NFL Partners with Nickelodeon to Build Next Generation of Football Fans


Nickelodeon, the number one entertainment brand for kids for a 38th straight year, is making a concerted effort (in conjunction with the NFL) to prepare the next generation of football fans for Super Bowl LII. Through Sunday, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons and TeenNick will air specialty content and event coverage; including daily reports from various locations (Super Bowl Live, Super Bowl Experience etc.) and a Superstar Slime Showdown (Brees, Gurley and Deion Sanders will all participate). For those in Minnesota, Nick will have a 40×80 interactive destination (including 2 slime booths) at the NFL Experience celebrating current hits and classic series; there will also be a tailgate party for the kids.

Howie Long-Short: Viacom reported fiscal Q4 ’17 earnings back in November. Total revenue for the quarter was up 3% YOY to ($3.3 billion), with revenue for the company’s media sector (includes Nickelodeon + MTV, BET, CMT, VH1, Paramount Network, TV Land and Comedy Central) also up 3% YOY (to $2.55 billion). It wasn’t all good news though, VIAB reported a 3% decline in domestic affiliate revenue (to $948 million) and CFO Wade Davis predicted domestic affiliate revenue declines will continue through fiscal ’18; including a “high single-digit percentage decline” in ‘H1 and a “mid-single-digit percentage decline” in ‘H2. The company will release its next earnings report on February 8th.

Fan Marino: Last July, Nickelodeon held their 4th annual Kids’ Choice Sports Awards; with Russell Wilson hosting for a 3rd year in a row. Russell Westbrook (Clutch Player of the Year), Kevin Durant (Sickest Moves) and Wilson (King of Swag) were among the nights’ big winners. With ratings for NFL regular season games down 9.7% and playoff games seeing an even bigger drop, the NFL is wise to focus efforts on ensuring America’s youth remain immersed in the game.

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Bellator MMA Debuts on Paramount Network, Starts 8-Man Heavyweight Tournament


Bellator MMA will debut tomorrow night on the newly rebranded Paramount Network (9p EST), opposite UFC 220 (PPV). Chael Sonnen and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will headline Bellator 192. The fight will kick off the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix (to span 2018), an 8-man single-elimination tournament that also includes Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir and Matt Mitrione. The card will also include a welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima, as well as the professional debut of Khonry Gracie; the son of Royce Gracie, winner of UFC 1, who will be in his corner.

Howie Long-Short: Viacom (VIAB) owns a majority stake in the Bellator promotion, so it’s understandable that fights have resided on VIAB owned SpikeTV for a decade; but, I’m not sure why they’re bringing them over to the Paramount Network (other than the built-in audience). The company rebranded to draw on the cache of Paramount Pictures. It wants to be a home for “premium, original storytelling” (think: Netflix). I fail to see how mixed martial arts fits in with that image.

Fan Marino: The heavyweights will draw the casual fan, but MacDonald/Lima should be the best fight of the night (on this card). MacDonald, who lost in the 5th round to Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 and owns career wins over Tyrone Woodley and Nate Diaz, is in the prime of his career; while Lima, a 2x Bellator Welterweight Champion, has the most knockouts in the promotion’s history (8).

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Kevin Harvick’s Investment Portfolio, DANICA Premiers Tonight

Kevin Harvick won the Monster Energy (MNST) NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motors Speedway last weekend, which gives him a spot in the “Championship Four”; the 4 remaining drivers who will race for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19th. JWS got the exclusive opportunity to sit down Kevin to discuss his investment portfolio, sponsorship partners and sports marketing agency.

JWS: How important is it to you to have sponsors that you would invest in?

Kevin Harvick: The companies that you believe in and invest in, are the companies that you want on your car. I can tell you Exxon Mobil (XOM) is in my portfolio.

JWS: How have you managed to maintain long-term partnerships with several of your sponsors?    

