08/12/19: ESPN execs break down the gameplan for the launch of ACC Network

 

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Good morning. It’s Monday August 12, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

10 days until the launch of ACC Network, with last week seeing ESPN unveil the channel’s new 2,800 square foot home in Bristol and early coverage plans for the college football season. In anticipation of the newest collegiate-branded channel, ESPN had Rosalyn Durant, ESPN senior vice president, college networks and Amy Rosenfeld, ESPN senior coordinating producer and production lead for ACCN, speak with media about the launch.
 
Rosenfeld on launching ACC Network: Ultimately the overarching theme for us was to try to be reflective of the conference itself, and so what we tried to demonstrate through the look and feel of the studio is sort of an ode to the past, a nod to the academic strength of the conference, but also at the same time being forward-thinking, tech forward. So hopefully — that’s not an easy blend with the old and the new, but hopefully we achieved that. One of the interesting parts of the studio is that many times a problem creates innovation, and our problem was that the studio which is kind of like a giant Thomas’s English muffin, so there’s all these nooks and crannies you have to get to, and ultimately the studio is fully robotic other than a jib and a jib operator.
 
Durant on distribution: We are very fortunate also to already have multiple viable options in place for fans to access the network if their home distributor does not carry it. There are four national distributors in place already with DirecTV, Hulu Live TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV is the latest one, and we anticipate more options in the near future.
 
On the distribution negotiating strategy as media evolves: How we think about success for a network launch is the same. It’s about having — we call it a multiplicity of providers, and we’ve always had the traditional, now we also have the streaming providers to add to that mix. We are very pleased with the providers that we already have on board. We wanted this network to be as widely available as possible. Fans deserve that. So we are pleased to have more options, to have four national options ready to go at launch and believe that it will set this network up for tremendous success.
 
On lessons learned from the launch of the SEC and Longhorn Networks: I can tell you that ACC Network will be focused on serving ACC fans. That is where we are. Our content offline will be made for that fan base, catering to the sports and stories that are most important to them, offering them unprecedented access to the programs that the people that they cheer for. Again, you’ve seen many of those announcements. Fans have told us that that’s what they want, and so that’s what we’re delivering, and that’s unique to the ACC. Again, ESPN has a 40-year history, so launching a network and having success with a network is our business and it is what we do, but each one is different, and this one will be no exception.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

Meanwhile, ESPN launched its fourth annual Fantasy Football Marathon this evening at 6p with 28 hours of uninterrupted fantasy football programming. Content is poised to include SportsCenter Special: Fantasy Football Rankings, SportsCenter Special: Fantasy Football Draft and special editions of ESPN’s fantasy football shows: Fantasy Football Now, The Fantasy Show and the Fantasy Focus Football podcast. Senior fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry and NFL Insider Adam Schefter will lead ESPN’s Fantasy Football Marathon commentator team, joining returning hosts Matt Barrie and Dianna Russini. Additionally, Chef Carl Ruiz will again join the marathon for food segments (Tuesday at 12 a.m.) and DJ Rob Swift returns and will be live in studio.
 
beIN SPORTS signed former Canadian National Team Star Kaylyn Kyle to the broadcast team of The Soccer XTRA and The Express for the start of the Ligue 1 2019-2020 season. Kyle will appear on the network’s soccer shows alongside Jeremy St. Louis and the rest of the beIN SPORTS team of analysts and pundits.
 
Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey told investors that Liberty Media is making “good headway” in its moves to add a second race in the US. Miami and Las Vegas remain the two potential landing cities. “I think we’ve made good headway; we are continuing, I have meetings next week with parties there, I had meetings a month ago,” he said. “We feel it’s important; we feel we’re making steps.”
 
HBO’s Hard Knocks is now launching the official “Hard Knocks Podcast,” a new weekly audio feature that will “provide football fans with more insight and conversation on the acclaimed reality series.” Hosted by NFL Network’s Good Morning Football co-host Peter Schrager, the podcast will introduce a new edition for five consecutive weeks matching the run of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Oakland Raiders. Kicking off the series is an interview with former NFL star Ronde Barber.
 
We are one month out! Get your tickets now to the Esports Business Summit, and plug in to the biggest names in the industry, from media and streaming to brands and technology. Don’t miss it and get your tickets now!
 
The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games Organizing Committee announced that Walt Disney World will serve as host of the event that year. The Games will take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports with Disney also providing additional sponsorship and support for the USA Games, acting as Presenting Partner for the Volunteer Program, with ESPN serving as Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports. The event will take place from June 5-11, and host more than 4,000 athletes, 10,000 volunteers, 1,500 coaches, and 125,000 fans from across the country.
 
