Welcome to the another edition of Ad Age Sports Media Brief, a weekly roundup of news from every zone of the sports media spray chart, including the latest news on broadcast/cable/streaming, sponsorships, endorsements, gambling and tech.
I got watches I ain’t seen in months / Apartment at the Trump, I only slept in once
While Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL is a savvy move by both parties—it generates more money for the rapper/art collector/husband-of-Beyoncé and could go a long way toward earning the league some of the goodwill it squandered with a significant subset of its fan base—not everyone is turning cartwheels over the partnership. As The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill writes, while the deal gives Jay’s Roc Nation “significant power in choosing the performers for the league’s signature events—including the coveted Super Bowl halftime show” and should “help augment the NFL’s social-justice initiatives,” the entrepreneur’s about-face has left some observers believing that Jay-Z is throwing Colin Kaepernick under the proverbial bus.
The man with the name “Shawn Carter” embossed on his American Express Black Card faced a flurry of questions about his justifications for teaming up with the NFL, a seeming paradox given that Jay-Z has been such a vocal supporter of Kaepernick. “I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice, correct?” Jay said during yesterday’s press conference. “This is the next thing. … So what are we gonna do? You know what I’m saying? [Help] millions and millions of people, or we get stuck on Colin not having a job.”
Kaepernick hasn’t been listed on an NFL roster since the end of the 2016 season. Among the players who weren’t satisfied with Jay’s response was Panthers safety Eric Reid, who as The Undefeated's Jason Reid notes, was “the first to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem.” Reid balked at the rapper’s framing of the situation, tweeting, “It looks like your goal was to make millions and millions of dollars by assisting the NFL in burying Colin’s career.”
As Hill sees it, there are two Jay-Zs. There’s the hip-hop artist who showed his support of Kaepernick’s fight against racial injustice by sporting the former quarterback’s jersey on “Saturday Night Live.” Then there’s the plutocrat who just got into bed with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The same man who spat “Once I said no to the Super Bowl / You need me, I don’t need you” on the 2018 track “Apeshit” also fired off this salvo on Kanye’s “Late Registration”: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”
Green Bay Packers quarterback and Man of the People Aaron Rodgers wants fans at Lambeau Field to get make some noise this season, and if that means rolling back prices on Miller High Life and Terrapin’s Hopsecutioner IPA, so be it. “I’m up for anything that’s gonna get the fans as loud as possible,” Rogers told reporters Wednesday. “Maybe slash some beer prices or something, would be a good idea.”
As Sports Illustrated’s Dan Gartland notes, it is perhaps unwise to encourage Wisconsinites to drink even more beer than they already put away over the course of a home game. In a study of arrests made at NFL games between 2011 and 2015, Green Bay had the seventh-highest average number of busts per game (7.2). FWIW: The fan bases most likely to have a run-in with Johnny Law were San Diego Chargers enthusiasts [?!?], with 24.6 collars per game, followed by the Giants (22.5) and Jets (21.5). Only in New Yawk*, baby!
*er, New Jersey
The following segment is brought to you by SoulCycle (j/k!)
Irrepressible Barstool Sports scamp Dave Portnoy is at it again, flaming snowflakes with his anti-union stance and subsequent attacks on New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing reports, it was all in a day’s work for the Masshole multimillionaire, who drove loads of traffic to his site and more or less owned Twitter during Wednesday’s kerfuffle.
But did the Chernin Group’s most visible employee cross a line? Or as attorney Matt Weir told Liffreing, “Is the brand exposure and the impressions on a single day in August worth the possibility, however small, that employees might not be in on the joke?” If we could bet on it, we’d put a kidney on Portnoy skating away and merrily counting his money, because that’s just how things work in the Land of a Million Stoolies.
Portnoy closed out his day by doing a victory lap on a Tucker Carlson-free installment of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” where he characterized his detractors as “idiots” and “nitwits with no talent” before referring to Ocasio-Cortez as “a moron” and “an idiot.” Portnoy went on to claim that Barstool on Wednesday “had the biggest day we’ve ever had” in terms of traffic to the site.
Ross the Boss
CBS Chief Ad Revenue Officer Jo Ann Ross told Sports Business Daily’s Thomas Leary that the network is “pacing slightly ahead of last year at this time” for NFL ad sales. The Eye Network, which draws a huge crowd every autumn weekend with its Sunday afternoon NFL package, is reaping the rewards of an unduplicated and massive live audience—last season, CBS’s eight national broadcasts averaged 21.7 million viewers and an 11.9 household rating, up 5 percent versus its year-ago deliveries—is seeing a good deal of business coming its way via pharma.
Ross said it also helps that CBS has the much-ballyhooed Cleveland Browns slated for two coast-to-coast broadcasts, including an Oct. 27 trip to New England and a Dec. 1 clash with division rivals Pittsburgh. Other than the Dallas Cowboys, who always guarantee out-sized ratings, the Browns this spring were the must-have franchise for NFL rights-holders CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN.
Another stumbling block for Sunday Ticket
DirecTV’s going to have a hard enough time hanging on to its NFL Sunday Ticket service as it is—the satellite-TV operator is likely to have to share the road with one of the FAANG set when/if the league triggers its opt-out clause at the end of the upcoming season—but a new court ruling now suggests that the package is in violation of antitrust laws. Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter has the details of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. (It’s a little dense and we’re no Lionel Hutz, but the upshot is that DirecTV could be facing a class action lawsuit that might put Sunday Ticket on ice.)
DirecTV said it “respectfully disagree[s] with the court’s ruling,” before adding, “It’s important to note ... that the court did not rule that the plaintiffs’ allegations were true; only that they had alleged enough to proceed with their case. We will continue to fight this case.”
Better safe than sorry
The NFL Players Association has issued a “Work Stoppage Guide” to its union members, a gesture designed to help prep them for a possible lockout or strike that could occur at the close of the 2020 season. The current collective bargain agreement between the league and the NFLPA expires in March 2021. Among the tips offered in the 36-page guide are hints about modifying one’s lifestyle (“Don’t go out to eat as much. Instead, try cooking at home”), budgeting one’s income (“Save at least half of each check, if not more”) and a few thoughts on handling the media (“show solidarity”).
The document also serves as a reminder that the NFL is a giant ATM—the 32 teams in 2018 “generated more than $14.5 billion” and the NFL since 2011 has “secured an 82 percent revenue increase for its TV deals”—and that the average player has about three years in which to earn a paycheck.
The last time the NFL faced a work stoppage was in 2011; the lockout stretched from March 12 to July 25. Per terms of the deal, NFL players received 55 percent of all league media revenues.
When first-year Patriots defensive end Chase Winovich waxed Shakespearian on his Instagram page, Tom Brady savagely redirected the rookie’s literary flights of fancy (h/t: SaturdayTradition):