NFL Ratings Surge Blessing for TV Networks

CNBC’s recent article covering the NFL ratings surge experienced by the league this past year is an insightful look at the important role sports broadcasting plays in the world of television.  According to the news site, the NFL’s ratings grew by five percent this past season after years of decline. This will be monumental for the league as renegotiations with television networks are set to begin in 2021.  Not only is this good news for the NFL, but also for TV networks in general who rely heavily on strong sports ratings for advertising revenue. CNBC’s report stated that sixty-three percent of the Fox networks gross ratings last year came from the NFL alone.  In recent years, TV networks have seen their NFL ratings take a sharp decline as consumers continue to transition away from cable TV in favor of cheaper streaming services. Interestingly, this past year overall the league saw their ratings among the eighteen to twenty-four demographic shrink by slightly less than five percent while ratings among older viewers grew.   

I found this article to be of particular interest to me because it perfectly encapsulated the pivotal role sports broadcasting, particularly the NFL, plays in the overall success of traditional TV networks.  The statistic that more than half of the Fox networks gross ratings come from football alone completely took me by surprise by how critically important the NFL is to cable television. This news of a ratings leap will definitely give the league a significant amount of leverage in the coming months when negotiations resume between the NFL and television networks.  It remains to be seen however, how long this surge in ratings will last; as streaming continues its inevitable growth.


The Commercial That Stole The Show On Football’s Biggest Night


It’s quite evident that football’s biggest night is the perfect opportunity for companies to persuade all who are watching to utilize/buy their products through the use of captivating commercials. In saying that, this year’s Superbowl had commercials that ranged from happy, to humorous, to serious/emotional, to completely strange and seemingly pointless.

To get a professional opinion on these commercials, KDKA sat down with Shannon Baker–the president of a local ad agency to get her opinion on which spots were the winners and the losers on football’s biggest night. Baker is president of the Gatesman Agency in Pittsburgh and has 18 years of experience in the ad business (so she knows a good bit about how companies and clients can accurately convey a message that resonates with audiences and further persuades them to either adopt an idea, utilize a software, or buy a product.)

According to Baker, she believes that if you craft a story that is short, tight, and memorable, it is going to make people feel something–which is critical to the success of the commercial.

She says Google set the bar very high with its emotional “Loretta” ad, and many others would agree. Millions of people were raving about the heartfelt tearjerking ad that was based on a true story. For those who didn’t get to see the commercial, it begins with a man typing into Google “how to not forget,” and then asking his Google Assistant device to show him photos of his late wife named Loretta. The man continues to ask Google to remember certain things about her, like the fact that she hated his mustache, loved going to Alaska, and always snorted when she laughed. In the end, Google recites all of the things the man had asked the device to remember. It closed out with the man saying, “remember I’m the luckiest man in the world.”

Overall, Baker and many others believe that Google set the bar very high with their ‘Loretta’ ad because not only did it tug on the emotional heartstrings of audiences, but it also marketed the product in a simple yet compelling way.


Pittsburgh Ad Agency Says Which Super Bowl Commercials Were The Most And Least Impressive

Penn National Gaming Purchases Stake in Barstool Sports

Penn National Gaming recently purchased a stake in the online media sports site Barstool Sports.  The purchase will make Penn the new official gaming partner for the next forty years. According to CNN, Penn purchased a thirty six percent stake in Barstool worth 163 million dollars.  The report states that the company will increase their stake in the company in the next three years. Penn National Gaming operates dozens of casinos and racetracks around the country so their presence in the gambling business is already quite substantial.  The Supreme Court in 2018 struck down the longtime ban on sports betting so the purchase overall makes sense and is not totally unexpected. Many companies in the industry are now beginning to expand their operations as sports betting is projected to hugely increase in its exposure nationwide.  

