NetWorks Sports Industry News – Girls Who Run the World (Sports World, that is)!

Girls Who Run the World (or Sports World)
Written by Angela Taylor

This goes out to all my girls
That’s in the club rocking the latest
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later

Who Run the World? Girls!

This goes out to all the women getting it in,
Get on your grind
To the other men who respect what I do
Please accept my shine

Well, there’s no doubt that Beyonce Knowles is certainly one of the entertainers who is running the world these days as is evidenced by her latest hit song (lyrics listed above) Girls Who Run the World.

Hope Solo

Following in her footsteps, it seems like several female athletes have taken Beyonce’s lyrics to heart and are trying to put their own stamp on the sports world.

While the sports industry remains a male-dominated industry and the support for women’s sports (team & individual) is modest at best (but growing), a few women have leveraged their athletic skills to demonstrate their marketability, which may eventually allow them capitalize financially.

The summer of 2011 has seen two injured stars re-acquaint themselves with the winner’s podium (Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova), a young hoops star captivate the attention of the best to have ever played (Maya Moore & MJ), a tennis star captivate a country (Li Na), and a team (USWNT) compel Americans to actually enjoy watching more than one soccer game in a week.

As a result, corporate marketing departments are opening up their vaults to a group of athletes who had only seen modest endorsements opportunities in the recent past.  Now, not to get ahead of ourselves, because the market & ability for female athletes to garner the eight figure endorsements that their brethren make is no where near, but we are making progress.

Here are a few of those individuals who are leading the charge and dancing to the beat of Beyonce’s hit song.

Maya Moore

In May, the #1 Draft Pick in the WNBA Draft, Maya Moore, signed an endorsement deal with Brand Jordan.  Moore, handpicked by Michael Jordan and his Brand Jordan team, was the 1st women’s basketball player to sign on to the brand.  That fact didn’t go unnoticed around basketball circles.  The WNBA and Maya’s representatives are hoping that such a commitment from the legend himself will provide her with an extraordinary platform to build her brand on a global basis.

Women’s tennis has had a huge boost to its portfolio, as the Top 3 highest earning female athletes (according to Forbes) are all tennis players.  The top earner is Maria Sharapova who, it is estimated, earns approximately $24 million per year in endorsements & prize money.  Serena Williams, who is reportedly #3 on the list, is making a bit of a comeback on the tennis circuit after missing a year due to multiple medical issues.  She recently won the championship at the Bank of the West Tournament in Stanford, CA, which could propel her back to the top of the tennis world and certainly carve into that ranking over 100.

The person who recently leapfrogged Serena to take the #2 spot of the list of highest earners is Li Na, who after winning the French Open earlier this summer has had her phone ringing off the hook with endorsement opportunities.  According to her agent Max Eisenbud (also Sharapova’s agent), she has signed 7 deals worth about $42 million over the life of the deals.  These deals include contracts with Mercedes-Benz & Taikang Life Insurance Co.

Yani Tseng

Then there’s newcomer & relatively unknown, Yani Tseng the 22 year-old Taiwanese golfer who has quickly burst on the scene in what is promising to be one of the most dominant golf careers (male or female) that we’ve seen in decades.  With her recent victory at the British Open (winning that title for the second straight year), etched her name in the history books as the youngest golfer – male or female – to win 5 majors. These praises had been reserved for Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, and Michelle Wie.

But probably the biggest story to follow will be Hope Solo’s.  In her two weeks since the Women’s World Cup Final loss to Japan, Solo was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, has driven the pace car at the Brickyard 400, has been on what has seemed like a continuous media tour, had her Twitter followers multiply 30x, and secured multi-year endorsement deals with companies Gatorade and Bank of America.

Solo’s teammates, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, have also capitalized on the momentum.

Undoubtedly, more stars will shine as we are a little over a year from the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  The Olympics always has a way of generating a few household names.  Maybe even putting them on boxes of Wheaties…just ask Mary Lou Retton!

All in all, this is certainly good news for women’s sports.  The added attention & increased dollars being spent marketing these athletes should help to bolster attention & support for their sports here in the United States and around the world.

Who runs the world…for the time being, these five girls (or women) are doing their best to make sure that future generations of female athletes will have the chance to take their talents to the biggest stages in sports!

 

Follow NetWorks Sports on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports and Angela Taylor @AFTaylor22


Industry News – The Role Social Media Plays in Sports World

The Role Social Media Plays in Sports World
Written by Angela Taylor

As we await training camps in the NFL to get underway after a labor deal is finalized and hope that the NBA labor talks can meet a similar conclusion resulting in no games being lost, a hot topic on the sports scene has been the state of social media and sports.

