Could a theme park develop a successful sports IP attraction?

July 8, 2017, 1:05 PM · Sport offers some of the most powerful and valuable brands in the world, from leagues such as the NFL and the Premier League to franchises such as Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys. With theme parks showing an apparently insatiable appetite for intellectual property franchises with built-in fan bases to drive their new attractions, one might wonder... why not use sports IP?

More than 73 million people like Manchester United on Facebook. That's nearly four times as many people as who've liked Star Wars on the social media platform. Top sports teams and leagues are bringing enormous fan bases to the table — millions of potential visitors, who could be enticed plan a visit to a park to celebrate their favorite team.

But if franchises could do all the work on their own, Six Flags would be challenging Disney on attendance, with its licenses for the DC Comics and Looney Tunes IP. Theme parks need to deliver a great attraction to a popular franchise's fan base in order to convert them into the park's customers, too. Just slapping a name and a logo on a carnival ride's entrance might draw a few more people than the same ride without the branding, but a park won't reach the top levels of the business without creating an attraction that lives up to the appeal of the IP.

As we said, DC Comics might have immense appeal, but Six Flags' use of it primarily to brand coasters falls short of the IP's potential. (FWIW, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis represents a long-overdue correction.) The flip side holds, as well. Universal created the industry's best stunt show based on the box office flop Waterworld, and many fans who now adore Disney's Pandora weren't exactly huge Avatar fans before the land opened. It's a rare combination to bring together a world-class franchise with a world-class experience. Universal's use of Harry Potter remains the gold standard for developing IP-based theme park attractions, and many fans can't wait to see what Disney does with fully-developed Star Wars and Marvel lands.

Sports, potentially, could join Potter, Star Wars, and Marvel in the rarefied air of world-class IP for theme parks. But do sports lend themselves to theme park attractions the way that these other fictional entertainment-based franchises do?

Sport does not lack emotionally-charged narratives. And it delivers them with amazing visuals that play well to the social experience of being with others in a public space, such as a theme park. Weaker IPs lack that social component. Think of romcoms and intellectual dramas that are best experienced on a couch or a silent theater, alone or with a small group of friends. And parks undersell a franchise's potential when they develop attractions, such as VR and basic movie shows, that could just as well be experienced at home.

How can a park create an experience that brings people closer to their beloved teams and leagues than going to watch a match or game would do already? We've seen theme park designers work to create attractions that complement the game experience, such as the Selig Experience that BRC Imagination Arts developed for the Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park. But what about a stand-alone sports-themed attraction that plays inside a theme park? What would that look like?

What would be the visitor's role? The Wizarding World of Harry Potter works because it empowers you to transform from Muggle to wizard, from fan to participant. So would a sports attraction turn you from fan to athlete? Maybe something like this?

Nike's Michael Vick Experience commercial inadvertently raises several of the problems inherent in using sports-based IP in a theme park. First, you're using real people instead of fictional characters. As soon as Michael Vick gets busted for being part of dog-fighting operation, your attraction would be toast — as was Nike's PR campaign for the quarterback. Even if Vick never got into any legal or ethical trouble, what would happen if he were traded? Now, you're looking at a potentially expensive redecoration of the attraction and redesign of your marketing for it.

And where would fans' loyalty lie after the deal? Here's the big problem for theme parks that might consider sports-based IP — every game and match involves two teams. And that opposing team has its fans, too. Build a Man U Experience at your park and you might win millions of Red Devils fans. But you can kiss your Man City-loving visitors good-bye. Same with Liverpool and Everton, the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Bears and the Packers, and so on and so on and so on.

The Disney/Universal fan squabble is nothing compared with the generations-long enmity that drives sports fans. If parks try to avoid the issue by theming to leagues and sports rather than individual teams, they lose access to the passion that drives people to develop life-long relationships with their favorite teams. I like the NBA, but I love the Pacers. (And now we pause for a moment while NBA fans reading this shake their heads and mutter, "I'm so sorry, Robert.") Generic approaches don't work. NBA City is now the Toothsome Chocolate Factory. Boardwalk and Baseball is now a strip mall.

How do you create an experience that makes people feel closer to their favorite franchises than they now do as a fan, without requiring actual athletic skill or knowledge? How do you include people who root for opposing franchises? How do you build an emotional, engaging park-unique experience that appeals to people who are not fans without sacrificing the authenticity of experience that devoted fans demand?

And how do you structure the business deal in a way that brings the franchise to the table without making this a money-loser for the park? Major sports franchises, especially in the United States, are used to big paydays. But seeing as how Disney and Universal already work with major sports leagues as broadcast partners, they could have a negotiating advantage that would help them cut a licensing deal that works for the parks, too.

These are tough challenges, but not impossible. Whoever figures this out is going to earn his or her money. But I suspect that someday, some theme park is going to find a way to make sports IP work. And millions of fans — and their money — will follow when it happens.

