August 28, 2020

Fan Fact
According to Nielsen, 48% of UK population aged 16-29 have an increased interest in socially responsible brands.

Top Story

NBA, MLB and NHL returns generate close to $100m TV ad spend

Some 527 brands have spent close to a combined $100 million on advertisements during domestic broadcasts of live games since the US major leagues resumed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to MediaRadar.

Who is (and isn't) buying ads right now?

The advertising intelligence platform, whose data spans July 23 to August 15, found that 83% of the top 100 advertisers across the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Hockey League (NHL) purchased ad spots again during the return to play. The study noted that just five of the 17 companies that have not resumed advertising were in the top 50 for ad spend prior to Covid-19. Among those that have not yet returned to advertising during live sport are technology giant Microsoft, luxury goods firm LVMH and online travel provider Expedia.

However, several organisations that were not advertising pre-Covid have started running ads, including short-form video platform Quibi, business communication platform Slack and the Joe Biden for President campaign. Companies in the financial industry have spent the most on advertising during the return to play, accounting for 18.6% of ad spend. Top spot pre-Covid was held by the technology sector, but the percentage of ad spend attributed to companies in that industry has fallen from 16.9% to 15.7% since sport resumed.

The bottom line:

“Networks have done a good job retaining their top sports advertisers. Looking at the top 25 advertisers, pre-Covid, across airings of each league's games, both MLB and the NBA have seen 23 returns, while the NHL saw 24,” said Todd Krizelman, chief executive and co-founder of MediaRadar.

Read: SportsPro


Adidas, David Rubenstein among backers of $165 million gaming, esports fund

Bitkraft Ventures, a venture capital firm built specifically for gaming and esports, has closed a new $165 million fund. Backers include Adidas and Declaration Partners, an investment firm backed by the family office of Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein. Bitkraft has now raised more than $183 million to date and invested in more than 50 companies. The group hopes that the surge in online gaming as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will translate into new opportunity across the industry. There are 244 million gamers in the U.S., up 15% from two years ago, according to NPD Group data, and the vast majority say they’re playing more often since the pandemic started.

“While we are living in challenging times, our industry is experiencing strong tailwinds and unprecedented opportunities,” said Jens HIlgers, Bitkraft’s founding general partner. “There is no better time for Bitkraft to invest.” Bitkraft officially launched in 2017 as the world’s first esports-specific venture fund. It raised an initial $18.5 million from a group that included Inner Circle Sports and aXiomatic, an esports company led by pro sports team owners Peter Guber (Golden State Warriors) and Ted Leonsis (Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards).

Read: Sportico


Blue Wire CEO on how podcasting is shifting sports media

Blue Wire Media has seen its revenue increase 200% in 2020 even as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the world and the sports industry. Along with growing out its network and bringing on a variety of athletes — like Chicago Cubs’ Ian Happ, Seattle Seahawks’ Greg Olsen and USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe and Seattle Storms’ Sue Bird — Blue Wire has also announced an extension into narrative podcasts with journalists, like Grant Wahl. Now, CEO Kevin Jones is bullish on what it can become as Spotify is changing how the media industry is viewed by advertisers and big technology companies with its massive catalog of podcasts, and big spends on shows and networks like The Ringer, Gimlet Media and The Joe Rogan Experience.

"The pie for podcasting will grow quicker. The ad revenue is growing quicker because Spotify is quickly tipping the scale. They’ve made audio an arms race like Netflix did with video and they’re gobbling up assets quicker than any others," Jones said. "Apple is spending a lot of money on actors for Apple TV+ and Spotify is spending the same amount for Joe Rogan, which gives them way more content. The bigger legacy players are all of a sudden looking at Spotify, smaller in market valuation, but they’re racing in audio in a way they can no longer ignore it."

