11/13/17: ESPN’s Keller talks about the end of Mike & Mike

Good morning. It’s Monday November 13, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

This week will mark the end of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning, as the long-time pillar (18 years!) at the company wraps up on Friday amid farewells from some of sport’s best and brightest as Greenberg takes on a new solo TV show. Golic will be joined by Trey Wingo for a new morning drive series titled Golic & Wingo that will kick off on Nov. 27, running 6-10a on ESPN Radio with an initial simulcast on ESPN2 before moving in early January to ESPNU.
Cynopsis caught up with Traug Keller, SVP of ESPN Audio and the ESPN Talent Office, to discuss the legacy of Mike & Mike and what we can expect moving forward.
Keller on the legacy of Mike and Mike: They’ve been great contributors to the audio business. Of course, the platform they’ve had has been pretty large, with over 400 radio stations as well as the ESPN2 simulcast. When they went to ESPN2, I think it raised the visibility of radio in general and you started to see a lot of other people start to simulcast after we did it. They’ve done a great job of cultivating an incredibly loyal audience. 18 years is an incredible run for any show. The thing is that when you make a change for a show that has run this long, it becomes personal to people. The medium is much more personal than television. There is a connection there because it is usually you on your drive in and the people you choose to entertainment you in the morning and you become part of that community. When you change it, it is a change and people don’t like it. But we are excited about the new show.
On affiliates: We knew well in advance that this change was coming and we asked our affiliates who felt good to them since they were where the rubber hits the road and knew their sports listeners better than anybody. We gave them a list of people to consider and it ended up being unanimous about Wingo. People were all in on him and the fact that we really had no affiliate defection at all speaks to how right that decision has been.
On breaking up: When news that Mike and Mike were going in different directions initially came out, it was earthshaking. But these guys are incredible professionals and they do genuinely like each other. They will each be talking about the other’s show. They have handled this as well as I have ever seen it. There are some classic examples of things like this this not going well, but this really isn’t like that.
On Wingo: Trey already has a built-in rapport with Mike dating back to NFL Live. Trey did radio way back before ESPN in St. Louis and we often used Trey throughout the years any to fill in for Mike & Mike when those guys weren’t around. He brings a warmth and sense of humor that fits morning drive. We told them that we are going to go back to more traditional morning drive radio and those two were made for fun, which is what morning drive radio is all about.
On biggest stories impacting audio: In the audio business, we’ve seen a lot of new elements. First it was streaming, then it was SiriusXM, Apple Radio, TuneIn and now podcasting has become a bigger and bigger thing. I think podcasting is actually a misnomer as it is really audio-on-demand and an opportunity to be in even more ears. We love it every time there is a new way to listen. The latest is the smart speakers hitting people’s homes. If you’ve got Alexa and ask it to play ESPN or give you an update, you can do that and the great thing about them is that it is actually putting radio back in the home.

