03/18/19: The producers of Willie break down the documentary process

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Monday March 18, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 

 

The value of great storytelling in business has never been higher, as seen in the influx of documentaries throughout sports media, from series like ESPN Film’s 30 for 30 to platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. One of those stories that on the docket is “WILLIE,” showcasing the life story of Willie O’Ree, the first black player in the NHL, and his path from experiencing racism in the Jim Crow south to losing the sight in one eye to eventually making the Boston Bruins and playing professional hockey for more than 20 years.
 
The film, which was just named a special presentation by the Hot Docs Film festival, is the work of veteran sports marketer and entrepreneur Bryant McBride, who, along with filmmaker Laurence Mathieu-Leger, and support from the National Hockey League will bring the story to the big screen later this year. We caught up with McBride to talk about the film.
 
McBride on releasing the film: Anyone that has met him will tell you that meeting Willie O’Ree is a special experience – in this especially divided time, we wanted people to really get to know one of the greatest living “uniters” of people ever. We, and our partner on the film, the NHL, thought this window was an especially important time to share his story.
 
On the surprises of being a first time film producer: The awesome skill of the team we assembled. Our Director Laurence Mathieu Leger is a gifted, huge talent – she shot much of the film, was deeply involved in the editing, the score, the color and more. As result, I strongly believe that more women should make sports themed movies – I would not have thought that before this film. Penny Marshall, Director of a League of Their Own, died in the middle of filming WILLIE. I do not want to generalize, but it hit me that women had a different way of telling sports stories – much less linear than most men and much more layered and textured. As a result, both movies make you really think and examine plot lines more intuitively – thus making them more than traditional “sports movies”.
 
On working with Burst: Burst is about “owning” rather than “renting” on the media landscape – especially locally. We work closely with social media companies and they do so many things so well, but I think that broadcasters and publishers have realized that they need to “own’ four things if they are going to survive and thrive in this constantly evolving, screen-fluid consumption world : content, data, customer and the ability to monetize them and business models.
 
If they are dependent on a social media company for videos, images, traffic, engagement and revenue (or whatever the social media companies will share with them) then they are merely “renters’ on the media landscape beholden to others. Burst’s customers are amongst the most sophisticated media companies and brands in existence and they choose to “own” and control their futures by monetizing within their digital ecosystems. We are keying in unlocking revenue streams with them.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

 

With three ACC teams (along with Gonzaga) taking the top seeds in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV are preparing for the annual derby to crown a champion. The action gets underway with the First Four on Tuesday out of Dayton on truTV, with 11 seeds Belmont/Temple (9:10p) and 16 seeds Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M (6:40p). Wednesday serves up 16 seeds North Carolina Central/North Dakota State (6:40p), along with Arizona State/St. John’s (9:10p). We’ll dive deeper into broadcast assignments for the tournament tomorrow.
 
Meanwhile, the 64-team bracket for the NCAA Women’s Tournament gets the spotlight tonight during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special starting at 7p on ESPN before moving to ESPNU at 8p. Host Maria Taylor, with analysts Andy Landers, Rebecca Lobo and bracketologist Charlie Creme will reveal the teams vying for a national championship, along with analysis from LaChina Robinson, who will report live from the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Selection Committee meeting in Indianapolis.
 
ESPN also offered a first look at upcoming content for ACC Network, which will launch on August 22. Network officials announced four ACCN exclusive early-season conference basketball games featuring eight ACC institutions (November 5 and 6), an ESPN Films documentary, The Class That Saved Coach K, and a multi-part film, The Tournament: A History of ACC Basketball, and a daily talk show Packer and Durham hosted by Mark Packer and Wes Durham on ACCN and simulcast on SiriusXM radio. The 2019-20 men’s basketball season will open strong on ACCN with four matchups on November 5 and 6. Leading off, Georgia Tech will play at NC State, and Miami will host Louisville on November 5. The following day, Virginia visits Syracuse and North Carolina hosts Notre Dame.
 
Wrapping up college basketball news, ESPN reports that Duke and North Carolina’s third meeting of the season during the New York Life ACC Men’s Tournament semifinals delivered a 3.0 overnight rating, making it the highest rated Champ Week game on ESPN, including all other conference championship title games. The two semifinals averaged a 2.1 rating, ranking as the highest-rated tournament semifinals in ESPN history.
 
Congratulations to all of the finalists for this year’s Cynopsis Sports Media Awards, our annual honors paying tribute to the best in business across platforms and encompassing all the corners of the industry. Click here to see this year’s top nominees, and reserve your team’s table today.
 
In soccer news, the FIFA Council held its ninth meeting in Miami, where the members of FIFA’s strategic and decision making body voted for a revamped, 24-team FIFA Club World Cup, the pilot edition of which will be held in June and July 2021. The revamped FIFA Club World Cup will be played during the international match calendar slot that corresponded to the FIFA Confederations Cup. In the 2021 pilot edition, the 24 teams will be split into eight groups of three teams each, with the group winners to qualify for the quarter-finals in a knockout format. In addition, the org voted for the implementation of the VAR system at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.
 
ESPN locked in play-by-play voice Dave Flemming and analyst Eduardo Perez to provide commentary for the 2019 Japan Opening Series telecasts presented by Edward Jones on March 20 21. The 2019 MGM Japan Opening Series will feature the Athletics vs. the Mariners.
 
