SpotsBiz

      Moneyball Has Come To Jeopardy!  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Jeopardy! and sports competitions seem to have little in common. Outside of the occasional sports category or a celebrity Jeopardy! episode featuring athletes, brains and brawn rarely intersect on the popular answer and question game show.  However, that seems to have changed with the  recent run of victories  by contestant James Holzhauer since early April. Not only is Holzhauer a professional sports bettor but he has also brought a Moneyball approach to the gameshow. In addition, Holzhauer reinforces the notion that fans appear to like dominant champions rather than competitive parity when watching competitions.   For those unfamiliar with or do not fully remember the conceit of Jeopardy!, host Alex Trebek reads clues from different categories to three contestants with each contestant having the ability to buzz-in with the correct response (which occurs in the form of a question). The contestant that buzzes in the fastest and responds correctly earns cash, with more difficult questions having higher dollar values over the course of two rounds and Final Jeopardy!. The contestant with the most money at the end of the show wins and can come back for the next episode to compete as the champion.   Can you really apply Moneyball to Jeopardy!? Even though it appears that “Moneyball of…” has been applied in every possible situation, very few contestants have actually used the optimal strategy to win as much money as possible. Past multiple-show champions have won primarily because their intellect, memory, and recall speed outpaced their competition.     Holzhauer is strong in all of these areas but what differentiates him from other competitors is the optimal selection of clues through a strategy of Daily Double “hunting.” All clues have specific dollar amounts except for Daily Doubles. Contestants can bet their entire earnings up to that point for these questions but there is only one Daily Double in the first round and two in the second round.   Most people think that finding a Daily Double happens by chance because contestants do not know in advance where they are placed and they are seemingly placed at random throughout the board. Therefore, many contestants pick clues from the same category of questions before moving on to the next one starting with easiest (least valuable) and then moving to the hardest (most valuable) questions. The show actually pauses so audiences can applaud when only one contestant responds with the correct question for every clue in a category.   What Holzhauer has shown is that this strategy does not maximize expected value because finding Daily Doubles is not completely random. Contestants should concentrate on finding Daily Doubles as soon as they have enough money to make large enough bets. “Hunting” around the board with specific dollar values across multiple categories to find Daily Doubles is the most likely way to earn the most money. As described by  Slate’s  Jeremy Faust:   In the first round, he starts with the most valuable clues ($1,000). That way, if he does not hit the Daily Double early, he is accumulating cash fast so that when he does find one, he has more money to wager. However, in Double Jeopardy!, James takes a slightly different approach, starting at the third clue in each category, worth $1,200. (Daily Doubles usually appear in the third, fourth, or fifth row, and the clues become harder the lower on the board and are more valuable, maxing out at $2,000.) This improves his chance at landing on easier Daily Doubles in the second round, in which the clues are significantly harder. Also, once he has found a Daily Double, he usually abandons the category it appeared in, because two Daily Doubles never occur in the same category.     This strategy that has been the key driver in Holzhauer’s ability to earn by far the single  highest  one-day total winnings ($131,127) and the overall highest average per-show winnings ($75,825) as of April 24th).   What is interesting about Holzhauer’s success is that it is driving Jeopardy!’s success as well. The show is generating the  highest ratings  it has achieved in years. As of yesterday, B6A’s  Partnership Scoreboard  platform has identified over 2,700 articles generating an estimated 331.5 million impressions highlighting Holzhauer’s success on the show.    That could seem counterintuitive as the best Jeopardy! episodes should be the ones when the games are the most competitive and the show hinges on the result of Final Jeopardy!. With Holzhauer that has rarely been the case. In nine of his first 11 shows, Holzhauer had the episode won prior to Final Jeopardy! because his competitors were too far behind to wager enough money to pass him. In fact, it is Holzhauer’s ability to eliminate competitive balance (in a similar manner to what past champion Ken Jennings had done) that has driven interest in the show.   We have seen similar results in sports where dominance can attract higher levels of interest from fans, media, and partners than times where there is competitive balance. In a past post for   Forbes  , I highlighted how Kevin Durant heading to the Warriors to play a Lebron James-led Cleveland team in the NBA Finals seems to have driven increased interest in the NBA at the time with other sports seeing similar results with dominant teams and players.   Not every team, athlete, or person will be capable of employing the optimal strategy, and my co-authors and I articulate that winning should not be a requirement for revenue generation in the sports industry in our book,   The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High-Performance Industry  . There has, however, been a concern about the converse scenario: The “Moneyball” of competition to find the optimal strategy will eliminate the need to watch sports because why watch if everyone knows who is going to win. Jeopardy! builds on past evidence that “knowing” who is going to win actually can be the winning strategy to increase audience engagement.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Moneyball Has Come To Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! and sports competitions seem to have little in common. Outside of the occasional sports category or a celebrity Jeopardy! episode featuring athletes, brains and brawn rarely intersect on the popular answer and question game show. However, that seems to have changed with the recent run of victories by contestant James Holzhauer since early April. Not only is Holzhauer a professional sports bettor but he has also brought a Moneyball approach to the gameshow. In addition, Holzhauer reinforces the notion that fans appear to like dominant champions rather than competitive parity when watching competitions.

      The Impact of Authenticity In Corporate Partnerships  BY LESLIE CERVANTES & ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      While Tiger Woods’ return to golf major championship winner grabbed many of the recent headlines, Dwayne Wade’s departure from the NBA may have been the more compelling corporate partnership activation. More specifically, Anheuser-Busch’s #ThisBudsFor3 campaign featuring Wade demonstrates the power of authenticity in connecting with audiences through corporate partnerships.  The most visible element of this campaign is a video produced by VaynerMedia and best described by Budweiser. From the company’s Twitter  account , “To celebrate his  #OneLastDance ,  @DwyaneWade  has been swapping jerseys with NBA legends. Before his final season ended, we surprised him with three more. Watch how it all unfolds.  #ThisBudsFor3 .”   The video then proceeds to show people that Wade has had significant impacts upon off the court ranging from the sister of a victim of the Parkland school shooting to someone that received a scholarship funded by Wade to his own mother. In the end, Wade’s mother talks about the impact her son had on her life, particularly after she was released from prison by  stating , “I am more proud of the man you have become than the basketball player. You are bigger than basketball.”  We used B6A’s  Media Analysis Platform  and  Social Sentiment Analysis  Platform to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign by examining the most valuable posts across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. We specifically looked at owned and earned accounts for value, reach, and sentiment for video, image, and text content to understand the wholistic value of the campaign and are displaying the results from our Partnership Scoreboard below.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     The metrics for the campaign are impressive, but the one that stands out the most is likely the least surprising. B6A’s sentiment scores range from -100.0% to 100.0%. Earned media posts (i.e. posts not from Budweiser accounts) had an average sentiment score of 69.6%. As context, most brands typically have sentiment scores ranging from 0.0-15.0%.   Now it could be easy to say that the campaign’s content is driving the sentiment score. More specifically, that empathetic people talking about the impact that Wade has had on their lives is the biggest driver of such a positive response.   However, the content was not guaranteed to drive positive sentiment. One of the most common criticisms of influencer marketing or athlete partnerships is that campaigns lack authenticity. More specifically, that athletes are promoting something because they are receiving compensation and not necessarily because the values of the company align with the values of the athlete. Conversely, corporate partners also often try to fit an influencer within what the company is trying to say in a campaign rather than looking at what athlete has said or done that is important to him / her.   The reason that this campaign resonates so positively with such a large audience is likely because it is authentic both to Wade and to Budweiser. As the text of Budweiser’s Twitter post states, Wade has been swapping jerseys with NBA players that are meaningful to him throughout the season. While this is more common in soccer, it is rare that NBA players engage in this activity to the point where the jersey swap has become synonymous with Wade’s final season.  While Budweiser has a number of different campaigns running at the moment, the one it is likely most well known for is “This Bud’s For You.” Budweiser more recently has used this  campaign  and ones like it to connect to Millennials by focusing on how a large company can create unique experiences. Budweiser wants its current and potential customers to associate the moments that are most valued by them with one of its alcoholic beverages.  The #ThisBudsFor3 campaign makes this concept tangible by creating an experience for Wade that is clearly memorable for him. More importantly, it focuses on what Wade finds to be personally important rather than solely focusing on athletic achievement. This enables Budweiser to create a unique experience for Wade that everyone can relate to in their own lives.   In many of our blog posts, we focus on the importance of examining data to drive the decision-making process. However, we also understand that corporate partnerships in sports can and should be different than other advertising channels. Athletes, teams, competitions, and events create unique narratives that facilitate connections with audiences in deeply emotional and personal ways. The #ThisBudsFor3 campaign demonstrates the value associated with instances when rights holders and partners understand what makes sports special and why this should be the focus of a partnership whenever possible.         

