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    3 Industry Predictions

    FILE - This Oct. 23, 2018, file photo shows an Amazon logo atop the Amazon Treasure Truck The Park DTLA office complex in downtown Los Angeles. Amazon has eclipsed Microsoft as the most valuable publicly traded company in the U.S. as a see-sawing stock market continues to reshuffle corporate America's pecking order. The shift occurred Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, after Amazon's shares rose 3 percent to close at $1,629.51 and lifted the e-commerce leader's market value to $797 billion. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

    The entertainment, media, and sports industries are similar to many other industries, or life in general, in that change is inevitable.  Four recent new stories brought to mind trends that are likely to occur in the coming months and years.  Two have to do with Amazon, here and here, the third and fourth with Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL). 

    1. Select MLB games Streaming on Amazon Prime

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently announced that franchises will now be able to sell their copyrighted television broadcasts for streaming purposes.  Normally, television broadcasts are produced and sold nationally or through a regional sports network.  Meaning, there are blackouts to local fans wanting to watch their favorite team because it is being broadcast on a national network, cable, satellite, or social media application, etc.  Going forward, one is likely to see the major streamers buying up more sports broadcast rights as the windows to negotiate those rights become available.  In essence, sports matches should hopefully become easier to watch and less expensive under the existing streaming model.  Time will tell. 

    2. NFL games Streaming with Team-focused Agreements

    As the NFL is being challenged in federal court for anti-competitive activity over its broadcast strategy (national vs. local limitation on games being sold), similar to the Chicago Bulls and National Basketball Association (NBA) case in the early 1990s, where the Bulls won the right to sell more of its basketball games as it saw fit.  The Sports Broadcast Act of 1961 already gives American professional sports leagues an anti-trust exemption.  However, the individual team franchises have been limited until now.  One could easily foresee a local victory where more NFL games are broadcast according to the team’s preferences not the League Office.  In closing, more vertical deals between franchise and distributor versus horizontal deals between the league office, which includes all teams, and a distributor.  Amazon again here could be a major player along with DAZN for those sports rights.     

    3. Amazon in a Prime position to Dominate multiple Spaces

    From A to Z, Amazon is well-positioned in the market place because it is diversified.  Amazon has its e-commerce dominance, but also has award-winning television shows, great transportation to deliver goods, and a platform to distribute everyone else’s content for a significant price since it has a large customer base of Prime subscribers.  Amazon is also a major player when it comes to delivering web-based services.  Its first “local zone” in Los Angeles developed with the purpose of offering faster applications will be a test to Amazon’s strength and future in entertainment and sports content distribution and services.  Amazon has already exercised an appetite to buy sports broadcast rights and distribute through its Prime platform, including NFL Thursday Night Football games. 

    Overall, one is likely to see more local broadcasts, or rather more games being available to fans, and for Amazon and others to be a major player to distribute that sports content. 

    It’s Clemson vs. UVA for ACC crown

    Photo courtesy of USA Today

    Clemson had 16 players selected to the All ACC football team, but Dabo Swinney thinks his team gets no respect.

    Even though Tuesday’s college football rankings have them as number 3 again, Swinney and the Tigers must win the ACC conference game vs. No. 23 Virginia to have a shot at the Playoffs.

    If they lose and Utah and Oklahoma wins, they’ll move past the Tigers. After their win on Saturday, Swinney had choice words about the lack of respect for his team.

    “Today’s win is huge from a national standpoint, because obviously if we lose this game, they are going to kick us out of the playoffs,” Swinney said. “They don’t want us there anyway. We’d drop to No. 20, you know? Georgia loses to this very same team, and the very next day it’s, how do we keep Georgia in it? We win to the team North Carolina that beat South Carolina and it’s, how do we get Clemson out?’”

    The Battle Royal

    If UVA wins the Coastal division, it would be their first win since the Virginia Tech Hokies in 2010. But, it will be an uphill battle for Virginia’s defense. It gave up 116 points in November contests.

    While Clemson has allowed 121 points thus far this season, against Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers gave up 483 yards. Trever Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers are on a whole different level. Takeaways suggest setting up Bryce Perkins with a short field and keeping the ball away from Lawrence are critical. Virginia has forced 17 turnovers.

    Clemson’s front seven may not be as good as last season, but it’s still one of the best in the nation. The leader of the defense is Isaiah Simmons. He has 74 tackles and five sacks.

    Clemson’s pass rush does not bode well for Virginia’s offense. They must get off to a fast start to build confidence they can win. If Perkins struggles, the Cavaliers won’t be able to keep up with Clemson.

    Panthers fire Ron Rivera

    Photo Courtesy of USA TODAY

    As we enter the winter season and the NFL coaching carousel takes shape, Don Rivera, one of the most tenured NFL coaches of the decade, has been relieved of his duties.  

