05/14/19: Golf Digest is being sold to Discovery

Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 14, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Discovery continues to shore up its golf portfolio, this time announcing the acquisition of Golf Digest from Conde Nast. The deal, which the New York Times says was valued at $35 million, will now see Discovery weave Golf Digest’s business into its GolfTV streaming-video division with Discovery stating that they will retain Golf Digest’s editorial team, led by editor-in-chief Jerry Tarde, who also will become global head of strategy and content for Discovery Golf. In addition, Discovery noted that it will be looking to boost Golf Digest’s brand outside of the US in order to boost digital ad revenues. David Zaslav, Discovery’s president/CEO, noted that Golf Digest is “a natural strategic fit with Discovery’s goal to be the leading golf media platform in the world.”

FOX showcased its new primetime lineup, anchored by sports properties that will include Thursday Night Football, college football, MLB Sunday NFL actio n and the debut of WWE Smackdown, which is cemented into the Friday lineup from 8-10p as well as Saturday XFL games in primetime in 2020. “We want to be the creative partner that you think of first. And we love to engage early, especially in a Super Bowl year,” said Eric Shanks, CEO and Executive Producer of FOX Sports.
NBC Sports brought out Mike Tirico to talk to advertisers about their Olympic programming, which will feature around 7,000 hours of Olympic programming across “17 days, reaching 205 million people.” The network then brought out 13 female Olympians, including Lindsey Vonn, Allyson Felix and Kerri Strug.
Tennis Channel revealed its plans for the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis National Championships, with the network serving up more than 50 hours of live tennis from the USTA National Campus in Orlando from May 16 -25. Tennis Channel will feature veteran broadcaster Sam Gore as the play-by-play announcer with Katrina Adams as analyst. “It’s great for these talented players to compete for college tennis’ highest honor on national television on Tennis Channel,” said Adams. “As a facility focused on nurturing tennis talent of all levels and ages and its dedicated collegiate tennis center, the USTA National Campus is the perfect venue for the NCAA Championships.”
The Orange Bowl will remain in its primetime slot after all, with the Orange Bowl Committee set to be played at Hard Rock Stadium will be played on Dec. 30 at 8p after originally being scheduled to be played on Jan 1 in the ealy afternoon. No other bowl game is scheduled to be played during the Dec. 30 primetime window.
TNT tips off the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Finals presented by Google Pixel with the Bucks and Raptors beginning tomorrow at 8:30p. Play-by-play announcer Marv Albert will call the series, joined by analysts Chris Webber and Reggie Miller with reporter Kristen Ledlow. TNT’s Inside the NBA presented by Kia studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal will provide on-site pregame, halftime and postgame coverage throughout the Eastern Conference Finals.
Meanwhile, Turner Sports also detailed coverage plans for this week’s PGA Championship – running May 16-19 with coverage starting at 1p. Thursday’s opening round coverage will include the pairing of past PGA Championship winners Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day at 1:38p. Earlier in the afternoon, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm will tee off at 1:16p. Overall, Turner Sports will present more than 100 hours of live action across TNT, the PGA Championship suite of digital products and B/R Live.
In ratings news, the 2019 NBA Conference Semifinals handed ESPN and ABC their highest-rated NBA Playoffs second round since 2012, according to Nielsen. Metered market ratings for ESPN and ABC’s game coverage were up 20% over 2018 and averaged a 4.2 metered market rating across 11 game telecasts. Sunday’s Game 7 between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets generated a 4.8 metered market rating on ABC, up nine percent from the last time ABC aired an NBA Conference Semifinals broadcast in 2016. ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Finals tips off at 9p when the Golden State Warriors host the Portland Trail Blazers.
Meanwhile, with more numbers in the books, Saturday afternoon’s INDYCAR Grand Prix from Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the first-ever NTT IndyCar Series race to air on the NBC broadcast network – averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.072 million viewers, making it the most-watched INDYCAR Grand Prix in five years, and up 37% vs. last year’s race on ABC, according to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics.
Darren Woodson’s run at ESPN is over with the network announcing that he would be exiting the network to focus on other business interests. He had spent 14 years at the channel.
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SESSION SPOTLIGHT > Leveraging the Branded Revolution
We’ll explore how to produce content that connects with viewers, while staying true to the brand with Jennifer Cohen, SVP of Entertainment Content Partnerships for WarnerMedia; Yosef Johnson, SVP and Head of Brandshop for Group Nine Media; Cheryl Maher, President of Consumer Division in Atlanta for Scout.


Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and the NHL announced a multiyear partnership, naming MassMutual the Official Life Insurance and Retirement Planning Partner of the NHL. To launch the partnership, the NHL and MassMutual unveiled today the NHL Most Valuable Hockey Mom presented by MassMutual campaign. “MassMutual and the NHL share a common value around those who are making a positive impact on society,” said Max Paulsen, NHL Director of Business Development. “Honoring hockey moms – significant and influential role models in our game – is the perfect way to start this new partnership. We look forward to working with MassMutual to create more meaningful initiatives like the NHL Most Valuable Hockey Mom presented by MassMutual that will celebrate the game and inspire deeper engagement with hockey fans.”
Budweiser takes on the NBA Draft Lottery tonight with the launch of the Budweiser Draught Lottery – Free Bud for New Yorkers. As part of the Budweiser Draught Lottery, Budweiser will hold a city-wide beer lottery giveaway event that gives New Yorkers a 14% chance to score a free beer – the same odds as the Knicks have to win the #1 NBA Draft Pick.
Akshay Bhatia, the No. 8 ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and top ranked junior amateur player, signed with Lagardère Sports for management and marketing representation.  “We are excited to begin working with Akshay once he turns professional,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports President of Golf. “We will have a great team around him and a plan to help him excel on the course and develop a variety of opportunities for him off of it.”
US Club Soccer inked a partnership with DICK’S Sportsing Goods to serve as the org’s Official Sporting Goods Partner. “We are thrilled to enter into this strategic partnership with US Club Soccer,” adds Mark Rooks, Vice President of Relationship Management & Community Marketing of DICK’S Sporting Goods. “We stand with US Club Soccer’s commitment to developing young athletes both on and off the field.”


MLS will become the first pro sports league to feature a dedicated channel as part of Pluto TV’s offering of linear, curated channels, courtesy of a new agreement with the channel set to showcase soccer content, classic matches and more. “Major League Soccer’s agreement with Pluto TV offers fans a new way to experience the game and interact with our high-quality content,” said MLS Senior VP of Media, Chris Schlosser. “Major League Soccer is always evaluating new opportunities to provide our young, diverse and tech savvy fan base increased access to our matches, athletes and clubs. We are thrilled to offer a new free, content destination for our fans.”
Fanatics announced an exclusive multiyear partnership with MLB rookie Pete Alonso, who will join its roster of athletes housed under the company’s memorabilia division, Fanatics Authentic.Under the new deal, Fanatics will become the exclusive distributor of Alonso’s full collection of autographs and collectibles, offering officially licensed items including signed bats, balls, jerseys, photos and more.
Tunity Analytics’ top five out-of-home sports programs for the week of May 6. Show/Network/Data/(OOO’s)
  1. NBA – Warriors/Rockets: ESPN on May 10 (4892)
  2. NBA – Rockets/Warriors: TNT on May 8 (3583)
  3. NBA – Warriors/Rockets: TNT on May 6 (3015)
  4. NBA – 76ers/Raptors: TNT on May 12 (2441)
  5. NBA – Rockets/Warriors: ABC on May 12 (2317)
Source: Tunity Analytics.  Viewing estimates are derived from Tunity mobile app usage for the week of May 6, 2019. OOH viewer impressions are calculated using Tunity Analytics proprietary estimation model.

Upper Deck is opening the door to esports, announcing a multi-year deal with the Overwatch League for licensed collectibles that includes the world’s first-ever official esports league trading card release as well as stickers, sticker books, prints, posters and memorabilia. The collaboration marks the first venture into esports for Upper Deck. Overwatch League fans will be able to buy, open, collect, and trade cards with other collectors across the globe via Upper Deck e-Pack, a patent-pending platform that allows fans to easily access trading card packs from anywhere in the world using a
Allied Esports announced its first product launch as part of a strategic alliance and exclusive agreement signed this year with TV Azteca. Titled NATION VS NATION, Allied Esports’ first event and broadcast production in Latin America will feature a squad of four U.S. players as they battle a Mexican team of 40 total players, including featured and celebrity squads and 32 fan participants, in PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS. The event will take place today at Foro Totalplay in Mexico City. The global debut of NATION VS NATION will also usher in TV Azteca’s latest platform, Azteca Gaming.

GF Sports, a live events and sports media entertainment company, announced the hiring of Jim Burda as Chief Business Officer for the New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League and Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for GF Sports. Burda joins GF Sports with more than 20 years experience in the sports industry, having held executive positions at Wilson Sporting Goods and the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.

Warriors/Trail Blazers tip off on ESPN at 9p.
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