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Major League Baseball: Ranked by Facebook Fans PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 19 September 2011 14:36

Facebook

Social media. It’s no longer a novelty; it’s a key driver in fan engagement across the sports landscape.

Today, the Boston Red Sox announced that they surpassed 3 million fans on Facebook, adding 1.2 million fans since Jan. 1, alone.

So, how do the Red Sox rank against the other 30 teams in MLB on Facebook? Unsurprisingly, they’re second behind only the Yankees who see a stagger lead of over 1.4 million fans.

But, what should surprise some clubs (and should be something that they take note), those that have an active social media presence and have made it part of their outreach to fans, see significant distance over others, even if they are in small markets and not performing well in the standings.

The best case in point may be the Cleveland Indians who rank 15 out of 30, a higher ranking that the Angels or the Diamondbacks (who rank 29th out of 30), the latter of which is running away with the NL West and the Angels who have a solid fan base and have been flirting on the edge of winning the AL Wild Card.

How does the league shake on out Facebook? A total of 22,838,066 “Liked” team pages as of 4pm on Monday Sept. 19, 2011. Here they are by ranking.

Rank Team FB Followers
1 Yankees 4,548,205
2 Red Sox 3,002,235
3 Cubs 1,394,810
4 Giants 1,172,045
5 Phillies 1,054,336
6 Braves 928,489
7 Cardinals 890,632
8 Rangers 809,369
9 Dodgers 793,205
10 Tigers 785,577
11 W Sox 752,396
12 Twins 688,387
13 Brewers 484,041
14 Mets 475,985
15 Indians 460,694
16 Reds 452,789
17 Mariners 424,204
18 Rockies 392,846
19 Rays 354,900
20 Astros 354,645
21 Angels 351,959
22 Blue Jays 335,585
23 Padres 327,472
24 Orioles 303,676
25 A's 278,080
26 Pirates 263,099
27 Royals 257,876
28 Marlins 201,410
29 D-Backs 183,476
30 Nationals 115,643

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Glenn Beck Marries with MLB Advanced Media for New "GBTV" Online Show PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 11:31

Glenn BeckMLB Advanced Media, the digital rights arm of Major League Baseball, has been a lucrative revenue stream for baseball, filling the league’s (and each of the 30 owners) coffers with a steady flow of dependable cash. One of the key reasons – maybe the biggest – is that they are seen as the industry standard for video online.

So, while you may be scratching your head asking what right-wing politics and baseball have in common, it’s all about the streaming video platform.

Glenn Beck is moving from FOX to his own online network called GBTV. It’s a daring move – going all online – but Beck is gambling that as the adoption of streaming video online becomes more common place (see Netflix, as an example), paying for streaming content will become the norm.

To support what Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts company has in mind, they have brought in MLBAM to stream the shows. With more than 20 sports and entertainment brands in BAM’s portfolio, including ESPN3.com, CBSSports.com, March Madness on Demand, TigerWoods.com, along with MLB.com, it’s a natural fit if you want to have a robust, scalable platform.

Before baseball fans think that MLB is full of right-wingers, they should think again. In an article we published 2007 (see Money, Politics, and MLB's Political Action Committee), we found that baseball owners are virtually split down the middle between Republican and Democratic donations.

What is happening is MLBAM’s reputation of being able to have the backend infrastructure, white label services, operational support and mobile app development that has helped serve millions of streaming game views each year for MLB, works as one nice calling card to whoever wishes to reach a large audience on the web…. fringe politics, or not.


SPECIAL BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK REPORTS:
The Labor Battle in the NFL. See BizOfFootball.com for details

Welcome to the 2011 Business of Sports Network Autism Challenge


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLB.TV Streaming Video to Facebook for Spring Training PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 10:06

In an experiment to see how fans, through social networking, engage with streaming content, you can now watch one MLB.TV Spring Training game in HD per day, free through their Facebook page.

