MANCHESTER UNITED ROLLS OUT STREAMING SERVICE FOR 24/7 CLUB NETWORK; NO SATELLITE SUBSCRIPTIONS REQUIRED FOR ACCESS

Manchester United’s (MANU) 24/7 club television network; MUTV, is now available for streaming within the UK and Ireland via mutv.com. The network, which will not require a satellite subscription, is charging roughly $6.40/month for subscriber access on desktop, mobile and tablets. If you are already a subscriber to Sky (SKYAY) or Virgin TV (LILA) or to the Sky digital television platform, there is no additional charge for access. The digital version of MUTV will include Legends matches, under 23 and Academy games, first team highlights, live audio of all first team matches, exclusive interviews, behind the scenes access and film presentations.

MUTV NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE TO UNITED FANS IN THE UK AND IRELAND

Howie Long-Short: Real fans in the UK already have Sky (SKYAY), but this might be good for my MANU fans Stateside with a VPN!

Fan Marino: The ROI here is poor. $6.40/mo. for access to highlights and interviews? At least for ESPN’s $7.21/mo. (carriage fee per subscriber within bundle) you get live NFL and NBA game broadcasts.

TICKETMASTER LOOKING TO CURB USE OF BOTS, INTRODUCES “VERIFIED FAN” TO KEEP TICKETS OFF OF SECONDARY MARKET

Ticketmaster (LYV) has rolled out some new technology, known as Verified Fan, to help eliminate the use of automated software or “bots”, to acquire tickets for sale on the resale market. In the past, when tickets for high profile events went on sale, “bots” would acquire a large number of tickets within seconds of their posting for sale, resulting in immediate sell outs. Simultaneously, these same tickets would be listed by the “bots” owners on resale sites, at markups up to 1,000%. The new technology looks for buyers to register prior to the seats going on sale and looks to verify the buyer’s identity using their purchase history and social media activity. Ticketmaster has stated that 90% of tickets sold using Verified Fan have been kept off the secondary market.

Bruce Springsteen and Harry Potter Are Fighting Ticket Bots—With Ticketmaster’s Help

Howie Long-Short: This is good for fans, but the roll-out is likely to be only for limited events.

Fan Marino: I’m certainly supportive of any technology that benefits the “real fan”. While this technology won’t keep Amazon (AMZN) from eventually taking over the ticketing space, it is a start in terms of generating goodwill with its customer base.

TECH GIANTS HESITANT TO PAY OUT LUCRATIVE LONG-TERM DEALS TO LEAGUES; SPORTS BROADCASTING MODEL MAY GO FROM RIGHTS DEALS TO REVENUE-SHARE MODEL

Exclusive television network broadcast rights deals have been the growing source of income for pro sports leagues for the last several decades. TV networks have tripped over themselves to pay out lucrative, long-term contracts to sports leagues, in order to lock up valuable content it can resell to advertisers. League execs have long assumed that tech giants like Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and YouTube (GOOGL) would be eager to bid on future contracts in an effort to stream content. While that may still be the case, it likely won’t be in the same form of the existing TV contracts and as a result, a decline in revenues may be coming. Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that FB could be interested in streaming select pro sports, but the long-term goal would not be to pay for content, but to engage in a revenue-share model.

Technology Titans Won’t Splurge to Save Sports

Howie Long-Short: Sports leagues will follow the money. It could be a while before tech firms can outbid traditional media for top sports rights, other than carving out digital rights.

Fan Marino: If Zuckerberg can get off paying Bieber on a rev-share model, he can certainly convince pro sports leagues, with few viable alternative options, to sign off.

TARGET MOVING SPORTS MARKETING DOLLARS FROM NASCAR TO MLS

Target Corp. (TGT) is shifting its sports marketing budget from NASCAR to MLS. The retail giant announced it is terminating its 16 year sponsorship of Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team and that it does not plan to renew its deal with Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevy car, following this season. Instead, TGT will be among the national sponsors of MLS and the primary local sponsor for the Minnesota United FC. The company has stated the move is being driven by growing interest in the game of soccer within core target demographics; Hispanics, families and millennials.

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Target pulls out of NASCAR, steers dollars to soccer

Howie Long-Short: Hard to argue with TGT logic here. One sport is growing, while the other is in a decline.

Fan Marino: Pro Tip: If you go to a NASCAR event, make sure to get the scanner headsets so you can listen in on the drivers. Game-changer.

PROKHOROV LOOKING TO SELL NETS/BARCLAYS CENTER FOR $2 BILLION

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has placed a $2 billion price tag on his Brooklyn basketball franchise and their 5 year old arena, the Barclays Center. The Nets are looking for a Chinese buyer to purchase the team and reportedly had 20 meetings last month to gauge interest; though no price has been agreed to and no sale is imminent. The Los Angeles Clippers were the last NBA team to be sold. The L.A. based franchise went for an NBA record $2 billion back in 2014. The Nets are currently one of two NBA teams for sale, the other being the Houston Rockets.

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Mikhail Prokhorov Reportedly Hoped for $2 Billion Nets Sale

Howie Long-Short: Forbes values the Nets/Barclays Center at $1.8 billion. The Clippers sold for $2 billion and lease space at the Staples Center. The Lakers and Knicks aren’t hitting the market. There is no way the Nets aren’t going for $2 billion plus.

