Rakuten Already Is Winning With the Warriors   BY ADAM GROSSMAN & JOSH HERZBERG     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Yesterday marked the beginning of a new NBA season that is already replete with fascinating storylines. From a sports business perspective, all eyes are likely to be on the launch of the jersey patches. Opening night begins the NBA’s three-season experiment with the 2 inch by 2 inch squares located on several teams’ jerseys that feature corporate partner branding.   Corporate partners have already been beneficiaries of these partnerships since as early as May of 2016 when Stubhub and the Philadelphia 76ers announced their jersey patch agreement. Block Six Analytics (B6A) evaluated several teams’ relationships to measure the value that has already been created in social media channels using or Social  Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP).   Companies partnering with NBA teams are typically looking for lifts in brand awareness, brand sentiment, and brand engagement through these partnerships. What this means is that the partners are typically searching for higher levels of exposure, positive conversation, and interaction with featured brands (usually in terms of likes, comments, and shares) than these companies can achieve independently. B6A’s SAP platform aggregates these key metrics in near real-time which provides a good foundation for this critical analysis.  In a previous B6A blog post on  Rakuten  and the Golden State Warriors, we predicted that the company should generate significant value from the partnership because of the level of exposure that the Warriors generate. Expanding on the initial analysis we performed a more in-depth evaluation of the lifts in brand sentiment and engagement that have already been realized by Rakuten.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     For this analysis, we focused on Facebook and the time period after Rakuten’s announcement of the partnership on September 12, 2017 through today. During the specified timeframe we compared 58 posts from Rakuten’s U.S. Facebook page and 58 posts from the Warriors page. We also analyzed a sample of other pages to provide additional context. These pages included Facebook posts from the following accounts:   Bleacher Report  NBA   However, we did not solely want to look at text based mentions of Rakuten. We also wanted to examine social media posts and look in a picture to determine where a company’s logo is present. This is critical because several of the posts did not include Rakuten in the text. This post with Kevin Durant is a good example of this type of post.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     We did discover that Rakuten has already received a significant lift in overall value, awareness, and engagement from their partnership with the Warriors. During this time period the Warriors delivered in paid (Warriors) and earned media channels (Bleacher Report and NBA):   $61.4 thousand in overall value  19.6 million impressions  0.15% overall engagement rate  12.16% overall sentiment score   By contrast Rakuten’s U.S. account delivered:    $734 in overall value  3.6 thousand impressions  0.004% overall engagement rate  27.1% overall sentiment score   We specifically did not include the live broadcasts of Warriors preseason games because we wanted to highlight the lift Rakuten received on Facebook. However, B6A does have the capability to complete in-game jersey patches through our  Media Analysis Platform .  Outside of the sentiment score, the Warriors are providing substantial lifts to Rakuten on many areas important to the company. B6A’s SAP platform shows how quickly partners can start to measure lift in core metrics to determine value.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN & JOSH HERZBERG

Rakuten Already Is Winning With the Warriors

Yesterday marks the beginning of a new NBA season that is already replete with fascinating storylines. From a business perspective, however, all eyes are likely to be on the NBA jersey patches. Opening night begins the NBA’s three-season experience with the 2 inch by 2 inch squares featuring corporate partners that located on several teams’ jerseys. 

       Taking A Bite Out of D.C. Sports’ Apple   BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve jobs, is  reportedly  “buying a significant stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), a sprawling $2.5 billion complex that includes the NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals and Capital One Arena.” The article by   The Washington Post     business reporter Thomas Heath contains two interesting insights.      The first insight is that Powell Jobs may have decided to invest in Monumental because she eventually can become the majority owner of MSE.  According to Heath , “If [Monumental Sports & Entertainment majority owner Ted] Leonsis, 60, retired, Powell Jobs has the resources to assume his shares. Leonsis has long been the lead shareholder, with around 40 percent. Most contracts with a stake of this size include language that allows the buyer, in this case Powell Jobs, the option of a path to ownership.”  Female majority owners of major professional sports teams are relatively rare. Currently, there are only three woman majority owners in the 30-team NBA. However, women are increasingly making up a large percentage of  the sports fan base . Having more female owners, given the changing demographics of sports customers, should serve to benefit teams and leagues in the future.  The second insight that Heath makes is more controversial. He  states , “Powell Jobs’ investment is part of a trend in which deep-pocketed financiers and Silicon Valley billionaires are buying stakes in professional sports properties, helping drive franchise prices to even greater heights.” The problem with this type of statement is that he is stating that the value of the team is determined by how much the team is purchased for and that the “deep-pocketed financiers” are the ones driving up value.  Yet, this a common way of looking at asset valuation when it comes to sports. As Heath later  asserts , “Forbes earlier this year estimated the Wizards’ value at $1 billion, but after recent sales in the league — including the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion — the team is worth much more than that.” A natural question is why are the Wizards worth more than a $1 billion because the Rockets were sold for $2.2 billion?  Both teams do participate in NBA revenue sharing which includes the massive media rights deal that contributes $2.67 billion per year to the league. Yet, this deal had already been in effect and accounted for in the Forbes valuation. In addition, the Wizards and Rockets play in different sized arenas, have different local media rights deals, different sponsorship agreements, different population sizes, and different fan demographics. So why would the Wizards automatically be “worth more” because the Rockets sold for $2.2 billion?  A good to way to examine the value of sports teams is to look at the analysis we completed of the Los Angeles Clippers at the time when Steve Ballmer purchased the team in 2014. In asset valuation, there are usually three different approaches that can be used to determine value   Inherent valuation typically uses a discounted cash flow analysis which essentially looks at the operating income (or operating profit) that the company produces and discounts future cash flow so that they are equivalent to present day values.      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              A discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation shows the Clippers worth $2.024 billion in 2014 when former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer purchased the team.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      Relative valuation uses a ratio analysis to determine the value of a company. The most typical ratio used to evaluate stocks is called the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. The market capitalization (or overall listed value on a stock exchange) of a company is compared to the operating profit of that company. In our analysis, we compared the P/E ratio of the Clippers to major stock indexes.      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Comparable valuation is where you compare comparable companies purchase prices to the company being evaluated. In 2014, there were fewer transactions in the sports industry than now.      

