Archive for the ‘#es480’ Category

What can the NWSL learn from previous leagues?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

The American Basketball League and the United States Football league had a few similarities as to why their leagues folded after 3 seasons. Firstly, both leagues had to compete against other major pro leagues in the same sport. According to the Remember the USFL website, the USFL (United States Football League) had to compete with the National Football League (NFL).  The two leagues competed for TV time, coaches, players, and fans. They were both promoting football, but the two teams were competing for the money. The USFL filed two lawsuits against the NFL in order to claim money they felt had belonged to them which had won the lawsuits.

The American Basketball League (ABL) had to compete against the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the WNBA.  Just like the USFL and the NFL, these basketball leagues had to fight over TV time, coaches, players, and fans.  The American basketball league did however attracted better talent than the WNBA, thanks to better salaries and benefits.  But the league was unable to compete for coveted sponsorships and television contracts.

The USFL however had more of a problem when it came to their post season play. There was not much of an east and west or a north and south division, so every time it came to the championship it would be two teams from the same coast. Fans did not like this so much, so they did not want to see the same teams in the championship and would not attend these games. Another problem the USFL experienced was salary cap issues. The New Jersey generals, just like the rest of the league, wanted to make a name for themselves and ignored their salary cap in order to sign big time players. Even though they get the big time players, they had big gaps in the rest of their team and did not have such a good season which had cost them their fan base.

The ABL and USFL may have not lasted past 3 seasons, but that is no reason to say that other pro sport leagues can’t make it. The national women’s soccer league could learn a few things from the American basketball league and the United States football league. First of all, they should learn from the ABL, to compete with other same sport professional seasons. The ABL competed did not compete with one, but with two same sport leagues which ultimately led to fight for over television rights and fans.  The National Women’s Soccer League does not want an owner to be the commissioner because they don’t want there to be any issues revolving around conflict of interests.

Also, the soccer league should learn from the USFL and should split their league into two divisions, so come post season play; there will be two teams from different divisions playing against each other in the championship. Different divisions call for more fans to spectate. The women’s soccer league should also limit their franchise changes. The USFL had too many franchise changes and the fans did not like it, which had brought down the teams’ fan attendance.  The soccer league should also have their season during an off season for other pro leagues, so that they do not have to compete as much for TV time and fan attendance like the ABL had to.

America’s Pastime

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Major League Baseball has a rich tradition with fiery and passionate fans. At first ABC tried to negotiate with teams to sell television rights. At first only three teams agreed to these terms.  Major League Baseball wanted fans to come to the ball park and wanted to keep coverage of the games local and did not allow ABC’s Game of the Week to air  within 50 miles of the ball park. This made matters worse for ABC who was trying to do anything to stay afloat during this time. The MLB has grown incredibly since the 50’s and the money television networks puts up shows this. Starting off in 1984 the original contract between NBC and ABC was $126 million. ABC putting up $56 million and NBC $70 million. Those two networks started the trend more national coverage and others soon followed suit. Now the heavyweights for baseball coverage are FOX, Fox Sports 1, TBS, and ESPN. Each network shoveling at least $300 million a year towards coverage. The numbers have increased and along that the fans have increased. These huge television contracts fuel long-term salaries. According to the Detroit Tigers have a reported $568 million committed to long term contracts between Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder, and Miguel Cabrera. Local television contracts fuel this contracts by supplying money to the club. These facts lead me to believe that the contracts will only grow in order to keep up the ever-growing salaries for players. This has been foreseen ever since the early 1880’s by then Chicago White Stockings owner Albert Spalding.  “Professional baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest of the public must be increased in some way.” – Chicago White Stockings owner Albert Spalding, 1881 (Forbes).

Fox Sports 1 Ad


The History of the NBA and its TV Rights

Monday, April 28th, 2014

nba logo     tv logo

The National Basketball Association has a rich history of growth since their first television contract in the 50’s. One piece of quantitive data to represent this development is television rights deals. When we examine this information we see how the amount of money involved in the network and cable contracts has increased with each contract. This growth is consistent and exponential.

