The sports world and much of the national media has been enveloped in the past week by the NBA’s free agency bonanza.
LeBron James has stood firmly in the center of the madness, as millions wait with bated breath to hear where he will play next season. It’s become such a spectacle, in fact, that ESPN will air his decision live Thursday evening during a 6 p.m. telecast.
It turns out there is quite a strong local business angle to all of this. One of our sister publications, the Sports Business Daily, is reporting today that University of Phoenix will co-present "The Decision" show with Microsoft’s Bing. University of Phoenix is part of Phoenix-based Apollo Group, one of the largest companies in Arizona.
LeBron’s show will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of America, but more than anything it benefits James and his pocketbook. Sports is entertainment, and ESPN also is cashing in on a feeding frenzy during the dog days of summer. The ratings should be incredible.
A lot of people in the media say ESPN is pandering to James by building this show around him, and they’re right. At the same time, they are giving the viewers exactly what they want — gripping reality television.
University of Phoenix, which is heavily involved in sports marketing, has come along for the ride. I seriously doubt it will be disappointed with the brand exposure.