11/06/17: ESPN’s Hannah Storm breaks down her upcoming documentary, Danica

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Good morning. It’s Monday November 6, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

As the NASCAR season gears up to crown a champion this month, EPIX is placing the spotlight on one high-profile driver whose career is in transition in Danica Patrick. The documentary, titled Danica and running on Wednesday at 8p, is directed and executive produced by award-winning ESPN journalist and pioneer Hannah Storm (along with fellow EPs Ross Bernard and Jocelyn Diaz) through EPIX in conjunction with Brainstormin Productions and, according to the release, will offer “a rare, candid look at an icon, capturing never-before-seen moments on and off the track with Danica Patrick and those closest to her.”
 
Cynopsis spoke with Storm about her forays into long-form storytelling, what made Patrick such an intriguing subject and what else we can expect from Brainstormin Productions.
 
Storm on the documentary genre: I started my company because I wanted to have the opportunity to tell the story, not only the way that I wanted it, but also in the time frame I wanted it. So much of what I have done up until that point on television has had very heavy time constraints, whether it’s doing an interview in television – a long interview on television is like 7-8 minutes and that is something that i built a franchise on ESPN, Face to Face – but it’s not like I would ever have the luxury of having a full hour.to tell a story. But if it is something that had historical significance, was a part of a larger movement or had a larger meaning, I want to sink my teeth into it because I am able to use different muscles than I am able to use on the air.
 
On choosing to spotlight Danica Patrick: She is a massive trailblazer. She is a great role model in that regard in the sense of determination but also she is a person that doesn’t sit on her laurels and she is a person in transition. I found that absolutely fascinating as someone who is uniquely confident in who they are, what they like to do, what interests them and what their passions are. I think for her she has been confident is stating that “racing is what I do, not who I am.” It takes a lot of understanding to come to that point, especially when you are in an all-consuming job. We all have jobs, and hers is remarkable in that she is the only woman doing it at that level and has been for decades now.
 
On Patrick’s personality: There isn’t the temptation to say “this is Danica Patrick, the racecar driver.” Instead, she has embellished and held on to the notion that “this is me, Danica the person and I like cooking, yoga, fitness, designing, wine, etc.” and she has pursued all those things in the same dedicated manner that she pursues racing. She will not be defined by what other people define her as, and, of course, there is some criticism in that regard. There are certainly people who – in a judgmental society – say that maybe she should be only about racing 24 hours a day. But of course, and Tony Stewart backs her up, you also have to be happy and be complete person. You’ve got to be that complete confident person so that on the weekends, you can step it up and give it your all. She doesn’t do anything half-way, and what was nice is that she decided not to do the documentary that way either,.
 
On her production company: We are in the process of shooting another film now that will be out this Spring, a film that is about an Olympian who underwent great trials during his four years in college and come out on the backend triumphant. Moving forward, what we are looking at is our model of documentaries and strong-storytelling. We are looking a lot in the digital space, meeting with a lot of platforms who are doing this kind of thing. We are looking at series as well in addition to branded content.
 
 
ON THE AIR

Odd-numbered years could soon see the launch of more worldwide soccer tournaments. The UEFA-led Global Nations League project is proposing a new model to replace the bulk of friendly matches, according to the AP, with a plan to invite all 223 members of soccer’s six continental confederations for an event that would take place every two years and expands on UEFA’s Nations League, which kicks off next September in Europe. According to the report, teams would be graded in seven divisions according to their FIFA ranking. Each confederation would run its own qualifying groups with promotion and relegation every two years. Group winners would then move forward to eight-team intercontinental tournaments in each of the seven divisions played in June, and broadcast around the clock.
 
Speaking of soccer, a federal judge denied the North American Soccer League’s request for a mandatory injunction against the US Soccer Federation in a move to reclaim its Division II designation. In her ruling, the judge ruled that the NASL had not demonstrated they were entitled to relief nor had they proven a conspiracy between US Soccer and Soccer United Marketing. “Although the Court finds that Plaintiff has shown irreparable harm, that the balance of hardships tips in its favor, and that an injunction would not harm the public interest, because as set forth below, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not made a clear showing of entitlement to relief, the Court denies Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction,” the ruling said. The NASL stated that they would appeal the decision.
 
Meanwhile, NASCAR President Brent Dewar stated that 2018 will see more two-day race weekends. In an interview with NASCAR.com, Dewar noted that experiments with the format (four races this year) had proven successful. “Our feedback has been really on the positive side,” Dewar said. “We’ve tried something different. I think there was kind of a mixed message early on, that we were cutting back the weekend. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. What we’re trying to do is be more thoughtful to having greater fan experiences. You’ll see more of this direction next year. The goal going forward is to keep innovating and try different things, and to do more of that direction.”
 
ESPN reports that Saturday’s Ohio State/Iowa game on ESPN drummed up a 2.5 score in overnight Nielsen markets, up 56% for ESPN from last season’s comparable window. Meanwhile, ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Virginia Tech/Miami earned a 2.2. Other matchups in the ESPN family: Clemson /NC State on ABC nabbed a 2.0 rating, an increase of 11% from the comparable ABC window last season, while Wisconsin/Indiana drew a 1.9, up 6%.
 
The NBA is taking its draft lottery to Chicago. The league announced that the annual event would be held outside of the New York/New Jersey are for the first time on May 15, followed by the draft combine from May 16-20.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Lotsa NASCAR news, including Team Penske and Discount Tire announcing that – beginning in 2018 – the tire and wheel retailer will become a primary sponsor of the No. 2 Ford Fusion driven by Brad Keselowski in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The deal sees Discount Tire be featured as the primary sponsor for 10 races while continuing to serve as a prominent associate sponsor for the remainder of the schedule. Meanwhile, Team Penske and Miller Lite announced that the light beer will continue its relationship with Keselowski in 2018 and beyond with the white and blue Miller Lite paint scheme adorning Keselowski’s car in 11 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2018.
 