One important differentiation to understand is between “network” and “cable” television. Network television has been around longer and is delivered to homes through radio waves. Cable television was a later invention that came to surface around the 80’s. Cable TV essentially un-monopolized the network television market allowing for more viewer choice.

As the name implies, it is delivered to homes via cable. For purposes of this blog we will avoid redundancy by just talking about “network” television. The network and cable contracts both show similar trends. The network deals were between the NBA and networks such as ABC,NBC, and CBS.

celtics v lakersBird, Magic, and JordanLBJ

The NBA’s first “network” television contract was in the 1953-1954 season for $39,000 .  In the 1973-1974 season the contract ballooned to a 3-year contract worth $27 million dollars.  An explanation for this could be the NBA’s dramatic increase in popularity with the domination of players such as Bill Russell and Wilt The Stilt Chamberlin in the 60’s.

Another large jump in revenue was between the 1986-1990 and 1990-1994 contracts. The contract value went from $173 to $601 million. This can be equated by the phenomenal marketability of key players and teams such as Magic Johnson and the Lakers, Larry Bird and the Celtics and the emergence of a young Chicago Bulls star named Michael Jordan. If we were to name all of the influential players of the 80’s, by itself the list would greatly exceed our 250 word minimum blog!

The NBA’s current network contract was signed in 2008 and is the longest and priciest TV contract in the league’s history: 8 years and $7.44 billion . The forefathers helped grow the league into a powerhouse and current star players such as LeBron James continue to elevate the status of the league. However, the increase in talent and media coverage makes it difficult to see the ceiling in terms of NBA TV rights growth.

NBA Basketball

One last important point to make: The NBA has a large global marketplace. It is currently broadcasted in 215 countries. None of the figures we discussed included data beyond the United States.






History of the WNBA television rights

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The WNBA currently has TV rights with ESPN. I believe that it is escalating because just recently I was able to watch the WNBA Draft just a couple a weeks ago. According  to ESPN W, last year was the first time ESPN had shown the draft in prime time television.  This is definitely a sign of progress. The league recently signed a new agreement that allows up to 30 live games to be televised each season on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and WatchESPN, including coverage of the playoffs, draft and All-Star Game. 30 games is not much, but it is better than nothing. Right now, the WNBA is the only female professional league that is being televised and they should not take that for granted. Some exposure is better than nothing. According to sports business daily, the deal is worth $12M per year, which amounts to about $1M per WNBA team, and runs through the ’22 season.

ESPN has always had a contract with the WNBA since 1997, but it was through the NBA. The viewing numbers are not as high as the NBA, but they are better compared to other professional sports that ESPN covers. According to sports business daily, the WNBA Finals averaged more viewers on ESPN2 than IndyCar did on NBCSN and the U.S. Open Series tennis events did on ESPN2.  This is great for the WNBA because these numbers are steering away from the stereotypical answer of “nobody watches or they don’t draw crowds”. With the opportunity given to the WNBA from ESPN, the numbers are increasing and are showing that this sport can draw viewers! ESPN must believe or at least have faith in the league because of the recent agreements to a new contract that is extending their deal.

I think that the contract has extended because of the hype around certain female basketball stars. The stars such as Britney Griner and Skylar Diggins, because they had such a fantastic college career and people would follow them into their professional career. The star group does not end there. This year, the WNBA will be getting more talented stars that people will want to follow. For example, Shoni Schimmel, she will bring a spark to the professional game just like she did while at Louisville. A lot of people will follow her not only because of the upset she had over Britney Griner last year, but because she will draw the native american crowd. The Atlanta Dream is already planning on hosting a Native American night May 30th in order to draw the bigger crowds, knowing that the native american community will follow Shoni Schimmel.  Also according to her twitter page, her first week of having her professional jersey up for sale online, the jersey sold out in a matter of a couple of days. So with fans excited about Shoni going to the WNBA, I see this year’s viewing numbers increasing!

I only see good things happening for the WNBA. I see the talent getting better and better. It is only a matter of time before the games start getting shown more often because soon more people will demand to see the games.

