COMCAST SPECTACOR LATEST NHL OWNER TO PURCHASE NLL FRANCHISE

Comcast Spectacor, the sports and entertainment arm of Comcast Corporation (CMCSA), purchased the expansion rights to the Philadelphia franchise of the National Lacrosse League. The team will begin play in December 2018; with home games set to be played at the Wells Fargo (WFC) Center. A fan vote will determine the team name. The NLL has an OTT streaming service with 25,000 paying subscribers. The league’s Game of the Week, which airs on Twitter (TWTR), draws an average of 350,000 views.

Howie Long-Short: Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers, is the 4th NHL owner to buy an NLL franchise. It’s a smart acquisition for several reasons. The league demographics are attractive, with a high percentage of college grads; meaning the team should be able to demand strong returns on advertising and sponsorship opportunities. The digital first business model aligns with Comcast’s broadband business; as the service becomes essential for OTT subscribers. Most importantly, the company’s strength is in hosting events and building businesses around pro sports teams; both on the merchandising and sponsorship side. It’s what they do.

Fan Marino: Historically speaking, Philadelphia has been supportive of box lacrosse. The Philadelphia Wings won 6 championships over 28 years in the city; with the team regularly bringing in crowds of 10,000+/game. I’m bullish on their ability to build a fan base, as I don’t believe they are starting from scratch.

Fans get to vote on team name for new NLL Philly Lacrosse team

HBO’S REAL SPORTS TO EXPLORE “GUARANTEE GAMES”, WHY THEY’RE PLAYED AND THE RISKS THEY POSE TO HBCU ATHLETES

Real Sports, the 31-time Sports Emmy Award winning HBO (TWX) show, is set to air a segment this evening (10p EST/PST) on guarantee games; exploring the fiscal benefits they provide for HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) athletic departments and the risks they pose to HBCU athletes. Guarantee games are athletic contests typically scheduled between large wealthy schools and smaller institutions lacking the same resources; with the bigger school ostensibly receiving an “easy win” (yes, Howard beat UNLV) in exchange for a large financial payout. The debate begins though as smaller, less physically gifted student-athletes are forced to compete the 5-star gladiators on the football field, inevitably leading to serious injury.

Howie Long-Short: Bowl Subdivision schools are going to pay out $150 million in “guarantee” games, during the 2017 CFB season. No one wants to see kids get hurt, but football revenues support entire athletic departments. Understand that if you end these games, you are ending the athletic careers of thousands of student athletes. If HBCU schools can drop down a level and still make ends meet, they should look to do so in the best interest of their student athletes.

Fan Marino: The SEC conference is the only P5 conference to play an 8-game conference schedule. Some will argue that it provides them with necessary scheduling flexibility (several teams have yearly non-conference, rivalry games that need to be accommodated), but Commissioner Mike Slive has readily admitted the strength of the conference influenced the decision. As a result, SEC teams often play late season “guarantee” games (i.e. November 18th: Alabama hosts Mercer, USC hosts Wofford, Auburn hosts Louisiana Monroe). The elimination of “guarantee games” would force the conference to either play a 9-game conference schedule or to schedule an extra P5 opponent. Either way, CFB fans would win.

NIKE, HYUNDAI & BOSE BECOME FIRST NFL SPONSORS TO PUBLICLY SUPPORT THE PLAYERS’ RIGHT TO PROTEST

President Trump’s call for NFL owners to fire or suspend players that fail to stand for the national anthem, was met with a series of player statements on Sunday. Players across the league protesting racial injustice and police brutality; locked arms, took a knee or failed to come out entirely, for the singing of the national anthem. On Monday, Nike (NKE) became the first NFL sponsors to publicly side with the players, saying “Nike supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society.” Hyundai (HYMTF) followed that statement with one of their own saying “we stand for and respect individuals’ freedoms to express their First Amendment rights in any peaceful manner in which they choose. We also stand for inclusion, freedom and all that represents those values”. Bose wrapped up the day saying “we respect that freedom (to express your views), whether we agree with those views or not. The balance of the league’s sponsors have either remained quiet or taken a more “patriotic” position.

Howie Long-Short: The pro-Trump crowd is looking to force the league’s hand, calling for a boycott of the league’s sponsors. You can find the hashtags #BoycottNFLSponsors and #PunchThemInTheWallet on various social media platforms. Don’t expect the campaign to work. There has already been (and will continue to be) an outpouring of support for the players and their 1st amendment rights.

Fan Marino: Within the last week we’ve seen a devastating hurricane in PR, a deadly earthquake in Mexico, North Korea accuse the U.S. of waging war, the unveiling of new travel restrictions and leaked details of a tax reform package; but 45 is focused on the NFL. Frankly, the lack of compassion is offensive and his inability to focus on what’s important is detrimental to the American people. The leader of the free world should be paying attention to the big picture. The decision to stand (or not to) for a national anthem is simply irrelevant in the grand scheme.