Games started streaming on Facebook two days ago, beginning with the A’s Indians game. MLB.com informs that they have created a special player that embeds the streaming content within the Facebook interface.

Get in on it while you can. According to MLB.com, the experiment will only be going on during the rest of Spring Training. So, get in on at least 2 weeks of online goodness.

In related news, the same offer of one free Spring Training game streaming in HD per day is also available through the At Bat 11 app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
SPECIAL BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK REPORTS:
The Labor Battle in the NFL. See BizOfFootball.com for details


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Major League Baseball Comes to Apple TV PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 10 March 2011 08:44

MLB on Apple TV

With MLB.com’s “At Bat” being the highest grossing, and one of iTunes App Store’s most popular apps, you might have thought this was coming. With little fanfare yesterday, MLB and Apple (AAPL) married up again, only this time it’s MLB.TV for Apple TV.

The bonus? Unlike At Bat 11 for iPhone or iPad, all you need is an MLB.TV Premium subscription ($119.99 for the season). No purchasing additional apps. The downside? According to MLB.com, the product is only available for the regular season – no Spring Training games for the platform, and yes, those nasty blackout restrictions still are applying (see the fine print at the link).

It will be interesting to see how the new platform fits in with Roku and Boxee. What one wonders is, does this signal an increased effort on Apple’s side to really push Apple TV into homes further. There’s been hints of that with the rollout of OS 4.3. We’ll see.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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As 2011 Season Approaches, MLB.TV Now Served 1 Billion Video Streams PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 10 February 2011 08:20

MLB.TV

As the 2011 MLB season approaches, for the fan that looks to always keep abreast of games, the choices have shifted radically over the last decade. Where options were either radio or television locally, now the ability to watch or listen to games isn’t dictated by where you are at, but whether you have mobile or internet service.

Baseball fans have been blessed in that MLB Advanced Media has been the standard for producing streaming video, and as MLB.TV gets ready for the 2011 season, numbers bear that out.

According to MLB.com, the MLB.TV subscription service has now served one billion live video streams since its inception, 25% (250 million) of which were delivered in 2010 alone. The 2011 season packages for MLB.TV are on sale now at MLB.com.

“Fans have continued to demonstrate, in record numbers, their desire to consume live baseball in the most convenient ways possible,” said Noah Garden, Executive Vice President, Revenue, MLB.com. “We remain committed to expanding MLB.TV for our subscribers by leveraging emerging technological platforms and partnerships that deliver a rich experience.”

In 2011, fans will be able to follow every game wherever they are at (those nasty blackout restrictions the exception. Make sure and look closely before purchasing, and see the MLB TV territories map) with MLB.TV support across a variety of mobile and connected platforms, including iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android devices through the top-selling MLB.com At Bat apps for each and Sony PS3 and other connected devices from the likes of LG, Samsung, Roku, Boxee, and more (see the listing). Additional platform offerings for MLB.TV live streaming will be announced as they become available.

For Android users, the video streaming option that was made available for the first time during last year’s postseason will now be standard for the 2011 regular season.

Cost for the 2011 season is $119.95 for "Premium" and $99.95 which doesn't give you PIP, home and away feeds, etc (see details)

Along with portability, this year’s product offers the following

  • HD Quality Picture – Speed detection technology delivers live high definition video at the industry standard of 720p on any size monitor.
  • Home and Away Feeds – Watch either the home or away teams' broadcasts.
  • Alternate Audio Options – Overlay the home or away teams’ radio broadcasts over the live video or use the “Park” option to include the ballpark’s natural sounds.
  • Live Game DVR Functionality – Pause and rewind or fast-forward live games.
  • Clickable Linescores – Go directly to any at-bat or half-inning of a game.
  • Multi-Game Viewing Options – Watch up to four games simultaneously.
  • Picture-in-Picture – Choose one game and track another or watch in-game highlights simultaneously in a secondary window.
  • Live Game Highlights – Real-time highlights and player stats automatically load into the media player. With one click, the clip instantly launches in a picture-in-picture window.
  • Player Tracker – Customize a list to feature entire fantasy rosters and receive on-deck notifications to watch live at-bat look-ins for each player.
  • Spring Training – Watch about 150 live games from Florida and Arizona (details on when this is available not yet released).

