01/19/18: NBA All-Star is hitting LA with a lineup of major talent

Good morning. It’s Friday January 19, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The 67th NBA All-Star Game will once again pit LeBron James versus Stephen Curry, who have been named team captains after finishing as the All-Star starter from each conference who received the most fan votes in his conference. Team LeBron vs. Team Stephen will take place on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 8p on TNT and see each choose the team rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves under a new format.
In addition, the NBA is bringing in Kevin Hart, Pharrell Williams and N.E.R.D to headline the 2018 NBA All-Star Game entertainment on Feb. 18 at Staples Center. The game will air live on TNT at 8p. Prior to the game, Hart and “special guests” will hit the All-Star stage for an opening and an “entertaining introduction” of the All-Star teams. Meanwhile, Williams and N.E.R.D will perform a medley of chart-topping hits at halftime of the NBA All-Star Game. In addition, eight-time Grammy Award winner Fergie will sing the U.S. national anthem prior to tip-off.

ESPN inked a new contract with SportsCenter anchor Nicole Briscoe in addition to naming her as host of ABC’s Indianapolis 500 telecast. Briscoe’s new multi-year deal will see her run as anchor for SportsCenter continue, while her Indianapolis duties will see her anchor the one-hour pre-race show and bring viewers back from breaks during the race itself.
Meanwhile, NBA TV is launching a new franchise – Fast Break Mondays presented by Verizon – starting Monday at 8p with the Heat/Rockets, followed by the Clippers/Timberwolves at 10:30p. The new weekly franchise will run on Mondays throughout the remainder of the season and will include expansive fan engagement opportunities and quick-time polling, immediate analysis and multiple continuous coverage windows throughout the night. In addition, the network reports that its Players Only live game series averaged 445,000 viewers, up 12% vs. the net’s comparable game telecasts last year.
In other All-Star news, the NHL announced that Kid Rock will headline the entertainment for the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Tampa on Jan. 28. Meanwhile, NHL Network locked in plans to cover the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend with 11 hours of live, on-site comprehensive coverage starting Jan. 26. Hosts Tony Luftman, Jackie Redmond and Jamie Hersch will join analysts E.J. Hradek, Mike Johnson, Barry Melrose, Mike Rupp and Kevin Weekes to bring viewers behind-the-scenes and onto the ice with interviews with All-Star players and coaches, plus news, highlights, analysis and live pre- and postgame coverage surrounding the 2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition and 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game.
The clock is ticking! Don’t miss out on the Cynopsis Sports Awards, once again honoring the best in the business in production, marketing, digital and more. Don’t miss out on our new categories for 2018, including: Awareness Campaign for a Social Good Initiative; Event of the Year for a Breakthrough Sport; League of the Year for a Breakthrough Sport; Live Coverage of a Breakthrough Sport; Reality Series; Shining Stars (individual); Shining Stars (team/company); and Social Good TV Special or Episode. Get your work in NOW by clicking here.
Golf Channel lined up plans for coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show with nearly 20 hours of news and instruction coverage on deck running Jan. 23-26.  Coverage starts with the “PGA Show Demo Day” from the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge driving range in Winter Garden, Fla., and continued Wednesday-Friday at the PGA Merchandise Show from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson offering coverage of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day on Tuesday while Wednesday-Friday coverage will add Matt Adams, Cara Banks, Lisa Cornwell, Matt Ginella, Damon Hack, Bailey Mosier and Gary Williams.
In other golf news, SiriusXM announced that John Cook, an 11-time winner on the PGA TOUR, and golf analysts and former collegiate golfers Angela Garcia and Hally Leadbetter have joined SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio’s roster of hosts as part of the channel’s new 2018 original programming lineup. Connected with John Cook will air on Tuesdays at 7p, covering the latest news from the world of golf and featuring calls from listeners around the country. Meanwhile, Angela Garcia and Hally Leadbetter host Garcia & Leadbetter Remixed, which airs every Monday at 8p.
The BIG EAST Conference announced plans to host its inaugural Broadcast Boot Camp on Jan. 29 at DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Student Center in Chicago. The career development opportunity will feature professionals from across the broadcast industry, including executives, directors, producers and talent from FOX Sports, the BIG EAST Digital Network, Rush Media, Association for Women in Sports Media, Big Ten Network, and more. The free event is slated from 3-6p CT with the day capped by a nationally televised women’s basketball game between DePaul and Marquette.
February 7 | 4:45pm – 8pm | Espace, NYC
Announcing Special Guest Presenter: Don Wildman
Impassioned history enthusiast and host of Travel Channel’s highly rated “Mysteries at the Museum” series will be joining in on the fun for next month’s TV Awards. It’s not too late to register your team for the ultimate gathering of the industry’s best and brightest. The anticipation is escalating as winners of the Cynopsis TV Awards will be announced and our Buyers & Planners honorees will be celebrated.


