The cost of attending an NFL game can range significantly from city to city, with resale market prices largely dependent on the quality of the teams playing. According to StubHub (EBAY), no team is more expensive to see live this season than the Cowboys. 5 of the 10 most coveted (i.e. expensive) games on the site include the Dallas football franchise, with Sunday Night’s game against the New York Giants listed as the single most expensive ticket of the season. The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, with a national following, come in second and third on the list.
Howie Long-Short: The NFL’s exclusive ticketing partnership with Ticketmaster (LYV) expires in 2018. The league is convinced it can make more by retaining a cut of the sales profits than by selling partnership rights. One option moving forward, would be for the league to use an “open platform” that makes seats available through a variety of outside ticketing, e-commerce and social media platforms. SeatGeek has an “open platform” that several MLS teams have successfully used.
Fan Marino: You can find a ticket to every NY Jets home game for $37 or less, except for the N.E. ($100) and Miami ($47) games. For 5 out of 8 home games, you’ll pay more to park your car ($35) than to attend the actual game. Then again, the tailgate is certain to be more exciting than the action on the field.
Americas Team Cowboys tickets most in demand
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
Daktronics (DAKT), the electronic display supplier, reported a 52% increase in Q1 2018 earnings, with the company’s quarterly bottom line climbing from $5.54 million to $8.43 million YOY. Chairman Reece Kurtenbach attributed the growth to progress or completion on projects including; Mercedes Benz Stadium, Ford Field, Heinz Field and the University of Wisconsin. In total, 29 colleges and universities will use Daktronics LED video and messaging display technology this season, including the University of Texas, USC and Auburn University. Appalachian State, Cincinnati & WVU will unveil new main end zone displays.
Howie Long-Short: As the demand for electronic video display systems has grown, so too have DAKT revenues. Expect that trend to continue, as digital display systems have become an important source of revenue generation in addition to being used to enhance the fan experience
Fan Marino: If you watched the Alabama/FSU game last Saturday night, you likely noticed the massive “halo board” under the roof. The 360 degree, 62,000 square foot display was made by you guessed it… Daktronics.
Daktronics Inc. Reports 52% Increase In Q1 Earnings
The NBA and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) will be launching an “NBA2K” esports league in the spring of 2018. Teams representing NBA organizations will be comprised of 5 digital athletes, each competing for contracts and endorsement deals in addition to the league championship. The idea is for the league to mirror the NBA as closely as possible, with players treating the season as a full-time job. 17 teams will compete in the inaugural season, though important details including; how to draft players, the set-up for broadcasting/streaming and the implementation of a salary cap are still to be worked out.
Howie Long-Short: Amazon (AMZN) owned Twitch publishes rankings reflecting esports games with the most viewers, hours watched etc. While “League of Legends” (HKG: 0700) drew 43 million viewers to their final, “NBA2K” drew less than 4,000 over the last week. The game also sits behind both “FIFA” (EA) and “Madden” (EA) in the viewership rankings. This partnership has a long way to go before it becomes a profitable venture.
Fan Marino: A big issue that is often overlooked when discussing a sports game as a viable esport, is that sports games are designed as a simulation. Since the games are meant to reflect real life as closely as possible, some players/teams are better than others. That causes a competitive balance problem. If you fix the stats to create parity, the game no longer provides a realistic simulation of the sport.
The NBA 2K League: What We Know So Far, And Can It Succeed As An Esport?
Just one week after ESPN (DIS) introduced “SportsCenter AM”, FS1 (FOXA) introduced its newest morning show, “First Things First”. The show pairs NFL Hall of Fame WR Chris Carter with Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe, airing weekdays at 6:30 a.m., 30 minutes prior to its ESPN counterpart. The “First Things First” debut was particularly noteworthy for FS1, as it becomes the first ever NYC based show for the Los Angeles based network and the first time the network has had a presenting sponsor (PG) for a show’s launch. The 3-hour show gives FS1 11 hours of live daytime studio programming daily, as the network continues to move away from highlights and towards discussion/debate.
Howie Long-Short: FS1 has seen their show “Undisputed” with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe grow 1,260% over the last year, to 137,000 viewers. The show actually beat SportsCenter in the 10a-Noon time slot for 2 consecutive weeks in August. Having a live lead-in is only going to help those numbers grow.
Fan Marino: Why did FS1 move “First Things First” to NYC? It’s simply not practical to produce a show that starts at 3 a.m. local time. Even if you could, it would be nearly impossible to book guests. Speaking of guests, moving to the East Coast gives the network access to a whole different group of potential on-set guests.
FS1 looks to establish NY, early-morning presence with ‘First Things First’
2017 NFL preseason ratings indicate that broadcasters should see an uptick in viewership during the upcoming season. The league saw a 12% increase during the first 3 weeks of the preseason, with a 7% increase during week 3 games; the final tune-up for starters before the opener. The week 3 primetime game saw a 16% YOY increase, which is particularly impressive considering it was up against the highly-rated show, “Game of Thrones”. The correlation between preseason and regular viewership dates to at least 2011 and has been proven particularly true when comparing ratings on traditional broadcast stations (i.e. CBS, FOX (FOXA), NBC (CMCSA)).