Replies (72)

July 8, 2017 at 1:25 PM · Sports are in a decline in fan interest and television ratings. Fewer people are following the sports including football, baseball, and basketball for various controversial reasons. Disney could have kept the Angels franchise, but decided against it. Disney's ESPN is on the decline as well. It's ESPN Zone Restaurants have scaled back.

Many sports training camps are scams. Sports athletes are criminals, wife beaters, and drug addicts. Now, Redskins can keep their trademark.

Going to see a game is not on most people's radar especially with the decline in college sports. Amateur interest is no longer there. Minor league have low attendance except when Tim Tebow shows up.

Theme parks should stick to what works.

July 8, 2017 at 1:32 PM · There used to be a theme park of sorts many years ago in Orlando called Boardwalk and Baseball. It was a short-lived flop, perhaps because its owners didn't have the deep pockets to fund it properly, perhaps because it wasn't a compelling theme. But Robert's post here is very thought-provoking. When one thinks that video games based on sports (such as the EA Sports brand) have been bestsellers for decades, there's certainly the interest from the public. But perhaps theme parks aren't the best venue for such attractions.

- Brian from Florida

July 8, 2017 at 2:08 PM · Good to have someone talk about the premier league accurately.
July 8, 2017 at 3:30 PM · Not sure you even need the IP here. The attractions could be based on playing the sports, not who you are playing for/against. Think about Olympic sports - my old bones would love to feel like they are flying down a mountain on a snowboard. Doesn't matter who I'm racing against, the fun is in playing the sport. Sports are way too commercialized as it is - maybe go the opposite direction and celebrate the fun of actually PLAYING the sport.
July 8, 2017 at 5:22 PM · If you were going to do it, I think you'd have to pick a unique "underdog" story that everyone can get behind and not be alienated by.

There's already one such example sitting in the Disney stable - Cool Runnings. Take a proper boblead roller coaster - not the Matterhorn ride, and create a narrative about trying out for the team, or maybe forget a phony narrative altogether. Create a track similar to the Calgary Olympics track (adjusted for safety and audience suiterbility) and race the Jamaican team down it.

July 8, 2017 at 5:22 PM · If you were going to do it, I think you'd have to pick a unique "underdog" story that everyone can get behind and not be alienated by.

There's already one such example sitting in the Disney stable - Cool Runnings. Take a proper boblead roller coaster - not the Matterhorn ride, and create a narrative about trying out for the team, or maybe forget a phony narrative altogether. Create a track similar to the Calgary Olympics track (adjusted for safety and audience suiterbility) and race the Jamaican team down it.

July 8, 2017 at 6:23 PM · The only sport category that lends itself well to attractions, I think, is anything in the racing family but that would be best accomplished with either totally generic or fiction-based IP (Test Track, Cars, or Cool Runnings as Chad suggests).
As long as these professional sports brands are divisive, volatile, and time-sensitive, no park will spend the tens (or hundreds) of millions to build a proper ride attraction that utilizes any specific team brands or athletes. However, I can see the parks investing in a combination of cheaper interactive, VR, and even athletic mini-attractions that can be cheaply and quickly altered- right alongside of course, heavy merchandising, themed dining, etc.
I've said it before, but it will be very interesting to see what's going to be included in Disney Springs' NBA Experience and if it proves successful, I'm certain we'll see an NFL Experience very soon as well.
July 8, 2017 at 7:25 PM · "The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort is going to be a one-of-a-kind destination featuring hands-on activities that put families and guests of all ages right in the middle of NBA game action. You’ll be able to explore inside the world of professional basketball with numerous interactive experiences and enjoy a restaurant and retail store."
Seems like that's what Disney is trying to do. Interesting aricle, I'm curious to see how will this play out.
July 8, 2017 at 9:15 PM · There is an NFL themed entertainment experience in Times Square.

Provocative and interesting column once again.

July 8, 2017 at 9:46 PM · I guess I'm not understanding what was wrong with the Michael Vick experience other than it had Michael Vick in it. If you got the players association of the sports involved, then you could have the guest pick whatever team or player they wanted to use. Build the attraction so that it was a personal experience like the Michael Vick experience. Get the broadcast team to MC the ride and then you get around all of the hatred of rival teams. Maybe you could have an iconic historical player from each team MC the ride. Get a group of high profile hall of fame players to assist the guest. Maybe you could use ex-players that already spent all of their money to act as ride ops.
July 8, 2017 at 10:21 PM · In 2016, the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and Premier League alone generated $36 billion. That's not even including the billions made by minor leagues or college sports or sports gambling. To say interest in sports is in decline is ridiculous.
July 8, 2017 at 11:25 PM · I love going to a good baseball game, but that only costs me $25 for decent seats. There's no way on earth I'm paying $80 to go to an amusement park to experience a five minute ride that reminds me of the real experience I had for $25. The enjoyment of sports is in the adrenaline of watching something happen live. It has nothing to do with brand.
July 8, 2017 at 11:32 PM · Part of the reason IP-based attractions work is because they allow guests to temporarily leave the real world and step into a different place and/or time, often one they couldn't otherwise visit. In most cases, it is an alternate reality in which something fictional exists, whether it be superheroes, wizards, fantasy creatures, or giant robots. If you look at a list of the biggest media franchises, you'll notice that almost all of those adapted to a theme park attraction are not set in the real world as we know it. There is no way a sports themed attraction could ever pull that escapism off, and that is a massive hurdle to overcome.

