The NFL’s Bad Media Calls

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 10.25.2016

rodgersIt seemed like the NFL was getting it when they signed on with Twitter to live stream the first 10 Thursday Night football games. Then they limited the amount of original content with NFL footage that the 32 teams could post on social media outlets such as Twitter. Lately, the media has been abuzz with the ratings decline through the first seven weeks. It appears that the NFL is calling the wrong plays when it comes to media.

Drew Harwell of the Washington Post penned an article a week or so ago trying to explain the possible reasons for the TV ratings decline. There are many variables that are effecting the ratings including the Presidential Election, cord cutting, and an aging demographic.

Harwell made a couple of interesting points in his article. First, during the 2000 and 2008 Presidential Elections, the league saw a ratings decline. Second is that overall TV viewership among those 24 years old and younger is down some 40%.

Another intriguing variable is the cord cutting. While apps like Sling TV and Watch ESPN increase in usage it is not enough to offset the viewership decline on traditional TV. What this means is that, yes people are watching in “non-traditional” ways (via mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc) but these numbers are big enough to say ‘hey, people are just watching this way vs the traditional way.’

One way to embrace those younger fans is to reach them where they are. On mobile devices and on social media. Kind of thought that the NFL was doing this when they signed the deal with Twitter to steam the Thursday Night games. Then they limit game highlights on team social media accounts. The teams have come up with some creative solutions that help feed their fans desire for info but also troll the NFL league office at the same time.

The NFL should be the leaders as far as video distribution on social networks. This should be one of the most important things that the NFL does outside of the game itself. Do bad ratings lead you to not watch a game on a Sunday? Probably not. Does bad social media discourage you from following your favorite team? Probably. If you can’t see the awesome one handed catch by Julio Jones that everyone is talking on Facebook then where do you expect someone 25 years old to see it?

Overall, the NFL isn’t going anywhere but they can certainly stop shooting themselves in the foot. They can do this by getting their content to fans where fans are which is everywhere. Will ratings take a hit? Sure but you’ll make up that revenue and exposure on other platforms and on some platforms that haven’t even been created yet.

The New Gambling That Isn’t

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Like many of you out there we wondered it ourselves, ‘how is FanDuel and DraftKings legal?’ They advertise winning money off of sporting events. That sure looks and smells like gambling. It is however not gambling according to federal law and these two entities look like they are here to stay.

Fantasy Sports Guys

Some outlets have asked this question and a Forbes article from September pretty much nailed itEssentially these companies are walking the fine line between ‘skill’ and ‘chance’. In other words, you have to have some skills and knowledge to win one of their daily contests while gambling is perceived as pure chance (or so says the law).

Screenshot 2015-10-03 14.07.04

We can imagine that there will be legal challenges sooner rather than later. In fact last month Rep. Frank Pallone called for hearings on the daily fantasy sports organizations We figured that he was just annoyed by the amount of ads he had to endure during the kickoff of the 2015 football season. The Representative from New Jersey should know, as Adam Kilgore states in his article for the Washington Post:

In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gaming and Enforcement Act (UIGEA) specifically defined fantasy sports and carved out a law protecting them. The lawmakers behind the act did not consider daily fantasy sports, because they did not exist at the time.

Laws do outlaw sports gambling online but as we all know, if you want to gamble online, you can. You can still do it legally in Nevada too.

FanDuelThis can really go one of two ways; first these daily fantasy sports sites find legal protection and this paves the way for the lifting of the ban on sports gambling nationwide or some conservative legislatures try to move these sites under the gambling label and outlaw them on a national level. There would be some very wealthy people who would have a vested interest in seeing these sites go away. Some of them donate a lot of money to politicians too.

We’re leaning to the former here at Sideline Signals and here is why, they have influential well financed backers.

The backers for DraftKings and FanDuel include the following according to Crunchbase:

MLB Ventures, Major League Soccer, NBA Ventures, Google Ventures, Comcast Ventures, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner Ventures, NBC Sports Ventures and the Kraft Family. Not to mention VC firms like Atlas Venture.

Not every sports entity is excited about the rise of the daily fantasy sports leagues. The Power 5 conferences have asked the leagues to pull back from collegiate sports. Not the NCAA but the Power 5 conferences. They will take their sponsorship money, but apparently don’t want them promoting betting on college athletics during their games. Sounds American enough.

Capitalism shows us time and time again that if there is a loophole in a law people will find a way to drive a truck through it. In this case it’s a very public loophole with some big, deep pocket people driving semi’s through it. Could these two daily fantasy sports sites lead to lifting the nationwide ban on sports gambling? Only time will tell. What we do know is that you will be seeing ad’s for these two sites for the foreseeable future.

Further Reading:

NY Times

NPR

Business Insider

 

UPDATE:

It looks like legal inquiries will be happening even sooner for daily fantasy sports companies. The New York Times is reporting what amounts to insider trading at DraftKings. As the article by Joe Drape and Jacqueline Williams states:

The statements were released after an employee at DraftKings, one of the two major companies, admitted last week to inadvertently releasing data before the start of the third week of N.F.L. games. The employee, a midlevel content manager, won $350,000 at a rival site, FanDuel, that same week.

This is the first major PR and legal hurdle for the industry. It will be interesting to hear how it plays out and if this means government restrictions for the industry.

Does The NCAA Need A New Leader?

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

With the opening of fall camp for college football the talk seems to be on everything off the field rather than what’s going on on the field. The main focus of the media attention, and the NCAA, has been on Johnny Manziel (aka Johnny Football) and to some extent Jadeveon Clowney. The attention is warrented since they are the two biggest names in college football right now however the NCAA is in a horrible position as far as investigating any wrong doing by either player.

Did they or did they not take money for signing autographs?‘ This seems to be the main point that the NCAA is looking into as far as Manziel and Clowney are concerned. The NCAA is still reeling from a botched investigation of the University of Miami and has had an apparent “brain drain” when it comes to investigators. The NCAA also does not have subpoena power outside of it’s jurisdiction. Meaning that someone outside of the NCAA (buisness owner, fan, family member) does not have to talk to the NCAA or turn over any documentation.

NCAA INVESTIGATIONS

While member schools attempt to abide by the NCAA rules, the NCAA is quickly losing credability with universities, athletes and fans.

Is it time for a change at the top?

MARK EMMERT

Mark Emmert has been in charge for a little over three years now and has been by far the most visible President in NCAA history. However he may not be the person to take the NCAA into the 21st century.

Recently Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos purchased the iconic newspaper The Washington Post. While this is making big headlines no one really knows what its going to mean for the paper. Most seem to agree that a tech titan like Bezos with his bottomless checkbook and business track record could be the one to turn the Post, and the print journalism industry as whole for that matter, once again into a profit center.

JEFF BEZOS

Should the NCAA look into someone similar to lead them on their road back to credability? Maybe a more forward thinking person who will embrace the new challenges in this every changing world? Someone with experience implementing change in such a large organization and a track round outside of academia? Someone who can see into the future a little better, make adjustments, and still enforce rules?

Someone like a former General Stanley McChrystal. Here is a former General who led combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Someone who had to adapt to a new enemy and implement change in an organization that is very slow to recognize it.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal

With or whithout change at the top the NCAA has a credability issue. It botched a major investigation, got caught being hypocritical, and is doing a poor job of listening to the public and the universities they oversee. Change better come soon or we could soon see the industry run over the regulator.