08.28.15 Good morning. It’s Friday August 28, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group confirmed yesterday that it is entering the Ironman competition, and will buy parent company World Triathlon Corp for $650 million. The WSJ broke the news with the company proclaiming World Triathlon Group as a “jewel in the crown of world endurance sports," according to the AP. And that the deal will bring international competition in the sport to China for the first time. Meanwhile, according to the company, following the acquisition, Wanda will become the largest sports operating company in the world.
DirecTV and Pac-12 Networks are reportedly close to giving the channels national distribution in time for football season. Multiple reports, and broken by TVPredictions, state that the satellite carrier is testing high-definition and standard-definition signals on channel 612 that would be dedicated to the national Pac-12 Network feed once a deal is in place. The company issued a statement earlier this week stating that it was hoping to have the deal locked in before the Pac-12 college football season kicks off on Sept. 3. "We know that DirecTV subscribers have been frustrated not having access to Pac-12 Networks," the network said. "Our biggest partner, AT&T, recently acquired DirecTV and we are working hard on strengthening and expanding our partnership to include carriage of Pac-12 Networks on DirecTV. With football season quickly approaching, we want to make sure Pac-12 Networks are available to fans on DirecTV in time for our opening games on September 3."
ESPN made its NFL Commentator/Reporter assignments for the upcoming season. Taking the role of National NFL Insider will be Josina Anderson, who will become the first female to take on the role for the network. Anderson now joins a field that includes Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, John Clayton, Ed Werder, Adam Caplan and Field Yates. Anderson will now make regular in-studio appearances as a panelist on ESPN’s weekday NFL Insiders in addition to NFL Live, SportsCenter and other programs. Meanwhile, NFL team executive Joe Banner has joined ESPN as a Front Office Insider. He will appear primarily on weekday editions of NFL Insiders beginning Sept. 3 and contribute to SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and other platforms. The network also announced that Sheil Kapadia has been named ESPN NFL Nation’s Seattle Seahawks reporter.
HBO’s Hard Knocks continues to drive, with the third Texans-driven episode drawing 888,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, making it the most watched premiere so far this season. That tally is up 26% over last year’s equitable outing with the premiere telecasts now averaging a 28% spike over the first three episodes a year ago.
NBC is now casting for its newest competition series, Spartan Race (working title). The team-driven competition will see friends, families and co-workers work together to race across specially designed Spartan courses “engineered to test their determination, endurance, and will.” Extending the Spartan Race brand, teams of five will be comprised of two men, two women, and a top Spartan athlete for a chance to win a large cash prize. Interested parties can visit www.spartancasting.com.
Catching up on regional sports media news, FOX Sports Southeast unveiled a three-person telecast team for the upcoming Hornets season, which will include Stephanie Ready, who will become the first full-time female NBA game analyst. Ready joins Eric Collins on play-by-play and Dell Curry, who returns to FOX Sports Southeast as a game analyst.
Saturday will see MSG Networks offer live coverage of The Travers Stakes at 5p on MSG+ in addition to NBC’s national coverage. The race will see Triple Crown winner American Pharoah run in Saratoga. For a look at what to expect at Saturday’s race, MSG+ will showcase Saratoga Insider: Travers’ Preview today at 7p.
ESPN New York 98.7FM locked in a three-year extension with Don La Greca for the longtime radio host to remain with the station as co-host of The Michael Kay Show. The program is broadcast from 3-7p weekdays and has been simulcast on the YES Network since February 2014.
CSN Mid-Atlantic announced that Geico Football Central will return Sept. 8 to offer daily coverage of the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens and the NFL. This year’s show will include special weekly editions featuring the Sports Junkies and fantasy football content.
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NASCAR announced that Chicago will once again play host to NASCAR Chase Fest sponsored by Toyota on Sept. 17 from 2-9p. The free outdoor fan fest will feature all 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Challengers and wrap up with a live concert by Grammy-nominated band, 3 Doors Down as well as appearances and autograph sessions from all 16 drivers competing in the Challenger Round. “The days leading into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup have become a signature moment in our sport,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “With the support of Toyota, Sprint and Chicagoland Speedway, we expect to deliver an engaging fan experience that builds anticipation for the most competitive stretch of our season.”
