10/28/15: Fantasy sports look for control; IndyCar sked takes the long road; T-Mobile takes the plate


Good morning. It’s Wednesday October 28, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Amid rough headlines for the daily fantasy sports industry, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association announced that it will launch the Fantasy Sports Control Agency and appoint Former Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris to chair the independent agency, which is charged with “creating a strict, transparent and effective system of self-regulation for the businesses that comprise the fantasy sports industry.” The agency will be based on four guidelines: standards; company controls, processes, and leadership; auditing policies and procedures; and enforcement. The FSTA also announced it will retain a major accounting firm to monitor and audit the initiative.
"The issues and opportunities facing the fantasy sports industry can be best addressed through an independent agency supported by the industry and its members," said Secretary Harris. "The FSTA will continue to work closely with state and federal lawmakers and regulators as we develop and implement strong integrity programs. We are confident that an independent control agency can prevent any unethical, dishonest, or unfair behavior. In the process, we can save lawmakers and regulators the cost and effort of intervening so that they can expend their limited resources on bigger and more societally important challenges."


The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is undergoing an overhaul, with the organization unveiled a 16-race schedule that will now run five weeks longer than last season and feature new events in Phoenix, Road America and Boston. The season will include ABC broadcasting five races in 2016, including the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (set to start the season two weeks earlier than last year) as well as the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14, Indianapolis 500 qualifications May 21-22 and the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 29. NBCSN hits the track with 11 races, starting with the return to Phoenix International Raceway on April 2, with other races that include the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 17 and the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 24. Coverage will feature three new race locations, historic tracks, and the final eight races of the 2016 campaign, including the season finale at Sonoma Raceway on Sept. 18.

Speaking of NBC’s racing coverage, NBCSN’s live telecast of NASCAR Sprint Cup on Sunday matched its second highest-rated telecast ever for the channel, registering a 2.6 HH rating and averaging 4.2 million viewers. With an average of 4.2 million viewers, the race ranks as NBCSN’s most watched telecast in 4Q on record.

ESPN is teaming up with Missy Elliott to tip off the 2015-16 NBA season, and will showcase her new single “WTF (Where They From)” featuring Pharrell Williams tonight at 7p during NBA Countdown. The snippet will also be showcased throughout ESPN’s opening-night NBA doubleheader today.

NFL Network announced plans to debut new documentary series The Timeline from NFL Films on Dec. 3. The slate includes six, hour-long episodes “chronicling seminal moments that formed the NFL’s storied past, shape the present and, in some cases, set the stage for the future.” Among the storytelling collaborators for The Timeline are George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures, Tim McGraw and Jeremy Renner. The debut episode, Favre Returns, spotlights the faced QB when he returned to Lambeau Field and his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame. McGraw, serves as co-producer, narrator and music contributor.

ESPN2’s His & Hers will take on FOX’s Empire for a Halloween special on Friday at noon. Hosts Michael Smith and Jemele Hill will appear as Lucious and Cookie Lyon and open the show with Smith and Hill as the characters in a re-creation of a scene from Lucious’ corporate boardroom. The boardroom scene was shot on a set built from a conference room on the ESPN campus.

NBA League pass opens the new season with an eight-day free preview on digital cable, according to package distributor iN DEMAND. Cable systems around the country will offer the free preview from Oct. 27 through Nov. 3, 2015. In addition to the television package, season subscribers will also be able to access games on NBA.com and on mobile devices. Upgrades this year will include game replays, dual feeds, a mosaic channel, a stats channel and HD games.

On the international front, ONE Championship, in partnership with Wujie, announced its return to Beijing via a two-year deal. The MMA promotion will deliver 26 events to China over a two-year period, starting with the Nov. 21 MMA event. “ONE Championship continues its dedication to bringing mixed martial arts to the mainland. We have lined up another exciting night of fights for fans in China, featuring a featherweight unification bout that will surely bring the crowd to their feet! Get ready as we broadcast ONE WUJIE: Dynasty of Champions live all across the world,” said CEO of ONE Championship Victor Cui.

Anthem Sports & Entertainment locked in a multi-year deal that will see Fight Network join RTV Pink to expand its European broadcast footprint to carriers in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro. Fight Network will be included in RTV Pink’s Klik Pink platform.

Editor’s Note: Please join the Cynopsis team and your industry peers for the half-day Programmatic TV Summit on Nov. 5. Register now.

