02/06/19: AT&T signed on to replace Verizon as a partner for the NBA

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Good morning. It’s Wednesday February 6, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 
 
The NBA locked in AT&T for a multiyear official marketing partnership, replacing Verizon, designed to create enhanced experiences for basketball fans across the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and USA Basketball. The deal launches next week at NBA All-Star 2019, where the global communications and technology company will be the title partner of AT&T Slam Dunk as well as the presenting partner of NBA All-Star Practice and Media Day. AT&T will activate during NBA All-Star in Charlotte, including in all arenas and at State Farm All-Star Saturday Night and NBA Crossover. Throughout the partnership, AT&T will be integrated into NBA assets such as NBA.com and the NBA app, along with national broadcast partners ABC, ESPN and TNT.
 
 “We are thrilled to collaborate with one of the world’s leading communications and technology companies, with a slate of activities tipping off during NBA All-Star,” said Dan Rossomondo, NBA Senior Vice President, Media and Business Development. “AT&T will help create unique experiences for the diverse fan bases represented across all of our leagues.”
 
“We look forward to working with one of the most iconic leagues in the world, deepening our connection with basketball fans who represent increasingly young, diverse, tech-centric and socially engaged audiences that are important to our company,” said Fiona Carter, Chief Brand Officer, AT&T Communications.  “Connecting with these audiences through a great brand like the NBA allows us to grow customer relationships and create more memorable experiences at a game, at home, or on the go.”
 
 
PROGRAMMING

Speaking of NBA All-Star, TNT serves up coverage of the 2019 NBA All-Star Draft presented by Jordan Brand at 7p. Teams will be selected by captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the leading vote-getters in their respective conferences with the draft show will featuring Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal alongside host Ernie Johnson. The company will offer fans a “Who Ya Got?” pick ‘em game – developed by PrizeLogic, in conjunction with Jordan Brand, NBA on TNT and Bleacher Report  that allows fans to try guessing who will make up Team LeBron and Team Giannis for a chance to win $25,000, a free trip to NBA All-Star Weekend, or Jordan Brand gear.
 
FOX Sports finalized its talent lineup for NASCAR Race Hub, locking in veterans Lindsay Czarniak and Sara Walsh to serve as studio hosts for NASCAR Race Hub: Weekend Edition and Thursday NASCAR Race Hub shows. In addition, the company announced that Shannon Spake would be expanding her on-air resume by hosting FOX NASCAR’s coverage of all Monster Energy NASVAT Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series races. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Vincie steps up with a move from pit road to the prerace anchor chair, hosting NASCAR Raceday-Ngots prior to each NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race.
 
Ahmed Fareed, an anchor and reporter for NBC Sports Bay Area for the past six years, has been tapped to NBC Sports Group’s national networks (NBC and NBCSN) to work as a host and reporter across a variety of events and properties. Fareed served as a studio host for NBCUniversal’s presentations of the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, and begins his new role hosting Premiership Rugby on NBCSN on March 1.
 
The Atlantic 10 announced that its conference men’s basketball tournament will return to Washington DC in 2022, and then return to Brooklyn in 2023 and ’24. The conference tournament returns to Barclays Center this season from March 13-17, the first of a three-year agreement with the arena. The DC event will take place at Capital One Arena.
 
FloSports announced a partnership to provide live and on-demand coverage of the 2019 Rugby Europe Championship in North America, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa exclusively on FloRugby.com. The Rugby Europe Championship will feature six of the best European teams in a round-robin competition with the platform offering fifteen games of the Championship beginning Feb. 9 – Mar. 17.
 
Turner Sports’ multi-platform coverage of the UEFA Champions League offers live match coverage of the Round of 16 starting Feb. 12 via B/R Live and TNT at 3p. B/R Football Matchday presented by Pepsi will preview the action each day at 2p  with studio coverage also including B/R Football Halftime presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans and B/R Football Postmatch presented by AT&T.
 
GOLF Channel, San Jose State University and Topgolf Entertainment Group unveiled a multi-year partnership for GOLF Channel to carry the Western Intercollegiate presented by Topgolf – taking place at the historic Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz. GOLF Channel will air live coverage of the 54-hole stroke play team and individual championship in primetime from April 15-16, from 7-10p and on April 17 from 4-7p.  The event will include 13 elite NCAA Division I golf programs, highlighted by two nationally-ranked top 10 players.
 
NHL Network premieres NHL Network Roundtable: Modern Day Coaching, featuring interviews with NHL head coaches Jon Cooper (Tampa Bay Lightning), Paul Maurice(Winnipeg Jets), Bill Peters (Calgary Flames) and Todd Reirden (Washington Capitals) tonight at 8p. Hosted by NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, the 30-minute show features the four coaches discussing the support they receive from their coaching staffs, the use of technology in-game, their approach to coaching superstars.
 
Combate Americas announced a 10-bout lineup for its first live television MMA event of 2019 that will take place on Friday. The match will stream live on DAZN at 10p. Calling the action live on DAZN will be MMA superstar Julianna “The Venezuelan Vixen” Peña alongside play-by-play veteran Max Bretos.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

NTT IndyCar Series staple the Grand Prix of Long Beach, announced a new title sponsor, locking in Acura. With the announcement, Acura replaces Toyota, which had served as sponsor of the race since its first running in 1984. “This is truly the start of a new era in the history of the Grand Prix,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “As we enter our 45thyear of conducting America’s #1 street race, we are looking forward with great enthusiasm to this new partnership with a premium luxury brand like Acura. Together we will explore new ways to elevate the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach to greater heights in the coming years.”
 
