This week’s sports industry reading list

In the week when new research revealed British children now prefer to watch stuff online rather on TV, the Economist lifted the lid of behind-the-scenes tensions in the world of opera and someone finally – finally! – did the maths on Disney Princesses, there’s also been a good bit going on in the sports industry. This, as regular readers will be aware, is my selection of the best writing of the week on the global business of sport – so buckle up and let’s get this rodeo underway once again (completely accidentally, this week’s list has something of a US bent). To business.

This week’s sports industry must-reads

  • This piece by the Guardian’s Sam Thielman isn’t really about sport, but it’s well worth reading anyway. Netflix are major media players, expanding quickly and whilst they’ve stated many times that live sport is not currently on their agenda, they’re clearly a company everyone in the industry should be keeping at least one eye on.
  • Here’s a deliciously detailed piece on the roof at the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, US Bank Stadium (currently under construction), by Tim Newcomb for the Popular Mechanics website. It’s worth reading for the flypast titbit alone.
  • There’ve been a number of articles recently in praise of Australia’s Twenty20 cricket competition, the KFC Big Bash. Here’s the pick of the bunch, by Will MacPherson of ESPN Cricinfo.
  • The Australian Open reaches its denouement this weekend and I’d recommend this feature on former player Justin Gimelstob. The American is now a jack of several trades on the tennis circuit which throws up several potential conflicts of interest. It’s a fascinating read by the New York Times’ Karen Crouse.
  • It’s fairly well-established that the NBA is a global leader in its approach to digital content and packaging. Dan Carson found an interesting angle in all this, seeking out the human social media managers behind NBA team accounts. The resulting piece, published by Bleacher Report, is really good.
  • It’s not long now until the Daytona 500, Nascar’s annual curtain-raiser, and Daytona International Speedway will look a little different this year, as the much-anticipated ‘Daytona Rising’ revamp comes to fruition. Steven Cole-Smith has written a terrific piece on one of the biggest venue refurbishments in sport – and Autoweek have presented it really well on their site.

That’s your lot for this week – something for everyone I hope, assuming the global business of sport is your thing. Feel free to drop me a line at or reach me on Twitter: @DavidCushnan. Until next time.



This week’s sports industry reading (and listening) list

Time for another sports industry reading list, my hopefully handy guide to the best writing on the global business of sport from all corners of the internet – do bookmark if sport is your business, or you’re simply fascinated by how sport is organised, funded and governed. Two sizeable stories this week, as the NFL confirmed its return to Los Angeles and the melodrama/meltdown continued at the IAAF – so here goes:

This week’s sports industry must-reads

  • After years of politics and process, NFL owners finally confirmed the league’s return to Los Angeles last week, approving the relocation of Stan Kroenke’s  Rams from St. Louis in time for the start of next season. And there have been plenty of interesting pieces to pick over in the aftermath. In the LA Times, Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno took a detailed look at last Tuesday’s NFL owners’ meeting where the votes were cast.
  • It was published before the release of the second part of the independent commission’s report, but nonetheless Alastair Campbell’s GQ interview with Coe offers a glimpse into the IAAF president’s mindset as he faces perhaps his biggest challenge to date. There’s some fascinating nuggets in there.
  • Overshadowed somewhat in recent weeks by the crisis engulfing the IAAF, Fifa is just weeks away from electing its new president. Simon Kuper’s interview with one of the candidates, Prince Ali of Jordan, in the Financial Times is recommended reading.
  • An interesting move recently by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, as they hired Paul DePodestra as chief strategy officer. DePodestra’s background is in baseball and this profile by Vice Sports’ Mike Vorkunov, featuring DePodestra’s first public comments since his appointment was announced, is a fascinating look at the advantages and risks of a fresh perspective at a major professional team.
  • Like many industries, the sports business is not short of awards. Seven League’s Richard Ayres, a winner and a judge in his time, has put together this punchy guide to how to give yourself the best chance of winning one – and how to guarantee you won’t.

This week’s sports industry pick of the podcasts

In the first of an irregular series, here’s three podcast episodes you really ought to download this week in order to be fully up to speed with the global sports industry.

