CNBC expands sports business reporting, launching “CNBC Sport”

NBCUniversal’s business network increases coverage on the financial side of sports

CNBC is expanding its sports coverage with CNBC Sport, focusing on the intersection of sports and business for its online and TV platforms.

“The spotlight on sports has never been brighter with more money at play than ever before,” said CNBC President KC Sullivan in a press release. “CNBC Sport will offer the highly engaged sports business audience and those looking to invest in this rapidly growing sector, a trusted destination where they will get analysis, updates and insider insights to help them get in on the action.”

Heading CNBC’s expanded coverage is Michael Ozanian, a veteran of Forbes known for ranking teams and assessing their value for the magazine. Ozanian was named CNBC Senior Sports Reporter and will focus on the leagues’ and teams’ financial side, including valuations, payroll, and other related issues.

Also joining the sports business beat is longtime media business reporter Alex Sherman. Named CNBC’s Media and Sports Reporter, his beat focuses on media deals (such as the NBA’s, to start after next season) and how they relate to linear television and streaming. Contessa Brewer will handle sports betting and gambling – including the Las Vegas casinos, plus online betting portals such as FanDuel and DraftKings, while Scott Wapner will interview sports commissioners, executives, investors, and team owners.

Current Senior Sports Business Producer Jessica Golden continues her role, bringing experience producing and reporting on sports business to the new vertical. Also contributing are various CNBC hosts and reporters, including Sara Eisen on F1 Formula Racing and Brian Sullivan on motorsports, such as NASCAR and IndyCar.

Interest in the sports business has grown in recent years, thanks to the explosion of gambling and the increasing reliance on sports in an ever-fragmented media landscape. Numerous storylines have fueled interest in sports’ business side as it pertains to media, especially with the collapse of the regional sports network, once a reliable cash cow for teams now reduced in an era of cord-cutting and streaming – highlighted by Bally’s current battle in bankruptcy court.

Numerous podcasts on the subject have also popped up, including Andrew Brandt’s The Business Of Sports Podcast, and sports media podcasts from Richard Deitsch and Sports Media Watch, among others – not to mention online publications Sports Business Journal, Sportico, and Awful Announcing. This week, Ross Tucker’s football podcast featured former SBJ columnist Daniel Kaplan discussing the NFL Sunday Ticket verdict and what impact it would have on current rightsholder Alphabet, which owns Google and YouTube.

There are local angles too, including the Chicago Bears’ plan to build a new stadium in either Arlington Heights or Chicago’s lakefront; a new stadium planned for the Chicago White Sox in the South Loop; and the upcoming launch of the new Chicago Sports Network, at a time when RSNs are falling out of favor with distributors and viewers alike.

It makes sense for CNBC to provide coverage for a growing segment in business journalism. It also gives CNBC something to separate them from competitors Bloomberg and Fox Business, who had a small ratings lead over CNBC in the second quarter and mainly focus more on politics and how it influences business. An example of CNBC’s sports reporting came earlier this year when they released a documentary on ESPN’s battles with cord-cutting on and YouTube.


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