Options for Brands: Pay $3 Billion for One, Sue for Another, Give Up the Third
The fight for the Big East brand is on, with the “Catholic 7” and football schools trying to legally keep the money behind the brand. Fox recently bought YES network for a rumored $3 billion for one primary reason – the money behind the Yankees brand. The Redskins brand is worth almost half the Yankees brand and so … some want to give it away.
The Big East (Brand 1)
Notre Dame basketball plans to play one more year in the Big East, but the rest of the conference seems to hope to be split by then. The sticking point – the Big East brand. Noone would just throw away a brand built since 1979 on classic match-ups like Patrick Ewing and Georgetown facing Chris Mullins and St. John’s in battles of No. 1 vs. 2, to three of the Final Four teams being from the Big East in 1985.
Thirty-five years of a championships in Madison Square Garden featuring eventual NCAA champions like Carmelo Anthony and Kemba Walker build the value of a brand. Some believe “Catholic 7” schools believe that with the departures from the conference, they have a window of a couple of months with a two-thirds vote (7-3) during which they can take the Big East name, because new football schools will leave before Connecticut, South Florida and Cincinnati can add Temple and others to keep a one-third veto.
Yankees (Brand 2)
The Big East brand is valuable enough to fight for, but it is small change compared to the Top 10 sports brands according to Forbes.
The YES network is hardly a household name, but it gets an incredible $3 per subscriber – getting close to ESPN levels – simply because it has the most valuable brand in all of sports … New York Yankees baseball. The brand that was built when Babe Ruth started whacking home runs over the short right field porch down the right field line in Yankee Stadium almost 100 years ago.
The Brand itself is worth $340 million according to Forbes, making it the most valuable sports brand in the world.
Redskins (Brand 3)
The Washington Redskins have built their brand to almost half of that of the New York Yankees, just missing being one of the top 10 most valuable sports brands in the world according to Forbes.
In the 1930s when baseball still ruled and NFL teams just played on their fields, the team switched from the home of the Boston Braves to Fenway Park of the Boston Red Sox. Not wanting to keep the name “Braves” or switch all the way to “Red Sox” to match the baseball team, they chose “Redskins” and then moved to Washington.
The move was brilliant, becoming the southernmost NFL team to dominate the fan base throughout the south for a couple of decades until Dallas was finally able to win approval for the Cowboys, which has been the only brand more valuable than the Redskins until the Patriots nudged past the Redskins during the era of Tom Brady.
However the fight over the Redskins brand is different than the fight over the Big East brand and business deals over the Yankees brand. Instead, the franchise is now under pressure to simply give up the Redskins brand. While the $1.6 billion team could certainly play under another name, it would likely take decades of advertising and history to build a new brand which would be very unlikely to ever approach the level of one of the best known brands in sports.