Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Predicting the New MySpace for Sports and more...

The Financial Brackets:
Let’s be honest, the reason why a Cinderella is a Cinderella at this time of year is because the mid-major team -- given how much less they spend and how much less they make -- shouldn’t have a chance to win. Yet the games are played and they do win -- see George Mason through to the Final Four last year. One of the best ways to look at this is to go to the numbers provided by the Equity in Athletics Disclosure forms that the schools are required to submit each year to the U.S. Department of Education. The last numbers we have are from last year, but those numbers still provide an interesting look at the financial realities of the tournament.

Why a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed:

· No. 1 Florida is playing No. 16 Jackson State. The Gators spent $113,931 per player in expenses, while Jackson State spent $116,598 on the entire team.

· No. 1 North Carolina made $12,525,209 in profit, while its first-round opponent No. 16 Eastern Kentucky reported net revenue of $0.

· No. 1 Ohio State made approximately $575,000 per game in revenues, while Central Connecticut State made less than $75,000 in revenues for the entire season.

Is it really worth it?

· The biggest money loser in the bracket is VCU, which lost $1,134,757. They are the only team in the tournament that lost more than $1 million on basketball. In the first round, they play Duke, which made $4 million.

· Other tournament-bound big losers include North Texas ($845,405) Central Connecticut State ($835,335) and Old Dominion ($456,857).

· Teams like Butler, Davidson, Belmont and Niagara all reported net revenue of $0.

Could This Be?

· The data sent to the government is hardly complete, but according to the numbers, No. 11 Winthrop actually made money on its basketball program, while Notre Dame didn’t. Winthrop made $121,823 last season, while the Fighting Irish lost $19,053.

The Best Logo:

I’m hoping that Texas A&M-Corpus Christi can somehow pull off a massive upset because they clearly have the coolest logo in the tournament. I first saw the logo when I saw the school’s golf team at a Hertz in the Indianapolis airport two years ago. If they get enough exposure for this thing, it could be a nice revenue generator.

The Best Plan For Social Networking:
I get e-mails every day from some entrepreneur telling me that they’ve come up with the new MySpace or Facebook of sports. There’s a couple problems with this. I’m not sure this is the next big thing in the sports media world - at least not how it’s being presented. Yes, I know that ESPN has its SportsNation and SI just acquired FanNation. But I haven’t seen anything that really qualifies as innovative. In fact, a lot of the independent sports social networking sites are nothing more than bad Web pages and message boards. But I think I’ve found something that could actually make it, since it’s more innovative than anything out there. It’s called Swimroom, it’s a swimming social networking site put together by Octagon’s Peter Carlisle -- truly one of the most forward-thinking people in the business. It just soft launched Thursday, so there’s not much up there right now, but the plans could lead to something ground breaking. Here’s what makes it so different from anything else I’ve seen.

1. Athletes own it. Carlisle’s top clients Michael Phelps, Katie Hoff, Ian Crocker and Ryan Lochte, among others, own 100 percent of the profits of the site. That means if they want to make money, they have to constantly update it. “Athletes aren’t going to get into broadcasting their events, that’s what the networks are for,” Carlisle said. “And they’re not going to become reporters, the pros should do that. But what they can do is give the public direct access to them through blogs and footage that could change the business structure of how things have traditionally worked.”

2. Video, Video, Video. While the rest of the world fights over broadcast rights, Carlisle gets it. In the social networking world, it’s the behind the scenes that counts. His team has purchased seven HD cameras and has hired embedded photographers to shoot his athletes every single day. Two times a week they send their video to HQ where the video is sorted and logged by category. It was through this process that Carlisle was able to produce "Unfiltered". In less than two years, they’ve accumulated 250 hours of behind-the-scenes footage. “There has been a battle over the rights to the broadcasting of events like swimming, gymnastics and track and field so that it can be streamed on the Web,” Carlisle said. “The problem is that people aren’t distinguishing Olympic sports from the NFL and the NBA. In Olympic sports, the story lines are only compelling because of the human interest story behind it. People don’t watch Survivor because they want to see who wins the egg toss. They watch because they want to see how the results of the egg toss affect the participants.” Carlisle said that his team has enough behind-the-scenes video -- in HD, by the way -- to have new video content that can run every week.

It’s early, and it’s really a niche, but I give this site a chance at working more than any other site I’ve seen out there simply because the model is so much better than anything else I’ve seen. Of course, the success of it ultimately will be up to the athletes themselves. The whole reason why athletes' personal Web sites failed 10 years ago is that the people managing them dreamed them up and the athletes never had the drive to make them work. Without posting something every other day, this site, like all the others will fail.

John Amaechi & Endorsements:
I'm really mixed about the fact that John Amaechi, the former NBA player who announced he was homosexual last month, has a new endorsement deal. I think it's great that the folks at HeadBlade, makers of bald men products, signed Amaechi to the deal. I'm less convinced that this deal is going to do anything from a sales standpoint. Trouble is, as a retired player, Amaechi is more irrelevant to begin with. As a retired player -- who didn't have any marketing power when he was in the game -- I'd be willing to bet that Amaechi's involvement could yield anything more than a couple thousand dollars in sales. Other gay athletes who have landed endorsement deals -- namely Martina Navratilova and Sheryl Swoopes -- had one thing going for them, they were the best in their sports. Amaechi certainly wasn't that.

Quote of the Week:
“I made it very clear that Las Vegas is not going to be used as a pawn. I don’t even know what hockey is.” - Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman when the Pittsburgh Penguins put the city on its moving list.

Questions?  Comments?