Barstool Sports in recent years has become a juggernaut in the sports media industry, becoming one of the dominant forces in the online community with their blog posts.  In their article covering the purchase by Penn, CNN made a great point that the purchase will begin to blur the line between sports media companies and the sports betting industry.  I found this article in particular to be interesting as I’ve witnessed over the past few years Barstool’s rise from an unknown blog site to one of the biggest media companies in the sports industry; specifically in its appeal to the younger demographic.  I also found it incredibly interesting that Penn will be Barstool’s official betting partner for the next forty years. This substantial amount of time, which I’m sure was done solely for legal purposes, shows that Penn sees tremendous value in Barstool as a brand because of this huge commitment.

To Be First or to Be Accurate? The Social Media Catastrophe Following the Death of Kobe Bryant

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans

When the death of retired NBA star Kobe Bryant broke the news, TMZ was the first to report it. Despite having only the information that he was involved in a helicopter crash on Saturday in Calabasas, TMZ is now receiving backlash for their reporting. LA County Sheriff tore into the news outlet saying that Bryant’s family should have been informed with a full police report before TMZ had published anything. TMZ had been so early to report it that social media had even questioned its accuracy. As news of the helicopter crash started to catch wind, more and more social media rumors began to spread. These rumors caused much inaccuracy in other news outlet’s reports as well as celebrities and political figures, such as President Donald Trump, to send their condolences out into the cyber world despite being false. ABC News had falsely reported that all of Bryant’s children “were believed to be” killed in the accident, while the LA Times has send out on their social media that they have heard the news regarding Bryant, but are waiting for actual confirmation and police reports in order to report the news accurately.

The events following the TMZ report were nothing short of an absolute mess. News organizations today are more concerned with being the first to break a story rather than getting all of the facts and waiting to publish an accurate report. There is even the lack of empathy from outlets like TMZ who didn’t have the decency to wait until the families of the departed had been notified. Instead, the people closest to Bryant had to find out about his death like the rest of us, through social media. Is this type of reporting something that we should just expect with the evolution of how quick media is, or should there be an unwritten rule to wait until the families of those killed are made aware before you start reporting? Nonetheless, today many journalists would rather be first than be accurate.

Motives Behind the NFL ‘Inspire Change’ Ad is Full of Hypocrisy

The first time I saw this ad for the NFL’s “Inspire Change” program was when it premiered earlier this month during the AFC and NFC Championship games. The 60-second ad, set to air again during the Super Bowl, is about Corey Jones, cousin of retired NFL star Anquan Boldin, who was tragically shot and killed by an officer in plain-clothes who came upon Corey unwarranted and never identified himself as law enforcement.

The heartbreaking story is told by Anquan Boldin of how his cousin Corey Jones was murdered by a police officer and goes on to show a reenactment of the unprompted shooting: Corey’s car had broken down and he was waiting for a tow-truck on an I-95 exit ramp when (at the time) Palm Beach Gardens Police Dept. officer Nouman Raja entered the exit ramp from the wrong direction in an unmarked vehicle; as he approached Corey’s car in plain-clothes, Raja, who failed to say that he was police, began yelling and cursing, and proceeded to fire multiple shots into the car, killing Corey. Next, the ad shows news clips and Jones’ family reacting to the loss of Corey. 

When I first saw this ad, I found it to be powerful and profound for bringing attention to the issue of blatant, unjust stopping, harassment, brutality and killings of minorities, specifically black men by law enforcement across the United States. This systematic and recurring issue is one that needs to be dealt with; and to air it on such large stages as the NFL conference Championships and the Super Bowl is what I thought to be a step in the right direction. However, an article by suggests that the NFL’s motive behind the “Inspire Change” program is actually to save-face, in terms of PR perspective, by funding initiatives run by players or ex-players to distract the public from the fact that the NFL essentially banned Colin Kaepernick for protesting police brutality, and this specific ad, involving the cousin of ex-49er Boldin, brings up some pretty clear controversy and hypocrisy. Does the NFL support protesting or bringing attention to social issues, such as police brutality, or not? Is raising awareness okay as long as it’s off the field? Then why air this during the most watched NFL games of the year?