BY LESLIE CERVANTES & ADAM GROSSMAN

The Impact of Authenticity In Corporate Partnerships

While Tiger Woods’ return to golf major championship winner grabbed many of the recent headlines, Dwayne Wade’s departure from the NBA may have been the more compelling corporate partnership activation. More specifically, Anheuser-Busch’s #ThisBudsFor3 campaign featuring Wade demonstrates the power of authenticity in connecting with audiences through corporate partnerships.

      Going For The Green: Who Is The Most Likely To Win The Masters  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      One of the first things that strikes golf fans when seeing Augusta National is the color. The azaleas that permeate the golf course provide a chromatic backdrop unparalleled in golf. Yet, green is the color that matters most to golfers, sponsors and fans of The Masters. More specifically, everyone wants to see who will put on the Masters Green Jacket at the end of the first major tournament of the golfing season.   Is there a way to predict who is most likely to be wearing golf’s most famous apparel? While the term Moneyball was first coined for baseball analytics, golf is the sport that best fits the moniker. The golf ball is at the center of how players make money from their tournaments and how much partners gain exposure for their brands. Perhaps nothing better symbolizes the importance of Moneyball in golf then Tiger Woods’ famous chip on the 16th hole that dropped into the hole only after “pausing” for the Nike logo to get its closeup on screen at the 2005 Masters.   So who would Moneyball-style analytics predict is the most likely to win the 2019 Masters and how much value would be generated for that win? The Block Six Analytics (B6A) Revenue Above Replacement (RAR) model can help answer this question. The RAR is designed to look at the economic impact of both on-course and off-course performance by leveraging B6A’s proprietary machine learning technology and analytics.  For on-course performance, B6A examined several different factors using a multiple regression analysis to determine which best determine which golfers perform the best over the course of a season based on distance, accuracy, risk, and number of strokes on driving, approach, rough, sand, and putting strokes. The factors we found to best determine winning were:    Putting strokes  – how many putts per round does the golfer take as compared to other golfers    Strokes gained – how many fewer strokes a golfer takes as compared to other golfers on every shot (see this  explainer  by the PGA Tour for more details)     Driving distance  – how far does the golfer hit the ball as compared to other golfers    Performing well (or poorly) on these factors strongly correlated with the weighted average winnings a player earned per tournament per season. We used a weighted average to control for the fact that players participate in different numbers of tournaments per year.    The Masters slightly deviated from the formula used to calculate full-season earnings in that driving distance did not have a statistically significant impact on performance. To determine who is most likely to win The Masters, we examined the full season results versus how players finished for the 2015-2018 Masters. The results from B6A’s  Partnership Scoreboard  below show whom we would expect to perform the best at the 2019 Masters and their win probabilities given their performance in the 2018-19 season.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Does our analysis mean that Justin Thomas should get his measurements ready for his first Green Jacket? That is probably premature. Win Probability (WinProb) is calculated by comparing Justin Thomas’ Total to the total of the entire field. While Thomas is expected to perform the best, his WinProb is 5.35% both only 0.27% greater than Xander Schauffele and 1.78% greater than the 10th ranked Tony Finau.  If Thomas does win The Masters, however, his sponsors will be the biggest beneficiaries. While Thomas would earn at least $1.98 million for winning The Masters, his apparel sponsors would generate more overall value.   We focused on apparel sponsors as they are the most visible brands associated with players during golf tournaments. We used B6A’s  Media Analysis Platform (MAP)  to programmatically identify which logo activations generated the most value for the top three players in the 2018 Masters and applied those values to our 2019 projected results. Value is determined by how long the logos appear on screen, how much of the screen the logo takes up, how close the logos are to the center of the screen, and how clear the logos are on screen.   The last part of the MAP calculation is based on how many people are watching the tournament. For this analysis, we are focused solely on linear television viewers. Winning disproportionately impacts viewership numbers in golf. Not only do broadcasts focus on the leaders of the tournament in later rounds of the tournament but viewership spikes for later rounds. For example, the second round of the 2018 masters had 4.96 million viewers while the final round had 17.63 million viewers. This means that the winners will gain the most exposure when the most people are watching the broadcast.   Going for the green has a slightly different meaning when it comes to The Masters as compared to other tournaments. While the players are going for the Green Jacket, sponsors are going for the players that can generate the most value. The B6A RAR model can help predict both outcomes. 

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Going For The Green: Who Is The Most Likely To Win The Masters

One of the first things that strikes golf fans when seeing Augusta National is the color. The azaleas that permeate the golf course provide a chromatic backdrop unparalleled in golf. Yet, green is the color that matters most to golfers, sponsors and fans of The Masters. More specifically, everyone wants to see who will put on the Masters Green Jacket at the end of the first major tournament of the golfing season.

      LUNA Bar Scores With Equal Pay Partnership  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Arguably the biggest news coming from national Equal Pay Day on Tuesday was LUNA Bar decision to pay each of the 23 players that made the final 2019 United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) World Cup roster $31,250. This enables the USWNT players to be paid an equal amount to their counterparts on the United States Men’s National Team for participating in the World Cup.   LUNA Bar’s decision is another example of how the increase in cause marketing continues to impact the sports industry. We examined Gillette’s “the best a man can be” campaign and how companies are more frequently taking positions on social, political, and / or moral issues they have usually shied away from in the past in a  previous post . Companies were afraid that taking “sides” on an issue could alienate large swaths of current / potential customers who may not agree with their position.    More recently, companies such as LUNA have seen these issues as ways to differentiate themselves from the competition particularly in competitive categories where brand differentiation is difficult to achieve. For example, LUNA  competes  in the “bar market” where “a casual observer…may conclude that these brands seem pretty interchangeable.”   Cause marketing enables these companies to achieve becoming not “interchangeable” by taking tangible actions on an issue important to their core customers. As Clif Bar & Company (makers of LUNA Bars) Owner and Co-CEO Kit Crawford  said , “We are big fans of the U.S. Women’s National Team and were inspired to take action and make a difference that matters. LUNA Bar is honored to give these women, and women everywhere, our support. It’s what is right, but more importantly, it’s what they deserve.”  Sports provides unique opportunities for companies looking for cause marketing to develop partnerships because of the spotlight it can bring to issues. One piece of evidence supporting USWNT players’ claims that they deserve equal pay relative to the USMNT are the television ratings during the event. More specifically, the 25.4 million viewers for the  2015 Women’s World Cup final  made it “the most-viewed soccer game ever in the United States–men’s or women’s–by a giant margin” at the time.    Recognizing that the USWNT are the “ firm favorites ” to win again this year means that the team is likely to attract to similar attention. By being a partner of the USWNT, LUNA Bar has a direct platform to reach a large portion of its target audience in ways its competitors cannot. While Block Six Analytics (B6A) obviously does not endorse having a gender pay gap to create a partnership opportunity, this is a clear example of the unique value proposition that sports can provide for companies looking to use cause marketing as a brand differentiator.   How did LUNA’s customers respond? B6A does see direct lifts in sentiment, engagement and overall value. We used our  Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP)  to understand LUNA Bar’s and the USWNT’s core demographics and listen to the conversation about the announcement. The results from our  Partnership Scoreboard  are below.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     This analysis shows that the USWNT audience overlaps significantly with LUNA Bar’s audience and was clearly engaged in the conversation surrounding this announcement. Moreover, the USWNT now has tangible, quantifiable evidence of how it helped LUNA Bar create brand differentiation to a higher number of its target customers in a highly competitive market through its partnership.    While seemingly entirely positive, LUNA Bar’s decision to close the gender pay gap for the USWNT does not come without risk. As  The Daily Beast’s  Lizzie Crocker said after the USWNT won the 2015 Women’s World Cup, “Women deserve to be treated equally in all fields. But the sports pay gap isn’t a big, sexist conspiracy. In the current economic environment, it’s not at all unfair that female athletes make less than their male counterparts. It’s simply a matter of supply and demand.”    This market-based approach to addressing these types of issues is similar to the criticism Gillette received for its cause marketing campaign. Regardless of one’s position on the gender pay gap or other issue issues, it is clear that companies are going to continue to invest in cause marketing to create brand differentiation and stronger relationships with their customers. The data shows that the sports industry is well positioned to be a primary channel for this type of investment.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

LUNA Bar Scores With Equal Pay Partnership

Arguably the biggest news coming from national Equal Pay Day on Tuesday was LUNA Bar decision to pay each of the 23 players that made the final 2019 United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) World Cup roster $31,250. This enables the USWNT players to be paid an equal amount to their counterparts on the United States Men’s National Team for participating in the World Cup. LUNA Bar’s decision is another example of how the increase in cause marketing continues to impact the sports industry.