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Cynopsis is celebrating the 2019 Top Women in Media — the outstanding women across every facet of the media industry — TV, digital/tech, esports, sports, marketing and more. From corporate visionaries to rising stars, they are making bold decisions and driving their businesses forward and they deserve their moment in the spotlight.
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

McLaren is heading back to IndyCar in a fulltime capacity, announcing a partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with the new venture titled Arrow McLaren Racing SP, according to multiple reports. McLaren will be responsible for technical expertise, commercial experience and marketing. “IndyCar has been part of McLaren since our early years of racing, and the series today provides not only a commercial platform to continue to grow our brand in North America, but competition with some of the best teams in international motorsport,” said Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. “We come to IndyCar in full respect of the sport, our competitors, the fans and the task ahead.
 
The NFL is partnering with Hudl and the NFL Legends Youth Advisory Committee to extend the Way to Play initiative to the high school football level, helping highlight “proper playing technique to protect players from unnecessary risk and to foster culture change across all levels of the sport.” The NFL Way To Play High School Award will honor one high school football player weekly for demonstrating exceptional in-game playing technique. announced on NFL Network each Saturday morning, and the school of each honoree will receive a $1,500 equipment grant through USA Football.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

NBC Sports Group and AEG are teaming up to create and deliver the “NBC Sports Pub Pass”, a new customizable Over The Top platform developed specifically for the retail pub/restaurant market in the US to deliver a package of top international sports and sporting competitions for their patrons. The pass is being packaged, targeted and sold to pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants and commercial establishments nationwide as an exclusive subscription service, providing premium content for soccer, rugby, and cycling all within a single subscription
 
ESPN Podcasts reports that it drew 5.8 million in U.S. unique audience, for a gain of 17% over July 2018. This is the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year growth.
 
 
ESPORTS

Echo Fox’s sale of its LCS team to Kroenke Sports and Entertainment is on ice, due to a lawsuit from Sentinels co-founder and CEO Rob Moore that caused the Kroenke group to withdraw its agreement, per ESPN. Last month saw the company agree to pay $30.25 million to acquire Echo Fox’s slot. Echo Fox confirmed that decision in a statement.
 
Twitch Rivals is beefing up for TwitchCon, announcing its biggest live event yet with three days of competition from four top games and more than $1,000,000 awarded to streamers, with the event running Sept. 27-29. The format will see four games played with one day dedicated to each game. Opening day will kick off with a Fortnite competition taking place during primetime. Day Two of TwitchCon will feature League of Legends, bringing back the Rumble on the Rift from TwitchCon San Jose as well as the rivalry between North America and Europe from the showmatch at TwitchCon Berlin. In addition, eight Open Bracket Teamfight Tactics lobbies will be active, featuring Partners and Affiliates from the TwitchCon audience. The winners of this Open Bracket will face off against the biggest Teamfight Tactics superstars in the afternoon finals. Day Three will conclude with a $500,000 Apex Legends tournament with custom lobbies on LAN. Five Stream Teams will take to the stage to prove themselves, while 45 Twitch Partners will take a seat to challenge them in each match.
 
FACEIT detailed plans for Season 8 of the Esports Championship Series, its CS:GO competition. The season kicks off later this month with Open Qualifiers, followed by the Pinnacle Cup before the regular season kicks in starting Sept. 16. FACEIT will be partnering with Caffeine on exclusive content throughout ECS, including the return of ECS After Dark. Season 8 will also see the return of the ECS Community Caster Challenge, exclusively on Caffeine, inviting up and coming commentators to stream their commentary.
 
PUBG execs locked in the dates and location of for this year’s PUBG Global Championship. The group stage will run Nov. 8-10 in LA, followed by the semifinals from Nov. 15-17. The Grand Finals will then move to Oakland, taking pace Nov. 23-24.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Red Sox/Indians on ESPN at 7p.
 
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Our survey is short and won’t take more than 4mins:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CTM2CXN
 

ON THIS DAY in 1851: The first America’s Cup is held.
 
In the Know: Which four countries have won the America’s Cup? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your company and city).
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who portrayed Ty Cobb in the 1994 biopic Cobb? Answer: Tommy Lee Jones. Kudos: Michael Ritz-Northwestern Mutual/NY; Rob Casalaina- ITN/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Art Salisch-CBS-TV/NY; Mark Lehman-Atlanta Braves/Atlanta; Randy Ingram-WISH-TV/WNDY-TV/Indianapolis; Sydney Lowe-MLB Network/Secaucus; Michael Stutts-Bloomin Brands/Tampa; Matthew Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; .Kyle Krebs-NBC5/Telemundo39/Dallas-Ft. Worth; Matt Fumagalli-NBC Sports/Chicago; Jack Hodgson-Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Rich Wolfe-Lone Wolfe Press/Scottsdale; Dave Sikula-San Francisco State University/San Francisco; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Dave Hammargren-KCPQ-KZJO TV/Seattle; Nick Monroe-Monroe

Later — Chris

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