Ring Of Sports Marketing

Date archives January 2018

Sports Law

Pro League Commissioners and Owners Now Open to Legal Sports Betting

The most common argument that professional leagues and team owners made in opposition to the legalization of sports betting is that sports betting would ruin the integrity of the game.  Billions of dollars are wagered on sports illegally without sports being tainted, so this claim largely was a public relations move.  Recently, with the United States Supreme Court looking at whether theProfessional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) is constitutional, team owners and league commissioners are softening their stances on sports betting or actively pursuing its legalization.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said:

NBA Commissioner Dan Silver said in 2014 that he was in favor for the legalization of sports betting.  In 2016, former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who was steadfast against the legalization of sports betting when he was the active commissioner, has since changed his mind saying, “Over time, I’ve come to accept the notion that a properly run gambling operation, or gaming as we like to say in Las Vegas, is protective and not deleterious to the health of sports.”


Ringside Analysis:

The NFL had to come to terms with sports betting most recently when the Raiders decided to move from Oakland to Las Vegas.  Goodell and other owners had been against a NFL team in Vegas because of the obvious connections to sports betting.  But even leading up to the official announcement Goodell’s stance on sports betting seemed to soften.  He said that there would be a benefit to regulating sports betting, which would only happen the way he discussed it if it were legalized nation-wide, even though the league still opposes sports betting.  The NFL will also not ask for sports books to not take bets on Raiders games.  A canary in the coal mine moment was when ESPN was able to post betting lines on NFL games.  That may not seem like a big deal but the NFL once pulled media as part of an effort to get ESPN to cancel a show called “Playmakers” that painted professional football in a fictitious league as detrimental to the NFL.

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Boxing / Ratings

ESPN-Top Rank Partnership Showing Signs of Success

ESPN has been consistently losing subscribers on a monthly basis and with $24 billion wrapped up in television rights contracts for the next few years the worldwide leader needed a boost.  Fights like Vasyl Lomachenko’s win over Guillermo Rigondeaux that beat out UFC programming on FS1 in the younger demographics is exactly what the broadcast company needed.

TopRank boxing and ESPN are four months into their four year contract and ESPN is currently paying more for a single Monday Night Football game than they are for the entire partnership with Top Rank, according to Kevin Draper with the New York Times.

The Creative Arts Agency (CAA) is managing the sales for advertisers and sponsorships.  Creating revenue through advertisers and sponsors will be essential to make up for missing out on PPV revenue if the biggest fights and fighters are to remain on basic cable.

Ringside Analysis:

There are a few important takeaways from this article.  First, it seems that Top Rank has learned from the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) mistake.  The PBC sought to buy air time on sports networks and sell the rights themselves, then after a few years sell the rights for the events back to the networks they had previously bought air time from.  However, those results have likely not come to fruition the way the PBC thought and the partnership between Top Rank and ESPN may be a better route to go.  Networks will promote much more often if they have some skin in the game.  One example that Draper points out is that NHL coverage on ESPN dropped after the network was no longer pay the rights fees to broadcast the league.

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