01/14/19: THUUZ CEO Warren Packard breaks down his company’s role in media landscape

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Monday January 14, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 

CES week saw one of the key discussions in sports media, in addition to gambling, center around how machine learning would impact the fan experience. Cynopsis caught up with Warren Packard, CEO of THUUZ Sports, the Bay Area sports tech company that has created measurable “excitement ratings” for media companies, built the automated highlights machine for FOX Sports for the World Cup and works with NBC Sports, Eleven Sports, the NFL and many others on everything from custom automated highlights for fans to the concept of “Catchup to Live” for those with short attention spans and a need to watch a live game where and when they want it, to ask about what the value, and the worry is, for machine leaning and media companies.
 
Packard on the value of quantifying excitement: Real-time excitement ratings, along with dynamically generated headlines and real-time game excitement alerts, form the main pillars of Subjective Sports Metadata.The value of incorporating this into fan apps and sports guides is undeniable: Alerting fans to exciting games converts them into viewers, increasing tune-in, maximizing the value of the sports content, promoting the value of premium sports tiers, reducing customer churn, and creating unexpectedly delightful entertainment experiences. In addition, offering a next-gen sports guide with personalized excitement ratings and dynamic headlines provides fans with a go-to guide for sports that enables the fan to know which games are the most exciting at all times, yielding a “red zone” experience that spans all sports and is finely tuned to individual fan preferences.
 
On the worry that automated highlights detracts from watching a game: Not at all. We live in a world now where people value their time and want custom content. We can not only provide exactly what a fan wants through our data collection, we can help drive them to an exciting game as it is happening. Allowing them to snack on even more sports events through automated highlights simply deepens their engagement to the sports, leagues, and players that they enjoy following.
 
On expanding automated highlights: For any property or event where video exists, we can enable fans and rights holders to create infinitely customizable highlights, both live and historical, effectively in real-time. It is a platform that we believe will once again enhance and create added value for any rights holder, and we are looking forward to expanding it with partners across the globe.
 
On the value add of automated highlights beyond the rights holder: There will be great added value for brands who can customize the packages being provided. There will also be a smart and solid way that this will tie to gaming and legalized gambling, by providing on-demand, snackable highlights of infinite variety that can tied to live betting, especially on a mobile device. All of this will bring added revenue to all partners, and a better, customized experience for the consumer.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

The Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs on Saturday bolstered for FOX and NBC. FOX Sports’ coverage between the Cowboys and Rams drew more than 34 million viewers to the networks, according to Nielsen, notching a 17.9/33 in fast national ratings/share for the broadcast channel and up 25% over last’s year’s comparable window. Those numbers also mark FOX’s most-watched Saturday primetime telecast ever. Digital consumption generated the most streamed NFL Playoff game ever on FOX Digital with an average minute audience of 618,673, while FOX Deportes drew 127,000 viewers.
 
NBC’s coverage of the Colts/Chiefs in Saturday’s other NFL Playoff action, averaged 29.1 million TV-only viewers – ranking as the most-watched Saturday 4:30p NFL Divisional Playoff in three years. In addition, NBC Sports’ Colts-Chiefs Total Audience Delivery (TAD) average of 29.6 million viewers across television and digital is up 8% from last year’s early Saturday NFL Divisional Playoff. NBC Sports Digital delivered its best-ever NFL Divisional viewership for Saturday’s game as fans consumed 95.3 million live streaming minutes with an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 493,000 viewers.
 
Meanwhile, the NFL formally announced that Maroon 5 will headline the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show in CBS at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Feb. 3. The show will also feature rapper Travis Scott and Atlanta native Big Boi.
 
AXS TV unveiled a new lineup up its Friday Night Fights roster, offering four and a half hours of original MMA and pro wrestling every week beginning Jan. 18 at 8p. The new lineup kicks off each week with the New Japan Pro Wrestling at 8p, along with the all-female wrestling promotion WOW – Women of Wrestling, and LFA.
 
ESPN announced the return of College GameDay Covered by State Farm on Jan. 19, with the show opening at Duke on Jan. 19 when they face Virginia. Rece Davis with analysts Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams.
 
