sports

Nike is setting the tone for sports brands in its response to the George Floyd protests

After five days of social justice protests in cities across America following the death of George Floyd at the hand of Minneapolis police, companies are feeling pressure to speak out in some way, especially since silence during this time is seen by many consumers as complicity.

Nike was the first to speak out among big sports apparel brands, which is in keeping with the brand’s advocacy for social justice reform over the past few years.

On Friday night at 6:50pm EST, Nike posted to its social accounts a 60-second video, with only white text on a black background, that read: For once, don’t do it. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism. Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t sit back and be silent. Don’t think you can’t be part of the change. Let’s all be

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NHL return plan could set the model for other sports leagues to follow

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday unveiled a detailed and methodical plan for professional hockey to return in July or August for a 24-team NHL Playoffs—and it could set the model for the other leagues that had to pause their seasons in March (NBA, MLS) to follow.

The NHL is not the league most industry-watchers would have expected to be the leader in this process. On March 11, the NBA kicked off a domino effect of sports closures when it became the first league to halt its season after a player tested positive for COVID-19; MLS and then the NHL followed the NBA’s lead the next day. In the weeks that followed, many onlookers praised NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for setting the precedent.

Now each pro league—the ones that were already underway in March and had to hit pause, and MLB, which never got to start its season—is working diligently

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Spotify, Amazon, Apple, and Barstool Sports are all betting big on podcasts

If there was any remaining doubt that Spotify (SPOT) is extremely serious about podcasts, last week the Swedish streaming company that already spent more than half a billion dollars in the past two years to acquire Gimlet Media, Anchor, Parcast, and The Ringer added an exclusive deal with Joe Rogan reportedly worth $100 million. Rogan’s entire library of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” one of the top podcasts in America, will become exclusive to Spotify, which has 286 million users, before the end of 2020, along with all new episodes, plus the videos of his podcasts.

Rogan, in his third or fourth career act (TV actor on shows like “News Radio”; host of the competition show “Fear Factor”; UFC commentator), has become a mega-influencer and newsmaker. (Recall when Elon Musk smoked weed on Rogan’s podcast in 2018.)

Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) is beefing up its podcast plan, seeking to acquire

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Coronavirus could have long-lasting impact on live sports ticket sales

If and when U.S. pro sports leagues are able to resume this year after shutting down in March due to the coronavirus, most leagues expect to play their games in empty stadiums with no fans present, at least at first.

That will be particularly damaging for Major League Soccer, which gets a “vast vast vast majority of our income” from game day revenues like ticket sales and concessions, according to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, and for MLB, which is also heavily reliant on ticket sales. It will be less of a problem for the NFL, which gets a lion’s share of its revenue from broadcast deals and TV ads. Still, empty stadiums are an unappealing scenario for all the leagues.

But even once the U.S. economy has fully reopened after the coronavirus, some sports industry veterans foresee a prolonged hit to sports ticket sales from this time period.

“I think

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Korean baseball’s return is a bitter pill for American sports, but a win for ESPN

South Korea and the United States had their first reported cases of coronavirus on the same date: Jan. 20. But the countries took two starkly different approaches to containing their outbreaks, and now South Korea’s economy will begin reopening this week, including schools, parks, museums, and Korean pro baseball—while U.S. sports are still shut down across the board.

South Korea has had 10,801 total confirmed coronavirus cases and its curve peaked in early March, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The U.S. has had 1.17 million confirmed cases.

The KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) begins its season on Tuesday in empty ballparks without fans; it has been playing preseason games in that format throughout April. The KBO’s return is in many ways an embarrassing contrast to the state of play in America, where the NBA, NHL, and Major League Soccer all halted their in-progress seasons in March, MLB

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