Tonight in Unpacks: Colts owner Jim Irsay became the first NFL owner to publicly call for “serious consideration” to the removal of Daniel Snyder as owner of the Commanders during an impromptu press conference at the NFL owners meetings in New York Tuesday.
- CBS, NBC sees Week 6 NFL viewership gains
- Ishwara Glassman Chrein leaving Fire amid club leadership moves
- The NHL releases its inaugural diversity & inclusion report
- Cavs’ arena gets new premium sponsors for NBA season
- Daniel Ricciardo helps promote EA Sports’ F1 game
- Drone at Petco Park during NLDS spurs federal investigation
- CAA World Congress of Sports retrospective: An industry in transition
- Reader Survey: We want to hear from you!
In today’s Morning Buzzcast, Abe Madkour covers NBA tip-off; Steve Ballmer’s DTC vision and TNT locking in its talent. Also, a breakdown of the early outline of Titans’ stadium deal.
Colts owner Jim Irsay became the first NFL owner to publicly suggest he’d support the removal of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder from the league, reports SBJ’s Ben Fischer.
“I believe there is merit to removing him as owner of the [Commanders],” Irsay said to reporters assembled outside the ongoing league meetings Tuesday afternoon in Lower Manhattan. “I think it’s something that we have to review, we have to look at all of the evidence and we have to be thorough in going forward. But I think it’s something that has to be given serious consideration.”
Irsay said it was unclear whether there were currently 24 votes to remove Snyder, but said “I potentially think there will be.” Several active investigations are continuing into Snyder’s personal behavior and workplace culture issues, including by the House Oversight Committee and an NFL-commissioned investigation being conducted by former SEC Chair Mary Jo White.
Neither have published final conclusions. Irsay said any action on Snyder should wait until those reports are final.
Snyder is not at the meetings. His wife and co-owner, Tanya, was inside the meetings when Irsay spoke.
“It is highly inappropriate, but not surprising, that Mr. Irsay opted to make statements publicly based on falsehoods in the media,” a Commanders representative said. “It is unfortunate that Mr. Irsay decided to go public with his statement today, while an investigation is in process, and the team has had no opportunity to formally respond to allegations. The Commanders have made remarkable progress over the past two years. We are confident that, when he has an opportunity to see the actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they won’t.”
About 90 minutes after Irsay’s comments, the owners convened privately with very limited staff. In that meeting, owners heard a limited update on the Washington investigations, Commissioner Roger Goodell said. Goodell said he told the owners to not discuss Snyder until those investigations are complete. No other owners substantively addressed the Snyder issue.
“There’s no reason for there to be any speculation or discussion at this point in time until we have the facts,” Goodell said. “And there was little or no discussion.”
Irsay mentioned the potential financial irregularities uncovered during Congress’ investigation into Snyder as a possible reason for action, but mostly focused on the general workplace culture and allegations of sexual harassment. “Some of the things I’ve heard just doesn’t represent us at all,” Irsay said. “And I want the American public and the world to know what we’re about as owners.”
He also said: “I just believe in the workplace today, the standard the shield stands for in the NFL, that you have to stand for that and protect that,” Irsay said. “And you know, I just think once owners talk amongst each other, they’ll arrive to the right decision, and I just — my belief is that unfortunately, I believe that that’s the road we probably need to go down. And we just need to finish the investigation, but it’s gravely concerning to me the things that have occurred there over the past 20 years.”
Irsay said Snyder’s reported threats of digging up “dirt” on fellow NFL owners with private investigators to fight back against a removal — a claim denied by the Commanders and Snyder — was irrelevant. Irsay was suspended and fined in 2014 for driving under the influence of painkillers.
“You could investigate me until the cows come home, that’s not going to back me off. It’s irrelevant to me,” Irsay said.
Despite speaking forcefully on the subject for nearly 15 minutes, Irsay said the final results of the pending investigations could still change his mind.
Irsay’s seemingly impromptu press conference was a bombshell in the meetings. Despite the media attention on Snyder recently, there was no formal agenda item about him going into today. Goodell did not know Irsay intended to speak to reporters ahead of time, a source said.
The Fire unveiled a series of moves at the club leadership level, headlined by Ishwara Glassman Chrein moving on from her position as President of Business Operations due to personal reasons. Glassman Chrein, an SBJ Forty under 40 honoree in 2020, joined the Fire in 2021 and departs after expanding the club’s front office relationships within Chicago’s corporate and civic communities during her tenure.
