04/20/16: Copa America Centenario adds a trio to its roster; FOX emerges as first Big Ten player; PwC breaks down eSports


Good morning. It’s Wednesday April 20, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The Copa America Centenario picked up a trio of new partners, locking in deals with Makita, Samsung Electronics America and Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer for the upcoming tournament, which honors 100 years of the event. The three brands now join Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Nike, Sprint and State Farm as tournament partners, and will receive rights to use the tournaments’ intellectual property for advertising and marketing materials, as well as packaging, consumer promotions and signage at tournament games. Partners will also be included and visible in all media areas in the 10 tournament markets. The tournament opens on Friday, June 3.

"Football is the fastest growing sport in America, and the most popular sport in the world," said Jean-Claude Biver, TAG Heuer CEO and President of the LVMH Watch Division. "Football is like a language between people. With football, we communicate passion, success, team spirit, organization, strategy and finally victory, values that are also carried by our brand and more importantly by the people who buy and wear our watches. I am very proud to be part of such an exciting competition, spreading TAG Heuer’s core spirit of #DontCrackUnderPressure to more young audiences."


FOX Sports is reportedly about to land a new rights deal with the Big Ten that will award the company with half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to SBJ’s John Ourand. Although deal points are still being worked out, the package is expected to hand Fox with rights to “around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast channel and FS1 starting in the fall of ’17” over the course of six years for $250 million/year. 

Michele Tafoya has a new assignment. NBC announced that the Sunday Night Football sideline reporter will spend her summer joining Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines to call swimming for NBC Olympics in Rio. This will mark her fourth Olympics, although it will be Tafoya’s first at the swimming competition. The Olympics begin on Aug. 5.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell signed on to remain with the company, agreeing to a new multi-year extension to remain that will see Barnwell continue to write his NFL column for ESPN.com. On Monday, he launched a new flagship ESPN Audio podcast, The Bill Barnwell Show and will also contribute to ESPN Radio and television and have the opportunity to expand into other sports.

Meanwhile, SI reports that ESPN will no longer feature national college football reporter Joe Schad as part of its coverage this fall.

NBA TV got a boost from Monday night’s Raptors/Pacers telecast. The postseason matchup grew 150% over its comparable game in 2015, based on Nielsen overnight ratings to a 0.5 score.

beIN SPORTS saw double-digit percentage distribution increases for both of its channels year-over-year for the first quarter of 2016. The platform is now being carried in 42.2 million homes between the two networks to mark a 38.4% increase in households. beIN SPORTS en Espanol ranked as the most-viewed sports network on weekend daytime in Q1, delivering an average of 162,000 Total Viewers.

Golf Channel is pairing with the PGA of America for the inaugural “National Instruction Day,” on May 4, lining up a dedicated day of live programming devoted to helping golfers improve their game and featuring live clinics on Golf Channel, originating from golf courses around the United States, and spanning across four time zones, beginning at 10a. Each of the participating six golf course locations feature a lead PGA Professional, along with two guest instructors working in collaboration on a live, one-hour clinic from their respective location. Participating PGA Professionals include: Michael Breed, Martin Hall, Hank Haney, Craig Harmon, David Leadbetter, Cameron McCormick, Jim McLean, Stan Utley, along with several others, including PGA President Sprague and PGA Secretary Suzy Whaley.

On the distribution front, CenturyLink picked up some additional sports channels, adding ONE World Sports and Fantasy Sports Network to its roster as part of its Prism packages. “CenturyLink provides a great opportunity for more viewers, across multiple states, to sample all of the exciting, live sports content that can only be found on ONE World Sports,” said Randy Brown, ONE World Sports Executive Vice President, Distribution. “ Prism TV customers with the new Prism Sports Plus package will be exposed to top talent from around the globe in soccer, cricket, basketball, hockey, rugby and so much more.”

We warned ya! The Cynopsis Sports Awards are sold out for tomorrow’ event at the New York Athletic Club. Click here for times and details and we will see you tomorrow!

New FIFA president Gianni Infantino stated that video replays could be used at the 2018 World Cup, according to the AP. The International Football Association Board, which sets soccer’s rules, approved trials of video assistance last month with Infantino noting that the technology could be leveraged as soon as the tests were wrapped up. "We will know in time and I hope that Russia 2018 will be the first World Cup where the referees will be a helped a little bit by video technology," he stated.