Remember, mobile fans, to catch all games that are not blacked out in your location, you’ll need to purchase not only MLB.TV, but At Bat 2011. Details on mobile device app coming shortly.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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MLB Advanced Media Rejects $1B in Offers from Private Equity PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 January 2011 14:30

MLB.comMLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the digital rights arm of Major League Baseball and includes MLB.com, has increasingly been a cash cow for the league. The group headed by President and CEO Bob Bowman (read The Biz of Baseball interview with Bowman from 2008), has been one of the most surprising money makers for MLB over the years.

Launched in 2000, MLB.com was funded by the clubs in an agreement that had them each investing $1 million a year over four years. The cost was targeted at $120 million. To the joy of the owners and MLB, the site started generating excess revenue in only the second year of its existence, allowing them to invest only $70-$75 million before beginning to see a return on their investment.

As early as 2005, the league looked to see just how much money MLBAM might be worth (see my article MLBAM: The Stealthy Money Machine on The Hardball Times). From “Stealthy Money Machine”):

What really makes this arm of MLB stealthy and an absolute moneymaking machine came to light somewhat quietly in October [of 2005] when the major league owners decided to scrap plans for an initial public offer for MLBAM. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, First Boston and J.P. Morgan tried in vain to get the owners to go forward with the IPO. After all, they had good reason to want to see it happen, as these analysts predicted the value of the IPO to be $2-2.5 billion.

MLB decided not to go public then, so, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising to hear today’s news, although how much of a stake in BAM these investors are looking for isn't known.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on MLBAM and how private equity firms are constantly looking to try and get a cut of the lucrative digital arm of baseball. MLB.com, through BAM is seen as the industry leader in its video streaming infrastructure, and is why other sports outlets, such as ESPN and CBS, have used MLBAM to host their video streaming. The offers reportedly have been in the $1 billion range, half the value of the IPO value garnered in 2005. As reported by the SF Chronicle:

A source close to the talks tells us the company gets "call a day" from private equity firms, but that the company isn't looking to sell a stake for a few reasons:

  • It's already loaded with cash.
  • Owners are already getting a huge dividend.
  • Selling a billion dollar stake in MLBAM any time soon would make it very hard for owners to argue that they're broke in upcoming labor negotiations with players.
  • Selling a stake could further complicate the ownership stake and perhaps even force a dreaded shotgun IPO.

Who's calling MLBAM? A source close to PE circles speculates that it's most of the biggies: TPG, Blackstone, Bain Capital, Elevation, Spectrum, and Quadrangle.

Initially, many, including this author, concluded that MLBAM could be used as a trump card – a holding that could be leveraged in an IPO should economic headwinds every tear at MLB’s bottom line. Given than baseball increased revenues through the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression, that seems unlikely. After all, MLBAM is now pulling in in excess of a half-a-billion dollars annually. Given that the revenues is centralized revenue shared across all 30 owners in MLB, don’t look for a them to cave to the investor’s fawning to get a cut of the action…. At least not for the foreseeable future.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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NESN Teams Up with Fox Sports in Internet Partnership PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joe Tetreault   
Thursday, 16 December 2010 14:16

FOXSports.com on MSN and NESN announced today a new digital content sharing partnership that will make NESN.com the exclusive provider of New England and Boston sports news on one of the most popular sports web sites in the country. The agreement allows FOXSports.com the right to both publish and directly link to NESN’s sports news content and provides for significant cross promotional opportunities between the two sites.
“The FOX Sports Local websites are the fastest-growing regional sports websites in the country,” said Mike Hall, NESN’s Director of New Media. “We are proud to join the FOX Sports family of local websites to help extend their reach in the northeast while helping NESN to continue to grow our site as the premier destination for fans of New England sports.”