Another question to answer is this: Why do sports fans like sports? Do they enjoy watching the game, do they like the players, or do they wish they could play themselves? Only those in the third category would likely have much interest in a theme park attraction. Once you further restrict that by picking a specific sport and (a) specific team(s), the size of the audience that would be interested in the attraction is likely smaller than it would be for a popular media franchise. In the end, it just isn't something that would be viable for a destination park (especially given that IP rights would likely be more expensive).

Could sports IP enter the theme park market? Absolutely. However, I think it is much more likely to be incorporated at the regional park level, and probably more in a branding manner than as a full-blown immersive attraction. Carowinds and Kings Dominion both have Intimidator coasters themed after Dale Earnhardt, and I'm pretty confident we won't see anything much more involved than that in the near future.

July 9, 2017 at 1:54 AM · Not just attractions, but entire theme parks have been developed under a Sports motif. These are the Ferrari parks, based on a Motor sports brand. And we all know how well these two are performing. It doesn't seem like a wise choice.
July 9, 2017 at 4:26 AM · I'm a Preston North End fan, which is enough of a rollercoaster experience already...
July 9, 2017 at 4:52 AM · Confirming what Thomas tskogg ... Anton M has no idea what he is talking about ... The 2017 NBA finals television ratings were the highest since Michael Jordan's retirement in 1998.
July 9, 2017 at 5:25 AM · Personally, I cannot see how a sport IP would work as sports fans have an affinity to a specific team first, second and third and the sport, thereafter. If Disney and/or Universal had, for example, a Man U attraction there would be very few other Brits riding/participating because it is a Man U attraction not a "soccer" attraction. Therefore, it has to be a general sports IP but it would then have to feature specific teams and specific players which would, again, polarise support so I cannot see how it would be successful.
July 9, 2017 at 6:03 AM ·

"Attention, sports team owners – and anyone trying to make a buck off the supposedly ever-growing American thirst to watch athletic events.

Game over.

TV viewership of sporting events has seemingly reached – at a minimum – a cyclical peak. Ratings for most major professional sports are headed in the wrong direction. And in today’s media-saturated world, this will become a challenge for an industry in which multi-billion-dollar broadcasting contracts – not ticket sales, overpriced stadium munchies or fan-gear revenues – pay most of the bills.

It’s could mean financial trouble for athletes, teams, stadium owners, sports-gear manufacturers – not to mention broadcasters locked into pricey, long-term deals with pro leagues, most notably Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN.

• National Football League: This TV powerhouse lost one in 10 viewers this year, and the NFL’s Super Bowl championship game – the most-watched television, sports or not – has had declining viewership two years straight. You think disenfranchising even more fans by moving two teams to Los Angeles is a good idea?

• Major League Baseball: Regular season ratings rose 1 percent vs. 2015, according to Forbes. Viewership soared in the playoffs – during the same autumn election period that supposedly stole sports audiences. But how often will the Chicago Cubs win their first World Series in a century?

• National Basketball Association: Teams collectively lost 1-in-6 viewers for broadcasts on local networks in the current season’s first half, according to SportsBusiness. The national viewership of the league’s all-star game, however, was highest in four years. How watch-worthy is a sport where teams might intentionally lose to get better, eh, Lakers’ fans?

• National Hockey League: Audiences for local broadcasts are off a relatively modest 7 percent in the season’s first half, according to SportsBusiness. Yes, best All-Star ratings since 2004, but it was the first time NHL games were broadcast by a major network in 13 years. Also: the Anaheim Ducks had the smallest average TV audience."

July 9, 2017 at 6:12 AM ·

"There’s a word to describe the past year for sports on TV: brutal. NFL ratings declined. Sports debate programs were down year over year. NBA games on regional sports networks are down. A Clippers-Bulls matchup was the league’s lowest-rated broadcast network game in a decade, and, unlike the last one, it was not aired against the NCAA Tournament.

Fewer people are watching sports. Politics is playing some role. Donald Trump without question has been a distraction. Sports networks/leagues will hope that’s all that is occurring. Because it’s worth noting Premier League ratings have been down by a similar amount in the U.K. without Trump present."

