05/06/16: Kobe’s next task; NASCAR tweaks Chase; Yahoo tackles Olympics


Good morning. It’s Friday May 6, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Sports Illustrated will team with Kobe Bryant’s new production company, Kobe Studios, along with Believe Entertainment Group, for a multi-platform video production and development project devoted to Dear Basketball, Bryant’s tribute to the game. The deal will include the world premiere of Dear Basketball, an animated short film on SI.com that will debut this fall, as well as a slate of exclusive SI Films mini documentaries. The film will be narrated by Bryant with Glen Keane, animator behind the likes of Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan and Tangled, helming the production with John Williams composing the score.
“We are proud to collaborate with Kobe to tell the comprehensive story of his first endeavor after retiring from the NBA in a way that only SI can,” said Rich Battista, President of the Time Inc. Entertainment and Sports Group and Video. “We are excited for Kobe’s fans and the global community of sport, entertainment and art enthusiasts to experience these productions.”   


NASCAR unveiled its 2017 slate of races, with the biggest change being Talladega being shifted away from serving as elimination race in next year’s Chase and being replaced by Kansas Speedway on Oct. 22. Talladega now becomes the second race in the Round of 12 on Oct. 15. The new season revs up Feb. 26 with the Daytona 500 and concludes on Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, spanning 40 weeks. Other tweaks to the schedule include April 9, which will take place at Texas Motor Speedway, Dover taking place on June 4, while Michigan and Bristol trade places in August. In other series, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will kick off at Daytona on Feb. 25 and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts Feb. 24.

NBC Sports Group is making a blitz ahead of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, using its Big Event Strategy leveraging TODAY and Weekend TODAY, The Weather Channel, CNBC, E! News, The Tonight Show, Late Night, Bravo, Access Hollywood and more to help promote the event. In addition, the company lined up Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Charles Barkley, Andy Cohen, Steve Harvey, and more to make their picks during NBC’s Kentucky Derby broadcast on Saturday.

Golf Channel is offering primetime news and tournament coverage of the 2016 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships this year with contested in back-to-back weeks beginning May 20 and concluding June 1 and over 100 hours of coverage on-site. The network will see more than 25 combined hours of live tournament coverage with the majority in primetime. In addition, Golf Central will feature nearly 25 hours of combined pre-and-post event live news coverage produced on location, which will be supplemented by daily news updates on Morning Drive and Golf Channel Digital.

FOX saw Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win by Brad Keselowski generate 4.0/10 and 6.7 million viewers to match last year’s rating performance with a 6% rise on average audience. FOX Sports Go saw the race drum up 54,318 streams with 25,372 unique streamers and 969,679 minutes streamed. Meanwhile, Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race on FOX drew a 1.9/5 and 2.9 million viewers, up 19% over last year to rank as the most-watched Xfinity Series telecast on any network since 2013’s running of the Daytona 300 on ESPN.

ESPN’s Global Game series returns on Monday with a special episode of Monday Night Baseball presented by USAA: that will see the Tigers/Nationals at 7p with a Venezuelan theme. Carlos Zambrano will appear as a guest analyst for the event with ESPN MLB analysts Doug Glanville and Eduardo Perez and play-by-play voice Karl Ravech. Pedro Gomez will serve as reporter. The telecast will also offer cultural discussions about Venezuela, iInterviews with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and more and features on the history of Venezuelan shortstops, first Venezuelan-born Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio and the significance of the number 13.

Sign up early and claim your sport to the Cynopsis Sports Business Summit on June 22 in NYC. We’ll be unveiling our full lineup of speakers over the coming weeks but are thrilled to welcome FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann as one of this year’s keynotes. For more info and tickets, click here.
NBC Sports Group and ONE World Sports deliver coverage of the 2016 IIHF World Hockey Championship with the action starting today at 9a with Team USA/Canada ton NBCSN. Other coverage of Team USA on the network will include contests with Finland on May 9 and Slovakia on May 16. NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will combine to present coverage of the quarterfinals, semifinals, and the 2016 IIHF Championship game, which will take place on Sunday, May 22, at 1p. ONE World Sports begins its live coverage of the tournament today at 9a as well with Sweden/Latvia. Overall, around 20 matchups will air on ONE World Sports.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson announced that the Edmonton City Council has decided to not proceed with a new bid for the 2017 Canadian Finals Rodeo, and will instead look to bring PBR to the city to host a major event in 2017, replacing the rodeo. Oilers Entertainment Group has signed a letter of intent with PBR to host the 2017 event in conjunction with Farm Fair.



