07/17/19: ESPN cemented its fall NFL Countdown plans

 

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Good morning. It’s Wednesday July 17, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

ESPN locked in new commentator lineups for its Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown pregame shows in addition to a formulating a new programming lineup leading into Monday Night Football. Tedy Bruschi is being tapped to join Sunday NFL Countdown with host Sam Ponder, analysts Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Rex Ryan and Louis Riddick, as well as insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, all returning for the three-hour weekly show. Countdown’s stadium reporters will regularly include Josina Anderson, Jeff Darlington, Dan Graziano, Sal Paolantonio and Dianna Russini, and Jac Collinsworth will continue to contribute features.
 
Riddick, who will call his first NFL game as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader on Sept. 9 and provide game analysis during Friday night college football games this fall, will now join the Monday Night Countdown main set as well. In addition, Schefter will now travel to MNF games each week where he will be part of Countdown. In her third year as solo host, Suzy Kolber will continue to lead the Monday Night Football pregame show (with Moss, Riddick and Steve Young, as well as halftime and postgame coverage with Riddick and Young.  Mondays this fall will feature a new ESPN show lineup leading into Monday Night Football, including a one-hour edition of SportsCenter at 4 p.m. ET, hosted by Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves. Also new this year, Mortensen will appear on the set of NFL Live, and will contribute to all SportsCenter shows throughout the day.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

Univision Deportes’ coverage of LigaMX’s Campeón de Campeones, matching Club América and Tigres UANL, the winners of the two most recent tournaments, averaged 1.4 million total viewers, including 758,000 adults 18 to 49. The delivery was the second highest since the event’s 2015 debut in the U.S.
 
Around the dial, NBC Sports and the Premier Lacrosse League report that through the first six weeks of the season, the Chaos-Atlas Week 2 game on NBC ranked as the most-watched outdoor pro lacrosse game in history. The game averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 412,000 viewers across NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Meanwhile, NBC’s Week 3 game between Chrome LC and Atlas LC averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 308,000 viewers across NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, ranking as the second-most watched outdoor pro lacrosse game in history.
 
Tennis Channel will serve up the induction of Li Na, Mary Pierce and Yevgeny Kafelnikov into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 20 at 6 p.m. In addition to presenting the speeches and festivities surrounding the players, who combined to win 12 Grand Slam event among them, the network is providing live coverage of Hall of Fame Open for the Van Allen Cup throughout the week, including the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship match on July 22 at 2p.
 
With the kickoff of the 2019 college football season about six weeks out, ESPN named its on-air announcing squads for the SEC Network. The trio of Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic will team for a third season on the network’s marquee matchup on Saturday nights. Team 3D — Dave Neal, DJ Shockley and Dawn Davenport — is back on Saturday afternoons, while SEC Network studio Alyssa Lang will take her talents to the sidelines, joining play-by-play man Taylor Zarzour and analyst Matt Stinchcomb.
 
The Olympic Channel reached agreements with the international governing bodies for arm wrestling, chess, dragon boat, icestocksport, lifesaving and sepaktakraw to collaborate on content offerings. The pacts boosts the global platform’s federation partner roster to 91. “The Olympic Channel provides a platform for the promotion of all sports and athletes within the Olympic Movement,” said Mark Parkman, General Manager of Olympic Channel. “We look forward to working together to help expand the reach of these sports and athletes to fans and new audiences around the world.”
 
As part of the Emmy-winning mini-documentary series Beyond the Wheel, Fox Sports 1 will debut NASCAR Goes Country on its NASAR RaceHub show at 6 p. on July 17. The film takes viewers back to 1975, when a number of the sport’s notable drivers, including Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, and Bobby Allison, came to Bradley’s Barn near Nashville to record a country album.
 
The U.S., Mexico and Brazil claimed titles at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Gold Cup and Copa America, respectively. But there is still plenty of international soccer on tap. BeIN Sports and BeIN Sports en Espanol will present the third-place match of the Africa Cup of Nations between Tunisia and Nigeria on July 17 at 2:50p. and the final, pitting Senegal and Algeria, at the same time on July 19. The networks, the U.S. rights-holders to France’s lead circuit Ligue 1, will also present a quartet of friendlies showcasing league power Paris Saint-German, which drubbed SG Dynamo Dresden 6-1 yesterday afternoon. Club coverage extends to the Western Sydney Wanderers and Leeds United on July 20 and Angers SCO and Arsenal on July 31.
 
Meanwhile, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS and streaming service ESPN+ will combine to cover the 2019 International Champions Cup and several club preseason matches through August 18. Exclusive coverage of the 2019 International Champions Cup, squaring Fiorentina vs Chivas, kicked off last night on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

With X Game Minneapolis 2019 set from August 1-4 at U.S. Bank Stadium, ESPN is putting the finishing touches on its sponsor roster Wendy’s is joining returning sponsors Hotels.com, Monster Energy, Nexcar First Aid Products, Pacifico, SoFi, The Real Cost and Harley-Davidson. Geico will once again serve as the official music stage sponsor.  The packages include a media presence within the 18 hours of coverage scheduled on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and the ESPN App, as well as content creation and on-site activation at the event.
 