July 9, 2017 at 6:20 AM · Anton M seams hell bent on proving his ridiculous theory via an even more ridiculous, alarmist article. The Super Bowl was watched by 46.6 and 45.3 million people in the last two years. While a decline, we are talking about gargantuan numbers regardless. He acts as if people have stopped tuning in. As TH points out...NBA ratings for the finals were at an all time high since '98. The false narrative in the NFL numbers is that while they were down about 14% prior to the election in '16 they rose to normal levels post election. Nobody wants to talk about that though. While we are on the subject...The NFL is expected to generate $14 billion in 2017 up from $8 billion in 2010 and on track for their ultimate projection of $25 billion by 2027. Who are we kidding though? Nobody cares about sports or going to sporting events. The whole business will be dead soon and Anton M will be the messiah that predicted it all.
July 9, 2017 at 7:24 AM ·
July 9, 2017 at 7:37 AM · Barry: The NBA finals was an one time deal. NBA viewership throughout the year continues to decline. They are also skewing older.

"While a decline" so what's the argument? The ratings will continue to decline.

If theme parks are for kids, sports is not working out for them.

"The NFL in 2016 had a median TV viewer age of 50, up four from 2006; MLB rose four years as well to 57; the NHL was up seven to 49; and the NBA was up two from 40."

Nice for you to distort the argument. Sports will be around for a long time, but the tea leaves suggest only the insiders will make money. NFL will still make money. Come to think of it, why would the NFL ever allow any company to license its logo in a theme park? It just doesn't happen. At least Disney doesn't go after it's theme park fans for independently produced fan videos. The sue happy NFL won't be so forgiving.

July 9, 2017 at 7:43 AM · And yet the biggest stat of all last year: Ad revenue. NFL experienced an all time high of $3.5 billion. Money talks Anton. Additionally, my point in ratings is simple: 41.6, 42.6, 43.1, 42, 45, 46, 47, 46.3, 46.7. 47.5, 46.6., 45.3. That's the last 10 Super Bowls (in millions). Most important factor is teams competing and their intrigue to general public. Those numbers change so slightly that its a non issue. People will watch for the most part, regardless. The ratings rise and fall but hardly to an alarming number and again...revenue continues to rise. No matter what.
July 9, 2017 at 7:47 AM · Also...the last three NBA finals numbers: 19.4, 20.28, 20.38 (in millions). Hardly a one time deal my friend. That's a three year increase year over year. Please actually learn about sports before commenting on such things.
July 9, 2017 at 8:02 AM · The FINALS are the one time deal. The regular season continues to decline in ratings. Understand the argument.

"The viewership counters recent downward trends in live-sports ratings. NFL viewership was down 8% in 2016 from the year prior. NBA regular-season action was down 6% this season from last."

July 9, 2017 at 8:05 AM · Oh Anton. Keep citing those ridiculous sources. I wish you well in your "argument." Sports franchises as a whole are statistically and financially thriving and you have no data to back your nonsense.
July 9, 2017 at 8:11 AM · I posted 4 articles at least. You make a narrow argument. So why should anyone open a sports theme park? I haven't a clue. Disney had a sports center in Orlando. Nothing new going on there except it's now a "New Epicenter of Cheer and Dance"
July 9, 2017 at 8:21 AM · My argument has nothing to actually do with whether this IP is viable for a theme park. I take issue with your main theory that "Sports are in a decline in fan interest and television ratings. Fewer people are following the sports including football, baseball, and basketball for various controversial reasons." I also take issue with the idea "If theme parks are for kids, sports is not working out for them." Neither one of those things are remotely true. I don't know if a sports IP could sustain life in a theme park. What I do know is that sports are as popular if not more than they've ever been and in America the big 4 (NFL, NBA, MLB, & NHL) are continuing to crush ratings and bring in the $$$.
July 9, 2017 at 8:35 AM · Anyone can cite any article or source to help support whatever argument they're in favor of. The fact is that more people than not (except for Anton) enjoy some type of sport or support one team or another. I have no idea how it could be done but fortunately, smarter people than I, design attractions and theme parks. If any attraction is done correctly and it proves to be fun, people will come to it, regardless of whether they get into sports or not. If Universal or Disney decided to build some type of attraction based on (pick your sport), it would succeed or fail based on the simple fact of "is it enjoyable or fun for the park's guests". As far as stating that sports are in decline.........that's just absurd. There may be a lot of attention being paid to concussions in the NFL right now, but the NFL is generating more money than ever, so certain stats don't always paint the right picture.
July 9, 2017 at 8:50 AM · I concur with Anton that spectator sports are going to keep heading into a slow decline over time. Actually wouldn't be surprised if they are nothing more than a bit player in the entertainment industry by the end of this century, though I don't think I'll be around to see if my prediction is correct. And the Super Bowl is not a good predictor of overall interest in spectator sports because the SB is only one game and an event in itself, regardless of the actual game.