  • Bill Simmons’ take on the NFL’s return to Los Angeles was always going to be worth listening to. In conversation with journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell, his latest podcast episode is particularly interesting on the economics of football stadiums, the curious role of Disney CEO Bob Iger in the relocation process and US sports team ownership in general.
  • BBC sports editor Dan Roan pulled off a coup this week, interviewing Allen Stanford – he of the helicopter on the pitch at Lord’s – from prison, where the financier is serving a 110-year sentence for fraud on a remarkable scale. The resulting BBC Radio 5 Live programme, which has been converted into a podcast, is compelling listening.
  • The latest SportsPro podcast is online, anchored consummately as ever by editorial director James Emmett. This latest episode features snippets from a series of interviews with prominent sports bloggers, including football finance expert Swiss Ramble and renowned Formula One journalist Joe Saward, as well as the usual high-level chit-chat from the SportsPro editorial team.

Feel free to let me know what you think of the blog via email,, or Twitter. Until next time.

This week’s sports industry reading list

Thanks for stopping by for this, the first sports industry reading list of 2016. If you’re a new reader, this is my weekly (ish) pick of the best writing on the global business of sport from around the internet – a mix of profiles, columns, features from bloggers, journalists and industry insiders. If you’re already a regular, welcome back. To business: here’s my choice of the best pieces from over the festive period and this first week of January.

This week’s sports industry must-reads

  • Published on Boxing Day, the Mail on Sunday’s Oliver Holt interviewed Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz’s motorsport division and the man at the top of Formula One’s dominant team. I’ve read and watched plenty of interviews with Wolff, but Holt brings the fresh perspective of a non-Formula One specialist (although he knows his stuff, having covered the sport for the Times in the 1990s) – he teases out some really interesting lines on how to handle his pair of star drivers and how further domination might ultimately risk harming Mercedes’ brand. It’s well worth a read.
  • Incidentally, former Chicago Tribune journalist Philip Hersh has a new blog, likely to feature its fair share of Olympic coverage, worth bookmarking. It’s called Globetrotting.
  • Ken Belson, writing in the New York Times, put together this fascinating piece on Frisco, Texas – the home of the Dallas Cowboys’ fairly remarkable new training facility; the piece also examines the growing commercialisation of NFL training facilities, led, predictably enough, by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
  • And sticking with the NFL, this is a good piece on the (gradual) changing face of NFL Films, purveyors for so long of the cinematic, montage-heavy footage that the league trades on, in a digital world – it’s written by Wired’s Brian Barrett as part of a collaboration with Sports Illustrated.
  • And finally, Mark Burns, a Forbes contributor, must have spent a fair old time gathering these 2016 forecasts from a host of sports business personalities. There is some obvious stuff and a few very safe bets in among the 20,000 words that followed (plus a lot of eSports), but there’s a few gems in there too. Put some time aside and have a read.

That’s all for now. Click back here soon for more essential reading material, and in the meantime feel free to follow on Twitter – @DavidCushnan – or emailing me:

The 2016 sports industry A-Z (part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of my sports industry A-Z, a soon-to-be essential bit of kit as you navigate the twists, turns and potholes of the global business of sport in 2016, a year of European football championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Ryder Cup, as well as all the usual calendar regulars. If you missed part 1, covering letters A to M, it’s on a nearby page and can be accessed here. And below you’ll find N-Z. Let’s resume:

New sponsorship structures

It’ll not only be farewell to Barclays as title sponsor of the Premier League in May but farewell to title sponsorship of the Premier League. The league is adopting a new partnership model, which will allow it to build the Premier League brand further internationally and opens up the potentially lucrative banking category for clubs.

Olympic Channel

There’s no definitive word on when the IOC’s much-vaunted Olympic Channel will launch but Rio 2016 seems an obvious diary date. Details on content and distribution are still sketchy, but it will be another interesting test of the OTT model many rights-holders around the world are testing and evaluating. It’ll also be well worth watching how the IOC integrates its TOP partners into the channel and what, if any, live sports rights it chooses to snaffle up.


Listen up, everyone’s doing them, they’re a great way to delve deeper into topics and there’ll be more (including several with a distinctly sports industry bent) of them in 2016.