“Providing our readers with the latest news in New England sports greatly enhances FOXSports.com and complements the coverage from all of our existing local sites. We’re excited to partner with the leading sports website in that market,” said Kyle McDoniel, Vice President of Business Development for FOXSports.com.

Fox Sports is behind the curve with utilizing local content in their national site.  ESPN's successful launch of local sites in Dallas, Boston, New York and Los Angeles was followed up by SB Nation's decision to repurpose their bloggers' posts into local sites devoted to city specific content.  SB Nation's many investors range from venture capital firms to the cable giant Comcast.  This is Fox Sports' second significant partnership for Internet content.  They previously announced an agreement with Yardbarker (with whom the BizofBaseball.com and the entirety of the Business of Sports Network is affiliated) for ad sales and content promotion.

Source: NESN


Joe TetreaultJoe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball

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Royals Owner David Glass Named Chair of MLB Advanced Media PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 11 November 2010 11:34

David GlassCommissioner Selig announced on Wednesday that David Glass, Owner and Chairman of the Kansas City Royals, has been elected Chairman of the Board of MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, which includes MLB.com.

Glass, who has been instrumental in overseeing and guiding MLBAM as a Board member since its inception in 2000, replaces Bob DuPuy, who resigned as MLB President at the end of last month. In his role as Chairman, Glass will take on greater responsibilities in overseeing the continued growth of MLBAM. He will also continue in his roles as a member of Major League Baseball’s Executive Council and MLB Enterprises. Prior to purchasing the Royals, Glass served for 12 years as President and Chief Executive Officer of Wal-Mart, earning the reputation as one of the nation’s premier executives. Glass has been recognized with numerous awards, including his induction into the Retail Hall of Fame in August, 2000.

In 1993, Glass was appointed interim chairman and Chief Executive Officer upon the death of Ewing Kauffman and in April, 2000, his family acquired the Royals organization. Under Glass' tenure the Royals have finished above .500 just three times (1993-94, 2003).

“Baseball is extremely fortunate to be able to draw upon someone with the background and experience of David Glass," said Selig. “He has been a valuable member on many important committees and, in his new role as Chairman, MLBAM and Baseball will benefit from his varied talents and abilities.”

Started in 2000, MLB.com was funded by the clubs in an agreement that had them each investing $1 million a year over four years. The cost was targeted at $120 million. To the joy of the owners and MLB, the Website started generating excess revenue in only the second year of its existence, allowing them to invest only $70-$75 million before beginning to see a return on their investment. That investment has turned MLBAM into the sports industries most powerful digital rights arm.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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For MLB Fans, Postseason.TV Returns on Oct. 6 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 03 October 2010 22:30

Postseason.TV

Postseason.TV, the live interactive online viewing experience powered by MLB.com and MLB Postseason national television rightsholders, Turner Sports and FOX Sports, returns on Wednesday, October 6, 2010, when the Division Series begins on TBS. Postseason.TV will be accessible from MLB.com, FoxSports.com on MSN and MLB.com/TBSHotCorner.

After its debut last fall, Postseason.TV powered by TBS HotCorner and FOX Feeds again delivers a customized and interactive online viewing experience with up to 10 different stationary camera angles, synchronized with live audio, for every MLB Postseason game, blackout free. For fans, Postseason.TV provides an interactive enhancement to the Division Series and American League Championship Series broadcasts on TBS and the National League Championship Series and World Series on FOX.

Fans can pick-and-choose from any of the available camera angles or up to any four different angles simultaneously in a multi-view option. In addition, Postseason.TV will offer in-game video highlights, up-to the-moment statistics and play-by-play and social media integration through a live Twitter feed.