The primary reason for the decline is kids today have changed their media consumption and entertainment pursuits. Kids don't want to watch something that is slow moving and over three hours long. Football games only have about 14 minutes of action for the entire game. Baseball takes forever to play with usually only a few moments of real action. The kids want fast and/or interactive. Guess where they find that action and speed? Sports were big business during our whole lives because we're old-timers and the sports business model has always been lucrative and getting better. And we can't see things differently. But the younger generation is different. And if virtual reality gets anywhere near as good as a holodeck or experience machine, spectator sports will die practically overnight.

July 9, 2017 at 8:58 AM · Ray: I haven't said whether I'm a sports fan. Actually I am. So it seems you jump to conclusions. I happen to think most people don't regularly follow the games anymore. People will watch the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the NBA Finals, but not always. Depends on the team. The television ratings decline in the regular season. The NFL is doing a fine job of alienating fans. The long term view I have as well as others is it will become a niche sport like boxing. Fewer people want their kids to play American Football. Seems like NFL making money is your metric.
July 9, 2017 at 9:02 AM ·
July 9, 2017 at 9:02 AM · While I agree that the SB should not be the measuring stick for sports and their viability... I would continue to point to revenue. Who cares if something is obsolete in 20-30 years (that may be generous). Revenue is continuing to increase in most major sports. I believe Mr. Perkins is VERY optimistic on his predictions of VR and the like. The major sports are very in tune to how long games are played and kids attention span. They are continuing to make improvements to speed up games and adjust accordingly. To think these giants will lay down and die anytime soon (sooner than Tony has apparently) is outrageous. They will adapt and live on. Foolish to think otherwise.
July 9, 2017 at 9:06 AM · Anton: Anyone making money should be the metric. Do you not understand what the general concept of Capitalism is? As long as the NFL produces the dollars (and they are in ever increasing quantities) why the heck would they alter course??
July 9, 2017 at 10:22 AM · Barry: NFL economics means very little revenue is generated directly from fans. It's a very good system that benefits the owners and NFL. Stadiums are built with government subsidies. A theme park can't possibly follow the same model. Disney already abandoned the corporate sponsorship model. At best, Disney is able to get some tax advantages and municipal bonds to finance road work and parking structures, but not to finance the theme park itself.

How the NFL makes the most money of any pro sport
Ike Ejiochi, special to
Thu, 4 Sep '14 | 9:32 AM ET
The NFL scores big bucks every Sunday.
According to IEG, the National Football League and its 32 teams raked in a record-setting $1.07 billion in sponsorship revenue for the 2013 season, an increase of 5.7 percent over the 2012 season. A good portion of the revenue increase can be attributed to a new partnership between Microsoft and the NFL. The two agreed on a $400 million deal that secures the exclusive right for Surface tablets and other Microsoft technologies on the sidelines for all 32 teams.

Another major money maker for the NFL is its four-year $4 billion partnership ($1 billion per season) with DirecTV—a service that allows viewers to watch every football broadcast on several channels. It attracts roughly 10 percent of DirecTV's 20 million subscribers to the satellite TV service, and is scheduled to end this year. With the acquisition of DirecTV by AT&T, the Sunday Ticket is likely to be renewed by DirecTV (AT&T has reserved the right to call off the deal in the event DirecTV loses the NFL); however, negotiations between the two have been ongoing, and at one point, DirecTV CFO Patrick Doyle said the NFL asking price was too high, and DirecTV would not pay significantly more than the current $1 billion per season."

July 9, 2017 at 10:45 AM · Thank you again for citing yet another article in its entirety to prove your point. Once argument is not pro NFL or any other sports entity in an amusement park. It's simply to dispute your ludicrous claim:

"Sports are in a decline in fan interest and television ratings. Fewer people are following the sports including football, baseball, and basketball for various controversial reasons. Disney could have kept the Angels franchise, but decided against it. Disney's ESPN is on the decline as well. It's ESPN Zone Restaurants have scaled back.
Many sports training camps are scams. Sports athletes are criminals, wife beaters, and drug addicts. Now, Redskins can keep their trademark.

Going to see a game is not on most people's radar especially with the decline in college sports. Amateur interest is no longer there. Minor league have low attendance except when Tim Tebow shows up."

Absolute nonsense and no real knowledge of the sports world outside of Google.

July 9, 2017 at 10:49 AM · All that is true and you haven't disproved it at all.

"Once argument is not pro NFL or any other sports entity in an amusement park."

Of course you're pro-NFL. You said the NFL makes money and that's all that matters.