Liverpool FC is partnering with Electronic Arts in a new long-term partnership that will see EA SPORTS become the club’s official football simulation game partner, ahead of the launch of EA SPORTS FIFA 20, available worldwide in September. The partnership will see the club and EA SPORTS work together to create content.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

World TeamTennis, which began its 44th season on July 14, inked international streaming deals. In China, coverage of all of the eight-team circuit’s 59 regular-season matches will be available in China for the first time through video hosting service Youku’s website. In Latin America, Claro Sports and its digital brand, MARCA Claro will air seven WTT matches.
 
Yahoo! Sports launched short-from docuseries Play it Forward, providing looks at NFL players and how they give back. Produced by Bright Bay Creative, in association with Complex Networks, the 11-minute episode premiere on Yahoo! Sports on Mondays and Thursdays over an eight-week stretch affording a look at different players during offseason training. Among those under the spotlight: Antonio Brown, Kirk Cousins and Nick Chubb.
 
 
ESPORTS

With home games in the cards for its third season, Overwatch League mapped out a slate of changes that will occur in its schedule in 2020, including a realignment of its divisions. The Atlantic Conference will now see a North Division comprising the Boston Uprising, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Paris Eternal, and Toronto Defiant. The South Division will house the Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, Philadelphia Fusion, and Washington Justice. The Pacific Conference, meanwhile, sees an East Division made up of the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty, while the West Division features the Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Valiant, Los Angeles Gladiators, San Francisco Shock, and Vancouver Titans. Scheduling will see 52 homestand weekend events hosted at venues across the world, with each team hosting a pair. On top of those, teams in each division will also collectively host three additional regular-season events in their home territories and play 28 matches over the course of the regular season.
 
100 Thieves locked up its Series B funding round, raising $35 million for the team. Investment was led by Artist Capital Management with Josh Dienstag, its Chief Investment Officer, joining 100 Thieves’ board of directors. In addition, the round included investment from Aglaé Ventures. 100 Thieves will leverage the capital to fund esports, apparel, and content.
 
ReKTGlobal is shoring up its executive ranks, adding Michael “ODEE” O’Dell as Chief Gaming Officer. In addition, the company announced that Kevin Knocke had been promoted to Chief Creative Officer. O’Dell joins after serving as GM of Dignitas, which he founded in in 2003. In his new role, O’Dell will work across ReKTGlobal, its Riot Games League of Legends European Championship franchise in Berlin and subsidiaries Rogue and Greenlit Content, developing strategy, forging client partnerships and brand sponsorships, and working with the organizational heads to add value globally.
 
 
INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Bill Rasmussen, who founded ESPN in 1979, has revealed that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014. He had elected to keep the news private, but in recent years the symptoms have begun to show and he wrote on ESPN’s Front Row website that he is now committed to advocating for research, treatment and support for others similarly afflicted. As part of his outreach, the now 86-year-old will throw out the first pitch of the Sunday Night Baseball game between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park on Sept. 8, along with ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro. Rasmussen has also scheduled visits with the sports programmer’s employees in Charlotte, New York, Los Angeles and its headquarters in Bristol. Conn. 
 
NBC Sports Northwest has hired veteran sports writer Joe Fann as an NFL and Seattle Seahawks Insider. The Seattle native will cover the Seahawks, creating multiplatform content throughout the year. Reports on the squad’s coaches and players and league news will appear on the regional sports network’s air, website and the MyTeams by NBC Sports app social media; and podcasts.
 
New Hampshire will allow for sports betting on mobile devices, as well at 10 retail locations. The wagering — on professional sports and Division 1 college sports, save for those within the state — is expected to generate an $7.5 million for education in fiscal 2021 and $13.5 million two years later. The state’s lottery commission will regulate the new industry.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Rays/Yankees in The Bronx on ESPN at 7p.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 2011, Japan beats the U.S. on penalties to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Frankfurt, Germany.
 
In the Know: Cleveland ended Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak on this day 78 years ago. Which team stopped the Yankee Clipper’s subsequent run of 16 consecutive games with a hit? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your company and city).
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which WWE wrestler most famously had a finishing move known as the Camel Clutch? Answer: The Iron Sheik. Kudos: Brian Traynor-Endeavor/NY; Michael Ritz-Northwestern Mutual/NY; Chris Long-Draftkings/NY; Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Peter Schlossmacher-NCC Media/Atlanta; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Carter Cook-Wake Forest University/Winston-Salem; Michael Narracci-NESN/Watertown; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Andrew Briggs-The CW/Burbank; Tom Tyrer-Circle Change Media/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
 
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