89th. Ice + Land. Turner Sports Makes a Play.

No Politics Please.  It’s Not Hawaii.  Football Instead of Family Guy.

Jimmy Kimmel takes the mike later tonight for the 89th Academy Awards.  A celebration of Hollywood’s finest or a live worldwide platform for the red carpet walkers and Oscar winners to go into their political diatribe?  On the bright side, the 100 million worldwide viewers (note: the Super Bowl viewership was barely over 100m) will hopefully get to enjoy some magical production and a few good performances.  This year, after a few years of homogenized nominees, diversity is prominent with nominees including Fences and Hidden Figures.  Hopefully the Academy of Arts and Sciences has issued strict orders for award winners to stand down from the world of politics….think Meryl Streep’s embarrassing acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.  As the great Betty Davis said in the 1951 classic All About Eve, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride tonight, fasten your seat belts”.

I assume travel is no different than most trends.  When ideas about a destination go viral people around the world flock to a location that is not always top of mind.  The ‘flavor of the month’ destination is non-other than Iceland, a country the size of Ohio.  More than 2 million tourists will visit this country, located in the North Atlantic (just east of Greenland for you geography freaks) and 350,000 of those tourists will be Americans.  Some friends have visited and reported back that the country is full of great things to see and do, including glaciers, volcanoes, the Northern lights, and the Blue Lagoon, an artificial pool warmed by a geo-thermal power plant.  I guess I will forego another trip to the Caribbean or Carmel, CA, and head to the North Atlantic for a holiday stay.

Phone calls from some soccer friends and associates late Friday afternoon.  One of the callers was an associate from the past who works for Turner Entertainment Networks, which all of us know as the parent presenting the cable networks of TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, and TruTV, etc..  She works at Turner as a financial analyst and had just learned that her employers had bid on and won the rights to the Champions League, committing over $180m over three years.  When she saw what she considers a very high spend for broadcast rights she phoned to ask what and why Turner would want the Champions League in the first place?  It is simple:  the Champions League is one of the most sought after sports properties on earth.  It is Europe’s annual tournament of their top club teams with the best thirty-two clubs involved in the tournament  starting in late August and ending with the final in mid-May.  Obviously the matches are broadcast five to six hours ahead so the time slots in the U.S. are in the afternoon (2:45pm EST), so during the rounds of tournament play Turner can use one or more of it’s networks to promote and broadcast the Champions League.  This works well with their other sports properties including NBA, PGA Golf, Major League Baseball, and the NCAA basketball tournament.  At a quick glance, the Champions League broadcasts will replace mid-afternoon shows such as American Dad, Supernatural, Bones and Family Guy, most likely targeting the coveted 21-35 year old male and boosting their afternoon ratings.  The worldwide total broadcast fees for the Champions League is astronomical and driven by sponsors targeting a massive viewing audience.  As a comparison, last year’s Champions League final was viewed by a worldwide television audience of 380m while this year’s Super Bowl pulled in 113m viewers.  Turner will pay $180m over three years for the broadcast rights.  Combined with other worldwide rights, the payout yields the winning Club of this May’s final over $100m.   I probably did not answer my friend’s question very well but a least this is a start.

Updates: Iran is holding maritime training exercises in the Persian Gulf…..really Iran?  Atlanta United opens up two weeks from tonight.  The half-brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was murdered in a very bizarre way in a Malaysia airport…..one down, one to go.  Two weeks to daylight savings time!

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!

Incoming. Airplane Food. Hot Ticket. South Korean Woes.

Drone Alert. Delta’s Free Food.  55,00 Coming to Bobby Dodd.  Power Hungry.

Fast delivery from Amazon Prime is one thing but do you really want your package delivered by a drone parachuting the box into your backyard?  Competitive advantage and a high level of customer service is one thing but this may be taking turnaround time a bit too far.

I am not exactly proud that I am a frequent flyer.  Airplane travel these days barely surpasses the nicest Greyhound bus.  So it is interesting to me that Delta Air Lines announced last week that they will offer, at no charge, “meals” to coach class passengers on some long range domestic flights.  Call me crazy but do they think most passengers see this offer as a goodwill gesture?  I have a better idea for Delta on their long range flights. Instead of spending the money with airline food service providers (think food production, delivery, and storage),  with flight attendants clogging up the aisle serving the meals, why not at the time of booking offer passengers on these flights a food service coupon that aligns with restaurants located at the passengers’ departure terminal?  Delta would save millions of dollars, offer their customers a variety of options to pick up food, and free up their flight attendants to deal with important matters like safety (or serving cocktails).  Let’s see, do I want inflight ‘food’ from Delta or a coupon to buy a great meal or salad at Mellow Mushroom, Columbia Restaurant, or Pappadeaux’s?

Atlanta United’s home opener is March 5th.  The opener is at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium (United will move into Mercedes Benz stadium when it opens in late July) and 41,000 tickets are already sold.  With a typical walkup crowd of over 5,000 you better get your tickets soon as the game will sell out.

Samsung’s President was finally jailed in South Korea this past Friday.  Maybe a bit severe but something had to happen with this consumer products company.  Bribes, scandals, phones catching fire and washing machine lids flying around the laundry room are not appreciated in Asia’s 4th largest economy.

Adios and Have a Funday Sunday!!



Lady Gaga. WTC Experience. NYC. Updates.

Retraction.  Memories of a Tragic Event.  Good Food, Good People.

