Welcome to 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 on broadcast/cable/streaming, sponsorships, endorsements, gambling and tech.
The XFL this week took the wraps off the names and logos of its eight franchises, and while the spring football league faces the usual obstacles to success, the hype videos that teed up the reveals had people talking about Vince McMahon’s reboot. More to the point, football fans were gabbing about the XFL just two weeks before the 2019 NFL season is set to kick off in Chicago. That’s something.
If you missed Wednesday’s unveiling, you can check out the whole shooting match here. While the team branding suffers from the usual shock of unrecognition that comes with an off-the-shelf sports league—the monikers give off the same glitchy parallel-universe vibe the Washington Sentinels and Dallas Ropers threw off in “The Replacements” (and the latter always made us think of Norman Fell)—the XFL’s video treatment is pretty damn spiffy. Watch that St. Louis Battlehawks clip (“Their mission: create chaos... Their mandate: win at all costs”) and tell us you don’t want to fight a bird with a giant sword or join the Air Force.
The three greatest XFL logos by far are: a) the DC Defenders badge, which whether intentional or not, serves a visual callback to the first Bad Brains record; b) the New York Guardians gargoyle, which is basically a shoutout to Zuul from “Ghostbusters” (but not enough to get anyone sued) and c) the Seattle Dragons emblem, which more or less looks like that thing that would show up on “Tic Tac Dough” whenever Wink Martindale got tired of some contestant’s meddlesome nonsense.
Bonus points for some of the XFL hype copy, which as the kids are wont to say, is horny on main. Oh, and already someone is mad about one of the XFL designs, which is probably another feather in Vince McMahon’s cap.
The XFL kicks off Feb. 8, 2020 on ABC and Fox.
We can work it out
San Francisco 49ers cornerback and NFL Players Association rep Richard Sherman is more optimistic about avoiding a lockout than he was a year ago, telling NBC Sports’ Peter King that discussions between the union and the league owners “have been much more amicable” than the ones that took place eight years ago. Speaking on King’s podcast, Sherman said the conversations have been far more diplomatic than they were the last time the two sides butted heads over the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“In the 2011 discussions, one side would get up, pick up their stuff and walk out of the room,” Sherman said. “And then discussions would halt for a while and that was the way they manipulated the negotiations and leveraged their power. I think in this negotiation, even when there’s an intense disagreement or guys not reaching the same conclusion on certain things, there’s more discussion. There’s not anyone just throwing a fit and getting up and leaving.”
Sherman went on to say that it while it would be next to impossible to get a new CBA hashed out before the NFL season kicks off on Sept. 5, the relative lack of friction gives both sides “a reason to feel optimism.” He went on to add that the players and owners “understand that there’s a sense of urgency with the way the economy and... the landscape of TV is changing.”
The four-time Pro Bowler and Stanford grad added that he was confident that a deal will get done before the current CBA expires at the end of the 2020 season, and that something would have to go “astronomically wrong” for the two parties not too reach an agreement. Sherman wrapped up the interview with King by cracking that there was “very little chance” that the NFL would implement an 18-game schedule unless the owners wanted to end up with some sort of “Crazy ‘Hunger Games’ of football” on their hands.
I can see for miles
This morning we posted our annual prediction as to which NFL games should serve up the biggest audiences for advertisers and their network partners. As an extra incentive to read the piece, let it be known that we went back and checked our math and discovered that eight of our year-ago projections were within one ratings point of the final Nielsen deliveries. All told, our picks were only slightly inflated, with the average estimate coming in at 1.1 million viewers and one-half of a ratings point over the actual live-same-day numbers. That’s a marked improvement compared to the first time we kicked the tires on this format, when the overage averaged out to +3.5 million viewers/+2.0 HH.
There are also a lot of jokes about Philadelphia.
Now that more networks are trafficking in out-of-home deliveries, Nielsen is about to begin including saloon, restaurant and hotel viewing in its official ratings results. But as John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports, that bid for greater transparency may result in the end of a time-honored TV tradition. As Ourand explains, beginning Oct. 3, Nielsen will include out-of-home viewing in overnight numbers, with an eye toward serving up that data at around 1 p.m. ET instead of the usual 8:30 a.m. deadline.
But some network execs want to squash the new OOH-enhanced “overnights” altogether, because the addition of the OOH data will make an apples-to-Fiona-Apple hash of any year-over-year comparisons. Moreover, the number of markets measured by the OOH overnights will shrink to 44 from the standard 56.
Networks that carry sports will by and large be disproportionately impacted by the new overnights scheme, although it’s worth noting that nobody transacts against the early numbers. Moreover, Nielsen’s national TV numbers, which are released each day at around 4 p.m. ET, will not be affected by the OOH enhancements.
You better you bet
DraftKings is bringing its media in-house, according to Ad Age’s George Slefo. “This Is Our Black Friday,” the daily fantasy sports giant’s home-grown TV/digital/out-of-home campaign, has launched, and as DraftKings CMO Tom Goedde tells Slefo, the break from outside agencies like Deutsch New York will allow the company to be more agile in getting its story out to the football-mad masses.
Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes is suiting up for college football, as the cereal’s enthusiastic mascot will take possession of a postseason bowl game. Per Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl, the 84-year old Sun Bowl will now be known as the Tony the Tiger Bowl. Featuring an ACC squad and a representative team from the Pac-12, the inaugural Tony the Tiger Bowl will kick off on Dec. 31 in El Paso. The rare bowl game that isn’t televised by ESPN or its broadcast sibling ABC, the former Sun Bowl has aired every year on CBS since 1968.
This just in…
Sinclair has completed its $9.6 billion acquisition of the Fox regional sports networks.
Whaddya buy a hat like this, I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh?