06/10/19: FOX Sports’ Mark Loomis breaks down the company’s approach to golf

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Good morning. It’s Monday June 10, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 

The Women’s World Cup isn’t the only big-ticket event driving FOX Sports this week. Thursday sees the company tee off on the 119th U.S. Open Championship from Pebble Beach across FOX, FS1, FOX Deportes, FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports App brought to audiences courtesy of 455 technicians and 72 support staff, with 121 total cameras slated to deliver the action.
 
Cynopsis Sports asked Mark Loomis, FOX Sports’ Executive Producer for USGA studio and event production, about the company’s evolving approach to the staple event, the challenges the company faces in producing the action, and the iconic setting of Pebble Beach.
 
Loomis on Pebble Beach: If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s one of the most beautiful places you can imagine.  I think the elevation changes and drops from the golf course down to the Pacific Ocean are the most unique part about it.  The contrast between the water, cliffs and golf course is beautiful to see in person, but also translates incredibly well to television. Then you add the fact that people are familiar with it, either from playing it or seeing it on TV, but also because of the great history of U.S. Open Champions there like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods.  It’s really a perfect combination of setting, golf course and history that make it such a special place to play the U.S. Open.
 
On challenges: I think we need to do our best to show off that setting in ways people might not have seen before.  When we went to Erin Hills a couple of years ago very few people had ever seen that course, so finding ways to highlight the setting was pretty easy.  Pebble Beach has been on TV so many times, our challenge is to find ways to dig a little deeper.  You can do that with new camera angles like the drone we’ve put out in Stillwater Cove to see the course from that angle, and we have features that highlight the area and its history.  It’s not hard to make Pebble Beach look good, but it’s not easy to find new ways to show it off since it is so recognizable to so many people. 
 
On producing golf: There aren’t many sports besides golf that you don’t see every play, or in golf’s case every shot.  In most sports, the playing field is right in front of you, you show every play and then you supplement those plays with replays, graphics and other production tools.  In golf, your most important job is to show shots that are happening all over the course at the same time.  Every time you stop to show production elements, you’re potentially sacrificing the action.  On the other hand, if you just go shot to shot and don’t give the viewer any context, you’re not doing your job either. We’re lucky to have a limited number of commercials at the U.S. Open – and on Sunday when the leaders play the last few holes we have uninterrupted coverage.  The other challenge is just the sheer size of the playing field.  It’s like covering 18 different football fields.  We’ve had people out there for weeks setting up TV towers, fiber and other equipment.  Those people don’t always get a lot of credit, but without their knowledge and hard work there would be no golf to show.
 
On new production elements: From the beginning of our coverage five years ago, we’ve had a lot of success with tracing the golf ball in a couple of different ways.  We’ll expand on that this year with a couple of new angles, including putting, and by adding tracer technology to the driving range.  We’ll have a digital channel devoted to players on the range, which I think will be an interesting way to go in-depth on the players and their technique early in the week and as they prepare for their rounds.  We’re also going to see if we can take the pylon cameras that have been used on football and use them on a golf course.  We’ll use penalty area stakes in a couple of places we think people are most likely to hit their ball into and still have the ability to play out of.
 
On lessons learned: I think you just have to make sure that golf fans are getting what they want most.  Good coverage of golf shots, insightful commentary, information about the challenges of the course and why a player is doing well or poorly.  I mentioned the tracers before and I think it’s a great example of what we can do to bring the golf course to life. That technology makes viewers feel like they’re on the tee or fairway watching the ball take flight. It doesn’t get in the way, but it is something we really focused on from the beginning of our coverage in 2015.  I think it probably caught people a little off guard initially because we used it more than anyone one had before. The shots were a little wider to see the trace, and it wasn’t a traditional way to watch golf. Eventually, viewers got used to it and realized the value in the different perspective.  People tell me all of the time now that we can’t do it enough, and you’ve seen that duplicated in other golf telecasts.  In a lot of ways, our coverage at FOX mirrors that.  Over the last few years people have come to appreciate the fact that we aren’t afraid to try something new. They realize that we’re not just doing things because we can, but to make the viewing experience better.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

Meanwhile, the Women’s World Cup continues to deliver for FOX Sports as the company reports growth for the first two days of the event, with metered market Nielsen scores up 11% over 2015 and 79% over 2011. Both Norway/Nigeria and Spain/Suth Africa delivered a 1.0/3 on FOX.
 