NFL’s Sponsors Tiptoe Around Trump’s Latest Twitter Fight

49ERS END STADIUM-WIDE FOOD-DELIVERY SERVICE

The San Francisco 49ers have ended a stadium-wide, in-seat, food delivery service that failed to catch on with fans at Levi’s Stadium. While the team has yet to comment on the decision, it does not make sense to continue staffing a service that was failing to gain traction or generate a profit. Fans sitting in premium sections will continue to have access to the service. It is worth noting that VenueNext (platform that powers the service) does not have another client that offers stadium-wide in-seat concession delivery, as Grubhub (GRUB) and competing food delivery companies look to enter the space.

Howie Long-Short: VenueNext, originally formed in 2013 to help the 49ers develop the mobile application for their new stadium, raised a $9 million Series A round in January 2015. Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) and Twitter Ventures (TWTR) participated in the round. The company raised an additional $15 million in October 2016 to expand its offerings beyond sports & entertainment, having since added clientele within the hospitality and healthcare verticals, and into Europe.

Fan Marino: VenueNext isn’t just a platform to support a food delivery service, but a way for teams to enhance the in-stadium fan experience. Fans can find parking help, their way around the building, mobile ticketing, exclusive team content and merchandise within a team’s custom app. Teams will market these apps as a way to enhance the fan experience, but call them for what they are, a way to gather data on attendees so they can turn around and market to them.

Delivery of food and beverage to all seats off the menu at Levi’s Stadium

 

EXCLUSIVE: NASCAR’S AUSTIN DILLON DISCUSSES HIS CURRENT HOLDINGS AND BIGGEST TRADE REGRET

The Monster Energy (MNST) NASCAR Cup Series playoffs continued Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch won the ISM Connect 300, advancing in to the round of 12 in the process. JWS got the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Austin Dillon, currently sitting in 13th place, to discuss his corporate sponsorship partners, investment portfolio and a decision to sell (an equity) that he regrets. Austin finished 19th in Sunday’s race after being involved in an 8-car wreck.

How does your passion for sports drive the corporate sponsorship partners you have?

Austin Dillon: I’m a huge outdoorsman, so I started out with Bass Pro Shops (CAB). That was an easy tie-in for me with my hunting and fishing background. From a racing standpoint, I used to be with AdvoCare and their Rehydrate product. I enjoyed using the product. We won a championship with them. I’m now with Dow Chemical Company (DWDP) and their scientists and engineers directly make an impact on our car through technological advances. 

Do you personally invest in your corporate sponsors?

Austin Dillon: Every sponsor that I have, that is traded (CAB, DWDP, GIS), I have stock in. It works well. You can build together. When you are running well, they are doing well. It’s cool how that works.

You mentioned that you do a little bit of trading for fun.  Can you share a few of your holdings?

Austin Dillon: Caterpillar (CAT), I had them as one of our partners for a while; my Grandpa did well on Caterpillar. Builders First Source (BLDR) has been doing well. Nintendo (NTDOY). I was playing Pokeman like crazy when it came out and was like I should get some stock, they’ve been doing well. 

Can you give us one trade you’d like to have back?

Austin Dillon: I messed up on Tesla (TSLA), badly. I had it at $44. One of my engineers was like ‘it’s not going anywhere’ and I sold it (currently at $351). I had around 200 shares.

Howie Long-Short: Dow Chemical Corporation and DuPont Co., the 2 largest American chemical makers, completed a $130 billion merger in late August. As of September 1st, the company began to trade under the symbol DWDP. DWDP is expected to split into 3 separate companies (agriculture, specialty products and materials).

Fan Marino: Austin Dillon played for the South-East team in the 2002 Little League World Series. South East made the 2017 United States Championships and Austin was given opportunity to give the kids a pep-talk before the game. South-East ended up losing a heartbreaker to South-West, 6-5. Nolan Ryan delivered the South-West team’s pregame speech.

OSU IS THE MOST VALUABLE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAM; SEC HAS 5 OF TOP 10 MOST VALUABLE TEAMS

The Ohio State University is the most valuable college football program, valued at $1.5 billion (up 59.6% YOY); according to a study by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at IU-PUC. Brewer analyzed teams as if they would be sold on the open market, as a professional franchise; using 2016 revenues and expenses, making cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections. The Football Bowl Subdivision saw teams increase in value by an average of 26% (YOY), the result of increasing revenues (+19% YOY) and cash flow (+26% YOY). The SEC had 5 of the Top 10 most valuable teams and the highest average team value ($523 million).

Howie Long-Short: T-Boone Pickens has donated (i.e. given away) $500 million to Oklahoma State University. I know Oklahoma State’s program is worth more than $285 million on an open market. In fact, every single program on the list is; and I would think by at least 100%.

Fan Marino: OSU back-up QB Joe Burrow astutely pointed out that his team is worth $1.5 billion, yet he’s not being paid. He fails to mention his scholarship is worth at least $200,000, he’ll graduate with no debt and he’s been given the opportunity to receive an education from a school he may, or many cases may not, be otherwise qualified to attend. He’s welcome to go play professionally (and get paid) in Canada (CFL); but he won’t, because he’s got a better deal at Ohio State.