July 9, 2017 at 10:48 AM · HAHAHA. OK, Anton M.
July 9, 2017 at 10:54 AM · Ha Ha Barry. Google is your friend.
July 9, 2017 at 10:57 AM · So you admit your entire argument (which is invalid) is based on Google and no real knowledge of sports? Thank you buddy.
July 9, 2017 at 11:03 AM · So you admit, Barry, have no real knowledge if anything. Please cite your sources for any facts in your posts you stated above. I'm waiting. Otherwise, pure fiction. And I'll ignore you. Thank you. Go away Barry.
July 9, 2017 at 11:06 AM · Man this is getting incredibly petty. We will have to agree to disagree here. All stats listed above can be found via Google.
July 9, 2017 at 11:06 AM ·
July 9, 2017 at 11:10 AM · The answer to Robert's original question is evident in the comments. People can't even debate the popularity of things like the NFL without getting heated. Do they (sports IP) make money? Yes. Will they try and market it in a theme park someday? Probably. Is it a good idea? Based on the above...No.
July 9, 2017 at 11:15 AM · Go away Barry.
July 9, 2017 at 11:21 AM · All I can say is "please don't".
July 9, 2017 at 11:24 AM · Barry and Anton butting heads? Pass the popcorn.
July 9, 2017 at 11:31 AM · Sorry TH I think this round is over. You will have to fill summer some other way before school starts again.
July 9, 2017 at 11:35 AM · Barry: Still waiting for sources.
July 9, 2017 at 12:17 PM · Yep, people watch sports if you ask... "Will you watch the Super Bowl (or World Series or NBA Finals or Stanley Cup Finals)?"

"Yeah, who's playing besides Lady Gaga and Beyonce?"

July 9, 2017 at 11:45 AM · I can't speak for US sports but it is true that to viewing figures for the Premier League are at a 6 year low (read it yesterday, google it). The revenue you are hearing about is actually the Premier League selling TV rights abroad to lesser tapped markets.

As for a sport Attraction.....I don't know. Why people love sports is the competition....the desire to win and hopefully do so in an attractive manner. There is no narrative that you emotionally engage with like in tv, film and comics

July 9, 2017 at 3:39 PM · Barry, Anton is still waiting for sources.

(Munch, crunch, munch, crunch)

July 9, 2017 at 5:09 PM · >>>Man this is getting incredibly petty. We will have to agree to disagree here. All stats listed above can be found via Google.

It is for the asserter to prove their claims, and noone else.

July 9, 2017 at 6:06 PM · Chad: Who's the asserter in this case? Barry disqualified using Google and admitted using Google in 9 minutes flat. There are no claims to prove. He's the sports expert that offers nothing to prove his expertise.
July 9, 2017 at 6:40 PM · Back to the topic of theme park attractions using sports IP. To make it work, it has to be adaptive to the fan. We're going n a heavy screen based time for attractions. While s I found it generally annoying, it is perfect for offs based IP. On top of that, Nintendo is entering Universal. Electronic Arts has the lead in major sports gaming with a development shop in Maitland, 20 miles north of WDW.

Shift the approach to gaming with adaptive Screen, VR, and projection mapped animatronics, and you have potential material. EA is experts at annually adapting their product. This constant adaptation coupled with additional focus on the hall of famers creates re-rideability. The downside is the constant artistic maintenance if not purely focused on the hall of fame players. But that constant maintenance would be aimed squarely at the highly valuable male age 10-35 year group that isn't all in on princesses.

Could be a feature attraction at NBA experience, though the fit seems better at Universal.

July 10, 2017 at 5:05 AM · I go to a theme park to step into an alternate reality and experiencing things I normally don't or can't do. Sports is a real world thing following a zero to hero is portrayed on tv, magazines, newspaper and internet. We are close-up (if we care). In video games I can do a carreer mode and live the life of a super athlete (if I'm good enough) but in the end it doesn't translate very well to a theme park ride. There is racing but that is about it. I don't see sports translate very well into a theme park and I for one don't care.
July 10, 2017 at 7:07 AM · >>>Chad: Who's the asserter in this case? Barry disqualified using Google and admitted using Google in 9 minutes flat. There are no claims to prove. He's the sports expert that offers nothing to prove his expertise.

You're the asserted. Prove your stats by linking to them or STFU. Go find it yourself or "it's in there somewhere" isnt proof; those are the tools of the trade of a BS artist.

July 10, 2017 at 7:14 AM · I think the only way you can have a theme park or even just a single attraction use a sports IP is to utilize an entire sports league. Using a single team or athlete is too risky and alienates too many people. Sure, you could use a team like the Dallas Cowboys, Manchester United, New York Yankees, or the Los Angeles Lakers, but every one of those teams has bitter rivals whom would reject an attraction based around their more popular rival or simply would not enjoy seeing the success of a team they constantly root against. By using an entire league (like the EPL/UEFA Champions League, NFL, NBA, MLB, etc...), you could celebrate all the teams in the league, making sure not to alienate fans of less popular teams.

