09.04.15 Good morning. It’s Friday September 4, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Yesterday’s news that US District Judge Richard Berman wiped out Tom Brady’s four-game suspension caused a media firestorm looking at the winners and losers of the Deflategate accusations and its ramifications moving forward. While the NFL will appeal the decision, NFL.com reports that the league will not block Brady from playing until the process has played through in courts. That would make NBC one of the biggest beneficiaries from the judgement as Brady will be able to take part in the NFL Kickoff game next Thursday on the channel.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement about the decision. "We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision," Goodell said. "We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season."
Meanwhile, the NFL Players Association released their own reaction from executive director DeMaurice Smith, stating: "This decision should prove, once and for all, that our Collective Bargaining Agreement does not grant this Commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading. While the CBA grants the person who occupies the position of Commissioner the ability to judiciously and fairly exercise the designated power of that position, the union did not agree to attempts to unfairly, illegally exercise that power, contrary to what the NFL has repeatedly and wrongfully claimed.”
ESPN is shutting Curt Schilling down, announcing that he would no longer appear on its platforms through the end of the MLB season following his controversial comments about Muslims. Jessica Mendoza had taken over his role on the Sunday Night Baseball franchise during his earlier suspension. “At all times during the course of their engagement with us, our commentators are directly linked to ESPN and are the face of our brand,” ESPN said in a statement. “We are a sports media company. Curt’s actions have not been consistent with his contractual obligations nor have they been professionally handled; they have obviously not reflected well on the company. As a result, he will not appear on ESPN through the remainder of the regular season and our Wild Card playoff game.”
The Mid-American Conference picked up another partner, announcing a multi-year deal with the American Sports Network to carry MAC football and men’s and women’s basketball beginning this academic year and running through the 2016-17 season, via a sublicense agreement with ESPN. ASN will now showcase 10 MAC football games starting with Saturday’s Old Dominion/Eastern Michigan matchup at 3:30p, and will continue with a 15-game basketball package that will include 10 men’s basketball and five women’s basketball games this 2015-16 season. "This strategic partnership provides key distribution to ‘over the air’ affiliates across our footprint and continues our growth of expanded coverage to our fan base,” said Mid-American Conference Commissioner, Dr. Jon Steinbrecher. “This agreement provides another platform to showcase the outstanding students attending Mid-American Conference member institutions."
After three days of the first all-ESPN US Open, the company reports that its TV audience has grown 58% over a year ago, and is averaging 853,000 viewers for a corresponding household rating of a 0.6, up 50%. The rating among viewers 18-34 and 18-49 – as well as among men 18-34 and men 18-49 – is double last year’s score.
MLB Network saw a hot August, which ranked as the channel’s most watched August and third most-watched month ever in total day viewership. The period saw MLB Network’s total day viewership average 123,000 viewers, rising 40% over August 2014. Programs that got a spike included: MLB Central, +106%; High Heat with Christopher Russo, +56%;The Rundown, 66%; MLB Now, +73%; Intentional Talk, +55%; MLB Tonight, +31%, and Quick Pitch, +36% (versus August 2014).
The Atlantic 10 unveiled its TV college basketball schedule, with a record 107 national television games highlighting the slate. For the first time in league history, each school will make at least eight national television appearances. The TV package includes 77 conference games, plus all 13 games of the 2016 Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship and 17 non-conference matchups via the league’s four media partners, which include ESPN, CBS Sports Network, NBCSN and now ASN. The conference schedule begins with an NBCSN tripleheader on Saturday, Jan. 2. For the full list of national telecasts, check out our GameGuide here.
The PGA of America is scrubbing this year’s Grand Slam of Golf. Following the organization’s cancellation of the event at Trump National in Los Angeles in October over his remarks about Mexican immigrants, the PGA announced to reporters that it was unable to find a replacement golf course on the appropriate dates. Players would have included Jordan Spieth (Masters and U.S. Open), Zach Johnson (British Open) and Jason Day (PGA Championship).
Speaking of golf, Lou Holtz is extending his knowledge of the sport to Golf Channel in addition to SirusXM, with the network announcing that he would join Morning Drive as a weekly contributor during the college football season starting today.
DISH Network is offering a free ride for Outdoor Channel viewers, lining up a month-long free preview of the network ahead of hunting season. The preview runs through Oct. 6 on Channel 396. Meanwhile, customers can watch clips of Outdoor Channel’s shows via DISH Studio Channel 102.
