TUSCALOOSA – (Wire Service Report by The Sports Xchange) – Football continues to be a big money-maker at Alabama, which this season won the national championship for the fifth time in nine years. According to documents obtained by AL.com, the Crimson Tide football program brought in $108.2 million in revenue and had a profit of $45.9 million in 2017.
Alabama National Champions 2918
The revenue was up by more than $4 million over 2016, but increased expenses brought the profit down by $1.8 million.
Alabama athletics overall had a total revenue of $174.3 million, according to the report, with a profit of $15.6 million. The revenue represents an increase over 2016, but the profit decreased.
Still, some schools took in more money than Alabama. USA Today reported that the University of Texas had $215 million in revenue in 2017.
The biggest source of athletic department revenue is TV contracts. Alabama reported $43.9 million in TV and related media revenue.
The university also brought in $32.9 million in contributions. It is speculated that contributions could decrease considerably in 2018 because of the new tax plan, which eliminates deductions from these contributions.
In the past, 80 percent of those contributions could be written off as charity donations
ORLANDO – (Staff Report) – As the Baseball Winter Meetings begin in Orlando, Hot Stove trade talks are plentiful. The New York Yankees opened the meetings with the blockbuster acquisition of slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim became the new home for Japanese ace Shohei Ohtani who is destined to become a two-way player rarely seen in modern day baseball. There will be plenty of trade rumors and off-season maneuvering throughout the next few days while both baseball operations and business barracudas meet in sunny Florida, but today, we’re looking into an off-the-field business story that blends old-and-new.
In today’s sports marketing and business world that screams for engagement and innovation, many of the most admired brands still need to recognize and have the ability to pivot and thrive. Marrying that concept in the tradition-laden world of baseball is a daunting task, but one iconic sports company has found a way to reinvent itself while keeping its brand relevant – not just to a passionate core – but also to a new level of young, enthusiastic and engaged fans.
That company is Topps.
Do people still collect baseball cards?
Yes, millions do, but it’s not the same business model as it was in days of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.
Topps and MLB went out in early 2016 and launched TOPPS NOW, which created a new “on-demand” mechanism to collect cards from the latest “big moment” in baseball. The new model called for ordering in real time, and prompt delivery right to your door, with as many copies as you wanted. No more waiting for the next set six months down the line or ordering a virtual card (which by the way Topps does have with Topps BUNT).
If your favorite pitcher throws a no hitter? Card is here. Amazing catch by Mookie Betts in the outfield? We have it. Local hero gets his first hit? Order away. The ability to print hard cards on demand meant that there was no surplus of wasted paper, so it became a fast-growing, cost efficient and wildly popular endeavor.
How popular? In just two seasons, Topps sold over one million cards, making it the company’s most successful launch product ever. So popular that they have extended the brand to their partners like the UFC, MLS and even The Premier League, with more ideas beyond sport coming.
“In 2018, we are looking to increase our fan engagement through new product enhancements that we’re finalizing,” said Jeff Heckman, the Director of New Product Development and eCommerce Marketplace for Topps. “We would like to formalize a way for fans to help us develop TOPPS NOW cards. Additionally, we’re planning to build a mobile shopping app to create a richer and more seamless vehicle for fans to interact and engage with TOPPS NOW.”
Heckman and his colleagues at Topps have a lot to look forward to in 2018, considering the full season of 2017 saw production of 886 cards with such highlights as Aaron Judge’s record-breaking season, Adrian Beltre’s 3,000th career hit, and Derek Jeter’s number retirement ceremony. The card where Judge broke the rookie record with his 50th home run of the season set a TOPPS NOW record with 16,138 cards sold alone.
The Top 5 best-selling TOPPS NOW cards of all time all rolled off the presses this past summer:
New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge – Commemorating his rookie home run record (2017) – Sold 16,138 cards
New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge – Commemorating his Home Run Derby (2017) win – Sold 8,997 cards
New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge – Commemorating a 495-foot home run (2017) – Sold 8,623 cards
New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge – Commemorating his breaking of Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees rookie team record – Sold 8,538 cards
Former New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter – Commemorating his number retirement ceremony – 7,791
So why has the platform taken off when many think the baseball card collecting business has stagnated?
“They have mastered the on-demand mentality that millennials, and for that matter, sports fans of any age crave,” said Chris Lencheski, of MP & Silva, a longtime sports marketer and professor at Columbia University.