      Sports Invests In Live Experiences In The Age Of Streaming  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      This week’s announcement of  Apple TV+  is a show the sports industry has seen before. Not only does Apple join the ranks of Disney, Amazon, Google, and Facebook in owning streaming video platforms that can feature sports content but it also enters a space of sports-focused platforms that includes ESPN+, B/R Live, DAZN, and FloSports.   Apple’s entry into streaming video also seems like another blow to the live experience for the entertainment industry. The prevailing wisdom in content creation is that consumers want to consume content how, when, and where they want. Why go to a venue to see a performance, movie, or sporting event when the content can be delivered directly to a television or mobile device.   Apple’s launch of iTunes was arguably the turning point in the content delivery story. The iTunes Store and the ability of millions of people to legally download the specific songs they want directly to an iPod, iPhone, or iPad seemingly made both the live concert and CD obsolete. This had devastating results for the music industry with revenues  shrinking  from $38 billion in 2003 to $16.5 billion in 2013.   This revenue decline is largely attributed to the belief that the music industry failed to react to the change in audience preferences for consuming music. The “Luddites” had built a physical infrastructure around concerts and CDS that did not belong in a digital era and were not making investments in ways that could best monetize the future of music.   This made the announcement of multiple major sports venue projects around the same time that the company arguably most responsible for changes in audience consumption is launching a new streaming platform all the more surprising. This ranges from  three  venues spending millions of dollar to “replace their existing scoreboards with larger, flashier entertainment systems” to the San Diego Padres announcing a new concert  venue  at Petco Park. The announcement of a new,  $50 million  esports arena being built for the Philadelphia Fusion team is even more unexpected given that esports popularity originated from fans watching their favorite athletes and competition on streaming platforms.   Why would sports organizations be making these types of investments in live experiences in the age of streaming video and digital distribution? The music industry can serve as a guide for this rationale.  Last year  was a “record-setting year in the concert business, with more than $10.4 billion in sales, representing 152.1 million tickets.” The top-ten music tours in 2018 grossed 10% more in revenue 2018 than in 2017.   This does not necessarily mean that more people are coming to concerts than before. Concert revenues continue to increase because  ticket prices  continue to increase. This is evidence that shows that people who want to attend concerts are willing to pay an increasing amount to have the unique experience of seeing their favorite bands in person. This is occurring at the same time that iTunes and streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora continue to build  audiences .   That is a bet that the sports industry appears to be making via these venue investments. Fans that want unique experiences will pay more to attend live competitions even in the face of or because of the growth of streaming services with sports content. This should be welcome news for the teams and leagues that have struggled with the  attendance issues  in recent years.  This is also good news from a corporate partnership perspective. More specifically, the fans attending venues for games or competitions are more likely to be the fans that companies want to target. Coming to an event when they do not “have to” (i.e. they could watch the event on a streaming platform) while also potentially paying more for the experience is a clear sign of a fan’s interest in teams or athletes.   The growing importance of live events demonstrates why B6A’s  Corporate Asset Valuation Model  (CAV) examines both the quality and quantity of engagement when it comes to sports partnerships, in particular when it comes to non-media assets. More specifically, declining attendance would mean declining partnership ROI using more traditional metrics. However, companies are looking for the ability to reach an engaged, lucrative audience. Live events such as games, competitions, and concerts provide unique opportunities to achieve this goal and the CAV demonstrates that value as part of our overall partnership analysis.  That does not mean that sports industry leaders should follow the “if you build it they will come” mantra. Fans will still need to have compelling reasons to leave their homes and have a great experience while in a venue. However, the continued growth of streaming platforms may signal the renewal rather than the end of the live sports experience.    

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Sports Invests In Live Experiences In The Age Of Streaming

This week’s announcement of Apple TV+ is a show the sports industry has seen before. Not only does Apple join the ranks of Disney, Amazon, Google, and Facebook in owning streaming video platforms that can feature sports content but it also enters a space of sports-focused platforms that includes ESPN+, B/R Live, DAZN, and FloSports. This made the announcement of multiple major sports venue projects around the same time that the company arguably most responsible for changes in audience consumption is launching a new streaming platform all the more surprising.

      Examining The New UFC, ESPN Pay-Per-View Relationship Using Data-Driven Analysis  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      UFC announced yesterday that all of its Pay-Per-View (PPV) events will be available only on ESPN+ in the United States through 2025. UFC will receive a guaranteed revenue stream worth a  reported  “hundreds of millions of dollars” while ESPN+ will sell the PPV events at $59.99 per event on top of its $4.99 monthly subscriber fee. Why is UFC making this change away from a traditional pay TV model to work with ESPN?  Data appears to be at the heart of UFC’s decision-making process for two reasons. First, UFC wanted to obtain more data about who was watching events. As UFC chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein  stated , “It’s really unlike anything we’ve had with legacy distributors like Comcast and DirecTV. The amount of data we were getting on buys from the cable industry was pretty much zero.” Second, the only data that the UFC had was bad data about its traditional model. As UFC President Dana White  said , ““Why is it  not  the right move? Cord-cutting is real. It’s scary the amount of subs dropping every year.”   The UFC’s decision to make a fundamental change its distribution model by examining data is at the heart of what is happening in the sports industry today. More specifically, sports properties, content rights holders, and corporate partners are all using data to drive strategy. In addition, White articulates the challenges that have occurred with traditional revenue streams where sports teams, leagues, and events of all sizes have seen declines in ratings, subscribers, and tickets.   This new UFC, ESPN deal demonstrates how data can be used to drive revenue to new platforms where audiences consume content. We can use the Block Six Analytics (B6A)  Social Sentiment Analysis  Platform (SAP) within our  Partnership Scoreboard  platform to show why this deal should be a beneficial partnership for both the UFC and ESPN.   Our SAP platform enables B6A to analyze social media to determine the demographic profile of specific accounts for six factors. For this post, we analyzed UFC’s and ESPN’s accounts on Twitter for ethnicity and age and compared that to the overall demographic profile of Twitter users. We found that both the UFC and ESPN disproportionally attract a younger, more diverse audience and that the UFC and ESPN audiences overlap significantly on both factors.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     The first table in our UFC / ESPN Partnership Scoreboard shows the SAP analysis for age and demonstrates that both the UFC audience and the ESPN audience are composed of a higher percentage of 24 year old and younger followers than the Twitter base audience. It also shows that the UFC and ESPN age profiles are very similar to each other across all demographics.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     The second table in our UFC / ESPN Partnership Scoreboard shows the SAP analysis for ethnicity and demonstrates that both the UFC audience and the ESPN audience are composed of a higher percentage of Hispanic, African American, and Asian followers than the Twitter base audience. Once again, it also shows that the UFC and ESPN ethnicity profiles are very similar across all demographics.   The early results from UFC’s initial deal with ESPN already reflect the benefits of this new partnership. When UFC  debuted  on ESPN+ on January 19, 2019, ESPN signed up 568,000 new subscribers in its first two days while the total number of ESPN+ subscribers was 2 million at the time (that number today appears to be closer to  3 million ). Critics of this success say that this number is still far lower than the  86 million  ESPN subscribers the company had last year while ESPN has offered discounts to encourage UFC fans to sign up for  the platform .   The final data point that can be used for this audience is scale. As seen in both tables, UFC has 6.9 million followers while ESPN has 33.8 million followers on Twitter. ESPN enables UFC to target the audience of its current follower profile at a much greater scale than the UFC can do on its own. Conversely, the UFC follower is also more likely to be ESPN’s watcher and subscriber than the average population. Having UFC content also should lead to an increase in ESPN viewership.   The critics demonstrate why it is important to analyze both the quality and quantity of an audience. As seen in both tables, UFC has 6.9 million followers while ESPN has 33.8 million followers on Twitter. ESPN enables UFC to target the audience of its current follower profile at a much greater scale than the UFC can do on its own (or through other Pay TV platforms as White alluded to in his earlier quote).   Conversely, the UFC follower is also more likely to be ESPN’s watcher and subscriber than the average population. Having the exclusive rights to UFC content will enable ESPN to monetize a new audience both in terms of monthly fees and PPV events making these 568,000 (and likely now more) UFC subscribers far more lucrative to ESPN than cable subscribers paying monthly fees. In addition, the UFC audience fit to ESPN makes it more likely that UFC fans will find value in other ESPN+ content while current ESPN+ subscribers obtain access to new content that likely will resonate with their preference.   ESPN, UFC demonstrates what a new partnership can look like as new distribution channels emerge for the sports industry. Organizations need to know and understand this to facilitate their decision-making process in ways that maximize new revenue growth.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Examining The New UFC, ESPN Pay-Per-View Relationship Using Data-Driven Analysis

UFC announced yesterday that all of its Pay-Per-View (PPV) events will be available only on ESPN+ in the United States through 2025. UFC will receive a guaranteed revenue stream worth a reported “hundreds of millions of dollars” while ESPN+ will sell the PPV events at $59.99 per event on top of its $4.99 monthly subscriber fee. Why is UFC making this change away from a traditional pay TV model to work with ESPN?