NBA TV Rights and Deals

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The NBA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now. Since basketball is played all around the world, it has grown a huge fan base and the commissioner knows that the fans want to watch as many games as possible. One of the TV rights deal the NBA made was in 2000, which was a six year contract with ESPN, ABC and TNT, which ended in the 2006-2007 season. The NBA makes a majority of its money through their TV rights, with the past deal making $767 million, which include the traditional TV rights without the Digital media that is becoming more popular. The recent TV rights deal was made in 2007, which last until the 2015-2016 season, with ESPN, ABC, and TNT, which will have a 20 percent increase in revenue to $930 million, and $7.5 Billion by the time it ends. This new deal also includes Digital media rights showing live games online and any new ESPN outlets they create from now until the contract is up. The value of TV rights has continue to escalate because sports are at a high demand by people all over the world, and though many cannot go to the actual games and watch them, television and broadcasting of these games help those who cannot attend the actual games. They also look at television ratings of team by the amount of people who watch the teams that are being played and goes into consideration on what games they will show on TV, so that they know what people want to watch. ABC will continue to air 15 regular-season games and the entire NBA Finals and will televise an increased number of games earlier in the playoffs. The maximum number of times a certain team can appear on the network during the regular season has also been increased. ESPN and ESPN2 will continue to show up to 75 regular-season games as well as one of the conference finals. ESPN will increase the number of early round playoff games it airs. TNT will continue to air 52 regular-season games, the All-Star Game and one of the conference finals.

Adam Silver, the new commissioner of the NBA, is currently putting together a panel to help him in negotiations for future TV right deals. Another deal that the NBA has made is with two former ABA owners, who earned money form the TV rights from 1976-present, also known as the “Greatest Sports Deal of All Time.” This deal was finally ended with the NBA putting an upfront payment of $500 million two the two owners to the end their rights of receiving money from the NBA for their TV rights.


Monday, April 28th, 2014

The National Hockey League, or NHL, doesn’t quite have the coverage like the other three major sports in the U.S.  Hockey has had numerous broadcasting companies own the rights to their games, starting in 1950 with CBS.  One of the most famous video clips in NHL Stanley Cup history, Bobby Orr’s famous flight goal, was broadcasted by CBS.  Throughout the years the NHL television rights has changed hands numerous times.  Companies that have owned the rights to broadcast NHL games include; CBS, ESPN, ABC, FOX, and currently NBC.


Ice hockey has grown in popularity but has yet to, and probably will never hit the popularity of the MLB, NFL, or NBA.  Despite this “lack of interest” ice hockey television rights has increased in cost and profit.  The NHL thrives in Canada and recently signed a deal with Rogers Communication for a reported 12 years, $5.2 billion, beginning in the 2014-2015 season.  Here in the US, hockey takes a back seat to the other three major sports, but the NHL signed a new deal with NBC for 10 years, $2billion.


I think that the value of television rights for the NHL is growing because the sport is getting more and more popular each season.  The addition of the Winter Classic, an outdoor game held on New Years, and the Stadium Series, a series of outdoor games, has helped bring in fans. The stadium series has been a huge boost for NHL popularity the past season. My dad who never watches hockey turns on stadium games just because of the entirely different look and feel of the game.


Although TV deals are seemingly more important and are an indicator of how popular a sport is I’m not sure why this is. Radio viewership is increasing exponentially while TV has taken an almost 50% dive in the past years. Even though TV viewership is down advertisement deals are at an all-time high which definitely is driving much of the profit based TV-sport deals. Could it be that entertainment deals are a flexing tool as much as they are a profit tool? I believe so.




NCAA Pac12 TV Deal

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The NCAA has many conferences based on east coast, west coast, north, and south. The biggest conferences have their own TV program that shows all their games for men’s and women’s teams. The Pacific-12 Conference made a TV deal in 2011 called the Pac-12 Network. The network consists of seven networks/channels that give 24 hr broadcast of the teams who are in the Pac-12. When the Pac-12 was Pac-10, they signed a 12 year contract with EPSN and Fox. the contract was worth more than  $225 million per year, which leads to 2.7 billion for the 12 year contact.

