10/20/17: Formula 1 gets Sirius; Packers partners w/ Microsoft; Yankees/Cavs enter esports fray

Good morning. It’s Friday October 20, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
SiriusXM and Formula 1 locked in a multi-year agreement that makes SiriusXM the exclusive North American radio broadcaster of all Formula 1 races, beginning with this weekend’s United States Grand Prix. Coverage of the race in Austin will air live on Sunday at 3p, exclusively on Sirius channel 132, XM channel 203 and channel 963 on the SiriusXM app. The channels will also carry qualifying on Saturday.
“Formula 1 races are sensational, world-class events, which showcase the most advanced automotive technology in the hands of exceptional drivers competing on very challenging circuits,” said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s President and Chief Content Officer.  “We are very excited to deliver the excitement of these races to SiriusXM listeners across the country.  As Formula 1 makes its way around the globe, we will bring its fans in North America to each international venue and enable them to follow the action live.”
“We are delighted to have Formula 1 back on SiriusXM,” said Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1.  “Their ability to offer live coverage of all races throughout the Championship to their numerous fans and listeners provides tremendous additional exposure for F1 in the North American market.”
ESPN opened the NBA season on Wednesday with a doubleheader that matched the company’s second-highest rated NBA opening night ever, hitting a 1.6 metered market rating, according to Nielsen. The two-game average was up 14% from a 1.4 in 2016 with the Wizards/76ers pulling a 1.6 and up 23% while the nightcap –between the Spurs/Timberwolves – also generated a 1.6 metered market rating, even with last year’s comparable game. 
Meanwhile, MLB reports that combined viewership of the 2017 American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series, on FOX/FS1 and TBS respectively, is up 25% this year to hit 5.93 million compared through Day 6 in 2016. That tally ranks as most-watched League Championship Series coverage through Day 6 since 2010. Meanwhile, viewership for the 2017 MLB Postseason overall (Wild Cards, Division Series, LCS through Day 6) has grown 13% to hit 4.47 million. On the digital front, through Day 6 of the LCS, fans have opened the MLB.com At Bat mobile app 41.1 million times, up 12% over last year, spending 221 million total minutes using the app to follow this year’s LCS.
Continuing the ratings catch-up, Top Rank on ESPN telecasts have averaged 1.6 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN Deportes, including 1.9 million viewers during the main event fight windows and scored the three most-watched boxing telecasts on cable in 2017, according to the company. In addition, from July through September, daily unique visitors to ESPN’s boxing digital content is up 484% compared to the same period in 2016.
Finally, Telemundo Deportes reports that nightly sports and entertainment series Titulares y Mas ended the 2016-2017 season as the highest-rated sports studio show in Spanish-language television among 18-49 and total viewers, according to Nielsen. Throughout the season, the series averaged 266,000 adults 18-49 and 478,000 total viewers Monday-Sunday, outperforming Univision’s Contacto Deportivo by 23% and 2%, respectively to mark the show’s highest-rated season ever.
ESPN pinned down plans for its men’s college basketball schedule this season, lining up more than 840 matchups across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, SEC Network and Longhorn Network this season. Additional games on ESPN3, SEC Network + and ACC Network Extra provide fans with access to a record-setting 2,100 matchups. Play begins with the Armed Forces Classic from Ramstein Air Base (Germany) tips off ESPN’s regular season coverage, with Texas A&M/West Virginia on Nov. 10, at 6p on ESPN. Meanwhile, College GameDay covered by State Farm hits its 14th season and will originate from the site of ESPN’s Saturday Primetime Presented by AT&T game each week, beginning Jan. 20. Weekly schedules will include: Big Monday presented by Jos. A. Bank launching Jan. 15; Super Tuesday showcasing conference play of the ACC, American, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West and SEC; Wednesdays featuring ACC, American, Big 12, Mountain West, Pac-12 and SEC games on ESPN2, ESPNEWS or ESPNU; Thursday offering selections from the American, ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 on ESPN and ESPN2; and a tripleheader on ESPNU; Friday night games on ESPN2; Saturday featuring multiple conferences across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS with weekly netflex selections; and the weekly ESPNU ACC Sunday Night Basketball series while ESPN2 and ESPNU carry games from the American, Big West, Missouri Valley and Pac-12.
Speaking of ESPN and college sports, ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot returns to State College, Pa., and the campus of Penn State for the first time since 2009 ahead of the Nittany Lions hosting Michigan on ABC’s Saturday Night Football. The three-hour premier show will originate from the Old Main lawn in the heart of the Penn State campus on Saturday from 9a to noon.
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Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers are teaming up to drive innovation in Wisconsin with the launch of a $10 million partnership called TitletownTecc and designed to make investments, give workspace to startups and encourage innovation among local businesses. The program will be located next to the Packer’s Lambeau Field and include an 18-week accelerator for companies, a venture capital fund that will invest in those startups as well as a a lab to inject innovation.
