11.09.15 Good morning. It’s Monday November 9, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
The November Nine once again took their seats yesterday to claim the bracelet that crowns them the 2015 World Series of Poker Champion, along with a cool$7,683,346 first-place prize. With the final table spread over a three night span, coverage hits ESPN2 tonight at 8p, with the champion taking the crown tomorrow evening at 9:30p on ESPN. Norman Chad and Lon McEachern will be in the commentary booth calling the action.
Amid the festivities in Las Vegas, Cynopsis Sports asked Ty Stewart, Executive Director of World Series of Poker and Senior VP at Caesars Interactive about the state of WSOP, its upcoming television negotiations and how the brand plans to keep growing.
Stewart on the state of WSOP: From an event standpoint, 2015 really exemplifies the evolution of the World Series of Poker. Not long ago, all eyes were on the Main Event and the rest of the schedule faded into the background as "side events." Today, many of the most noteworthy events of the entire poker calendar happen during the early weeks of our slate. To see over 22,000 entrants in one poker tournament like we saw for our opening Colossus event was pretty exhilarating. We continue to expand the vision of what the WSOP can be. We want to have all of the biggest events of the year and all of the most prestigious events of the year.
On coverage: This year the production has expanded such that there are three continuous days of programming, which will allow for the majority of the action to be in prime time vs stretching to the overnight. Not long ago, poker was almost exclusively a documentary style. So to see poker covered as a tent pole live event, with every hand covered, a studio set-up for analysis of the action on player breaks, it’s just very rewarding. With over a thousand people in the stands, this is the moment where poker most approximates sport and feels like a true happening. But we’re again anchored by Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, who have truly provided the soul, style and sensibility of the event for over a decade. Led by Lon and Norm, the WSOP is a serious event, but not too serious.
On TV contracts: We certainly have our eye on the current television landscape and looking at all options beyond the 2017 event. I for one, hope we remain with ESPN forever, as there has been no better friend to poker to aid its boom. We have dabbled in digital platforms like Twitch and our own streams on WSOP.com, and have seen strong viewership. But there’s no substitute for linear television, big quality production. When we’re promoted and in a desirable time slot, we’ve been proven to draw audiences to the so-called "major" sports.
On the suspended partnership with DraftKings: Due to the clarity from Nevada Gaming, we mutually agreed to part ways with DraftKings. At this point, there are no further plans to solicit a partner in the category.
On international success: Players come from over 100 countries to play in the WSOP, making it one of the largest participatory events in the world. And I believe we’re only scratching the surface for international participation. While many point to the years around Moneymaker as the sports climatic moment, that was primarily a USA phenomenon. Poker is very hot in places like Brazil, across Asia. Some of the biggest sports stars in the world like Ronaldo and Neymar enjoy and promote the game. The pie continues to expand. We are being calculated in our live event growth, but this year launched our first true global mid stakes tour. We’ve had a series of strong events in Europe and I think you’ll soon see WSOP live events in Latin America and Asia. but generally the highest number of people access poker digitally. Our social and mobile game courts players across the globe and continues to explode in daily and monthly active users. The WSOP play for fun game is now regularly a top 50 overall app.
On digital extensions: It’s exciting to think when you include digital play, easily more people are playing poker than golf and tennis combined. There’s nothing better than being able to promote the championships on television and know people at home are experiencing the game while they watch. We want to create demand for poker through the halo of the WSOP live event, and then be in position to service the demand through any clearly legal means on the digital side. We’re optimistic there will be additional states for real money online gaming in the future, but for now we’re extremely bullish on play for fun. We’re quickly hitting a point that more people are playing on our digital touch points than even watch us on ESPN, and that’s exciting for the future.
CBS Sports saw its rivalry game between LSU/Alabama take the weekend in college football with a 6.3 in overnight Nielsen numbers. Right behind, ABC’s ACC matchup between Florida State/Clemson claimed a 5.5 overnight rating to rank as the channel’s best overnight numbers for a 3:30p regular season college football game in nearly three years. Overall, those two games ranked as in the top three overall for the current college football season, trailing only the Sept. 7 Ohio State/Virginia Tech matchup.
Meanwhile, NFL Network went solo for Thursday Night Football last week, generating an average of 8.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast national ratings. That marks a 28% rise over last year’s eighth TNF game, drawing a 5.5 household rating, up 29%. Through the first eight weeks of Thursday Night Football, CBS and NFL Network’s game coverage is up 7% in viewership over last season. Digitally, there were more than 1.5 million live video streams of the Browns/Bengals game, marking the most-streamed Thursday Night Football game this season.
Speaking of CBS Sports, the channel announced that its Nov. 14 SEC on CBS football game would spotlight Alabama/Mississippi State at 3:30p. Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and reporter Allie LaForce call the contest. At noon, the channel features Georgia/Auburn, with Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor and reporter Jenny Dell on microphone duties.
Sky Sports locked in a deeper package of Premier League rights in the UK through 2019, adding near-live extended highlights to its slate of live games. The three-year agreement hands Sky Sports viewers with extended highlights of all 212 Premier League matches not broadcast live on television and for the first time, fans will also be able to watch these extended highlights On Demand.
