ackerman is part of the opening roundtable on Day 1.

John Angelos: The Baltimore Orioles EVP, who will appear on our regional sports network panel on Day 1 of the conference, said he doesn’t want to see President Donald Trump throw a first pitch at Camden Yards this season. During a B-More Opinionated podcast, Angelos talked about some of the president’s more inflammatory statements, and said, “It’s really incumbent upon any individual who leads the country to step away from those types of statements, to apologize for those statements and retract them. … Until that happens, it wouldn’t be my preference to have the president come throw a pitch.” Read Dan Steinberg’s story in the Washington Post, or listen to the podcast.

Don Garber: The MLS commissioner, who is on the opening panel for Day 2, talked last week with the St. Louis Post Dispatch about today’s stadium referendum: “I’m very confident that if we’re able to go forward here, all that energy behind bringing MLS to St. Louis for many, many years will be fulfilled.”

Sunil Gulati: The U.S. Soccer Federation added a new policy to its bylaws, calling for players to “stand respectfully” during the playing of the National Anthem at any event in which the USSF “is represented,” according to FoxSports.com’s Stuart Holden. USSF President Sunil Gulati said that there are “no preset consequences,” and the policy “would be addressed as it happens.” Not everyone was happy with the new policy, with some commentators calling it “misguided.” Read The Daily’s report on the issue. Gulati will join Garber on the Day 2 soccer panel.

Ted Leonsis: Shortly after Capitals star left wing Alex Ovechkin said he was going to the Olympics with or without the NHL’s blessing, Capitals owner Leonsis stood behind his star (see story in the National Post), leading many to think that other owners were likely to follow suit. Leonsis, ever the trailblazer, will appear with his son, Zach, in a video interview with SBJ media writer John Ourand on Day 1 of the event. They’ll talk about their leadership of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, including views on team ownership, media strategies, corporate partnerships and the role of team owners in the community.

Leonsis also made our ’Twitter Me This” feature after Ovechkin recorded his 17th career hat trick:

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