04/22/16: NBA makes a play for Africa; MLB’s priceless partnership; ELeague get a roster


Good morning. It’s Friday April 22, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Let’s open with international news. The NBA and Econet struck a multiyear partnership to provide the most expansive NBA coverage ever across sub-Saharan Africa, marking the largest ever for the league on the continent. The deal includes NBA content across Econet Media’s TV, Internet and mobile assets, including the Kwese viewing platforms and its sports offering, Kwese Sports, beginning within the 2016-17 NBA season. Over 500 games will be offered from the regular and postseasons with Econet Media distributing NBA content in English-, French- and Portuguese-speaking countries.


Thanks to everyone who entered, attended, judged and presented at yesterday’s Cynopsis Sports Awards. Congratulations to our luminaries: FOX Sports President, COO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, MLB Network President Rob McGlarry and Hyundai VP of Corporate & Product Planning Mike O’Brien. Congratulations as well to all the winners, which you can check out here.

Speaking of MLS, the league added East Asia to its portfolio, expanding its partnership with China’s Le Sports from live streams across digital platforms to include televised live games in mainland China. In addition, MLS locked in a new partnership with Japan’s Fuji TV to carry regular season matches. “As we continue to expand the league’s global reach, China is a priority market for our growth. This expanded partnership with Le Sport provides our growing fan base with an additional opportunity to consume MLS. Le Sport’s commitment to increase MLS’s footprint across their extensive media platforms is a terrific example of our partnership with one of China’s leading media companies,” said Gary Stevenson, President & Managing Director of MLS Business Ventures in a statement. “We are very focused on broadening our reach in the Asian market, and the Le Sport and Fuji deals announced today are a big part of that growth.”

ESPN’s offers the upcoming NFL Draft, which starts April 28 at 8p, with limited commercial interruption and lined up a one-hour SportsCenter Special: Draft Countdown at 7p before Round 1. Production highlights are slated to include 400 player highlight packages,  50 player personality bumps,  25 specialty technical breakdowns, 27 cameras, including two RF handheld cameras, two RF steadicams, and five jib cameras and  20 player live shots. Meanwhile, Mike & Mike and First Take will air live from Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch and the Chicago Sports Museum at Water Tower Place on Thursday and Friday next week. .

Around the dial, NFL Media dishes up 71 live hours of coverage of the NFL Draft beginning April 24, and will feature a record 19 draft war room cameras for the event. Throughout the week, programming highlights on NFL Network include daily editions of NFL HQ at 8a;Path to the Draft Presented by Hyundai shows from Monday-Wed. at 6p and at 10a on Thursday and Friday; as well as two-hour editions of NFL Total Access: NFL Draft Preview on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 4p. Stanford head coach David Shaw joins NFL Network’s coverage of the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft Thursday at 8p while Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer joins NFL Network’s coverage of Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday at 7p., with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly aboard NFL Network’s NFL Draft Kickoff show on Friday at 1p. All of NFL Network’s 2016 NFL Draft coverage will be available digitally across platforms, allowing fans to watch the entirety of every pick, from every round live from Chicago on their devices.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated that he will be forced to pull the plug on North Carolina hosting the 2017 NBA All-Star game if recent laws affecting the LGBT community are not changed. However, the Washington Post reports that a timeline for the decision had not been made.

Spartan Race is launching the Spartan Pro initiative, which will feature a group of its top 10 men and 10 women athletes that will represent the brand throughout the season and in the 5 U.S. Championship Series races and 2016 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship, carried by NBC Sports and NBC respectively. The launch of the Pro Team is designed to “elevate the sport of obstacle racing” and is designed to make the sport a desirable profession for top-tier athletes, a compelling sport for participants and spectators, and an attractive platform for corporate partners.
On the local front, the Diamondbacks matchup with the Giants was a hit for FOX Sports Arizona, which landed a 5.4 rating for the game in Phoenix and ranks as the top-rated program in Phoenix for the day and the highest rated D-backs telecast of the season on the channel.



Entries are open for the 2016 Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards. With new categories to choose from such as:

Best Guest Appearance on a Kids Show
Best Kids Sports-Related Series or Special
Best Kids Tech Activation
Best Use of Music in a K6-11, Preschool or Tween Show
and more!
What are you waiting for? Enter by 5/18.


MasterCard and Major League Baseball are renewing vows, locking in an extension of their long-running partnership agreement that expands MasterCard’s role and makes the brand the presenting sponsor of the 2016 All-Star Game. Other elements include increased opportunity to deliver advanced payment technologies to baseball fans, All-Star Week on-field Priceless experiences and events, expanded on-site brand presence at point-of-sale at key All-Star event, cardholder benefits leading up to MLB All-Star Week and more.

