08/22/17: Tencent’s pigskin play; Dickerson’s new team; NFL & F1 roll out esports entities

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Tuesday August 22, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

 
The NFL continues to make headway into the Chinese market, announcing a deal with Tencent for a three-year partnership that makes Tencent Sports the exclusive live digital streaming media partner of the league throughout the country. Tencent will air live and on-demand select preseason games, as well as all Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football games, and select Sunday afternoon games in addition to the playoffs, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons. The deal also features other expanded footage and programming rights, such as the NFL Draft, NFL Combine, and NFL Game Day, as well as programming such as NFL Hard Knocks and A Football Life.
 
“We believe our capability in production, content distribution and fans engagement will help NFL expand its audience profile and elevate the popularity of American football in China,” said Tencent VP Caitlyn Chen. “Tencent Sports has been dedicated to fulfilling the diverse needs of Chinese users by bringing top premium sports content to China, including global sports leagues and tournaments, basketball, soccer, tennis, winter sports and American football, among others. We will continue to maximize the value of the sports right owners via the partnership and enhance the digital entertainment experience for Chinese users. We are committed to contributing to the growth of China’s sports industry.”
 
 
ON THE AIR

Speaking of the NFL, FOX Sports recruited Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson to its roster where he will join FS1 as an NFL analyst. “We couldn’t be more excited to add Eric’s voice to our programming slate,” said Whit Albohm, Vice President, Daily Studio Production for FS1. “His incredible passion for the game and intimate understanding of the NFL make him a great addition to FS1.”
 
In other talent news, Tennis Channel is adding Bethanie Mattek-Sands to its on-air team for its ninth year of US Open coverage running Aug. 28-Sept. 10. Mattek-Sands will act as an analyst for the network, resuming a similar US Open role she took with the channel while recovering from a hip injury in 2014. She will also contribute to special segments with US Open players and interact with fans through social media.
 
Pac-12 Networks announced plans for Football Kickoff Week coverage, lining up the premiere for  new series The 12 Greatest, which will chronicle and countdown the 12 greatest student-athletes ever in football for each Pac-12 university across a dozen half-hour episodes.  The entire season of all 12 episodes will be available to stream via Pac-12 Now starting Saturday at 1p PT. In addition, USC’s edition of the show will be available on Pac-12 Networks YouTube channel starting tomorrow.
 
In international waters, ONE Championship announced that it had partnered exclusively with Mediacorp to broadcast its live events throughout Asia on free-to-air channel oktoSports. “ONE Championship is proud to announce its partnership with Mediacorp,” said Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship. “From its early beginnings in broadcast radio and television, to launching its digital-first news, Mediacorp has provided Singaporeans with original local entertainment, and this is just the first step to a great partnership. ONE Championship was born in Singapore, and we are excited to continue to deliver a unique and authentic martial arts experience to fans all across the country.”
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Major League Baseball and ESPN are teaming up for the bullying prevention initiative called Shred Hate. No Bully, a nonprofit that trains schools how to activate student compassion to eradicate bullying and cyberbullying, will work directly with local school districts through this program with the program active during the 2017-2018 academic year in schools within three MLB markets – Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis. MLB and ESPN will collaborate with No Bully on its curriculum and will support the initiative through various multimedia platforms and other promotional activities.
 
NetJets extended its contract as the Official Private Jet Provider of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions in a deal that runs through 2022, providing flights, marketing support and charitable contributions to assist the PGA TOUR, tournaments and players around the world. “We launched our initial partnership with the PGA TOUR in 2014 and it has been a mutually beneficial arrangement that delivers incredible exposure to our brand and value to the audiences we serve,” said Pat Gallagher, NetJets Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Currently, more than 30 top-ranked PGA TOUR players rely on NetJets to give them a competitive advantage by maximizing their time. We are excited to work together with the PGA TOUR on tournament activations and media opportunities, as well as extending valuable opportunities to our Owners.”
 
ESPN named Droga5 New York as the agency to handle its integrated strategic and creative duties for the overarching ESPN brand as well as the flagship property, SportsCenter. Collaboration between the pair will begin immediately with a new campaign anticipated to debut in the coming months. “We were struck by Droga5’s keen understanding of the ESPN brand as well as their strategic thinking and long-term vision,” said Ed Erhardt, president global sales and marketing. “We look forward to working with them to connect with our fans in new ways.”
 
