SBJ Media: NASCAR sweetens midseason package – Sports Business Journal


Jay Marine, the head of Amazon’s sports group, is “The Big Get” on this week’s Sports Media Podcast.

NASCAR expanded its proposed midseason package to 10 races, rather than the six that it had been shopping originally, several sources tell SBJ’s Adam Stern and me.

NASCAR has been in the market to sell its media rights, starting with the 2025 season, for the better part of the year. Incumbent broadcasters Fox and NBC agreed to renew their packages months ago, though nothing has been announced formally.

A midseason package of races has proved harder to sell. Originally, NASCAR planned to carve out a six-race package. But now it’s shopping a package that includes as many as 10 races in the hopes that the added races will entice new bidders to close the deal. NASCAR created the midseason package with races currently carried by Fox and NBC, meaning those two broadcasters will have less inventory in the next deals.

Both Amazon and Turner remain front-runners to pick up the midseason package, sources say. It is possible that the two could split the package, with each getting five races. NASCAR hopes that one of the media companies will agree to take the entire 10 races.

NASCAR is not operating under a deadline to finish a deal. There has been some scuttlebutt that its executives want to announce it at the end-of-season banquet in Nashville next week.

NASCAR is selling its rights at a time when the sports rights marketplace is getting tighter. In the face of cord-cutting and cord-shaving, linear TV companies are trimming costs. At the same time, big digital companies, like Amazon and Apple, have remained disciplined in how they approach sports rights.

That has resulted in some properties creating more packages of games and events to drive up the amount of revenue they can get from these rights. The NBA, for example, is widely believed to expand from two media partners to three — or even four — when it completes its media rights deal at some point next year.

When the NBA’s media committee met Friday morning, discussion veered well beyond the next round of domestic media rights, a topic that has dominated sports business reporting for much of the past year. Rather, the committee members and Adam Silver spent a lot of time talking about how to make the game more accessible to a global audience.

“We talked today about much bigger agenda items than you would think a basketball team or a basketball commissioner would talk about,” said Ted Leonsis, who chairs the committee. “We talked about the demography of the planet.”

Leonsis and Silver made their comments later Friday afternoon during the 18th Annual Povich Symposium put on by the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. I moderated the discussion held at my alma mater.

Leonsis’ main point is that the NBA’s growth potential in international markets is massive. The NBA has made sure that all its international media rights deals end before 2025, underscoring the idea that international play will be a big part of the next rights agreement.

“Companies, industries, individuals get in trouble when you get comfortable being comfortable,” Leonsis said. “We’re digital-first data companies, and our manifest destiny is to work globally.”

Another major topic at last week’s broadcast committee meeting focused on discovery — how will fans find the games, especially considering that the NBA is likely to create several packages with several different media companies.

Silver: “My hope is that if you’re a Washington Wizards fan, and you’ve indicated that you want to watch those games on your smartphone — rather than having to click through an app — at 7pm that night if that Wizards-Knicks game is on, it will just start showing on your phone. You’ll have a choice to tune it out or do something else.”

ViewLift CEO Rick Allen attended the event and wrote this recap, which is worth a click.

Click the above image for the full panel that SBJ’s John Ourand moderated with Monumental’s Ted Leonsis and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

MLB hired Josh Clark as SVP/content distribution, a role where he will make sure that distributors carry local MLB games. Clark comes to MLB from Paramount and reports to EVP/Media & Business Development Kenny Gersh.

Clark also will oversee distribution for MLB Network, MLB.TV and Extra Innings. But the biggest part of his job — at least initially — will be to ensure that MLB teams without local TV deals still will be available on local cable and satellite systems in their markets.

This past season, for example, MLB took over rights for the Padres and D-backs from Diamond Sports Group. The league produced those teams’ games and negotiated with local cable and satellite systems in San Diego and Phoenix to carry them.

This season, as Diamond tries to work its way out of bankruptcy, the league is expected to control even more teams’ rights. Clark will be the executive negotiating to have cable and satellite companies carry those games.

John Skipper’s Meadowlark Media cut a deal with Bleacher Report to have a one-hour version of Dan Le Batard’s daily show appear on the Max sports tier every weekday.

The show will debut on the sports tier Nov. 27. DraftKings will remain the title sponsor of the show, which is on YouTube and the DraftKings Network FAST channel.

Warner Bros. Discovery launched the Bleacher Report Sports Add-On in early October, mainly featuring live events that were simulcast on one of the company’s linear TV channels. The tier is free to Max subscribers until Feb. 29. It will cost $9.99 per month after Feb. 29.

Max’s sports tier has carried some live sports events that weren’t on linear TV, like soccer matches. It also has featured video-on-demand content, shoulder programming and podcasts.

Amazon Global Head of Sports Jay Marine is “The Big Get” on this week’s Sports Media Podcast I host with Andrew Marchand. On the pod, Marine said Amazon wants far more than just a package of regular season NBA games.

“Would something like the playoffs be an important part of [our bid]? Yes, I think that’s fair to say,” Marine said on the podcast, which posts Nov. 22.

Several media and tech companies have expressed interest in cutting a deal for NBA rights, including incumbents ESPN and Turner, plus Amazon, Apple, Google, NBC and Netflix. The NBA has a 45-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN and Turner that starts March 9.

When asked why Amazon would be interested in NBA rights, Marine highlighted the league’s young fan base and global appeal. “What fits is that it is one of the biggest leagues in the world and people care about it,” he said. “At the end of the day, do Prime members care about it? Is it important to their life? And as a result, can it be meaningful in terms of the value it adds to Prime members and the Prime program? And I think with the NBA, it is true on all of those fronts.”

Chili’s didn’t air a single TV ad in 2022, according to the iSpot Midseason TV Ad Report provided to SBJ. But from Jan. 1 through Oct. 31 in 2023, 38% of the $30.6 million that the brand spent on all TV advertising was devoted to live NFL action. breaks down 2023 TV ad spend for brands that didn't spend any on TV ads in 2022

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