04/16/18: The NBA Playoffs opened with five-year highs

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Monday April 16, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

 
The NBA Playoffs opened with an extension of the league’s hot viewership run this season, opening Saturday on ESPN and ABC with coverage up 17%, to rank as the highest-rated opening Saturday in five years, according to metered market ratings from Nielsen. The four-game slate averaged a 2.7 metered market rating with all four telecasts up year over year from their corresponding windows. Leading the pack with ABC’s coverage of the Warriors over the Spurs, with a 3.3 score and up 14%. Meanwhile, the 76ers victory over the Heat drew a 2.9 metered market rating, up 26%.
 
Overall, ESPN’s NBA viewership for the 2017-18 NBA regular season was up across platforms, with an average of 1,628,000 viewers across 87 game telecast this season, up 4%. Across all telecast, the NBA this year had its most-watched regular season in the US since 2013-14 with combined viewership across the league’s four national television networks finishing up 8% compared to last season.
 
 
ON THE AIR

Meanwhile, the Stanley Cup Playoffs also opened hot, as NBC Sports reports an uptick of 2% over last year through the first four days of the NHL postseason. The action opened on the right foot, as Wednesday’s Flyers/Penguins Game 1 drew a 0.38 rating and 632,000 viewers on NBCSN, for a markup of 41% in ratings and 42% in viewership from last year while the later game between the Kings and Gold Knights notched a 0.33 (+10%) and 521,000 (+4%).
 
Continuing viewership theme, beIN SPORTS en Espanol’s La Liga Santander match between Real Madrid/Atletico de Madrid on April 8 drew 355,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 219,000 Adults 18-49 (based on Hispanic Sample) and finished as the most-watched program among Spanish-Language sports cable networks for the entire day.
 
Comcast and BTN are at odds after Comcast announced plans to drop the channel from the conference’s out-of-market states, while keeping it in states/markets where Big Ten schools are located, including Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The channel released a statement to the press noting,” Like legions of Big Ten fans across the country, we were disappointed to learn that Comcast Corporation unilaterally decided to drop the Big Ten Network from Xfinity in many regions outside the home markets of the Big Ten universities. The outpouring of concern and outrage from fans nationwide speaks for itself – BTN is a valuable part of Comcast’s sports lineup, and we share their frustration at Comcast’s decision to deprive them of hundreds of exclusive games and programming featuring some of the most iconic universities in the country.”
 
FOX Sports serves up Cape Cod: A Journey to the Bigs tomorrow on FS1 at 11p, following the network’s coverage of the Indians/Twins at 7p and MLB Whiparound at 10p. The doc  tells the story of aspiring college and amateur baseball players as they commit on and off the field, following Griffin Conine (Duke), Tristan Pompey (Kentucky) and Chandler Day (Vanderbilt) who all played in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer with varying degrees of success.
 
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The best and brightest in sports media were at the New York Athletic Club on Central Park South this morning to celebrate the winners and honorable mentions at the sold out 7th annual Sports Media Awards Breakfast. The event attracted a record-setting crowd of sports community elite who cheered each other on as they were lauded in a lively two-hour ceremony.
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Yesterday saw Hulu tip off a run as a promotional partner for NBA playoff games on TNT, with the company showcased during TNT’s coverage of the first round, Conference Semifinals and Western Conference Finals. The streaming service also will run ads, including those featuring NBA on TNT’s talent, touting Hulu with Live TV with fans seeing a number of spots — including custom branded content featuring NBA on TNT’s talent — highlighting Hulu’s depth and breadth of its live TV service. Additionally, a “Presented by Hulu” tag will appear on NBA on TNT’s opening graphic cards, as well as custom billboards and scoreboards throughout each game during all three playoff rounds.
 
The Gator Bowl is back. The Gator Bowl Sports Board of Trustees announced that the annual Jacksonville college football bowl game will reinstitute “Gator” into its name, and will now change from the Taxslayer Bowl to the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. TaxSlayer bought the exclusive naming rights to the event in 2014, and remains the title sponsor. “The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl has a rich tradition and legacy in college football and we at TaxSlayer are extremely proud to be a part of such a dedicated and professional Bowl family. We look forward to continuing to build on the Bowl’s historic foundation,” said TaxSlayer President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Rhodes.
 