RIP to former ESPN executive Chuck Gerber, who died Friday at the age of 71. “Chuck Gerber was a gifted producer and executive who cared deeply about the people he worked with. He was one of the most vibrant personalities in the sports media business and a true visionary at ESPN for many years. His impact on college sports in particular continues to serve fans today, and will for decades to come. Our thoughts are with his wife, Daryl, and the entire Gerber family,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programing and Scheduling. At ESPN, Gerber most recently served as Executive Vice President, College Sports before retiring from the network in 2008.
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Nissan is blanketing the country via the NCAA, announcing a four-year deal on Friday to become an Official Sponsor of 100 colleges and universities nationwide, and a supporter of select NCAA Championships. This announcement comes as part of Nissan’s “go big” marketing strategy, with sponsorships negotiated throughout the summer with the media rights holder for each school involved, including IMG College, Learfield Sports, Outfront Media Sports, FOX Collegiate Sports Properties, JMI Sports and Sun Devil Athletics. The slate will cover 22 sports (men’s and women’s), 100 schools, thousands of student-athletes, 22 million alumni and 188 million fans across the nation. “This program gives Nissan an unmatched and unprecedented connection to college-sports fans,” said Jeremy Tucker, vice president, Marketing Communications and Media, Nissan North America. “It allows Nissan to share amazing moments with students, alumni and fans at every men’s and every women’s sport. Wherever fans go to follow these student-athletes, we’ll be there.”
NASCAR will see 3M Automotive Aftermarket Division remain with the sport via a five-year extension. The deal will see 3M Automotive Aftermarket continue its nearly two-decade NASCAR Sprint Cup Series contingency sponsorship that provides many of its innovative automotive products and solutions used in race cars and race shops throughout NASCAR.
NASCAR also locked in a deal with the National Rifle Association to sponsor a NASCAR race once again, this team scheduled for August at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race will look to salute hunters and anglers as heroes of conservation, according to ESPN.
Monster Energy formally unveiled a partnership with UFC Champion Ronda Rousey as the newest athlete on its team. “We are excited to welcome Ronda to our team,” said Mitch Covington, Vice President of Sports Marketing, Monster Energy. Not only is she regarded as the world’s most dominant athlete, but she is also an inspiration to all as one of the most iconic MMA fighters of all time with her unsurpassed drive, commitment, star power and worldwide crossover fan base that has made her a true champion.”
WatchESPN hit a high mark with the Nov. 4 game between the Warriors/Clippers, setting an audience record across metrics for a regular season NBA Game. The contest saw an average minute audience of 88,500 on the platform, with 271,000 unique viewers watching 15,044,500 total live minutes.
The UFC is doubling down on its efforts to legalize MMA in New York, relaunching its site ufc.com/NY, to stir up a grassroots campaign for local to share their support for making professional MMA a legal sport in the state. The overhauled site will let registrants opt in to several different ways to participate in the UFC’s campaign with participants receiving a free month’s subscription to UFC Fight Pass.
Activision Blizzard is launching Activision Blizzard Studios, a new film and television studio dedicated to producing original content based on the company’s library of properties that include Call of Duty and Skylanders. The studios’ first production will be Skylanders Academy," an animated TV series.
Want to plug into eSports and get in early on an exploding arena? Make sure to attend our killer panel “Powerpacks: Boosting Your Game with eSports” at the Cynopsis Sports Engagement Summit on Dec. 2 in NY and learn how to leverage your brand inside this powerful industry. The all-star lineup includes MLG’s Donald Reilley, Turner Sports’ Craig Barry, ESL’s Craig Levine, GMR Marketing’s Matt Hill and Whistle Sports’ Elizabeth Lodge. Endemol Beyond USA’s Jenn Mancini will moderate. Click here now to get your tickets while they last!
DraftKings is teaming up with sports data provider Opta to supply all of the daily fantasy company’s live soccer performance statistics. DraftKings will leverage Opta in anticipation of an upcoming expansion into new markets. Opta will be providing live data coverage for all of the three leagues that DraftKings currently offers: Major League Soccer, English Premier League and UEFA Champions League.
ESPN found a new ombudsman, tapping Jim Brady to fill the role, which will now be known as public editor. He becomes the sixth to serve in the capacity. He will assume his new duties Nov. 15 and will serve an 18-month term.
Bears/Chargers on MNF on ESPN at 8:30p.
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Innovators. Inspirers. Creators of all kinds. We celebrate those in online video content and advertising who are at the forefront of this new industry, elevating it with their state-of-the-art contributions to branded content, technology, ad campaigns, and original content.
Celebrate with us onNovember 13th at the Marriott Essex in New York City.
View the finalist list here.
ON THIS DAY in 1961: The PGA eliminates its “Caucasians only” rule.
In The Know:How many feet long is a regulation bowling lane? (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: Which athlete is the only player to both attend Baylor and be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Answer: Mike Singletary. Kudos: Jay Goldstein-Admore/NY; Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Lewis Blaustein-Lewis Brand Solutions/NY; Chris Faulds-Bell Media Digital/Toronto; Guy Schuman-Myrtle Beach Pelicans/Myrtle Beach; Wayne Otto-Pro-am Sports/Boone; Tony Ferranti-MMSI/Warwick; Les Stipp-GSD&M/Chicago; Steve McNair-KUBE TV/Houston; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/Dallas; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; John D. Ryan-KAZT/Phoenix; Jane Teixeira-PacWest Conference/Irvine; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Joey Olson/Manhattan Beach; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Mike Bridges-New West Broadcasting/Hilo.
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