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     The average of these three types of valuation places the Clippers value at  $1.92 billion . The reason the Clippers were this valuable is not solely because other sports teams were being purchased at certain prices. In fact, for the Clippers that actually  lowered  the team’s overall value at the time. The Clippers were valuable because the operating income of the team increased. More specifically, all NBA teams received increased revenues from media rights deals (both national and local) that far exceeded their increased costs (primarily the increase in players’ salaries). For the Clippers, the team’s local media rights deal increased from around $20 million per year to the  “low-to-mid $50 million range” .  That is not to say that all NBA teams are profitable. For example,  MSE  “is close to breaking even financially” in part because the Wizards’ deal with NBC Sports Washington pays a reported  $35 million per year  – or at least $15 million less than the Clippers. This difference would potentially make the Wizards less valuable than the Clippers because the team likely generates less cash. The lower annual fees may be in part due to MSE now having a  33 percent equity ownership  interest in NBC Sports Washington. All of these factors, and not just the price of a recent transaction, need to be considered when looking at MSE’s value.  This type of analysis can and should be applied in other areas of the sports industry. For example, Block Six Analytics (B6A) corporate asset valuation and revenue above replacement models use all three valuation approaches to determine the price of a sponsorship or player contract, respectively. To clarify, we do complete a comparable analysis as part of our standard product offering. However, combining all valuation approaches enables us to look at the fundamentals of each asset type and determine how value is created for a business based on the impact a sponsorship has on revenue generation and achieving company goals. 
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Taking A Bite Out of D.C. Sports’ Apple

Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve jobs, is reportedly “buying a significant stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), a sprawling $2.5 billion complex that includes the NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals and Capital One Arena.” The article by The Washington Post business reporter Thomas Heath contains two interesting insights.  

       Amazon’s Attribution Approach To Streaming NFL Games   BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      “Content is king” is a familiar refrain in the media and entertainment industry. More specifically, compelling content enables companies to attract large audiences regardless of the distribution channel. Sports is the king of kings in this context. The reason that companies have spent billions of dollars on media rights deals with leagues, teams, and events is that sports consistently attracts large audiences watching live programming.  Traditionally, there have been two ways to monetize sports audiences. Broadcast networks and digital companies with steaming platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo have focused on using sports to sell advertisements to companies looking to target lucrative sports audiences. ESPN and regional sports networks (RSNs) have generated billions of dollars annually in the carriage fees that they charge cable and satellite providers for offering these channels to their subscribers.  The fact that Amazon is potentially breaking this traditional monetization model is what makes its new over-the-top streaming deal for Thursday night football games particularly interesting. Starting this Thursday, a reported  80 million  Amazon Prime members will be able to access the games for free.  Amazon has the capability to sell ads during these NFL games. While 80 million is a large potential audience, it is far lower than the  328 million  daily active global users on Twitter’s platform where NFL Thursday night games were streamed last year. Therefore, Amazon’s potential reach right now is significantly lower, making it arguably less attractive to advertising.  In addition, Amazon will be using NFL content to try to increase the number of Amazon Prime users. By paying $99 per year, Prime customers will receive access to exclusive NFL content while receiving other benefits such as faster shipping of products. However, Prime users make up only a relatively small portion of Amazon’s total customer base. Unlike ESPN and RSNs, a large number of Amazon’s customers are not using the ecommerce platform because it has NFL content.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Amazon's first live stream of Thursday NFL games is September 28th.    
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Instead, Amazon’s platform enables a company to focus on the quality of its audience rather than the quantity of its audience. More specifically, Amazon users that become Prime customers sign up because they are active buyers of products. Amazon’s NFL stream becomes compelling content for two reasons. Amazon’s wants its Prime buyers on its site as much as possible. In particular, the customers specifically buy Prime accounts because they are active users on the platform. The more frequently Amazon can get the users on the platform the more likely that Amazon can increase its revenue.  Advertisers can also maximize the probability of driving direct revenue by using Amazon through commercials. On other channels, when people see a commercial showcasing something that they may wish to purchase, they have to go to another website to make the purchase. With Amazon, however, a customer is watching a game on the platform where they can also buy the products being advertised directly. Reducing the customer journey will make it easier for companies to sell more products while also enabling companies to much more clearly attribute advertising dollars to a specific promotion or channel.  Examining click-through rates (CTR) is a good example of this new model. In the past, a company would typically measure how often customers clicked on an advertisement to come to its website. It then could measure how many people that clicked on the ad and made a purchase. This required the customer to leave the platform where they were viewing content and also to have a time lag for when they made the purchase. This effort is one reason that CTRs are often lower than companies would like.   For Thursday Night Football, a Prime customer does not have to leave Amazon’s platform to make a purchase. This makes it as easy as possible for customers who are the most likely to make a purchase to complete a transaction. Companies can then also potentially see when spikes in purchasing activity occur from Amazon and likely attribute this success to this channel.  This does not mean that companies do not receive significant value from working in other more traditional channels. Reaching a large audience is a critical objective for many companies. In particular, there are many companies for which revenue from Amazon or ecommerce does not constitute a large proportion of total revenues. Also, there are several other channels that companies need to explore from an advertising and sponsorship perspective that will help companies achieve their revenue and brand goals. In particular, reaching as large of an audience as possible to increase customer acquisition and brand awareness is a critical objective for many companies looking to advertise in or sponsor sports.  However, Amazon’s streaming of NFL games does have the capability to change the content dynamic for sports in a positive way. As some sports have seen a decline in ratings, focusing on the quality of the audience watching games and events is critical. The fact that Amazon has the capability to show significant lifts in purchases and revenue for companies during streams can extend sports’ reign as content king for years to come.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Amazon’s Attribution Approach To Streaming NFL Games

Content is king” is a familiar refrain in the media and entertainment industry. More specifically, compelling content enables companies to attract large audiences regardless of the distribution channel. The fact that Amazon is potentially breaking the traditional monetization model is what makes its new over-the-top streaming deal for Thursday night football games particularly interesting

