Editor Note: Early Entrants is a series of sports business “rumblings” before the news breaks.
Disney to Enter esports Space, Plans to Solidify Fractured Amateur Video Gaming Landscape
Esports insiders tell JohnWallStreet that The Walt Disney Company/ESPN plans to take a central role within the gaming space. While details remain scant, we’ve heard that the house of mouse intends on solidifying the fractured amateur video game landscape. Rumors are floating that additional details will be coming down the pike sooner than later.
Upstart Football Leagues Short on Capital, Finding AAF “Scared All the Potential Investors Off”
Speculation exists that the Pacific Pro League’s scheduled debut – now set for July ’20 – is very much at risk. Sources tell JohnWallStreet that the league – which had initially planned a 2018 start – is short on capital and finding that there’s “a lot of skepticism and pessimism surrounding upstart football leagues.” It’s unclear if funding was pulled or if founder Don Yee never had the necessary financing in place to begin with (i.e. the cause of the delays), but we’re hearing that “Don has been looking for capital and given the AAF’s recent collapse – and the XFL’s emergence – he’s found it to be particularly challenging.”
Apparently, the Fan Controlled Football League also “needs more money to launch.” The FCFL has delayed its inaugural season – originally planned for 2019 – until the winter of 2020 in hopes of finding an investor willing to foot the bill.
The American Flag Football League managed to successfully complete two seasons (no short feat as evidenced above), but industry insiders are questioning if there will be a third. We’ve heard that “the league is out of money.” Founder Jeff Lewis is currently in capital raising mode, but as noted with the Pac-Pro and FCFL there’s little money to be had – “the Alliance scared all the potential investors off.”
Wealthy Owner Has TBT on Stable Financial Ground
Despite a crowded summer hoops calendar, an inability to drive significant sponsorship or merchandising revenues and the costs associated with a time-buy on ESPN, one league that doesn’t have financial issues is The Basketball Tournament. Of course, the single elimination tournament benefits from having a deep pocketed owner willing to eat the losses. Sources with knowledge of the league’s finances tell JohnWallStreet that TBT still exists in its 6th season because “Jon Mugar personally writes a check to the winner each year (worth $2 million).” The Star Market heir isn’t concerned about the league’s annual P&L, he sees the winner-take-all competition as “his little sports ownership play.” Mugar does hold out hope that the league will “be able to spin their new hyper regional live event model into a deal to a larger media company that would invest in its future.”
Outland Trophy Finds Presenting Sponsors, Again
The Outland Trophy – awarded to college football’s top interior lineman – will have presenting sponsors again, in 2019. The Football Writers Association of America and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases will announce later this week that they plan to partner on a public awareness campaign bringing attention to the importance of flu prevention. The 2019 Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases will be awarded during ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards on December 12.
Fun Fact: Arizona’s Rob Waldrop, a 2x consensus All-American, beat out future NFL Hall of Famer’s Will Shield (Nebraska) and Willie Roaf (Louisiana Tech) for the award in 1993.
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