The Big Deal Weekly #3: AFL finals cash boost, trade whispers, Ashes clash, a $2m baseball, Ted Lasso's promotion & more
September 26, 2022
Welcome to your weekly wrap of the big deals!
A quick heads up - we’re a couple of episodes in to The Big Deal podcast which you can find at Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts, so add it to your list of pods and get our sports business interviews, news and views delivered to you weekly.
Renowned AFL footy manager Marty Pask talks to us this week - you won’t want to miss it!
Now, let’s get down to business.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
EXCLUSIVE: AFL considers finals cash boost
Tredders’ Trade Whispers
AFL in twilight zone after grand final ratings flop
AFL waves in new radio deal
Hawks brace for damage to brand
Kane’s fun run
Subway Socceroos head to Qatar
Ashes to ashes
Chiefs, Chargers help Amazon secure record subs rush
Ted Lasso promoted to FIFA 23
How to judge the value of a baseball
Home run for UK baseball fans
Fantasy sports fans gain their Mojo
In Retrospect: That’s the Spirit!
Got a Big Deal you want to share? Get in touch
EXCLUSIVE: AFL CONSIDERS FINALS CASH BOOST
The AFL is considering boosting the prize money for its grand final teams from next season.
That will come a year late for the Cats and three years after it reduced the prize pool because of COVID.
The Big Deal has been told this year’s premiership kitty was $1.1m.
The winners had previously shared $1.2m with the runners-up being paid $660,000.
But that purse was slashed in 2020 because of the financial pressures sustained by the COVID-reduced season.
In 2019, GWS complained about the cost of travel during the finals, attributing much of its $867,000 loss to playing three finals on the road.
Most of the grand final prize money ends up in the pockets of the players.
In previous years, clubs have split it among their playing group, based on matches played during the season.
That would potentially leave the five Cats who played every game this season, Tom Hawkins, Cameron Guthrie, Brad Close, Tyson Stengle and Tom Atkins, to pocket an additional $47,826 each.
Geelong President Craig Drummond is also expecting the Cats to sell an extra $5m worth of merchandise, celebrating their triumph.
TREDDERS’ TRADE WHISPERS
Lightning is striking twice at Collingwood and Brodie Grundy is feeling burnt.
He’s set to repeat Adam Treloar’s inglorious exit two years ago, effectively pushed out the door in a salary cap dump.
Grundy signed a seven-year extension with the Pies in 2020 worth around $1m per season.
Like Treloar, the Pies are poised to pay a hefty chunk of coin to have Grundy play against them next season, probably for Melbourne.
I’m hearing they may have to tip in up to $300,000 per year.
Kysaiah Pickett didn’t ask for a trade to an SA-club in his end of season exit meeting with Melbourne.
But there’s still a chance he could end up in Adelaide next season with Port known to be keen.
Where he plays in 2023 will be determined by whether or not he pushes the Dees hard for a trade over the next couple of weeks and whether they want to cash in on him now or let him serve out the final year of his contract.
It’s no secret he loves the Demons but he isn’t so hot on living in Melbourne.
Adelaide is planning for a new skipper in 2023, with captain Rory Sloane running out of steam and out of contract at the end of next season.
Tom Doedee has long been groomed as the heir apparent but there’s a smokey in former Swan Jordan Dawson who’s made a huge impact in his first 12 months with his professionalism, forthrightness and output.
Here’s what Tredders had to say about it:
Phil Davis will be paid handsomely next year, despite his age and concerns about his durability.
The former skipper has played just 26 games in the last three years including only five in 2022, suffering multiple hamstring tendon injuries.
But he has one year remaining on his contract which is heavily loaded toward next season after he sacrificed money for the sake of the team in recent years to ease salary cap pressures.
With Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper heading south, those pressures will be eased and Davis will be paid his dues.
AFL IN TWILIGHT ZONE AFTER GRAND FINAL RATINGS FLOP
Fresh calls for the AFL to switch its showpiece to a twilight time slot are already underway after what many consider a ratings flop on Saturday afternoon.
The game that most expected to draw a huge TV audience produced only mediocre numbers.
Saturday’s decider drew “only” 2.96 million viewers around the country.
That did actually beat the 2.9 million who watched the 2019 blowout between Richmond and GWS.
Last year’s decider from Perth, which started at 7.15pm on the eastern seaboard, saw 4.11m fans tune in.
While the 2020 grand final in Brisbane, which started at 7.30pm in the east, saw 3.81m glued to their sets.
Admittedly, many were locked in their homes for the 2020 and 2021 deciders, or at least must have felt like they still were.
