04/04/22: Tracy McGrady breaks down plans for his new one-on-one basketball league

Medias First Morning Read
Monday April 4, 2022

The end of March Madness and the approach of summer is no longer the end of the basketball season. From the NBA to the WNBA and then into the summer with NBA Summer League, Big 3, The Basketball Tournament, Overtime Elite etc., there is no shortage of interest and opportunity in and around the business of hoops. A new take was recently launched by Basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady with the debut of The Ones Basketball Association which will test the waters later this month with a series of competitions looking to identify the best skilled young one-on-one players. We asked TMAC to lay out the business model, and the opportunity, on NCAA Championship Monday.

McGrady on how Ones Basketball Association sets itself apart: I love basketball. It’s my passion and deep in my heart and soul, and I believe one-on-one competition is the best representation of the essence of the game. Individual skills — like speed, dribbling, jumping, and shooting – receive less attention today and we want to change that. These skills are the foundation of elite careers and we will highlight, champion, and celebrate the raw, authentic essence of basketball. Whether it’s in UFC or tennis or penalty shots in hockey, there is nothing quite like watching two athletes go one-on-one. That’s the intensity and energy we are going after and we will first showcase and create new opportunity for elite young basketball players and then grow from there.

On how brands can integrate into the business: Great competition and storytelling are at the foundation of our new platform and that is the focus of this proof-of-concept season. We will grow into a complete sponsorship offering and we are building with Gen Z in mind: creating connection to individual athletes first, telling their stories through snackable, bite-sized digital content, and laying the foundation for an electrifying sports and lifestyle brand. Our earliest partners will have an opportunity to join with us and co-create from the very start. Brands will be able to craft totally bespoke activations.

On content strategy and distribution: Digital media will drive our content distribution strategy this year. You will see us on most every digital medium that matters and starting to tell the stories that need to be told about our competitors. We will build from there. We are also capturing behind-the-scenes content as we go and will have our own film crews working throughout this first season. Stay tuned for how we make use of all that and, again, Gen Z is top of mind.

On the role Jeffrey Pollack will play as an advisor: There is no better advisor I can have on the business side than Jeffrey. His relationships, experience, savvy, and judgment are beyond compare. As a startup tipping off quickly, I know we will have some bumps and Jeffrey will help smooth those bumps and ensure we are positioned for success and long-term growth. He is committed, trusted, and heartfelt, and Jeffrey already has created space for me to focus on the soul of our game and design of our competition.

On where Ones Basketball Association can grow: Our goal for this year is to test, listen and learn. Next year I would like to see us launch as a professional and world-class endeavor across North America. Five years from now our flag should be planted around the world and with every element of a global sports platform open for business and running smoothly: competition, media and content, events, marketing partnerships, branded merchandise, and cause-related marketing. I’m ready to get after this and with Jeffrey, my long-time business manager, Elissa Grabow, our creative director, Lisle Bowen, and the rest of our team, I know we can create more opportunity for basketball players globally, tell new stories that need to be told, and change a few lives for the better along the way.

PROGRAMMING

A classic rivalry and what ended up being Coach K’s final game drove big gains for Turner Sports and CBS Sports’ exclusive coverage of Sunday night’s Final Four matchup, which saw North Carolina topple Duke. The ran across TBS, TNT and truTV and became the most-viewed NCAA Men’s Final Four telecast on any network since 2017 with an average of 16.3 million viewers, based on total audience delivery, which projects to be the second most-viewed college basketball telecast in the history of cable television once out-of-home viewership is included. Based on tournament to date trends, out-of-home viewership is projected to be a lift of more than 10% to the final viewership totals. In the earlier window, Kansas vs. Villanova delivered an average of 10.3 million viewers, up 22% over Baylor’s blowout victory over Houston in 2021. Overall, last night’s two National Semifinal games averaged 13.5 million viewers based on total audience delivery (minus out-of-home audience), up 9% over last year, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is reportedly tapping the brakes on plans to hold the men’s World Cup every two years instead of every four years. Infantino said last week that a proposal hasn’t been made and that the org only agreed to “study the feasibility” of a biennial World Cup, which drew strong resistance from some regions.