Around the dial, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC drew a 3.97 overnight score, off-pace from last year’s recording-setting and series-clinching Game 5 between Vegas/Washington although up 29% vs. 2017’s Game 5 with Nashville/Pittsburgh. The contest ranks as NBC’s second-best Game 5 overnight in five years (behind last year). With a 30.1 metered market rating in St. Louis market, this was the highest rated Blues game ever on the networks of NBC in the market.
 
NBC also saw its coverage of the Belmont Stakes make gains, as Saturday’s race posted a 3.6/9 overnight score, up 6% from the last Belmont that had no Triple Crown bid in 2017. Top markets included Ft. Myers with a 7.6/16, followed by Louisville, Buffalo, Raleigh and Orlando.
 
Meanwhile, ESPN reports that its college softball coverage saw double-digit viewership growth throughout the season scoring its most-watched Women’s College World Series production since 2015, most-viewed Super Regionals since 2008 and best regular season since 2016. Overall, ESPN’s coverage of this year’s 15-game Women’s College World Series tournament (May 30 – June 4) averaged one million (1,046,000) viewers up, 20% year-over-year. The two-game championship series (June 3-4) between the UCLA Bruins and Oklahoma Sooners averaged 1,574,000 viewers, up 13% year over year. The Bruins championship clinching game two win averaged 1,799,000 viewers, up 17% year-over-year.
 
The NBA and Zignia Live announced that the NBA Mexico City Games 2019 will feature the Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs playing two regular-season games at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, marking the first time that four NBA teams will play in Mexico in one regular-season. The Mavericks/Pistons will play on Dec. 12 while the Spurs/Suns square off on Dec. 14. The games will be broadcast live on ESPN Deportes, Televisa and NBA League Pass in Mexico.
 
Elsewhere, Major League Baseball announced that the St Louis Cardinals will host the Chicago Cubs in a rivalry matchup in London in 2020. Taking place June 13 and 14 at London Stadium, the series follows this year’s Red Sox/Yankees matchup in the city. “The Cardinals-Cubs rivalry is one of the best in sports, and it will be exciting to bring it to Europe for a new audience to experience,” said William DeWitt Jr, Cardinals chairman and chief executive. “I have no doubt that the passionate sports fans in London will love these games and we look forward to creating some new Cardinals fans overseas.”
 
Back to the U.S. Open. Golf Channel detailed its coverage plans this week, running June 10-16 and led by Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open, with more than 60 total hours of live news coverage throughout the week. Tonight will also include GOLF Channel carrying the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony beginning at 7p featuring the class of 2019 that includes the late Peggy Kirk Bell, Retief Goosen, Billy Payne, Jan Stephenson and Dennis Walters.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
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It’s the only way to buy premium inventory upfront, at a fixed cost, through a managed service. Showcase campaigns align to how you do business: they’re bought on an insertion order and guaranteed against Nielsen demographics.
 
Take a minute to hear from Facebook’s Director of North America Agency, Erik Geisler, about how (and why) they rolled out Facebook Showcase:
 
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Dunkin’ and the National Hockey League locked in a new multi-year agreement that will keep Dunkin’ the official U.S. coffee, donut and breakfast sandwich of the NHL. Dunkin’ will remain a significant presence across the NHL’s broadcast and digital platforms in the U.S., and will continue to be featured at NHL jewel events — such as the NHL Winter Classic®, NHL® All-Star Weekend and NHL Stadium Series. Dunkin’ also maintains a multi-million dollar partnership with NBC Sports for custom in-game features and dasherboard visibility, as well as advertising across broadcast, digital and social media channels throughout the NHL season.
 