“We want what we want – now – and we want as many as we can get, but companies have no way to really anticipate demand. Topps provides a window, limited, to catch that moment and deliver a real product – not virtually – but place it in my hands in just a few days. I don’t have to do anything but point and click, and I get it. Best part is, there is no leftover inventory so all the love goes to the bottom line. It’s a perfect system for today’s fan, and one that baseball has benefitted from tremendously.”
In total, more than 617,000 base cards were sold, and revenue is up 50 percent for the TOPPS NOW program year over year (at roughly $7.50 per card at retail that’s an estimated yet unofficial take of almost $4.5 million). Topps created more team sets, such as “The Road to Opening Day” collection for all 30 teams that examined each MLB team’s roster as the season got underway last spring.
So with all that success, what’s next for Topps?
“We currently offer TOPPS NOW cards for the Premier League (futbol) and we are hoping to add the UEFA Champions League in 2018,” said Heckman.
By Terry Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
The concept of a lovable loser in sports resonates with many. The thought conjures up images of fans, with paper grocery bags over their heads, caught on film and embarrassed at the very prospect of of attending a game for their favorite team, their cellar-dweller, their 0-and-whatever last place loser. As a smile comes along with the thought, the vision, someone who enjoys the sporting side of life, can only think of one thing better than a “lovable loser.’
A lovable winner.
George Foreman is that lovable winner and his life story has been well told in a new documentary to air on EPIX tonight (Sept. 13th – 8:00pm ET). The documentary, has been produced by George Foreman Jr. who has forever chronicled the legacy of his father, Olympic Gold Medalist and former heavyweight champion of the world. The show is ably exec-produced by Gary Cohen, who gave us “Requiem for the BIG EAST,” and it is directed by Chris Perkel (Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives). Ross Hockrow did the editing and Jill Burkhart and Valerie Bishop Pearson are producers.
While Foreman’s recent relevance has been as a celebrity, an entrepreneur and spokesman for all things “Grilling,” even an aging sports fan might forget the Foreman of 1968, proudly holding his Mexico City Olympics gold medal for winning the heavyweight division over considerable competition from Cuba and Europe. One might forget his sleek, carved physique born from a tough upbringing in the 5th Ward of Houston, Texas, an area in the news recently as Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and the Gulf Coast region.
“George Foreman was a tornado that blew thorough the heavyweight division, but then, it was gone,” tv commentator excellent, Larry Merchant reminded us in the documentary.
Cohen and Foreman Jr. compiled all the great footage and highlighted it early and often in the piece, bringing back memories from Foreman’s post-Olympics visit to see President Lyndon Johnson (a fellow Texan) at The White House. Nostalgic clips from Foreman’s fight against Smoking’ Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica sets the scene, chronicling Foreman’s surprise second-round knock-out of Frazier, complete with the memorable call by the late Howard Cosell. The sight will stir the memories which are sure to send chills up a spine for any fight fan. It is reason, alone, not to miss this gem.
Of course, the “real” George Foreman story is that of an amazing comeback, at age 45 nonetheless.
“I’m closer to 50 than I am to 20,” said the legend on film, with that trademark twinkle in his eyes, teasing the very story we only thought we remembered.
The rest of the documentary does the job and takes you on that memorable ride, a wonderful, classic sports memory we all might’ve forgotten if not for for this terrific work.
NEW YORK – (Staff report from Official news release) – The BIG EAST Conference today announced the launch of “BIG EAST Shootaround,” a live weekly online show that focuses on the league’s premier sport of men’s basketball in a full digital-forward approach. The first episode will air on Thursday, Aug. 10, and continue weekly over the coming year. The show will be distributed on FOX Sports GO, the BIG EAST Facebook page and @BIGEAST Twitter handle and via podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.
BIG EAST Shootaround will feature behind the scenes, in-depth stories from the Conference’s 10 member schools. John Fanta, a Seton Hall alum and senior BIG EAST correspondent, will serve as the show’s host, and guests will include coaches, basketball student-athletes, media members and other basketball insiders. Women’s basketball coverage will be included in the programming mix.
The first show will feature Seton Hall seniors Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington and Ismael Sanogo from the BIG EAST Conference offices in midtown Manhattan.
“BIG EAST Shootaround is designed to provide coverage of BIG EAST Basketball all year round, not just during basketball season,” said Rick Gentile BIG EAST Senior Associate Commissioner, Broadcasting. “Our schools’ basketball programs don’t take off from April through October, and our supporters are eager to keep up with off-season stories and developments. We aim to fill the void in media coverage during that period with news, interviews and updates from each of our campuses and reach all of our audiences in all places.”
BIG EAST Shootaround will be interactive as fans can submit questions for Fanta and guests on Twitter and on Facebook with the hashtag #BEshootaround.