05/15/19: ESPN is teaming up with Caesars to integrate deep dive data into its content

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Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 15, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 

ESPN is diving deeper into the numbers game, formally partnering with Caesars Entertainment to deliver sports betting news and entertainment content to fans around the world. The deal includes building a new ESPN-branded studio at The LINQ Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where sports betting-themed content will be created, along with segments for ESPN’s recently launched sports betting-related show, Daily Wager. In addition, Caesars’ data and branding will also be integrated across ESPN programming within the coming weeks for use across ESPN’s content.
 
“The sports betting landscape has changed, and fans are coming to us for this kind of information more than ever before,” said Mike Morrison, VP of Business Development at ESPN. “We are poised to expand our coverage in a big way and working with a category leader like Caesars Entertainment will help us serve these highly engaged, diverse sports fans with the best and most relevant content possible.”
 
The studio will serve as a Vegas hub for odds-related content and will contribute to any number of ESPN linear, digital and social shows as well as ESPN.com and the ESPN app. It will also play a vital role during major sporting events, and especially during the growing number of marquee events hosted in Las Vegas. The new studio will launch in 2020. Caesars will also serve as ESPN’s official odds data supplier across TV and digital, receiving associated attribution across ESPN. Additional advertising and sponsorship activations will roll out in the coming months and throughout the deal term.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

NBC Sports’ saw its presentation of Championship Sunday, featuring all 10 Premier League matches running across NBCU platforms, notch record Total Audience Delivery with 2.2 million viewers tuning in, per Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. Sunday’s viewership milestone is up 19% over last year’s season finale. For the season, more than 35 million Americans watched NBC Sports’ presentation of the Premier League.
 
FOX Sports reports that Sunday’s US Women’s National Team friendly against South Africa saw a 12% uptick over last year’s comparable match, generating 705,000 viewers. On the company’s digital platforms, the average minute audience was up 40%.
 
Meanwhile, Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race from Kansas Speedway handed FS1 with nearly 2.2 million viewers, for a 7% markup form last year’s race. To date, average viewership for the series is up 2% on FOX and FS1 versus 2018.
 
ESPN tips off coverage of the 2019 WNBA season on May 25, at 3:30p on ABC when the defending champion Seattle Storm and Sue Bird host the Phoenix Mercury and Brittney Griner. Overall, the company carries 16 regular-season games this year, including three on ABC. In addition, ESPN will televise one All-Star Special (ESPN), the All-Star Game (ABC) and each game of the 2019 WNBA postseason from the First Round to the Finals. For the opener, regular ESPN WNBA play-by-play will be provided by analyst Rebecca Lobo and Ryan Ruocco, with Ruocco and Pam Ward serving as the lead play-by-play voices through the remainder of the season. ESPN will serve up several special telecasts this season, including the June 23 Mystics/Dream match, which will see Lobo and Lawson serve as the “Coaches on the Bench”, with each sitting on an opposing team’s side of the scorer’s table and offering viewers analysis and other details from a coach’s perspective on substitutions, play decisions and in-game adjustments.
 
Meanwhile, ESPN2 carries the 2019 NBA Draft Combine, powered by Under Armour, from 3-7p on Thursday and Friday where 66 p NBA prospects are expected to participate. ESPN analyst and reporter Maria Taylor will host the two-day coverage for the second consecutive year, joined by senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, lead college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, ESPN draft expert Mike Schmitz and front office insider Bobby Marks. The show will feature player analysis, mock drafts, exclusive interviews with NBA coaches and executives, one-on-one interviews with top prospects, and NBA news discussions.
 
Rounding out today’s ESPN news, the company will mark the 20-year anniversary of the U.S. Women’s National Team capturing the 1999 Women’s World Cup, with a one-hour special, espnW Presents: The ‘99ers, Reunited, on Thursday at 7p on ESPN2. The special is hosted by Julie Foudy, and features fellow ‘99er teammates Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Briana Scurry, Kristine Lilly and Brandi Chastain.
 