However, the one sports IP that has not been mentioned, is really the holy grail of all untapped IPs, and probably would be the most expensive to apply. The Olympics are a multi-billion dollar venture that spans the globe, including not just sports fans, but the general public that are drawn to competition and human interest stories beyond each individual sport. Obviously, building an Olympics theme park or associated attractions would cost billions upon billions of dollars because of the greedy IOC that protects their IP like it's their first born male child. However, as the costs of staging Olympic games continue to soar and more and more cities balk at hosting, it's likely at some point that the IOC will go to a rotation of 4-6 regular cities that host the games because they already contain the infrastructure and experience to stage the monumental event. Some have even suggested that the IOC build a permanent Olympic venue on a neutral country that does not regularly compete widely, and each of the member countries would pay fees to maintain the competition arenas that would only be used for the Olympic Games and for training/qualifying. In either the limited venue and neutral venue scenarios, a theme park operator could approach the IOC to construct a theme park close to the Olympic site(s) that captures the spirit and history of the games. From the Miracle on Ice to Nadia's perfect 10 to the Jamaican Bobsled team, Olympic memories would be rekindled and celebrated at a theme park that could be enjoyed even when the games were not being staged. The Olympics are the one sports IP that attracts more than just fans of sport, and would be the one brand that would actually be worth the hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost to license into a theme park.

July 10, 2017 at 8:28 AM · After that, I'll wade into the piranha-infested waters...

Sports on TV has seen a noticeable decline in ratings over the past 3-5 years. There are dozens of articles positing what the causes are, and what the future holds. For every doomsday scenario article out there predicting the downfall of every major professional sports league, there's another article saying these blips on the radar are just the market correcting itself and a gap that will be filled by other opportunities, technologies, and companies that will jump in to capitalize on the shrinking ratings.

TV ratings on the whole have been shrinking across the board, not just for sports, yet the modest decline in overall sports ratings has been much less than for other programming. Face it, there are few people sitting in front of their TV than 10 years ago as more and more start consuming media in different ways that are not captured by traditional television ratings. From mobile streaming to DVR to Netflix, they've all cut into the traditional television audience. However, sports still represents the biggest bet for advertisers and networks to secure a "captive audience" that will watch and consume ads airing during programming. That is why ESPN and other networks continue to shell out HUGE money to sports leagues for rights, and why ESPN is finding itself upside down in terms of revenue. Ratings are unlikely to increase dramatically over the next 10 years, and as their cable subscription model continues to cut into their bottom line revenue due to cord cutting, ESPN (and other sports networks) have to adjust to a new climate where viewers are consuming media in many different ways, and also in smaller and smaller pieces. Even the sports leagues are recognizing this as they too are trying to make their product more appealing to an audience with an ever-decreasing attention span.

Rob Manfred, Commissioner of MLB, has spent the first few years of his tenure trying to get his sport, one of the few in the world that doesn't have a time limit, to be more fan friendly. There is now a between innings clock, walk-up clock, and proposals in the works for a pitch clock and other rules attempting to speed up the game. They've even experimented with the radical concept of placing runners on base in extra inning games to more quickly reach a conclusion to a long dead-locked game.

Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, has been one of the most progressive of the major American sports leagues in allowing advertising on the jerseys. Not only will apparel logos be visible on game jerseys for the first time in NBA history, but individual teams have the ability to sell small shoulder patches to the highest bidder. Not only does this affect the revenue structure of the league, but it affects how people will watch games as basketball fans, just as many sports fans around the world have already grown accustomed, are being marketed to every second of a game, beyond commercials that are being quickly eliminated through streaming of events and time shifting. Silver has also made partnerships with "gambling" entities like FanDuel and DraftKings, a historical taboo for any sports league, and has backed the regulated legalization of sports betting outside of Las Vegas.

So, while TV ratings in many North American sports have been flat or declining, leagues are already adjusting to the new normal. Similarly, attendance at live events has been decreasing as a trend for bigger, more expensive stadiums has been moving back to smaller, more fan friendly stadiums. Over the past 10 years, teams are seeing revenue flatten as fans find the experience of watching a game at home on a HDTV comparable to the hassle and cost of seeing an event live and in person. As more and more fans consume game through their mobile devices, team owners have had to make their stadium experience more accessible to those fans that spend as much time staring at a 4" screen as the 40' jumbo-tron. Also, just as Disney has done with their theme park, stadium owners have started to cater more towards richer clientele with more suites, fancier food offerings, and tiered experiences that justify the higher ticket prices. 10 years ago, new NFL stadiums were regularly proposed at 80k+ seats, but new concepts are seeing stadium sizes shrink to 50-60k with more plush seating and more suites (even beyond standard corporate seats). MLB is seeing the same trend with even the vaunted Yankee Stadium shrinking in size since it opened in 2009.

The sports that seem to be bucking the overall trend, however, are American college sports, particularly NCAA DI Basketball and FBS College Football. Ratings and attendance for college sports have been solid, and the money is flowing from what appears to be an endless tap. Now, there are analysts that say even college sports are about to reach a reckoning day in the next 3-5 years as current TV contracts expire, but as it stands right now, college football and basketball are some of the most lucrative "leagues" in American sport right now.

