With its equity position in Genius Sports, the NFL holds partial ownership positions in companies such as apparel merchandiser Fanatics, mobile games developer Skillz and Sportradar.

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Bulls of the week

It’s been a great week for the 5-1 Philadelphia Phillies and 5-1 Cincinnati Reds in the National League and the 6-1 Houston Astros in the American League.

The three clubs go into the second weekend of the regular season with the best records in Major League Baseball. It’s only the Astros, however, who are being booed and mocked by opposing fans at every stop along the way. That’s of course deeply-stained residue that persists from the sign-stealing scandal that broke in November of 2019 made the 2017 World Series champions the pariah of MLB.

It’s also been a bullish week for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL, winners of five straight and 8-1-1 in their last 10. The Leafs are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for the most points in the league. Backed by a franchise record 10-game winning streak by backup goaltender Jack Campbell, the Leafs join the ‘Canes, New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche as division leaders more than two-thirds of the way through this compressed 56-game regular season.

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Meanwhile, the biggest winner in the business of sport again this week is the NFL.

It named London, England-based analytics company Genius Sports its exclusive provider of league data and statistics. In a six-year deal that is expected to be voted on by shareholders of the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) behind Genius Sports next Friday the NFL will own about five per cent of the new entity.

The league will receive 22.5 million warrants exercisable at one cent each. That stock is estimated to carry a current value of US$446.6 million and it is all above and beyond the nine-figure cash fee that Genius — which succeeds industry rival Sportradar as official data feed for the NFL — is paying the league.

It’s yet another big haul by 32 Equity, the NFL’s investment arm that manages equity positions held by the league in various enterprises. Through 32 Equity — named after the number of franchises in the league — the NFL holds partial ownership positions in companies such as apparel merchandiser Fanatics, mobile games developer Skillz and now both Sportradar and Genius Sports.

Bears of the week

For the second consecutive week, the Vancouver Canucks have been the talk of the NHL as a result of what is now the largest team outbreak among any North American pro sports franchise since the COVID-19 pandemic officially began March 11, 2020.

With 25 players and coaches testing positive — with the source infection apparently a variant stream — the team has been in suspended animation for almost two weeks. Only four players on the Canucks’ active roster — defenceman Jordie Benn and forwards Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Jimmy Vesey — have managed to avoid infection to date.

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Despite the scope of the outbreak, the NHL stands committed to completing the season. The league has pencilled in Saturday, April 17 as a potential return to play date for the Canucks (in Vancouver against the Maple Leafs). That would mean the team would need to find a way to squeeze 19 games into 24 days based on the current schedule — or about five weeks if the season is extended by one week — in order to accommodate all 56 games and the TV, radio and sponsorship monies that come with that.

The Sport Market rates and debates the Bulls and Bears of sport business in 12 radio markets across Canada. Join Tom Mayenknecht — a co-founder of what was TEAM 1040/TSN 1040 in Vancouver — for a behind-the-scenes look at the sport-business stories that matter most to fans. Follow Mayenknecht at: Twitter.com/TheSportMarket

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