Meanwhile, ESPN launched a new Monday Night Football campaign, depicting “the challenges fans go through on Mondays before they can settle in and enjoy Monday Night Football.” The first spot focuses on an office worker attempting to get through his 9-5 job, while future spots include depictions of a doctor, a student/barista and a construction worker as they gain yardage toward Monday night. The campaign was created by ESPN’s CreativeWorks group
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

Samford University launched what it describes as the first Center for Sports Analytics in the US with a mission to promote the rational inquiry into issues at the intersection of big data, analytics and sports. “Samford University, located in Birmingham, Alabama, is the ideal place for a center dedicated to advancing analytic decision making in the sports industry,” said Darin W. White, executive director of the center. “Birmingham is home to the Southeastern Conference headquarters, Hibbett Sports, Birmingham Barons, Knight Eady, Bruno Event Team, Colonnade Group and many other sports related entities. In addition, Birmingham has consistently ranked as the top television market in the United States for college football viewing. Birmingham has a long history of being at the forefront of shaping the sports industry in our country.”
 
The Olympic Channel celebrates its one-year anniversary with content that includes more than 6,000 videos representing all Olympic sport disciplines and 206 countries, 30 original series, partnerships with 54 international sport federations and organizations and availability in 11 languages. “The launch of the Olympic Channel was a significant milestone for the entire Olympic Family creating a legacy for years to come,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “It provides us with a new way to engage younger generations and fans with the Olympic Movement, and to get the couch potatoes off the couch. The Olympic Channel’s impact is key to reaching our target audiences through compelling and entertaining content 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
 
Rotoworld will hold its first-ever Beat The Experts Mock Draft streamed live on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and via Facebook Live on the Rotoworld Facebook Page. “Mr. Matchups” Evan Silva, “Statistical Guru” Rich Hribar, “Rankings Expert” Patrick Daugherty as well as “Podcast Pooh Bah” Josh Norris will broadcast live from the NBC Sports studios while they draft against eight Draft Guide users. Once the Mock Draft is completed, another of the Rotoworld writers will grade the mock draft in a column that will be featured on Rotoworld.com.
 
 
ESPORTS

Electronic Arts and the NFL detailed plans for the launch of the Madden NFL Club Championship, a competitive gaming and esports event within the Madden NFL Championship Series that will involve all 32 NFL clubs to mark the largest competitive gaming commitment ever by a US professional sports league. Competition kicks off with the launch of EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 G.O.A.T Edition for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 today with players able to qualify first through online competition with high-performers advancing to tournaments at select NFL stadiums, popular cultural landmarks and more. Once the final 32 players are identified, one per NFL team, they will compete in the Madden NFL Club Championship Live Finals which starts with the Pro Bowl Experience in Orlando and concludes at the Super Bowl Experience.
 
Meanwhile, Formula 1 is taking on esports with the launch of the Formula 1 Esports Series. Play begins next month and  will see fans and gamers from around the world race to be crowned the Formula 1 Esports Series World Champion. The series is a partnership between Formula 1, Codemasters, and Gfinity. The launch of the competition coincides with the release of the official F1 2017 game with competitors racing through three different stages and the first Formula 1 Esports World Champion crowned on the same weekend as the final 2017 Formula 1 Grand Prix. “This launch presents an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans. First, it’s a growing category with tremendous fan engagement that we’re entering in a big way; and we are proud to have Codemasters and Gfinity joining us on this ride.”
 
Finally, Mercedes Benz locked in a deal to partner with ESL with the alliance set to include tournament sponsorships across several global markets beginning with ESL One Hamburg 2017. “Our wide-ranging international commitment to sport allows us to accommodate the interests of our diverse target groups,” said Dr. Jens Thiemer, VP Marketing Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars. “As a brand, we maintain close contact with our customers, are able to build up empathy and to become an accepted part of their world. We have been following the extremely fast-growing esports segment for some time now and are firmly of the opinion that this new involvement will complement our existing sports sponsoring activities with an eye on the future and allow us to make contact with a very interesting, new target group.
 
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1989: The Rangers’ Nolan Ryan notches his 5,000th career strikeout.
 
In the Know: From what school did the Rams draft Eric Dickerson? (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 In honor of today’s eclipse, which NCAA team is known as the Rockets? Answer: Toledo. Kudos: Marc Wollis-Cadent Network/NY; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Larry Gallo, Jr.-University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/Chapel Hill; Mark Lehman-Braves/Atlanta; Michael G. Hawkins-Francis Marion University/Florence; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Jordan Barton-True Media/St. Louis; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Cameron Legge-Fox Sports Arizona/Phoenix; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente
 
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