Hiring Mike Kennan as Panthers President Would Make a Lot of Financial Sense

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The past few years have been tumultuous for the Carolina Panthers. Sudden changes in management and most recently the scandalous sale of the team does create a sense of closure. As the lingering shroud of the Richardson era passes, Carolina looks to ahead to a new bright future with a savvy, calculating owner in David Tepper at the helm. Discussions about potential stadium relocation and the mid-field logo may have dominated the fan forum, but Tepper has a billion-dollar investment to look at, and he’s looking at it from an aerial view with an eye on the financial outlook of the team--more so than we can fathom. 

Ian Rapoport suggested that Tepper may bring on former Browns president (2008-10) as the Panthers’ President and CFO. The internet will surely make many jokes at Cleveland fans expense about a hire like Keenan. The move, however, falls perfectly in line with the financially focused Tepper. Beyond Keenan’s experience and familiarity with inner workings of the league, Keenan would bring a financial expertise that would be a remarkable asset to the organization. 

Keenan, Managing Director at PWC, currently works as a financial consultant for major sports organizations, specializing in accounting and audit services for sports teams and leagues. PWC also works extensively on broad-based analysis of financial trends in North American sports. The company's most recent report, “At the Gate and Beyond: Outlook for the sports market in North America through 2021”, forecasts financial trends for all the major sports markets concerning major league team deals, ticket subscription products, and immersive sports media products--all which are central issues for the Panthers and the NFL going forward. 

Tepper quickly remarked upon his vision for the Panthers after the deal became public, declaring his desire for “continuity, stability, progressive thinking on player contract extensions, and not setting the market on free agents.” The financial prowess of such a statement indicates that Tepper isn’t here for just fun and games, but is looking at the Panthers and the NFL from a financial perspective. 

With the current league Collective Bargaining Agreement coming to an end in after the 2020 season, Keenan’s understanding of broad market forces facing the league and important financial details that are critical to maximizing the organization’s financial success would be an asset in Carolina and clearly have an appeal to Tepper. 

Take peek at  “At the Gate and Beyond.” There are some interesting tidbits that are especially relevant to the Panthers regarding stadium financing and digital media rights. Here are a few passages that that may stand out:

"The investment required to upgrade existing facilities and attract special events will require public contribution."

"as well as in at least the beginning of the next national rights deal cycle should remain strong given increasing competition for rights among traditional broadcast intermediaries and emerging distribution partners. There are also stronger paths to monetization across digital platforms in either rights form or direct subscription/ad-based models to the extent consumer"

"The industry’s ability to further monetize both its digital assets and international expansion will be key to driving further growth in the revenue base. Otherwise, the pace of value growth for each league’s average club could slow, in the near term, as two major existing sources of industry revenue—gate revenue and media rights—continue to mature."

"Sports teams have long been regarded as trophy assets for high-net-worth individual investors, with strong value consideration given to personal goodwill. In the past six years several transactions were categorized by “take the deal off the table” bids to eliminate any rival bidders. Buy/hold strategies focused on capital appreciation remain the primary investment objective; however, stronger cash flows, coupled with low interest rates, have broadened prospective investor profiles and raised expectations for fewer capital calls and more recurring distributions."

"Future growth within the media rights segment beyond the next rights deal cycle will primarily hinge on market engagement with future generations of digital products which deliver premium, immersive experiences with either live or archived content enabled by a wide landscape of underlying technology, including personalized video, 3D video, augmented and virtual reality, and augmented video. With a potential global market size of more than $1 billion by 2025, immersive sports media will remain a nascent market relative to other media segments, but a viable source of prospective sports market expansion. Product roadmaps and realization of key features such as user personalization, authorship, social interactivity, seamless transitions, innovative ad formats, integration of new data streams and other visualizations, and real-time delivery will determine the extent to which the immersive products targeted by the industry and its partners will result in increases to the sports wallet of fans and advertisers."

By Tony Dunn
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