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US Digest | Lakers reap immediate rewards of the LeBron effect

Welcome to the first edition of SportBusiness Group’s US Digest, rounding up the big news and developments coming out of the world’s biggest sports market

Lakers reap immediate rewards of the LeBron effect
LeBron James’s move to the LA Lakers has not only made the NBA franchise relevant again but it has also led to almost instantaneous commercial benefits. Twenty minutes after Sunday’s announcement, the cheapest Lakers season tickets on StubHub rose from $3,499 to $5,800 each, while pre-season games roughly doubled in price. StubHub also had an almost 7,400 per cent jump in traffic to its Lakers ticket page on Sunday compared to the first day of 2017 NBA free agency. Meanwhile the retailer Fanatics enjoyed one of its top 10 sales days in terms of NBA gear sold based on pre-orders of LeBron jerseys. The LA market was driving the force behind the dramatic sales spike. On Monday, more than 50 LeBron-related products were posted on the NBA Store’s home page.

Curry, Warriors top NBA merchandise sales list
Stephen Curry had the best-selling NBA jersey last season, with the Golden State Warriors the most popular team. It marks the fourth consecutive year that Curry has topped the jersey popularity charts, while Warriors team-mates Kevin Durant (No 4), Klay Thompson (No 10) and Draymond Green (No 13) made the top 15 based on overall sales on from April through June. Highlighting the relationship between on-court and commercial success in the team list, the Boston Celtics (No 3) made in the top three for the first time since 2010-11 while the Houston Rockets (No 5) made the top five for the first time since 2004-05.

Manfred continues to push for sports betting integrity fees
In his latest attempt to secure a slice of sports betting revenues, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred claimed that individual states cannot regulate gambling on baseball games as effectively as his league can. Manfred’s comments, made in an interview with New York sports radio station WFAN, raised many eyebrows considering MLB’s history of gambling controversies and is unlikely to go down well with state legislators. Meanwhile, Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey will launch its sports betting service on July 14, one day earlier than planned.

US World Cup ratings down 42 per cent from 2014
USA’s failure to qualify for the World Cup continues to have a negative effect on viewing figures in the States. The 48 group-stage telecasts on Fox and FS1 averaged 2,069,000 viewers – down 42 per cent from the 3.54m average on ABC/ESPN in 2014 and down 15 per cent from the 2,429,000 average in 2010. Excluding games involving USA, the average declined 28 per cent from Brazil but up one per cent from South Africa. Despite the sharp decline in linear TV audiences, partly due to the early kick-off times Stateside, both Fox and Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo have enjoyed solid digital ratings, reflecting changing audience viewing habits.

Details emerge over Beckham’s new Miami stadium plan
David Beckham’s beleaguered attempts to secure a stadium site for his MLS franchise in Miami have taken another twist. After securing a plot of land in the Overtown neighbourhood, which led to admission to MLS, Beckham and his partners have turned their attention to Melreese golf course near Miami International Airport. More details emerged this week over the proposal. Beckham and his partners will seek to lease the city-owned golf course and turn it into a 73-acre park that contains a 28,000-seat stadium, as well as office, commercial and hotel space. A public pitch will be made to city officials on July 12 with a vote expected in a November ballot. The proposal is far from secure, however, as some local residents want to keep the land as a golf course.

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