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ESPN launched the first spot from a new integrated campaign dedicated to “the power of live sports” that will include a series of spots and digital and social elements focusing on how other media  like social or streaming media  can wait. The first spot, dubbed Queue features a woman flipping through her movie queue before she has an “A-ha” moment when “she realizes her team is about to play a potentially historic game on ESPN and unlike a movie, she must watch the game right then or be left out.” The campaign was developed in collaboration with creative agency 72andSunny’s New York Office.

Lionel Messi and Gatorade released the first of 10 handwritten letters from the FC Barcelona superstar that “offer words of hope, encouragement and perseverance to communities across the world” via a "Don’t Go Down" themed letter to an unsuspecting organization in select cities, with Barcelona being the first. The letter writing campaign was spun out of feedback from Gatorade’s recent "Don’t Go Down" video launch in February.

The United States Golf Association is expanding the PLAY9 program this year, encouraging more golfers to play nine holes during six scheduled “PLAY9 Days” throughout the golf season. The initiative launched May 9 and will take place on the ninth day of each month through October.“What we love about PLAY9 is the opportunity to welcome more people  both recreational golfers and non-golfers alike  to enjoy the great game of golf,” said Mike Davis, USGA executive director/CEO. “We’re clearly excited about the results we’ve seen, committed to expanding the program and optimistic about its long-term potential to grow globally.”

The first-ever Pro Football Hall of Fame Academy launched yesterday in Canton, offering NFL coaching, led by Rod Woodson, to high school and middle school athletes all across the country. As part of the Academy, the Call to The Hall scouting campaign is set to launch to „ncover the nation’s premier high school and middle school athletes“ with nominations accepted at www.ProFootballHOFAcademy.com.


Golden Boy Promotions will offer this weekend’s Canelo/Khan battle as a live stream, offering the May 7th mega-fight at 9p tapping LiveStream as its online streaming company for $69.95 via GoldenBoyPromotions.com and RingTVLive.com. "Our cable, satellite and telco distribution partners remain the key means to reach boxing fans.  However, as our viewership onGoldenBoyPromotions.com and RingTVlive.com has grown over the past several months, we have learned a great deal from our fans  and they have been clear that the time has come for us to make this mega fight available online as well," said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. "We see Canelo vs. Khan as a first step in this evolving media landscape."

Yahoo locked in its full global editorial lineup for the 2016 Olympic Games sending more than 15 experts and writers to Rio, with another 15 video producers and crew to cover the Games with a design to “tell compelling stories and produce instant reactions across all content platforms.” Content will video originals such as Instant Reactions, Power Rankings, Yahoo Sports Rio 101 and the Yahoo Sports Rio Minute. The editorial team will include Shawn Johnson, Summer Sanders, Karina LeBlanc, Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Jeff Passan, Eric Adelson, Greg Wyshynski, Kevin Iole, Michael Lee, Jeff Eisenberg and Ryan Bailey.

PlayStation Vue is launching Longhorn Network in Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico. The sports channel will be available in those states as part of PlayStation Vue’s Elite multi-channel plan, which costs $44.99 monthly.

SendtoNews reports that April marked the company’s best month ever after receiving over 231 million views across its network of publishing partners throughout North America.


Euroleague’s digital team is pushing for an eSports league that will take place under some of Europe’s biggest professional sports clubs, according to SportTechie. The eSports league would be tied to Euroleague include teams throughout the continent.

Next Generation Esports is partnering with Twitch to produce Psyonix’s Rocket League Championship Series. Twitch oversees operations and will serve as the exclusive broadcasting platform for the RLCS, while working alongside Rocket League’s publisher/developer, Psyonix, to build the community and infrastructure. Meanwhile, NGE will “provide the backbone” of live production for each weekly RLCS broadcast, streamed directly from NGE studios in Burbank.


The Kentucky Derby on Saturday on NBC at 4p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1997: Hartford Whalers owner Peter Karmanos announces that the team would relocate to Raleigh.

In The Know: Who was the jockey who rode American Pharoah to the Triple Crown last year? (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 is the name of the Atlanta Hawks’ mascot? Answer: Harry the Hawk. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Michael Goodman-Radio One/Atlanta; Allison Lerer-Turner Sports/Atlanta; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
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