Kevin Harvick: We’ve been fortunate through the years to develop what we have with the Busch Brand (BUD), Jimmy John’s, who’s been with us since 2009 and Textron (TXT), who started with us back in 2007. We’ve kind of found the niche with each of those companies in terms of what they like to do, how they like to entertain and where they like go.

JWS: Does having KHI Management (his sports marketing agency) help in terms of signing NASCAR sponsorship deals?

Kevin Harvick: The thing that makes us unique and different is that we have a sports agency that represents 2 PGA golfers, Donald Cerrone (UFC) and Harrison Burton (motocross). We’ve tried to make ourselves more diverse so that when we are trying to cut a deal for a NASCAR sponsorship, we have a family of assets that we can blend in; golf tournaments, UFC fights, etc.

JWS: How closely do you follow the market?

Kevin Harvick: I wake up with Maria (Bartiromo). I like to understand what is happening in the world. I spend a lot of time paying attention to it because I’m intrigued by it.  

Howie Long-Short: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) acquired Epix, buying out Viacom (VIAB) and Lionsgate (LGF.A) back in April for $1.031 billion. The company has underperformed over the last 6 months (+2.8% compared with industry-wide growth of 15.6%), and analysts are projecting Q3 earnings ($.33/share) that would be a 43% YOY decline. The company will report later today.

Fan Marino: If you enjoy sports documentaries, check out DANICA; premiering this evening at 8p EST on Epix (or for free at The film, directed by broadcasting pioneer Hannah Storm, focus on Danica Patrick; the most successful woman in the history of professional motorsports. It’s a rare, candid look at Danica as a competitor eagerly preparing for her next race; a woman confidently considering when she wants to start a family; and a budding mogul carefully considering thinking about her next steps.

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Facebook (FB) has agreed to a partnership with Barstool Sports that will give Watch, FB’s new video platform, original sports programming content. “The Barstool Tailgate Show” will cover college football storylines and comedic news from a different campus each week, with shows airing on Facebook Live prior to the Saturday night ABC/ESPN (DIS) primetime game. Barstool Founder Dave Portney and former Colts Punter and Barstool personality Pat McAfee, will host the show. Financial details of the deal were not released, but Facebook is investing in the production of the show and would be the ones to secure future and benefit from corporate sponsors.

Howie Long-Short: Barstool had a live show Super Bowl week on Comedy Central (VIAB). The show had 310K viewers and beat the Daily Show by 7% in the 18-34 male demo, on Monday January 30th (their first show). That is where the good news ended though, by Thursday, February 3rd, the audience had fallen to 217K viewers, no better than the worst rated Futurama rerun that the network ran the week prior.

Fan Marino: Watch is quickly scooping up non-traditional sports content that Millennials eat up (see: “Ball in the Family”). It’s a smart strategy for a company that wants to be in the sports streaming business, isn’t getting NFL games (existing deals run through 2022) or NBA games (existing deals run through 2025) anytime soon, and needs to put out original content to draw video advertising dollars that will drive future revenue growth. What kind of Stoolie is on Facebook at 7:30p on Saturday night though?


Facebook (FB) has hired Bunim/Murray Productions (VIAB), the company behind “The Real World” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, to create a new reality series for their redesigned Watch video tab. The show entitled “Ball in the Family”, will focus on LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, as he grooms his children for the NBA, builds his Big Baller Brand and helps his wife Tina recover from a stroke. The first 2 episodes are now available, with new episodes being released on Sunday’s at 10p, starting September 10th. Facebook is developing original content, so it can draw video advertising dollars that will drive future revenue growth.

Howie Long-Short: Facebook is coming for GOOGL’s YouTube. The company is offering to pay production costs, license and outright buy content from creators; while at least in some cases, guaranteeing ad revenue to publishers. Expect a lot of well-produced, high quality, in-demand content from the social network moving forward.

Fan Marino: LaVar recently announced that sale of the LaMelo BBB sneaker will take precedence over his NCAA eligibility. Lonzo better be a superstar or this whole house of cards is about to come tumbling down.

Facebook Lands Lonzo Ball and Basketball Family for Reality Show