In last week’s blog I ranted a bit about Lady Gaga and why the NFL selected her for the Super Bowl halftime show.  I mentioned lack of talent, etc., and I was wrong.  Lady Gaga’s performance, supported by tremendous production and execution, was actually a perfect fit for the Super Bowl.  I really enjoyed the first thirty minutes of football and the halftime show.  The last thirty minutes of football…not so much.

I had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center site yesterday.  The last time I was there was shortly after 9/11 and at that time the only visible elements were the vast area of rubble, building materials and equipment.  Sixteen years later, the new One World Trade Center stands at a building height of 1,362 feet, the height of the original WTC South Tower. An amazing building, it is one of five structures that will be built on the site.  As a dedication to the people who were lost to that tragic event, two reflection pools were constructed in the same footprint of the original South and North towers.  It is a bit surreal to stand and look into the reflection pools knowing that many of the people who perished in the two towers and surrounding area were never found.  One World Trade Center was designed with an observatory on the top floor providing guests with a 360 view of the New York metropolitan area.  A great experience, it makes you reflect on that tragic event and the many days following that left Americans and most of world feeling empty and violated.  I hope all of you have the chance to visit the site soon.

New York City can be overwhelming from both a density and humanity standpoint.  Incredible traffic, way too many people, and sirens from police or emergency vehicles never-ending.  With that said, NYC is definitely in a category by itself.  The activity, the pace, and the people representing most of the countries of the world are blended with the many restaurants, bars, service businesses and buildings.  Walking NYC is an event in itself and sometimes leads to great experiences.  My daughter, Jaime, and her fiancé, Daniel, were nice enough to take us to a local, family-owned Italian restaurant Friday night.  We went early as we had a plans later in the evening which allowed us to have a nice quiet dinner with great food and service.  Jaime and Daniel frequent Il Posto Accanto often so we had the opportunity to speak with the owner, a former NYPD captain.  Sincere, engaging, and genuinely interested in our dining experience, he represents what NYC is really all about.  Family-owned businesses who have tremendous competition from every end of the City.  Some restaurants in NYC open and get popular due to it being the trendy place to be.  Il Posto Accanto opened many years ago and will stay open for a long time due to the ownership’s attention to detail and personal interaction with their customers.  On the lower east side, Il Posto Accanto is definitely a restaurant you should try.

Updates:  Atlanta Falcons:  you got to the big show but forgot the dance always lasts at least sixty minutes. Ford’s $1B investment in a startup engaged with the autonomous car project sends a clear message that the Jetson’s era is coming soon.  Great start Atlanta United….looking forward to March 5th!!  One month to daylight savings time!

Adios and have a great week!!


Take the Day Off. Halftime. Super Bowl v World Cup Final.

National Holiday.  GAG, not Gaga.  $4B v $112m. Updates.

Sunday’s Super Bowl LI (Richie, that is 51) brings together two of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League.  The game, telecast on FOX, starts with the ‘Super Bowl Kickoff” at 1pm followed by a four-hour pre-game show.  Yes, four hours of content that probably could be condensed into 30 minutes.  Why four hours of pre-game?  Thank the sponsors who pay big money to air their commercial spots before, during and after the Super Bowl.  In the east, the game starts at 6:30pm and between the TV timeouts and Lady Gaga’s 25-minute halftime show the game will be over by 10pm.  Yes, that is 9pm central and 7pm west coast time.  So, I find it amusing that Kraft Heinz (think ketchup and Velveeta) has called for tomorrow to be a national holiday. They “campaigned” for their national holiday stating that close to a $1B in productivity is lost on the Monday after the Super Bowl due to employees calling in sick or being late for work.  Coined “Smunday”, Kraft Heinz’s marketing team have found a simple way to get national publicity by announcing they will petition the federal government to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a designated national holiday.  Smart, strategic and a low cost idea to bring attention to the company and their global brands.  Well done and kudos to those marketing folks.   FYI:  a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl will cost a sponsor $5m.  In 1967, at Super Bowl I, the same spot cost $37,500.

Speaking of the Super Bowl and specifically the halftime show, the NFL, in their infinite wisdom, selected Lady Gaga to perform at the 25-minute intermission on Sunday.  I guess if you are under the age of 25 you may be able to watch and listen to her but really, NFL, why the hell would you select a no-talent, out-spoken zero to perform before 75,000 spectators and a viewing audience of 112 million?  Roger Goodell, by now it seems like you would have learned a lesson so good luck dealing with the aftermath of her performance at today’s game.

I really do enjoy the Super Bowl and today’s game is going to be even more special as the Atlanta Falcons have a shot at being Super Bowl champions.  I am a huge NFL and college football fan and today’s game is bittersweet because it ends the football season.  It is a long wait until late August but for some folks college basketball, the NBA, the NHL and the start of baseball season fills the void.  For me, the long wait is filled with watching European and South American soccer as well as the Major League Soccer season.  To keep things comparable from a worldwide perspective, today’s Super Bowl will be viewed by approximately 112 million.  Two summers ago, more than 1B people watched the 2014 World Cup final.  The power of a global sport is amazing.

Updates: The Houthi’s, the Yemen sect supported by Iran, attacked a Saudi warship thinking it was a U.S. ship…you can’t fix stupid.  Speaking of Yemen and the Houthis, SecDef Mattis ordered the USS Cole into the Persian Gulf and it is parked off the coast of Yemen.  Just to be clear, the USS Cole is one of our warships armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.  Sleep well Yemen. Jaime turned 30 years old yesterday.  It is Super Bowl Sunday – GO FALCONS!

Adios and Happy Super Bowl Sunday!!