05/16/18: Turner taps talents of Abdo; Postseasons continue viewership spikes; Amgen back for another ride

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Thursday May 17, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

 
Turner’s Upfront presentation in New York saw the company name soccer broadcaster Kate Abdo as a studio host for Turner and Bleacher Report’s UEFA Champions League coverage, beginning with the upcoming 2018-19 season. Abdo will serve as the primary host for the league’s studio shows originating from Turner Studios in Atlanta, with studio coverage airing across Turner’s television networks. She currently serves as a studio host for Fox Sports’ soccer programming including the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
 
 
ON THE AIR

In ratings news, ESPN’s coverage of the Celtics victory over the Cavaliers on Tuesday scored a 6.5 metered market rating, making it the highest-rated Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 since 2012. The contest was up 71% from last year’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 2, featuring the same matchup and up 51% over ESPN’s Western Conference Finals Game 2 in 2017.
 
Meanwhile, NBC reports that the Western Conference Final between the Golden Knights and Jets is connecting with audiences, averaging a Total Audience Delivery of 1.841 million viewers through two games to rank as the most-watched non-Chicago WCF in NBC Sports Group history (since 2006); and the most-watched WCF in three years and up 70% over Nashville/Anaheim a year ago. Wednesday night’s Lightning/Capitals ECF Game 3 drew a TAD of 1.513 million viewers, up 33% from the comparable game a year ago. Overall, Total Audience Delivery for NBC Sports’ coverage of the entire 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues to be the best in six years, including a combined Conference Final TAD of 1.776 million viewers through four games, the best in three years (and up 3% vs. last year.
 
ABC’s early Saturday Night Football offerings are locked and loaded for the the 2018 college football season. The network’s prime time campaign begins with the 2018 Camping World Kickoff: Louisville/Alabama on Sept. 1 at 8p, with a special kickoff weekend Sunday night prime time game the next night pitting Miami/LSU at 7:30p. In week 2, the channel serves up Penn State/Pitt on Sept. 8 at 8p, with week 3 showcasing Ohio State/TCU on Sept. 15 at 8p.
 
United World Sports announced a new expanded agreement with ESPN to carry the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the national title event for men’s and women’s college Rugby 7’s. The 2018 event will again be held at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. from June 1-3.
 
Golf Channel once again drives college golf through the next two weeks at the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf National Championships, lining up more than 60 hours of live tournament and news coverage on-site from Karsten Creek Golf Club. The channel’s live tournament coverage of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships begins on May 21 with coverage on May 22-23 set to include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion. The following week (May 28-30) the same programming schedule will take place for the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships.
 
ESPN’s coverage of the 2018 WNBA season will tips off on Sunday at 5p on ESPN2 when with the Sparks/Lynx. Holly Rowe will hit the commentary booth and provide play-by-play alongside analyst Rebecca Lobo, with reporter LaChina Robinson. Katie Douglas will serve as a studio analyst for the opener. Ryan Ruocco will return as the lead play-by-play voice through the remainder of the season with analyst Lobo and reporter Rowe, while commentator Pam Ward will team with analyst Kara Lawson and reporter Robinson on select games. ESPN will have several special telecasts this season featuring unique production methods tailored to offer commentary and analysis from some of the best voices in the game. For example, the May 24 telecast will see Lobo and Lawson will be 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.
 
Speaking of ESPN, the company announced that the hundreds of athletes who spoke out in court about the extensive abuse suffered at the hands of former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor Larry Nassar will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award when The 2018 ESPYS air live on July 18 at 8p on ABC. “We are honored to recognize the courage of these women at The 2018 ESPYS, to acknowledge the power of their voices, and to shine a very well-deserved spotlight on what speaking up, fighting back, and demanding accountability can accomplish,” said Alison Overholt, Vice President and Editor in Chief, ESPN The Magazine, espnW, and The ESPYS. “They have shown us all what it truly means to speak truth to power, and through their bravery, they are making change for future generations. By honoring this group who spoke out, we aim to honor all of those who are survivors of abuse.” 
 
Meanwhile, Michigan State University said Wednesday that it will pay $500 million to the 332 alleged victims of sexual abuse at the hands of former faculty member and sports team doctor Nassar in a move to end the lineup of civil claims filed against the university over the past year.
 