       Rakuten Strikes Gold With Warriors Jersey Patch Deal   BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      The Golden State Warriors have reportedly reached a $20 million per year jersey patch agreement with Rakuten. The Japanese tech company will be featured on the Warriors’ jersey for the next three seasons. The fact that the Warriors would sign the most lucrative jersey patch deal in the NBA is not surprising. The team has won two of the past three NBA Championships, has numerous international stars, and is situated in the Bay Area near Silicon Valley.  The fact that the team received  nearly double  the amount of the second highest team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the fact that the deal is with Rakuten, a company few people in the U.S. have likely heard of until now, is surprising. Why would Rakuten spend this amount of money for a jersey patch deal?  Rakuten is a well-known brand in Japan and owns cash-back site Ebates, messaging app Viber and e-book brand Kobo. The company, which generates $7 billion  in revenue  per year, does have a history of targeting expensive apparel rights deals. The company is paying almost $60 million per year to be featured on the jerseys of FC Barcelona.  However, it does appear that Rakuten is following best practices through its new relationship with the Warriors. In particular, Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani understands that his company lacks brand awareness in the U.S. even though its North American headquarters is based in San Francisco.  According to  Mikitani , "We want to be a household name like Google and Facebook. Our partnership in Barcelona has helped us in Spain, and the Warriors will certainly be a pillar of getting us there in United States."  Jersey patch deals are an excellent fit for companies looking to maximize brand awareness because of the amount of exposure they will receive on television, digital, and social media channels. The new badge with the Warriors in particular (what the team is calling the jersey patch) will enable Rakuten to achieve significant brand exposure to a tech-savvy audience in Silicon Valley and throughout the United States (over 84% of NBA fans use online devices for sports-related purposes according to the research firm SBRnet).   We examined the value generated by the Golden State Warriors in Twitter through the NBA playoffs using B6A’s Social Sentiment Analysis Platform.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     We found that the team generated $2.49 million dollars in value and over 201 million impressions during the playoffs alone. We also discovered that several of the most valuable posts featured photos with the team’s jersey’s prominently displayed in the image with earned media coming from coverage in  ESPN  and   The New York Times  . We would estimate that the team would generate $5 million in revenue from Twitter for the season and likely more from Facebook and Instagram given that NBA audiences are larger in these social media networks according to research firm SBRnet.    In addition, Rakuten expanded its deal to include terms that can directly help its business generate revenue. According to ESPN’s  Darren Rovell , “Rakuten will be the team's official e-commerce, video-on-demand and affiliate marketing partner. Ebates will become the team's official shopping rewards partner, Viber will be the official instant messaging and calling app, while Kobo will be the official e-reader partner.” As the sports industry pursues technology innovations including e-commerce platforms for its products including tickets and merchandise as well as on-demand content delivered to fans across multiple devices, Rakuten is well positioned to utilize its relationship with the Warriors to monetize its products directly through its relationships.  Our analysis indicates that this deal likely should generate  significantly more  than the “$32 million to $37 million in equivalent advertising” projected by the Apex Marketing Group. Rakuten should generate a substantial positive ROI with the Warriors because the partnership will generate high quantity, quality, and engagement with its target audience in ways that will enable the company to achieve its economic and branding goals. 
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Rakuten Strikes Gold With Warriors Jersey Patch Deal

The Golden State Warriors have reportedly reached a $20 million per year jersey patch agreement with Rakuten. The Japanese tech company will be featured on the Warriors’ jersey for the next three seasons. The fact that the Warriors would sign the most lucrative jersey patch deal in the NBA is not surprising. The fact that the team received nearly double the amount of the second highest team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the fact that the deal is with Rakuten, a company few people in the U.S. have likely heard of until now, is surprising. Why would Rakuten spend this amount of money for a jersey patch deal?

       Determining the Social Media Value of “Chicken Strip”    BY ADAM GROSSMAN and ALEX CORDOVER     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      “Tonight I started a Major League Baseball game with "Chicken Strip" across my back. Dreams do come true people!”  Most people could be forgiven for not understanding what this Tweet by Los Angeles Dodgers Starting pitcher Ross Stripling meant. Why would Stripling’s jersey say “Chicken Strip” instead of his last name?  August 25-27th was officially #PlayersWeekend where each player could use whatever nickname he wanted on the back of his jersey. Stripling’s selection of “Chicken Strip” may not even have been the most interesting nickname selection on his team. That honor may go to Yasiel Puig’s decision to use “Wild Horse”.  Why would Major League Baseball (MLB) decide to have #PlayersWeekend with nicknames as “interesting” as “Chicken Strip” and “Wild Horse”? One of the league’s goals is to appeal to younger demographics on social media channels. The goal of using these nicknames was to generate an increase in engagement with younger fans and attract them to consume MLB content.  Did the campaign work? We used our  Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP ) to find out the answer. We examined the week of 08/22-08/29 for the keyword “MLB” to determine if the #PlayersWeekend had an impact on the league in Twitter.     

  

  	
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              The highest value MLB Tweet for the week of 08/22-08/29 involved #PlayersWeekend. There was also a positive increase in social sentiment when the #PlayersWeekend was used from 08/25-08/27.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     The items in the red rectangles showcase our findings. We discovered that, over the week, the single most valuable tweet had the hashtag #PlayersWeekend. In addition, we noticed that #PlayersWeekend was associated with both positive sentiment and value, suggesting that it was well-received by fans.  However, of the top ten most valuable posts on Twitter related to the MLB this week, only the most valuable was associated with #PlayersWeekend. We found similar results at a more granular, team-by-team level: #PlayersWeekend did not significantly drive value above baseline levels for the MLB. Many of the top tweets for the MLB and teams were in Spanish, hinting that perhaps the humor of “Chicken Strip” did not translate well to audiences outside of the USA.  Overall #PlayersWeekend did contribute positively to the MLB’s social media efforts. With the MLB playoffs just around the corner, it is critical for the MLB to determine the best ways to reach new audiences with the most engaging content. By using the Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP) to analyze social media feeds in near-real time, organizations like MLB can use data-driven insights to make adjustments during a season and maximize impact.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN AND ALEX CORDOVER

Determining the Social Media Value of “Chicken Strip”

August 25-27th was officially #PlayersWeekend where each player could use whatever nickname he wanted on the back of his jersey. Why would Major League Baseball (MLB) decide to have #PlayersWeekend with nicknames as “interesting” as “Chicken Strip” and “Wild Horse”?