      Nike, AT&T Make Major Investments Into New Esports Partnerships  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Two major esports sponsorship deals were announced earlier this week that demonstrate the growing investment that companies are making in the industry. The first was Nike’s announcement that it would “ supply  clothes and shoes to players on all 16 teams” for the League of Legends Pro League in China via a new partnership with Riot Games. The second was the announcement of AT&T’s  first esports team partnership  with Cloud9 that includes sponsorship of a new weekly video series and communications hub.  Esports has been one of the fastest growing components of the sports industry over the past few years. One of the potential challenges to its continued expansion, however, is the ability for publishers, leagues, and teams to attract large partners. More specifically, rights holders and properties needed to communicate value to companies like Nike and AT&T for competitions, events, and players they had never really considered before.  These new relationships demonstrate the importance of quality and engagement when it comes to presenting and evaluating novel partnerships. Block Six Analytics (B6A) defines quality in our  Corporate Asset Valuation Model  (CAV) by how a partnership activation enables a company to better achieve its revenue and brand goals.   One key element of determining quality is the fit of different properties’ or rights holders’ audiences to the demographic companies are looking to target in a sponsorship. B6A’s  Social Sentiment Analysis Platform  (SAP) enables our clients to leverage machine learning to determine demographic breakouts across multiple dimensions. An example of this analysis is detailed below.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Our SAP demographic analysis shows that both AT&T and Nike are able to target a younger and more diverse audience by partnering with Cloud9 and League of Legends, respectively. Both companies have made targeting younger, diverse demographics an important strategic priority. For example, Senior Executive Vice President of Digital, Retail and Care in AT&T’s Entertainment Group Rasesh Patel recently  said , ““AT&T does extremely well with more established customers, but we’re trying to attract a younger demographic.”   Engagement with this audience was also a critical factor for both companies in these partnerships. As AT&T Assistant VP/Sponsorships & Experiential Marketing Shiz Suzuki  said  “Cloud9 stood out among their options among teams for its large, engaged group of supporters. We wanted the team with the crazy passionate fan base, the real folks that just love their team.”   Our clients can use our SAP tool to examine engagement rates, and that is what we do for this post. That analysis is below and demonstrates why both AT&T and Nike were looking at esports to find this “crazy passionate fan base.”     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     For this type of analysis, it is important to look at both owned and operated accounts as well as earned media conversation. Both League of Legends and Cloud9 have significantly higher levels of engagement than Nike and AT&T in both owned and earned channels. This is tangible evidence that both companies are likely to receive engagement lifts from the “crazy passionate fan base” they are looking to target.     CAV also examines the quantity of impressions in a partnership. Both Nike and AT&T indicated that audience size was important to them in these partnerships. For example, Cloud9’s  17.4 million followers  across social platforms appeared to be a significant factor in AT&T’s decision to work with the team.   However, the audience size of Cloud9 is of similar size or smaller than the follower counts of teams in other major professional sports. It is the audience quantity combined with audience quality and engagement that likely drove both Nike and AT&T to these new partnerships. More specifically, the companies have enhanced ability to have impactful interactions with their target audiences at scale.   Understanding this value equation and communicating the results to potential and current partners will be a critical component in an increasingly competitive sports sponsorship industry. The properties that seek out this approach to valuing sports sponsorship are the most likely to maximize revenue growth because they can clearly communicate how their partners can reach the right audience with the right message in the right channel to drive success.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Nike, AT&T Make Major Investments Into New Esports Partnerships

Esports has been one of the fastest growing components of the sports industry over the past few years. One of the potential challenges to its continued expansion, however, is the ability for publishers, leagues, and teams to attract large partners. More specifically, rights holders and properties needed to communicate value to companies like Nike and AT&T for competitions, events, and players they had never really considered before.

       Mark French Joins B6A Advisory Board   BY BLOCK SIX ANALYTICS     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Block Six Analytics (B6A) is pleased to announce that Mark French is joining the company’s Advisory Board. B6A will leverage French’s experience creating and operating disruptive business innovations in the media, technology, sports and consumer goods industries to expedite the company’s growth both inside and outside of the sports industry.    "Valuing partnership and influencer marketing is a challenge that I've encountered in the businesses I've started, advised and led," French said. “Through its differentiated product offerings and thought leadership B6A established itself as a leader in providing buyers and sellers of corporate partnerships with the answers that they need to drive strategic decision-making. "   French’s current portfolio includes The Players' Tribune, Ad Age, MISSION, K Plus Organics Sports Drinks, Twenty, AthleticDirectorU, Bunim / Murray Productions, Athleta-Ed, and B6A. French has also worked closely with NBA players Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Brandon Jennings, etc. in addition to other world class athletes including Serena Williams, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Georges St-Pierre, etc. to develop and market new companies and products. Mark’s entrepreneurial story has been featured on FOX Business News, Forbes, ESPN and various other media outlets.   “Mark’s vast experience and network within the sports and media industry made him an ideal fit for the company’s Advisory Board,” B6A CEO / Founder Adam Grossman said. “My conversations with Mark make it clear how he can have an immediate and tangible impact on our business.”    French becomes the latest industry leader to become part of the B6A Advisory Board. French joins experts in sports, entrepreneurship, law, and finance that include David Falk, Chuck Baker, Ron Pillar, and Tai Hsia.    About B6A   B6A's analytics-fueled technology enables companies to maximize revenue generation on their sports sponsorship spend across all advertising channels. Companies, agencies and properties are using B6A's Partnership Scoreboard technology and analytics to generate incremental revenue growth and reduce reporting costs by determining the value of television viewable billboards, signage, and calls-to-action, and social media conversation. Contact  B6A  or visit  https://www.blocksixanalytics.com/  to learn more.

BY BLOCK SIX ANALYTICS

Mark French Joins B6A Advisory Board

Block Six Analytics (B6A) is pleased to announce that Mark French is joining the company’s Advisory Board. B6A will leverage French’s experience creating and operating disruptive business innovations in the media, technology, sports and consumer goods industries to expedite the company’s growth both inside and outside of the sports industry.

       Padres Hit Home Run With Machado   BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Multiple sources have reported that  Manny Machado  has agreed to a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres. The four time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner is now one of the highest paid  players  in MLB (and American sports more generally) both in terms of total amount and average annual value of a contract with a team.   A deal of this size and time length may make it difficult to think that the Padres could have obtained a good “deal” with this deal. However, the Block Six Analytics (B6A)  Revenue Above Replacement  (RAR) model projects that the Padres are very likely to have a significant positive return on investment (ROI) by signing Machado. In the first half (or 50%) of Machado’s deal alone, the Padres will have “recouped” 83.4% of the cost.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     RAR examines how a player’s on-field and off-field performance contributes to a team’s top-line revenue growth. From an on-field perspective, we examine how winning impacts revenue generation and how each player contributes to winning using a metric we developed called B6AWins. From an off-field perspective, we examine how a player’s star power impacts revenue generation.   We have identified five factors that best describe how an MLB team wins games. Those are derivations of advance analytics for hitting, pitching, fielding, baserunning, and age (for more information about B6AWins contact  B6A ). We found that a three-year rolling average that accounted for these factors was the best way to project future performance.  For baseball, we have identified three factors that best enable us to determine an individual player’s star power. Those are apparel sales, social media value, and earned media value. We leverage B6A’s  machine learning platforms  and data partners to analyze the social media and earned media of hundreds of MLB players. We found that examining the past year’s results was the best way to project future star power.   There are two key elements to RAR that differentiate this approach from more traditional valuation approaches. The first is that it is player and team specific. This means that different players will have different values to different teams. In particular, a player’s overall impact on winning is dependent on how the other players on that team perform. In addition, winning does not have the same economic impact for each team.   The second is that off-field performance can have an equally important impact on a team’s ability to generate revenue. In addition, we often find that off-field performance is a more consistent variable than on-field performance when projecting a player’s future value. From a purely economic perspective, this means that teams should rely more heavily on a player’s star power in determining value.  Both of these elements play a critical role in determining that Machado’s contract should be a good deal for the Padres. From an on-field perspective, winning is very important to the team’s ability to generate revenue. One B6AWin is worth $8.0 million dollars to the Padres in 2019, the highest for any team in MLB. While the Padres won fewer games (64) than B6AWins would predict (77) in 2018, the team’s hitting and defensive statistics (two areas where Machado has excelled in the past) were among the lowest in MLB. This makes Machado particularly valuable to the Padres from an on-field perspective.  From an off-field perspective, Machado should be far and away the biggest star on the Padres roster. The next biggest star on the roster should be Eric Hosmer and his projected 2019 off-field value is $11.8 million. Machado’s projected off-field value is $30.2 million for the Padres in 2019. This includes a bump in value in his first year on the Padres as RAR finds that players typically see increases in star power when changing teams.  The Padres are not the only team that would have likely generated a positive ROI from this type of deal. Other teams linked to Machado in free agency including the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies would have received a similar (but slightly lower) value while the Toronto Blue Jays would have received a similar (but slightly higher) value as the Padres.    However, Machado would not likely be as valuable to other teams for similar reasons that make him valuable to the Padres. For context, we will examine Machado’s projected value to the Yankees.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     From an on-field perspective, the Yankees are the least dependent on winning of any team in MLB. One B6AWin is worth $2.7 million to the Yankees in 2019. In addition, the Yankees roster outperformed the Padres roster by substantial margins in hitting and defensive statistics in 2018 where Machado excels making his contributions relatively less important to projected team performance in 2019. Finally, the Yankees do not lack for star power with both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton exceeding and Gary Sanchez slightly below Machado’s value.  The RAR model does have limitations when it comes to projecting future value. It is currently only constructed to examine performance through the 2023 season. It is also virtually impossible to account for all future player movements particularly in seasons beyond 2019.   Even with these constraints, Machado’s new deal demonstrates the importance of using RAR to understand a player’s on-field and off-field value to a specific team. While Machado’s contract would not necessarily be a good deal for every team, B6A found that multiple teams would likely generate a positive ROI from Machado’s deal given his overall ability to generate revenue.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Padres Hit Home Run With Machado