    Even with with a former MVP QB out for the season, this year held promise for the Panthers as they were in the playoff race entering November.

    And “Riverboat” Ron lead the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Superbowl appearance against the Denver Broncos.

    However, after an embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins and string of four, straight, second-year losses, owner David Tepper had seen enough.

    “I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” Tepper said in a statement. “I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and this community. I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.”

    What’s next?

    Secondary coach Perry Fewell has been named interim head coach. Norv Turner will be special assistant to Fewell and quarterback coach Scott Turner has been named offensive coordinator.

    Rivera’s downfall might ultimately be due to back-up quarterback Kyle Allen, who made a blazing first impression.

    He played so well when he first replaced the injured Cam Newton, some discussed Allen being the Panther’s future.

    As teams began to store tapes on Allen, however, the football world discovered he’s not the answer. Allen threw the third most-dropped interceptions in 2019.

    And although the Atlanta Falcons are having a down year, the NFC south is usually one of the best divisions in the league.

    Even so, the Panthers have a solid defense. And, with the return of Newton, they should be back in the playoff hunt; depending on who becomes their new coach.

    USF coach, Charlie Strong, fired after 4-8 season

    Photo courtesy of USA Today

    Charlie Strong’s tenure at the University of South Florida was not potent enough to secure his job.

    A 10-2 start in 2017 had USF alumni and fans reeling under the promise of a run. This was they year they’d hoped to return to the top 25.

    However, hopes crashed and burned with an injury-riddled, 4-8 record this year. Athletic director Michael Kelly fired Strong on Sunday.

    “I would like to thank Coach Strong and his staff for their hard work and contributions to our program,” Kelly said. “I have tremendous respect for Coach Strong and his dedication to recruiting and developing young men of talent and character and leading them with integrity. He has represented USF with dignity and class and we wish Coach and his family the very best.”

    Legend of the fall

    Strong’s head coaching career got off to a roaring start at the University of Louisville, ending with a 37-15 record. He recruited several NFL-bound players and led the team to a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida.

    After many missed opportunities at other schools, UofL gave him his first coaching job. Even so, the allure of a blue-blood program was too much as he accepted the head position at Texas.

    Strong was fired after three lackluster years at the University of Texas with a 16-21 record. He signed a five-year, $9.8 million deal with USF in Dec. of 2016.

    With his strong background in recruiting and defense at the University of South Florida, it appeared to be a match made in Heaven.

    Strong took USF from Willie Taggart who departed to go to Oregon. Now, Strong may become a top candidate for several defensive coordinator positions next season.

    When Privacy Becomes You

    Photo courtesy of the Associated Press (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

    What happens when the data collected about you from companies that you utilize knows more about you than you.  Beyond trying to use the word “you” four times in the same sentence to emphasize how much privacy affects everyone, the fact is data is money.  The more data a company collects that it can utilize effectively to make marketing, content, and like decisions that can be sold to other companies and/or used to convert people to customers the more valuable that company will be. 

    This is where the State of California enters the picture and continues to lead the nation in terms of forward-thinking legislation in the entertainment, media, and sports space.  First, it was the student-athletes receiving the ability to profit off of their name, image, and likeness.  Several states and the NCAA soon followed suit.  Now, beginning January 1, 2020, California companies will be regulated for collecting data and consumers will have recourse to file suit when the law is broken. 

    The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), applicable to companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, Disney, Amazon, and Instagram, etc., specifically businesses that have annual gross revenue of more than $25 million, more than 50,000 customers, or where more than half of its revenue comes from selling customer data.  Per The Hollywood Reporter, the law gives “California consumers the right to know what personal information a business is collecting from them; the right to know who it shares it with or sells it to; the right to request that a business delete that information; and the right to stop the sale of their info.” 

    “Almost 300 businesses in arts, entertainment and recreation will meet the revenue threshold, and another 12,000 to 18,000 could be affected under the other two standards, according to an August study by Berkeley Economic Advising and Research . . . The CCPA includes a right to sue for security breaches, which allows courts to award damages of $100 to $750 per consumer per incident.”  It is of note that the onus is on consumers to research the law, know their rights, and to take action to enforce those rights through attorneys. 

    The legislation adds a needed layer of protection for consumers who continue to have data collected from them and used for profit.  Now data in itself is not all bad.  In fact, it allows for companies to make better decisions on how to service their customers (and frankly to sell more of whatever they are selling).  Nevertheless, some engagements can be unsettling, specifically where advertisements and promotions are targeted towards prospective and existing customers.  Nearly everyone has had such experiences. 