Fan Marino: As a Nets fan, I can’t complain about Prokhorov as an owner. He’s spent money trying to win. I do fault him for hiring Billy King.

LIBERTY BRAVES REPORTS 34% INCREASE IN REVENUE; CASHING IN ON NEW STADIUM

Atlanta’s new Suntrust Park has provided a fresh scene for Braves fans, but also a huge increase in revenue for the franchise. Liberty Media (BATRA), reported a $45 million (or 34%) increase over the same period last year, attributing the growth to improved performance on the field and updated amenities at the new stadium. Operating profit before depreciation and amortization was $27 million for Q2, up from $12 million from last year, however after depreciation and amortization the team showed a $3 million loss. Liberty cited an increase in property and equipment, to support the development of mixed-use real estate around the ballpark, as the cause for the rise in depreciation and amortization expenses.

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Braves’ revenue jumps 34% in new stadium, Liberty Media says

Howie Long-Short: Professional sports team owners demand a new stadium every 25-30 years for exactly this reason. New buildings offer new amenities. New amenities bring new revenue.

Fan Marino: Turner Field (the old stadium) opened with the ’96 Olympics. It’s absolutely remarkable the franchise was able to squeeze the city for a new ballpark after 20 years.

CBS TO LAUNCH 24/7 SPORTS OTT LIVE STREAMING SERVICE

CBS announced during its Q2 earnings call that it would be rolling out a 24/7 sports driven OTT live streaming service, before the end of the year. The new channel will be offered through internet-only TV providers although no carriers have been named thus far. The company plans to model the service after its news streaming service CBSN and piggyback on the existing infrastructure to reduce costs. CEO Les Moonves indicated that the channel would show original content and would not simply mirror the CBS Sports Network television channel.

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CBS is launching a streaming sports channel this year

Howie Long-Short: Another second/third tier sports OTT product? I can’t keep track of them all. We need a Netflix for sports to aggregate all this.

Fan Marino: A 24/7 channl that doesn’t mirror the TV network is going to require a ton of new content. WFAN is a CBS owned radio station. Could this be the future home of Mike Francesa?  6 hours of prank calls would seem to fill a need.

POKERSTARS DRIVING OFF SHARKS; TRYING TO WIN BACK NOVICE PLAYERS

PokerStars, the largest online poker website has said that card sharks have driven out the novice bettors that generate the vast majority of the sites revenue. As a result, The Stars Group (TSG), which bought the website for $4.9 billion back in 2014, has seen revenue growth from the game flatten. In an effort to drive off the sharks, PokerStars has ended many off the perks/incentives, including a loyalty program, that rewarded the degenerate gambler. Instead, the company has reallocated tournament money and given perks to less frequent bettors, in an effort to bring back the casual poker player. It should be noted that shares are up 41% since CEO Rafi Ashkenazi was hired last year.

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Poker Site Wants Card Sharks to Fold So the Rest of Us Can Win

Howie Long-Short: Poker is no longer a growth business for TSG, unless they can enter new markets. I’m more interested in scuttlebutt on Baazov’s massive insider trading trial

Fan Marino: Sharks preying on beginner minnows? Fans of daily fantasy sports know that story well.

 

ADIDAS SIGNS BIGGEST SPONSORSHIP DEAL IN MLS HISTORY

Adidas (ADDYY) and MLS have agreed on a massive six-year deal worth an estimated $700 million, making it the largest investment Adidas has made to date in North American soccer and the largest sponsorship deal in MLS history. The lucrative extension means that Adidas will remain the official apparel supplier for the league’s teams and its affiliated youth programs. The annual value of the new contract ($117 million) exceeds the amount MLS generates from all of its TV contracts combined ($90 million/year) and is valued at 70% more per year than Adidas pays the NHL ($70 million) for its apparel partnership.

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Major League Soccer, Adidas Agree To $700 Million Extension

Howie Long-Short: Adidas is desperate to make their mark in the US, and soccer is obviously their hallmark. Less clear how long it takes for MLS to develop into more than a lucrative semi-retirement home for geriatric European stars.

Fan Marino: Buying an MLS team in 2017 is like buying an NFL team prior to 1990. Nothing but upside.

MYSTERY CHINESE INVESTOR PREPARING TO PURCHASE 8% OF MANU SHARES

A mystery Chinese buyer is reportedly preparing to line up and purchase publicly traded shares of Premier League franchise, Manchester United (MANU) in an attempt to control upwards of 8% of the futbol club. The Glazer family currently owns 80% of MANU, while the remaining 20% is held by investment funds in New York and London. It has been rumored that some members of the Glazer family would be willing to part with a large chunk of shares.

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Chinese investor making moves to line up Manchester United shares, according to reports

Howie Long-Short: Forbes values the franchise at $3.69 billion, while MANU has a market cap in the range of $2.75 billion. Perhaps this mystery individual is onto something.

Fan Marino: Red Devils’ fans have never been pleased with the way the Glazer family operates. A new, powerful, voice in the room would be a welcomed addition.