Multiple sources have reported that Manny Machado has agreed to a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres. The four time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner is now one of the highest paid players in MLB (and American sports more generally) both in terms of total amount and average annual value of a contract with a team. A deal of this size and time length may make it difficult to think that the Padres could have obtained a good “deal” with this deal. However, the Block Six Analytics (B6A) Revenue Above Replacement (RAR) model projects that the Padres are very likely to have a significant positive return on investment (ROI) by signing Machado. In the first half (or 50%) of Machado’s deal alone, the Padres will have “recouped” 83.4% of the cost.

      New Leagues Bank On Investment Capital  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Major professional sports valuations seem to increase on a yearly basis as indicated in the latest  Forbes NBA Team Valuations  article released last week. One of the “concerns” about sports organizations, however, is that these increases are decreasing. More specifically, while teams are increasing in value overall the average annual increase seems to be declining over time.  Why is that the case? Many argue that many sports properties operate in mature markets where the assets have already priced in the value. That is in large part because the value of new media rights deals (both at a league and team level) have been “priced in” to the valuation. A good example is our most recent post on the Los Angeles Clippers valuation at the time Steve Ballmer  bought  the team. Using a discounted cash flow and relative valuation analysis (two techniques common in asset valuation) we found that the team was worth between $2.02 billion and $2.36 billion in 2014. Ballmer paid $2 billion for the team.   Buying assets for a potential 18% return on investment (making $360 million on a $2 billion investment for Ballmer’s Clippers investment) is not an attractive proposition for a venture capitalist (VC). In fact, even a 180% return on investment is not that attractive for VCs because it does not fully compensate for the risky nature of their investments.   Venture Capital funds typically invest in companies with high-risk / high-reward profiles. The goal is to generate outsized returns by identifying companies that can grow and become valuable quickly. This often requires investing in younger companies that have a higher risk of going bankrupt than more mature organizations. As demonstrated with the Clippers, investing in sports leagues or teams does not seem to fit the profile of a VC investment.   Yet, VCs and early-stage investors seemingly lining up to fund new sports leagues. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) kicked off its inaugural season last weekend with  millions  of dollars in VC backing. The Professional Lacrosse League (PLL) announced yesterday it just  closed  its Series A funding round led by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. billionaire Joe Tsai.   Greg Bibb, chief executive of Capital Sports Ventures, summarized why VCs may now see sports properties as more attractive investments when he  said , “There’s a huge marketplace out there for underserved properties and sports, and investors are now seeing that and actively working to grow those areas.” Are football or lacrosse really “underserved” in the ways that Bibb describes?   The initial answer appears to be yes. The AAF is specifically positioning itself as a developmental league for the NFL. In particular, that goal serves to create connections with fans that lack professional football when the NFL enters its offseason. The AAF debuted with a 2.1 overnight rating on Saturday night tying its first broadcasts with the overnight rating of Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets game and just behind the Duke vs. Virginia 2.3 rating. This is one of the first proof-points validating the “underserved” large-market VC thesis for the AAF.  Meanwhile, the PLL  already  “has a multiyear broadcast agreement with NBC Sports Group, which will show games across its platforms. NBC will show three, while another 19 will be broadcast on NBCSN. Games will also be shown on the network’s website, mobile app and NBC Gold, a subscription streaming service.” NBC likely would not have agreed to this expansive of a deal for a league that had not yet played a game if it did not think there was an untapped audience for professional lacrosse.  Underserved certainly does not mean that there will not be direct and indirect competition. AAF and PLL face competition between the “new” XFL and Major League Lacrosse (MLL) leagues, respectively (let alone the major professional sports leagues). While the AAF may have experienced early ratings success, the original XFL could not sustain a high-enough in-venue or television audience while the MLL has struggled to attract fans or secure the same level of  media rights distribution  as the PLL appears to have.  The struggles of the XFL and MLL actually make an investment in the AAF and PLL more attractive. More specifically, VCs like to enter markets where companies can learn from “failures” in their space. One of the most famous examples of this is how both Google and Facebook learned from companies that entered their markets before them that no longer exist to become the dominant search and social media companies respectively.   This does not mean that the AAF or PLL will be successes since even most VC-backed  companies fail . It does show, however, that looking at inherent asset valuation can identify opportunities that on the surface do not appear to exist. More specifically, the AAF and PLL demonstrate that there are potential ways for new sports properties to grow in value significantly in a “mature” industry.   This is also the type of approach that should be used with partnership asset valuation and is a central element of B6A’s  Corporate Asset Valuation Model  (CAV). More specifically, sports sponsorship buyers are potentially missing out on opportunities because they may not be examining a seller’s sponsorship assets for how they can deliver value for that specific company given a specific activation. Completing a deeper analysis of both new and existing partnership inventory to understand its full potential value will enable buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship to obtain VC-like potential returns.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

New Leagues Bank On Investment Capital

Major professional sports valuations seem to increase on a yearly basis as indicated in the latest Forbes NBA Team Valuations article released last week. One of the “concerns” about sports organizations, however, is that these increases are decreasing. More specifically, while teams are increasing in value overall the average annual increase seems to be declining over time So why are VCs and early-stage investors seemingly lining up to fund new sports leagues?

      Rays, Partners Can Benefit By Team Going Cashless  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      The Tampa Bay Rays recently became the first  North American  sports team to go cashless at its venue. Rays fans will now be able to buy items at Tropicana field with “major credit cards, official club gift cards, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, as well as Rays Cards, which are provided to season-ticket holders.”  The Rays have the opportunity to do well by doing good. More specifically, the Rays goal by going cashless is to have “faster moving lines and increased fan satisfaction.” While fans definitely want to make purchases more quickly, faster moving lines also means that team can likely sell a higher volume of goods and increase overall revenues.  The Rays also can use the electronic transaction information to send targeted promotions for in venue purchases including tickets, concessions, and merchandise. In particular, potentially sending a promotion for an in-venue seat upgrade to fans already at Tropicana Field presents a new way for the Rays to increase ticketing revenues for a team that has  struggled  with ticket sales.    Top-line revenue growth from in-stadium purchases is only one benefit of the new cashless approach. Cashless purchasing  provides , “a rich source of data that can be used to better understand consumer behavior, which helps companies sell in a way that is more targeted to the unique needs of individual.”   Going cashless for in-stadium purchases should help teams increase corporate partnership revenue as well.  More specifically, understanding customer behavior using purchasing data is one of the most important priorities for corporate of sports teams.   Teams have already moved in this direction by going cashless for tickets. Many teams have turned to digital and / or mobile ticketing in part so that they can have a more robust picture of fan behavior including with whom fans share their tickets and when they arrive at a venue. Ticketing behavior, however, is only part of a fan’s overall experience. Moving to a completely cashless approach means that the Rays will have information on what, when, and how much fans purchase at their venue.   Having robust purchasing data can then also be combined with demographic information from other sources to create the most robust fan profiles possible. For example, the Block Six Analytics  Partnership Scoreboard  can combine purchasing data with demographic data from our  Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP)  to understand fans from a spend, education, ethnicity, gender, and annual income perspective. Teams can then find partners whose customers either now or in the future best fit different fan profiles.   Before teams or partners leverage the data that can be made available from a cashless venue, it is critical to understand the privacy and legal issues associated with data collection. In particular, it is important to understand the laws and issues around personally identifiable information (PII) and how to take steps to employ “ anonymization  techniques to encrypt and obfuscate the PII so it is received in a non-personally identifiable form.” PII laws can  differ  from General Data Protection Regulation GDPR and should be examined as well.    Many of the payment providers working with the Rays mentioned earlier in this post, however, are fully aware of these privacy issues and can work with organizations to help ensure compliance. That is important because the more that teams can incorporate aggregated anonymized data sets in their analysis, the better they will be able to communicate value delivered to current and potential corporate partners.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Rays, Partners Can Benefit By Team Going Cashless

The Tampa Bay Rays recently became the first North American sports team to go cashless at its venue. Top-line revenue growth from in-stadium purchases is only one benefit of the new cashless approach. Cashless purchasing provides, “a rich source of data that can be used to better understand consumer behavior, which helps companies sell in a way that is more targeted to the unique needs of individual.”