For full disclosure, I'm a very active sports fan that attends about 50 sporting events every single year (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA basketball and football, and MLS) and consumes at least 5-10 hours of sports on television every single week across all sports (baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, golf, and more). While I'm heavily invested in sports, I have enough common sense to see that things are not as rosy as they appears 10-15 years ago, but it's the same for all media and entertainment (including movies, radio, video games, etc...). Markets are shifting at an ever increasing speed, but it's not like people are consuming any less than they did 10-15 years ago, they're just doing so in different, sometimes immeasurable ways.

July 10, 2017 at 8:20 AM · There may be a little decline but people don't get their sports the same way anymore that's all. It's the same argument with movies and TV or anything else that used to be solely TV.
July 10, 2017 at 1:39 PM · Chad: I posted 5 articles. You can STFU. You're no better than 2 faced Barry. I can't force you to read the evidence. And BTW: Barry posted stats with no origin or links that you haven't disputed so you seem to like some stats better than others. Hypocrites.
July 10, 2017 at 2:09 PM · Hey, TH! Pass the popcorn! Looks like Anton is kicking butt on this thread!
July 10, 2017 at 5:40 PM · Here ya go ... Can I grab you something to drink from the fridge?
July 10, 2017 at 6:20 PM · How about a double shot of Bailey's Irish Cream on the rocks?

I wonder how Barry and Chad are doing on those Google searches? Looks like the oldtimer won this round.

July 11, 2017 at 11:46 AM · Tim-the problem with being an old timer is that your time is almost up. We anxiously await that. Anyway, for your viewing pleasure here are several articles that quote actual numbers and not opinion pieces.

2017 Super Bowl 5th most watched TV event of all time:

Here is your source outlining the revenue of the NFL and it's continued growth:

Source on the all the 20 year high in NBA Finals ratings:

Now, if there is anything else you may need please let me know. Be careful not to choke on that Bailey's. Can't risk too much at that age.

July 11, 2017 at 11:46 AM ·
July 11, 2017 at 2:47 PM · Just In: Cialis and Viagra are dropping NFL sponsorship due to weak ratings. Follow the money, right?

July 11, 2017 at 3:27 PM · Nice try Anton M.

July 11, 2017 at 3:41 PM · That deadline report is all opinion.

"Since the end of the election, NFL “ratings are still running below last year, but the gap is narrowing” As a result, there’s “no reason to conclude a seminal change” has taken place in the appeal of TV’s most popular programming.

Poltrack also assured Wall Street that broadcasters have little to fear from the growth of online streaming.

He sees a movement “away from [viewing on] smart phones and tablets to connected TVs.” Indeed, most Netflix viewing now takes plave on a TV set.

And that should help broadcasters, especially as Nielsen rolls out digital ratings in early 2017."

It's all happy talk including misspellings.

Read the Viagra article.

"But now we’re seeing the reverberations of that ratings slip, as well as other indications of a break in the ever-increasing ad market, and the news isn’t ideal for the NFL and its broadcast partners. Ad Age reports that preseason ad spending is the softest since the 2008 recession, with both the automotive and motion picture categories spending less at this point in the year than previously."

July 11, 2017 at 4:17 PM · Did you actually read the article??

"Throw into that mix the news that Viagra and, most likely, Cialis will be ending their NFL sponsorship entirely, and you’ve got some bleak news. Viagra, which popped up on the market 20 years ago as an aid to erectile dysfunction, is losing its patent exclusivity, which means generic versions will now be available. That, in turn, means that one of the NFL’s Top 40 advertisers, one which spent an estimated $31 million a year on sponsorship, won’t be rolling out ads with come-hither older women appealing to couch-bound dudes any longer. Cialis loses its own patent exclusivity later in the season; if it too decides to pull out of the ad market, the NFL is losing an estimated $50 million in ad revenue each year."

The damn companies are pulling out because THEY don't have the money to spend due to competition and regulations. Thanks for yet another alarmist article about nothing.How worthless are you Anton?

July 11, 2017 at 5:08 PM · I quoted the most damaging paragraph "Ad Age reports that preseason ad spending is the softest since the 2008 recession, with both the automotive and motion picture categories spending less at this point in the year than previously."

This is the overall ad spending trends.

As for Cialis and Viagra, the headlines is saying they are the benchmark, a warning sign.

"Viagra won't advertise on NFL games, signaling softening ad market"

Exactly correct.

You're worthless for resisting the obvious trends of lower NFL television ratings. Posting an opinion article as fact is pretty worthless.

July 11, 2017 at 7:07 PM · (munch, munch, munch) Popcorn's pretty good!

You know, TH, Barry and Anton are going at it pretty hard. I don't think that we were able to weave Viagra and Cialis into any of our arguments. Can't say that I'm not a little jealous at the ingenuity.

Oh well, nothing that another shot of Bailey's won't help. Cheers!

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