Kraft Heinz announced that Clinton Arena in Clinton, N.Y. is the winner of this year’s Kraft Hockeyville USA 2018. The contest, now in its fourth year and in partnership with the NHL and NHLPA, will award Clinton Arena an opportunity to host an NHL Pre-Season Game and $150,000 in rink upgrades.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

NBC Sports Digital’s Playmaker Media was selected by Formula 1 to power its new F1 TV, F1’s OTT subscription video platform. “Playmaker Media takes great pride in delivering the world’s biggest sporting events to large-scale audiences, and every F1 race is a global event,” said Eric Black, Senior Vice President & Chief Technical Officer, Playmaker Media.
 
Across NBC Sports Group’s streaming platforms, the three games on Opening Night of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs delivered 164,000 unique visitors and 10.4 million live minutes, up 34% and 22%, respectively, from last year’s Opening Night.
 
The Fan Controlled Football League, the new professional football league that enables fans to call the plays in real-time, announced a multi-year exclusive broadcast deal with Twitch for the 2019 & 2020 season that will see all FCFL games live-streamed on the platform. The FCFL has also teamed up with IMG Original Content who will be supporting the league with their expertise in sports and entertainment.
 
 
ESPORTS

The esports clubs at all eight Ivy League Universities launched the first-ever Ivy Esports Conference (IEC), a new intercollegiate platform to promote competition, learning and fairness in esports at the schools with a commissionership that included William Collis (Founder, Genji Esports) and Kevin Mitchell (Professor of Esports, Emerson College) to secure growth partnerships for the IEC. The IEC will kick-off with the first ever tournament for Ivy League esports clubs in October of this year. The IEC will then oversee competitive leagues every semester for titles that include League of Legends, Hearthstone and Overwatch.
 
Set to launch on April 21, the H1Z1 Pro League unveiled its casters for its inaugural season. Jason “SUP3RSoN1k” Burns and Rich W. Campbell will serve as the voices for the league.
 
Gillette is launching a special promotion on Twitch with players from top North America esports squad Team SoloMid. The “first-of-its-kind” promotion will see fans nationwide receive a crate that includes 250 Twitch Bits with the purchase of select Gillette products. The Bits can then be used directly on Twitch to encourage, support, and “Cheer” on their favorite streamers.The promotion will appear in the form of a custom commerce box that will include a hyperlink to Gillette’s promotional products and appear during TSM Twitch livestreams, including special Gillette-sponsored “The Best A Fan Can Get” broadcasts.
 
Gfinity is launching the Gfinity FIFA 18 US Spring Cup. The tournament will serve as an official qualifier within the FIFA 18 Global Series with places in the Global Series Playoffs on offer to the winner of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 tournaments. “We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with EA SPORTS for our maiden event in the United States,” said Neville Upton, CEO of Gfinity. “The US has massively embraced both football and FIFA over the past few years and we hope to see the winners of the Gfinity Spring Cup go all the way at the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018.”

Counter Logic Gaming signed Kia Motors as the official automotive partner of its Rocket League team. Kia will serve as the presenting partner of a special episode of the team’s ‘ROADS’ series, in addition to presenting a digital series titled 20 Questions w/ CLG Rocket League.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

The 122nd running of The Boston Marathon at 8:30a on NBCSN.
 
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Celebrating Media’s Civic-Minded Professionals…
The Cynopsis Social Good Awards
May 22nd | 8:30am – 10:30am |The Yale Club | New York City
We will be honoring everything from sustainability partnerships and PSA’s, to diversity campaigns, environmental initiatives, and more. Be in the room as finalists are celebrated and winners announced! Register your team today .
 

ON THIS DAY in 1929: The New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians introduce numbers on the back of their jerseys.
 
In the Know: What is the name of the famous incline located at mile 20 of the Boston Marathon? (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 Chicago Enforcers played in which league? Answer: The XFL. Kudos: Keith Marder-Halstead Real Estate/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Ralph Sorrentino/NY; Ken White-KWTV/Charlotte; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/NY; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Jaymz Wooden-Bottelsen American Dart Lines/Santa Maria

Later – Chris
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