      Analyzing Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl Spend  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      Last year Anheuser-Busch announced a “ revolutionary incentive-based sponsorship model .” One of the biggest questions became how would the company’s enhanced focus on tangible ROI and ROO metrics potentially change its spending on sports assets.  This year’s Super Bowl provides new answers to these questions. One of the dominant narratives around this year’s events is that television ad prices have “ stalled .” More specifically, 30-second commercials for this year’s Super Bowl are priced at or near the same level as last year’s Super Bowl. The $5.2 million average price point is the first time the spots have not increased in year-over-year price since at least 2010.   The primary reason for the ad prices remaining the same is that the television audience of 103.4 million viewers was also the lowest number since 2010. It therefore may be surprising to see that  Anheuser-Busch is making “ its biggest media spend for the event to date .” This includes buying five-and-a-half minutes of airtime during the Super Bowl which equates to an estimated $28.6 million.   Why is the company increasing its spend at a time when it seems like viewership has declined? The answer likely comes from the company’s reliance on tangible ROI metrics. In particular, Block Six Analytics (B6A) has featured  research  in a past post that has shown that the company has generated  $45 million  in direct revenue from the Super Bowl with increases occurring before, during, and after the event.   Anheuser-Busch is a leader in sports sponsorship and its strategic decisions reverberate throughout the industry. One of the “fears” about Anheuser-Busch’s new approach was that an incentive-based model would drive a decrease in its overall spend. More specifically, conventional wisdom is that companies have spent sponsorship dollars in the past because they have a “gut feeling” that these activations work. Actually measuring the impact of sponsorship would directly challenge this assumption and may lead to companies finding that they were not receiving the expected ROI.   Anheuser-Busch’s approach shows the benefits of measuring sponsorship ROI and why spending can increase through its new approach. More specifically, the company chose to increase its Super Bowl spend because it had clear evidence that this spend should have a direct impact on its top-line  revenue growth before, during and after the event . The company will generate a higher than expected ROI because the cost of commercials will remain flat so it can buy more ads for less money. This year’s Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl strategy of buying more commercials even if viewership has declined appears to be in direct alignment with an incentive-based sponsorship model.      Anheuser-Busch’s approach also shows that ROI does not mean that a sponsorship asset necessarily needs to generate the highest number of impressions. The reach of a sponsorship is an important metric and Anheuser-Busch is still benefiting from advertising during what should the most widely viewed television program this year. The key for buyers in the future should be the quality or value of the audience to their company (not just the size of the audience) and how an increased spend can lead to an increase in ROI or ROO.   Anheuser-Busch also shows that it is critical to evaluate the impact of sponsorship outside of the initial activation and across multiple channels. More specifically, Budweiser sales increased in the eight weeks following the Super Bowl and around the NCAA tournament only when it was the  sole or primary advertiser  during the Super Bowl. That is likely because Anheuser-Busch customers were seeing content about the advertisements before, during, and after the game across multiple channels including traditional, digital, and social media.    Evaluating tangible ROI and ROO in multiple channels is at the core of B6A’s  Partnership Scoreboard . Our cross-channel dashboard provides buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship with specific ROI and ROO insights before, during, and after events by leveraging our Corporate Asset Valuation Model (CAV). This model is built to tell specific companies the impact that specific activations should have based on how the company generates revenue and on realizing its brand goals. Our  machine learning  platforms enable us to track the impact of these activations in owned and earned channels to provide our clients with near real-time analysis.    The key insights generated from the Partnership Scoreboard highlight to buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship what works. It is critical to note that companies should and likely will spend fewer dollars on sponsorship activations where they do not see or cannot determine how ROI and ROO are being generated. However, the converse should also be true in that companies can and should spend more money on activations that clearly work for their business. Anheuser-Busch’s spend during the Super Bowl is a clear demonstration of how a new incentive-based model for sports can help all parties generate revenue growth.    

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Analyzing Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl Spend

Last year Anheuser-Busch announced a “revolutionary incentive-based sponsorship model.” One of the biggest questions became how would the company’s enhanced focus on tangible ROI and ROO metrics potentially change its spending on sports assets. This year’s Super Bowl provides new answers to these questions. One of the dominant narratives around this year’s events is that television ad prices have “stalled.” Why is the company increasing its spend at a time when it seems like viewership has declined?

      Unique Experiences Can Be Built For Universal Appeal  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      The NFL and Lowe’s announced a new partnership earlier this week that made the company the “Official Home Improvement Retail Sponsor” of the league. A key component of the new agreement is providing Lowe’s with the  opportunity  to “provide unique NFL experiences for customers and associates both during the regular season and off-season, and will become the presenting sponsor of Super Bowl Experience beginning at Super Bowl LIV in 2020 in Miami.”  This focus on experiences may seem counterintuitive for Lowe’s particularly when it comes to an NFL partnership. The NFL’s primary appeal has been its ability to reach large audiences, with the NFL’s popularity appearing to  increase this year . The Super Bowl specifically has been a large  revenue generator  because it provides companies with arguably the best opportunity to reach the largest audience during the sports year.    Creating unique experiences has typically not been a way to reach large audiences. For example, past  Super Bowl Experiences  have been in the specific city hosting the event and required tickets for entry. That does not seem to be the best way to reach  Lowe’s  many “typical do-it-yourself shoppers.”  Lowe’s understands this and believes that the NFL sponsorship is geared to specific audiences with experiences appearing to be a central role. In particular, Lowe’s is looking to target professional contractors  because  “pro customers, such as contractors, spend an average of five times as much as the typical do-it-yourself shopper.” In addition, Lowe’s emphasizes its “ 300,000 associates ” as another key part of the NFL deal.  This makes the focus on experiences make more sense from a dollars and cents perspective. Creating unique opportunities through sports for customers that drive a larger portion of a company’s revenue is one of the best ways to generate direct ROI from a  partnership . More specifically, these experiences create  competitive differentiation  to the point where a customer may make a decision based at least in part on having access to these opportunities.   In addition, having engaged employees that have direct interaction with customers has  been shown  to drive revenue growth. Providing employees with opportunities to have unique experiences with the sports they love typically increases their level of engagement and in ways that should directly translate to the customer interactions.   Reaching specific audiences that can maximize revenue growth appears to be a clear aim for Lowe’s with its NFL partnership. However, one less obvious outcome of unique experiences is their ability to reach large audiences. More specifically, these types of opportunities can drive earned media conversation in ways that more traditional sponsorship may not be able to achieve.  Citi’s Private Pass is a good example of this dynamic (full disclosure Citi is a B6A client but we currently do not evaluate Private Pass). Private Pass enables Citi’s card members to gain exclusive access to specific events including music, sports, dining, and theater. Events are limited to a certain number of “private passes” that can be accessed by card members.  Private Pass events, however, can be some of Citi’s most visible partnership activations. In particular, Private Pass events resonate with their card customers and can be (and often are) shared easily in earned media channels particularly in social media. This includes text, video and images from events where customers can showcase a clear benefit to having a Citi card to other current and potential customers. These types of organic demonstrations of competitive differentiation through unique experiences is one reason these partnerships should drive significant ROI for Citi.   Lowe’s and Citi illustrate the benefits of the B6A  Partnership Scoreboard  which aggregates and analyses data from multiple sources to provide our clients with a full cross-channel analysis of a partnership. Even on-site unique experiences can have universal impact in digital and social media channels and should be tracked to really understand the full ROI of a partnership.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Unique Experiences Can Be Built For Universal Appeal

The NFL and Lowe’s announced a new partnership earlier this week that made the company the “Official Home Improvement Retail Sponsor” of the league. . A key component of the new agreement is providing Lowe’s with the opportunity to “provide unique NFL experiences for customers and associates both during the regular season and off-season, and will become the presenting sponsor of Super Bowl Experience beginning at Super Bowl LIV in 2020 in Miami.” This focus on experiences may seem counterintuitive for Lowe’s particularly when it comes to an NFL partnership.