      Hello Milo: How Autonomous Vehicles Can Make Driving Better For Sports Fans     BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      When it comes to autonomous technology, it is hard to think of a topic that has received more attention than self-driving vehicles. Autonomous technology typically refers to replacing tasks done manually by humans with some form of machine and / or machine learning. Companies such as Uber, Tesla and Google have spent millions of dollars developing new vehicles that rely on automated technology powered by sophisticated algorithms rather than humans as drivers.  Similar to much of autonomous technology, the future of autonomous vehicles is  complex  depending on your point-of-view. Today, however, autonomous vehicles are used as compliments to rather than replacements of cars. The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers are good examples of teams that have determined  novel ways  to leverage autonomous driving.  More specifically, “Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers fans can soon be able to take driverless vehicles to and from the parking lots of AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park about an hour before and after all games this season.”  The Cowboys have identified a common issue for sports fans when it comes to attending live events at professional sports venues. It often takes a long time to walk from a parking lot to the venue itself. Because parking lots are often very crowded at specific times (i.e. before and after games), it is very difficult for buses or larger shuttles to bring fans to the venue. Milo, the name for this new shuttle service, solves these problems. These vehicles are relatively small and can  drive  “on a pre-programmed route on paved off-street trails and stops at assorted, pre-designated stops throughout…stadiums’ parking lots and complexes.”  Because both the Cowboys and Rangers play in Arlington, a suburb of Dallas, many fans rely on cars to drive to games. Milo makes it much easier for fans to have a better travel experience because they will have significantly less stress about getting to their seats if they drive to a game. Given that many teams at both the professional and collegiate level have fans that want to drive to venues (in particular to tailgate before games), using a system like Milo should increase the likelihood of people coming to games, concerts, and events.  The city of Arlington using Milo for Cowboys or Rangers games also contains another feature that should be used when adapting new technology. Arlington has decided to  lease  “two self-driving, electric vehicles from France-based EasyMile for a one-year pilot program to explore autonomous transportation technology in a real-world setting.” Rather than making a large, up-front commitment to a new technology, the city of Arlington will test autonomous driving and see what improvements can be made in the future. The best way to see if a technology works is actually to see if the technology works.  By conducting a smaller-scale experiment, Arlington will have the information it needs to either move forward or end the program. Milo shows how testing new, autonomous technology can have a large impact on the fan experience with a relatively small time and monetary investment. 
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Hello Milo: How Autonomous Vehicles Can Make Driving Better For Sports Fans

The future of autonomous vehicles is complex depending on your point-of-view. Today, however, autonomous vehicles are used as compliments to rather than replacements of cars. The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers are good examples of teams that have determined novel ways to leverage autonomous driving. 

       Hard Knocks Shows the Value of NFL Jersey Patch Sponsorship    BY ADAM GROSSMAN, PAT MOCHEL, AND ANDREW JACOBS     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      While NBA jersey patches are receiving many of the headlines, the NFL training camps have begun with all but five teams featuring a corporate partner on the front shoulder of their  practice jerseys . These sponsors range from local healthcare providers, such as Advocate and Inova, to large corporations such as AT&T and Verizon. The question is why would partners want to be a practice jersey patch sponsor?  For starters, the NFL currently does not allow for teams to feature jersey patches on their regular season uniforms (unlike the NBA will for the upcoming season). More importantly, practice jerseys provide significant levels of exposure for partners on both a regional and national level. Regional media outlets cover every day of the weeks-long training camp and produce multiple articles every day. National media, such as  NFL.com , produce digital content daily of practice highlights and post-practice interviews. These jerseys generate millions of social media posts as fans and media share their thoughts on the training camp process.  That is why it is surprising that all NFL teams still do not have a practice jersey patch sponsor. In particular, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be featured on HBO’s hit series  Hard Knocks  starting today without a jersey patch sponsor. We focused on  Hard Knocks  because HBO provides the Buccaneers with more on screen time than virtually any other team during training camp. This added value makes a practice jersey patch sponsorship one of the most valuable in the league for this season.  To determine the potential value that the Buccaneers and a corporate partner are missing by not being featured on Hard Knocks, B6A used our  Media Analysis Platform (MAP) technology  to evaluate the Houston Texans during its appearance on the 2015 series (the last time a team was featured with a practice jersey patch sponsor). The Texans named Comcast Xfinity as its official training camp sponsor, a partnership that included a jersey patch on all player practice uniforms.  We found that the Xfinity jersey patch generated $108.1k in total value solely during first airing of the 5-episode  Hard  Knocks series. Our MAP technology generates this value based on number of impressions, centricity and prevalence of the logo, and sponsorship alignment. For this analysis, we only completed a MAP analysis for the television broadcasts where we found the Xfinity logo appeared for over two minutes per episode. Xfinity received more value in earned media through multiple channels including re-airs, digital, social, and mobile.  If exposure through  Hard Knocks  alone can generate a minimum of $100k in value, how much more lucrative would a gameday jersey patch sponsorship be for the teams and league? This highlights an interesting question for the league to consider. The NFL has  stated  that it does not want to have jersey patch sponsorship on for its gameday uniforms for several important reasons including its desire to focus on its  official uniform provider . More specifically, Nike pays millions of dollars every year to be the official apparel partner of the NFL and its logos are featured as the only commercial brand on the game jerseys.  However, MAP shows just how valuable jersey patch partnerships are for the league and its teams. More specifically, a game day jersey sponsorship would create significant value for brands looking to maximize brand awareness as a sponsor’s logo would be on screen for a much longer period of time and much larger audience than what occurs on  Hard Knocks.  With MAP, teams could display the value generated during a game 72 hours after the broadcast was completed. Having an underutilized asset combined with the ability to clearly and quickly communicate value makes the NFL gameday jersey patch one of the most interesting issues in the sports industry today.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN, PAT MOCHEL, AND ANDREW JACOBS

Hard Knocks Shows the Value of NFL Jersey Patch Sponsorship

While NBA jersey patches are receiving many of the headlines, the NFL training camps have begun with all but five teams featuring a corporate partner on the front shoulder of their practice jerseys. These sponsors range from local healthcare providers, such as Advocate and Inova, to large corporations such as AT&T and Verizon. The question is why would partners want to be a practice jersey patch sponsor?