The values of this TV rights deal has increased, even after march madness is over, this season the Pac-12 will be watched even more due to the Stanford women’s basketball team making it all the way to the Final Four. The University of Arizona being #1 seeded in the nation, teams and networks getting bonuses for Pac-12 teams making it further than other conferences’ teams. The value of the Pac-12 has increased by being so competitive whether in footbal, basketball, and baseball.

The “Conference of Champions” consists of Arizona State University, Oregon, University of Colorado, University of Arizona, Standord, UCLA, USC, Cal, Oregon State, Utah, Washington and Washington State. I think the conference is doing very well and makes a lot of money than other conferences, it has grown substantially and will continue to grow as teams get better and bigger. I wish I had the Pac-12 network to watch my favorite team during baketball season, this conference makes the most profit during the season.

NFL and the history of its TV deals

Sunday, April 27th, 2014


The start of professional football can be tracked all the way back to 1869 where modified London football rules were used in a game of college soccer. It wasn’t until 1939 however, that the first NFL game was televised by NBC between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Brooklyn Dodgers. By 1951 the NFL Championship Game was televised coast-to-coast for the first time, December 23. The DuMont Network paid $75,000 for the rights to the game, in which the Rams defeated the Browns 24-17. By 1955, NBC became the television home to the NFL Championship Game, paying $100,000 to the league for the rights to telecast the league finale.

As Pro Football gained in popularity, it rights fees went up causing CBS to pass on NFL Football in the mid 1990’s and allowing the new FOX Television Network to gain a foothold in the broadcast sports realm. Today, the major networks pay upwards of $550 million a year to televise NFL games which can now be seen on cable, satellite and broadcast networks. NFL announced nine-year extensions to its broadcast television packages with Fox, NBC and CBS under which the networks are expected to pay roughly 60% more. The new agreements will run through the 2022 season as the current deals expired after the 2013 season.

The NFL’s new 10-year labor agreement and increased TV rights deals are the reason that NFL teams are worth $1.04 billion on average or twice as much as the average MLB team and three times what NBA teams command. NFL games represent 23 of the 25 most-watched TV programs this fall and they attract twice as many average viewers as broadcast primetime shows. Annually, the NFL redistributes upwards of $4 billion in radio, TV and digital earnings across its 32 teams, roughly $125 million apiece, plus an equal share for the league, and that number shows no sign of declining. The 19 highest-rated fall TV programs (and 28 of the top 30) were NFL games, and this year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched program ever. 5 of the many popular sports networks: ESPN, DirecTV, FOX, NBC, and CBS all have contracts with the NFL of roughly 3.985 billion dollars a season. ESPN pays $1 billion per season (18 games), DirecTV pays $1 billion per season (8 games plus NFL Sunday Ticket), FOX pays $712.5 million per season (102 games), NBC pays $650 million per season (18 games), and CBS pays $622.5 million per season (102 games).

T.V. rights have continued to escalade for the NFL and from what history shows will only continue to keep doing so. A new contract is underway with the NFL and major networks that will keep them under contract till 2022. The fan base is so large for the NFL, do to location in major cities across the U.S. & because of this, the demand for football is high. Households who are unable to see their favorite team live, can sit back in the comfort of their own home and watch the game televised almost anywhere in the U.S. Which is why football is the highest rated fall TV program.

We continue to see an increase in fan base in the NFL which brings in more popularity to the sport. As popularity and demands for the sport increase, more games will be televised, to the point where one day each game will be broadcasted nationwide. However, when that does occur a plateau may occur and profits may stop and just maintain a steady income. If this does occur which will be some time down the road, the NFL being money hungry will expand their horizons and aim for new markets, which is one of the reasons football is trying to spread to other parts of the world; I.E. Canada, Europe. This is also why some games are hosted in London, to help promote football and to expose others about the sport, so during the future it can expand and be broadcasted as a worldwide sport.