Six years to the most famous Fifa World Cup yet to be played and although largely overshadowed by football’s political whirlwind in recent months, the nuts and bolts of how a (European) winter World Cup will actually work in practice (and who sorts out the scheduling mess it may well leave behind) still needs to be fully ironed out. It’s also about this time in a World Cup cycle that the hosts should be getting a local sponsorship programme up and running – in the current climate, who’ll move first and be part of Fifa’s new regional (as opposed to the previous national) sponsorship model?


Its Fifa World Cup now just over two years away, Russia is in the midst of its major sports event hosting decade. But all that risks being overshadowed by revelations of state-sponsored doping, particularly if the beleaguered IAAF does elect to ban Russian athletes from Rio 2016. Meanwhile, the crisis-hit IAAF and new president Lord Sebastian Coe are braced for Dick Pound’s latest revelations about doping and corruption within athletics, to be delivered on 14th January.

Sprint Cup

Pinning down the actual value of Sprint’s deal to title sponsor Nascar’s top-tier championship is tricky, but, suffice to say, it involved an enormous sum of money changing hands. But 2016 will be Sprint’s last year with its name on the Cup. Nascar have had over a year’s notice of the teleco’s decision to end its deal but have yet to announce a new partner for 2017; when it happens, presumably sometime in 2016, it is very likely to again be one of sport’s largest sponsorships.

Tiger Woods

Often injured, sometimes disgraced, it’s been a heck of a few years for Woods. His selection as one of Davis Love III’s vice-captain’s for September’s Ryder Cup adds another intriguing dynamic to one of sport’s best events, but may also provide a fascinating glimpse into Tiger’s future as an ex-professional golfer. He’ll certainly get his fair share of camera time at Hazeltine.

Union expansion

After a successful 2015 Rugby World Cup, rugby has an Olympics to look forward to in 2016. But while sevens will be the focus in Rio, the 15-a-side game will also be expanding its horizons over the next few months: in Asia, the Sunwolves Super Rugby franchise will make its debut, with games due to be staged in Japan and Singapore, while in March the Aviva Premiership will stage a competitive game in New York – London Irish v Saracens at Red Bull Arena – for the first time.

Vendée Globe 

In sailing, the America’s Cup World Series regattas will continue to set the scene ahead of the real deal in 2017 but the latest Vendee Globe – a quadrennial solo, non-stop round-the-world race – deserves top billing. Due to begin in November, it will be the eighth edition and the first under the Sir Keith Mills’ Ocean Masters commercial umbrella. That should mean a greater international profile for a race previously dominated, commercially and in sporting terms, by France.

West Ham’s new home

It may have a new name by August when West Ham move in, but the Olympic Stadium as Premier League team home will be another piece completed in the London 2012 legacy puzzle – for better or worse.

Xavier Gonzalez

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has high hopes for the Rio Games after the huge successes it enjoyed at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Gonzalez, IPC chief executive, has been one of the key figures in developing the Rio Paralympic gameplan. Expect another record-breaker.

Yahoo! YouTube etc.

As rights-holders around the world are busy carving out additional digital rights packages to either sell on or distribute via their own channels, will 2016 be the year when a major league sells one of its broadcast rights packages to a major digital player? The NFL, currently in the market with its Thursday Night Football package, has closely examined the results of its October live streaming trial with Yahoo, and may now feel it’s the right time to go the whole hog.

Zones (time)

Rio 2016 will be the focal point of the sporting year and all the indications are that it may a little chaotic, perhaps even a little rough around the edges, on the ground. (Get set for the early part of the year to be dominated by ‘race against time’ headlines and concerns over everything from Brazil’s economy, to security, corruption, whether Rio’s infrastructure will cope and maybe even the weather). For those watching at home, however, Rio is almost certain to look sensational (with the exception perhaps of its horribly polluted coastline). And with the Games taking place in a US-friendly timezone, it’s a safe bet that NBC will be recording record ratings and advertising income – good for the Olympic movement, many of its partners and for those making the case that Los Angeles should stage the 2024 Games.

To return to part 1, which covers A-M, click here


Twitter: @davidcushnan