       Entering The Drone Zone Augments the Fan Experience   BY PAT MOCHEL ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Imagine being able to sit in the cockpit of a plane racing at high speeds through dangerous obstacles. While watching the Drone Racing League (DRL) does not fully simulate the experience of being a  Top Gun  pilot, it does enable its fans to see what it is like to be a drone pilot by using First Person View (FPV) technology. More specifically, pilots strap on virtual reality (VR) headsets which broadcast a feed from a camera located on the front of the drone. DRL fans get the adrenaline pumping feeling of twisting, turning and flipping a plane at 80 mph speeds all while racing against other pilots. The aggressive style of racing leads to some dramatic crashes similar to NASCAR and Formula One without any of the potential danger.  The FPV immersive environment is one of the key reasons that many fans, media, and sponsors are so excited with the new league. Fans generally want to have as much access to their favorite athletes and teams as possible. Social media has given fans this opportunity by enabling athletes and teams to directly communicate with their fans.  Through FPV however, fans can experience direct access to what a player sees during competition. It is this development that has many sports industry experts following the development of VR so closely. FVP could bring a viewer in the pocket with a quarterback, on the ice with a forward, or in the batter’s box with a major league hitter. The camera could also follow an athlete off to the sidelines and give insight to player-coach interactions or see how players prepare in practice. The potential possibilities FPV could have is virtually limitless.  One of the key questions facing the sports industry is what the impact of virtual reality (VR) will have on the fan experience. More specifically, will VR cannibalize existing revenue streams or augment them. If fans can get FPV experiences from the comfort of their homes or through their mobile devices, then they will be less likely to buy tickets to games or watch events on television.  The Allianz World Championships is a good example that these concerns may be exaggerated, at least in the near-term. Rather than cannibalizing current revenue streams, FPV seems to be augmented them. Even though the DRL is only in its second year of existence, the July 28th race features corporate partners such as Allianz, Bud Light, Sky Sports and will be broadcasted on ESPN. This in large part due to its ability to target young demographics in an immersive experience that maximizes fan engagement with the sport using FPV technology. Without FVP, it is not clear that the DRL would be as successful as it has been to date.  
BY PAT MOCHEL AND ADAM GROSSMAN

Entering The Drone Zone Augments the Fan Experience

Imagine being able to sit in the cockpit of a plane racing at high speeds through dangerous obstacles. While watching the Drone Racing League (DRL) does not fully simulate the experience of being a Top Gun pilot, it does enable its fans to see what it is like to be a drone pilot by using First Person View (FPV) technology

       What Makes Pogba, Ronaldo, and Messi $100 Million Men   BY ADAM GROSSMAN, ANDREW JACOBS, AND PAT MOCHEL     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Soccer’s summer transfer window begins this weekend as the wealthiest clubs in European soccer will likely spend millions on top talent from around the world in the transfer market. The question then becomes how much do you pay? According to Rory Smith’s recent article in   The New York Times      entitled “Soccer’s Confounding Calculation: What’s a Player Worth?” there does not appear to be a good answer. More specifically, “This is also what lends the transfer market its veneer of chaos, the sense that even experts are grasping in the dark: each club and each individual acting according to a value system only they know, and having a willingness to change it from case to case.”  So why are soccer players so hard to value? To start, it is really difficult to determine an individual player’s contribution to winning. Dubbed the beautiful game, soccer is 22 athletes weaving across the pitch, each having a unique effect on the flow of the game. Additionally, soccer has few quantifiable stats over a season, with even the most elite strikers having under 100 shots per year and elite defenders tallying few recordable stats. Contrast this to a data heavy sport like baseball, blessed with mountains of data, with starters amassing over 500 plate appearances a season with easily quantifiable outcomes.  Even with these difficulties, individual player performance metrics are being developed and refined. Expected goals is a way to quantify a team’s ability to create quality chances, a topic near to the heart of both managers and fans. Additionally, Audi’s Player Index (API) has been utilized in the MLS to quantify and evaluate nearly every action a player takes on the field. By allocating positive or negative points for 88 possible action items, like a key pass or a missed penalty, the API attempts to quantify a player’s contribution to the team. Expected Goals and API certainly both have their limitations, but they are only the first steps when evaluating on field success.  If these player performance metrics were perfect, however, that would still not provide a team with a player’s full value. The foundation of Smith’s exploration of this topic centers on the belief that finding players that will help a team win more games means that these players will also help a team generate more money. The problem is that this belief is not correct. More specifically, winning is not the only way that teams generate money from players.  If we think of soccer players as more traditional assets that companies hold on their balance sheet, then we are more likely to be able to quantify their value. In purely economic terms, assets are primarily considered valuable for the cash flow they can deliver to their organization. Soccer players are potentially valuable assets that can help teams generate revenue during a season and / or can be sold to other teams to bring in revenue in one-time transactions. The way we can quantify the impact of player’s on-field contribution to a team is by determining what impact winning has on generating revenue for the organization. In particular, how much more money does a team make in ticket, media, sponsorship, merchandise, concessions, and parking sales when it wins. Once this is determined then we can look at a player’s contribution to winning (i.e. what percentage of a team’s likelihood to win is attributed to a player) and determine his economic value.  Perhaps just as important as an individual player’s on field contribution, however, is his / her off-field impact. More specifically, fans want to see star players and star players do not necessarily mean players that solely help their teams win. Paul Pogba’s record breaking transfer fee to Manchester United is a good example of why off-field impact matters. Before Pogba stepped on the field for the Red Devils, Adidas was able to activate a social media campaign with substantial results. “At around midnight on 7th August, Adidas’ official Twitter account ‘accidentally” leaked a music video featuring Pogba, clad head to toe in Manchester United gear…The 48-second music video features Pogba dancing alongside Stormzy as he raps a verse from his song, ‘Nigo Duppy’. Instantly catchy and shareable, the video had been viewed six million times on Twitter by the end of the day. To put that in perspective, Pogba’s six million views in a day dwarfs the 318,000 views that Granit Xhaka’s Arsenal announcement video received, and dominates the 278,000 achieved by Chelsea’s account as they unveiled N’Golo Kante.” Pogba’s star power translated into immediate success for both United and Adidas.  Pogba also shows how player valuations are highly context dependent and can vary widely by team. For starters, a value of a win varies drastically by team, especially in a sport that financially rewards positive performance as much as European soccer. Two additional league wins for Arsenal FC in 2016/2017 would have resulted in a champions league spot and a nice paycheck of $14 million. Contrast that to fellow London club West Ham where two additional wins would have moved them from 11th to 9th which would lead to no monetary reward. In addition, a player’s ability to command attention will be different on different teams. For example, seven out of the  top-ten selling jerseys in MLS  came from European players in 2016 that had previously played for long stretches on the continent. While the star power of someone like David Villa has faded in La Liga in Spain, these type of players do have the ability to generate significant revenue for teams in the MLS that is not dependent on how much or how well they play in the MLS.    Block Six Analytics Revenue Above Replacement (RAR) is designed specifically to examine how a player’s on-field and off-field performance helps a team generate top-line revenue growth. We first determine how much of a team’s revenue is generated by on-field and off-field performance. We then determine an athlete’s contribution to winning and his / her overall ability to engage with fans, media, and sponsors in ways that generate revenue for a team. Therefore, RAR calculates the revenue a player would generate given a specific team at a specific time using a comprehensive, data-driven, and context dependent starting point in evaluating players. Taking this approach enables us answer the question about how much a player is worth.   
BY ADAM GROSSMAN, ANDREW JACOBS, AND PAT MOCHEL