Over 100 Million People Watched League Of Legends Championship, Making It Top Dog In E-Sport

There were over 100 million people watching the championship with a peak of 44 million concurrent viewers during the final round of the tournament. There were teams from 13 different regions around the world, and the matches were broadcasted in 16 different languages. That just shows the global impact that the game has as well as the developers catering to those different markets. They could of easily just appealed to their biggest markets, but from a revenue stand point as well as just brand inclusion they wanted everyone to be belt o experience the championship. The game is 10 years old, but it is still one of the most played video game titles in the world. At peak hours, more than 8 million people are logged on, and playing the game on a daily basis.

The game is at the top of its class and the next closet title would be Fortnite. League of Legends has been able to grow due to the constant community engagement and partnerships that expand the franchises recognizable characters beyond the gaming industry. The tournaments do not offer as much prize money as other games like Fortnite, but it provides stability for professional players. Players in the most successful regional leagues earn annual salaries as well as other benefits from their teams.

Game of Streams – ViacomCBS

Viacom and CBS Corp. are officially joining forces after 14 years since their split. Viacom and CBS first merged in 1999 and split in 2005. Since the two merged, ViacomCBS is now a massive media empire with a collection of cable channels, broadcast networks, and film and publishing divisions. The company celebrated its partnership with a ceremonial ringing of the opening bell at the Nasdaq Market Site in New York’s Times Square. The company’s Nasdaq ticker symbol is VIAC.

The two companies bring a lot of content to each other. Viacom has the right to BET, Comedy Central, MTV, and Paramount movie studios. CBS properties include the CBS Television Network, CBS News and 15 CBS-owned TV stations, as well as the cable network Showtime and the publisher Simon & Schuster. ViacomCBS is valued at an estimate of $30 billion when the merger was announced in August. The company has a lot of competition. Between recent streaming platforms like AppleTV, Disney+ and Netflix, there is a lot of pressure to not only come with good content but how will ViacomCBS make streaming distinct for them.




According to CBSNews, Both CBS Corp. and Viacom have long been controlled by Sumner Redstone and his daughter, Shari through their family’s privately owned company, National Amusements. This company operates in movie theaters in the U.S., U.K. and Latin America. Shari Redstone is the president of National Amusements and has served as vice-chairwoman of CBS and Viacom before their merger. Shari has recently become chair of the combined ViacomCBS board.

The two companies have a history of trying to merge; they have tried several times in recent years but their management teams could never see eye to eye. Last year, CBS’s board went through a lot go change following the departure of longtime CEO Leslie Moonves over misconduct allegations. This helped make room for the merger. Hopefully, Viacom’s content can help create a bigger name within the streaming platform. It will be interesting to see what content they will make specifically for their platform.

Nike’s Political Commercial wins Emmy

Nike’s “Dream Crazy” commercial wins an Emmy for “Outstanding Commercial” at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards Ceremony.  This is the first time since 2002 that a Nike commercial has won this award. There is much debate regarding Colin Kaepernick’s relationship with Nike. Many people fully support their collaborations because Kaepernick has become a symbol of justice and equal rights. While others, like President Trump, view him as an overdramatic, sub-par athlete. When this commercial came out the mixed reactions showed in Nike’s stock. According to CNBC, Nike’s stock closed the day after the ad’s release after dropping roughly 3.2%. Despite the drop in the stock market, Nike’s online sales saw a major spike. According to Edison Trends, a digital-commerce researcher, Nike product orders rose 27 percent a few days after the ad’s release. Many contribute this spike to the fact that many customers want to support a brand that speaks on political and social issues. Nike does just that and has made this image a key piece of their brand. They recently announced a pro-hijab campaign with dri-fit hijabs to wear while exercising. They have also been known to toss ideas if they are racially triggering. Nike has successfully branded themselves as trend setters and social innovators. Hopefully, Nike will continue this going forward as they continue to receive support from people of many different backgrounds across the world.

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