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Tapping Craft Beer, Hillsboro Hops Top Online Seller in All of Minor League Baseball PDF Print E-mail
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Latest MiLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 12 August 2013 15:53

Barley

When the Single-A Yakima Bears moved in to fill the void in Portland, OR for professional baseball, the owners knew that with the larger market, rebranding would be a part of the equation. A new ballpark, a larger metro area, all offered opportunity for a new look. The idea of “tapping” into something of a trademark for Portland seemed a logical choice.

So when Short Season LLC, the owners of the club, came up with the name the Hillsboro Hops, they had to know they were hitting on something very “Portland” in the craft beer craze (CNN ranked Portland as the #1 beer city in the US). The question was always, how could their merchandise tie into it?

Starting with their mascot, Barley, who was recently voted the Northwest League’s Best Mascot, it all made sense… Balls “hop”, hops are used to make beer, as is barley.

It would be one thing if the marketing was a local or regional sensation. But according to sources, the Hillsboro Hops have the best online merchandise sales—not in just the Northwest League—but all of Minor League Baseball. While numbers weren’t provided, to achieve that mark is a sign that the logo resonates with fans, as does the idea of craft beer. After all, baseball, hot dogs, and yes, beer, are a timeless tradition. The Hops just seem to be happy to run the keg dry at this point.


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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. 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 here.

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How Performance in 2012 Caused an Attendance Downturn for the Red Sox PDF Print E-mail
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Ticket & Attendance Watch
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 12:36

MLB attendanceUnless there is catastrophe, a glance at the AL East standings shows the Boston Red Sox either winning the division or being an AL Wild Card team. A trip to the postseason for Red Sox seems a pretty sure bet (as of publication the club has a 98.5% chance of making it), and yet, attendance is down. Questions abound, columns get written, and for some the consensus is, “The Red Sox have lost their fan base.”

According to The Republican, the Red Sox are set to see attendance drop 7 percent from last year. But, within the story reveals something that is not only an affect on the Red Sox, but most every club in Major League Baseball: the performance in one or more seasons prior can impact attendance before a single game is played.

"We are pleased with the trend lines and the direction that attendance is heading in," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said Friday at Fenway Park. "It's understandable that there would be some drop off after the collapse of 2011 and the disappointment of 2012. But I'd rather accentuate the positive: there's a buzz about this team, there's a buzz about Fenway Park again this year. Our ratings are up, our attendance is very strong. We're like fourth or fifth in the league in baseball. While it's off from historic highs, it's still robust.”

[….]

"You're always concerned," [Red Sox chief operating officer Sam] Kennedy said. "Our expectations here are very lofty. We would love to be in a sell-out environment every single night. But we recognize we're not. We'll probably have 25, 26 sell outs this year, and I think there's a natural lag you have. We actually had good attendance last year. Ironically, in 2012, with a 69-win season, and that was because we had a lot of people buy in the winter and this year we had the downturn because of last year.

"I think it's a residual effect from a slower offseason. We've closed the gap. (We'll) probably finish somewhere around 7 percent behind last year, which equates to a couple hundred thousand, maybe as many as 200,000 tickets behind. Hopefully fans will start to come back. They've come back. It's not as if a crowd of 33,000 — most teams in baseball would be thrilled with that."

This is why the Giants currently see the third-highest attendance in the league yet sit with a .445 winning percentage and 21 games behind the Dodgers for first place. It’s why the Blue Jays see the largest jump in attendance from last year (currently up a whopping 21 percent) while 63-75, 18.5 games behind first place Boston and last place with 10 game separating them and the second-to-last Yankees.

Back to the Red Sox, as the club execs mention, you can’t get back the attendance at the beginning of the season and you can’t make up the full-season equivalents in ticket sales that were reached mostly in Nov-Jan. This is what happens when MLB’s attendance model is now tied so tightly to season ticket sales.

