04/22/19: Top Rank on ESPN talent break down the company’s moves into boxing

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Good morning. It’s Monday April 22, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 

Saturday night saw ESPN’s first PPV event under the Top Rank on ESPN umbrella, as Terence “Bud” Crawford scored a sixth-round knockout of Amir Khan at Madison Square Garden. Before the event, Top Rank on ESPN blow-by-blow commentator Joe Tessitore, and analysts Tim Bradley and Andre Ward spoke with media about the fight and ESPN’s initiatives with Top Rank.
 
Tessitore on Top Rank on ESPN: I think we all collectively feel good about what’s been accomplished since we went on the air with Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn from Australia a couple summers ago right through the past year, with the growth and development of ESPN+, with what we’ve been doing on ESPN. And I’m so sick of hearing my voice on a 30-second commercial promo right now on ESPN this week, and I’m sure everybody else is, too. But what it shows you is an unbelievable commitment from the network to put this sport forward the way it always should have been in the course of the last 25 to 30 years — that the role this support now plays on the landscape of American sports is back to what it always was, of being a very mainstream.
 
Ward on his career path: I‘ve had the opportunity throughout the years to do this. I worked at HBO for many, many years, Showtime back in the day. I actually started off with the “World Series of Boxing.” I would fly out to LA. I did it for free just to get the reps in. But this is a whole other level in terms of the platform. This is a whole other level as far as, like, how many shows I’m actually calling. Like, I would do maybe five shows a year with HBO. This is on a whole other level. And the quality of the product that ESPN is demanding that we put out, it causes you to have to get better, have to raise the bar. Joe Tessitore, I tell him all the time, I’m just so grateful for just a mentorship. Joe Tess is who he is. We all know who he is and what he’s accomplished and what he’s currently doing.

Bradley on the pressure of PPV:  Well, if you’re real, just put it this way, if you’re real you’ve got to be able to deal with the pressure. But I could tell you this: My first Pay-Per-View, when I fought against the best fighter pound-for-pound, Manny Pacquiao, at the time, I could tell you what Khan’s feeling right now, being the B side of things. I felt like I was fighting against King Kong. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. Everybody was expecting me to get knocked out against Manny Pacquiao. It was a lot of pressure, man.

Tessitore on broadcast chemistry: They’re very coachable. They both want to be coached. They both sit back and they broadcast — as I often talk to my analysts, no matter what sport I’m doing — of broadcasting with your eyes up, of just looking, being aware and reacting. The reason that they’re hired is because they’re two of the foremost experts in the world. They’re two of the best that have ever done it generationally recently. And when they broadcast with their eyes up and see and say and tell us the why and how and the what to look for, they’re excellent, which is what they’ve done. I sit back often and if you listen to our broadcast style as a crew right now, what you often get is I sit back and listen to these two great champions just talk and observe.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

Major League Soccer is going event bigger, announcing plans to now expand to 30 teams, up from the previously announced line of 28 clubs that the league had previously sought. The decision was made by owners at Board of Governors meetings held in LA, with Sacramento and St. Louis seemingly in the front of the line. Ownership groups representing both cities will make formal presentations to the MLS Expansion Committee to address each bid’s final stadium plan, corporate commitments, the composition of the respective ownership groups, funding, and more. “Professional soccer at all levels is thriving in the United States and Canada and we believe there are many markets that could support a successful MLS club,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. “Expansion during the last 15 years has been enormously successful and a key driver behind the league’s continued rise, and we are pleased that some of the top business and community leaders representing great markets in North America are aggressively pursuing MLS expansion clubs.”
 
NBC News writes that the NFL is mulling a move of its out-of-market streaming rights, now on DIRECTV to Amazon or Disney, providing their audiences with access to the full slate of NFL games not already being broadcast in their market. The NFL has the option to end its exclusive deal for Sunday Ticket with AT&T at the end of the 2019 season. Meanwhile, AT&T announced last week that it was dropping the NFL Network from DirecTV Now and U-verse.
 
 
DAZN is set to carry the 43rd partypoker US Open 9-Ball Championship, showcasing the final three days of the tournament from April 24-26 as the remaining 16 players compete in Las Vegas. DAZN will also show the partypoker US Open 9-Ball Championship live in Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Japan. “The global billiards community will have its eyes on the US Open this week and we’re excited to bring the tournament to our subscribers, live and exclusive on DAZN,” said Joseph Markowski, DAZN EVP, North America.
 
This week!!! Mingle with the best in the business on April 25 for the Cynopsis Sports Awards in NYC. Join executives from AT&T SportsNet, Barstool Sports, beIN SPORTS, Big Ten Network, Break Media Group, CBS Sports Digital, Discovery Education, ESPN, ESPN Films, FloSports, FOX Sports, HBO, Immortals, Intel Sports, Marsar Sports & Entertainment, Mercedes-Benz USA, MLB Network, NASCAR, NBA, NBCUniversal, MGM Resorts, New York Jets, NFL, NFL Films, ONE Championship, Optimum Sports, PepsiCo, Scout Sports & Entertainment, Showtime, Sinclair Broadcast Group, SiriusXM, Telemundo, NBC Sports Group, theScore, Turner Sports, Univision, USTA, and more by clicking here for your ticket now.
 
ESPN reeled in the services of former college football head coach Mark Richt, who will serve as an analyst on ACC Network. “I was able to coach for 12 seasons in the ACC, and so, I’m very excited about the opportunity to join ACC Network as a football analyst,” Richt said in the announcement. “I’m not only looking forward to helping tell the story of one of the greatest football conferences in America, but also staying close to the game that I love so much.”
 
