Moag and Company Sports Notes (4 Oct 2019)

Date: Oct 2019

Trivia

Who was the first QB in Seattle Seahawks history?

Last Week’s Answer: The Chicago Cubs played the Detroit Tigers in the 1908 World Series.  The Series was a rematch of the 1907 World Series which was won by Chicago four games to none. The Cubs also won the 1908 World Series besting the Tigers four games to one.

Football:

Four weeks into the '19 NFL season, viewership continues to rise, building off last season's uptick. Games are averaging 16.3 million viewers on TV across all nets, up 4% from 15.7 million at the same point last season, and up 5% from two years ago. Fox and CBS are seeing their best Sunday afternoon averages since the start of the '16 season. Fox on Sundays is averaging 18.7 million viewers, up 4%, while CBS is averaging 17 million, also up 4%. NBC is also off to its best start since '16 with "SNF," averaging 20.9 million viewers on TV and easily on pace to deliver NBC its ninth straight season with primetime TV's most-watched program. "MNF" is enjoying a 7% gain for ESPN, while Fox and NFL Network after three "TNF" games are up 6%. Streaming is really picking up for games. When digital is factored in, games are averaging 16.6 million viewers, which is up 5% year over year. League partners are seeing a 48% year-over-year gain for digital viewership, taking in an average minute audience of 481,000 per game. This past Sunday night, NBC Sports Digital saw an AMA of 599,000 viewers for Cowboys-Saints, marking its most-streamed regular-season NFL game yet. Season to date, "SNF" streaming is up 36%. Meanwhile, pregame shows are seeing gains. CBS' "The NFL Today" is up 8%, "Fox NFL Sunday" is up 6%, "Fox NFL Kickoff" is up 5% and ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" is up 17%.

Baseball:

A judge "issued a temporary restraining order" blocking Alameda County from "selling its share of the Oakland Coliseum to the A's," according to the S.F. Chronicle. The decision "comes after Oakland sued the county in an attempt to block the sale and force the county to enter negotiations to sell the property to the city." Judge Frank Roesch said that the county can "continue to negotiate with the A's but cannot move forward with the sale of the 155-acre site until the issue is settled." A's President Dave Kaval said this poses another "complication with moving forward" with the Coliseum project, which includes a "robust" affordable housing plan and community benefits package. The A's and the county had "agreed on general terms" for the A's to buy the county's 50% share for $85M. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said that she "hopes the lawsuit can be put on pause." City Council President Rebecca Kaplan claims that the "intent of the lawsuit isn't to prevent the A's from buying the county share," but rather to make the county "follow the process of the Surplus Lands Act." The Coliseum site is jointly owned by the city and county. Proceeds from the housing, park and offices the team "wants to put on the site would help fund its downtown Oakland ballpark at Howard Terminal".

The group behind the effort to bring MLB to Nashville "released renderings of what a sports and entertainment district on the east side of the Cumberland River might look like, along with more detailed plans on its initiative," according to the Nashville Tennessean. The three renderings from Music City Baseball show a retractable-roof ballpark near Nissan Stadium and a complex that "includes a college baseball hall of fame and a mixed-use tower with a hotel and residential space." A 1 million square-foot office tower also would be part of the complex. Music City Baseball Managing Dir John Loar has "assembled an advisory group" that includes former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin, former Arizona D-backs GM Dave Stewart and Boston Red Sox Special Assistant & VP/Baseball Operations Tony La Russa. The group also has launched a website, mlbmusiccity.com. The group "plans to raise substantial money to further its effort." It says that it "will not seek public money to fund stadium construction or development." It has also "studied possible sites in Williamson and Rutherford counties".

Basketball:

William Hill and Monumental Sports & Entertainment "plan to open a sports-betting venue" inside Capital One Arena in what would be the "first wagering establishment inside a major-league sports venue in the U.S.," according to the Wall Street Journal. The sportsbook is expected to open as soon as '20, "depending on regulatory approval." Plans for the sportsbook include a "two-floor bar and restaurant accessible from inside the arena during games and from the street" even when the Washington Wizards and Capitals are not playing. DC law allows for sportsbooks to be licensed in four professional sports venues: Capital One Arena, St. Elizabeth's East Entertainment & Sports Arena, Nationals Park and Audi Field. MS&E Chair & CEO Ted Leonsis said that he is "committed to keeping team operations separate from gambling operations to ensure the integrity of games." William Hill, which became the NBA's newest authorized sports betting operator, "operates more than 140 retail sports-betting outlets in the U.S., along with online betting". The venue will be in the location "formerly occupied by Green Turtle Bar and Grill." Leonsis called the gambling operation "part of a broader set of efforts to appeal to a younger tech-savvy fan base." Leonsis: "Think of it as less of a cocktail lounge and more of a modern sports bar and trading desk. We want it to feel like the best Apple store with the genius bar, because young people are accustomed to that." The partnership is "meant to wall off the betting operation from the interests of Leonsis' sports franchises." MS&E "will not share in the gambling revenue and will be paid rent under a standard leasing arrangement." William Hill will "separately rent advertising space around the stadium and pay the major sports leagues for access to real-time data feeds".

Other:

Flutter Entertainment will "buy Canada's Stars Group in an all-share deal that will create the largest online betting operation in the world by revenue," according to the Financial Times. The "cross-border deal" creates a company worth about $12.3B with annual combined revenues of $4.675B. The deal also is expected to create $172M per year in "cost synergies" before tax. Stars, which owns PokerStars and Sky Betting & Gaming, in May "announced a partnership with Fox Sports to provide sports betting to the U.S." Flutter, which owns PaddyPower and Betfair, bought FanDuel in '18. As part of the deal, Fox Sports will "have the right to buy" 18% of FanDuel at market value in '21. Meanwhile, Flutter's other U.S. partners "will receive equity in Fox Sports." Talk of consolidation in the gambling industry has "increased in the past year as regulation has become tougher in established markets" like the U.K. and Australia. Another "major driver" is the U.S. lifting the federal ban on sports betting last May. Both Flutter and Stars have "expanded tentatively in the U.S." as the sports betting market "cracks open." A merger "could give them the combined firepower to more closely focus on American betters, online poker players and sports fans." This deal "could face significant regulatory scrutiny".

Sources: SportsBusiness Daily; The Athletic; ESPN.com; S.F. Chronicle; Nashville Tennessean; Wall Street Journal; Financial Times

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