12/10/18: FloSports CEO Mark Floreani talks about the company’s huge year

Good morning. It’s Monday December 10, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

With multiple deals being unveiled on a weekly basis, digital sports platform FloSports continues to make headlines by partnering with event rights holders, governing bodies, and other media companies. Current verticals under the FloSports umbrella include rugby, basketball, MMA, football, wrestling, track, gymnastics, hockey, and more with the company now streaming more than 10,000 live competitions per year. While wrapping up a historic 2018 and looking forward to 2019, Cynopsis Sports asked Mark Floreani, Co-Founder and Interim CEO, FloSports, about the road ahead.
Floreani on building success: I’m not sure there has been any one deal that has opened the proverbial floodgates for us, but rather the fact that we’re seeing rights holders recognize that FloSports has a differentiated product that fits their needs. We’re committed to growing the sports in our network with comprehensive coverage and marketing that adds value for rights holders and helps them reach their core audience and beyond. This approach resonates with our partners, whether it’s the PBA, USA Wrestling, Big Ten Network, USA Rugby or the FIVB. Also, we’ve been 100 percent digital from the beginning, so OTT isn’t new to us. It’s part of our DNA to use data to make informed decisions about the rights we pursue — and the content and marketing we invest into our sports — and ultimately it’s our partners who benefit from this.
On 2018 goals: This has been a tremendous growth year for FloSports, and we’ve achieved many of our goals relative to new partnerships, whether that is the acquisition of The Rugby Channel or our agreements with the Euroleague, FIVB, PBA, AAU, Nike EYBL, WCHA, UWW, Guinness PRO14 and others. By the end of 2018, we’ll have aired more than 10,000 competitions.
On audiences: When fans watch sports over-the-top, they want an interactive experience that caters to their specific viewing habits. The beauty of digital is that it unlocks the joy of consuming sports. We focus a lot of our resources on software such as FloArena (our online bracketing technology with live scoring updates), FloZone (a streaming channel that follows the best action occurring across multiple live events airing simultaneously), and concurrent streaming capabilities that give users the option to select which mat or court they want to watch.
On platforms: Our data allows us to make pretty accurate forecasts relative to the performance of each vertical in our network, so there haven’t been any major surprises. But what’s been encouraging is the growth of FloRugby, FloVolleyball, and FloBowling, which have seen substantial growth due in large part to major deals with The Rugby Channel, FIVB, and PBA, respectively. Also, our partnership with USA Wrestling allowed us to innovate around their world team trials format, leading to the creation of Final X, a multi-event qualifying format that drew huge crowds and was broadcast exclusively by FloWrestling.
On 2019: We’re in the midst of several interesting conversations with a variety of leagues, governing bodies, and other rights holders. So we expect next year to build off this year’s momentum in terms of more partnerships and more events live streamed across our network. Our mission is to grow the sports, the events, the athletes, and the fans, and a big part of that is the original storytelling we do to help contextualize the live events that we air. This will continue to be a big focus of ours and a major differentiator, and we plan to invest more into our brand in 2019. In terms of new verticals, we’re not prepared to make any announcements right now, but we’re constantly evaluating opportunities across many sports.
The Atlanta United’s victory to claim the MLS Cup handed FOX with the event’s top metered market score since at least 1998. The victory over the Portland Timbers drew a 1.2 score, according to Nielsen, up 71% over last year’s match. Top five markets: Atlanta (11.5), Portland (7.3), Milwaukee (2.2), West Palm Beach (1.9) and Austin (1.5).
The 119th Army-Navy Classic handed CBS with a 5.7/13 on Saturday, to rank as the second-highest game between the two in 24 years.
In other ratings news, Saturday’s Top Rank on ESPN, which saw the unification of two lightweight world titles in the main event, delivered a 1.4 metered market rating, according to Nielsen. That marks the second highest-rated boxing telecast in 2018 across all broadcast and cable networks, only behind Crawford/Benavidez on ESPN in October 2018. The co-main event and special feature bout that opened the telecast drew a 1.4 and 1.2 metered market ratings, respectively.
Elsewhere in boxing, FOX Sports and Premier Boxing Champions revealed preview programming leading up to the FOX PBC Fight Night on Dec. 22, including PBC Countdown and PBC Face to Face shows. “These boxers are incredible athletes with amazing stories,” Charlie Dixon, Executive Vice President of Content, FOX Sports, said. “With the PBC COUNTDOWN and PBC FACE TO FACE shows, viewers get to learn more about the boxers’ drive and desire to be the best in the world, and will become emotionally invested in them before their fights on December 22.”
