Monday, June 30, 2014

Pick 6: Brands, Stories, and Trends Shaping Sports Business #3

Here are six news bites (had to work in a Luis Suarez reference somehow) from sports business:

1. Mike Trout Gets New Shoes... His Own

A pro athlete getting his own model or brand of sport shoe is not a novelty, but Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout's new Nike Lunar Vapor Trout is noteworthy. Trout is the first MLB player since Ken Griffey, Jr. to get his own shoe. At age 22, Mike Trout seems to be at the beginning of an illustrious career, both as a baseball player and product marketer. Will Mike Trout reach the athlete endorsement stratosphere occupied by a select few such as Tiger Woods, LeBron James, and Peyton Manning? Or, will he be a superstar endorser from a sport not generating as many top tier marketers?

2. WNBA Shows Its Pride

The WNBA has embarked on a campaign to embrace the LGBT community. The league held its first Pride Game during a recent televised game between Phoenix and Chicago. Messages of equality and tolerance from WNBA players such as Phoenix's Brittney Greiner articulated the league's stance on rights for same-sex relationships. Will other leagues follow the WNBA's lead to explore ways to be more inclusive in their target marketing? 

3. Connecting Fans for a Better Game Day Experience

Technology has been a blessing and curse for sports properties. Innovations like HDTV, online streaming, and social media have improved the quality of the digital sports consumption experience for fans and keeps us connected to our favorite sports in ways that we could only dream about previously. The curse is that technology innovations have changed our expectations of how we consume sports at live events, too. The frustration of spotty Wi-Fi availability at sports venues detracts from the experience fans are accustomed to in other places where they consume media and sports. The result might be a decision to stay away from venues and consume where technology access is assured. To that end, college athletic departments are stepping up investments in digital media and infrastructure to complement the pageantry of their games.

4. San Francisco Giants Go Green with Edible Garden

The San Francisco Giants have built a reputation as one of the most progressive MLB franchises, and its latest initiative falls in line with their cutting edge image. An edible garden will soon be open to fans at AT&T Park. Visitors will be able to pick greens from the garden and use to dress their food purchases at the ballpark. The Giants enlisted outfielder Hunter Pence to participate in the garden's unveiling. Professing to be environmentally conscious is one thing; taking steps to go green and demonstrate that commitment is a larger undertaking. 

5. 120 Sports: ESPN for Cord Cutters

An estimated 7.6 million households have "cut the cord," opting not to subscribe to cable or satellite services. One of the greatest content voids cord cutters experience is lack of sports entertainment. A new venture, 120 Sports, aims to fill that void with a blend of classic sports and original programming delivered via streaming video. MLB and NHL are among the equity partners in 120 Sports, signaling a desire for this innovation in the sports media space to succeed. Will 120 Sports become the next ESPN?

6. Sports Media Beats Aereo... Now What?

One of the most anticipated decisions from the current session of the Supreme Court involved broadcast television companies efforts to stop Aereo, an upstart company that offers consumers an alternative to traditional TV reception. At the heart of the litigation was Aereo's service model, which is based on subscribers receiving signals from local over-the-air stations via tiny antennas that enable them to watch on TV, computer, or other web connected device. Sports properties such as the NFL were vehemently opposed to Aereo, believing its users were getting access to content by bypassing the broadcasters that pay billions for TV rights. The Supreme Court ruled against Aereo, and the company has suspended operations for now. Will sports properties and their media partners use this "close call" as motivation to explore options that give sports fans more access to sports content?