This is also why we can make some predictions for attendance next season, now. Red Sox attendance will bounce back (although how far is really going to need to be answered by how far they go into the postseason), and the Blue Jays, Giants, Angels, and Brewers will see drops. How significant the drops will be will be tied to any potential high-profile free agent signings. For the Angels, this seems like something that won’t happen given the Pujols and Hamilton signings in the last couple of seasons. The Blue Jays have to ask whether fans will be less enthusiastic after the bevy of players they took on, most notably with the trades to the Marlins. It’s possible that they could see a 10 percent drop in attendance based on the bounce they got this year; a case of normalizing the attendance curve.

And while the Red Sox will be up, the other club that’s likely to see a significant bounce will be the Pirates.

So, the attendance decline in Beantown is a story because, well…. It’s the Red Sox. But, the reality is, the club most certainly expected the drop, even if they’d rather avoid it. The front office in Boston is likely already well geared up for season ticket sales… for the 2014 season.


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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. 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 here.

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MLB Advanced Media Revenues at $600 Million Annually PDF Print E-mail
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Internet
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 13:41

MLBMLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) has been a cash cow for Major League Baseball and its 30 clubs, but how it has increased over the past few years has been unreported. As part of an extensive report by Bloomberg that shows the enterprise value of each club in MLB, it’s reported that annual revenues from the digital-rights arm of baseball is now at $600 million annually and that the equity value of MLBAM is now at $3.3 billion. Since each of the 30 clubs invested equally in it when launched in 2000, according to the report, each club garners $110 million in value each year via the lucrative digital-media arm.

To place this in perspective, 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 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.

While each club does not see $110 million annually in cash, MLBAM and the overall explosion in television media rights shows why when owners sell clubs they reap incredible rewards over what they initially purchased clubs for. The equity value of MLB Advanced Media is just one reason why when you hear, “We can’t afford to spend on player payroll at competitive levels,” it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

UPCOMING ARTICLE…. Inside the Bloomberg MLB enterprise valuations


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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. 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 here.

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Umpires for 2013 LCS Announced by Major League Baseball PDF Print E-mail
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MLB News
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 11 October 2013 16:49

2013 MLB Postseason logo

Major League Baseball today announced the umpires who have been assigned to the National League and American League Championship Series.  Thirty-year Major League Umpire Gerry Davis will serve as the crew chief for the NLCS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals, while 36-year Major League Umpire Joe West will lead the crew assigned to the ALCS between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox.

The tandem will call balls and strikes in the Game Ones and the potential Game Sevens of the two LCS.  Davis and West were the crew chiefs and home plate umpires in the A.L. and N.L. Wild Card Games presented by Budweiser, respectively, during this Postseason.

Davis, whose 116 career Postseason games officiated are a Major League record, will lead an NLCS crew that includes regular season crew chief Ted Barrett, Mark Carlson, Bruce Dreckman, Mike Everitt and Greg Gibson.  Barrett, Everitt and Gibson teamed with Davis for the A.L. Wild Card Game, while Dreckman was assigned to the A.L. Wild Card Tiebreaker Game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers.  This will mark the 26th career Postseason assignment for Davis, including his ninth LCS.  The NLCS, which will be exclusively telecast by TBS, begins tonight at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

West, who leads the active staff in years of Major League service with 36, will guide an ALCS crew featuring regular season crew chief Dale Scott, Rob Drake, Dan Iassogna, Ron Kulpa and Alfonso Marquez.  Scott, Drake and Iassogna worked the N.L. Wild Card Game with West, while Kulpa was assigned to the A.L. Tiebreaker Game between Tampa Bay and Texas.  This is West’s 21st career Postseason assignment, including his eighth LCS.  The ALCS, which will be exclusively broadcast by FOX, begins on Saturday at Fenway Park.

A complete listing of the rotations assigned to the National League and American League Championship Series can be seen by selecting Read More

Read more...
 
