03/25/16: MLB orders Mexican; Turner’s Bleacher ticket; eSports’ brand run


Good morning. It’s Friday March 25, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

MLB is digging deeper to grow its roots in Mexico, announcing that the league is not only creating a permanent operational presence in the country, via MLB Mexico, but also locked in an extension with Televisa to bring the sport to fans across the country with an extended broadcast agreement through 2018. The announcement comes ahead of this weekend’s two-game exhibition series between the Astros and Padres in Mexico City with MLB Mexico also headquartered in the capital. Rodrigo Fernandez was named MLB Mexico’s first employee and will serve as managing director. Meanwhile, the Televisa deal will include a national MLB Game of the Week as well as games on Monday nights, at least one game on either Tuesday or Thursday night on their all-sports channel Televisa Deportes Network as well as the 87th MLB All-Star Game and the postseason, including the 112th World Series.

"Commissioner Manfred’s vision for globalizing baseball cannot become a reality without localizing MLB in Mexico," said Chris Park, MLB SVP for growth, strategy and international. "Our local fans and partners are part of our core community, and Rodrigo Fernández understands how best to serve them. The Mexico City Series, MLB Festival at Zocalo, and Televisa’s MLB Game of the Week open what will be a very active inaugural year for MLB Mexico."


After the New York Times reported that the NFL’s concussion committee omitted more than 100 diagnosed concussions in its research, which claimed didn’t cause long-term harm, the league responded to the allegations. Joe Lockhart, NFL EVP of Communications, stated that the “studies that are the focus of the Times’ story used data collected between 1996-2001. These studies were necessarily preliminary and acknowledged that much more research was needed. Since that time, the NFL has been at the forefront of promoting and funding independent research on these complex issues. Further, the data from the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee studies have not been used in any way by the current Head, Neck and Spine Committee in its research on player health and safety.”

Univision Deportes launches coverage of this summer’s 100th year anniversary edition of Copa America Centenario with programming that will include America Redonda- Camino a la Copa America Centenario  a weekly show featuring an in depth look at the event hosted by Luis Omar Tapia, Diego Balado, and Jose Luis Lopez Salido that will run Mondays at 9p on UDN. Other programming includes Expediente, a 60-minute feature hosted by Adriana Monsalve, Lindsay Casinelli, Alejandro Berry and Ivan Kasanzew as well as daily show Partidos Historicos, debuting March 28 and running daily through the start of Copa America.

X Games unveiled its lineup for the third and final year at the Circuit of The Americas from June 2-5 and will include the return of BMX Street, Moto X Best Trick, Moto X Freestyle and Women’s Skateboard Park. This year’s musical performances will feature blink-182, G-Eazy, All Time Low and Logic, who will take center stage at the Austin360 Amphitheater. For the first time at X Games summer events, medalists from X Games Austin 2015 who have sport disciplines returning in 2016 will receive an early invite to compete in the X Games Austin 2016 event.

Golf Channel and NBC saw last weekend’s coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational boost their year-to-date viewership numbers over 2015’s equitable coverage, according to Nielsen. NBC saw a 28% rise for Viewers P2+, and up 41% for People 25-34 delivery, while PGA TOUR on Golf Channel grew 9% year-to-date, growing 10% with People 25-54 delivery and up 67% with People 25-34 delivery.

Speaking of which, Golf Channel lined up 20 hours of tournament coverage for the ANA Inspiration next week in Rancho Mirage from March 31-April 3. Coverage includes a one-hour pro-am special on Wednesday as well as 12 combined hours of early round coverage on Thursday and Friday that features two broadcast windows each day to show the morning and afternoon waves; along with eight hours of live tournament coverage in primetime Saturday and Sunday. Terry Gannon and Judy Rankin will call the action from the broadcast booth, joined by hole analyst Tom Abbott and course reporters Jerry Foltz, Jim Gallagher Jr., and Karen Stupples. Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam also joins Golf Channel’s live tournaments team next week as lead analyst during Thursday and Friday’s early coverage.

We are under a month, get your tables now! The Cynopsis Sports Awards honors the best in the business on April 21 in New York. Click here to claim your spot.

ONE World Sports will see the premiere of the Caribbean Free Trade Association Games, a three-day track and field event featuring juniors in the Caribbean, begin March 26 at 2:30p. The CARIFTA Games mark the first track and field event broadcast showcased on ONE World Sports, concluding on March 28 at 3:30p.


