After announcing then temporarily un-announcing a deal, Disney won the loose puck.
Disney Takes Over As Lead NHL Broadcaster
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
Disney made its media rights deal with the NHL official and its networks are set to once again air the league’s live games. NBC will lose its status as the league’s primary media rights partner in the U.S.
The Disney and NHL agreement lasts seven years, from the 2021-22 season through 2027-28. Disney will pay $2.8 billion over the course of the deal, per the New York Post.
ABC gets exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final in four of the seven years. ABC/ESPN also gets to pick which conference finals it wants each season, and half of all playoff games.
Twenty-five exclusive national games will be broadcast on ABC or ESPN with another 75 broadcast on both ESPN+ and Hulu.
More than 1,000 live games per season on ESPN+.
ESPN’s first NHL broadcast was in December 1979, three months after the network launched. ESPN also carried NHL games from the 1992-93 season through 2003-04, and ESPN+ currently streams weekly NHL games.
With NBC’s 10-year, $2 billion deal expiring after this season, talks for the rest of the NHL’s rights continue. NBC is facing off against Fox Sports, said sources.
An NBC spokesman told Front Office Sports that the network wants to remain partners with the NHL: “We continue to discuss a potential future with the league as we focus on the season at hand.”
Texas Rangers First to Allow Full Capacity
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
The Texas Rangers announced plans to open Globe Life Field to its full capacity of 40,518 for the team’s final two exhibitions of spring training and the home opener on April 5.
Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott removed all pandemic-related restrictions on businesses in the state.
If all goes as planned, the Rangers games will mark the first time a sporting event in the United States will be at full capacity since the first round of the Players Championship on March 12, 2020.
Fans will still be expected to adhere to health and safety protocols.
Masks or face coverings are required except when eating or drinking.
Globe Life Field will be entirely cashless.
No tailgating permitted in the first two months of the season.
Refusal to adhere to the guidelines will commence a three-strike rule.
The stadium’s unique design creates air flow whether the retractable roof is open or closed, providing another potential safeguard.
“We will continue to monitor developments and implement the necessary public health measures,” said Neil Leibman, the team’s COO and president of business operations.
After the opener, the stadium will have socially-distanced sections for the remaining home games this season.
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One Loss with Big Implications for Juventus
Juventus FC/Design: Alex Brooks
When Italian soccer giants Juventus crashed out of the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday, they lost more than a notable European game.
A second straight failure to make the UCL quarterfinals dropped the team’s stock price by 9% the following day. The club has been hit hard by the pandemic and resulting attendance bans, and its stock price has been stuck 30% lower than its pre-COVID mark, per Bloomberg.
Questions loom, from the stability of inexperienced coach Andrea Pirlo to the tenure of 36-year-old superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
The legendary Portuguese forward, who received ample blame for Porto’s clinching free-kick goal, is signed through June 2022 and is the face of the Juve brand. The team’s stock more than doubled over the summer of 2018 when it brought in Ronaldo from Real Madrid.
The Nike-sponsored athlete’s presence has been credited for the team’s renewed agreements with brands like Allianz, which holds the club’s stadium naming rights, and Jeep, which signed a $55 million-per-year renewal on its jersey sponsorship deal in December.
“The renewal of [Ronaldo’s] contract is not an issue on the agenda for the immediate [future] — there is time to talk about it,”said team sporting director Fabio Paratici.
As for Pirlo, the club confirmed that he will remain through May, with the board deciding then whether to retain him. Much of that decision hinges on overcoming their 10-point deficit to Serie A leaders Inter Milan.
Roblox Finally Goes Public
Roblox/Design: Alex Brooks
After multiple delays, video game creation platform Roblox went public on Wednesday via a direct public offering. The company’s value has exploded during the pandemic.
Roblox is its own sprawling universe that gives users tools and incentives to create their own games and entertain each other.
Developer payouts are the company’s largest expense, reaching $328.7 million in 2020, nearly double the previous year.
Over 1,250 developers earned more than $10,000 in company currency Robux, which can be converted into cash, and around a quarter of that group had six-figure earnings on the platform.
Daily active users climbed to 32.6 million last year, and players spent 30.6 billion hours on the platform.
Roblox generated $923.9 million in revenue in 2020, an 82% lift over the year prior. The company also raised $520 million in a Series H funding round in January at a $29.4 billion valuation — a massive increase from its $4 billion valuation a year earlier.
In its first day of trading, Roblox stock jumped 54% from the $45 reference price and closed at $69.50, giving the company a market cap of about $45 billion. There is buzz that Roblox could follow in the footsteps of GameStop as the latest “meme” stock.
Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki’s stake is worth $4.6 billion after the company’s stock market debut.
Neil Rimer, a friend of Baszucki’s from Stanford, is a founding partner in VC firm Index Ventures, which owns shares worth $3.7 billion. Baszucki’s brother Gregory owns a $1.1 billion stake in Roblox, too.
Using Data to Maximize Sponsorship ROI
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A team of Yale researchers worked with the NBA as part of a saliva-based COVID testing experiment. The Yale team was recently granted an emergency use authorization by the FDA for SalivaDirect.
Gray Television Inc. and Envy Gaming, which owns the world champion Dallas Empire team in the Call of Duty League, announced that Gray is leading a $40 million Series C investment round in Envy.
Skier Danelle Umbstead, a three-time Paralympic bronze medalist, co-founded the Sisters in Sports Foundation. The organization aims to inspire women and girls with disabilities and mentor them in pursuing sports.
Twenty-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer returned from a nearly 14-month absence following two operations on his right knee. He beat Dan Evans in the second round of the Qatar Open, his first match since the 2020 Australian Open. Get more stories like this in Sports Section — a free, daily newsletter. Click here to subscribe.