The Legacy Agency announced that, for the first time, London Irish will face Saracens in a regular season Aviva Premiership match in the United States with the contest set for March 12 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. “We continue to see how quickly rugby, one of the world’s biggest sports, is growing here in the United States and we are proud to be able to work with the Premiership, London Irish and Saracens and, of course, USA Rugby, for this historic matchup at Red Bull Arena,” TLA CEO Mike Principe said.



From the e-sports explosion to the take-no-prisoners evolution of social media and more, Cynopsis Sports will reveal the tech and trends that are keeping fans tuned in. Join us for this one-day conference on December 2nd and get the lowdown that will keep your business growing.


T-Mobile signed on to serve as presenting sponsor of FOX Sports’ live streaming coverage of the World Series on FOX Sports GO, launching last night and marking the first time the streaming platform has sold a presenting sponsorship for the MLB Postseason. The engagement advertising is powered by true[X] technology, gives viewers a choice to interact with a T-Mobile ad for 15 seconds or watch a normal 30 second pre-roll ad.
Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment unveiled a partnership with Vivint, that will see the smart home provider receive naming rights to the downtown Salt Lake City arena that is home of the Utah Jazz. Financial terms of the 10-year agreement were not disclosed. The venues new name will be Vivint Smart Home Arena.

ASICS America, the official footwear and apparel partner of the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon, will tackle this year’s race with the “World’s Biggest Selfie Stick,” a 90-foot-tall interactive structure set to open at Gansevoort Plaza in Manhattan next week. The stick wll be open to the public from Thursday through Saturday and is designed to build on the theme of ASICS’ global “It’s a Big Race. Go Run It.” ad campaign. Participants will be able to affix their personal phones into a custom selfie-orb and push the launch button, which will trigger the phone’s built-in video function and send the phone along the 90-foot, high-speed track into the sky. Activation also includes a special collection of New York City Marathon-branded gear, social and digital initiatives, charitable contributions and media plan.


The opening of the NBA season on TNT last night saw the Warriors/Pelicans game become the first live professional sports game in virtual reality. In addition to the game, the live stream gave fans the chance to view the Warriors ring ceremony presentation in virtual reality. The league and Turner Sports worked with NextVR to launch the experience.

Kobe Bryant is joining Team Jeter, as The Players’ Tribune announced the successful close of its Series B financing totaling $15 million. Bryant, who has been involved with TPT since December, “made a significant investment” in Derek Jeter’s platform and leads all athletes in the round. Through his investment firm, Bryant joins New Enterprise Associates, who led the round. Funding will help to significantly expand the site’s video content, including popular series such as “Players’ POV,” “Singular Focus” and “1440.”

Sports technology, data and content company STATS LLC struck a partnership with Snapchat that leverages the mobile app’s “Geofilter” product  location-based art overlays Snapchatters add to their photo and video Snaps. Available at select major sporting events and stadiums, the Geofilters allow Snapchatters to add real-time score updates to their photo and video Snaps.

Cynopsis Digital’s Model D Awards, dedicated to innovators who have demonstrated continued excellence in engaging audiences and spurring online growth, are exactly one month away. For more information and to register visit: http://www.cynopsisdigitalawards.com.


Sony is reportedly looking to dive deeper into eSports, and is launching a platform called PlayStation Plus League, according to IGN, that will feature competitive gaming for titles such as FIFA 16 and Ultra Street Fighter 4. The report states that the league will feature different divisions and championship seasons along with possible cash payouts for top players.

A new poll from research intelligence group Leger stated that, barring any additional fallout from the DFS scandals, the proportion of American adults who play on sites such as FanDuel.com and DraftKings.com during the NFL 2015-16 season could soon rival those who play in traditional Fantasy Football leagues. The poll shows that 15% of U.S. Adults claim to have played on DFS sites such as DraftKings or FanDuel this season, narrowly behind the 17% who report playing in a regular, traditional Fantasy Football league. “The onslaught of advertising by both FanDuel and DraftKings seems to be paying off in both DFS brand awareness as well as participation,” said Lance Henik, Senior Account Manager at Leger. “Moreover, the results of our latest poll show that room for growth in DFS participation continues to exist, despite the controversy around the ‘Coke and Pepsi’ of the DFS Industry reaching new heights this October.”


Conference USA has a new captain, naming Judy MacLeod as the third Commissioner of the conference. With the announcement, MacLeod becomes the first female commissioner of a Football Bowl Subdivision athletics conference. MacLeod has been with C-USA since September 2005, and served as the Executive Associate Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer since April 2006.


World Series Game 2 pitting Mets/Royals on FOX at 8p.





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