Sports Finance Report: YouTube TV And The World Series, Gun Retailers, Heritage Market

by 2 years ago

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YOUTUBE SIGNS ON AS PRESENTING SPONSOR OF WORLD SERIES; WILL PROMOTE CABLE-LIKE LIVE STREAMING SERVICE

Youtube (GOOGL) will be the presenting sponsor for the 2017 World Series; using commercials during the fall classic to promote YouTube TV, the company’s live cable-like streaming service. The ads will run on Fox (FOXA) during games, gain exposure across MLB’s digital platforms and be visible to fans within the stadiums in which games are played. YouTube TV, now available in 49 of the Top 50 markets for $35/month; targets sports fans with 40 channels (including ESPN (DIS) & Fox, the most watched sports channels on television). Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Howie Long-Short: The race to turn cord cutters into skinny bundle subscribers is picking up. Direct TV Now (AT&T’s (T) service) is trying to onboard subscribers by offering Netflix (NLFX) for just $5/month, while Hulu has made itself available through the X-box (MSFT) video game console. The goal of this campaign is to raise the sports fan’s awareness of the 6-month-old service, so having access to 40 million (2016 WS audience) engaged baseball fans gives YouTube the right audience. If the company can effectively convey that viewers will save +/-$100/mo. and still have access to “must see” sporting events, subscription numbers should spike. I would provide free access to YouTube TV during games, so that prospects can simultaneously compare video quality.

Fan Marino: The 2016 World Series was the most watched series in 25 years, so YouTube probably shouldn’t expect a repeat viewership numbers. As for YouTube TV, they have programming deals with ABC, CBS, and NBC (in addition to ESPN & FOX). In fact, you’ll get 80% of live sports programming with the bundle. Fans won’t get is the NCAA tournament though, as TNT and TBS aren’t included. No big deal, March Madness on Demand is free and carries all of the games.

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CALIFORNIA TREASURER URGES STATE PENSION FUNDS TO DIVEST SHARES IN GUN RETAILERS

California Treasurer John Chiang has urged state pension fund managers to divest holdings in companies that sell firearms and ammunition within other states, that are considered illegal in California. While this would be the first-time California, which has the nation’s largest state pension fund, has urged fund managers to excise connections to gun retailers in the state pension system; following the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, state pension funds were asked to divest shares in gun manufacturers. Last year the New York City Employees’ Retirement system voted to divest shares of Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS), Cabela’s (now owned by Bass Pro Shops) and Big 5 Sporting Goods (BGFV).

Howie Long-Short: The California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the California Public Employee’s Retirement System own a combined $12.4 million worth of shares in DKS and an additional $1.7 million worth in BGFV. If this proposal were to pass, and in California that isn’t difficult to envision, public pressure could force other states to follow. I’m not ready to say a gun wholesale/retail sell-off is coming, but Chiang has sparked a movement that certainly could lead to one.

Fan Marino: Chiang sadly reported that 3 of the 59 killed in Las Vegas were California teachers.

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RUSSELL ATHLETIC LEAVING UNIFORM BUSINESS TO FOCUS ON HERITAGE, CORPORATE AND PROMOTIONAL MARKETS

Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.A) Russell Athletic has decided to exit the team uniform business (primarily HS and youth leagues) and turn its focus towards a “longer-term, more-healthier place” in consumer retail. A new line of “heritage” styled lifestyle and streetwear clothing, to be launched at Barney’s before to being sold at retailers like Urban Outfitters, will be a part of the company rebrand. A partnership with S&S Activewear (3rd largest U.S. distributor) provides the company with access to previously unreachable corporate and promotional business. Russell plans to maintain its team channel; selling non-uniform items and using S&S Activewear to service those sales.

Howie Long-Short: There is certainly some cache surrounding the “heritage” market, with companies like Champion (HBI), Fila USA (KRX: 081660) and Calvin Klein (PVH) experiencing recent resurgences. HBI reported Champion Q2 ’17 revenues were up 7%, with Fila USA and Calvin Klein up 11.5% ($71.3 million) and 8% ($786 million) respectively, over last year’s figures. It’s been 20 years since Russell Athletic has been relevant, but if you wait long enough, everything comes back into style.

Fan Marino: For those too young to remember, Russell was the largest marketer and manufacturer of athletic apparel in to the early 1990s; when Nike (NKE), Adidas (ADDYY) and Under Armour (UAA) began to pump big dollars into D-1 athletic contracts. Just 2 programs remain with the once dominant brand, Georgia Tech and Southern Miss, both of which have contracts ending with the company in 2018. There has been no word on if their new suppliers will offer cut-off jerseys, the signature look from Russell’s heyday.

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