Canada’s TSN, which is playing host to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, unlocked an extensive, multi-platform partnership with Visa for the network’s coverage of the tournament. The partnership includes the production of custom content airing throughout the tournament, as well as digital and social media executions featuring Canadian Women’s National Team captain and Team Visa athlete Christine Sinclair. 
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & STREAMING

DraftKings is taking on the Women’s World Cup with daily fantasy games throughout the competition, which also makes women’s soccer the 13th DFS category for DraftKings. Meanwhile, New Jersey and Mississippi soccer fans will also be able to legally bet on the Women’s World Cup for the first time via DraftKings Sportsbook, with mobile only available in New Jersey. “All eyes will be on the matches in France, and we are excited to offer soccer fans a more engaging way to enjoy the action,” said Matt Kalish, Chief Revenue Officer at DraftKings. “The passion of our fans informs our innovation and product roadmap, so for such a special event that only comes along every four years, we wanted to ensure our full complement of offerings would be at their fingertips.”
 
 
ESPORTS

Competitive gaming platform FACEIT and Riot Games are teaming up to launch the ‘Scouting Grounds Circuit,’ opening the door for League of Legends players to enter the pro scene. With a total prize pool of $60,000, the first season of the official qualifying circuit for LCS Scouting Grounds will take part during the months of July, August, and September and will see the top teams from the North American League of Legends scene compete in a multi-stage tournament. The two highest ranked teams will qualify for Riot Games’ LCS Scouting Grounds event in November, one step closer to competing in the prestigious League of Legends Championship Series (LCS).
 
Esports Championship Series organizer FACEIT is also launching a new show via Caffeine that will serve as an exclusive overtime show during the ECS Season 7 Finals and titled ECS After Dark. The show will be hosted by Freya Spiers and Pala Gilroy Sen.
 
Golden Tee, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, will see ESPN carry the Golden Tee World Championship, showcased as a 30-minute program that will run later this summer. “The World Championship is the perfect culmination of Golden Tee’s 30th anniversary,” said Don Pesceone, IT’s VP of Amusements. “We pride ourselves as one of the original esports, and our collaboration with ESPN speaks volumes to the longevity and competitive nature of our game that has been the driving force for decades.” The event takes place in Las Vegas from June 21-23.
 
 
INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

BIG3 and 90 Plus Group, led by China Chairman Richard Chiang, announced a partnership that will bring the 3-on-3 basketball league to China in late 2019. “Since our debut season, BIG3 has quickly developed into the premier 3×3 league in the world,” said league founder Ice Cube. “Our game travels well, with globally recognized players competing at the highest level. We’re eager to make an impact in China and expand the excitement around the game.”
 
QuintEvents, a global, travel/event/experience provider, announced the acquisition of Grand Prix Events, a UK-based specialist in Formula 1 related corporate hospitality, luxury travel and experiences. “Having Grand Prix Events join our team will be a huge boost to our F1® Experiences business in both the UK and throughout Europe,” said Keith Bruce, International President of QuintEvents.  “The Grand Prix Events team has a first-class reputation in the industry and has done a superb job growing their F1® related business. Grand Prix Events, coupled with Exclusive GP, will now give QuintEvents a much larger footprint to help us develop and service our clients who are looking for exceptional sporting events and related experiences”.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Warriors/Raptors on ABC at 9p.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Here’s to Top Women in Media.
May we know them.
May we be them.
May we CELEBRATE them.
 
Cynopsis Top Women in Media Awards Gala
September 9 | 5:45PM – 8PM | Tribeca Rooftop, NYC
 
This will be the biggest gala event celebrating women in the industry.
 

ON THIS DAY in 1979: Chris Evert claims her third French Open singles crown.
 
In the Know: Which country is the only back-to-back champion in the FIFA Women’s World Cup? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who was the first Triple Crown winner? Answer: Sir Barton. Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Keith Marder-Halstead Real Estate/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Mike Seidel-CSI Sports/Jersey City; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Rich Wolfe-Lone Wolfe Press/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA
 
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