05/16/19: The WNBA named Cathy Engelbert as the league’s new commissioner.

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Thursday May 16, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 

The WNBA officially has a new commissioner with the league naming Cathy Engelbert, current CEO of Deloitte and the first woman ever to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the US, to the role with a start on July 17. “Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth,” said Silver. “The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts and proven management abilities.” 
 
“It is an absolute privilege to be joining the WNBA at such an exciting and important time in its history,” said Engelbert. “I see tremendous opportunity to bolster visibility for the sport of women’s basketball, empower the players, and enhance fan engagement. I look forward to using my business expertise and passion for basketball to promote women in the game and beyond, and to working with the teams and world-class athletes to help grow this league into a thriving business.”
 
 
PROGRAMMING

All Elite Wrestling has a broadcast home, as WarnerMedia will partner with AEW to carry the new wrestling league and start airing weekly matches later this year on TNT. Later this year, WarnerMedia will provide exclusive multi-platform access for fans to watch AEW events, airing live weekly matches on TNT in prime time, as well as streaming them through WarnerMedia’s B/R Live and on pay-per-view. Introducing statistics to wrestling for the first time ever, AEW will look to deepen “fan engagement by tracking each competitor’s wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships, analyzing their moves, assessing damage to their opponents, and providing insights into their winning streaks.” Additionally, the hour-long live pre-show special THE BUY-IN will stream on WarnerMedia and AEW’s social channels.
 
In ratings news, ESPN scored its highest-rated NBA Conference Finals Game 1 since 2012 on Tuesday, according to Nielsen with the Warriors’ delivering a 5.8 metered market rating, up 4% from the most recent NBA Western Conference Finals Game 1 in 2017 and up 7% from ESPN’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 last year. In addition, the NBA Draft Lottery drew its highest telecast numbers ever, with a 39, up 77% from last year.
 
ABC laid out early season plans for Saturday Night Football, beginning with Auburn/Oregon on August 31 from AT&T Stadium. In Week 2, ABC SNF will return to Austin for the first time since 2013, as Texas hosts LSU on Sept. 7, while Clemson opens their road slate in Week 3, as their conference clash with Syracuse on Sept. 14. Later in the season, ABC is set to offer four conference championship games, beginning with the Pac-12 Championship game Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. which will represent the first time ABC has televised a Friday night conference championship game.  The next day, the network will have a tripleheader of championship games featuring the ACC, American Athletic Conference and the Big 12, with game times announced at a later date.
 
ESPN also announced that play-by-play voice Steve Levy, analysts Brian Griese and Louis Riddick and reporter Laura Rutledge will call the Broncos/Raiders game on ESPN as part of the opening-night doubleheader to kick off Monday Night Football’s 50th season on Sept.9 at 10:15p. This AFC West matchup will follow Texans/Saints at 7p.
 
NBC Sports’ Triple Crown horse racing returns this weekend with live coverage of the 144th Preakness Stakes on Saturday at 5p on NBC. Coverage from Pimlico Race Course begins Friday at 3p with the 95th running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and continues Saturday at 2p on NBCSN. Over the two days, NBC Sports Group will cover 11 races live. NBC Sports will once again utilize an array of special cameras, and the return of an aerial camera over the full backstretch for the Preakness Stakes.
 
Golf Channel announced coverage plans for the 2019 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf National Championships, featuring two weeks of coverage that will see more than 100 hours of news and tournament coverage. In total, Golf will air more than 50 live tournament hours of college and amateur coverage in 2019, the most of any television network. The network’s live tournament coverage begins on May 20.
 
Turner and the NBA announced that basketball icons Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird will be co-recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia. TNT will televise the third annual NBA Awards live on June 24 at 9p from Barker Hangar in Los Angeles. The two previous recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award were Bill Russell (2017) and Oscar Robertson (2018).
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Meanwhile, the NHL Fan Choice Awards are back, with voting now open for twice as many categories as year one, hitting 20 as fans vote on the best photos, videos and GIFs shared by teams and players during the 2018-19 NHL season on social media. More than 65 NHL players, all 31 NHL teams, and the newest expansion NHL Seattle franchise, are featured in videos and graphics across the 20 categories. “We’re thrilled to give our fans the opportunity to vote for their favorite posts across NHL social media during the 2018-19 NHL regular season,” said Heidi Browning, NHL EVP & Chief Marketing Officer. “The 2019 Fan Choice Awards celebrate our players personalities and provide an inside look at their lives, both on and off the ice. Hockey fans are passionate about their favorite teams and players and the Fan Choice Awards allows us to engage them in new and exciting ways.”
 
The Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, returns for its fifth year on July 9, at L.A. LIVE’s The Novo. New to this year’s program is the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award, which will celebrate the sports icon’s commitment to leadership and service, and honor high school and college-aged students use sports to improve their communities. The event will also feature the Sports Sustainability Leadership Award to recognize an organization that is leveraging the power of sports to make a positive impact on the environment. Highlights of the evening will be showcased during a one-hour special on ESPN, July 18, at 7p.
 
The American Cornhole League locked in a new partnership with DEVOUR Frozen Foods to crown the top male ACL Pro for the “DEVOUR Man of the Year”, kicking off at Harrah’s Ak-Chin in Maricopa, AZ. The Top 32 male ACL Pros will be identified and seeded following ACL National 3 May 17-19. “We’re thrilled to partner with DEVOUR Frozen Foods to crown our best male cornhole player of the year,” said Stacey Moore, Commissioner and Founder of the American Cornhole League. “What goes together better than pizza and cornhole? $10,000!”
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

The Mountain West Conference locked in on ShotTracker, a sensor-based system that delivers real-time statistics and analytics to teams, fans and broadcast networks, in a move to provide basketball data tracking and analytics services during all conference basketball games through the 2023-24 season. ShotTracker will install its system across 23 practice and game facilities at all 11 Mountain West schools for both men’s and women’s basketball programs. Each student-athlete will wear a ShotTracker player sensor and use the ShotTracker-enabled version of their school’s basketball provider.
 
 
ESPORTS

In this week’s edition of Cynopsis Esports
  • Miller Time for Complexity
  • Analyzing the core esports fan
  • Lenovo North America partners with TSM
  • AOC rides the Red Bull
  • Riot passes judgement on Echo Fox
  • OpTic prepares for sale
  • ESA’s gaming report
 
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Bruins looks to sweep the Hurricanes on NBCSN at 8p.
 
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