05/16/18: FOX Sports cranks U.S. Open production to 5G; ESPN delivers upfront barrage; FloSports’ volleyball set

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Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 16, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

 
FOX Sports announced partnerships via the Fox Innovation Lab and Ericsson, Intel and AT&T, to leverage 5G technology to stream 4K video over 5G for potential broadcast nationwide at this year’s U.S. Open Championship from June 14-17. The 5G wireless technology will transmit 4K HDR images from two FOX Sports cameras positioned on the par-3 seventh hole at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club through the FOX Sports production truck, making it available to FOX Sports and its viewers through DirecTV. In the future, 5G could possibly be used to deliver real-time virtual reality views from the course to viewers. Ericsson is providing the 5G radios, baseband, simulated network core, and 4K video encoder and decoder. Intel is providing the Intel®5G®Mobile Trial Platform, a compact device capable of transmitting 1.6Gbs/s, that allows fast field and interoperability testing of 5G networks and equipment. AT&T will use millimeter wave spectrum to deliver the 5G connection.
 
“It’s part of our FOX Sports DNA to aggressively explore evolving technologies as part of our live sports production,” said Michael Davies, FOX Sports SVP Field & Technical Operations. “This is exactly the kind of effort we consistently put into the leading edge of today’s technology, in preparation for what will become the industry standards of the future.”
 
 
ON THE AIR

Meanwhile, ESPN’s upfront presentation to advertisers took place from Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre, as new president Jimmy Pitaro made his debut at the vent, along with personalities that spanned from Kenny Mayne to Kobe Bryant to Alex Rodriguez to Jerry Jones.
 
Among the news coming out of ESPN’s day in the spotlight was the announcement that the network and Alex Rodriguez were deepening their relationship through a four-part series Pivot with Alex Rodriguez that will air on the network and ESPN Deportes during the MLB regular season. In each episode, Rodriguez will conduct an in-depth, one-on-one interview with a current or former star athlete who is navigating through obstacles in their life and career and A-Rod will use his personal experiences to lead an unfiltered, dynamic discussion about the changing phenomenon of life in the public eye and to help these athletes share their side of the story regarding their challenges.
 
News also saw ESPN Films and Netflix unveiled the joint production The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary series that will chronicle Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls. Directed by Jason Hehir, the anthology will examine the simultaneous rise of Jordan and the NBA during those years and feature more than 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from the team’s last championship run in the 1997-98 season.
 
ESPN is expanding the role of NFL Front Office Insider Louis Riddick, who will now appear on Monday Night Football halftime and postgame shows as part of a new multi-year extension. Riddick, will now travel to the site of ESPN’s weekly MNF game where he will work alongside host Suzy Kolber and Steve Young on Monday nights.
 
In addition, former NFL head coach John Fox joined ESPN as an NFL studio analyst. Fox will make year-round appearances on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio shows, and more.
 
Finally, ESPN reached an agreement with FC Bayern Munich for rights to use and share content directly from the German Bundesliga club across its digital and linear platforms. Bayern Munich will make available its content – behind-the-scenes video, access-driven features, pre- and post-match reports, press briefings, team travelogue, and more – for use across a myriad ESPN programs in the United States, Canada, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
 
Elsewhere, Kentucky Derby winner Justify looks to claim the middle jewel of the Triple Crown at the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at 5p on NBC. Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference Final between the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning (if necessary) will air on NBC immediately following the Preakness Stakes. Coverage begins on Friday at 3p on NBCSN with the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and continues Saturday at 2:30p on the channel.
 
FOX Sports announced that it will close out the 2018 calendar year with back-to-back college football bowl games on New Year’s Eve on FOX and FS1. Dec. 31 will see coverage of the San Francisco Bowl begin at 2:30p on FOX while FS1 handles the San Diego County Credit Union Holliday Bowl starting at 6:30p. Both games will both be simulcast in Spanish on FOX Deportes.
 
beIN SPORTS saw the network’s ratings spike for the “El Clasico” matchup between LaLiga archrivals, FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid on May 6. The broadcast averaged more than 1.4 million total viewers across both networks, according to Nielsen.
 
The BIG EASTand Big Ten Conferences unveiled matchups for the fourth annual Gavitt Tipoff Games, with eight men’s basketball contests slated for Nov. 13-16. All games will be televised on FS1 or BTN, with this year’s annual series featuring a rematch between Villanova and Michigan, who battled for the national championship in March.
 
YES reports that Saturday’s A’s/Yankees game ranked as the channel’s highest-rated weekend telecast in five years, generating a 4.97 average TV Household rating. Since May 1, YES’ Yankees games are averaging a 4.58 TV Household rating, up 23% from YES’ 2018 Yankees ratings through April 30.
 
The AP writes that the Carolina Panthers are being sold for an NFL-record $2.2 billion to hedge fund manager David Tepper. The purchase is subject to a vote at the NFL owners meeting next week in Atlanta.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
 
FOX is drumming up interest in the 2018 FIFA World Cup by leveraging the powers of David Beckham, Ryan Reynolds, Joel Embiid, Alex Morgan and Evander Holyfield, who all play featured roles in FOX Sports’ The World Becomes the FIFA World Cup campaign. Also appearing are FOX Sports Lead Studio Host Rob Stone and Lead Studio Analyst, Alexi Lalas, tapping on the screen of a viewer still in bed and reminding her to “Wake up!” for an early match. “It doesn’t get any bigger than the FIFA World Cup. It brings together the worlds of sports and celebrity for an incredible month-long pop culture event,” said Robert Gottlieb, EVP of Marketing, FOX Sports.“It was a natural fit to have movie stars, musicians and championship athletes as part of our campaign.”
 