Speaking of FIFA, the AP reports that South American soccer officials said Friday they are still working on a four-nation bid that would celebrate the World Cup’s 100th birthday in 2030 in its first home in Uruguay. “We think we are going to do the whole World Cup in South America,” said a Paraguayan official told the company, whose home country is part of the four-nation bid project with Argentina, Chile and Uruguay

The Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship will now stream exclusively on ESPN3 in the United States when the ATP 250 tournament runs April 4-10 at Houston’s River Oaks Country Club. The matches will be called by Sam Gore and Jason Knapp, with analysis from Jimmy Arias and Luke Jensen along with player interviews from Blair Henley. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with ESPN for coverage of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship,” said Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer. “With the depth of our player field, we anticipate great action throughout the entire week. We are thrilled to have all our stadium court action covered in full, from the opening rounds through the finals.”

Learn from sport’s marketing masters. Do not miss the CMO Exchange on May 24, a virtual conference featuring the heads of marketing from the NFL, NHL, WNBA, NASCAR, UFC, MLS, ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Sinclair, Riot Games, and many more! Top execs break down the road ahead. Be sure to get your tickets now by clicking here.

Tim McCarver is officially retired from his long-time analyst role, announcing – via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch – that he would step down from his role called the Cardinals for Bally Sports Midwest.

CYNOPSIS SPORTS: CMO EXCHANGE 2022
MORE SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 @ 1:00pm ET

Join the best thinkers in sports marketing as they share how they are reshaping their businesses in this shifting landscape. Newly confirmed speaking companies include WNBA, MLS, UFC, ESPN and Riot Games.

Check out the Speaker line-up and join us!

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Major League Baseball rolled out details for its new on-uniform advertising program. Starting with the 2023 season, teams will be able to sell ad space on jerseys that would make up a 4-by-4-inch patch on jersey sleeves. Beforehand, advertisers may be able to put corporate logo decals on batting helmets beginning with the 2022 postseason this year, although alcohol, betting, and media companies will not be allowed to advertise through the program.

As part of a global partnership, the senior leadership of the World Health Organization, the State of Qatar and FIFA unveiled a range of measures for this year’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 designed to protect and encourage health. “WHO is committed to working with the State of Qatar and FIFA to leverage the global power of football to help people lead the healthiest lives possible,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This partnership will help to make the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 a role model for healthy sporting events.”

BetMGM locked in a deal with softball player A.J. Andrews. Under the terms of the agreement, Andrews will serve as BetMGM’s newest content creator and brand ambassador and will see her appear on behalf of BetMGM for multiple broadcasting opportunities related to the upcoming baseball season.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Cue Health Inc., a healthcare technology company, and MLB announced a national partnership that expands Cue’s support of the league-wide COVID-19 testing program. Cue will provide Major League Clubs as well as the MLB league office with its integrated care platform, featuring both the portable and reusable Cue Health Monitoring System (Reader) and the most accurate* COVID-19 self-test. The new partnership also designates Cue as a presenting sponsor of Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+.

ESPORTS

Misfits Gaming Group rolled up a new partnership with not-for-profit healthcare org Baptist Health South Florida, which now picks up naming rights for a new exercise and wellness area within the team’s headquarters located in Boca Raton. The duo will also collaborate on a slate of content to promote the importance of physical and mental health while Baptist Health becomes the org’s exclusive healthcare and wellness partner.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

IMG completed its purchase of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament and the Acciona Open de España golf tournament from Super Slam Ltd and its affiliates. With the close of the acquisition, Madrid Trophy Promotion SLU (MTP), the Spanish entity that operates the tournament, is now part of IMG, with MTP’s CEO and tournament director Gerard Tsobanian serving as Senior Vice President, Tennis Events, IMG. Tsobanian and his team continue to oversee the day-to-day running of the Mutua Madrid Open as part of IMG’s global tennis events division led by Gavin Forbes.

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ON THIS DAY in
1989: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar plays last NBA game.

IN THE KNOW
In which sport would you find a major event titled “Head of the Charles”? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
What does SCUBA stand for? Answer: Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Kudos: Marc Goldstein-Marc Goldstein Media Solutions/NY; Aileen Larsen-PHD/NY; Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; C.J. Bottitta-Big Picture Productions/Apex; Matt Laramee-Southern New Hampshire University/Manchester; Brian Bonder-a4 Advertising/Piscataway; Roger Furman-Sports Marketing Communications/Greentown; Tom Lorenz-ASM Global, Pinnacle Bank Arena/Lincoln; Kyle Krebs-CBS 42/Birmingham; Jack Hodgson-Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; Dory Petsrillo-CoxReps/Dallas; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG*AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA

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