Read: Front Office Sports

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Premier League enters talks with government to continue to show every game live until crowds are allowed back in stadiums

The Premier League are reportedly in discussions with the government to continue to televise every game live until fans can return to stadiums. Fans will not be permitted back into grounds until October at the earliest and talks have taken place about continuing to give them access to games while they remain being played behind closed doors. Plans have been drawn up to keep showing matches live on TV with the season returning in little over two weeks, but the government will not push for them to be broadcast free to air as happened during Project Restart.

Sky Sports had shown a third of their matches to viewers without subscriptions when last season resumed in June and are making preparations to expand their coverage should they be asked to with the league's other main broadcaster BT Sport doing the same. Under the Premier League's original plans, nearly half of next month's matches would not be available to watch on TV but talks with government officials could see that position change. This will come as a huge boost to supporters who would have otherwise attended matches while the move is not expected to affect the financial arrangement between main broadcasters Sky and BT and the Premier League.

Read: Daily Mail


'You can't just not do it.' Inside baseball's mixed response to social justice movement, and what's next

In the hours leading up to their scheduled game Wednesday night, some members of the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants saw an opportunity. Already Aug. 26, 2020, had registered as one of the most significant sporting days in recent memory. A player walkout scuttled three NBA postseason games. Two other games in major league baseball had been postponed. This was the Dodgers' and Giants' chance to do more, to stand up against racial injustice in a meaningful way. They considered something a number of players thought would be particularly powerful: the teams walking onto the field, like they were about to stage a game, only to turn around and leave before the first pitch, together, unified. In a sport that for so long has treated racial issues as a third rail, this would be an indelible image: a ball on the mound, players unwilling to use it because police shot a Black man in Wisconsin.

The baseball clubhouses with strong, outspoken leadership can accomplish things even in a sport in which a diverse ecosystem makes consensus almost impossible. Baseball players can't agree on what food to order, let alone the prevalence of institutional police brutality and systemic racism, and clubhouse environments have not typically fostered discussions about complicated subjects. And yet here were the Dodgers, coalescing behind Mookie Betts, with future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw at the forefront, saying: "As a white player on this team, how can we show support? What is something tangible that we can do to help our Black brothers on this team? Once Mookie said that he wasn't gonna play, that really started our conversation as a team as what we can do to support that. We felt the best thing to do was support that in not playing with him."

Read: ESPN

What Else Is Trending?
  • PLATFORMS: Walmart is joining Microsoft's bid to purchase the US operations of TikTok in a move that could be big for the future of ecommerce and advertising.
  • ADVERTISING: A new study suggests 69% of consumers want brands to reference current events like COVID-19 in commercials and other campaigns.
  • MEDIA: The Pac-12 Network has reportedly laid off its entire digital team amid massive shakeups to cope with revenue losses due to the canceled college football season.
  • RATINGS: Moved to August due to the pandemic, the Indianapolis 500 posted its lowest ratings of all time dropping to a 2.3 rating from a previous low of 3.1.
  • BETTING: FanDuel expects a $200 million loss this year, but is planning to spend big on the NFL amid a crowded market.

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Hurley Announces Long-Term Partnership with Black Girls Surf

The Details

Hurley is proud to announce its new multi-year global partnership with Black Girls Surf, a Performance Training Program and organization that supports girls & women of color whose dreams and career goals are to compete in professional surfing. With locations in the US, Africa, Jamaica & Brazil, BGS invites surfers to both training camps and "board meetings", encompassing beginners all the way to female surfers at the expert level. It is an inclusive organization that works to further the future of females in surfing. BGS's goal is to make sure anyone who has ever wanted to surf is given the chance. In addition to having a solid roster of experienced surfers on their team, BGS ensures their athletes also have the opportunity to get an education through their sponsorship program. These women not only get to work towards their professional surf dreams, they're empowered through education along the way.


Producer, Sports Betting - Santa Monica, CA

Marketing Communications, Esports
Riot Games - Los Angeles, CA

Manager, PR & Partnership Marketing
Roc Nation - New York, NY

Social Content Editor
NFL – Culver City, CA

AP/LA Jordan Brand Director
Nike – Beaverton, OR

Strategy & Planning Manager
William Hill – Gibraltar, UK

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