A hearty congrats to Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm, who are among the winners of the 2019 Gracie Awards for their work covering Thursday Night Football games for Amazon Prime Video, making history as the first all-female broadcast duo to call an NFL game.They will be honored at the 44th annual Gracie Awards on May 21 in LA.
 
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Here’s to Top Women in Media.
May we know them.
May we be them.
May we NOMINATE them.
 
You don’t have to be a woman to recognize the
extraordinary women moving the industry forward.
 
Nominations for the Cynopsis Top Women in Media Awards are due April 23.
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The NFL lined up its plans for fan-focused and service driven events surrounding the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville from April 25-27 this week. Throughout the week, representatives will participate in events designed to give back to the community including the Huddle Against Hunger. Meanwhile, fans may take part in free activities throughout Draft week at NFL Draft Experience Presented By Oikos Triple Zero, the largest NFL Draft festival footprint to date, and in recognition of Music City, will be the first to integrate a free live music concert series, featuring 20 Nashville-based artists of multiple genres. Activations include:
  • Autograph Stage with current NFL players and NFL Legends
  • Interactive games, Play Football clinics, and PLAY 60 Zone presented by Danimals®
    for the smallest NFL fans
  • Photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy
  • NFL Shop presented by Visa at Draft with exclusive NFL merchandise
  • Taste of Tailgate with Nashville restaurants and Bud Light Bars
  • NFL Draft Experience Stage featuring 14 Nashville-based artists of all genres
  • Look Like a Pro: Step inside a replica NFL Draft Main Stage bearing a draft day jersey of your favorite NFL team and have your photo taken. Share your photos through your favorite social channel and Fan Mobile Pass.
  • PEPSI NFL Helmet Photo Opportunity: Find your favorite NFL team oversized helmet and have your photo taken. Share your photos through your favorite social channel and Fan Mobile Pass.
  • Combine Corner
Speaking of the NFL Draft, Lowe’s, already the Official Home Improvement Retail Sponsor of the NFL, will activate at this year’s event, supplying materials and building the stage for the event, along with television advertising and local engagement programs in Nashville. The NFL Draft Stage Buildout sees Lowe’s supply materials to the NFL for construction of the NFL Draft Stage as well as helping with the build. Meanwhile, Lowe’s is bringing its #ProReady value proposition and message to life though a television commercial, online ads as well as OOH billboards in Nashville and NYC’s Times Square. In its first NFL-themed spot, Lowe’s “highlights some of the efforts it’s taken to step up its game so Pros can get more done right – from hiring new Pro managers, to dedicated Pro parking and Pro loaders on hand at their stores around the country.”
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Golf.com reports that the site hit record traffic a week ago as Tiger Woods became the 2019 Masters champions. According to the site, visits grew 36% while monthly users rose 13% during the first quarter of 2019 versus 2018 with numbers quadrupling from the first day of the event and more than doubled from the final day of the 2018 Masters.
 
National Pro Fastpitch and ZebraWeb.org announced an official partnership that will see ZebraWeb.org serve as the digital platform for all NPF umpires. ZebraWeb.org will be the online hub for all NPF umpires’ communications, training, scheduling, and payments throughout the season. In addition, the platform includes expanded features for umpire education such as its Game Film Exchange service.
 
 
ESPORTS

Super League Gaming and Red Bull unveiled plans for the second annual Red Bull Super League All Stars League of Legends Tournament taking place on Saturday at the Red Bull Esports Studio in Santa Monica. Competing for the All Stars title this year will be the 2018 champions Seattle Siege, as well as the Chicago Force, the Miami Menace, and the Atlanta Bashers. “Our partnership with Red Bull makes it possible to give Super League’s most talented LoL players a true, pro-like experience that just isn’t otherwise available, even for top amateur players,” said Matt Edelman, Chief Commercial Officer of Super League Gaming. “At Super League, we are as passionate about providing players with unique opportunities to enjoy their esport of choice as they are about competing.”

Fighting game staple CEO Dreamland announced plans for 2020, revealing a run from March 13-15 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort next year. CEO 2019 will run at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort in Florida from June 28-30.
 
 
INDUSTRY/ROSTER MOVES

Premier Lacrosse League named Divya Goel as Head of Marketing where she will mold the company’s marketing infrastructure and build PLL fan affinity. Goel comes to PLL after spending five years at the NFL, where she was most recently Director of Media Marketing.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Rockets/Jazz on TNT at 10:30p.
 
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Awareness Campaign/Initiative: Sustainability/Environment Campaign
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ON THIS DAY in 1995: Ki-Jana Carter is the first pick in the NFL Draft, selected by the Cincinnati Bengals.
 
In the Know: From which school was Ki-Jana Carter drafted? (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 Faber College Mongols was the name of the team from which classic comedy film? Answer: Animal House. Kudos: Tom Buffolano-LTN Global/NY; Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Chris Long-DraftKings/NY; Michael Kingsley-Forefront Communications/NY; Jon Miller-NBC Sports/Stamford; David Haney-Bosack & Co./Pottsville; John Hayden-WSVN/Miami; Roger Furman-Lange Marketing/Greentown; Tim McGhee-MSP Sports/Summit; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; Jack Hodgson-Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas; Kyle Krebs-KXAS/KXTX/Dallas-Ft. Worth; Rich Wolfe-RichCraft/Scottsdale; Tony Reyes-ShadowMachine/Holllywood; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo;  Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; Brian McAloon-Fox Sports/LA
 
Later — Chris

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