Moag & Company Sports Notes (17 Mar 2023)

Date: Mar 2023


Who is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher?

Last Week’s Answer: George (“Babe”) Herman Ruth Jr. was born on February 6, 1895, at 216 Emory Street in the Pigtown section of Baltimore, Maryland.


The involvement of billionaire Mitchell Rales in the Josh Harris-led bid to buy the Washington Commanders gives owner Daniel Snyder a “deep-pocketed alternative" to selling to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and "provides the NFL and its team owners with an appealing mix of well-established local roots and an impressive record of business success,” according to the Washington Post. The news of Rales’s inclusion also “arrived at a critical juncture.” According to those close to the process, some NFL owners and others involved in the sale process “are intent upon trying to persuade Snyder that he would be best-served by striking a deal in the coming weeks.” Still, it “remains unclear” whether an agreement can be reached before NFL team owners convene in Phoenix for the annual league meeting beginning on March 26. The “wild card in closing any deal is Snyder." His “intent is not entirely clear.” In the Harris and Rales partnership, Snyder “would get buyers who can write a check for fair-market value, plus the premium that’s typically tacked on for the cachet of owning one of 32 NFL teams.” Snyder also would get buyers “who are well known to the NFL, easing the approval process”.


Diamond Sports did not make its rights fee payment to the Arizona D-Backs, sources told Sports Business Journal. Diamond confirmed last week that it was late with its payment, opting to exercise “a contractual grace period in order to maximize flexibility.” Diamond, which owns Bally Sports Arizona, had until 11:59pm last night to make its payment. Diamond also is late on its payment to the San Diego Padres and has entered a grace period to make that payment. That grace period ends before Opening Day on March 30. The Padres’ deal is worth $60M per year deal and runs through 2032. Sources said that Diamond also has expressed concern about its contracts with the Cleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds. Diamond, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week, had several points of contention with the D-Backs. First, it viewed the contract, which runs through 2035, as particularly onerous. Secondly, the team was not willing to part with its digital rights. Last year, Diamond launched a direct-to-consumer service with the digital streaming rights of several teams. In a statement released last week, Diamond referenced that it did not have the team’s DTC rights. Even though Diamond has not made its payment to the D-Backs, rights do not automatically revert to MLB or the team, who will work through the bankruptcy court to try and get control of the rights. Sources expect Diamond to continue producing and carrying those games for FS Arizona for the time being.


The NBA has “high hopes for squeezing far more money out of media outlets in negotiations for future TV broadcast rights,” in part because tech giants including Amazon and Google have “told the league of their interest in streaming the games,” according to Sources said that the league “wants to triple its current revenue from TV deals.” Sources also said that Amazon is “interested in the NBA rights” but it has “no intention of overpaying for a high-priced NBA rights package.” The company “may hold off on getting locked into another decadelong and exorbitant contract while it waits to see whether the NFL deal is successful.” Both ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery are “struggling under heavy debt loads and dealing with a steady erosion of the cable subscribers.” Sports and TV execs said that the NBA will “need to temper its expectations of how much it can increase the fees, arguing that the economics of the deal prices they’re targeting simply don’t work.” A source said that the NBA is “confident it can get a good deal” as the league argues that it "draws a younger, more diverse audience spread out across 260 nights per year.” It is “already seeing demand for rights from both existing and potential new partners.” A streaming-only package “opens the door for tech companies to bid on rights” as interest “expressed by Google’s YouTube and Amazon raises the possibility that some NBA games could be available on Prime Video, YouTube -- or even Apple" if it "decides to bid”.


The Women’s World Cup is getting a 300% "increase in prize money" for this year’s tournament, according to the AP. The $150M fund for the first 32-team tournament is a “huge boost from the 24-team edition in 2019, and 10 times what it was in 2015.” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that some of that prize money "should be dedicated to paying players.” He also “again expressed his anger with broadcasters for offering too little for TV rights.” Dunbar notes female players worldwide have been “fighting for equal pay and equal respect with men’s national teams.” Infantino “set a target of equal prize money for men and women at their next World Cups,” in 2026 and 2027, respectively -- a "tough task when the 32 men’s teams shared” $440M at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.


Actor Ryan Reynolds “may be positioning himself financially” in his group’s bid to purchase the Ottawa Senators after his wireless firm Mint Mobile “sold to T-Mobile in a massive cash-and-stock deal that could be worth as much as” $1.35B, according to the Ottawa Sun. Reynolds “made a pitch to buy the Senators along with” the Markham-based Remington Group led by President Christopher Bratty. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the number of bids for the franchise is “robust” and as the process “moves to phase two there could be an agreement in principle to sell the Senators ‘in a matter of weeks.’” The Senators “received as many as nine bids” for the franchise at the March 6 deadline for bidders. Sources have been “able to confirm five of the bidders, including the Remington Group”.

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily;; USA Today; The Athletic;; Wall Street Journal;; Washington Post;; The AP; Ottawa Sun

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