The Michigan State Athletics Department and FOX Sports entered a new long-term multimedia rights partnership effective for the 2016-17 academic year that will see MSU grant FOX Sports marketing and corporate partnership rights associated with its 25 varsity sports programs. Rights will be managed by FOX Sports College Properties, a division of FOX-owned Home Team Sports, and will include in-venue signage, print, radio, television programming, corporate hospitality, digital and social media integration, promotional and experiential activities, and intellectual property rights and official designations with the 15-year agreement guaranteed revenues in excess of $150 million.

Brad Olecki, former CRO of the College Football Hall of Fame, announced plans to launch Trenches Sports and Entertainment, specializing in strategic planning and implementation of revenue streams including corporate sponsorship, content development, philanthropic donations, group sales and special events sales as well as execution.


Sports Illustrated Group will premiere The SI 2016 NFL Draft Video Preview Special starring The Experts Network’s Cris Collinsworth, Boomer Esiason, Howie Long and Phil Simms on April 26 at 1:30p, offering predictions, position rankings and sleeper picks. The special will be taped in front of a studio audience at Time Inc.’s new headquarters in lower Manhattan and allow football fans from around the world to participate in a special Q&A via SI’s Facebook Live feed.“Sports Illustrated is proud to partner with some of the most trusted figures in sports broadcasting for a one-of-a-kind look inside this year’s highly anticipated NFL draft,” said SI Group Editor Paul Fichtenbaum. “We’re excited to add these experts to SI’s football coverage and to invite our global audience to join the conversation with the pros.”

Speaking of SI, USA Field Hockey tapped Sports Illustrated Play to serve as the Official Technology Partner of USA Field Hockey Clubs. The partnership allows USA Field Hockey club administrators and the junior field hockey community to take advantage of SI Play’s cutting-edge technology platform with tools that include streamlined player sign-up, roster management, scheduling and a team-focused web and mobile app for team managers, parents and players.

UFC Fight Pass entered a multi-year agreement with SHOOTO Japan to join the promotion’s live-event and on-demand catalogue. SHOOTO Japan will stream its first live event on the platform on April 23 at 2a. “We’re excited to announce our deal with the historic SHOOTO Japan organization,” said Eric Winter, UFC Senior Vice-President and UFC FIGHT PASS General Manager. “SHOOTO Japan also joins sister promotion SHOOTO Brazil in our ever-expanding library. Featuring exclusive UFC cards and live events from some of the biggest combat sports promotions around the world, UFC FIGHT PASS represents unbeatable value for fight fans.”

The Global Poker League locked in a long-term strategic partnership with Sina Sports in a move that makes China’s leading digital sports media platform the Official Digital Media Partner of the GPL with Sina Sports adding a poker channel to its lineup. “The League’s first Asia-based franchise is the Hong Kong Stars, who have loaded their roster with some of the best poker players from China," said GPL President Alex Dreyfus. "This is exciting for us because we want locally relevant standouts of the game involved alongside poker’s global stars  it helps expose this sport to new audiences, such as those in China, that may be less familiar with the poker world."


Turner and WME/IMG announced the complete slate of teams that will go head-to-head in the inaugural season of ELeague, which debuts May 24. Overall, 24 teams will take part in the debut season, playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Among the squads set to participate will be Fnatic, winners of ESL Cologne and ESL Katowice 2015; Luminosity Gaming, winners of MLG Columbus 2016; Natus Vincere (Na’Vi), winners of DreamHack Leipzig; and Virtus.Pro, winners of the ESL ESEA Pro League Invitational. “Our goal with ELEAGUE has always been to involve the best teams in the world and today we are proud to unveil a fantastic roster of franchises,” said Min-Sik Ko, Commissioner of ELEAGUE. “We are eagerly anticipating the debut of ELEAGUE next month and look forward to showcasing 24 of the best CS:GO teams to a rapidly growing eSports audience.”

eSports streaming platform DINGIT.TV is bringing back Operation Kinguin for another season. Season 3 of the CS:GO League will launch on April 27 with 32 teams facing each other across 40 broadcasts and 75 games. “We’re really pleased with how Operation Kinguin has performed,” said Adam Simmons, Director of Content for DingIt, “We’ve had some great teams competing in fantastic matches, and we’re very happy about renewing the league and working with Kinguin for another season.”


Flyers/Capitals on NBCSN at 7p.




ON THIS DAY in 1915: NY Yankees don pinstripes & hat-in-the-ring logo for 1st time.

In The Know: Which MLB player has the most career HRs for the Diamondbacks? (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: What was the original name of Boston Garden when it opened in 1928? Answer: Boston Madison Square Garden. Kudos: Elon Dershowitz-Presto Productions/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Gary Wohlstetter-UMBC Recreation/Baltimore; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Christine Ferrara-WBZ-TV/WSBK-TV/Boston; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Carl Hansen-Fox Sports/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Greg Dudsic/Venice; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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