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This awards program is dedicated to celebrating the work of talented producers, hosts, sponsors and executives alike, and saluting the initiatives that drove audiences and turned sports viewers into fans over the past year. The best and brightest will be gathering on April 25th in NYC to watch as winners are announced, and the best of the best are celebrated in style, and tickets are now available so register your team today!
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

 

Enterprise, the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the NHL locked in a five-year renewal of their partnerships through the 2022-23 NHL season. The brand also renewed local partnerships with 30 NHL Clubs. Key to the renewal is the expansion of Enterprise’s category rights, as it continues to build out its multiple lines of business. In addition to maintaining its status as the Official Rent-A-Car of the NHL, Enterprise will now have non-exclusive rights in the ride sharing services category and the used vehicle sales category to promote its Commute with Enterprise and Enterprise Car Sales business lines.
 
Little League International and Major League Baseball announced an expansion to their official partnership with the creation of a Joint Sponsorship Agreement. Effective immediately, both orgs will collaboratively oversee Little League Baseball and Softball’s official sponsor program. Little League International will continue to work directly with its endemic sponsors and licensees while MLB will grant official sponsorship rights to non-endemic sponsors on behalf of Little League. With the new agreement, brands will be able to create and leverage a partnership that includes both Little League and Major League Baseball assets.
 
The Oklahoma City Thunder are adding a jersey patch, becoming the 30th and final NBA team to announce a corporate sponsorship for their uniform. The team saw the patch featuring the logo of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores on Thunder uniforms starting with Saturday’s matchup against Golden State.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & STREAMING
 
NBA Digital, co-managed by the NBA and Turner Sports, announced the launch of NBA 10-Minute Pass on NBA League Pass. The offering will provide fans the option to purchase 10 minutes of real-time access to live out-of-market NBA games for $0.99 by tapping “Watch” from any game page on NBA.com or within the NBA App. As part of the new offering, fans can watch as many live games as they choose during the 10-minute window.  “NBA 10-Minute Pass offers unprecedented flexibility for fans to watch live NBA games when it is convenient for them,” said Chris Benyarko, NBA Senior Vice President, Direct to Consumer. “This new offering on NBA League Pass is an important step toward reaching and engaging the widest possible audience.”
 
Minute Media announced the acquisition of The Big Lead from Gannett. As a part of the acquisition, Minute Media will be acquiring the group of The Big Lead content creators. Additionally, Minute Media will take on management of all The Big Lead’s digital assets, including editorial, website development, social channels, syndication and monetization. “Our technology-first approach has allowed us to scale our owned and operated brands and we’re implementing that same approach for the digital platforms that we acquire,” said Asaf Peled, Founder and CEO of Minute Media. “The Big Lead is the perfect complement to our current portfolio and a strategic step in Minute Media’s evolution as we look to power more brands utilizing our proprietary technology,”
 
 
Information technology systems integrator B&A is partnering with the Ladies Professional Golf Association to enhance the fan experience at LPGA Tour events through new advanced interactions and innovative solutions via a mobile application. “This is an opportunity for us to draw on the technologies and solutions we have developed in the Federal marketplace and apply them to helping the LPGA deliver a great experience for fans,” said Jonathan Evans, President and CEO of B&A. “We are excited to be working with the LPGA and enhancing the enjoyable environment created at tournaments.”
 
 
ESPORTS
 
 Electronic Arts opened the doors to its new competitive gaming studio, located at its HQ in Redwood Shores, CA and designed to serve as “a one-stop-shop to rapidly accelerate the company’s ability to host more competitive events and create content primed for a top-tier broadcast experience.” Between competitive tournaments, the new studio will act as a full content creation venue and will be home to new esports-related shows, serve as a space for player interviews, influencer capture-sessions, player-to-EA gameplay feedback panels and more. Specifications of the venue include two main studios, over 60 screens and monitors, 200 light fixtures, multiple spectator cams, and a 4-person caster desk with built-in monitors as well as a AR/VS seamless green screen, control room, linear and digital broadcast capabilities
 
Overwatch League confirmed that the Blizzard esports league will launch a full home-and-away schedule in 2020, as expected. Commissioner Nate Nanzer noted that each team will play half its games at home and half on the road, with more games against teams in their own division, and road games stacked up in nearby markets to create efficient road trips with the season running from mid-February through August.
 
Supercell unveiled season two of the Clash Royale League as winners from the Clash Royale League Challenge are invited to join a professional league and team to advance to the CRL Online Qualifiers with a shot to subsequently be invited to the World Cyber Games Finals in Xi’an, China from July 18-21.
 
 
INDUSTRY/ROSTER MOVES
 
The National Football League made a series of moves within its executive team, including naming Renie Anderson as Chief Revenue Officer and Executive Vice President, NFL Partnerships. Anderson retains oversight of sponsorship, and consumer products and adds media sales to her portfolio of responsibilities. Peter O’Reilly becomes Executive Vice President, Club Business and League Events and will be focused on driving Club Sales & Marketing operations while maintaining oversight of the League’s events like the Super Bowl and Draft. Meanwhile, Hans Schroeder becomes Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media and will oversee the NFL’s Los Angeles office, home of the NFL Network and NFL Digital Media, as well as NFL Films in Mount Laurel, NJ. Finally, David Jurenka is expanding his role to become General Manager of the Los Angeles operation in addition to his role as Senior Vice President Digital Media.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special at 7p on ESPN.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1989: Dino Ciccarelli sets a Capitals record of seven points in a game.
 
In the Know: Name two teams in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament who are known as the Huskies. (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: American golf caddie and golf commentator Jim Mackay is known by what nickname? Answer: Bones. Kudos: Chris Long-DraftKings/NY; Matt Meachem-Gracenote/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Derek Houston-Atlanta Braves/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; Brad Brown-Nevco Sports/St. Louis; Aimee Clark-Tony Fay PR/Dallas; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
 
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