August 21, 2020

Fan Fact
According to the Morning Consult, 39% of the U.S. adults surveyed said they had a favorite active NFL player, a larger share than the other three major professional leagues.

Top Story

NBA Playoff ratings dip no alarm for network partners and advertisers

Social media blowhards, armchair media analysts and the leader of the free world may all be making a big stink about the NBA’s bubble ratings of late, but network execs and advertisers thus far aren’t sweating the league’s deliveries.

What do the dropping numbers mean?

Since the NBA reconvened on July 30, the league’s top draw was the all-L.A. Clippers-Lakers nail-biter, which averaged 3.35 million viewers, a 2.1 rating and 2.02 million adults 18-49 on TNT. In steering his squad to a 103-101 victory on the first night back, LeBron James helped serve up the eighth most-watched, highest-rated NBA game of the 2019-20 season.

If the first day of playoff action didn’t exactly set the Nielsen meters on fire, the games still outperformed everything on broadcast TV. Even the lowest-rated of the four telecasts easily out-delivered the networks’ coverage of the Democratic National Convention, while the Mavs-Clippers outing that aired directly opposite the NBC, CBS and ABC broadcasts crushed Joe Biden’s opening night in the 18-49 demo. (In fact, you’d have to add up all three networks’ demo 10 p.m. deliveries to equal ESPN’s performance in the hour.)

The bottom line:

The highly coveted younger viewers who account for so much of the NBA’s national fan base are harder to reach than ever before. In the three months since the summer TV season began, viewership among adults 18-49 has plummeted 36% compared to the relevant interval in 2019, as the Big Four are currently attracting fewer than 2 million members of the target demo per night.

Read: Sportico


‘Sport must re-evaluate rights model during digital surge’, says Onefootball’s OTT lead

Rights holders must “redefine their product and value proposition” if their content is going to remain commercially attractive, according to Onefootball’s commercial streaming lead. Yannick Ramcke pointed to two major threats to the value of sports rights fees: increased competition in the digital space from other entertainment platforms and lower consumer expectation on price points.

“Sport certainly has to get used to the new reality: that they might not capture the majority of disposable income of a consumer, especially young ones, and will have to come up with new offerings that are attractive to younger consumers and hopefully in the long run come close to the profitability of the distribution model that supported growth in media rights and revenue in the past,” Ramcke said.

Read: SportsPro


PGA Tour to roll out TOURPulse, an AI-based interactive leaderboard

On the heels of rolling out live betting odds on its PGA Tour Live broadcasts last week, the PGA Tour is adding an interactive element to its leaderboards. The Tour is introducing TOURPulse, a leaderboard that combines traditional scoring with artificial intelligence-created content that gives fans real-time descriptions of every shot by each player. It’s reminiscent of Major League Baseball’s Gameday feature.

Interactive features like Pulse and TOURCast — a video and 3D graphics experience — have been in development for “some time,” PGA TOUR Senior Vice President of Digital Operations Scott Gutterman said, but the COVID-19 pandemic increased urgency in getting the features out to fans. “Fans can’t be on-site, so the more that we can do to have fan interaction and fan engagement while they’re at home watching is something that the Tour is very focused on, and we want to continue to bring the experience of our events to our fans no matter where they are,” Gutterman said.

Read: Front Office Sports

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Pepsi champions football fans stuck at home as sports marketing shifts focus

While the pandemic has already created serious roadblocks for college football, putting up to $1 billion in ad spending at risk, according to a recent New York Times analysis, the NFL is forging ahead with plans to kickoff on Sept. 10, albeit with additional COVID-19 safety precautions in place. For top-shelf league sponsors like Pepsi, a particularly volatile moment has placed a higher premium on agility and nuance, along with opening some new opportunities. "The elephant in the room is, I don't know what it is going to look like," Todd Kaplan, VP of marketing at Pepsi, said of the upcoming NFL season. "What I do know is that, as a long-term NFL sponsor, we're confident in the league's [ability] to make safe decisions for the fans, the players and the staff. We're going to be following their lead."

Despite disruptions stemming from the health crisis, Pepsi hasn't altered its spending around sports marketing, but rather tweaked its strategy to better account for pandemic-driven changes, per Kaplan. That means less of a focus on in-stadium activations like jumbotrons and T-shirt cannons and more of a focus on the home, which has quickly moved to the center of parent company PepsiCo's business strategy as the marketer invests in direct-to-consumer offerings, including two new e-commerce sites. "It's not a matter of spending more or less — it's different, is what it is," Kaplan said of Pepsi's sports marketing during the coronavirus.

Read: Marketing Dive


Major fantasy sites replace terms such as ‘owned’ and ‘auction’ to be more inclusive

Four of the biggest fantasy football websites in terms of both content and league-hosting announced Wednesday that they were making changes to their fantasy-related terminology with a goal of greater inclusion. Among the changes is replacing “owner” with “manager.” Instead of saying a given player is “owned,” the player will now be described as “rostered.” “Auction,” as a variety of league or draft, has been replaced by “Salary Cap.” An attempt to acquire a player in such a draft is now called an “offer,” instead of a “bid.”

Yahoo Sports, ESPN Fantasy, CBS Sports Fantasy and NFL Fantasy said in a joint statement provided to The Washington Post: “The changes made to our games are part of an ongoing effort to improve the industry’s top fantasy games in ways that are more inclusive and better reflect the sense of community at the heart of fantasy sports. The updates replace outdated terminology used in past fantasy games with more appropriate language to describe the functions of day-to-day game play.”

Read: Washington Post

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Tennis Champion and Entrepreneur Maria Sharapova Invests In Global Tech Wellness Brand Therabody

The Details

Therabody, formerly known as Theragun, the global leader in tech wellness and percussive massage therapy, officially announced today that tennis champion and entrepreneur Maria Sharapova has made an investment in the company while joining Therabody as a strategic advisor. In addition to this capital investment, Sharapova will play an instrumental role in supporting the company's global growth strategy as a member of its Advisory Board.


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