UFC confirmed its first-ever event in Russia, set to be held later this year at Olimpiyskiy Arena in Moscow on Sept. 15 for UFC Fight Night Moscow. “Russia is a key part of UFC’s international expansion strategy,” commented David Shaw, Senior Vice President, UFC International and Content. “The demand from our fans to bring a live event to Russia has been overwhelming, and with the vast potential this market holds for us, we knew this was the perfect time to bring UFC Fight Night to Moscow.” As part of UFC’s commitment to the market, Andre Gromkovski has been appointed as Vice President, UFC Russia.
 
Craig Carton is set to return to broadcast radio, with Focus 360 announcing his nationally syndicated series Carton & Friends. The daily, three-hour program will feature conversation about sports and pop culture running weekdays from 9a-noon starting May 29 on the Sports Byline USA Network, which includes broadcast radio, the American Forces Network, and numerous digital platforms.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
 
AEG, the owner and operator of the Amgen Tour of California, announced that it is renewing its agreement with Amgen to extend their relationship. The renewal agreement, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, provides Amgen with naming rights and other exclusive sponsorship benefits for the Tour de France-style eight-day professional cycling road race, which travels annually across more than 800 miles of California’s most scenic roadways, highways, and coastline drives.
 
The Hertz Corporation signed on with Hendrick Motorsports as a primary sponsor of William Byron and his No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team beginning in 2018. As part of the two-year agreement, Hertz will be primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in four points-paying Cup Series races in both 2018 and 2019 and an associate-level partner in all other events. Additionally, Hertz will sponsor Byron in the non-points 2018 NASCAR All-Star Race weekend events at the driver’s hometown track of Charlotte Motor Speedway.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

CBS Sports HQ named Evan Washburn as an anchor. Beginning this week, he joins the team in leading the platform’s live streaming coverage. Evan will continue in his role as a reporter for THE NFL ON CBS, and also as a college basketball reporter, studio host and lacrosse analyst for CBS Sports Network.
 
Sports Illustrated TV and Major League Baseball announced a new licensing and original content agreement. The arrangement provides SI TV with access to MLB’s library of games, documentaries and shows, as well as includes a co-production deal for two original long-form documentaries. SI TV will also curate MLB games that range from “iconic moments to recent classics” with the first games to air dubbed “Ace’s Choice,” a reference to top pitchers. Sports Illustrated asked four Hall-of-Fame pitchers — Nolan Ryan, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson — to choose their favorite outings and their picks will be shown in their entirety on SI TV. The alliance also includes a co-production deal that will partner MLB and SI TV on two original baseball documentaries. The first film, “14 Back,” is currently in production and will be helmed by 11-time Emmy award-winning director/producer Jonathan Hock.
 
ESPN Digital reports that its platforms served 80.8 million unique fans in the US in April, while short form video starts across ESPN Digital platforms totaled 778.8 million in April, up 50% year-over-year.
 
Amazon Prime Video will be airing live coverage of the 2018 AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour season starting this week with the Austin Open. Prime members in more than 200 countries and territories will have access to live and on-demand AVP content throughout the 2018 Pro Tour Season.
 
 
ESPORTS

In this week’s edition of Cynopsis Esports & Gaming      
  • Esports awaits betting blitz
  • Measuring streamers’ brand affinity
  • Team Vitality foes Infront
  • Dreamhack adds a heavyweight
  • Esports fans want a ride
  • At three, Discord shows harmony
  • E3 updates
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

 
The Professional Fighters League named Mark Nolan as Executive Vice-President of Global Partnerships and Media Sales while Jason Brown will join the PFL as Vice-President of Digital. Nolan spent over 20 years in a number of executive and sales roles with NBC Olympics, the Golf Channel, ESPN’s Global Expansion of the X Games action sports franchise, and Endeavor’s PBR & Country Music Festivals. Brown worked at The New York Racing Association, Inc. where he helped lead the organization’s digital transformation, including launches for its modern, responsive websites including the Belmont Stakes and Saratoga Race Course, live streaming products, and fan experience mobile application
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Lightning/Capitals Game 4 on NBCSN at 8p.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1998: David Wells pitches a perfect game against the Twins.
 
In the Know: Which team was David Wells playing for during his perfect game? (Hint, it isn’t the Twins.) (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: Which band paid homage to Magic Johnson in their 1989 album Mother’s Milk?  Answer: The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kudos: Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Networks/NY; Traci Liner-Endeavor/NY; Deborah Kapetanakis-Universal McCann/NY; Jamie Euster-Endeavor/NY; Matt Laramee-MMSI/Warwick;Rick Wiener-Allebach Communications/Philadelphia; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Sonia Durr-Carat/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Stations; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Kiri Klawitter-Big Ten Network Sports Media Group/Chicago; Rich Greene-Casa Del Verde Entertainment/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank

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