Last night’s closing commentary on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel saw the HBO star put out a call to action for the sports community to tackle the controversial HB2 bill in North Carolina, stating that the NBA, NFL and NCAA should all pull the plug on upcoming events scheduled in the state. “What does that have to do with sports? Not much. Only that many of our top sports officials have so far turned a blind eye when taking action could mean a lot,” he said. “I’m speaking of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who can move to take next year’s NBA All-Star Game away from Charlotte. I’m speaking of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who can urge owners to change the site of their meetings in Carolina next month. And I’m speaking of NCAA President Roger Emmert who can change the site of basketball tournament games scheduled for there next year.”


View the impressive list of finalists that will be honored
TOMORROW at the New York Athletic Club!

LEGACY AWARD — Eric Shanks, President, COO & EP – Fox Sports
VISION AWARD — Don Garber, Commissioner – MLS
NAVIGATOR AWARD — Rob McGlarry, President – MLB Network
GEM AWARD — Mike O’Brien, VP, Corp. & Prod. Planning  Hyundai
************ SOLD OUT *************


Bridgestone Americas is bringing together six U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to represent the brand as members of “Team Bridgestone” for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Making the cut will be: Meb Keflezighi (track & field, marathon), Cullen Jones (swimming), Aly Raisman (gymnastics), Kelley O’Hara (soccer), Khatuna Lorig (archery), and Will Groulx (para-cycling). Team Bridgestone athletes will participate in both employee and consumer-facing communications and marketing efforts leading up to and during the Games. “Athletes are the driving force of the Olympic Games and represent the heart of the Olympic Movement,” said Gary Garfield, CEO and President, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “They are also Bridgestone customers who drive to and from their daily training sessions and, like Bridgestone tires, are built to perform  no matter the weather conditions or the distance.”

The NBA Playoffs are looking for more winners, as partnered brands are launching a slew of new contests around this year’s event. PepsiCo (Ruffles and Mountain Dew) is giving fans the chance to win tickets and NBA merchandise during a new postseason sweepstakes getintheplayoffs.com. Dr. Scholl’s is launching a “Make Your Move to The Finals” sweepstakes allowing fans to select their favorite ‘move’ from a number of historical postseason highlight clips with a trip to the 2016 NBA Finals on the line (nba.com/makeyourmove). H&R Block is rewarding the winner of its recent H&R Block Clutch Contest with a trip to an upcoming Finals game. Tissot is hosts a sweepstakes offering a trip to the 2016 NBA Finals (tissotshop.com). Finally, Autotrader is extending its Perfect Match game through Playoffs, encouraging fans to compete for $25,000 toward a new car listed on Autotrader.com.
Speedo unveiled the first phase of a new total body aquatic training program dubbed Speedo FIT. The initiative was created in partnership with EXOS and designed “to inspire and equip athletes at all levels to explore the unique science and power of training in the water.” The program uses a science-based approach to identify the key benefits of water to design specific water training techniques and workouts are complement by land-based routines and allow for customization based on fitness goals including Power, Endurance and Recovery. The brand is lining up a 360 advertising and marketing campaign, including a 60-second TV commercial to motivate consumers to #GetSpeedoFit. Featuring five of Team Speedo’s elite Olympic athletes  Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin, Nathan Adrian and Cullen Jones staring this month.

Penn Mutual is partnering with Rhino Rugby underwrite 50% of the costs of men’s and women’s collegiate rugby teams around the country in exchange for featuring the Penn Mutual name and logo on the team jersey. "The spirit of teamwork, camaraderie and the discipline in the sport of rugby resonates with all of us at Penn Mutual," said Jeffrey Fleischman, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer of Penn Mutual.  "As Penn Mutual continues to grow our role in support of rugby throughout the United States, especially at the collegiate level, we believe that our new partnership with Rhino Rugby will enable many more men’s and women’s college rugby programs to improve their programs with the highest-quality uniform and ‘kit" available in the country, and give those programs the cost-savings they need to support their growing programs."


Software analytics brand New Relic will work with MLB to launch a new national brand partnership that highlights the role of data and analytics in improving performance both in sports and in business. The partnership launches immediately across MLB’s digital properties with content that includes a weekly MLB Now segment, “Digging into the Data,” on MLB Network, as well as an original multi-episode MLB.com series which will showcase the latest in baseball technology, putting a spotlight on the role data and analytics play.