Controversial Game 3 of 2013 World Series Sees TV Ratings Up 21% Over Last Year PDF Print E-mail
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Television
Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 27 October 2013 21:35

2013 World Series Logo

At first it seemed that the Boston Red Sox had nailed two St. Louis Cardinals base runners at the plate in the bottom of the ninth and Game 3 of the 2013 World Series was headed to extra innings.  However, umpires ruled that Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks had interfered with Cardinals base runner Allen Craig who was awarded home, giving St. Louis a controversial 5-4 victory and a two games to one lead in the best of seven series.

A closely contested Game 3 posted a 7.4/14 household rating/share with 12.5 million viewers, according to fast national ratings issued today by Nielsen Media Research, up 21% and 19% respectively compared to Game 3 a year ago (6.1/11, 10.5 million), and is the highest-rated, most-watched World Series Game 3 since 2009 (9.1/18, 15.4 mm).  Last night's game also out-rates four of the last five Game 3s dating back to 2008, is projected to power FOX to an easy first place finish in prime time among households and key male and adult demos and is the network's best Saturday performance in prime time since January.

As is typically the case for close postseason games, the rating and audience after 11:00 PM ET was larger than before 11:00 PM ET in total and among younger viewers.  Game 3 averaged a 7.0 household rating and 12.0 million viewers before 11:00 PM, and increased 19% in rating (8.3) and 14% in audience (13.7 million) after 11:00 PM.  Among teens (age 12-17), ratings post-11:00 PM ET increased 18% (1.3 vs. 1.1).

Last night’s game opened with a 5.6/11 with 9.3 million viewers from 8:00-8:30 PM ET, and grew steadily throughout the night peaking with an 8.5/16 with 14.1 million viewers from 11:00-11:30 PM ET.

In addition to its overall success, last night’s game posted huge increases across key male and adult demos: Men 18-34, +27% (3.8 vs. 3.0); Men 18-49, +17% (4.2 vs. 3.6); Adults 18-34, +12% (2.8 vs. 2.5); and Adults 18-49 , +18% (3.3 vs. 2.8).

The World Series on FOX through three games is averaging an 8.1/14 with 13.4 million viewers, +13% over last year’s first three game average (7.2/12, 11.7 million viewers) in households and +15% on average viewership.

Through World Series Game 3, FOX’s nine-game postseason average (5.9/10, 9.5 million viewers) is up +18% in rating and +17% in audience from the 5.0/8, 8.1 million viewers produced by the network’s postseason coverage through World Series Game 3 last year (7 LCS, 3 WS), and ranks as FOX’s best postseason since 2010 (6.3/11, 10.6 million viewers).

Not surprisingly, St. Louis led all markets posting a 37.2, followed by Boston (32.4), with Providence (30.2), Hartford (19.1) and Oklahoma City (13.1) rounding out the top five.  Also posting double digit ratings were Ft. Myers (11.2), Richmond and Tulsa (11.0), Kansas City (10.9) and Memphis (10.3).  Among the nation's five biggest markets, New York posted a 7.6, while Los Angeles recorded a 6.9, Chicago 5.6, Philadelphia 6.4 and Dallas 7.0.

FOX was the No. 1 most social TV network on Saturday, led by World Series Game 3.  According to figures released by Nielsen SocialGuide, Twitter activity for last night’s World Series Game 3 drew over 482,000 tweets (up +171% from 2012 World Series Game 3) from more than 211,000 unique authors (up +120%).

According to Facebook, World Series Game 3 generated 4.8 million interactions from 2.8 million users during the game.  For the first time in three games, Missouri topped Massachusetts in generating buzz, followed by users in California, Illinois, and New York.  Team buzz was evenly split with Cardinals and Red Sox fans each responsible for 50% of the comments, likes, and posts related to the game.

Source: FOX Sports


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. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes. 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 here.

Follow Maury Brown on Twitter Twitter

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