Howie Long-Short: The Rio Olympics ran from August 5-21, 2016. The 1st 3 weeks of the 2016 NFL preseason, ran from August 13-28, 2016. With 27.5 million people looking for something else to watch, you would expect that 2017 preseason numbers would be up.
Fan Marino: The Chargers announced attendance of 21,197 for their August 13th preseason game against Seattle. To put that in perspective, at least 15 schools had a bigger turnout for their annual intrasquad spring game.
NFL ratings are set to make a comeback
YogaWorks (YOGA) has announced the purchase of 2 Tranquil Space yoga studios in the D.C. metro area; including their Dupont Circle location, which was named one of the Top 25 yoga studios in the world. YOGA will retain all Tranquil Space teachers/staff and continue to offer existing programming at both locations. The acquisition, which comes less than 30 days after the company’s $35 million IPO took place (Aug. 11), brings the yoga instruction company to 52 studios in 7 markets.
Fan Marino: The yoga market is growing. 20 million participated in 2012, 36 million practiced in 2016 and that number is expected to grow to 55 million by 2020.
Howie Long-Short: YOGA has gone from $13 in a preliminary offering to $5.50 at time of IPO to $3.80 at the time of print, with $2/share in cash. Why are revenues down if the yoga market is growing?
YogaWorks Expands East Coast Presence With Acquisition of Premier Studios in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Alibaba (BABA) Executive Vice Chairman, Joe Tsai, has purchased the San Diego based expansion franchise of the National Lacrosse League, set to begin play for the 2018-2019 season, for $5 million. With the expansion, NLL now has teams in 10 cities with the intention of adding a couple of new franchises annually. League attendance surpassed 10,000/game last season (up 12%) and the NLL now has 25,000 subscribers to their digital TV network, launched just 9 months ago. Tsai, a former Yale lacrosse player worth an estimated $11.4 billion, has also expressed interest in purchasing a piece of the Brooklyn Nets.
Howie Long-Short: When guys like Stan Kroenke and Terry Pegula are investing in teams, the league has a future. It is also a lot more affordable than buying an MLS expansion franchise these days ($150 million).
Fan Marino: Did you know that NLL games are played indoors? Unlike collegiate lacrosse that is played on an outdoor field, NLL is played indoors in a rink or “box”. The games are 6 on 6, each teaming having a goalie and 5 “runners”.
Lacrosse League Expands to San Diego With Alibaba Billionaire
UFC president Dana White has claimed that the Mayweather/McGregor fight did 6.5 million buys, which would destroy the existing worldwide PPV record set by the 2015 Mayweather/Pacquio (5.5 million) fight. That figure may be inflated though, as technical issues with UFC.tv forced some viewers to purchase the event twice. After initially deflecting the blame and refund requests to video technology provider NeuLion (NLN), White has since announced that the UFC will be issuing refunds to fans who had issues streaming or logging in to their account.
Howie Long-Short: They say that any publicity is good publicity. Perhaps not when dealing with a mega-fight. NLN shares are down 10% since fight night.
Fan Marino: ESPN is claiming 1 in 6 Americans watched the fight (50 million people). My informal poll (i.e. guessing) says that 5/6 people on the east coast were sleeping by the time the fight started. How come every other sport airs games during the east coast’s primetime, but PPV boxing & MMA start at 12:30a?
Dana White: Refunds in works for UFC.tv customers who missed Mayweather-McGregor fight
The NFL is getting smarter, as its teams and players embrace the recent explosion in digital health & athletic performance applications. Here at JWS, we look to put the companies (that you can invest in) behind those applications on your radar.
Zebra Technologies (ZBRA); Catapult (ASX:CAT) – Both companies track the movement of players during games, providing next generation stats based on location, speed and acceleration. ZBRA places radio frequency identification tags on each player and receivers around a stadium, then triangulates the position of the tags. CAT uses GPS and accelerometers to determine location and movement.
Sparta Science – Strength tool used to measure the force a player applies to a plate in the ground as he jumps (i.e. the push off). Qualcomm Ventures (QCOM) is among their investors.
STRIVR – Developed a virtual reality system that runs players through practice reps. BMW (ETR: BMW) i venture is among their investors.
Kinduct – Intel (INTC) backed data management company, that converts data into actionable insights; recently partnered with Zebra Technologies.
Howie Long-Short: The NFL has its own private equity arm, 32 Equity. The firms most recent investment was in Blue Star Sports, the Jerry Jones backed sports technology provider. The investment capital will be used to fuel technology acquisitions that enhance the youth sports experience and foster youth sports participation.
Fan Marino: STRIVR was developed at Stanford and first used by David Shaw’s team during the 2014 season. Kevin Hogan was the first QB to use the technology. If you’ve never seen STRIVR in action, check out this 30 second clip!
NFL Technology: What’s New for the 2017 Season