04/20/20: Studentplayer.com is opening a new door in the NIL debate

 

Medias First Morning Read
Monday April 20, 2020

While college sports continue to sit on the sideline this Spring, the debate over the use of name image and likeness continues to fester. Several states have moved ahead with NIL compensation rules, while another in SEC and ACC country is poised to be a first mover as early as next year. This past week, we saw high school star Jalen Green opt to take the NBA G League portal rather than look at colleges partially because of the lack of movement on NIL should he go the college path, according to reports. There is also the issue of college now cutting non-revenue generating sports, and what happens with all those athletes who still want the college experience but now may have less scholarship opportunities.

Studentplayer.com, founded by Colorado lawyer and entrepreneur Zach Segal, is debuting with an eye to become the open marketplace for college athletes to potentially pair with brands as the NIL issue becomes clearer, raising funds from fans and brands that will go towards sponsorship opportunities for student athletes. The platform is open to anyone competing on the intercollegiate level and will be driven by consumers seeking to help recruit the best athletes and support his/her team’s players.

Segal on the brand benefit: A brand will befit in three primary ways. 1) they can enter into endorsement deals with student athletes, 2) they will have exposure to college sports fans through features on our website, 3) early adopters will get positive press for showing their support for student athletes (particularly when student athletes are struggling during such a difficult time).

On how the student makes the business connection: Our site will post sponsorship opportunities for athletes on different teams at different schools. Everyone will be able to see this information a year in advance. In addition, once an athlete is playing at a school we can partner companies with athletes that they want to sponsor. We have seen some of this happen with athletes at the club sport level in sports like rugby and hockey, and think we can help student-athletes at that level as well as “non revenue” sports get cut by administration, like we saw with Cincinnati with soccer this past week. We see this as a potentially big opportunity, especially for women’s sports as well.

On who will benefit first from NIL: Florida! Athletes in that state will be able to benefit from their NIL starting July 1, 2021. That is 18 months earlier than California and Colorado (the other two states that have passed laws) and it will send a strong signal to prospective student athletes that Florida is going to look out for their interests on an ongoing basis.

On how the platform helps avoid the quick jump to the pros: Why play in the G League, or abroad, when you can play for a big-time school and get paid through endorsements? Our site creates that opportunity. Fans contributing via StudentPlayer.com will give top recruits an incentive to go to college. I bet that we will be offering sponsorship deals far in excess of $500,000 for many athletes, certainly the top prospects that may also consider the G League.

On handling student eligibility issues: StudentPlayer.com does not create any eligibility issue. We plan to be a trusted intermediary between schools, athletes, advertisers, and the NCAA. We are excited to work with, and provide transparency, to all the stakeholders.

PROGRAMMING

NASCAR is revving up for a possible return to racing next month through spectator-free events. The organization made the announcement while revealing the postponement of the May 9 race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. Many speculate that the first race back will be the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24 with the series still looking to run all 36 NASCAR Cup Series races this year, which is likely to involve doubleheaders and weeknight races this summer.

Meanwhile, the Senior LPGA Championship has been canceled, LPGA officials announced Friday. The event was slated to run July 30-Aug. 1 at French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana, but will return in 2021. “Canceling any golf event is a difficult and painful decision,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said. “We are extremely thankful for the support and flexibility from French Lick Resort and the Legends Tour during this trying time. Importantly, all of us are committed to this important senior women’s tradition, and we cannot wait to watch the women legends of the game tee it up once again in 2021.”

Ahead of the NFL Draft this week, ESPN unveiled a lineup of special NFL and NFL Draft-themed programming throughout the week, including first round re-airs of classic NFL Drafts, SportsCenter specials, NFL Draft Countdown shows and more, starting today. From Monday-Thursday, ESPN2 will re-air the first round from four classic NFL Drafts of the past – 1989, 2005, 2014 and 2017. ESPN’s lineup of NFL Draft week specials includes SportsCenter Special: NFL Draft Buzz (Mon, 3:30p), SportsCenter Special: NFL Nation Mock Draft (Tues, 3:30p) and a pair of NFL Matchup prime-time shows on ESPN2 (Mon and Tues).

An annual must for all sports media innovators, the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast (AUG 12 in NYC) has been honoring the best in production, marketing and tech as well as the leading digital marketing execs for 8 years running. Get ready to raise your mimosa to the 2020 Sports Media Awards finalists. Check out the full list of category finalists here.

Mexico’s Liga MX voted to suspend promotion and relegation to and from the league for the next five years following a vote by the 18 club owners. Relatedly, second-tier Ascenso MX also voted in favor of the decision.

Continuing the theme, ESPN reports that Santos Laguna and Atlas owner Alejandro Irarragorri believes that a North American super-league with MLS would be beneficial for both leagues in the long term. “A high percentage of Mexican football’s income comes from the USA,” wrote Irarragorri. “Their league [MLS] has been growing in an ordered, slow, but consistent way in all senses: commercially, infrastructure, financial structure, diffusion and on the field.”

Sports streaming service DAZN picked up rights in its markets to the Professional Darts Corporation Home Tour series, which was announced last week and it set to launch on Friday. Each of the platform’s nine markets, including the US, will carry the league, which features 32 consecutive nights of live darts, with all PDC tour card-holders having been invited to compete.

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From outstanding ad & brand safety solutions to deft achievements in strategy, Cynopsis is shining a well-deserved spotlight on those who are making a difference in the digital media supply chain. Categories include: Best Addressable TV Collaboration, Best Audience-Based Buying Platform, Best Use of Blockchain and Cryptography, Most Innovative Implementation of Addressable, Outstanding Advance in Transparency, Outstanding Attribution Measurement, Outstanding Brand Safety Strategy and more.