The NFL Players Association, through its licensing and marketing arm, NFL Players Inc., locked in a partnership renewal with athlete marketing platform opendorse. The partnership follows NFL Players Inc.’s launch of REP Worldwide, the athlete brand management and sports licensing business and the NFLPA will be leveraging opendorse’s instantaneous distribution platform for athletes to approve and share content from their brand partners. Since partnering in 2013, the NFLPA and opendorse have helped nearly one thousand NFL players connect with hundreds of brands to share social media campaigns, reaching more than one billion fans worldwide.
Running through the end of the Olympic Games this year, the Coca-Cola Company is offering Team USA fans a slate of limited edition Coke mixes, each inspired by partnering Olympic hopefuls. Fans can sample the custom flavors—including ice skating sibling duo Alex and Maia Shibutani’s ‘Frosty Honor,’ Olympic freestyle aerial skier Mac Bohonnon’s ‘Downhill Glory’ and bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor’s ‘Bobsled Rush’—at more than 40,000 Freestyle machines nationwide. The limited flavors can be unlocked through the new Coca-Cola Freestyle app, which offers 100s of special combinations, in addition to these golden pairings.
US Ski & Snowboard announced that airweave will become the latest brand to join the Olympic sports organization’s growing roster of partners as the Official Bedding Supplier, where it will supply mattresses to US Ski & Snowboard’s athletes “to help them maximize performance throughout the year ahead.” The sponsorship includes airweave’s total sleep solution of mattresses, toppers, pillows, duvets and a limited edition travel blanket.
Outdoor Sportsman Group’s Sportsman Channel plays host to the first-ever Sportsman Channel Outdoor Fest, where more than 500 vendors and 15,000 patrons are expected to converge on the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston from July 20-22. Comcast Houston has signed on as the event’s first major sponsor. “Besides plenty of proud Astros fans, we know Houston has its share of outdoorsmen and women too,” Outdoor Sportsman Group President and CEO, Jim Liberatore said. “With Houston’s rich tradition in hunting, fishing and outdoor lifestyle activities, the Sportsman Channel Outdoor Fest will remind all of us about the positive wonders of the outdoors in spite of the fury nature sometimes displays.”

FloSports and Alliance MMA of New York (entered into a multi-year partnership for Alliance MMA’s top promotions, Cage Fury Fighting Championships and V3 Fights that will see all CFFC and V3Fights events aired live and on-demand only on FloCombat.com, with the first event kicking off March 2018. “This new agreement with FloSports is a milestone for Alliance MMA and its CFFC and V3Fights marquee brands. This multi-year contract gives us access to a targeted, sports-centric US audience and reaffirms the value we place on the brands in our portfolio,”  said Paul Danner, Alliance MMA’s CEO. “Today’s news is the culmination of much good work and is further confirmation of Kings Highway Media’s commitment to delivering total global penetration for Alliance MMA.”
Major League Soccer today announced that MLS SuperDraft 2018 presented by adidas will be streamed live on Twitter today at 11a. The live show will serve as the official destination for comprehensive SuperDraft coverage, featuring first interviews with draft picks, and expert analysis from both MLSsoccer.com personalities and celebrity guests.
For the first time, NBCUniversal will stream live an Olympics Opening Ceremony. The live coverage from PyeongChang will begin on Feb. 9 at 6a on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, and run with world feed graphics and the event’s natural sound without commentators. NBC’s fully-produced presentation of the Opening Ceremony, hosted by Couric and Tirico and featuring interviews and profiles will then air at 8p on NBC.
WWE is reporting record-breaking digital results in 2017, which includes: 20 million subscribers for WWE on YouTube and a record 20+ billion views across digital & social platforms in 2017. Overall, WWE now boards more than 850 million social media followers.
On the local front, NBC Sports Regional Networks are also reporting big streaming upticks over 2016 numbers. The RSNs’ streaming of MLB, NHL and NBA saw a 124% increase in minutes streamed, compared to 2016. In all, the RSNs streamed more than 417 million minutes across 1,589 games during the 2017 calendar year on local regional network websites, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. In addition, NBC Sports Regional Networks combined to have 3.6 million social media followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in 2017, up +31%, compared to 2016.
Sportsdigita announced today the completion of an investment round from Chicago-based PEAK6 Sports. The transaction enables the firm to more quickly grow its technical, sales, and support teams as it begins to target businesses outside of sports. “Our mandate at Sportsdigita is to build technologies that solve business problems. We’ve proven that the Digideck platform is the missing piece in the sales enablement chain and the best way for businesses to fully maximize their existing investments in CRM and Marketing Automation programs,” said Angelina Lawton, Sportsdigita’s Founder and CEO. “When the decision was made to scale our business, PEAK6 Sports quickly emerged as the partner best suited to our needs.” 