Samford University’s Center for Sports Analytics and Affinio conducted a study designed to analyze how sports fans are connected to teams. The study, found here, measures relevance “based on a deep dive into social media data” from fans and ranked the top college football programs based on their parameters. Taking the top slot was Alabama, followed by Michigan, Clemson, Notre Dame LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, Auburn and Oregon.
Lagardere Plus acquired London-based creative agency Brave. Brave joins the company with a track record in developing and delivering creative campaigns for global brands. Ash Bendelow will continue to lead Brave and work closely with Tim Frith, Head of Consulting in the UK for Lagardere Plus and Carl Woodman, Managing Director of Lagardere Sports.
Whistle Sports announced plans to launch Next Trickshot Superstar, the first show the company produced exclusively for Facebook’s new Watch platform. The series will feature 10 episodes and will debut early next year with Chad Johnson as the host. Produced in partnership with Mix Tape Media, the series will feature trickshot hopefuls to get a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to not only battle for trickshot supremacy, but for credibility as athletic marvels.” The grand prize winner will take home $250,000.
NESN announced the addition of in-market streaming for all NESN-televised Boston Bruins games. NESNgo is available without any additional costs to “authenticated subscribers” that already have NESN in their channel lineup from participating television providers.
Eleven Sports inked a partnership with Thuuz Sports to “help redefine and enhance the viewing experience for business partners and consumers of sport worldwide,” utilizing its software platform to provide Eleven Sports with efficient and scalable production of custom video content of the sporting events airing on Eleven’s platforms.  “This agreement with Thuuz Sports will give fans the ability to customize and enjoy their favorite teams, league and athletes where they want, and on whatever device they choose,” said Anthony Bailey, Managing Director of Eleven Sports. “No matter how passionate the fans, their time is limited, and this will give everyone the ability to discover content and easily stay engaged for as long as they choose without missing any essential action on the field, court or the ice.”
The New York Yankees made a big move into esports, announcing an investment partnership with Vision Esports. The two organizations will create and manage an “ecosystem” of esports properties that under the Vision umbrella that include Echo Fox, Twin Galaxies, and Vision Entertainment. The New York Yankees and Vision Esports will seek to accelerate the growth and increase the global brand awareness of the three companies. “The New York Yankees are thrilled to partner with Vision Esports and its diverse portfolio of esports companies,” said Hal Steinbrenner, Managing General Partner and Co-Chairperson, New York Yankees. “Guided by an impressively skilled and sports-savvy leadership team, Vision Esports is transcending the industry with a bold, innovative approach to their business, and we are excited to enter into this dynamic arena as their partner.”
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly landed a slot in the North American League of Legends Championship Series, according to ESPN. The Cavaliers tapped former Call of Duty pro and influencer Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag to head up their operations and are actively recruiting staff in the League of Legends space. Meanwhile, TheScore reported that FlyQuest had also been accepted into the NA LCS.
Gaming supplier HyperX locked in its first NBA team sponsorship and will become the official headset partner of the Philadelphia 76ers in addition to the team’s esports franchise Team Dignitas. During the 2017-2018 NBA season, HyperX will participate with the 76ers in a range of in-game activation elements, including courtside and in-arena LED ring signage and branding, exposure on scoreboard, concourse activations and HyperX giveaway nights.  Both the 76ers and Team Dignitas will work with HyperX to create co-branded video content, including crossover team activities and featured video vignettes, along with banner advertisements on the Philadelphia 76ers and Team Dignitas websites.
SteelSeries announced its new sponsorship of Sander “Vo0” Kaasjager, who ranks as one most successful Painkiller players in the game’s history and one of the world’s elite Quake Champions duellers. SteelSeries and Kaasjager will work alongside each other on the professional esports circuit and as partners in innovative product design and development.
Yankees/Astros tonight at 8p on FS1.

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ON THIS DAY in 1976: The New York Nets sell the contractual rights of Julius “Dr J” Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers.
In the Know: Who ranks at the Packers’ all-time leading receiver (in career yards)? (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: Who was the last player taken with the #1 pick of the NFL Draft, who wasn’t categorized as a QB, OT or DE? Answer: Keyshawn Johnson. Kudos: Andrew Feingold-Fox News/NY; Nate Hammond-JCC/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; John Langermann- WINK-TV/WXCW-TV/Fort Myers. Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Doherty-Starcom Media/Chicago; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
Later — Chris

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