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The Premier Lacrosse League launched an Instagram Live video contest, Cheeseball Toss, in partnership with Utz Quality Foods. To promote National Cheeseball Day, the PLL selected eight of its players to participate in an Instagram Live Cheeseball Toss where each player will throw an Utz Cheese Ball above their head and eat as many as possible within a fifty-two second period. “We were excited to partner with Utz on National Cheeseball Day to share in a fun, engaging, and competitive campaign to both of our audiences,” says PLL Co-Founder and CMO Paul Rabil. “The past four weeks have been challenging for everyone, and we think it’s especially impactful to create at-home competitions with a like-minded brand such as Utz to ultimately reach a highly engaged audience. My instinct is that the competition will be worth tuning into Instagram Live for.”

World Rugby announced plans to offer nearly $100 million in a move to support the global game and mitigate the overall impact of the pandemic on the sport.. World Rugby said its relief strategy is “underpinned by a relief fund of approximately $100 million to assist unions through to the resumption of the sport. The relief fund will available for unions requiring immediate emergency funding “subject to appropriate criteria being met.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

The NBA, WNBA and Fanatics, which operates e-commerce for both leagues, announced that cloth face coverings are now being sold and that all league proceeds from the sales of new coverings featuring NBA and WNBA team and league logos will benefit Feeding America in the U.S. and Second Harvest in Canada. “As a global community, we can all play a role in reducing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic by following the CDC’s recommendation to cover our nose and mouth while in public,” said Kathy Behrens, NBA President, Social Responsibility and Player Programs. “Through this new product offering, NBA and WNBA fans can adhere to these guidelines while joining in the league’s efforts to aid those who have been directly affected by COVID-19.”

FanDuel Group announced Q1 trading results, anchored by a 51% revenue growth as a result of the continued expansion of the FanDuel Sportsbook and impressive customer acquisition. Key highlights include market share of approximately 41% in operational states and FanDuel acquiring over 100,000 new sportsbook customers since the beginning of the year.

ESPORTS

FaZe Clan closed $40 million Series A round of funding which will support expansion, player acquisitions and operations. The news follows last week’s announcement of FaZe Clan’s partnership with Jimmy Iovine and NTWRK, who led the round. Investors include named such as Pitbull, Nyjah Huston, Swae Lee, Yo Gotti, DJ Paul, Ray J, Chris O’Donnell, Big Boy, Meyers Leonard, Josh Hart and Offset. “These influential investors recognize the cultural significance of FaZe Clan as well as the enormous business opportunities around our content, esports teams and apparel,” said Lee Trink, CEO, FaZe Clan. “We have a hyper-engaged global audience and FaZe Clan is the most powerful lifestyle brand in all of gaming. This round of funding provides the capital to continue to reshape the future of sports and entertainment.”

PUBG Corporation announced changes to its original 2020 esports plans amid the current global health pandemic., canceling PGS and introducing the PUBG Continental Series (PCS) – a multi-regional online competition. Events will be held in May, June, and August with a total prize pool fund of $2.4 million across four regions, including Asia (Korea, Japan, China, Chinese Taipei), Asia-Pacific (Southeast Asia and Oceania), Europe, and North America. The first tournament, the PUBG Continental Series Charity Showdown, will take place in May.

Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment announced that the Finals of the Apex Legends Global Series Online Tournaments (OT) #5 and #6, are both moving up one day earlier. The tournaments will now be held May 2-3 and May 30-31 respectively, in order to better fit competitors’ schedules and those able to watch online. The company reports that the Apex Legends Global Series has seen significant tournament viewership growth, tripling reported Average Minute Audience (on Twitch and YouTube) from OT #2 to OT #3 in just 14 days.

ESPN Esports launches its own VALORANT Invitational today with teams made up of professional players from other various esport titles battling in a three-day series. Eight rosters from seven different games will be tapped with veterans from CS:GO, Fortnite, LoL, PUBG, Rainbow Six, Apex and Overwatch, along with some Valorant developers. Play will be carried on the ESPN Esports Twitch channel.

Another league got the greenlight from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which issued a notice of approval permitting sportsbooks to take bets on the Call of Duty League through the end of the year. Licensees may now take wagers on head-to-head play, match winner, and overall winner. The league now joins other recent approvals for pro leagues offering CS:GO, Dota 2, Overwatch, and League of Legends, along with iRacing, marking the ninth exemption issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board to permit esports betting in the last three weeks.

The Electronic Gaming Federation launched the EGF Collegiate Power Series designed to allow Division I universities nationwide to compete to crown a national champion. The tournament was shifted to a stay-at-home competitive environment with a multi-week qualifying round starting today, that progresses to a championship bracket that will decide a winner on May 10. The tournament features 38 schools including: USC, UCLA, Cal Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Missouri, Syracuse and Washington State.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced an agreement on the method for reducing player compensation in the event of a permanent cancellation of 2019-20 regular season or playoff games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this agreement, and in order to provide players with a more gradual salary reduction schedule, partial reductions of 25% will begin with the players’ twice-a-month payment due on May 15. The CBA stipulates that the compensation of all NBA roster players shall be reduced in the event of a “force majeure” event, such as an epidemic or government order, in accordance with a formula based on the number of games missed.

Meanwhile, the WNBA introduced the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, which will recognize an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels. “Kobe was an incredible champion of women’s basketball and Gianna shared his passion and dedication to our game,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will honor their legacy and reflect Kobe’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of players, promoting the game and giving back to the community.”

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