05/17/19: WWE is departing its longtime UK home, Sky Sports

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Friday May 17, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 

After 30 years on Sky Sports in the UK, the WWE is reportedly heading to a new home, with the Telegraph writing that the company is set to announce a move to BT Sport in the country, with the current Sky deal set to expire in December. Meanwhile, newborn wrestling company All Elite Wrestling, formally announced a partnership with ITV in the country last week.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

Telemundo Deportes, the exclusive Spanish-language home of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 and 2019 Copa America, revealed more details around its digital coverage plans for both tournaments. The company announced plans for more than 800 short-form pieces of content including original series, highlights and recaps to be featured across its platforms, including the debut of its first live show to air on Twitter, an animated series and extensive short form video content with content that includes: Futbol After Dark streamed twice a week on Twitter; Brazil 19 Shopping Mall; and Off the Pitch.
 
Univision Deportes scored record telecasts of the UEFA Champions League semifinal round, with the four matches, simulcast on Univision Network and Univision Deportes Network, delivering an average of 705,000 Total Viewers 2+, to mark the largest audience ever for a UCL semifinal round, regardless of television network or language. The semis were highlighted by FC Barcelona/Liverpool FC, which delivered the top two most-watched UCL semifinal contests of all-time in Total Viewers 2+ with the second leg averaging 797,000 Total Viewers.
 
ESPN is diving into the NBA Finals with The Jump. The daily NBA show will up its on-site presence at the Finals with the addition of a prime-time show on game days at 8p in addition to running live in its regular afternoon time-slot at 3p. Rachel Nichols will also host special 7p editions of SportsCenter on site at the NBA Western Conference Finals, starting with Game 2. Nichols will be joined by a rotating cast of commentators from The Jump, including Scottie Pippen, Tracy McGrady, Brian Windhorst, Nick Friedell, Richard Jefferson and ither guests.
 
ESPN also unwrapped details about the 2019 Jimmy V Men’s Classic Presented by Corona, announcing that this year’s teams will include Indiana, Louisville, Texas Tech and UConn. The annual doubleheader, held in conjunction with V Week, will take place on Dec. 10 with the Huskies facing the Hoosiers, and the Cardinals taking on the Red Raiders at Madison Square Garden on ESPN.
 
NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold are on deck to offer more than 70 hours of 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship programming, including all 12 rounds, beginning May 18, with the 51st Annual Hangtown Motocross Classic in Sacramento on NBCSN begins at 6p. NBC and NBCSN will combine to present every Moto 2 from all 12 rounds of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship season. NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App will livestream all television coverage. Jason Weigandt will serve as the play-by-play announcer for all telecasts on NBCSN, joined by analyst and two-time AMA Pro Motocross Champion Grant Langston, while Will Christien will serve as the pit reporter for coverage during the 2019 season.
 
100 days out from ESPN’s launch of ACC Network, the channel mapped out its programming plans for the first three weeks on the air with its initial matchup featuring Clemson/Georgia Tech on Aug. 29 at 8p. Overall, the channel carries dive games in the first two weeks of the season, including Utah State/Wake Forest on Aug. 30 and Miami/North Carolina on Sept. 7.
 
B/R Live will serve as the exclusive domestic destination for free live coverage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final on Saturday at noon, pitting France’s Lyon against Barcelona. The free live match coverage will mark the first time that a U.S. media partner offers live coverage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final. In addition, B/R Football will dedicate its Instagram Story to all-access, behind-the-scenes coverage with updates.
 
UFC and Fight Sports Asia of the Henimo Group locked in a new agreement to live stream up to 60 Absolute Muay Thai events this year through UFC Fight Pass. The promotion’s next event will stream on Saturday, at 10p PT from the Blue Arena Stadium in Bangkok. “Our partnership with the Henimo Group provides UFC Fight Pass with the largest collection of live events for our platform in 2019,” said Crowley Sullivan, Vice President & General Manager, UFC Fight Pass. “We’re excited provide a global platform to showcase fans around the world authentic Muay Thai right from the birthplace of the sport, Thailand.”
 
FloSports and Alianza de Futbol announced a multi-year agreement to provide live and on-demand English language coverage of select matches through November of 2021 onFloFC.com. Fans will have access to the English language streaming of all the local finals of the Alianza de Futbol tournaments in Atlanta, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Paso. Coverage will also include the Alianza de Futbol National Finals. FloFC will air the finals of such competitions that include the Allstate Sueño Alianza in addition to the national finals.
 