A stacked lineup of college football on Saturday paid dividends for networks. CBS Sports saw Auburn’s upset of Georgia hand the network with a 4.7/10 to rank as the highest-rated college football game of the day. The matchup was up 62% from last year’s 2.9/6 in the metered markets. Meanwhile, CBS Sports also announced its SEC on CBS game selection for the noon window on Saturday, tapping Mississippi State/Arkansas, which will be followed by Kentucky/Georgia at 3p.
Meanwhile, ABC’s Saturday Night Football telecast featuring Notre Dame/Miami carried primetime while ESPN’s Alabama/Mississippi State battle ranked as the highest-rated game on cable so far this season. Miami’s win on ABC ran a 4.5 in Nielsen overnight numbers and up 13% year-over-year from SNF’s week 11 telecast last season. ESPN’s primetime telecast of Alabama/Mississippi State generated a 3.8 overnight, up 192% year-over-year from last season’s comparable window.
Speaking of ESPN, the network’s live telecast of Saturday’s Top Rank on ESPN ran up a 0.9 metered market rating according to Nielsen, making it the second highest-rated boxing telecast on cable television in 2017. Birmingham was the top local market, where the telecast averaged a 8.2 metered market rating, including a 10.8 rating during the first main event.
The NBA his hitting Chicago to host NBA All-Star 2020. The annual game will take place at the United Center and mark the third NBA All-Star in Chicago, which played host in 1973 and 1988. Chicago will follow Los Angeles in 2018 and Charlotte in 2019 as All-Star host. In addition to the All-Star Game, the United Center will be the venue for the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 14, as well as State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, which features the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the JBL Three-Point Contest and the Verizon Slam Dunk. Meanwhile, the new Wintrust Arena, home of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky starting next season, will host the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and Rising Stars and All-Star Game practices.
NBC’s TNF entry this season, pitting the Seahawks/Cardinals, notched a 9.4/16 overnight on NBC & NFL Network (not including digital), with NBC easily winning the night in primetime. The number is also up from last season’s NBC/NFL Network TNF opener which drew a 9.3/16.
FOX Sports announced that former U.S. Men’s National Team coach Bruce Arena will join the crw as a studio analyst for FS1’s presentation of the USA/Portugal international friendly tomorrow. Studio coverage begins at 3:30p, with Arena joining host Rob Stone and Alexi Lalas for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage.
The Pac-12 announced that the University of California, Berkeley and Yale University will meet in 2018 in the fourth edition of the Pac-12 China Game presented by Alibaba Group to tip off the 2018-2019 men’s college basketball season. “The Pac-12 is thrilled to bring another exciting matchup to Chinese fans in 2018 with two fantastic schools in the University of California, Berkeley and Yale,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “We are particularly pleased that this game will once again be presented by Alibaba whose own Joe Tsai is an esteemed alumni of Yale and co-hosted by the Federation of University Sports of China, two incredibly committed partners. The 2018 Pac-12 China Game will once again be an incredible educational experience for student-athletes and continue to grow the popularity of the Pac-12 and college sports in China.”
NBC Olympics won four Olympic Golden Rings awards – three golds and one silver – in Lausanne last week. Jim Bell, President, NBC Olympics Production and Programming, accepted the honors, which included Best Olympic Feature, Best Athlete Profile, and Best Olympic Digital Service.
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Visa is prepping for its role as an Olympic partner with the announcement three commercially available wearable payment devices for the Winter Games. Visa created NFC-enabled payment gloves, commemorative stickers and Olympic pins that allow fans and athletes to complete seamless and secure payments “with a simple tap at any contactless-enabled terminal.” “We are looking forward to transforming the payment experience for everyone who attends the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang,” said Iain Jamieson, Korea country manager at Visa. “At Visa, we have been working tirelessly to ensure all of the Olympic venues are equipped with the very latest payment capabilities to provide the best experience possible for all those on-site.”

fuboTV announced a multi-year agreement with NESN that will launch to subscribers of Fubo Premier – its base package of 65-plus live streaming TV channels throughout NESN’s footprint which includes Connecticut (excluding Fairfield County), Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. “As sports fans demand flexibility in how and where they can follow their favorite teams, NESN is excited to partner with new distributors that will broadly make our networks available,” said NESN CEO Sean McGrail.  “We look forward to this relationship with fuboTV, whose innovative platform will prominently feature the Red Sox, Bruins, and all of our sports programming.”

Amazon locked in the return of Champions of Fire, the company’s third major esports tournament in the past year. The event will focus on casual mobile games designed to make competitive gaming accessible to a wider audience and run Dec. 2-3 from Time Inc. Studios in NY. Faming celebrities will include Swiftor, NampaiKid, Mystic7 and Sky Williams battling for a share of $50,000. The tournament will be broadcast live on Amazon Appstore’s Twitch channel, and will air nationwide at a later date on CBS Sports Network. Participating games will include Beach Buggy Racing, Beat Fever, Cooking Craze, Minion Rush, Flabby Bird Family, Pac-Man 256, Real Racing 3 and Sonic Forces: Speed Battle.
Ubisoft announced that the eight best teams worldwide will compete in the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Pro League Season 3 Finals from Sao Paulo, Brazil from Nov. 18-19. The Finals will bring together four different regions for the first time: Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America competing for a total Season 3 prize pool of $275,000, bringing the total prize pool across all official Year 2 tournaments to $1,250,000.
World Sailing announced plans to enter the gaming arena, launching the first virtual World Sailing Championships in partnership with Virtual Regatta. The eSailing World Championships will be held every year starting in 2018 and see a new set of World Sailing regulations used to allow the sports Racing Rules of Sailing to be adapted to the virtual world. Inshore regattas will be held through the year with players accumulating points that will establish their standings in the eSailing World Rankings leading into th final in Sarasota next November.

Dolphins/Panthers on ESPN at 8:15p.

[Wednesday, December 6 th at 1:30pm]
Whether you’re a TV network, marketer or publisher, artificial intelligence is starting to shape your world in a big way – according to research from Bank of America, A.I. will be a $153 billion industry by 2020. But you need to understand how to best employ it. Register for Cynopsis’ latest webinar and gain the tools you need to maximize AI’s potential within your company.

ON THIS DAY in 1973: The A’s Reggie Jackson wins the AL MVP.
In the Know: From what school was Reggie Jackson drafted? (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: Two MLB pitchers have claimed four Cy Young Awards in a row. Who are they? Answer: Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson. Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Jeremy Bowman-ESPN/Chicago; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/Los Angeles
Later – Chris
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