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LeanIn.Org is running a second season with the NBA, WNBA and the NBPA for its #LeanInTogether campaign. The initiative promotes how “men can support the women in their lives and the benefits to everyone-starting with men themselves-when they do.” Since its launch in March 2015, the #LeanInTogether campaign has reached an estimated 480 million people on social media, and millions of NBA fans saw the PSA on TV and at games. This year’s campaign features Chris Bosh, Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon. “Teamwork, integrity, and respect are core values of the NBA, WNBA and LeanIn.Org, and we are proud to continue our partnership with the #LeanInTogether campaign,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “We are excited to build on our work with Sheryl and her team to support inclusion and equality for men and women at home, in the workplace, and in our communities.”

UFC is getting another ride with Harley-Davidson, locking in a multi-year extension to showcase signature branding across multiple UFC-based platforms, including social, digital and programming. With the deal, both global companies jointly announced a new military platform to offer exclusive benefits to active armed services personnel and veterans while UFC and Harley-Davidson will host a UFC Fight for the Troops event in the future.


Turner Sports is looking to continue beefing up Bleacher Report, and will reportedly spend $100 million on the platform over the next three years to build out the digital sports property, according to the WSJ. The funding will look to round up more staff and produce original video series and franchises, as well as short-form content designed to travel well via social media, according to Turner President David Levy. “When we bought it, it really was a brand,” Levy told the paper.  “Whether it was really something with [complete] journalistic integrity, you can debate that one way or another. But we truly saw it as a brand. Turner wasn’t a sports brand. We sort of needed a sports destination media brand.”

WWE Network unveiled its WrestleMania Week programming line-up starting Monday. Programming will include the premiere of WWE 24: “Thank You Daniel,” a new episode of Legends with JBL, WWE Ride Along featuring WWE Superstars Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, and WWE Divas Paige and Alicia Fox, and Stone Cold Podcast Live! featuring WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley. In addition, fans can also watch NXT Takeover: Dallas, the WWE Hall of Fame 2016 Red Carpet and the WWE Hall of Fame 2016, along with WrestleMania Kickoff and the year’s main attraction, WrestleMania.
Topps announced that Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa will be the company’s MLB Bunt cover athlete, spotlighted on the app icon and splash screen with special Correa cards in various sets released throughout the year. New to Bunt this year is the Topps Card Exchange, where fans can trade-in and upgrade cards instantly as well as new player levels.


Brands are starting to bet big on eSports, according to intelligence outfit Newzoo, which estimated that companies will spend $325 million on sponsorships and marketing in 2016. The report projects that $128 million will be targeted for direct eSports sponsorships while $197 million will be dedicated to advertising. By 2019, brands are estimated to pump over $800 million into the space. Brand spending on eSports is this year is on pace to make a 49% spike over 2015 numbers. 

Intrigued by the eSports investments? Don’t miss the Cynopsis eSports & Gaming Conference on June 23 in NY and learn how to get make your mark on the gaming community. Stay tuned for our amazing lineup of speakers and other initiatives in the space or contact me for more info about speakers/partnerships.

Electronic Arts named Laura Miele to serve as the company’s new Executive Vice President of Global Publishing. Miele has worked in marketing at EA and was the GM of its Star Wars group from June 2013 to June 2014.


AMB Sports & Entertainment is promoting Tim Zulawski to Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. In addition, Michael Drake was named Senior Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer  Business Operations for the company. Zulawski and Drake will both report to Rich McKay, AMBSE president, in their new roles.


More Sweet Sixteen action tonight when Iowa State/Virginia tip off at 7p and Gonzaga/Syracuse battle on CBS while TBS offers Wisconsin/Notre Dame at 7:30p, followed by Indiana/North Carolina.

ON THIS DAY in 1971: The Boston Patriots become the New England Patriots.

In The Know: Which school has won the most NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championships? 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: Which US President had a bowling alley installed in the White House? Answer: Surprised to learn that there were actually two separate alleys installed. The first was under Harry S. Truman’s watch while Richard Nixon oversaw the other. We’ll accept either. Kudos: Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Brad Stern-POM Technologies/NY; Doug Jacobs- Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP/NY; Barbara Eskin-Time Warner Cable/NY; Robert Morgan-Scripps Networks Interactive/Knoxville; Stephen Kelley-9 Story Media Group/Toronto; Jeff Schroeder-Time Warner Cable/Dayton; Joe Guarnieri-ESPN/Bristol; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Jeff Mirkin-Heartland Poker Tour/Santa Monica; Richard Sindell-RSA Management/LA; Mark Wolfson-PAC-12 Networks/San Francisco.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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