Anthem Sports & Entertainment announced that its Game+ network has signed a three-year deal with the Drone Champions League to carry upcoming live events across the US and Canada. The Drone Champions League 2019 season continues on July 11-13 in Turin.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

LeBron James is teaming up with Walmart in a move designed to provide better education, fight hunger and improve local communities through the brand’s “Fight Hunger. Spark Change” campaign. “LeBron cares about his community and making it a better place,” Walmart chief customer officer Janey Whiteside said in the announcement. “He cares about making a difference, and together we can both make a bigger difference. We share a commitment to improving the communities where we live and work. We’re excited that together we are investing in education, fighting hunger and helping people live better.”
 
In a move to “celebrate people on Facebook who participate in groups and encourage others to find a new group,” Facebook unveiled a new marketing campaign titled More Together and spotlighting how people from different backgrounds come together in Facebook Groups over shared interests and experiences. The campaign will include a few new television spots — with one focused on Major League Baseball. In the spot, entitled “Game Day,” a pair of New York dads share their passion for baseball with their daughters at a Mets/Yankees game and connect with each other through a “Dads with Daughters” Facebook group.
 
Saint Peter’s University announced a long-term partnership naming Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment as its exclusive agent for campus-wide strategic partnerships, athletic sponsorships and multimedia rights. Working with the University’s leadership, Van Wagner will explore, develop and execute opportunities that drive business relationships benefiting the community and the University, its students and faculty representing Peacock Athletics in sponsorship negotiations and executing corporate partnerships around properties including in-venue signage, on- and off-campus promotions, rights to athletic marks and gameday hospitality packages.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Fantasy sports investment gaming platform The Crown League announced its newest franchise in the Chicago Hogmollies, led by fantasy experts Rotoworld Senior Football Editor Evan Silva and Sports Illustrated Fantasy Sports Editor Michael Beller as GM and co-GM. Other regions set to be represented will  include Los Angeles, New York, Texas, New England, Seattle, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Florida and Denver, with the 12th location voted by the fans.
 
 
ESPORTS

Overwatch League announced that OWL Stage 2 Playoff and Finals delivered a new viewership high for the season with an average minute audience of 545,000, according to Nielsen. The finals rank as the best performing esports telecast of all time across ABC, ESPN and Disney linear channels.
 
Complexity Gaming announced the launch of its proprietary Mind Gym through its partnership with Mamba Sports Academy and HyperX inside the org’s new headquarters. The Mind Gym will focus on the development, training, and improvement of core cognitive functions for esports athletes and feature six interactive stations designed to facilitate team and private training sessions under changing environments.
 
OverActive Media opened the doors to a live events production division following the acquisition of Toronto-based esports events company MediaXP, titled OAM Live. Ken Silva, Founder of MediaXP, now joins OverActive Media’s team in Toronto. “This is yet another step forward in our effort to build a world-leading, global esports platform that will redefine the future of sports and entertainment,” said Chris Overholt, President and CEO of OverActive Media. “The launch of OAM LIVE will progress our business growth by providing future partners, publishers and brands with an end-to-end solution for gaming events and esports broadcasts.”
 
ESPN puts the spotlight on University of California, Irvine’s League of Legends varsity team as it pursues a second straight collegiate championship and a shot at redemption on the international stage in a docu-series, Good Game: UC Irvine. Bonnie Bernstein served as showrunner with the first three episodes debuting May 21 at 8p on ESPN2. “Good Game is another great example of our continued efforts into narrative storytelling for our linear audience,” said John Lasker, vice president of digital programming. “New fans as well as core esports fans will enjoy a look at UC Irvine’s remarkable season and the increasing popularity of collegiate esports.”
 
 
INDUSTRY/ROSTER MOVES

The World Pro Ski Tour announced the appointment of Jon J. Franklin, former Winter Sports Vice President at IMG Media, as the new Tour Chief Executive Officer, where he is charged with leading a new era for the WPST. Franklin served as CEO of Glory Sports International, “We are leading the charge to revitalize the World Pro Ski Tour,” said Franklin, “to provide opportunities for ski racers and to re-energize dual format ski racing globally.”
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race on Saturday at 8p on FS1.
 
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a
ON THIS DAY in 1939: The first televised sporting event in U.S. history as NBC carries a Princeton/Columbia collegiate baseball game.
 
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