ESL announced that the world’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition, CS:GO Pro League will now run exclusively to Facebook in 2018. In partnership with WESA, the deal kicks off with the upcoming Season Seven starting Feb. 13 and run for four seasons of Pro League, through December 2019. ESL will also broadcast one of its flagship circuits, ESL One on Facebook, featuring Dota 2 and CS:GO with the first event being ESL One Genting 2018. ESL will also produce and broadcast a weekly five-minute show celebrating the Dota community on Facebook Watch, while competitions will be streamed exclusively via Facebook Live in English and Portuguese, with other languages available as well.
Overwatch League picked up a heavyweight non-endemic, announcing a deal with Toyota to serve as a North American Launch Partner for the league. The automaker plans to have additional broadcast integrations, as well as a vehicle presence at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. “Toyota is excited to be a launch partner of the Overwatch League,” said Steven Curtis, vice president, media & engagement marketing for Toyota Motor North America. “We love the passion of esports fans, and the goal of our partnership is to help take the Overwatch League and the fan experience to the next level.”
Turner and IMG’s coverage of The ELEAGUE Major: Boston continues today with The New Legends stage starting at 10a on Twitch, featuring the top seven finishers from the previous Major and the nine teams that advanced from The New Challengers stage, split into four pools. Joining the set this weekend will be pro player Jordan ‘n0thing’ Gilbert as a guest analyst throughout live coverage of the stage, joining Jason ‘Moses’ O’Toole, Janko ‘YNk’ Paunovic, Daniel ‘DDK’ Kapadia and Henry ‘HenryG’ Greer on the commentary team.
Psyonix is kicking off the year with a new website dedicated to Rocket League Esports at rlesports.gg. The site will serve as the main hub for RL Esports news from the company as it gears up for RLCS Season 5, which will see teams from NA, EU, and OCE compete for a $500,000 total prize pool for RLCS, which is our largest prize pool to date. North American qualifiers begin on Feb. 17.
The National Association of Collegiate Esports is teaming up with BeRecruited, a college recruiting platform, to improve the recruiting process for prospective collegiate esport gamers and college coaches. BeRecruited has now added esports as part of its college recruiting network, allowing gamers to create a free recruiting profile with all of their game stats, academics and video.

Jeff Gerttula has been promoted to Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Sports Digital. CBS Sports Digital ranked second in comScore’s sports category for the 5th consecutive month in December and saw 9% year-over-year growth in 2017.
ESPN unveiled a slate of new roles for its senior leaders, including the appointment of Mike Morrison as Vice President, ESPN Business Development. With Morrison’s transition, Tim Bunnell, Senior Vice President, International Programming, Production & Marketing, will add regional responsibilities to his functional roles. He will now also oversee ESPN’s businesses in China and North Asia, including the relationship with Tencent. Additionally, Charly Classen will expand his role to Vice President & General Manager, EMEA, South Asia & Australia/New Zealand. As part of his new responsibilities, Classen will now manage ESPN’s businesses in South East Asia, Australia/New Zealand and India, in addition to EMEA.

Who is going to the Super Bowl? Jaguars/Patriots on CBS on Sunday at 3p, followed by Vikings/Eagles on FOX at 6:30p.

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ON THIS DAY in 1974: UCLA’s 88-game college basketball win streak is ended by Notre Dame.
In the Know: 1999 saw the NBA All-Star Game cancelled due to what? (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: In which sport would you see a Salchow jump? Answer: Figure skating. Kudos: Michael Brown-UEG/NY; Jamie Euster-Endeavor/NY; Holli Sarner-Home Team Sports /NY; Evan Noonan-CBS Sports Digital/NY; Larry Gallo, Jr.-University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Chapel Hill; Heidi Mallin-Lucas Oil Stadium/Indianapolis; Dana Worby-Robinson-DraftKings/Boston; Rick Wiener-Allebach Communications/Philadelphia; Mark Stulberger-Stully’s Broadcasting School/Houston; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Bloomington; Kristin Staskowski-Spectrum Reach/Birmingham; Suzanne Bayne-True Media/St. Louis; David Hauptman/Denver; Michael Jaquet-MJE/Park City; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Anne Wettig-Fox Cable Networks S&P/LA; Don Surath-KPIX-TV/KBCW-TV/San Francisco

Later – Chris

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