Bulls of the week
It’s been a bullish week for Reebok in the sport sneaker sweepstakes.
The No. 3 global shoe brand began by bringing in some big names as president of basketball (Shaquille O’Neal) and vice-president of basketball (Allen Iverson).
Shaq then made headlines by signing Louisiana State University women’s basketball star Angel Reese to a huge NIL deal, suggesting it was just a sign of things to come for Reebok in basketball.
It was another good week for NFL TV numbers, with last weekend’s showdown between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles drawing an average national U.S. TV audience of 26.09 million viewers. The game on FOX became the most-watched NFL game and most-watched American TV show since the Super Bowl last February.
Meanwhile, boosted in part by last week’s Taylor Swift sighting at Arrowhead Stadium in the Kansas City Chiefs’ win over the Denver Broncos, Amazon is basking in the glow of an impressive season of NFL audience numbers in what is Year 2 of its exclusive Thursday Night Football rights’ deal.
Not including this week’s win by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the New Orleans Saints, the Amazon streaming service is driving an average national audience of 13.6 million fans, not far behind the overall NFL average of 17.3 million per game.
Thursday Night Football is up 20.6 per cent year-over-year, a gratifying number for the NFL, Amazon and the future of streaming.
NFL parity should continue to help those numbers grow.
Last week, the Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers — the last two undefeated teams — saw their perfect records come to an end. They go into the weekend at 5-1, tied with the surprising Detroit Lions when it comes to best records in the NFC. Almost as surprising are the Jaguars, who went to 5-2 Thursday night. Also off to great starts are the Miami Dolphins and Chiefs, both 5-1 going into Week 8.
Yet with Tom Brady in retirement, the seven-time Super Bowl champion had as good a week as anyone in the business of sport.
After being officially confirmed as a minority owner of the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA on Oct. 2, Brady became a WNBA champion on Oct. 18 when the Becky Hammond-coached team beat the New York Liberty in four games to become a back-to-back titleholder, while scoring the biggest attendance in league history for principal owner Mark Davis, who also owns the Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL.
Bears of the week
Major League Baseball is having a good post-season, with pace of play much improved this year.
Yet until the middle of this week, baseball was being almost too efficient. After seeing all four wild-card series swept in two games, the best-of-five Division Series in the NL and AL took only 14 games — only two above the minimum — to complete, and the League Championship Series both began with 2-0 leads.
Going into the weekend, things began to turn toward competitive balance. The Battle of Texas in the ALCS is now tied at 2-2 and the Arizona Diamondbacks trail the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 with Games 4 and 5 on tap this weekend.
The post-season is baseball’s showcase and long, competitive series are what the game’s stakeholders — TV and radio rights-holders, sponsors and merchandisers — want to see. Television numbers are optimized in the destination TV of a seventh game in a best-of-seven championship series.
You can believe that commissioner Rob Manfred is wanting a long World Series to be set up by long league championship series featuring three of the top seven media markets in the U.S.
Tom Mayenknecht is the host of The Sport Market on Sportsnet 650 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Vancouver-based sport business commentator and principal in Emblematica Brand Builders provides a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans. Follow Mayenknecht at: twitter.com/TheSportMarket.
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