What Makes Pogba, Ronaldo, and Messi $100 Million Men

Soccer’s summer transfer window begins this weekend as the world’s wealthiest clubs in European soccer will likely spend millions on top talent from around the world in the transfer market. The question then becomes how much do you pay?

      From the Hardwood to the Boardroom  By Adam Grossman     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      It is no secret that  many athletes  that earn millions playing professional sports end up going into bankruptcy soon after their athletic careers are over. One of the most common ways athletes lose their fortunes is through poor investment decisions. In fact, there is no shortage of articles  highlighting  the “worst investments pro athletes ever made” on a variety of deals. In particular, athletes have lost a significant amount of money making bets on technology or working with financial services companies.    This is one reason that the recent announcement of the  Players Technology Summit  co-hosted by Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala along with Bloomberg Media is particularly interesting. Rather than running away from technology or investing in companies, athletes are running towards these opportunities. This technology summit will bring together NBA players for a networking event to “share secrets on how [NBA Players are] disrupting Silicon Valley.”  That the last phrase in the previous paragraph sounds like something you would hear from a venture capital (VC) fund, rather than an NBA player, is no accident. Many athletes have become much more savvy investors and function more like general partners at venture capital firms. Iguodala states that athletes can take advantage of their wealth and fame to be in a  position , "to learn from some of the best in the tech and venture capital business and put those learnings to work."  Proactively seeking out advice from industry leaders is a significant change in wealth management strategy. In exchange, investors from Silicon Valley gain valuable insights into the rapidly growing sports technology space. Image tracking, geo-location, and wearable technologies are some of the areas that are attracting significant VC dollars. Gaining insight from the athletes who use these technologies at the highest level will better enable these funds to identify promising companies for investment.     These interactions have been an impetus for athletes to start their own VC funds. More specifically, athletes can evaluate early-stage investments for potential growth and make investments in exchange for equity in those companies. In particular, athletes can leverage their own personal experience on and off the court to help find the companies that can “disrupt”, or fundamentally change, entire industries. In fact,  current and former NBA players  such as Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Jamal Mashburn have started their own VC funds with industry veterans to invest their personal and outside capital.  It is not clear that NBA players are going to receive the outsized investment returns that VC funds strive to achieve by making bets on growth companies. However, the Players Technology Summit puts the players in a better position off the court to be successful in managing their personal wealth earned on the court. 
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

From the Hardwood to the Boardroom

It is no secret that many athletes that earn millions playing professional sports end up going into bankruptcy soon after their athletic careers are over. One of the most common ways athletes lose their fortunes is through poor investment decisions. In fact, there is no shortage of articles highlighting the “worst investments pro athletes ever made” on a variety of deals. This is one reason that the recent announcement of the Players Technology Summit co-hosted by Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala along with Bloomberg Media is particularly interesting. Rather than running away from technology or investing in companies, athletes are running towards these opportunities. 

      From Education to Entertainment     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Andrew Jacobs  Erin Hills in Wisconsin is hosting golf’s U.S. Open Championship for the first time. The new venue, however, is only one change for one of the country’s oldest tournaments.  As part of its live coverage, FOX Sports will implement an array of technological tools to enhance their golf broadcast including augmented reality course overviews, drone flyovers, and shot tracing technology at all 18 tee boxes. Golf’s TopTracer technology and other similar technology offerings allow fans to see the exact flight pattern of the ball, as well as a golfer’s carry and apex of their swing. These new technologies will enable viewers to see data analytics on everything from drive apex to spin rate, throughout FOX’s 45 hours of coverage.  The US Open highlights a growing trend in the sports industry. Today, the numbers are not purely educational. Data  is  entertainment.  More specifically, television networks are using data because fans want to see the numbers to better enjoy watching sports. “The information is important and informative to heighten the viewing experience,” noted FOX senior vice president of graphic technology Zac Fields in an interview with  Geek Wire.  “We view it as a necessity much like the yellow line in football.”    “Strokes gained” is another good example of the analytics viewers will likely see during this weekend’s broadcast. First introduced by Mark Broadie of Columbia University, strokes gained compares a player’s performance in one aspect of the game, such as putting or driving, compared to the field average. Strokes gained has been used for several years by some of the game’s best but it has recently gained traction in the public discourse of fans and sports media. For example, fans can now tangibly see how Dustin Johnson’s long driving ability impacts his score as compared to other golfers’ in the field.  Across all sports, fans have shown an insatiable appetite for more and more stats and information about their favorite teams and players. MLB’s Statcast, a revolutionary tool utilized to analyze movements of both players and the baseball, has made nearly every aspect of the game quantifiable. First implemented into every stadium in 2015, Statcast data has been wholly available to fans for the first time this season and has been   met with great enthusiasm. Walk into a sports bar and you will hear chatter of Aaron Judge’s latest launch angle or Andrew McCutchen’s great outfield speed. Similar advanced metrics, like baseball’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) or basketball’s offensive efficiency, have likewise been transformed from purely front office tools into media and fan base discussion points.    As fans appetite for data grows, opportunities exist for significant growth for technology, analytics, and media companies within the sports industry. First, opportunities exist for new and innovative ways to track movement and performance across all sports, not only for use by talent evaluators but also as entertainment for fans. Additionally, sports media companies looking to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded marketplace can leverage premium data and technologies to offer unique and valuable offerings for fans. For years, television networks have been worried that providing analytics would drive viewers away from game broadcasts. Now data is at the forefront of how networks want to engage fans with their favorite sports, teams, and players.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN AND ANDREW JACOBS