Shaq announced his retirement on Twitter, Deron Williams confirmed his commitment to playing in Turkey by tweeting his signed contract page, and Abby Wambach became a sports hero as the Twitter community erupted during her incredible late game heroics during the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

Shaq capitalized on being one of the first athletes to take to Twitter years ago & is one of the most powerful influencers on Twitter with nearly 2 million followers.  On the eve of the World Cup Final, Wambach joined the Twitterverse and captured over 11,000 followers in just over 3 hours.  Certainly a smart move that could pay immediate dividends for her brand in the near future.

Many have been “late adopters” of social media, but the fact is that social media is here to stay.  Whether you’re an individual trying to build your brand or an organization trying to promote products/services, the various applications on web 2.0 offer you the ability to control your own message while contacting with consumers (and fans) on a global basis.

Here is a pretty dynamic YouTube video about the role social media is playing around the globe from Socialnomics (www.socialnomics.com). Watch video here

The importance of social media in today’s sports world is undeniable.  If you are an organization or someone with a brand you are trying to nurture, it is pertinent that you implement & execute a social media strategy.

Recently, in honor of Twitter’s 5th Anniversary, Sports Illustrated Online (SI.com) published their list of the “Twitter 100″, a list of sport’s movers & shakers on Twitter.   The list is comprised of members of the sports media who have loyal followers, athletes (such as Shaq and Ochocinco) who have used Twitter for financial gain, sports executives who are building their brand in the industry, and eccentric team owners (i.e. Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts) whose timeline is…well, let’s say interesting.  CBSSports.com had their own list that honored Twitter’s 140 characters by naming the “140 Must Follow Sports Personalities.”

What we have found in recent weeks is that social media (namely Twitter) is the ideal platform for connecting during live events and there are no better live events that capture the emotion of consumers more than sports.  The challenge moving forward will be for leagues, teams, sponsors, and networks to figure out unique ways to leverage these resources.  Interestingly enough, social media platforms allow small businesses to connect with fans just as easily as those with million dollar marketing budgets.  It is the great equalizer and has forced all of us to figure out how to maximize it as a tool.

In the last 10 days, Facebook and Google have launched new features for their online platforms hoping to garner customer loyalty and monopolize social communications.  The increase in the variety of these social media platforms has caused some of us to develop what I like to call “adult onset ADD”.  There are so many options.  From Google+ to blogs to Twitter to Facebook….

The list goes on and on, but the journey is just beginning.  We have only just begun to figure out how to utilize some of these platforms.  We have no idea what’s next, but what we do know is that if you’re in the sports industry and you aren’t using social media to connect to your fanbase or your audience, you ARE being left behind.

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Industry News – Pac-12 Media Deal

Impact of New Pac-12 Media Contract
Written by Angela Taylor

While we still don’t realize the long-term implications on the collegiate athletics landscape, a week ago today, Pac-10/Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott stood before an audience of media members, coaches, and athletic administrators gathered in a ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore and shared the nuances of a new 12-year/$3 Billion media deal between the Pac-12 and Fox & ESPN.

The press conference lasted for less than 22 minutes but has captivated the attention of sports executives around the world.  One senses that Larry Scott, through his innovative leadership, is setting the Pac-12 Conference up to challenge what many consider to be the elite conferences in college sports (the SEC and the Big XII).  Watch the press conference here.

Yesterday, the Pac-12 announced their inaugural early TV Schedule for games that will be televised on ABC/ESPN during the 2011 football season.  The schedule, which includes 20 games televised on either Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, pales in comparison to the extensive coverage Pac-12 football & men’s basketball will receive under the new deal.  Fans, however, will have to wait until 2012-13 to enjoy this widespread coverage.

Some highlights of the Pac-12 Media Contract

  • Twelve year, $3 Billion contract from 2012-13 to 2023-24
  • Pac-12 schools have agreed upon an equal revenue share model, so annual revenue will be distributed equally to all 12 schools on an annual basis
  • There is an annual escalator throughout the life of the contract, but schools will average $20+ million per school year over the 12-year period
  • Pac-12 also created Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will own the Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Enterprises
  • Forty-four regular season football games & 68 regular season men’s basketball games will be broadcast across ESPN or FOX national broadcast networks or national cable networks.  For more on the read the press release.

One of the more interesting aspects of the deal is that Scott was savvy enough to convince UCLA & USC to share the wealth equally.  USC, a program that many consider to have as strong a brand as the University of Texas while residing in the 2nd largest media market in the United States, probably had enough clout to hold out for a larger share.  Nonetheless, each of the teams in the newly formed Pac-12 conference, will benefit greatly from Scott’s aggressive & innovative negotiations over the long-term.

The Pac-12 owns a plethora of content (academic & athletic) to distribute across the different channels and intends to do so when its Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Digital Network come to fruition.  As the Big Ten can attest, getting to the point where the network is profitable may be quite a chore.  A task that can be made easier if Scott can find a way to negotiate a relationship with a cable provider to ensure that the new channel is available in households across the country.

So while the long-term verdict is still out, Scott & the Pac-12 get two thumbs up for the monumental shift of the college landscape that we all witnessed one week ago.