History of National Hockey League’s TV rights and why its raising.

Friday, April 25th, 2014

The National Hockey League has had a different history of TV rights deals than most other sports leagues. The first broadcaster of NHL games was CBS. TV rights have also been sold to ESPN, ABC, FOX, and Versus. These networks would have exclusive rights for games that they wanted to televise. The NHL has also had teams seek out their own local TV rights deals. This means the owner for instance of the Colorado Avalanche would seek a deal from a local station such as Altitude. Then for the playoffs, the NHL would sell their rights to a network such as NBC to televise playoff series. They would then sell exclusive rights to the Stanley Cup finals. NBC now has the rights to NHL games and local stations have broadcasting rights.

These TV rights deals have continued to escalate. In 2000 the TV rights deal was worth $120 million a year. In 2012 the rights were worth $200 million a year. In 12 years the worth of the NHL’s TV rights has almost doubled. With major networks such as ESPN, ABC, CBS, and FOX wanting in on broadcasting the NHL, it is expected that this number will only increase every year.

I think this has occurred because of the escalating interest in the sport of hockey. More and more great athletes are turning to hockey. This is causing a rise in interest. Fans of sports are also turning to hockey as an alternative to football during the winter and spring. With increased viewership TV deals rights will only become more lucrative for the NHL. The NHL also has a great playoff system that features four rounds before the final. With most playoff series going at least five games, networks have more opportunity to run sponsorships on the most watched games. I think the NHL will have bigger TV deals in the future because of this growing interest.

Opie Wilson, Kalen Dear

Dr. Houghton





National Women’s Soccer League: Learning from the Past

Monday, April 21st, 2014


The ABL (American Basketball League) most recently, refers to the women’s basketball league founded in 1996 that lasted only three seasons. The league was made up of 10 teams and sprouted during a bright spot in women’s basketball after their 1996 gold medal.  According to the NY Times, the league even paid great salaries for their players, “$50,000 to $150,000 and offered players year-round health benefits and a retirement plan.”  The growth of the WNBA, a brand of basketball with backing from the NBA, and the lack of a major sponsorship eventually led to the demise of the ABL.


The USFL (United States Football League) like the ABL, only lasted three seasons. Naturally the USFL faced issues coexisting with the powerhouse NFL, winning an initial lawsuit against the league before their birth in 1982. The USFL even had contracts with ESPN and ABC to broadcast their games during the NFL offseason. Many teams during the 1983 season exceeded their salary caps by signing big names including Hershel Walker, and Steve Young. The league even made a run for Dan Marino at one point. The league failed to meet these larger financial responsibilities by increasing their marketing revenue.  In their 3rd season and with an attempt to take down Goliath, the USFL announced their season would be the same as the regular NFL season. This turned out to be a detrimental decision and eventually led to the downfall of the USFL.


What can we learn from studying these two sports organizations? First we can learn that it can be difficult to attack a larger league head on. The USFL competed with the NFL and did a fairly good job when their season occurred during the NFL’s offseason. When they tried to take the reins of the market and play their season during NFL season they crumbled. The NFL had already had control of the professional marketplace, a market they had been familiar with since 1920. Once the USFL made the decision to directly compete or dethrone the NFL they were doomed. The ABL didn’t directly take on a powerhouse league, one happened to pop up around the same time as theirs. The ABL was squashed under the foot of the WNBA largely because of their support from the ever popular NBA. Intelligently, the NBA used much of its knowledge about running a successful league and shared it with their new women’s league. The WNBA and the ABL both saw a huge opening in the marketplace for professional women’s basketball in the USA. It was only a matter of time until one would fail due to oversaturation.



The NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) is another league founded in 2012. The situation with the NWSL seems to be a little different than the history of the other two leagues we have examined so far. The beginning of this league is somewhat more of a merger vs. a competition for a growing or currently existing marketplace as we saw with the ABL or USFL. After the downfall of WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer), officials from that league and other high status women’s soccer leagues collectively gathered to discuss past and present issues in hopes of turning the NWSL into a super league.