      Cause Marketing’s Impact On The Sports Industry  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      One the most common reasons that companies want to partner with sports properties is to leverage their brand equity with leagues, teams, athletes, and events. As more companies pursue cause marketing, however, sports properties now will have to examine these partnerships with these companies in new ways.  The most recent example is Gillette’s “ Short Film ” posted on YouTube as part of the company’s Super Bowl “the best a man can be” campaign. Derived from the company’s famous tagline “the best a man can get” and as a response to the #MeToo movement, Gillette’s goal is focused on “promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.” The film includes tangible examples of what this means and how men can change past stereotypical behavior to something more “positive.”  When evaluating the impact of sports sponsorship, Block Six Analytics’ (B6A’s)  Corporate Asset Valuation  examines the return on investment (ROI) and return on objective (ROO) of a partnership. Gillette appears to be focused on both with this campaign. Even though it has been the dominant player in the razor market for decades, Gillette is now facing increasing competition (Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club are examples of relatively new, well-funded competitors) with a core product that customers can find difficult to differentiate.   Brand sentiment and engagement are important for competing in this type of environment. Increasingly companies have turned to cause marketing to help differentiate themselves from their competition while also increasing revenue and profits. Cause marketing has traditionally been defined as companies identifying charitable organizations, donating money and / or product to these charities, and then marketing that the company had made these efforts.   Recent research has shown the impact of “doing well by doing good” for companies. A  study  published in 2017 examined yogurt company Yoplait’s partnership with the Susan G. Komen foundation. The authors found that not only did Yoplait increase its profitability but also that Dannon (its biggest competitor) saw profitability decrease during the same time period.     Ironically companies in the past did not necessarily want to directly invest in the “cause” of cause marketing. More specifically, companies want to avoid becoming associated with controversial causes because taking any point-of-view on an issue could potentially alienate customers and depress revenues.  This has started to change with sports playing a central role. Both Nike’s endorsement deal with Colin Kaepernick and Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision to remove assault rifles from stores after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland were clear examples of companies openly and substantively supporting controversial “causes.” Nike has seen an estimated  31% increase  in online sales since the beginning of the deal. Dick’s saw its stock increase 21% in the  immediate time period  after making the decision so that the financial impact “wasn’t nearly as severe as feared.”  Both Nike and Dick’s operate in a similar competitive consumer products environment as Gillette where brand perception plays an important role in customer purchasing behavior. Not only are women an increasingly a large portion of the shaving market but also women have traditionally been significant purchasers of men’s razors as part of their families’ larger household spend. These factors are key reasons why  Gillette  has targeted women for years even if the company’s tagline has been “the best a man can get.”  Gillette’s Super Bowl film creates an interesting challenge for sports organizations. Gillette is a well-known sports sponsor, most famously for its Gillette Stadium naming rights partnership with the New England Patriots. The connection between the film’s timing and the Patriots has been discussed throughout social media channels. Yet, the Patriots have little (if any) control over Gillette’s choices for its marketing campaigns while still having to understand its impact. For example, Gillette’s film has generated over 11 million views and almost 400 thousand more down votes than up votes even though it has only been on YouTube for three days at the time of this post being published.   Cause marketing campaigns will not always have this type of response. In fact, this should also be a positive development for sports organizations. Companies increasingly want to invest in causes that their customers are passionate to increase engagement and differentiate themselves from the competition. As we have shown in  previous posts , many companies’ customers are passionate about sports. This enables sports properties to be likely recipients of new cause marketing dollars.  The overall takeaway, however, is companies are likely  increasingly  going to put more resources into cause marketing because it has a tangible ROI and ROO impact. While corporate partners will always want to have a strong partnership with sports properties, companies will likely continue to put leagues, teams, and athletes at the center of conversations around controversial issues.  This requires properties to take a proactive approach in monitoring the conversation around their partners because they will be directly impacted. B6A’s  Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP)  is designed to evaluate conversation in social media in both owned and earned accounts. In particular, SAP uses natural language processing (NLP) to “read” posts to determine positive or negative lifts while also examining the value of overall post engagement. By being proactive, sports properties will be best prepared to deal with the different impacts of cause marketing campaigns.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Cause Marketing’s Impact On The Sports Industry

One the most common reasons that companies want to partner with sports properties is to leverage their brand equity with leagues, teams, athletes, and events. As more companies pursue cause marketing, however, sports properties now will have to examine these partnerships with these companies in new ways. The most recent example is Gillette’s “Short Film” posted on YouTube as part of the company’s Super Bowl “the best a man can be” campaign.

      How In-Game Betting Broadcasts Impact Sponsorship  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      NBC Sports Washington Plus will  carry  an “interactive, alternate telecast of the Wizards-Bucks game” on January 11th. This will be the first of eight broadcasts that will have “statistics, odds and point spreads that run alongside game action.”  The goal of these  broadcasts  is “to give fans a little taste of what they can expect and maybe explain to them what predictive gaming is,” said Mark Friedman, director of creative services and advanced technology for NBC Sports Washington. To accomplish this goal, NBC Sports has set up a promotion where fans can make a “bet” for free for the chance to win $500.   NBC Sports’ primary motivation is aligned with that of sports organizations more generally when it comes to legalization of sports gambling. More specifically, fans that make bets are more likely to be engaged in sports content. In NBC Sports’ case, the more fans that watch games, the higher the carriage fees are that teams can charge cable, satellite, and / or streaming providers.  The potential increase in media rights deals is one reason that  Mark Cuban  said that many professional sports organizations values should double with the legalization of sports gambling. This can occur even if sports leagues cannot charge an  integrity fee  on betting transactions.   For example, media rights agreements are currently one of the (if not the) largest sources of revenue for leagues and teams. Even though sporting events have been consistently some of the most popular content on television, one concern was that ratings in “ traditional sports ” had been declining.  One way to continue to maximize the growth of this revenue stream is to continue to maximize audience growth.   Legal sports gambling provides the catalyst for this potential audience growth. The thesis is that fans will be figuratively more invested in sports content if they literally have an investment in a game or event.  Some  have even attributed the NFL’s increase in ratings in 2018 in part to sports gambling although it is likely too early to make a definitive statement on the matter.  Higher ratings, however, is only one reason that legalized gambling with have an increasingly important impact on sports sponsorship. Fan engagement is a key driver of sports sponsorship spend and is one of the critical reasons that companies partner with leagues, teams, athletes, and events. The question is what does engagement mean from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective and how does that impact sponsorship metrics when it comes to sports gambling.  The NBC Sports in-game promotion is a good example of the evolving definition. NBC Sports is not only trying to maximize the size of its live broadcast audience but also looking to connect with fans as much possible in social and digital channels via owned and earned accounts. NBC Sports can now leverage sports gambling to generate new content that will increase the quantity of conversation before, during, and after a game for its owned accounts / platforms.   This enables fans and the media to talk about NBC Sports and its partners from their accounts / platforms even when the game is not happening because the new storylines that come from sports betting outcomes. Tracking these types of increases in conversation from a volume, sentiment, engagement, and awareness perspective is one reason why Block Six Analytics (B6A) examines owned and earned media conversation through our  Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP) .   However, sports organizations should not only bet on an increase in the quantity of sports fans because companies will not only be interested in the number of newly engaged sports fans. In our  Corporate Asset Valuation  model (CAV), B6A shows the importance of both quality and quantity in sports sponsorship.   Legalized sports betting will provide an increase in the types of demographics that companies are looking to target to increase revenue and achieve their brand goals. In particular, studies have shown that legalized sports betting will  bring  “increased fan engagement from younger, more affluent adults.” Higher engagement with these types of fans should have a tangible impact on the top-line revenue of companies that are or should be looking at sports sponsorship.   Having the unique ability to engage with lucrative demographics should be at the heart of what buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship should be looking for in a partnership. The ability of legalized gambling to increase fan engagement maximizes the probability for sports rights holders and partners to achieve this goal.

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

How In-Game Betting Broadcasts Impact Sponsorship

NBC Sports Washington Plus will carry an “interactive, alternate telecast of the Wizards-Bucks game” on January 11th. This will be the first of eight broadcasts that will have “statistics, odds and point spreads that run alongside game action.” Higher ratings, however, is only one reason that legalized gambling with have an increasingly important impact on sports sponsorship.

