Sports Finace Brief: Pokerstars Wants To Bring More People To The Game, The Brooklyn Nets For Sale?

By 08.18.17
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Editor’s Note: Welcome to Sports Finance Brief, a new daily column we’re running here at BroBible breaking down the day’s biggest stories in sports finance. It comes to us via our friends at JohnWallStreet, a new sports business e-mail newsletter worth subscribing to. Here’s what you need to know today… 

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While we won’t be publishing “hot takes” on LeBron’s relative greatness to Jordan, we will be offering up the most relevant sports related finance news, in easily digestible bites, with commentary from both the equities analyst and sports fanatic perspectives.

We’ll cover publicly traded professional teams & stadiums, broadcast networks, apparel & footwear retailers, sporting equipment manufacturers, ticketing companies, content and facilities providers. If it trades on Wall Street, and has a sports angle, it’s in our wheel house.

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POKERSTARS DRIVING OFF SHARKS; TRYING TO WIN BACK NOVICE PLAYERS

PokerStars, the largest online poker website has said that card sharks have driven out the novice bettors that generate the vast majority of the sites revenue. As a result, The Stars Group (TSG), which bought the website for $4.9 billion back in 2014, has seen revenue growth from the game flatten. In an effort to drive off the sharks, PokerStars has ended many off the perks/incentives, including a loyalty program, that rewarded the degenerate gambler. Instead, the company has reallocated tournament money and given perks to less frequent bettors, in an effort to bring back the casual poker player. It should be noted that shares are up 41% since CEO Rafi Ashkenazi was hired last year.

Howie Long-Short: Poker is no longer a growth business for TSG, unless they can enter new markets. I’m more interested in scuttlebutt on Baazov’s massive insider trading trial

Fan Marino: Sharks preying on beginner minnows? Fans of daily fantasy sports know that story well.

CBS TO LAUNCH 24/7 SPORTS OTT LIVE STREAMING SERVICE

CBS announced during its Q2 earnings call that it would be rolling out a 24/7 sports driven OTT live streaming service, before the end of the year. The new channel will be offered through internet-only TV providers although no carriers have been named thus far. The company plans to model the service after its news streaming service CBSN and piggyback on the existing infrastructure to reduce costs. CEO Les Moonves indicated that the channel would show original content and would not simply mirror the CBS Sports Network television channel.

Howie Long-Short: Another second/third tier sports OTT product? I can’t keep track of them all. We need a Netflix for sports to aggregate all this.

Fan Marino: A 24/7 channel that doesn’t mirror the TV network is going to require a ton of new content. WFAN is a CBS owned radio station. Could this be the future home of Mike Francesa? 6 hours of prank calls would seem to fill a need.

LIBERTY BRAVES REPORTS 34% INCREASE IN REVENUE; CASHING IN ON NEW STADIUM

Atlanta’s new Suntrust Park has provided a fresh scene for Braves fans, but also a huge increase in revenue for the franchise. Liberty Media (BATRA), reported a $45 million (or 34%) increase over the same period last year, attributing the growth to improved performance on the field and updated amenities at the new stadium. Operating profit before depreciation and amortization was $27 million for Q2, up from $12 million from last year, however after depreciation and amortization the team showed a $3 million loss. Liberty cited an increase in property and equipment, to support the development of mixed-use real estate around the ballpark, as the cause for the rise in depreciation and amortization expenses.

Howie Long-Short: Professional sports team owners demand a new stadium every 25-30 years for exactly this reason. New buildings offer new amenities. New amenities bring new revenue.

Fan Marino: Turner Field (the old stadium) opened with the ’96 Olympics. It’s absolutely remarkable the franchise was able to squeeze the city for a new ballpark after 20 years.

PROKHOROV LOOKING TO SELL NETS/BARCLAYS CENTER FOR $2 BILLION

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has placed a $2 billion price tag on his Brooklyn basketball franchise and their 5 year old arena, the Barclays Center. The Nets are looking for a Chinese buyer to purchase the team and reportedly had 20 meetings last month to gauge interest; though no price has been agreed to and no sale is imminent. The Los Angeles Clippers were the last NBA team to be sold. The L.A. based franchise went for an NBA record $2 billion back in 2014. The Nets are currently one of two NBA teams for sale, the other being the Houston Rockets.

Howie Long-Short: Forbes values the Nets/Barclays Center at $1.8 billion. The Clippers sold for $2 billion and lease space at the Staples Center. The Lakers and Knicks aren’t hitting the market. There is no way the Nets aren’t going for $2 billion plus.

Fan Marino: As a Nets fan, I can’t complain about Prokhorov as an owner. He’s spent money trying to win. I do fault him for hiring Billy King.

TARGET MOVING SPORTS MARKETING DOLLARS FROM NASCAR TO MLS

Target Corp. (TGT) is shifting its sports marketing budget from NASCAR to MLS. The retail giant announced it is terminating its 16 year sponsorship of Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team and that it does not plan to renew its deal with Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevy car, following this season. Instead, TGT will be among the national sponsors of MLS and the primary local sponsor for the Minnesota United FC. The company has stated the move is being driven by growing interest in the game of soccer within core target demographics; Hispanics, families and millennials.

Howie Long-Short: Hard to argue with TGT logic here. One sport is growing, while the other is in a decline.

Fan Marino: Pro Tip: If you go to a NASCAR event, make sure to get the scanner headsets so you can listen in on the drivers. Game-changer.


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