Keeping it in the family, Team Penske locked in the Auto Club of Southern California and AAA as sponsor of the No. 22 Ford Fusion driven by Joey Logano in the NASCAR Cup Series. The multi-year extension with Team Penske follows an announcement earlier this year that Logano will remain a driver for the team through the 2022 season and beyond. AAA will continue its primary sponsorship of the No. 22 Ford Fusion for three races over the next several seasons, including the events at Auto Club Speedway in March, Kansas Speedway in May and Texas Motor Speedway’s playoff event in November.
 
The LA Kings launched a new partnership with California’s Mammoth Resorts for the 2017-18 NHL season. The agreement, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, makes Mammoth Resorts an Official Partner of the two-time Stanley Cup Champions and the franchise’s first-ever Official Ski Resort partner. The relationship extends across Mammoth Resorts’ four entities, including Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Snow Summit, Bear Mountain and June Mountain. The new partnership will help expand Mammoth Resorts’ brand awareness and customer base across Los Angeles while providing Kings fans with enhanced programming, exclusive benefits, one-of-a-kind promotions, game-day giveaways and experiences throughout the season.
 
The YES Network launched its first-ever celebrity-endorsement promotional campaign, a multi-platform initiative starring Brooklyn native Fabolous that promotes YES’ streaming Brooklyn Nets telecasts on the FOX Sports GO app.
 
UFC unveiled a new multi-territory partnership with AirAsia to serve as the global brand’s first-ever “Official Airline” sponsor. The partnership encompasses Asia and Australia. “This deal is an indication of how much UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts have grown in Asia and around the world,” UFC Vice President of Asia-Pacific Kevin Chang said. “AirAsia is an innovative and fast-growing brand, we thank them for the support and we’re looking forward to creating engaging branded content for fight fans and AirAsia customers to enjoy.”
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

Amazon Prime Video hits the courts this week with the debut of live tennis on the platform via the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals Nov. 7-11 from Milan. Prime Video will stream live coverage of the tournament’s entire 16-match schedule to tennis fans in more than 200 countries and territories on the Prime Video app for TVs, game consoles, set top boxes and connected devices, which includes Amazon Fire TV, mobile devices and online. Fans will also be able to watch replays of completed matches and other tournament content, such as daily highlights, player profiles, and the official trailer by visiting the Next Gen ATP Finals details page on Prime Video.
 
The Players’ Tribune continues to shore up its content strategy, announcing the debut of a new content series that the platform will produce in partnership with Hyundai and sponsorship agency Advantage. Homecoming will see the series feature current and former NFL players returning for a day to their alma maters with seven-episodes now available showcasing Hines Ward, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mark Ingram, Jake Long, Derrick Brooks, A.J. Hawk and Priest Holmes.
 
Electronic Arts revealed that EA Sports UFC 3 featured lightweight champion Conor McGregor as the game’s official global cover athlete. The delivers “revolutionary new gameplay animation technology that delivers the most fluid and responsive motion” in the title’s history and offers a new G.O.A.T. Career Mode that means that players’ choices outside UFC’s world-famous Octagon matter just as much as their performance inside it. The game will be available worldwide on February 2 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
 
 
ESPORTS

Amid the bevy of tournaments taking place at BlizzCon last week, Blizzard announced divisions and formats for Overwatch League, along with a new app for the org. The initial 12 teams (with more set to be added before season two, according to Commissioner Nate Nanzer) will be broken into Atlantic and Pacific Divisions, with Atlantic featuring franchises from London, NY, Boston, Philly, Miami and Houston. The Pacific Division will see the two LA teams, San Francisco, Dallas and the franchises from China and South Korea. Overall, 113 players from 17 different countries will take part in the inaugural season, with league matches played over four days each week of the regular season, starting Jan. 10. Each team will play 40 games across the season: 20 within their division, and 20 cross-division.
 
Riot details plans for the 2017 NA Scouting Grounds, running Nov. 26-Dec. 3. The event will launch with the top 20 NA Solo Queue players (top 4 from each role) being drafted on to four teams, each inspired by one of the elemental drakes and coached by an LCS organization. These four teams will train, practice, and ultimately compete in a round-robin tournament. After the finals, the publisher will host the first ever NA Scouting Grounds Draft which will see all 10 NA LCS teams draft one player each to their roster, for a total of 10 draft picks from the 20 participants. Teams will then have a 21-day exclusivity window to sign their draft pick or the player will be released into free agency.
 
The upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang will get a dose of esports after all. Intel revealed a plan to host two gaming experiences in the city ahead of the Olympics next year in the Intel Extreme Masters PyeongChang esports tournament, featuring Blizzard’s Starcraft II as well as a separate exhibition featuring Ubisoft’s action-sports title Steep Road to the Olympics, the official licensed game of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. “We are proud to have our Worldwide TOP Partner Intel bring this competition to PyeongChang in the lead-up to the Olympic Winter Games 2018,” said Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services. “Following on from the Olympic Summit last week, the IOC will now explore esports’ relationship with the Olympic Movement further. This is just the start of an exciting future and we’re interested to see how this experience will play out.”
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

Quotient Technology announced that Michelle McKenna-Doyle, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the NFL, has joined the company’s Board of Directors.
 
 
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