SportsNet LA continues to snag records as the Dodgers continue to surge. Wednesday night’s Dodgers/Giants telecast on the channel became the latest highest-rated (1.85 Household Rating) and most-watched telecast ever (144, 000 Total Viewers) for the network. The previous high for household ratings was on Sept. 2 with a 1.70 score.
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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is marking a historic broadcast occasion, celebrating 60 years of aerial broadcast coverage from the Goodyear Blimp, which first delivered aerial views for the 1955 Rose Bowl. To celebrate, the brand is launching a season-long marketing program highlighting college football’s best traditions that will kick off this weekend in Dallas overhead of the AdvoCare Classic pitting Alabama/Wisconsin. New advertising will play up the “traditions” theme, including: Texas Tech’s Masked Rider; Penn State’s White Out; Texas A&M’s 12th Man; USMA’s Army Cannon; the University of Colorado’s running of Ralphie the Buffalo; and the University of Oklahoma’s Sooner Schooner, among others. Goodyear will also offer select fans a shot to ride in the iconic blimp via the Goodyear Blimp’s “Road to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl” on Facebook (Facebook.com/GoodyearBlimp) and Twitter (Twitter.com/GoodyearBlimp).
TaxSlayer.com is blending NASCAR and college football. Starting Saturday, the brand will tap its racing assets to tout the TaxSlayer Bowl, by including the Bowl marks as the primary sponsor of Regan Smith’s No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro. The TaxSlayer Bowl markings will be displayed on Smith’s car for four consecutive races, kicking off Saturday at 3:30p at the NASCAR Xfinity Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 on NBC. TaxSlayer Bowl is also launching its annual weekly Pick ‘Em contest designed to increase engagement with both football and NASCAR fans for the chance at weekly prizes, including merchandise and VIP event access.
AEG and mobile upgrade app Pogoseat locked in a new partnership designed to offer fans the opportunity to upgrade their seats and purchase unique VIP upgrades at sports and entertainment events at AEG Facilities owned or affiliated venues. The Pogoseat technology will initially be integrated into AXS.com ticketing and the AXS Mobile Ticketing App at select AEG affiliated venues and events with the potential to grow within AEG Facilities’ global portfolio of world-class venues. As part of the agreement, AEG will also receive equity securities of Pogoseat®.
NeuLion struck a new multi-year agreement with UFC that will see the company power UFC.TV, including complete access to pay-per-view events. In addition, NeuLion is “leading the re-build and re-launch of the UFC’s over-the-top business – UFC Fight Pass.” "We are thrilled to continue our successful partnership with UFC," said NeuLion CEO Dr. Kanaan Jemili. "Signing another multi-year agreement with UFC illustrates our commitment and ability to create, deliver and grow meaningful experiences for our customers, and furthers our ‘land and expand’ growth strategy. We look forward to continuing the evolution of next-generation video experiences with our valued partner, UFC."
Pac-12 Networks continues to broaden its international reach, entering a deal with EverSport for a two-year distribution agreement that will make all Pac-12 Networks programming available to more than 200 countries worldwide via the web and mobile devices. EverSport will now deliver all seven Pac-12 Networks 24-7 live linear channels via subscription to fans outside of the United States. “Expanding our distribution to give fans everywhere the opportunity to watch their favorite Pac-12 teams has been a top priority for us,” Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy Stephans said. “The international reach that EverSport provides will not only give Pac-12 alumni and fans living abroad access to our great content, but will also assist our universities with their recruiting outside of the United States. We are very excited about this new international offering.”
Premium content network Endemol Beyond USA is partnering with Pizza Hut for its upcoming digital series Legends of Gaming. The series is hosted by YouTube star Toby Turner (aka “Tobuscus”) and debut Oct. 7 as the first series to launch on Endemol Beyond USA’s new eSports and gaming Smasher Network. Pizza Hut will now serve as an integral brand partner on the series and will be integrated into each episode of the show.
RR Media locked in a strategic partnership with WSC Sports Technologies in a move to blend RR Media’s global digital media services and reach with WSC’s automatic clipping and video highlights generation platform. The alliance will see RR Media offer its customer base WSC’s technology which automatically detects every event in a sports competition as it happens and creates customized highlights based on these events. Highlights can then be used for broadcast purposes in news highlights and post-game programming as well as for online video and social media platforms.
Wisconsin/Alabama square off on ABC on Saturday at 8p.
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