Editor Note: Early Entrants is a bi-weekly series of sports business “rumblings” before the news breaks.
Is the NFL “Quietly Collaborating” with the XFL?
The Alliance of American Football’s inability to secure a formal partnership with the NFL (beyond its relationship with NFL Network) led Tom Dundon to shutter the league after just 8 weeks. While the media fixated on the NFLPA’s opposition to the idea, the NFL’s lack of interest may have had more to do with the discussions they’re holding with a different upstart football league; JohnWallStreet has heard that Vince McMahon’s XFL is “quietly collaborating with the NFL on a variety of rules and technology initiatives.” There’s no reason to expect the NFL to swallow up the startup league before McMahon burns through his $500 million war chest and any allocation of players between the two leagues remains “years away”, but it’s apparent that the XFL is closer to becoming the NFL’s minor league than the AAF ever was.
The Athletic “Hemorrhaging Capital at a Faster Rate Than Ever”
The pivot-to-video was considered a failure for many sports publishers (see: Fox Sports), but The Athletic is betting that original video programming (and their new podcast network) will convert fans into subscribers. They better be right with sources telling JohnWallStreet that the company is “hemorrhaging capital at a faster rate than ever”, but we wouldn’t count on it; as one industry insider professed, “video doesn’t work without live rights” and The Athletic doesn’t have live rights.
NASCAR Envisions the Opportunity to Generate Gambling Revenues Abroad
NASCAR has formally entered the gambling conversation with Friday’s announcement of their first data partnership (with Genius Sports). Most think of NASCAR as an American racing series, but sources have told JohnWallStreet that high ranking officials within the sport believe that “gambling can be a valuable source of revenue abroad too.” The UK bettor is knowledgeable about both auto-racing and gambling and races take place at a time of day when they won’t conflict with soccer; “that leaves an interesting engagement window for the casual fan looking to bet on live racing.”
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