NBC Olympics selected SMT to provide real-time data presentation services, results and timing interfaces for its production of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. Partnership points include the SMT team being charged with live, real-time data collection, data delivery and seamless data and graphics integration with all NBC Olympics’ graphics display systems for their presentation of golf, beach volleyball, diving, artistic gymnastics, swimming, and track & field events.

fuboTV announced that it passed the 50,000 subscriber mark this month. The news comes after a first quarter during which fuboTV gained 15,205 subscribers (+47% ). Year-over-year, fuboTV  which launched in January 2015  has increased its subscribers by 12-times (+1167 percent), with subscribers up 43,651 as of March 31, 2016, compared to March 31, 2015.


PwC dug into the eSports space in a move to better understand the eSports consumer in the competitive gaming industry, The company released a survey, “The Burgeoning Evolution of eSports,” and found that, among other things, the eSports consumer is young, racially diverse, tech-savvy and often female. According to PwC, 22% of women say they’re involved with eSports versus 18% of men. For viewing versus playing, men are playing slightly more than women, and men appear to watch from a competitive lens, while women appear to watch for enjoyment and for the social aspect of the viewing experience. In addition, among the gamers, nearly half (42%) are playing at least once per month, spending 17.5 days per year participating in eSports events and 19 days watching them. PwC’s survey found that one in five watch weekly, with the general eSports consumer averaging 19 days of viewing per year. Asian (27 days) and Hispanic (23 days) viewers tend to watch more frequently, with self-identified hardcore gamers watching the most at an average of 32 days a year.

A duo of League of Legends professionals launched a pro bono player hub “geared to help eSports players connect with free professional services,” according to ESPN. Former League pro and eSports ambassador Stephen "Snoopeh" Ellis and esports lawyer Bryce Blum, founding partner of IME Law, are now launching the Player Resource Center in a move to connect current eSports players with professionals who are able to help with career hurdles, including accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, sports psychologists, branding and PR experts,

NRG eSports tapped Andrew Pruett to serve as its CEO, according to multiple reports. Pruett was previously at Apple. "I am honored to join and work alongside the best in class business leadership–spanning traditional sports, marketing, media, technology, entrepreneurship and esports athletes," Pruett told ESPN about his new position. "It’s beyond exciting to be at the forefront of this phenomenal tidal wave of a new generation of sports enthusiasts! There’s a lot to do and I’m ready to hit the ground running to build a leading brand and winning culture at NRG."

2K will host 16 teams in a head-to-head, cross-console single elimination tournament as part of its partnership with the NBA for the NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals on May 21. Two finalist teams will then face off for a $250,000 purse before The NBA Finals.


Former Universal Sports exec Catherine Philbin is joining the IOC’s new Olympic Channel where she will serve as Manager of Communications in Madrid. Philbin will report to channel GM Mark Parkman as the platform prepares for a global launch.


Pistons/Cavaliers on TNT at 8p.


What Programmers & Marketers Need to Know About Snapchat

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ON THIS DAY in 1986: Michael Jordan set an NBA Playoff record with 63 points.

In The Know: What was the name of Dolph Lundgren’s character in Rocky IV? (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: Who is credited for first breaking the four-minute mile? Answer: Roger Bannister. Kudos: Jay Goldstein-AdMore/NY; Brad Stern-POM Technologies/NY; Daniel Lowenthal-Mindshare/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports/NY; Willy Gibson-WTG Consulting/Columbus; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Mike Antolini-Tiger Woods Foundation/Boston; Peter Lasser-Lasser Productions/Atlanta; Les Stipp-GSD&M/Chicago; Carly Dasso-Saatchi & Saatchi/Oakbrook Terrace; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Kristin Staskowski-Spectrum Reach/Birmingham; Scott Sarra-NBC Sports Group/Denver; Harry S. Vested Jr-GSN Group/Denver; David Hauptman/Denver; Jack Neuman-University of Calgary/Calgary; Mark Wolfson-PAC-12 Networks/San Francisco; Jeff Mirkin-Heartland Poker Tour/Santa Monica; Steve Hirsen-Producer-Director/Sherman Oaks; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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