From Education to Entertainment

Erin Hills in Wisconsin is hosting golf’s U.S. Open Championship for the first time. The new venue, however, is only one change for one of the country’s oldest tournaments.  As part of its live coverage, FOX Sports will implement an array of technological tools to enhance their golf broadcast including augmented reality course overviews, drone flyovers, and shot tracing technology at all 18 tee boxes.

       The Mind Matters In Warriors Success      

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Adam Grossman  Last night’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers provided the Golden State Warriors its second title in three years and capped off one of the most dominant three-year runs by any team in NBA history. One of the reasons this historic stretch is so remarkable is that the Warriors lineup is relatively ordinary from a physical perspective. Of the team’s vaunted “Lineup of Death,” a group known for dominating the competition for long stretches at a time, only Kevin Durant has physical skills that would be considered extraordinary in the NBA. In fact, this lineup is one of the smallest units in stature that played a significant number of minutes throughout the season. For instance, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green were specifically not taken earlier in their respective NBA drafts because many teams believed their physical limitations would prohibit them from becoming star players.     Rather than relying on physical ability, the Warriors have built their team around a motion based offense that hinges on players consistently making the decision that will maximize the team’s expected points for that particular possession. More specifically, the team’s players are asked to survey the court and make decisions quickly to generate open shots. It is the team’s mental strength, particularly focused on cognitive executive function, that enables the team to gain a competitive advantage. In fact, Curry has credited his  “brain training”  as one of the key factors of his on-court success.  Intelligence and decision-making testing have been a component of player evaluation for years. The most well-known example of this occurs prior to the NFL Draft when players take the Wonderlic Test. One of the more surprising findings is that Peyton Manning had a lower score than his brother Eli on the Wonderlic. One of the shortcomings of the Wonderlic, and other intelligence test such as IQ tests, is that they are testing a dependent variable. Essentially these tests measure if people have high levels of intelligence but not why and how they have these high levels of intelligence.  This is not the fault of the tests themselves. Until very recently, humans had very little understanding of how the brain works on a physiological level. At a basic level, the brain has cells called neurons that produce neurotransmitters that are sent across pathways to other neurons throughout the brain to stimulate activity. The stronger the pathways are, the more likely someone will learn a concept. The human mind does not need lines of code to work. It continually adapts as it learns by processing and adapting to new information on its own. Instead of cooking by following a recipe, the brain acts like a master chef that can make changes to a dish by tasting the dish as he / she cooks a meal.    This makes the rise of machine learning in technology particularly interesting. In the past, computer programmers would have to write thousands of lines of code telling a computer exactly what to do and how to execute a particular.  If a line of code contained even the smallest of errors, then the machine would not be able to complete its task. By using neural networks, engineers are enabling machines to be more like master chefs rather than cooks that follow recipes.  However, that is essentially the limit of understanding of how the brain works. In  Possessing Genius: The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein's Brain   many scientist examined Albert Einstein’s brain posthumously and had tremendous difficulty finding any structural differences between the famous scientist’s mind and the normal person’s mind. Similarly, it is very difficult to understand how a machine learning platform makes changes to its neural network to achieve a task of identifying a logo during games. Essentially, the only way to impact the internal neural network is to change the external training stimuli and data sets. We do not really know how and why a machine makes the adjustments in its internal nodes to more accurately classify objects or identify faces.  New scientific advances may finally shed more light on how the brain and intelligence work. Recently, researchers have found a mutation in a gene in mice that controls communication between neurons in the brain. This mutation makes these mice  “savants of the rodent world”  and gives them superior intellectual ability. Other  scientists  have found 40 genes linked to intelligence showing that some of “your smarts are in your DNA”. We are closer than ever to finding out what physiological elements can lead to intelligence. From a sports perspective, these insights can eventually help teams better determine which players have the cognitive skills to perform at the highest mental levels during games. Rather than being an anomaly, teams could identify and assemble players with cognitive gifts, similar to how the 2016-17 Warriors did.  Human beings have been able to leverage our brain power to achieve extraordinary accomplishments even if we do not exactly how the mind works. Imagine what we could achieve we actually knew how intelligence worked on a genetic or cellular level. Drafting and signing players for the next NBA champion would just be the start.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

The Mind Matters In Warriors Success

Last night’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers provided the Golden State Warriors its second title in three years and capped off one of the most dominant three-year runs by any team in NBA history. One of the reasons this historic stretch is so remarkable is that the Warriors lineup is relatively ordinary from a physical perspective. Of the team’s vaunted “Lineup of Death,” a group known for dominating the competition for long stretches at a time, only Kevin Durant has physical skills that would be considered extraordinary in the NBA.

