What’s the diameter of a basketball hoop in inches?
Last Week’s Answer: Cy Young holds the record for most complete games in an MLB career having pitched 749 complete games over the course of his 22-year career.
The NFL is seeing its best game audience since '15, averaging 17.3 million viewers through Week 4. That figure is up 18% from 14.6 million at the same point last season, and up 6% from 16.3 million in ’19. NBC, CBS, ESPN and NFL Network are seeing gains for game coverage, while Fox is down (the network had national window competition in Week 1 this year with the new schedule). Last season, the league had to compete with a shifted sports calendar that saw leagues like the NBA and NHL conducting their postseasons in the fall (not to mention a big uptick in cable news viewership around the presidential election). Week 4 alone -- fueled by Tom Brady’s return to Foxboro on Sunday night -- averaged 18.1 million viewers, which is the league’s best Week 4 in six years and up 41% from the same week last year. The NFL also saw an average minute audience of 764,000 viewers on streaming platforms in Week 4 (including its own platforms, Yahoo and broadcasters’ platforms). That is the league best AMA figure for a regular-season week on record. NBC leads all media partners with 23.1 million viewers for the “SNF” package, which includes the NFL Kickoff. That is NBC’s best figure since ’15, when it was averaging 25.3 million. NBC is up 24% from last season. Bucs- Patriots on Sunday finished with 28 million viewers, marking NBC’s second-best “SNF” game since acquiring rights prior to the '06 season. The audience is second only to Cowboys-WFT in Week 17 in ’12 (30.3 million). Bucs-Patriots on Sunday was NBC’s best regular-season audience with Brady, passing the '15 NFL Kickoff game between the Steelers and Patriots (27.4 million). ESPN is seeing its best “MNF” audience since ’10, averaging 14.7 million viewers. The gains are no doubt aided by the addition of some simulcasts, including the first for ABC in Week 1. There also have been three “ManningCast” presentations on ESPN2 that have performed better than most ESPN “MegaCast” feeds in other sports. In Week 4 there was just a straight simulcast of the ESPN feed on ESPN2.
The Atlanta Braves drew 2.3 million fans to games at Truist Park this season, the second-most in MLB, and it "restored the Braves' financial results to pre-pandemic levels and in turn facilitated some key additions to the roster," according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Braves brought in revenue of $216M in the April-through-June quarter, up from just $11M during the same period (without games) in '20 and up from $208M during the same quarter in '19. That recovery led the Braves to "make a series of trades that added to the payroll and propelled the team toward the National League East championship." The Braves, who cut the payroll last winter amid financial uncertainty, "assumed about $10 million in prorated 2021 salaries to acquire outfielders Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler, relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez and catcher Stephen Vogt, all in July." Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos said, "It changed our financial outlook entirely, and Terry (McGuirk, Braves chairman) said we have money to put behind this club. And giving me the ammunition to go out in July at the trade deadline and add some pieces was a game-changer for us".
Spurs Sports & Entertainment is seeking approval on a request that would see San Antonio and Bexar County spend $32M of taxpayers' money to "secure a major development on the Northwest Side that includes a training facility for the team, research center, public plaza and office and medical space," according to the San Antonio Express-News. The City Council is set to vote tomorrow "on a grant of as much as $17 million for the roughly 50-acre campus." Bexar County also is "kicking in $15 million." The campus is expected to cost over $500M and an estimated 1,700 full-time employees would work there. San Antonio City Council member Manny Pelaez said that concerns about the Spurs' longevity in the city that "were raised by the organization's recent ownership changes were also a driver" in the city's deliberations. The Spurs in June announced that Austin billionaire Michael Dell bought 10% of the team and S.F.-based Sixth Street Partners bought 22%. Half of the Spurs' 22 investors "were bought out, and two more sold some of their shares." SS&E "would contribute or 'cause to be invested' at least $246 million in upgrades to the property".
As the NHL gets set to start its regular season, Commissioner Gary Bettman noted the league is forecasting "in excess" of $5B in revenue for '21-22, “assuming everything is normal.” He said a successful season for the league “starts with keeping everybody safe and healthy." He also set "more granular" goals of playing a full regular and postseason, and having "another successful season in terms of fan engagement.” Bettman: “We are coming back stronger, or as strong, as when we had to take the pause and had to play an unusual season last season. But the vital signs are all very good, very strong, and all of our franchises are in good shape.” Bettman feels the expansion Seattle Kraken “have hit all the right notes; they have a great arena; they have great ownership." Seattle is a "terrific sports market that has really embraced the Kraken in a big way even before they had played a game." This “will make us stronger, it will take us to yet another major market and it will give hockey and the NHL even greater growing presence than we have.” Bettman said amid the pandemic, players have been "really great" on social media “in reaching out and being more accessible to fans.”
EPL club Newcastle was sold to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund after a "protracted takeover and legal fight involving concerns about piracy and rights abuses in the kingdom." The takeover by the Saudi Public Investment Fund "initially collapsed last year over concerns about how much control the kingdom’s leadership would have in the running of Newcastle" amid concerns about Saudi human rights abuses and the "pirating of sports rights." The PIF has had to offer assurances to the EPL that its chair, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and in turn the state, "will not have any control of the running of Newcastle." The PIF will be the majority partner alongside the "wealthy British-based Reuben brothers" and financier Amanda Staveley. The Public Investment Fund's Yasir Al-Rumayyan will "take the hotseat" at St. James' Park as non-exec chair. Staveley is set to be named as director, and David Reuben will be named as non-executive director. It "remains to be seen who lands the role of CEO," the position which has been held by Lee Charnley since '14. The PIF is buying Newcastle for just over £300M ($409M). Newcastle has not been English champions since 1927 and has not won any domestic silverware since 1955. Through seven games this season, Newcastle is currently in 19th place. The transaction price not only covers the initial £134M Ashley paid for the club in the summer of '07, but it is also set to "wipe out the interest-free loans which are owed to the businessman." According to Newcastle’s most recent accounts, from the '19-20 campaign, Ashley was still owed £106.9M ($146M), which is set to be repaid. That should, "in theory, leave the club completely debt-free," while it also sees Ashley depart with almost £60M ($82M) in profit. The deal brings Saudi Arabia into the ownership circle of top European soccer clubs, alongside Man City which is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a billionaire member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, and Paris Saint-Germain, which is controlled by Qatar Sports Investment.
Sources: SportsBusiness Journal, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; San Antonio Express-News; The AP; The Athletic