The decision will rest in the hands of a new AFL CEO.
AFL WAVES IN NEW RADIO DEAL
The AFL has followed its new bumper TV contract with a fresh two-year radio deal which for the first time includes digital rights.
The deals are with SEN, Southern Cross Austereo, FIVEaa, Nine Radio, K-Rock and the ABC and allow for zero latency or 100% “live” radio.
That’s kind of what most of us expect anyway …
It’s believed to be a significant improvement on the previous six-year deal which was worth in the order of $10m per season to the AFL.
HAWKS BRACE FOR DAMAGE TO BRAND
Hawthorn stands to lose millions of dollars in commercial partnerships if the AFL investigation launched into allegations of the mistreatment of indigenous players at the club is in any way substantiated.
The Hawks have Tasmania for a naming rights partner along with major partners the calibre of Adidas, Nissan, iinet and KFC.
They have BankVic as their emergency services match partner and list no less than a further 22 businesses the likes of BP, Carlton Brewery, Van Heusen and AIA Australia.
Some of the deals still have years to run.
Hawthorn made $12,302,816 from sponsorship in 2021, a massive leap of more than $5m from 2020.
KANE’S FUN RUN
Kane Cornes always was the best long distance runner at Port Adelaide, embarrassing team-mates on the opening time trial of EVERY pre-season in living memory.
And he’s put his talents to great use, raising an incredible $337,200 for My Room Children’s Cancer Charity. That’s well above the $200,000 target.
Of course, he had to run from Adelaide to Melbourne to do it - about 40 times the average distance he used to cover during an AFL game.
Kane ran for about five hours a day, covering 66km, completing the journey in 12 days.
Get the big deals delivered to your inbox, for free. Join the community.
SUBWAY SOCCEROOS HEAD TO QATAR
Australia’s round ball stars will head to Qatar in November as the Subway Socceroos after a naming rights deal with the sandwich maker.
The three-year deal is estimated to be worth a tasty $12m, is the biggest in the code’s history in Australia and extends to the Olyroos, Young Socceroos and Joeys.
The Socceroos had been without a naming rights sponsor since 2019 when their previous deal with Caltex expired.
The Matildas last year signed a four-year deal with the Commonwealth Bank.
ASHES TO ASHES
Calls of foul play against the England and Wales Cricket Board for jamming next year’s Ashes series into a six-week schedule may be misplaced.
The fixture is seen as a means to preserve clean air for their hybrid short-form tournament, The Hundred - England’s answer to the IPL.
The Hundred, which was developed as a TV event in a partnership between the ECB and Sky, will take centre stage in August next year, while the once prestigious Ashes will see five Test matches crammed into just 46 days.
Australia is also expected to play in the World Test Championship final at The Oval in early June, just days before the Ashes series commences on June 16 at Edgbaston.
But the busy Ashes fixture is not that dissimilar to the one Australia tackled in its last two tours of the old dart.
In 2019, Australia played five Tests in 47 days, starting on 1 August after the completion of the World Cup.
While in 2015, the Aussies played five Tests in 48 days with no other major distractions on the calendar.
Still, it’s a far cry from 1989 when Allan Border’s team won 4-0 against all predictions.
That side played six Test matches in 83 days. How’s the serenity?
CHIEFS, CHARGERS HELP AMAZON SECURE RECORD SUBS RUSH
Amazon is already feeling pretty relaxed about its 11-year, US$1b per season deal for the exclusive rights to NFL’s Thursday night football.
The company reports it had a record number of people sign-up in a three-hour period to watch the match at a cost of $14.99 monthly or $139 yearly ($8.99 or $119 for video content only).
Around 13.3 million viewers tuned in to see Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, 50% up on last year’s Thursday night opener.
Meanwhile, Apple has replaced Pepsi as sponsor of the Supebowl’s half-time entertainment.
It’s also bidding for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket rights, giving viewers access to all games not in their local area.
The NFL is seeking $2.5b annually for those rights, up $1b.
Apple has already spent the same coin on a 10-year deal with Major League Soccer and it also broadcasts some MLB games.
TED LASSO PROMOTED TO FIFA 23
Art and pop culture have been promoted to the top tier of one of the world’s most popular video games with EA Sports embracing the Ted Lasso phenomenon.
Lasso and his fictional AFC Richmond squad will feature in this year’s release of FIFA 23.
Ted, Roy Kent, Dani Rojas and all the regulars haven’t qualified for the Premier League just yet.
But you’ll be able to find them and adopt them in the Rest of the World category.
It’s essentially a partnership between Electronic Arts and Warner Bros, squeezing more dollars and fun out of sport’s latest fictional cult hero.
