Tech brands seeing value in MLB team deals


Tonight in Unpacks: Even as the tech sector is hitting road bumps in the economy, brands are lining up to sponsor MLB clubs. SBJ’s Derick Moss looks which brands can be seen at ballparks.

Other headlines:

  • NFTs, fan experience among key topics at Horizon Summit
  • Fanatics, Nike go deeper on college sports business
  • Op-ed: Troy Vincent on purpose behind NFL Africa Initiative
  • Marchand & Ourand dish on Big Ten, UEFA media prospects
  • NWSL moving HQ from Chicago to New York
  • WNBA All-Star Game sees best audience in years
  • Riot Games hands out suspension to TSM CEO

Miss this morning’s Buzzcast? SBJ’s Abe Madkour looks at Tiger Woods talking very tough on LIV Golf, but will others listen and follow? Also, Adam Silver and the NBA hit $10 billion in revenue, LeBron to tout LIFEWTR and Paul Archey takes the reins at JMI Sports Properties.

The tech sector may be scuffling in the economy at-large right now, but MLB teams keep finding new sponsors in the space, notes SBJ’s Derick Moss. A look at the top brand searches on the SBJ Atlas platform in June reveals several new brands coming aboard with MLB clubs:

  • Panzura: The startup signed a deal with the Marlins to provide data management, collection and video archive services.
  • NetApp: The cloud services provider is a first-year sponsor with field-level signage for the Astros.
  • Shift4: This year, the payments processing firm signed new deals with the Giants and Marlins and will handle payments for food and beverage for both teams.
  • TD Synnex: The local tech giant, considered the most lucrative public company in the TampaSt. Pete market, signed on as a first-year signage sponsor with the Rays.
  • Wasabi Technologies: The cloud storage outfit signed a multiyear deal with Fenway Sports to be a Red Sox sponsor. The company previously teamed up with FSG on the Wasabi Fenway Bowl, and is also the cloud storage sponsor of Liverpool FC and the Bruins.

For more sponsorship insights, visit the Signage Insights section of SBJ Atlas.

The Horizon Summit, co-presented by SBJ, SportTechie and the 49ers, continued today at Levi’s Stadium. Here are a few of the sessions coming out of Santa Clara.

49ers and Elevate Sports President Al Guido during a break at Horizon Summit also hit on a few topics:

  • On why it’s a fascinating moment to be involved in sports: “Consumption is through the roof. If you look at ratings, they’re really up across every single sports metric. If you look at the in-stadium experience, we’ve got more fans paying higher dollars to come into events. The demand for live sports, both in venue and out of venue, it’s never been higher.”
  • On how the pandemic reminded us of the importance of live events: “As fans who love going to live sporting events, we got a little lazy. We love our couch. We love our flat screens. We love our mobile. But I think once it was taken away … you wanted to immediately go back.”

Fanatics has entered into an exclusive long-term arrangement with Nike to produce men’s and women’s fan apparel and headwear for a select group of Nike’s top schools, reports SBJ’s Michael Smith.

The deal’s framework is similar to Fanatics’ merchandising models with Nike for the NFL and MLB, where Fanatics makes the fan gear and Nike produces the performance products that are worn on the field or court.

The specific Nike schools were not mentioned, but the top Nike football schools include Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Ohio State and Texas, among others. The Fanatics-Nike college deal starts in the summer of 2024. Fanatics will design and manufacture fan apparel, replica jerseys, headwear, sideline apparel and women’s fan gear.

The overall program will include collaboration with the Fanatics College division, which already partners with most of the Nike-sponsored schools.

Tonight’s op-ed is from Troy Vincent Sr., the former NFL player who is now the league’s exec VP/football operations. Vincent writes about the league is giving back through its NFL Africa Initiative.

Ghana and other parts of West Africa … are only generally familiar with American football. These developing and underserved areas prefer soccer; on any given day, one can see children dividing up into teams, playing sandlot soccer often with an old, deflated ball or sometimes even a coconut. But that is starting to change because the NFL, led by both current players and legends with direct ties to Africa, is formally introducing American football to the continent. In June, the league held its first event in Africa with the express purpose of identifying talent, growing the sport, driving fandom, and, most crucially, giving back.”

Read the full contribution here.

Sports media’s two biggest rights deals that are available at the moment — the Big Ten and UEFA Champions League — are the first two topics on this week’s “Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast.”

Andrew Marchand and John Ourand provide updates on what viewers can expect once these deals get signed. The two also look at Matthew Berry’s decision to leave ESPN after a 15-year run, where he may be headed and why the move makes sense. They also look at who will replace Berry as the face of ESPN’s fantasy sports business.

Other topics include a new on-air role at ESPN for Robert Griffin III and the latest on the NFL Sunday Ticket negotiations.

Listen to the podcast here, or watch the video here.

In this week’s SBJ Marketing newsletter, Terry Lefton breaks news on:

  • PepsiCo moving LeBron James from Mtn Dew Energy to LIFEWTR
  • Two Circles to sell Sharks jersey patch sponsorship
  • Kern Egan‘s Multiplier agency making moves, brings on Invisalign‘s NFL business

In this week’s SBJ College newsletter, Michael Smith digs into:

  • How the Big 12 made the call to go with Brett Yormark as commissioner
  • USC, UCLA getting full revenue distribution in Year 1 of their move to the Big Ten
  • How John Swofford held the ACC together a decade ago
  • What college sports telecasts fall in the top 50 shows on TV for 2022 to date?

  • The NWSL will move its HQ from Chicago to N.Y., where it will open an office in September, reports SBJ’s Alex Silverman. The league will still have some staff in its existing office in Chicago’s South Loop.
  • As David Roberts completes his first full year as ESPN‘s head of NBA and studio production, he has seen interest in the NBA Summer League continue to grow considerably, writes SBJ’s Eric Prisbell.
  • The WNBA AllStar Game averaged 734,000 viewers on Sunday afternoon on ABC, marking the event’s best audience since 2015, when ABC and ESPN combined to draw 746,000 on a Saturday afternoon, reports SBJ’s Austin Karp.
  • Data distributor Sportradar will add an athlete-focused wellness program to its integrity services menu, offering education and training to help college and pro players deal with the potential impact of legalized sports betting on their mental health, reports SBJ’s Bill King.
  • The Professional Triathletes Organization and Warner Bros. Discovery reached a multiyear partnership to broadcast live and on-demand coverage of the PTO Tour, writes SBJ’s Juwan Watson.
  • OneTeam Partners signed a multiyear partnership with the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association to become its exclusive licensing partner and to manage/commercialize group licensing rights for NWSL players, reports SBJ’s Liz Mullen.
  • Riot Games placed TSM CEO Andy Dinh on probation for two years following its investigation into allegations of harassment from multiple employees of the esports team outfit, reports SBJ’s Hunter Cooke. TSM, which fields a team Riot’s North American League of Legends circuit (LCS), also fined Dinh $75,000 and mandated sensitivity training.


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