For fans on-the-go, Postseason.TV will offer portability via At Bat 2010, the award-winning suite of mobile applications developed by MLB.com, by providing mobile access to the same live camera angles, the quad mode option and live audio. Postseason.TV again will be available on iPhone and iPod touch and new for this year through At Bat 2010 on iPad as well as select Android devices.

The entire package of live Postseason companion streaming is available for a one-time fee of $9.95.

iPad - Postseason.TV

iPad - Postseason.TV (popover)
Postseason.TV comes to iPad for the first time.

Source: MLB.com


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Study Finds Independent Bloggers "Least Trusted", Likely Denied Press Credentials in Baseball PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 24 August 2010 07:58

Professional Blogger(EDITOR'S NOTE: Bizball LLC, the business that oversees BizofBaseball.com and the Business of Sports Network has been granted a MLB Media Affiliate ID along with MLB Pressbox access and with it, credentialed for regular-season games, and other MLB jewel events. Other online outlets such as Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, NBC Sports.com, AOL Fanhouse and Yahoo! Sports have all been witnessed at "jewel events" such as the Winter Meetings, and All-Star Game. Alos, while MLB Trade Rumors is mentioned, in talking with Tim Dierkes, he said that MLBTR has had no problems gaining access to MLB. Yahoo! Sports is much the same, and other indie bloggers that have gotten in touch with me today have said as much, as well. The study does say "baseball" citing 127 clubs in the study, so MLB makes up a small fraction of the total. As the study shows, whether independent outless are "less trusted" may be a different matter all together -- Maury Brown)

Independent bloggers represent the least trusted media type and are the most likely to be turned down for press pass requests, according to the first academic study to assess the sentiments of media-credentialing executives in sports organizations toward new media coverage.

Traditional media outlets, including local TV, radio and newspapers, followed by national sports magazines and newspapers, earned the most trust—and press passes—while online channels earned the least trust. Among online channels, bloggers affiliated with established media outlets, such as the LA Times Sport blog and EPSN.com, earned less trust than traditional media outlets, but significantly more trust than independent bloggers, who were at the bottom of the trust scale.

"The findings in this study speak to the many cracks in the sports and media relationship that are being revealed with the rise of web-based communication networks," said Mike Cramer, executive director of the Texas Program in Sports and Media at The University of Texas at Austin, which funded the study. "The Texas Program in Sports and Media is thrilled to be presenting this defining research for the industry. We're looking forward engaging a full spectrum of substantive issues that define the breadth and complexity of the relationship sports and media has with American culture."

Avery Holton, a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin, surveyed 127 professional baseball teams from every organizational level to measure their "trust" in various media and how they responded to requests for press passes. Team media relations officials were asked to rank their trust in media ranging from the traditional to the non-traditional. Holton developed a "trust index" to provide an unbiased picture of trust. The results showed a large divide between the levels of trust team management places in traditional media and bloggers.

Baseball front offices are starting to harness the power of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and they agree that independent bloggers are important to future coverage, but they have been slow to embrace independent bloggers. According to Holton, there is a perception that independent bloggers are mere fans who don't need a press pass to do their job.

"Independent bloggers wanting more access to teams need to continue to advance their credibility through trust and by moving themselves out of the fan category and into the social media arena," said Holton who has worked as a sports journalist and as a communication director for a Triple A baseball team. "Bloggers may be able to achieve this by delivering original, newsworthy content, beefing up their site to reflect the most current in digital media, tracking and reporting increases in their daily site traffic and interacting with baseball front offices on Facebook and Twitter."

Many independent bloggers, such as MLBTradeRumors.com and Yahoo! Sports, have upward of two million pages views daily and represent some of the Internet's heaviest traffic, yet they rank far behind traditional media on trust and are the most likely group to be rejected (29 percent) for a press pass vs. traditional media (8 percent).

The survey, conducted in spring 2010, was supervised by Associate Journalism Professor Renita Coleman and underwritten by the Texas Program in Sports and Media at The University of Texas at Austin, which strives to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and research on sports, media and culture.

Source: The University of Texas at Austin


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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