Extra Innings - Vol. 24

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to this week's edition of Extra Innings. The NBA took center stage as the season wrapped up earlier this week. While the NBA was hit with talks of floundering TV ratings, the league successfully completed its season in a bubble, setting all kinds of records along the way. Coronavirus is still ever-present in the sports world and is wreaking havoc on the NFL and college football. The Pac-12 and Big Ten have yet to begin their season, however, all eyes will be squarely on them when the first game kicks off.

Despite Lagging TV Ratings, NBA Delivers on Social Viewership

Much has been made of the NBA’s decline in TV ratings, and there are many reasons as to why this is the case. The multiple leagues’ of games being played simultaneously divided viewership, which brought overall ratings down. However, the NBA and its players leveraged the league’s digital platforms, and compared to last season, the NBA attained 17% more viewership across all social platforms.

The numbers of views of the NBA’s social media platforms are staggering, considering the four-month gap during the season. Since July 30th, when the league’s bubble was created, the NBA saw a total of 6.9 billion video views. 2.6 billion of those came from videos on Instagram and 1 billion from content produced during the Finals. This was a win for the NBA and its sponsors, because the strength of these numbers cast aside some doubt of the league’s popularity, even with diminished TV ratings. NBA fans want content and are viewing the content in different ways. It appears that the NBA knows how to deliver on platforms that appeal to its fan base.

Fenway Sports Group to Go Public

Redball Acquisition Corporation aims to take Fenway Sports Group public. Fenway Sports Group owns and operates the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC (of the English Premier League). Redball has raised close to $1 billion to purchase a 25% minority stake in the Fenway Sports Group. The rationale for taking Fenway Sports Group public is to assist the company in growing outside of North America, specifically, Europe.

To complicate matters, Billy Beane, of Moneyball fame, is an executive in the Oakland A’s front office and holds a co-chair position with Redball. Due to ownership rules in the MLB, he will be required to choose between the A’s or the Red Sox (Fenway Sports Group). Beane has put off this decision for the past two decades. John Henry, principal owner of Fenway Sports Group, has been working to recruit Beane to his team since the Moneyball season of 2002.

Bonus Tweet of the Week: Los Angeles Lakers NBA Championship Gear Sales Heat Map

With their Game 6 win over the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers became NBA Champions. It took just 12 hours for fans to make this year’s Lakers team the best-selling NBA Champion ever, according to Fanatics. It is not surprising that 85% of championship gear, purchased by fans, was via mobile devices.

Notable Information From the Sports World:

  • NBA: In October of 2019, the NBA found itself in a political dispute with China over tweets sent by a team owner. The state-owned TV network, CCTV, severed the relationship with the NBA and decided to pull all games moving forward. After a continued effort by the league, CCTV relented and broadcast Game 5 of the Finals. This dispute cost the NBA roughly $400 million.

  • Youtube: Youtube has overtaken Facebook as the social media platform that is most used to view sports highlights. 53% of surveyed sports fans answered that Youtube was their go-to platform for sports highlights, while 45% said Facebook was their favorite. When this survey was last sent out in 2017, Facebook was favored by 63% of those surveyed to Youtube’s 43%. 30% of viewers said Instagram was their favorite in 2020, and in the past four years, Instagram has gained the most in popularity, up 13%.

  • Betting Sponsors: In the UK, 26 of the top 44 soccer teams have betting companies as their primary jersey sponsor. Roughly one-third of surveyed fans said they were against buying their club’s jersey because of the sponsor and nearly half support eliminating betting partners on jerseys entirely.

  • PGA: The PGA Tour will incorporate live betting odds on the broadcast at the Wyndham Championships, a first for the PGA Tour. This is not the first time that betting has made an appearance during a golf broadcast, as it was prevalent during “The Match II.” This is a natural step for the PGA Tour as it looks to improve fan engagement and join other leagues with integrated betting experiences.

  • New Orleans Saints: The New Orleans Saints petitioned the New Orleans Mayor to allow fans in the Superdome for upcoming games. As the notion was declined, the Saints are looking to LSU to see if their remaining home games could be played there. This wouldn’t be the first time the Saints played at Tiger Stadium, as they played in Baton Rouge in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. Interestingly, Tiger Stadium would allow the Saints to host more fans than the Superdome.

To ultimately return to normal, teams will need to make their stadiums Coronavirus safe for fans. Cleaning and sanitizing 40,000+ seat stadiums is costly and time-consuming, especially when individual seats need to be thoroughly disinfected. The Atlanta Falcons are experimenting with Lucid Drone Technologies to make the sanitizing process up to 95% more efficient, by flying two drones, to spray non-toxic chemicals throughout the stadium. Each drone is able to disinfect up to 200,000 square feet per hour, enabling game-day workers to get back to their pre-pandemic roles more quickly. The drones could help well beyond the pandemic, as fans become more conscious of their health in crowded environments.


Nick Goss