The Fire announced that FC Lugano CEO Martin Blaser will serve as Interim President of Business Operations. The club also has exercised the 2023 contract options for Sporting Director Georg Heitz and Technical Director Sebastian Pelzer.
A rematch of last season’s AFC Championship fueled NFL numbers in Week 6. SBJ’s Austin Karp breaks each window:
- Bills–Chiefs in the Sunday national window drew 25.4 million viewers on CBS, marking the third-best NFL game this season to date and CBS’ best Week 6 audience in 15 years.
- NBC finished with 22.3 million viewers for Cowboys–Eagles in primetime, which is the network’s best figure for the NFC East rivalry since 2015 (six games in that time frame). It’s also up big from 17.2 million viewers for Steelers–Seahawks in Week 6 last year.
- Fox averaged 16.4 million viewers for its Sunday singleheader, which featured Jets–Packers. That’s down 3% from the Week 6 singleheader last year.
- CBS featured Giants–Ravens in its Sunday regional window, averaging 13.5 million viewers. That’s up 7% from the same window last year.
- ESPN (no simulcasts in Week 6) averaged 12.1 million viewers for the Chargers’ overtime win over the Broncos on “Monday Night Football.” That’s down 5% from Bills-Titans in Week 6 last year.
- Amazon averaged 8.8 million viewers to start Week 6 with Commanders–Bears, which is its lowest figure this season to date. The “Thursday Night Football” package is still averaging 10.8 million viewers to date.
The NHL at its BOG meeting today shared its first-ever comprehensive diversity and inclusion report, writes SBJ’s Alex Silverman.
The report includes an overview of the work done at the league level over the past two years, progress and programs by all 32 clubs and the results of a workforce demographic study. NHL Senior EVP/Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs Kim Davis said the league plans to produce the report every two years going forward.
“Leadership is completely engaged, starting with (Commissioner Gary Bettman) and owners, cascading down into the clubs and the league around this work, and committed to continuous improvement,” Davis told SBJ. “We know that it’s a good start, but we have a lot of work to do and we’re willing to lean into that work.”
The report details efforts related to each of the “7 Dimensions” of the league’s approach to diversity and inclusion: leadership, education, employment, marketing, partnerships, participation and community engagement. Driven by increases over the past two years, a majority of NHL clubs are now engaged in a range of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Click here to read the full report on NHL.com.
|NHL WORKFORCE DEMOGRAPHICS|
|Prefer not to answer||2.48%|
|Other/Prefer not to answer||1.34%|
|Other, including Queer/Asexual/Pansexual||0.40%|
|Prefer not to answer||3%|
Two premium areas at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse have new title sponsors that will be in place for the Cavaliers‘ Oct. 23 home opener against the Wizards, reports SBJ’s Bret McCormick. The two clubs will now be called the Lexus Signature Lounge and SeatGeek Members Lounge. Also, the Cavs will be opening a Caesars Sportsbook in the venue in January 2023, when sports betting is officially legalized in Ohio.
The Lexus Signature Lounge is the nicest and most exclusive premium space in the FieldHouse, providing views of the players’ hallway and tunnel. Only 160 memberships are available, and they include a premium dining experience tucked under the seating bowl on the event level. Membership costs vary based on seat location and tenure of the member, though the Cavs declined to share specifics.
The SeatGeek Members Lounge is accessible from the main concourse but is reserved exclusively for members of the Cavs United fan club and the Monsters Hockey Club (season-ticket holders for the venue’s AHL tenant). Members can eat, drink, and socialize before, during, and after games and events. SeatGeek has been the official ticketing partner of the venue, the Cavs and the Monsters since late 2020.
The NBA regular season gets underway tonight, and SBJ has deep season preview sections in both the weekly edition and today’s daily publication. The latest headlines:
EA Sports is working with F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo again, this time to have him promote its F1 22 video game offering free trials this weekend around the Aramco U.S. Grand Prix, reports SBJ’s Adam Stern.
EA, which is doing the promotion in conjunction with game developer Codemasters, is offering the free trials through Monday on PS4, PS5, Xbox One and PC. To commemorate the race, which takes place Sunday in Austin, the game also will have special U.S.-related items like a stars-and-stripes livery for players to use through Nov. 7. In a video released today on the game’s social media channels, Ricciardo gives some tips on how to get round COTA quickly.