How Much Is Your College Football Team Worth?

ATP TOURNAMENT TO USE ELECTRONIC LINE CALLING FOR ALL SHOTS, NO LINE JUDGES

The Men’s ATP (Tennis) tour has announced that the Finals of Next Gen ATP Tournament (Nov. 7-12) will feature electronic line calling for all shots, for the first time at an ATP sanctioned event. The Hawk-Eye Live system shows replays of close shots on stadium screens, so that both the competitors and the fans in the stadium can determine where a ball landed. The technology is currently utilized on contested replay reviews at other tour stops. The season ending tournament will showcase the top players under the age of 21, and include several other experimental rule changes including; 4 game sets, no lets and a serve clock.

Howie Long-Short: Hawk-Eye is a subsidiary of Sony (SNE). While terms of the 2011 acquisition were never released, it was estimated SNE paid upwards of $32 million for the ball-tracking technology.

Fan Marino: The Hawk-Eye Live system uses 10 cameras, set at the center and base lines, to calculate the path of the ball. The system reportedly has a 2.6mm error rate. While that is impressive from a technological standpoint, fans should be concerned about the false transparency it creates. Hawk-Eye makes its decisions based on modelled reconstructions, not the actual video; yet encourages its viewers to believe the reconstructed image without acknowledging room for error. In other words, don’t believe everything you see!

HAWK-EYE SET TO REPLACE OFFICIALS AT NEXT GEN ATP FINALS IN ITALY

FORBES: COWBOYS MOST VALUABLE NFL TEAM FOR 11TH STRAIGHT YEAR; JETS ONLY TEAM NOT TO SEE GROWTH

Forbes released its annual list of NFL team valuations and for the 11th straight year the Dallas Cowboys are on top, up 14% YOY ($4.8 billion). The Patriots, Giants, Redskins, 49ers and Rams also scored valuations north of $3 billion. On average, team values increased by 8% YOY (up to $2.5 billion), with the NYJ being the only team that did not see growth YOY. Valuations have skyrocketed over the last 5 years. In 2012, the Cowboys were the only team worth $2 billion; now all but 5 teams are, with the lowest valued team at $1.6 billion (Buffalo).

Howie Long-Short: Operating profits were on average a record $101 million/team last year, with every single team making at least $40 million; but somehow Forbes doesn’t think the Jets increased in value. It’s laughable to peg the team at just $2.75 million. NBA teams are now going for $2 billion+. The Jets/Giants each own 50% of a $1.2 billion stadium. If a NY based NFL team ever hit the market, the number would be closer to $4 billion than $3 billion.

Fan Marino: The Raiders are up 14% YOY (behind only ATL, DAL and N.O.), so from a fiscal perspective, the decision to announce the move to Las Vegas was the correct one. Then you see this, this, and this, and know the league should have done more to keep the team in Oakland.

The Dallas Cowboys Head The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams At $4.8 Billion

NFL BROADCAST NETWORKS LOOKING AT $200 MILLION LOSS OF EARNINGS

CBS, NBC (CMCSA), FOX (FOXA) & ESPN (DIS) expected to generate $2.5 billion in advertising revenues during the 2017 season; but a 12% YOY ratings decline in Week 1, followed by a 15% YOY decline in Week 2, may indicate the networks will fall several hundred million dollars short of that estimate. A 10% viewership decline would likely cost the networks more than $200 million in potential earnings. Between the Sept. 7 start of the NFL season and the end of Week 2, shares of DIS, CMCSA & CBS were down 3, 5 and 7% respectively; with shares of FOXA up 2%.

Howie Long-Short: Look for the league to change its stance on legalized gambling should the ratings continue to slide.

Fan Marino: How come no one wants to talk about the fact that since 2009, only 3 QBs drafted (and still starting) have won a playoff game (Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck). The product is stale.

NFL TV Ratings Slide Worries Wall Street

MILITARY GRADE FOAM BEING USED IN FOOTBALL PADS ON NFL, COLLEGE AND YOUTH LEVELS

XTECH Protective Equipment has revolutionized football equipment; utilizing military grade XRD foam to create state of the art shoulder pads. The 6 year old company manufactures and distributes pads marketed as the lightest weight, most protective product on the market. Super Bowl Winning Coach Brian Billick is an investor in the company, which now boasts of players on 28 NFL teams wearing its product including; Khalil Mack, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.

Howie Long-Short: XTech has an exclusive contract with XRD Impact Protection for using its foam in NFL, college and youth football pads. XRD is owned by Rogers Corporation (ROG), a technology company focused on creating innovative solutions for power electronics, advanced foams for cushioning and protective sealing, and high frequency printed circuit materials. The company reported net sales of $201.4 million for Q2 ’17 (up 27.9% YOY) and gross margins of 40% (a record), up 180 basis points.

Fan Marino: Players like the pads because they can hit hard without feeling anything. Don’t take their word for it? Watch Founder Bob Broderick slam his bare hand with a helmet.

Revolutionary shoulder pads catching on in NFL