January 10, 2022

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Front Office Sports


Recruiting has definitely changed during the NIL era. Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams was offered $1 million to play at Eastern Michigan by former NFL quarterback Charlie Batch, an EMU alum.

Bally Sports/Design: Alex Brooks

Sinclair Broadcast Group is close to securing deals to air NBA games on its new streaming service, along with $600 million of financing to support the expansion, according to Bloomberg.

The deal would provide Sinclair’s sports network unit, Diamond Sports Group, with regional digital rights to the NBA, adding to the broadcast rights Sinclair already owns.

The funding would also help Diamond develop the new streaming app in the first half of 2022 as it manages $8.1 billion in debt, a byproduct of its sale to Sinclair in 2019 and a recent drop in viewership.

Sinclair has joined forces with Bally’s Corp. to combat the losses in the last couple years.

  • In November 2020, it secured a naming rights deal with Bally Sports for $85 million over 10 years to hold its 21 sports networks under the Bally name.
  • That same month, Bally’s acquired sports betting platform Bet.Works in a deal valued at $125 million.
  • In March 2021, Bally’s completed its acquisition of free-to-play sports game provider Monkey Knight Fight for roughly $90 million.

Present and Future

Sinclair posted $1.5 billion in revenue in Q3 2021, the same amount generated in Q3 2020.

The flat performance was the result of declines in subscribers and advertising revenue, which dropped to $446 million during the quarter, an 11% decrease year-over-year.

Sinclair, which currently owns TV rights for 16 NBA teams, projects 4.4 million streaming customers by 2027.

Design: Alex Brooks

Dick’s Sporting Goods has raised its full-year outlook following strong third-quarter earnings and favorable projections for Q4 2021.

The retailer expects full-year same-store sales to increase between 25.8% to 26.1%, up from a previous target between 24% and 25%.

Dick’s also expects adjusted earnings in Q4 to range between $3.45 and $3.55 per share, up from analysts’ forecasts of $2.92 per share.

Dick’s has been fairly aggressive with its moves over the past year.

  • In March, the company launched VRST, a men’s athleisure brand, at 400 brick-and-mortar locations.
  • A month later, it opened its 100,000 square foot “House of Sport” location in Victor, New York.
  • In November, the company announced a deal with Nike, linking the brands’ respective membership and loyalty programs.

Strong Performance

Dick’s posted $2.75 billion in net sales in Q3 2021, a 13.9% year-over-year increase. Consolidated net income reached $316.5 million for the three months ending Oct. 31, 2021, up from $177.2 million in net income for the same period a year prior.

The company spent roughly $15 million on COVID-related safety costs during the 39 weeks ending Oct. 30, 2021 — but ended Q3 2021 with roughly $1.37 billion in cash or cash equivalents.

PPA/Design: Alex Brooks

Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is uniting two of the major organizations behind a growing sport: pickleball.

The NHL team owner’s Dundon Capital Partners is buying the Pro Pickleball Association and Pickleball Central. The deal for Pickleball Central includes the company’s retail business and the professional event tracking site.

“The sport of pickleball grew by 20% last year and now counts over 4 million participants in the U.S.,” said Pickleball Central CEO and co-founder David Johnson.

“The investment also provides a multi-million dollar commitment to enhance and extend the capabilities of the Pickleball Tournament’s state-of-the-art technology platform,” the company shared in a statement.

  • The paddle sport exploded in popularity during the pandemic, particularly among players 65 and older.
  • Cities have been building dedicated pickleball courts or allowing players to repurpose tennis courts. Pickleball is played on a 20-by-44-foot court (a tennis court is 36-by-78-feet and can accommodate multiple pickleball games).

Growing Sports Portfolio

Dundon has shown interest in other sports properties. His investment firm holds a stake in Topgolf, and he invested $70 million in the Alliance of American Football, a short-lived pro football league that began play in February 2019.

The AAF only lasted eight weeks before Dundon suspended play. He has since sought to recover his investment following the league’s bankruptcy, claiming that the founders misled him as to how much money was needed to make the league viable.

Rights Free/Design: Alex Brooks

Video game retailer GameStop announced a plan to build an NFT marketplace over the summer. Now, that plan is beginning to crystallize.

The company is creating a division to not only sell NFTs but also “establish cryptocurrency partnerships,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • GameStop has hired more than 20 people to work on the initiative.
  • It’s attempting to enlist game publishers and developers to sell on its new platform.
  • Two crypto companies are “close” to signing deals with GameStop to “share technology and co-invest.”
  • The company expects a “dozen” more to sign agreements. It will “invest tens of millions of dollars” in these companies.

Following the WSJ report, GameStop’s stock shot up more than 20%, though it dropped back to $140.62 by market close Friday.

New Business Outlook

Over the past several months, GameStop has focused on reinvigorating an ailing primary business model of selling in-store video games.

The company posted a net year-over-year increase of $1 billion in sales in Q3 for a total of $1.29 billion, but the overall business saw a net loss during the quarter of $105.4 million.

GameStop’s foray into the world of crypto is only one of several steps the retailer has taken. Last year, it added two former Amazon executives to its C-Suite.

The retailer also benefited from last year’s trading bonanza induced by “meme-stock enthusiasts.”

  • FOX and CBS have landed deals with Athletes Unlimited to broadcast basketball games for the network of professional women sports leagues. Athletes Unlimited tips off its 30-game basketball season on Jan. 26 in Las Vegas.
  • Pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports has secured exclusive media rights for the French Open in 10 Southeast Asian markets. The deal runs from 2022 through 2026.
  • IMG Arena has acquired betting data and live streaming rights to the LPGA Tour. The deal allows the betting services company to provide real-time data and in-play betting.
  • E3 has canceled its in-person event due to the concerns regarding COVID-19 cases. The biggest annual video game expo was scheduled for June in Los Angeles.

*All times are EST unless otherwise noted.

*Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.

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