Skechers is tying itself to the LA Marathon for years to come thanks to a new multi-year partnership that will see Skechers Performance become the official title sponsor of the Los Angeles Marathon. Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon will be held on Feb. 14, 2016 and will now see the brand have a prominent presence at all marathon week activities including the Los Angeles Marathon Health & Fitness Expo, where Skechers Performance will sell official race merchandise featuring the newly created Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon event logo. Additionally, Skechers Performance will outfit course volunteers and staff, and provide finishers’ shirts for all runners.
Voya Financial takes on the US Open with Brad Gilbert returning with a series of six videos under the “Gilbert’s Glossary” thematic. The brand originally premiered six tennis-themed videos during Wimbledon which generated more than 4 million views. The US Open slate is in addition to the company’s sponsorship of ESPN’s Wimbledon telecast, which features a number of media rights including commercial inventory, live Voya “Bench Talk” segments with accompanying graphics and audio mentions, and the debut of 360-degree “freeD” replay technology with Voya on-screen branding.
The Barclays will see FedEx play host to a Defining Moments video series to help fans relive the greatest shots in FedExCup Playoffs history. The first video can be found here and relives Steve Stricker’s 2007 Barclays win and Matt Kuchar’s 2010 sudden death playoff victory. The slate is designed to serve as an extension of FedEx Cares, a charitable platform that began in 2004.
Just ahead of college football season, Delta Air Lines locked in a slew of deals with universities that will embed the airline and its employees in campus and alumni events, academics and career recruiting and counseling. New schools include Duke, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Engagement will include tailgates featuring College Football Legend appearances, a social photo capture and sharing hub, lounge space with feeds of college football games and a central presence for Midnight Madness and the start of the 2015-16 college basketball season at universities such as Michigan State and Duke.
FC Bayern Munich is entering a partnership with Columbia University to support the curriculum of Columbia’s Sports Management Master of Science program. FC Bayern will be the graduate program’s exclusive European club partner in the US and will support the graduate program with content for instruction and dialogue within the classroom setting including guest lecturers, case studies and other resources benefiting the program’s key areas of focus: the global sports market, digital sports media and sports analytics, using FC Bayern’s model and track record of global branding and financial success.
The Players’ Tribune is getting in the film business, launching a new series, dubbed From Somewhere, in partnership with POWERADE. The series debuts on Sept. 2 will hit the hometowns of athletes David Ortiz, Diana Taurasi, Earl Thomas and David Villa to tell their stories of where they are from and how they got to where they are. “Every athlete is from somewhere, and that place is so often instrumental in their eventual success,” said Jaymee Messler, president of The Players’ Tribune. “We’re excited to partner with POWERADE to introduce TPT’s first branded digital film series that will give fans unprecedented access and unique insight to four inspiring athletes.”
The Topps Company is getting into the autographed memorabilia game via a partnership with Astros rookie Carlos Correa. The deal will see Correa’s autographed memorabilia sold exclusively through Topps, which is a first-of-its-kind deal for the longstanding company. In addition, autographed trading cards of Correa will be found exclusively in Topps products, including its popular Topps BUNT digital app. The seven-figure deal spans multiple years.
Raycom Sports, in partnership with KIOTI Tractor, launched the ACC QB Challenge Presented by KIOTI Tractor. The football gaming app is a free download through Apple and Google Play app stores and allows fans to compete in passing challenges as their favorite school. As part of the app’s launch, KIOTI is offering fans an opportunity to win a KIOTI CS2410 tractor with the 2015 ACC QB Challenge – KIOTI Tractor Giveaway.
MBC Pro Sports is tapping the services of Reality Check Systems’ LaunchPad touchscreen solution. The Dubai-based broadcaster recently outfitted its studio with the cloud-based technology, which it began using this month to bring viewers real-time player, team and match data; video replays; Tweets; telestrations; and analysis in Arabic. MBC will utilize the company’s feature set for highlights and review programming across four competitions including the Saudi Pro League and Crown Prince Cup.
FanDuel locked in a partnership with Sportradar to receive the official NFL data feed that will power its fantasy football competitions. “We are building the best technologies, products and features for sports fans and part of that is offering our users the most accurate and most compelling content,” said Nigel Eccles, CEO and co-founder, FanDuel. “Sportradar has built an incredible platform and we are partnering with them to complement our core product by delivering the fastest play-by-play feed to our players.”
Here comes college football. North Dakota State/Montana on ESPN on Saturday at 3:30p.
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