FIFA 23 will be available on September 30.
HOW TO JUDGE THE VALUE OF A BASEBALL
A baseball costs around $10, depending on where you buy it.
But catch the one Yankees slugger Aaron Judge knocks out of the park with home run number 62 for the season, and you’ll have some serious appreciation on and in your hands.
Judge is poised to tie and then pass Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 homers any day now.
Good judges put the value of those baseballs at up to US$500,000, but one report claims a memorabilia company has already offered $2m for Judge’s ball!
You’ll remember Barry Bonds, who had some help in sending 762 balls into orbit.
One of his sold for more than US$750,000.
Alas, Judge’s home run ball no. 60 for the season went for free after the fan who caught it handed it over to the Yankees.
Some believe it was more than they deserve after the “evil empire” pressured Apple to show their game against the Red Sox for free in the hope more of their fans could catch Judge’s magic moment.
Yep, the one and same team that sold out their fans in the past, offloading games to Amazon for a $7m cash grab.
HOME RUN FOR UK BASEBALL FANS
England doesn’t have a rich baseballing history .. although curiously Great Britain did defeat the United States to win the inaugural Baseball World Cup in 1938.
So maybe it’s not so remarkable that the BBC has signed a new five-year deal with Major League Baseball to stream live matches in England.
The deal will also see more regular season matches played there, starting with a game next June at West Ham’s London Stadium between the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals.
Meanwhile, some folks had plenty to smile about at MLB games over the weekend.
It was a viral marketing ploy by Paramount Pictures who sent actors to games to simply sit and “smile” - all to promote their new movie of the same name.
FANTASY SPORTS FANS GAIN THEIR MOJO
Fancy yourself as a fantasy sports king and want to put your money where your mouth is?
Then Mojo is made for you!
It is a bold startup that works like a stock market for athletes, and is the brainchild of former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and entrepreneur Marc Lore.
Co-founder and CEO Vinit Bharara has backed a winner before, founding diapers.com, an online retail site for baby products, with Lore in 2005.
They sold it to Amazon in 2011 for $545m, only to see it wound up in 2017!
Anyway, we digress.
Mojo is all about buying shares in players.
If they do well, their share price goes up and you make money.
But if they tank it, you watch your pennies dwindle.
It launched last Monday and has already raised US$100m.
There’s one catch, for the moment, you have to be physically in the state of New Jersey to play.
It will focus exclusively on NFL players with plans to expand into other sports.
Mojo, on its own website, is a self-confessed sports betting platform with players’ prices based on accumulated and projected earnings.
IN RETROSPECT: THAT’S THE SPIRIT!
Textile barons Ozzie and Daniel Silna wanted to own an NBA team.
It was 1974 and their bid to buy the Detroit Pistons came up short so they plotted to enter through the back door, buying an ABA side with designs on them gaining admission via an impending merger of the two leagues.
They purchased the Carolina Cougars and promptly shifted them to St Louis, rebadging them the Spirits of St Louis.
St Louis was at the time the biggest American city without an NBA team.
Their plan looked foolproof.
But when the music stopped, St Louis wasn’t one of the four teams absorbed into the NBA.
That honor instead went to the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers.
The NBA came to a $3.3m compensation agreement with one of the other overlooked franchises, the Kentucky Colonels, while the Virginia Squires folded before they received a cent.
That just left the Spirits and the Silnas, with plenty of encouragement from their lawyer, weren’t satisfied, determined to hold out for the best deal possible.
That deal eventually equated to 1/7th share of the “visual media” (read TV rights) of each of the four merged teams that left the ABA.
That equates to 4/7 or about 57% of one full share.
TV rights weren’t a huge deal in 1976 and the NBA thought it had made the problem go away for minimum chips.
Turns out, it was the fine print that cost the NBA dearly, agreeing to this deal “in perpetuity”!
Hence, each year, the Silnas received a check amounting to 57% of what every NBA club received for their share of the TV rights - that’s approximately 2% of the game’s total TV revenue.
When the magnitude of the sweetheart deal became apparent to everyone at headquarters, they began a number of failed attempts to buy out the Silnas from their ongoing contract.
The Silnas had already made $300m from the arrangement by 2014 when they finally agreed to walk away from the deal in exchange for a one-off payment of $500m.
They had grown tired of the NBA’s relentless attempts to square the ledger.
Ozzie died in 2016 but Daniel’s still with us.
The NBA’s next broadcast deal is expected to earn up to $8b per season.
That would have netted the Silnas $160m per season.
Got a Big Deal you want to share? Get in touch