Moving the needle for sports technology

Release Notice: SBJ Unpacks will not be released tomorrow before the holiday. It will return on Monday November 28th.

Tonight in Unpacks: SportTechie and SBJ announced their Power Players in Tech, highlighting the innovators and advocates of sports technology.

More headlines:

  • Oak View Group’s naming rights deal for CFG Bank was a whirlwind one
  • World Cup delivers big numbers for Telemundo/FS1
  • College Football’s 2024 release window isn’t a delay, according to EA
  • The media dominance of the NFL is increasing
  • Comment: D&I is moving up the agenda for purpose-driven brands

In today’s Morning Buzzcast, Abe Madkour examines the 49ers-Cardinals “Monday Night Football” pitch at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, how FIFA and Qatar navigate choppy waters, and Disney’s new CEO Bob Iger 2.0 begins to flesh out his plans share.

In this week, sports techie and SBJ introduced Power Player: Sports Technology of the year 2022 with 53 people from 46 companies, teams and leagues who initiate technological innovations in sports.

While some of the honorees may be well-known athletes who have embraced technology, much of our list includes analysts, engineers, entrepreneurs, investors — and yes, even evangelists — who want to use technology to enhance performance in sports, be it for the shop, in the field or over the internet.

Some of the honorees are:

For the full package in SBJ click here.

Driveline Baseball has helped drive data-driven innovation in esports.

When Oak View Group started work on the old one Baltimore Arena‘s $200 million renovation in April, Dan Griffis faced a daunting task: bagging a naming rights deal sooner than later. He told SBJ’s Bret McCormick that it’s usually a process that takes “a year and a half, two years.” But OVG closed that deal in just two months, thanks in part to an eager local partner CFG bank. Griffis confirms this is a $3.5 million 10-year term with a 10-year renewal option.

“It’s been a very short sales cycle on this one,” Griffis said. “They started construction last March, so basically they had to get a naming rights deal in place right away.”

OVG is a partnership with the Baltimore Development Corp. and Thirty-five ventureswhich is Kevin Durant and Rich Kleman‘s co-founded venture capital firm on the arena’s renovation. In October, it announced singer/producer Pharrell Williams was a new equity investor. The venue is set to reopen in early 2023 and is already scheduled for events like the one CIAA Men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and concerts Bruce Springsteen and Blink 182according to the Baltimore Sun.

Griffis said the deal with CFG was “probably the easiest naming rights negotiation I’ve ever been in, the most collaborative.” He noted that the Baltimore-based bank “wants to use the building to do more good for the community.”

Closing this deal in such a short amount of time is likely a relief for the busy OVG, which Griffis said has worked on 18 naming rights deals over the past 30 months.


FIFA World Cup Viewership for the opening game had risen sharply since the 2018 opening game Russiareports Austin Karp of SBJ, with FS1 and Telemundo Reporting a combined average of 7.23 million for the EcuadorQatar fit. That was a 128% increase over the opener between Russia-Saudi Arabia (3.17 million on Fox/Telemundo).

Of course, this game took place during the normal summer window for the Worlds, starting at 10:30am ET on a Thursday. Breaking it down further, Telemundo had the most viewers at 4 million during the opener (3.17 million on TV and 832,000 on streaming, including peacock). How good was that? It beat the numbers for all but four of the 48 group stage games in 2018. The four with better numbers were games with Brazil and MexicoKey teams for Telemundo viewers.

Over at FS1, TV+Streaming viewership was 3.23 million for the English broadcast of the opening game, a huge increase from 1.72 million for the Russia v Saudi Arabia match four years ago.

However, the most interesting nugget might come from the app store: Peacock was the most downloaded free app on Sunday and Monday.


EA Sports will start EA college football in the summer of 2024. While some reported that this was a delay – as EA had never announced a release date – it’s not an actual delay. But it’s a disappointment to hopes that 2023 would see an EA college football sim return for the first time since NCAA college football 2014.

In an interview with ESPN, EA Sports VP and GM Daryl Holt discussed the development of the game. Announced in 2021, EAs Tiburon studio (this also makes the Madden NFL series) had to start development from scratch as the giant game publisher and developer hasn’t made a college football game since 2013.

The upcoming game will not use player images and likenesses, although EA has licensed logos, teams and stadiums from CLC. The publication declined to comment on other partners at the time.

EA Tiburon used frostbitethe same game engine first developed by DICE‘s battlefield Team using Madden NFL and other EA games. Frostbite features fantastic physics, but developers have noticed its flaws in previous EA games. EA also wouldn’t disclose the size of the team working on it, noting that it’s at a different stage in its production cycle than Madden NFL and that comparing the two’s team sizes wouldn’t compare apples to apples.

Annual sports game franchises are among the most lucrative in the industry. They carry both a premium price tag and millions in in-game transactions for modes like EA’s Ultimate team. Until October, NPD faction‘s tracking of US Software sales show that Madden NFL 23, MLB: The Show 22 and FIFA 23 are among the top 10 best-selling games of the year.

NPD Analyst Matte piscatella SBJ tells SBJ that the last college football game to make the top 10 annual sales was in 2006, when NCAA soccer 07 finished third behind Madden NFL 07 and war implements. He added that from 2007 through the end of the franchise, it mostly ranked in the top 20.

That NFL is on track to add a record number of games to its top 100 most-watched shows of the year, reports SBJ’s Austin Karp.

As of November 14, the NFL had 74 of the top 100 broadcasts. Including the top game of the season, the cowboyspacker Tilt, which drew an even larger audience than some wildcard games in January. Thanksgivingis to be expected NFC East duel between the cowboys and Giants will probably top that.

That Olympia are number 2 in the top 100 thanks to six overnight stays Beijing winter games.

For the full breakdown see SBJ media Newsletter.


In this week’s SBJ Media Newsletter, John Ourand examined:

  • As Bob Iger‘s return as Disney CEO can play for ESPN
  • The analyst reaction to Iger 2.0
  • Essential reading on Iger’s return

In tonight’s comment, Drew BarrandCommercial and Sales Manager laureuswrites that brand projects promoting diversity and inclusion (D&I) have received a lot of focus over the last 12 months and have generally grown faster than many other areas such as sustainability.

“Brands seem to prioritize targeted projects specifically designed to encourage underrepresented groups to participate in sports or physical activities that can benefit both physical and mental health. Campaigns using sport for good also have the added benefit of helping other communities regroup and connect after a two-year lockdown. The long-term consequences of the pandemic are yet to be known, but the need to get diverse groups into activities Involving, particularly underserved communities, women and girls and people with disabilities, has perhaps never been more important.”

Read the full post here.

  • Sources say SBJs Adam Star the Fox sports is expected to use a rotating third stand element for his NASCAR Shipments in 2023.

Eight VIP guests attended the Jets Patriots game at Gillette Stadium as guests of Panini and its NFL NFTs



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