    The law will add operational and potential litigation costs for the entertainment industry and beyond.   It could also mean higher profit margins for companies that sell data as data becomes more expensive to collect with the cost passed to the companies that need it to do business.  The question becomes what happens when privacy becomes you.  Meaning, when privacy becomes more important as a commodity to be sold and traded for profit in juxtaposition of you as an individual with rights.  This is where laws hopefully arrive to protect all of us.  That line is now clearer, but it is a balancing act in finding what works and what does not.  We are all living in the present through this life and data industry experiment, figuring out what we as a society are comfortable with and how companies work in that space. 

    Cutting Out the Middleman: Everyone Gets Paid

    Photo courtesy of NBC Sports

    A trend in the entertainment, media, and sports industries is one where as basketball star Kawhi Leonard stated “Board man gets paid.”  Meaning, there is a trend where, and although not exactly what Leonard referred to, comes down to getting rid of the middleman and going direct to consumer to lessen costs, have more control over content, and to monetary participation with individuals who normally did not get a piece of the proverbial pie.   

    Following the NBA and MLB adopting and considering more direct to consumer streaming watch options, there are several examples of this trend in the space. 

    European Tour Caddies reach sponsorship agreement

    Beginning in 2020, The European Tour and European Tour Caddies Association (ETCA) will take a percentage of sponsorship monies that are secured by the Tour.  For an industry and specifically a profession that finds itself moving from golfer to golfer and without a secure financial future the change is welcome to at least guarantee some income.  It will be interesting to see if the American counterpart (Association of Professional Tour Caddies/APTC) follows suit.  Interestingly, the players associations for the NFL and the MLB have also set up a venture to allow its member athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness in video gaming.  This is of course follows the NCAA and California rule changes and law with regard to college athletes. 

    IOC Athletes to benefit from Olympic sponsorship deal with Airbnb

    While not a direct sponsorship percentage deal like the caddies, this Airbnb deal allows and includes all Olympic athletes participating in the next five Games who offer up personal experiences with those paying to make money from those experiences.  Is this a sign of things to come when it comes to sponsorship participation for those who compete?  Without a union, Olympic athletes are at a disadvantage at the negotiating table, but convincing NBC (Olympic television rights licensee) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to give up a portion of its revenue will no doubt be difficult or at least currently possibly impossible considering the Olympic games generally lose money overall depending on location infrastructure spending.  NBC is also looking at utilizing its new direct to consumer streaming platform Peacock to host some Olympic content in Tokyo combined with the traditional linear television model.  

    Streamers adding Subscribers, but Digital TV Devices control the Consumer Highway

    Where streamer content providers like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple+, HBO Max, and Peacock enter and/or dominate in the space, the companies that help deliver those services (high speed internet service providers/ISP’s: AT&T, Spectrum, Cox, Charter, etc.) and (platform/digital television devices: Amazon Prime, Roku, Google Chromecast, etc.) give streamers access to potential customers (e.g., subscribers).  The companies who control multiple aspects of digital distribution will conceivably dominate (Amazon, AT&T/Time Warner through HBO Max) and/or those who broker deals with mobile carriers.  This trend is direct to consumer, but there is a possibility that such relationships could strain as companies jockey for more control and money.

    Scott Satterfield nominated for national coach of the year award

    Photo courtesy of USA Today

    No conference wins, a nine-game losing streak and two wins turned the University of Louisville’s 2018 football season into a nightmare.

    Bobby Petrino’s second stint at the helm of UofL was certainly a roller coaster ride. He was the man behind recruiting Lamar Jackson, the first Heisman trophy winner from UofL.

    But, he was part of an athletic department shaken by scandals for years. Changes had to be made. Enter Scott Satterfield.

    Satterfield turned a dysfunctional program around in just under one year. This year, Louisville has won four conference games (one being against a ranked opponent) and returned the Cards to bowl game eligibility.

    He was named one of 22 semifinalists for the George Munger Coach of the Year award, announced by the Maxwell Football Club. Since the turn of the century, there’s been such a turnaround only five other times.

    Even if Satterfield doesn’t win national coach of the year, he appears to a sure bet to win the ACC Coach of the Year. The Cardinals are projected to play in the Music City Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl or the Military Bowl.

    Before Louisville can think of bowl games and post-season awards, however, there’s still business to be taken care of.

    This weekend, the Cardinals take on Syracuse and close their regular season out with bitter, in-state rival, the University of Kentucky.

    Social Media & Streamers Dive into Sports Rights Purchasing

    DAZN leader John Skipper. Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

    Social media and streamer purchase of live sports content has been more a journey than a sprint.  Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube have all licensed some live sports content to their platforms.  YouTube has had regular season and playoff Major League Baseball games, Hulu has had National Hockey League playoffs, Amazon has Thursday Night Football, while the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer have appeared on various platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

    As the sports content streaming landscape plays out over the next five years, here are the three industry expectations:

    1. Growth of Sports Betting, Sponsorships, and Media Rights

    PwC’s recent report on the industry made it very clear that as sports betting became available and as interest in sports grows for those who place wagers on games, it raises viewership numbers, and therefore the price of sports rights that streamers, social media, and linear television companies are willing to pay.  Of course media rights have been on the rise since the 1990s.  Nothing new there.  However, price will be an essential part of the sports rights buys going forward in terms of who gets involved.  FOX Bet should be a major player in this market based on its platform and existing sports content rights buys through FOX Sports. 

    2. DAZN will be a major player

    DAZN, pronounced da zone, has been buying up sports rights to various leagues and is led by former ESPN leader, John Skipper.  DAZN, for the first time in the over-the-top platform’s history, purchased international Champions League rights for $1.5 billion.  DAZN’s main competitor for the rights?  Sky Sports, which is owned by Comcast (NBCUniversal). 

    3. Platforms will wait for expiring contracts and retiring companies

    There are two trends occurring as the social media and streaming platforms have entered the sports rights purchasing space.  For one, the sports rights deals are shorter in length, which means less money up front and even long term cost.  Second, the social media and streamer platforms are waiting for a couple things to occur: (1) existing sports rights contracts with linear television companies to expire, and (2) for those same linear television contracts to continue to struggle to purchase sports rights and change with the times.  As the article suggests above, the sports that exist today are likely to exist tomorrow, but the same cannot be said of the linear television companies that broadcast those same sports.

    It may be that streamers will continue their dive into sports right streaming, however quick or gracious that may be is yet to be seen. 

    Carmelo is back

    Photo courtesy of USA Today

    Carmelo Anthony, a ten-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA player, last dribbled a basketball for the Houston Rockets during a ten-game stint in 2018.

    Anthony also played for the Thunder, Knicks and Nuggets, having his greatest success with the latter. One of the greatest offensive players the NBA has ever seen, Davis won a scoring title in 2012-13, averaging 28.7 points.

    That season was the last time the Knicks made the playoffs. He’s one of 17 players in NBA history with 25,000 points and 6,500 rebounds.

    But now, another team is seeking Anthony’s talent in the hops of making a playoff run. The Portland Trailblazers have their sights on an NBA title, something Anthony has yet to achieve. Coming off a Western Conference appearance, Portland has had a rough start to the season. 

    And at 4-8, the Blazers have been one of the league’s most disappointing teams. The frontcourt of Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkić and Pau Gasol has all been sidelined by injuries. Their only legit frontcourt player has been Hassan Whiteside, who’s struggled, too.

    A high-stakes gambit

    Portland doesn’t look like a playoff team, let alone a championship contender. Even with star players Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, they’re more like a team in the lottery. While only 12 games into the season, the Western Conference is loaded. The Blazers have to start playing better now before it’s too late.

    While some believed a Kevin Love trade would happen, they instead decided to keep their players from a deep playoff run and bring in a future Hall-of-Famer.

    Melo has seen LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh all win championships from his draft class. That being the case, this could be Melo’s last run in the NBA.

    How the mighty have fallen: UK goes down to Evansville

    Nov 12, 2019; Lexington, KY, USA; Evansville Purple Aces guard K.J. Riley (33) celebrates with forward DeAndre Williams (13) after defeating the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Did that just happen? We witnessed the fall of the number one team in the land and they only held the title for one day.

    The University of Kentucky Wildcats hadn’t lost a non-conference game since the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge against the Kansas Jayhawks. That came crashing down on Tuesday with a 67-64 lost to the Evansville Aces. The Cat’s lost snapped a 52-game winning streak over unranked teams at home. It also marked the eighth time UK has lost under John Calipari with the nation’s leading basketball team.

    “They beat us,” Calipari said. “This wasn’t us giving them a game. They took it from us. They came into Rupp Arena, where not many people win, and they won a tough game.”

    In a homecoming for head coach Walter McCarty, a Kentucky alumnus, the win was a fitting way to return home. The Wildcats came into the game as 24-point favorites. Evansville shot 38% from the field and 9-of-30 from beyond the arc. In comparison, UK shot 4-of-17 from the land of three.

    “I don’t know if anything matches this, other than winning a national championship,” McCarty said. “Our guys stuck together, we executed, and we really trusted each other. It was a team win. I’m very proud of our guys. We’ve got veteran players; I think we match up with a lot of teams well.”

    The defeat shocked college basketball, but even with key players out, the Wildcats should be just fine. Kentucky was picked by many to make a Final Four and will look to get back to their winning ways against Utah Valley. Evansville hopes to keep the momentum going against IU Kokomo.