Light Reading

Comcast Scores With 49ers

Alan Breznick
1/24/2014
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With the Super Bowl just a week away, Comcast has started playing ball with the San Francisco 49ers.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) announced a wide-ranging agreement with the NFL team Thursday to wire the 49ers' new football stadium for WiFi, high-speed Ethernet links, HD video, and cloud-based voice services for fans and team employees. Under the 10-year pact, Comcast will install dual, fiber-based 10Gbit/s Ethernet lines to support all of these advanced services in the new Levi's Stadium, which is now going up in the Silicon Valley city of Santa Clara, south of San Francisco.

"From a bandwidth perspective, it's such an interesting case," said Michael Tighe, executive director of data services for Comcast Business Services. "There's a huge amount of bandwidth needed at one particular time, so it must be scalable and cost-effective."

Further, Comcast will offer free WiFi access to fans during football games and concerts at the new stadium, which will open next fall and host the Super Bowl in two years. In addition, Comcast's cable regional sports network, CSN Bay Area, will build a 1,000-square-foot TV studio at the stadium to produce game-day broadcasts and other 49ers programming for both the sports network and KNTV, the local NBC station that Comcast owns through its NBC Universal division.

Moreover, Comcast will provide the in-house video feed to all TV monitors in the stadium and feed programming to the venue's large video boards. Finally, the MSO said it will set up Xfinity-branded kiosks throughout the stadium to hawk its various Xfinity cable services and "showcase Silicon Valley innovation."

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In essence, the sweeping deal gives Comcast just about all the sponsorship goodies possible except for the naming rights to the football stadium itself. As a result, it should give the cable operator a boost in the Bay Area marketing wars with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which has its name plastered on the San Francisco Giants' baseball stadium on the San Francisco waterfront.

Although this may be the most sweeping deal yet with a pro sports team for Comcast, it's certainly not the first. The company has already struck similar service and marketing pacts with five baseball, football, and basketball teams in four other major US markets where it operates, including the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, and Denver Broncos. In addition, it provides Ethernet services for one other pro sports team, the Oakland As.(See Red Sox Play Ball With Comcast's MetroE.)

"We're doing really well with major league sports teams," said Tighe, depicting them as a new vertical. "It's been a good roll."

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
1/31/2014 | 9:01:38 PM
Re: Which team next?
That makes sense, Phil. It would be a nice coup for comcast too. Don't suppose they'll get the naming rights, tho. Comcast Wrigley Field just wouldn't fly, would it?  
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/27/2014 | 11:45:13 AM
Re: Which team next?
I have to agree with Dan that "the Cell" doesn't make any sense at this juncture -- unless Comcast and U.S. Cellular were to go the way of some sports teams and reach a settlement over the end of a long-term contract.

Comcast might get better play out of working a deal with the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Cubs are looking to add Jumbotron and other amenities and are always looking for ways to get more out of an older stadium.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
1/26/2014 | 1:25:05 PM
Re: Which team next?
Interesting, guys. Thanks forthe responss. i'm betting that some venue in Chicago would be Comcast's preferred next choice because it's their biggest city. But Philly makes a lot of sense too because it's their home market. Fortunately for Comcast, it has a lot of choices because they have cable franchises in nearly all of the 25 top NFL cities.  
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
1/26/2014 | 12:41:22 PM
Re: Which team next?
Re: the 49ers deal, I guess Comcast wasn't quick enough to get a Philly deal. I'm sure they would have offered a lot. I have heard that the Wi-Fi and Giants Digital Dugout app at AT&T Park is pretty fantastic.
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
1/26/2014 | 12:38:18 PM
Re: Which team next?
"The Cell" probably won't be getting a new name soon, at least according to what US Cellular said last spring. They are right on the middle of a 20-year contract for the naming rights, and unless they have changed their tune in recent months, they wanted to continue using it as a giant billboard.
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
1/24/2014 | 2:12:35 PM
Re: Which team next?
US Cellular ditched its Chicago service, so there's one venue they could actually name. 
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/24/2014 | 1:35:03 PM
Re: Which team next?
Well, locally here CSN Bay Area is huge.  They broadcast the Giants, Warriors and Sharks.  They do post game shows for the Raiders and 49ers on top of that.  I would say locally here, after EPSN CSN Bay Area is probably the most watched over a whole year.  Football games still rate more highly than anything else, but this makes great sense (from a Marketing Standpoint) for Comcast aka NBC Sports.

seven

 
jobenso
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jobenso,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/24/2014 | 1:30:58 PM
Re: Which team next?
Lincoln Financial Field, Wells Fargo Center or Citizens Bank Park would have made more sense to me but hey I just live in Philadelphia.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
1/24/2014 | 12:21:29 PM
Which team next?
Think Brian Roberts is a big sports fan? With this deal, Comcast has now signed pacts with five major pro sports teams in four markets over the last couple of years. So where will Comcast strike next? Chicago? Atlanta? Seattle? Let's place some bets now.  
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