       From Fast To Sustainable Growth Via Sports      

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Adam Grossman  Frisco, Texas was the  second  fastest growing city in the United States in 2016. Over the past 20 years, the city has  grown  from 5,000 people in 1987 to over 163,000 in 2016. The rapid growth is in part due to large sports venue investments made via public / private partnerships the city has made with the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, FC Dallas and the Frisco RoughRiders (minor league baseball team) that make up the city’s  $5 billion mile .  However, Frisco appears to be shifting to a different type of investment when it comes to sports. Last week, Stadia Ventures brought its most recent cohort from its accelerator programs to explore the opportunities available for sports startups in Frisco. Hosted by LaunchPad City, which works with startups and has been in talks to bring a branch of Stadia Ventures to town, new companies from across the country were able to build relationships with leading sports executives throughout Frisco.  Building innovation hubs is not novel practice for cities or states looking to attract new businesses and top talent. San Francisco, Boston, New York City, and Chicago are among the many cities that have made significant investments in building the infrastructure for startups to thrive. In addition, many cities, states, and countries have made similar public / private investments in building facilities that Frisco has, often achieving less success, as we note in our book   The Sports Strategist: Developing leaders for a High-Performance Industry.    What is particularly interesting about this approach is that Frisco is making an investment in ways that will continue differentiate the city from other municipalities. Rather than focusing on just innovation, Frisco can narrow its focus to become the sports entrepreneurship capital. Given that sports is a  $57+ billion  year industry, there are a number of young companies entering the space and looking for homes for their businesses. It is one reason that Blue Star Sports, a leading provider of sports management software and payment solutions, which is in part financed by the Cowboys, has acquired  12+ companies  and has already moved some of them to Frisco.  In addition, Frisco can better monetize its own sports investments. One of the criticisms of public / private ventures involving sports is that they do not provide a significant enough ROI to the public. In particular, they do not directly provide new job growth politicians and citizens expected when the investments are made. Frisco may not have these problems to this extent or at all. Having a sports innovation hub means that teams in area have access to the exact type of innovative startups that will facilitate their own growth nearby. The startups have access to new clients that can provide the foundation for their growth, which will ultimately enable them to hire more people from the Frisco area. This ecosystem likely provides the best opportunity for the city to maximize its ROI from sports investments.  Frisco still has a long way to go to become the center of sports entrepreneurship. Hosting Stadia Ventures as the first step to building on its sports public / private partnerships puts Frisco in a good position to continue to be one of America’s fastest growing cities.        
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

From Fast To Sustainable Growth Via Sports

Frisco, Texas was the second fastest growing city in the United States in 2016. Over the past 20 years, the city has grown from 5,000 people in 1987 to over 163,000 in 2016. The rapid growth is in part due to large sports venue investments made via public / private partnerships the city has made with the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, FC Dallas and the Frisco RoughRiders (minor league baseball team) that make up the city’s $5 billion mile.

       Does Fame Turn Into Fortune?      

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      By Adam Grossman  ESPN has  released  its World Fame 100 ratings to answer the question: “Who are the most famous athletes on the planet?” Through a formula developed largely by ESPN’s Director of Analytics Ben Alamar, the World Fame 100 examines endorsements, social media following, and Google search results to create a 1 to 100 rankings for players. Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James were the “winners” securing the first and second spots on the list, respectively.  B6A has examined a similar question using our Revenue Above Replacement (RAR) product offering. Rather than asking who the most famous athletes in sports are, however, we ask who is the most valuable player within each sport (i.e. looking at MLB players as compared to other MLB players rather than looking at MLB players versus NBA players).  On the surface, this could appear to be to a distinction without a difference.  More specifically, being famous often translates to being highly valued and being well compensated for that value. In fact, our Revenue Above Replacement model does factor in social media audience and endorsements into our calculation of off-field value in a comparable way to how the World Fame 100 utilizes it in its formula.  This, however, is the end of the similarities between the two approaches. In particular, the World Fame 100 fails to account for any type of “On-Field” value. More specifically, “Salary is not used as a factor because of differences among sports. For example, players in a league with a salary cap would be at an unfair disadvantage when measured against players in uncapped league.” There are several issues with this assertion. First, even leagues without salary caps have ways of restricting salary. For example, UEFA has introduced  Financial Fair Play  rules to make sure that teams cannot spend money on players’ salaries without being able to “prove they have paid the bills” (i.e. teams cannot consistently lose money even if owners are willing to pay for these losses). Alamar and ESPN could also introduce controls that are typically included in other studies that account for differences in payroll. For example, Alamar could compare athletes who earn similar salaries or make adjustments based on how a player's salary compares to that of the average player in the sport.  Second, if you are not using salary then how would this formula account for the fame generated by a player’s “On-Field” performance? In particular, what a player does on the field is what makes him famous in the first place. Salary could actually be a good indicator of performance. Generally, higher paid players are typically (but certainly not always) higher performing players. Using salary as a proxy performance metric and then doing some comparison to social media, endorsements, and search history would serve to enhance the model. What makes this omission particularly perplexing is that the list specifically does not include retired athletes, which should serveto further enhance the value of on-field performance. Therefore, it appears Alamar and ESPN acknowledge that the on-field considerations are important without examining this as a factor in the analysis.    B6A’s RAR model examines how a player’s on-field and off-field performance generates top-line revenue growth for his / her team / league. One of the reasons we developed our RAR model is that we did not think that players were being fairly compensated for their off-field “fame”. More specifically, players’ drive value to teams through their ability to engage with fans, media, and sponsors. Highly visible athletes and star power often does ultimately lead to revenue generation for teams. However, we recognize that on-field performance needs to be properly evaluated and that it impacts off-field performance, particularly when it comes to social media and endorsements. That is why our RAR model does examine a player’s ability and salary in relation to their off-field performance.  While we appreciate ESPN’s objective in compiling this list, we do not agree that it effectively answers the question of who is the most famous athlete.  It is interesting and important to create a framework to evaluate star power across different sports. This is particularly important when it comes to endorsements and corporate partnerships with athletes. While fame can lead to fortune, however, it is critical to understand why fame is created in the first place. By failing to look more in-depth at on-field performance, however, ESPN does not provide the best answer to its own question.
BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Does Fame Turn Into Fortune?

ESPN has released its World Fame 100 ratings to answer the question: “Who are the most famous athletes on the planet?” Through a formula developed largely by ESPN’s Director of Analytics Ben Alamar, the World Fame 100 examines endorsements, social media following, and Google search results to create a 1 to 100 rankings for players. Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James were the “winners” securing the first and second spots on the list, respectively.