NASCAR and General Tire announced a multi-year partnership making the tire company the “Official Racing Tire” and “Exclusive Tire Supplier” of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Pinty’s Series and NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. A separate six-year deal was announced last month with the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series making this the first exclusive supplier partnership encompassing NASCAR’s three international series.
 
Hyundai inked an extension of its partnership with World Archery until 2021. Hyundai keeps its sponsorship rights to the Archery World Championships and Archery World Cup circuit. “Hyundai is a long-standing and valued partner of World Archery and we are thankful that the company has committed to our partnership past the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said World Archery President Ugur Erdener.
 
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are committing $500,000, through 2021, to nonprofits focused on efforts to stop human trafficking. The $500,000 contribution will support efforts by nonprofits that primarily focus on education and programming to stop human trafficking, with extended support intended for survivors as well. Strike Out Slavery, the initiative led by Albert Pujols and his wife Deidre, is among the grantees, and will be joined by additional leading nonprofit organizations receiving funding.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

NBC Sports Group and golf superstar Rory McIlroy announced the launch of GOLFPASS, a new digital membership “delivering comprehensive benefits tailored to the modern golfer’s lifestyle.” The platform, described as a direct-to-consumer subscription program, offers opportunities to play more golf, comprehensive tools to improve any golfer’s game; high-quality video content; and enhanced shopping and travel experiences. GOLFPASS perks and benefits span five pillars – Play, Learn, Watch, Travel and Shop – which are the most frequent ways golfers engage with the sport. A GOLFPASS membership – $9.99 per month or $99 per year –with memberships tailored for the U.K., Ireland and Australia will launch in the coming months.
 
Following the Super Bowl, CBS Sports HQ reports new records for daily, weekend and week-long viewership with its extensive lineup of live, original programming from Atlanta. The platform set single-day records for unique viewers, with more than one million viewers on Sunday, and streaming minutes, with nearly 14 million minutes streamed on Sunday. CBS Sports HQ also set new weekend viewership records for audience and streaming minutes, and a week-long record for streaming minutes.
 
The Sacramento Kings announced a partnership with MGM Resorts International and Xperiel to provide new incentives to fans engaging with the NBA’s first free-to-play gaming experience. “Call the Shot.” The initiative allows fans to predict the outcomes of game quarters, player performance as well as interact with their favorite NBA team, offering in-app prize opportunities and marking the first mobile offering from an NBA team that offers high-frequency predictive gaming to fans.
 
Thuuz Sports announced a new monthly feature measuring the most exciting games across all broadcast sports events. Using algorithms to measure real-time event excitement, Thuuz will provide a unique look into what games have gotten fans the most excited and engaged as 2019 rolls along.  In January, the two NFL League Championship overtime thrillers led the top ten, followed by the NHL matchup between the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals. The NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets were the only two teams to make it on to the list twice for the month, and two men’s college basketball games also cracked the list. “We are all about quantifiable excitement at Thuuz, and we think this monthly look will help all our partners, and even fans and teams, get more insight into what events are capturing interest,” said Thuuz CEO Warren Packard. “Our AI engine gives us the ability to look at thousands of real-time matchups every month, and these snapshots will be a new, fun and important way to communicate these results to all.”
 
 
ESPORTS

Topgolf’s foray into esports now includes Super League Gaming, courtesy of a new partnership to bring amateur competitive video gaming events to Topgolf venues across the country. The program kicks off this month in Las Vegas with the Super League Gaming event series, Super League Clash Nights, based on Clash Royale. Topgolf venues will host mobile and console based esports programs, ranging from single-location events to location-vs-location competitions and eventually to local, regional and national amateur leagues. The companies will work together to integrate brand partners into the experiences and also welcome third-party tournament organizers to run their own esports events at Topgolf using the Super League platform.
 
Just ahead of the new Overwatch League season, the New York Excelsior announced that T-Mobile signed on to serve as presenting sponsor for the team this year, lining up a slate of local fan events, as well as content and merchandise as activation points. The partnership makes the brand NYXL’s first-ever presenting sponsor, where they will work together to “celebrate the start of OWL season two” and the team’s first match of the year at NYXL Homebound, a watch party taking place on Feb. 14 at the 40/40 Club in Manhattan.
 
College recruiting network Next College Student Athlete announced a partnership with esports competition platform, Battlefy to work together to provide free recruiting tools and resources to high school-aged esports athletes who opt-in to create a free NCSA athlete profile when registering for and joining a tournament on Battlefy. Esports athletes who choose to create an NCSA recruiting profile will gain access to NCSA’s network of college coaches, including its growing database of varsity esports coaches.
 
 
INDUSTRY/ROSTER MOVES

Sportradar announced the expansion of their global board with the addition of Tony Aquila, Marc Walder, Herve Couturier and George Fleet. Aquila will serve as the Global Chairman of the Sportradar Group Board.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Bruins/Rangers on NBCSN at 8p.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1970: The NBA expands to 18 teams with the additions of Buffalo, Cleveland, Houston and Portland.
 
In the Know: In the movie “Revenge of the Nerds,” Adams College football players belonged to which fictional fraternity? (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: Lindsey Vonn made her Olympic debut in what city? Answer: Salt Lake City. Kudos: Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Kathi Gillin-Comcast Spotlight/Langhorne; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Erica MacConnell Vessey-True North Sports, LLC/Burlington; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Aimee Clark-Tony Fay PR/Dallas; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
 
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