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Bust, Boom, Hope: January 10, 2014

Bust, Boom, Hope: Baseball

Bust: Several columnists are calling for reform to the Baseball Hall of Fame voting process, which has been labeled “flawed and archaic,” and fails to adequately account for alleged and known steroid users. Last year, no players were elected to the Hall of Fame, presumably in protest of the PED era.

Boom: The Phillies signed a new 25-year TV rights deal with CSN Philadelphia worth an average of $100 million per year. The deal doubles the annual rights fee the Phillies previously received from the RSN, which is operated by NBC Sports Group. With a total value of $2.5 billion, the deal is one of the richest in MLB.

Hope: Producers of the Off Broadway play “Bronx Bombers” have reached deals with the New York Yankees and MLB to use their logos in the show and in advertising. “Bronx Bombers” is the third sports-themed production from Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, following “Lombardi” and “Magic/Bird.”

What it means: Between Greg Maddux not getting in unanimously, columnist Dan Lebatard giving his vote to Deadspin, and a ballot that limits voters to 10 selections, it’s clear that the Hall of Fame process needs reform. What the process really needs is to give fans a voice in the selection process – let them decide whether steroid users belong.


Bust, Boom, Hope: Football

Bust: Three NFL teams had difficulty selling out tickets to their playoff Wild Card games. Though inclement weather was partially responsible for slow sales in Green Bay and Cincinnati, the fact that three games were on the verge of a TV blackout has to concern the NFL.

Boom: All of the NFL’s TV partners saw year-over-year gains in viewership this season. Fox and NFL Network posted record viewership numbers, while CBS had its second-best audience in the 26 years it’s broadcasted the AFC package. NBC lead all networks with an average 21.7 million viewers per telecast.

Hope: NFL teams are beginning to use the popular Snapchat messaging app as a marketing tool to reach younger fans. At least three NFL teams currently maintain Snapchat accounts, with the New Orleans Saints having nearly 30,000 followers.

What it means: Herein lies the exact dilemma for the NFL. Whether it’s the weather or the at-home experience that’s driving fan viewing decisions, TV ratings are improving at the expense of ticket sales. That three teams needed local companies to buy out playoff tickets so the games would be shown on local TV is shocking.


Bust, Boom, Hope: College Sports

Bust: This season’s 35 college bowl games averaged just 48,800 fans per game, marking the lowest average attendance since 1979. The total attendance of 1.71 million fans was the fewest since 2007 when there were just 32 bowls. Three games this year set record low attendance totals.

Boom: Baylor is naming its new on-campus football stadium after former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, who donated $260 million to the project. Since McLane’s initial gift in 2012, the school has surpassed $125 million in private gifts and pledges towards the stadium.

Hope: The required ticket allotment for teams participating in the College Football Playoff will be significantly less than the previous requirement for schools in the BCS. Teams in the new playoff system will be responsible for purchasing 12,500 tickets to each game, compared to 17,500 for BCS matchups.

What it means: Every year we ask the same question: are there too many bowls? Well there aren’t too many if you consider the opportunities it provides players to participate in one last game. However, the more bowls we add, the more the quality of the games is diluted. With several new bowls expected to begin play in the next few years, anticipate average attendance to fall further.


Bust, Boom, Hope: Basketball

Bust: The WNBA is looking for a new owner for the Los Angeles Sparks after the team’s majority partner said she would no longer be involved with the franchise. Paula Williams Madison said she’s lost $12 million since taking over the team seven years ago, including incurring a $1.4 million loss last year.

Boom: The NBA reportedly will pay $500 million to buyout the Silna brothers, who have received a percentage of the league’s TV revenue in perpetuity since the ABA Spirit of St. Louis folded in 1976. Per the settlement, the brothers will continue to receive a piece of the league’s TV revenue, albeit a much smaller percentage.

Hope: The Toronto Raptors are considering changing their color scheme as part of an organizational-wide rebranding set to be unveiled for the 2015-16 NBA season. The team could switch its colors to black and gold, which are the primary colors used by Raptors global ambassador Drake.

What it means: The Silna brothers made what’s been called the greatest business deal of all-time. With the $500 million settlement, the brothers will have made $800 million in agreeing not to carry their team over from the ABA to the NBA. The other ABA owner whose team folded in 1976 settled at the time for a paltry $3 million.


Bust, Boom, Hope: Golf

Bust: American Express has decided against renewing its sponsorship of the PGA of American and the PGA Championship. The deal was reportedly worth in the mid-seven figures annually. American Express had been a PGA partner since 2007.

Boom: Tiger Woods has surpassed $1.3 billion in career earnings, according to a report by Golf Digest. The magazine estimates that Woods has made $1.16 billion from endorsements since turning pro in 1996, in addition to $150 million in on-course prize money. Woods made $83 million in 2013.

Hope: The LPGA Tour unveiled a new season-long points competition, sponsored by CME Group, which will debut this year. The player who accumulates the most points in the Race to the CME Globe will receive a $1 million payout, the largest prize in women’s pro golf.

What it means: Imagine what Tiger Woods’ career earnings would be if he didn’t go through that notorious scandal. In the aftermath of his infamous 2009 car accident, Woods struggled on the course and lost endorsement deals with Gatorade, Accenture, and AT&T, among others. Nevertheless, with $1.3 billion in earnings, don’t hold a bake sale for Tiger.

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