NFL Alumni is partnering with Amada Senior Care in a deal that makes the company a sponsor and exclusive in-home care provider for NFL Alumni. Amada also provides NFL Alumni members with other senior care services such as care coordination, senior housing guidance and advice on long-term care insurance.
 
Kick It 3v3 National Soccer Tour announced that GoGo squeeZ has been named the official applesauce and yogurt sponsor of the 2018 Kick It National Tour. The Tour officially begins on June 2 and will involve more than 30,000 youth soccer players across more than 70 events in 2018.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING
 
FloSports locked in a multiyear partnership with the Federation Internationale de Volleyball, in collaboration with IMG, to carry a slate of FIVB events, including the inaugural Volleyball Nations League and this year’s World Championships, on FloVolleyball.tv in the US. The agreement with FIVB totals 465 matches in 2018 with 208 days of live volleyball coverage overall this year spanning FIVB and VNL, the Big Ten Conference, Norceca Volleyball Confederation, Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA), and Junior Volleyball Association (JVA) competitions.
 
X Games fans in the United States can now watch 12 hours of live competition coverage from X Games Norway beginning Friday on the X Games Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages. In addition to all of the content on ESPN’s U.S.-based media platforms, X Games Norway 2018 will be televised globally in 190 countries and territories to more than 495 million homes.
 
 
ESPORTS

WorldGaming Network is launching a new, “first-of-its-kind” competitive video gaming tournament for Rocket League. Teams of three can now register for the ‘WorldGaming Rocket League Canadian Challenge,’ a 3v3 tournament that has over $20,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, including $10,000 for the winning team. The tournament will span June 16-July 8 with Regional Finals going down online on July 22. The top eight teams from the Regional Finals will then compete in Toronto at Cineplex’s Scotiabank Theatre Toronto on August 18-19, 2018, at the Finals. WorldGaming also announced today that it is partnering with Pizza Pops and DRIVING FORCE as key contributors to this the event, with the partnership providing them access to promotional and advertising opportunities through activations at ‘live’ events as well as for online programming.
 
The IOC is reportedly meeting with key esports companies and figure at a summit taking place in Lausanne, Switzerland at the end of July. There, the org will discuss the industry’s inclusion in the Olympics, according to Sport1.
 
Lots of investment news, first, global publishing platform, Minute Media, which recently launched esports brand DBLTAP, announced that it has raised $17 million in a Series F funding round that comprises of new investors, including Goldman Sachs and Vintage Investment Partners, as well as existing investors including Battery Ventures, Dawn Capital and Qumra Capital. This brings Minute Media’s total funding to $77 million to-date.
 
Streaming platform Play2Live launched a venture fund with a focus on seed investments in gaming and esports projects. The initial value of the fund is $2M with a focus on projects from Eastern European countries and CIS. Each project will receive $50K to $150K of investment.
 
Esports fan engagement platform Quarterback has reportedly raised $2.3M in seed funding, with companies such as BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, Crest Capital Ventures, Deep Space Ventures, and UpWest Labs buying in. Funding will be used for ‘further development of the platform and to accelerate the company’s growth on a global scale’.
 
Esports Arena Oakland opened its doors on Saturday with “Smash Royale,” an all-day, multi-genre event featuring Super Smash Brothers (Smash 4, Melee), Street Fighter V and Fortnite tournaments. Located in Oakland’s popular Jack London Square waterfront, Esports Arena Oakland is the fourth dedicated gaming arena and production facility in the Esports Arena network, which also includes venues in Orange County, Calif. and Las Vegas, and mobile touring arena Esports Arena DRIVE.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Antonio Morici has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Ticket and Premium Sales and Service. In his new position, Morici will be responsible for all ticketing functions, including premium seating, ticket sales, service and distribution.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Jets/Golden Knights on NBCSN at 9p.

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Breakfast & Celebration with Media’s Game Changers
Tuesday, May 22nd | 8:30AM – 10:30AM | NYC
This awards event is a unique gathering of media organizations and their partners, who serve as an example to others. The breakfast offers a great opportunity to share insights and be inspired ( click here  to see pictures from last year’s breakfast). In addition to our finalists, we’ll be honoring the 2018 Impact Award Winners: ATTN:, Comic Relief, Discovery Inc. and NBCUniversal.
 
 

ON THIS DAY in 1980: Magic Johnson plays all five positions in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
 
In the Know: Which band paid homage to Magic Johnson in their 1989 album Mother’s Milk? (Email chris-sports@cynopsis.comwith your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The Coupe des Mousquetaires is awarded to the winner of which event? Answer:The Men’s Singles winner at the French Open. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Rich Boland-Oath/NY; Ken Nice-TeamPeople/Falls Church; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; David Hauptman/Denver; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank

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