The Texans’ J.J. Watt, along with brothers and fellow NFL players T.J. Watt and Derek Watt, are on deck to host a new game show that will debut on FOX in 2020, titled Ultimate Tag. J.J. Watt announced the deal on Instagram, noting that “Ultimate Tag takes a childhood game to extreme levels, with insane obstacles and incredible athletes.”
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The NCAA is opening the door for college athletes to be compensated for their names, images and likenesses with the Washington Post reporting that the org is examining how its rules can be modified to allow the change. Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith will head a new working group on the topic. “This group will bring together diverse opinions from the membership — from presidents and commissioners to student-athletes — that will examine the NCAA’s position on name, image and likeness benefits and potentially propose rule modifications tethered to education,” Ackerman said in a statement. “We believe the time is right for these discussions and look forward to a thorough assessment of the many complexities involved in this area.”
 
The American Gaming Association released a new set of self-regulations focused on advertising and marketing legal sports betting. The new “Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering” extends commitments made by individual companies through their own marketing activities and includes self-imposed restrictions on target audiences, outlets and materials branding, while mandating responsible gaming inclusion.
 
The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum agreed to a three-year, $3 million deal that will rename the venue and current Raiders home as RingCentral Coliseum, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The deal includes an option for a fourth year and will see the return of a naming rights partner for the site since 2016when Overstock.com pulled out when the Raiders announced plans to move.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

UFC and Weibo locked in a new strategic alliance that will see China’s leading social media platform become the “Official Social Media platform” of UFC in the country. The deal will give thousands of MMA fans in China access to UFC live event content including athlete and executive interviews, fight highlights, fight night results, athlete metrics, fight announcements and more. “We are honored to announce our landmark partnership with Weibo, the leading social media platform in China that has led the industry for the past 10 years and has amassed over 400m active monthly users,” said UFC Senior Vice President Asia-Pacific, Kevin Chang. “We are the very first MMA promotion to enter into an official partnership with Weibo to leverage its massive reach and promotional support, which will propel the brand to new heights and solidify our place among mainstream sports in China.”
 
The United States Golf Association launched the official US Women’s Open app, powered by Cisco, designed to offer fans with an immersive mobile experience for the 74th Championship at Country Club of Charleston from May 30 – June 2, offering real-time scores, live streaming video, stats, news and highlights of their favorite players via the event app.
 
 
ESPORTS

The National Hockey League released its lineup of corporate partners for the 2019 NHL Gaming World Championship, with on-site activation plans for the Live Regional Finals and World Final. Returning partners Honda and Scotiabank will share the gaming spotlight with five newcomers: adidas, ASTRO Gaming, Brisk, Great Clips and MGM Resorts. The first Live Regional Final will take place May 18.
 
Anthem Sports & Entertainment announced today that its Game+ network will live broadcast the daily Cheddar Esports program on weekdays at 5p across the US and Canada. “With the recent surge in popularity throughout the esports industry, Game+ is committed to delivering live events, daily news coverage and more original content,” said Chad Midgley, VP of Game+. “Since its launch, Cheddar Esports has emerged as a leader in the esports space, significantly expanding its weekly coverage of the fast-growing phenomenon. We are thrilled to partner with Cheddar Esports to bring extensive esports coverage to Game+ viewers.”

 
INDUSTRY/ROSTER MOVES

Tennis Channel named Timothy Athans as director, strategic partnerships, effective immediately. Athans will focus on expanding the network’s ad sales reach via untapped partnerships and non-traditional integrations. Most recently he was vice president, advertising sales, at 21st Century Fox.
 
 
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a
ON THIS DAY in 1970: The IOC votes to expel South Africa.
 
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Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who holds the NHL record for most penalty minutes in a career? Answer: Tiger Williams. Kudos: Michael Ritz-Northwestern Mutual/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Mike Seidel-CSI Sports/Jersey City; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
 
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