EA has set up a special #RicciardoChallenge contest where fans can post on social media using that hashtag (plus #F122gamesweepstakes) through this weekend for a chance at a virtual meet-and-greet with Ricciardo. The driver will also race the winner in the game, the standard edition of which costs $60. Ricciardo is repped by CAA Sports and drives for McLaren Racing through this season, but the team did not renew his expiring contract.
Federal authorities are investigating sports’ latest high-profile drone incident that occurred during the seventh inning of the Dodgers-Padres NLDS game Saturday night at Petco Park, sources told SportTechie’s Tom Friend.
With the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts on first base, the drone entered the stadium’s airspace and dipped near the field of play, forcing umpires to halt the game for multiple minutes. Because a criminal investigation is underway, MLB declined comment. However, the drone flight was a clear violation of an FAA sporting event temporary flight restriction.
Both federal and local law enforcement officials typically investigate drone violations, and, according to sources, MLB will fully cooperate with authorities after this latest incident. Petco Park was the scene of a previous drone incident in May of 2017, when an unmanned object slammed onto the field while the Padres hosted the D-backs.
In other baseball-related tech news, Friend notes Bleacher Report will produce alternative late-inning streams of Games 1 and 4 of the ALCS that will allow fans to live-chat with broadcasters during the game’s tense moments.
The 378-seat Times Center in Manhattan was packed for two days last week during the 21st annual CAA World Congress of Sports, and much of the conversation centered around the disruption and innovation in today’s sports business landscape, writes SBJ’s Erik Bacharach.
Over a stimulating two days, about 750 attendees were on hand for panel sessions featuring four league commissioners among a slew of other top executives in and around sports. Oak View Group co-founder and CEO Tim Leiweke: “We are an industry that talks to each other. You think other industries come together and do a kumbaya? No way. That’s an amazing trait and a wonderful trait about our industry.”
Topics that emerged as top-of-mind during the event: the continued rise of women’s sports; the future of the RSN model; and the related themes of expansion and disruption, both watchwords with regards to the MLB playoffs, NBA franchises, the NASCAR schedule and, of course, college football conferences.
More coverage from World Congress:
In the latest edition of SBJ Media, John Ourand covers:
- Fox still in no rush to create any direct-to-consumer streaming platform
- Apple looks to be differentiator with MLS deal
- Overheard in New York at CAA World Congress of Sports
- NBC drew 22.2 million viewers for Cowboys-Eagles on “SNF”
Sports Business Journal’s Reader Survey is back! This year’s questions take a broad look at the industry and the many changes that have occurred in recent years. Questions include:
- What was the sports business story of the year?
- Have you watched LIV Golf this year?
- Is NIL good or bad for college sports?
- How have your sports betting habits changed in the past year?
The survey will take no more than six or seven minutes to complete. Click here to cast your votes and look for the results in SBJ the week of Dec. 5.
- The NBA and NBPA launched their new NFT fantasy basketball game with Sorare, the Paris-based gaming company, reports SportTechie‘s Andrew Cohen. Fans can buy and trade digital cards of NBA players to build five-man fantasy lineups for competitions against other users on Sorare’s website and app, starting Oct. 21.
- Tennessee football’s walk-off win over Alabama on Saturday led to a boon in e-commerce sales, reports SBJ’s Josh Carpenter. According to Fanatics, UT was the top-selling NCAA team and was in the top 10 of all teams over the weekend (college or pro level). The Vols also saw a 100% spike in sales compared to the previous weekend.
- IBM Canada reached a new multiyear agreement with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment to become the official sponsor for cybersecurity and technology consulting services for both the Raptors and Maple Leafs. Activation plans include enhancing Raptors Uprising (MLSE’s official NBA 2K League team) through IBM services.
- Combat sports streaming service FITE used a “hologram” to virtually display Manny Pacquiao at his pre-fight press conference in L.A. last Thursday, notes SportTechie’s Cohen.
- MGM Studios unveiled the new trailer for “Creed III,” directed by and starring Michael B. Jordan. The film, due to hit theaters in March of next year, is the latest addition to the “Rocky” universe, the most successful sports-themed film franchise of all time.
- Boston-based venture capital firm Will Ventures has tripled the size of its second fund to $150 million thanks to its approach of investing in sports technologies with the help of its community of athlete backers. The firm will continue to invest in seed-stage companies in the consumer, health, sports and entertainment sectors.
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