RIP to JD Gibbs, who served as president and later co-chairman of Joe Gibbs Racing. He passed away on Friday at the age of 49, with the racing team citing “complications following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease.” “We were privileged to watch J.D. Gibbs grow within the sport, displaying an endearing personality, a keen eye for talent and the strong business acumen that helped grow Joe Gibbs Racing into a pre-eminent NASCAR team,” NASCAR Chairman & CEO Jim France said in a statement. “The NASCAR family has lost a truly special member. On behalf of NASCAR and the France family, I extend my deepest condolences to Joe Gibbs, Pat, Melissa, Coy and the entire Gibbs family.”
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The Automobile Racing Club of America, Procter & Gamble, and Menards locked in a deal to mark the national consumer goods corporation a major sponsor of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Procter & Gamble’s Bounty brand has also been named the sponsor of ARCA’s Rookie of the Year program. “This motorsports sponsorship program is a direct result of the business-to-business relationship between Procter & Gamble and Menards,” said Mark Gundrum, Vice President of Business Development and Corporate Partnerships for ARCA. “The end result is increased business, product sales and sales promotion for Procter & Gamble and a number of their consumer brands.”
 
The NFL announced the launch of the Inspire Change platform, designed to showcase “the collaborative efforts of players, owners and the league to create positive change in communities across the country,” with a focus on education and economic advancement, police and community relations as well as criminal justice reform. As part of the league’s ongoing commitment to social justice, the joint NFL players-owners working group recently approved two new social justice grants focused on the three priority areas. The grants were issued to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) and Operation HOPE.
 
Major League Soccer partner Heineken reportedly made a bold trademark application to become the ‘Official Beer of Soccer’ in the US. The trademark application was filed to the US Patents and Trademarks office on Jan. 4, according to The Drum.
 
Ahead of the Australian Open, Tennis Channel and Hall of Famer Rod Laver will light One World Trade Center Spire in Manhattan today. Laver, who won seven Australian Open championships as a player and is considered one of the greatest of all time, will light the spire atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere from the tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 10,000 miles away.  The spire’s light will alternate between the red, white and blue of the Australian national flag and the signature light blue of the Australian Open’s iconic tennis courts. 
 
Oscar Mayer inked a deal to become a sponsor with Roush Fenway Racing and NASCAR driver Ryan Newman. Daytona will see Newman power the No. 6 Oscar Mayer Ford Mustang on Feb. 17. The brand created a 47-second video to unveil the sponsorship.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

In time for the Super Bowl, CBS Corp. and Nielsen Holdings Plc reached an agreement to use Nielsen’s national, digital and local audience measurements. The previous contract between the companies had expired on Dec. 31, leaving CBS without Nielsen viewer data used to set advertising rates.
 
ESPN+ announced plans to gives fight fans anytime access with more than 150 hours of high-quality, on-demand UFC content – including some of UFC’s greatest fights, biggest stars, the full replay of the recent blockbuster Khabib Nurmagomedov – Conor McGregor main event and more. Available on demand now at ESPN+ are more than 125 individual episodes from: UFC 25 Greatest Fights; UFC Reloaded; UFC Main Event; UFC Unleashed; UFC Fight Flashback; UFC Top 10; and UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor (full event replay).
 
 
ESPORTS

Riot Games locked in a deal with Kia Motors to serve as the LEC’s automotive sponsor for the 2019 season, as the European League of Legends organization preps for its new season. The deal sees Kia serve as the presenting sponsor of the ‘Player of the Game’ segment. Kia will also be making appearances at LEC “roadshows and offline events.” LEC starts on Friday at noon and continues on Saturday at 11a.
 
Across the Atlantic, Riot detailed broadcast times and matchups for the LCS North American league. The season kicks off on Jan. 26 with matchups that include: Cloud9/Team Liquid and TSM/100 Thieves. Saturday games will start at 5p ET, while Sunday games begin at 3p.  
 
Fnatic announced a partnership with Worldwide Asset eXchange to distribute authentic digital collectibles and branded physical merchandise to global esports fans through WAX’s blockchain ecommerce platform. Additionally, an entirely new line of Fnatic x WAX digital memorabilia and collectibles will be released during the live event.
 
Gfinity will host the third EA FUT Champions Cup April as part of the EA SPORTS FIFA 19 Global Series in addition to the four previously announced events: the Gfinity FUT Champions Cup December, which took place at the end of last year, and three Licensed Qualifying Events which will run each month from January to March. All events will be held at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London. The tournament will span April 5-7 and feature 64 of the world’s best FIFA 19 players who have qualified through in-game online competitions.
 
 
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In the Know: Who is the all-time RBI leader for the Atlanta Braves? (Email chris-sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The Australian Open begins this weekend. Who is the all-time leader in singles championships, men or women, in the Open era? Answer: Serena Williams. Kudos: Greg Conner-Tennis Media/NY; Mark Lehman-Atlanta Braves/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica
 
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