      The Importance Of Proactive Purchasing Analysis In Sponsorship  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
      In a  post  earlier this week in his  The Sports Biz  blog, industry thought-leader Darren Heitner analyzed ROKiT’s growing investment in sports sponsorship. For example, the company is already the current jersey patch partner of the Houston Rockets and is the official wireless partner of the Los Angeles Chargers (full disclosure: the Chargers are a B6A partner).   One critical reason Heitner featured ROKiT is that the  company  “partnered with the Rockets and Chargers before it even had a product to sell, and justifies the spend based on the fact that those opportunities may not have been present if it waited until true launch.”  Why would a company spend money on a partnership before it had a product to sell? For context, ROKiT is part of ROK Bands its core product will be mobile devices selling at lower price points than competitors with unique features that  include , “NASA patented technology, life services like roadside assistance and telemedicine, and a 3D screen.” ROKiT will begin selling its phone to customers in 2019.   ROKiT is pursuing a strategy that is becoming more common for companies that partner with sports organization where companies want to target potential customers before they make a purchasing decision. ROKiT’s Chief Marketing Officer specifically sees alignment between the company’s target demographic and the sports audience and is seeking deals to maximize brand awareness with fans.   ROKiT understands that for its mobile device buyers to consider its new line of phones they first need to be aware that the company has entered this space. In our Block Six Analytics (B6A)  Corporate Asset Valuation Model  (CAV), we show how maximizing brand awareness, engagement, and sentiment increases the likelihood of purchase intent and a purchasing decision. ROKiT’s deals with the Rockets and the Chargers are designed to increase the probability that its target customer will interact with the brand because its target customer is a sports fan.  ROKiT is not the only company employing this proactive strategic approach to sports sponsorship. In a recent post for  AdAge , Turner Sports vice president of property marketing and corporate partnerships, Will Funk, focused on Geico’s relationship with esports. As Funk states, “For example, car insurance may not come to mind when thinking about competitive esports. Yet, GEICO has had a multiyear investment as one of the largest brand proponents of the sport, adopting the tone and culture of the community from early on. The young millennial esports  fan is likely in, or soon to be in, the market for a car . It's actually a perfect fit. [emphasis added].” Geico’s goal is similar to ROKiT’s goal of engaging with customers before they make a purchasing decision.  Companies will always be looking for ways to leverage sports partnerships to drive current top-line revenue growth and maximize their brand goals. Increasingly, however, these companies realize that they need to be proactive today to drive a future purchase. Sports rights holders have the unique ability to help companies achieve this goal given their demographic profile and ability to connect with their fans with sponsorship inventor that can maximize the likelihood of a future purchasing decision.  

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

The Importance Of Proactive Purchasing Analysis In Sponsorship

In a post earlier this week in his The Sports Biz blog, industry thought-leader Darren Heitner analyzed ROKiT’s growing investment in sports sponsorship. For example, the company is already the current jersey patch partner of the Houston Rockets and is the official wireless partner of the Los Angeles Chargers (full disclosure: the Chargers are a B6A partner). One critical reason Heitner featured ROKiT is that the company “partnered with the Rockets and Chargers before it even had a product to sell, and justifies the spend based on the fact that those opportunities may not have been present if it waited until true launch.” Why would a company spend money on a partnership before it had a product to sell?

      Shared Customers, Strategy Key to Allegiant, MiLB Partnership  BY ADAM GROSSMAN     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
         One way that sports sponsorships differ from traditional advertising is that they can create a two-way beneficial relationship where shared customers can lead to a shared strategy from which both the buyer and seller directly benefit through a partnership. Allegiant’s new credit card partnership with Minor League Baseball (MiLB) is an example of how this occurs.  Allegiant was an airline founded in 1997 that struggled at first to gain traction. In the early 2000s its senior leadership team recognized that the  company  “needed to be more than a 'me too' competitor” and used a form of judo strategy to achieve this goal. The core idea of judo strategy is to take a competitor’s strength and turn it into a weakness that can be used to your advantage.    That is exactly what Allegiant airlines has done to be successful. The core strategy of many larger airlines is to  focus  on the business traveler, to provide as many direct flights as possible from big cities, and to use hubs to connect to smaller markets. This approach enables airlines to achieve success targeting the customers and routes that can provide the most profits. Business travelers typically are less price sensitive (i.e. the priority is to get to a specific destination at a specific time over a specific price) and there are more business customers in large cities.     This is also the approach that attracts the most competition and is most replicated in the industry. Allegiant realized that it could not compete with larger, well-funded competitors using this strategy. Instead, it recognized that targeting leisure travelers in underserved cities looking for direct flights could be a profitable approach for the company even with low-cost tickets. It also realized that larger airlines would not compete for this demographic because they had committed their capital and strategic resources specifically to not target this customer. Allegiant’s positioning became a catalyst for the company to quickly become a market leader with this customer segment and to make it one of the fastest growing airlines.  This positioning has also enabled Allegiant to  sell  “third-party travel products, such as hotel rooms, rental cars and hotel shuttle products and  show/park tickets  bundled with the purchase of air transportation [emphasis added]” to this customer base. Airlines as a whole are trying to increase revenue by selling third-party products to customers. Selling these products has helped to fuel Allegiant’s rise, as the company has seen a 23.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2005-2017 from these offerings.   Selling third-party products, however, is not unique to Allegiant. Most, if not all, of the company’s larger competitors offer these types of products, including credit cards. To continue with a comparable growth rate in the future, Allegiant needed to develop third-party products that would specifically resonate with its core customers. That is exactly where the credit card partnership with MiLB comes into play. MiLB teams’ customers are similar to Allegiant’s customers and MiLB teams’ strategies often look similar to Allegiant’s strategy.   More specifically, MiLB teams often are located in “underserved” cities and employ judo strategy to achieve to achieve their goals. In our book   The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High-Performance Industry  , my co-authors and I highlight the Dayton Dragons MiLB team and its approach to selling season tickets. Many major professional sports teams are focused on selling full-season ticket packages to lock-in as much revenue as possible. Dayton used a form of judo strategy by determining what games fans could attend and developing season ticket packages that fit its fans’ needs. Dayton could use this strategy in large part because it had a smaller venue and a smaller target market than major professional teams. Its positioning played a critical role in the Dragons having a 1,000+ game sellout streak that  continued into the 2018 season.    This example creates the foundation for the strategic fit for an expansion of the Allegiant / MiLB partnership. The new  Allegiant World Mastercard ® “will enable fans to gain rewards specific to their favorite MiLB teams and local communities.” These rewards should uniquely resonate with Allegiant’s customer base of leisure travelers that want direct flights and entertainment options for underserved cities. This is not a specific reward that necessarily makes sense for larger airlines or larger sports leagues to offer because it will not resonate as well with their customers.  MiLB can potentially increase its fan base by providing a credit card with travel options that are specifically designed for the needs of its core customers in smaller cities. The easier it is for leisure fliers to get to MiLB ballparks through Allegiant, the more likely its fans will value its rewards (potentially including tickets, merchandise, and concessions) and increase engagement with its teams. Both Allegiant and MiLB can work together as partners to leverage each other’s assets to grow revenue with a shared customer base and strategy.   Recognizing fit to maximize partnership success is at the core of B6A’s  Corporate Asset Valuation Model (CAV)  analysis. In particular, we focus on how specific relationships can generate revenue growth for specific companies given their specific needs. The Allegiant / MiLB example highlights why we take this approach and recommend that buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship should use a similar form of analysis.    

BY ADAM GROSSMAN

Shared Customers, Strategy Key to Allegiant, MiLB Partnership

One way that sports sponsorships differ from traditional advertising is that they can create a two-way beneficial relationship where shared customers can lead to a shared strategy from which both the buyer and seller directly benefit through a partnership. Allegiant’s new credit card partnership with Minor League Baseball (MiLB) is an example of how this occurs.

      WHICH OF THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF TEAMS IS THE MOST LIKABLE, ACCORDING TO TWITTER?  BY USA TODAY     

 
   
     
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
      
       
         
            
            
         
       
     
   
       Block Six Analytics    Social Sentiment Analysis Platform    examined the favorability of Twitter conversation for schools competing to make the College Football Playoff for    USA Today   . A sample of this analysis is included below. The full post can be seen on the USA Today Sports    site   .   Twitter users and members of the College Football Playoff committee share positive feelings about the national semifinalists.  An analysis by Block Six Analytics of 75,000 tweets from Sunday until Tuesday based on percentage of positive posts ranks the top four teams in the exact order as the playoff committee: Alabama with 65.57 percent positive tweets, followed by Clemson (65.22), Notre Dame (60.31) and Oklahoma (46.77). Those numbers also mirror expectations for the semifinals with Alabama and Clemson expected to advance to the national title game.  “The number of impressions is only one component in evaluating social media conversation,” said Adam Robbins, B6A’s head of corporate sales. “Understanding sentiment and engagement is crucial in measuring social media value, especially related to sports. It allows teams, leagues and brands the ability to identify topics, trends and people that are generating the most interest and value for their organization.” 

BY USA TODAY

Which of the College Football Playoff teams is the most likable, according to Twitter?

Twitter users and members of the College Football Playoff committee share positive feelings about the national semifinalists. An analysis by Block Six Analytics of 75,000 tweets from Sunday until Tuesday based on percentage of positive posts ranks the top four teams in the exact order as the playoff committee: Alabama with 65.57 percent positive tweets, followed by Clemson (65.22), Notre Dame (60.31) and Oklahoma (46.77). Those numbers also mirror expectations for the semifinals with Alabama and Clemson expected to advance to the national title game.