Live From the World Congress of Sports

World Congress of Sports:
I'm at the IMG World Congress of Sports, which is being put on by the Sports Business Journal in New York City. Lots of great stuff coming from industry leaders here today.

Major League Baseball's executive VP of business Tim Brosnan, on the terms of the Extra Innings package being characterized as a defacto exclusive with DirecTV: "It has been a campaign of disinformation" that amounts to "a large bowl of sour grapes." "This was a full fair, open negotiation that some people decided to take advantage of and others didn't." A couple hours later, InDemand offered to match the DirecTV deal.

David Beckham
David Beckham

The audience of sports business insiders voted that David Beckham would have a marginal impact on the MLS, that high school sports should not be broadcast on national television and that the biggest threat to sports is a disconnected fan base.

Dave Checketts, owner of Real Salt Lake and the St. Louis Blues said he thought the next big thing was the NBA expanding into Europe. "They could get 400 million, 500 million a team," Checketts said. (Facilities are the major stumbling block on this front).

NCAA president Myles Brand said he wasn't opposed to student-athletes filling out NCAA brackets as long as it wasn't for money. "A student-athlete can walk into a supermarket and be the millionth customer and win a prize." I was surprised by Brand's comments because I remember the University of Iowa forced their quarterback Drew Tate to give back the $25,000 he won by hitting a hole-in-one at a charity golf tournament because they said it would sacrifice his final year of eligibility. After Brand finished speaking, I spoke with the NCAA's Wally Renfro, who told me that he didn't believe that Tate's accepting of the prize was against NCAA rules. Sorry Drew.

NBA deputy commissioner on the future of television: "My cable box now reminds me of DOS and what we don't see is a Google-type search for cable channels." Silver quoted Bill Gates' timetable, saying it will happen in the next five years.

I had a great conversion with IMG sports and entertainment president George Pyne. I wanted to talk to him about how he felt about what I thought was the perception of the company, as a host of agents and athletes left in recent months. When the defections happened, it was said that IMG's sports representation business, while the most public, only made up about 3 percent of the company's revenues. Pyne reiterated that other parts of IMG's business are more important in the future - mentioning the 7,000 of live sports programming the firm produces and the fact that it puts on, on average, 12 events a day. With 60 offices in 30 countries, he said that global sports businesses like golf and tennis -- IMG represents Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer and James Blake, among others -- make more sense. I also asked him if he was concerned that Ted Forstmann was going to flip IMG soon. "In the last 30 years, Ted has been behind some of the most successful businesses," Pyne said. "He helped build Gulfstream, Yankee Candle and Dr. Pepper. As far as I know, Dr. Pepper still sells good soda, Gulfstream makes great planes and Yankee Candle makes good candles. IMG will follow in that tradition."

Questions? Comments?