The BIG EAST Conference and The Madison Square Garden Company inked an extension of their deal to host the BIG EAST Tournament through 2028. The pair has been partners on the event since 1983 with this season’s competition set to be played from March 13-16. “Our new agreement with Madison Square Garden means that BIG EAST schools, players and supporters will have the privilege of playing our conference tournament at the ‘Mecca of College Basketball’ without interruption for another decade,” said BIG EAST Commissioner Val Ackerman. “The BIG EAST Tournament at MSG has long been synonymous with tradition, rivalries and heart-stopping moments, and we are very grateful to Jim Dolan, Andy Lustgarten and Joel Fisher for their support of one of the most enduring alliances in the sports world.”
FOX Deportes’ coverage of the Liga MX Liguilla match between CF Monterrey and Cruz Azul scored as the most-watched Liga MX match of the current season on any cable network with an average of 825,000 viewers and peak at 1.036 million viewers. That more than the Liga MX regular season viewership average across all Spanish-language cable networks with a 36% percent rise over last week’s quarterfinal between Monterrey and Santos Laguna on the network.
Today sees the launch of the Bellator Hawaii Countdown digital series for the promotion’s Hawaii week, lining up back to back shows on Friday on Paramount and Saturday exclusively on DAZN. Content includes the Bellator Countdown digital series for Bellator 213 show on DAZN headlined by hometown hero Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, with the three-part Bellator Countdown following Ilima and other fighters as they prep for the fight. Additionally, the company is producing a 2-part Countdown series on the Welterweight Grand Prix fight between undefeated rising star fighters, Ed Ruth and Neiman Gracie. The first Combo episode which launched on 11/30 already has over 500k views across all Bellator platforms.
Univision was the LMX Semifinal between UNAM-America average 1.8 million viewers with 948K A18-49 Thursday night on the channel with a simulcast on UDN. The score marks the top-rated LMX match this season on any network.
FIFA’s task force charged with examining the possibility of overhauling the FIFA Club World Cup, as well as a worldwide Nations League, held its first meeting on Sunday. The task force is composed of members appointed by each of the six confederations — AFC, CAF, Concacaf, CONMEBOL, OFC, and UEFA — and FIFA, and is chaired by FIFA Deputy Secretary General (Football) Zvonimir Boban. Topics up for review include the tournament calendar, start date, format, number of teams, access list and slot allocations. “The work of this task force is another important step in the consultation process to understand the landscape in which competitions like these would be implemented and what impact they would have,” said Boban. “The task force should provide the FIFA Council with a complete breakdown of the sporting elements to be taken into consideration when making a decision on such an important matter for the future of football.”
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The National Football League named 72andSunny as its new lead creative agency, replacing a relationship with WPP’s Grey. 72andSunny is expected to run its first campaign with the league early next year. “An important element [72andSunny] will bring to the NFL is not only how to excite our core audience, but also how to engage and recruit the next generation of football fans and their relationship with our sport,” Ellis said in an emailed statement.
Bellator inked a deal with lifestyle clothing brand RVCA to create an exclusive limited collection to commemorate Bellator’s back-to-back events in Honolulu at Neal S. Blaisdell Arena on Dec. 14 and 15. The limited-edition merchandise will be available at Bellator.com, RVCA.com and at official Bellator merchandise locations at both live events.
Cage Fury Fighting Championships announced that MODe, an all-natural sports nutrition brand, has become the Official Nutrition Partner of CFFC. The partnership kicks off on Dec. 14, as CFFC hosts three championship fights at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.

Supermatch and the NBA announced a new multiyear partnership that designates Supermatch – the sports betting operator of Uruguay’s national lottery – as the first official gaming partner of the NBA in the country and the league’s first in this category in Latin America. The partnership will be promoted in more than 6,000 retail locations in Uruguay, on Supermatch’s and NBA’s online platforms, including NBA.com, the NBA App and NBA Latin American social media platforms.
A new poll commissioned by Seton Hall University found that 70% of Americans are more likely to watch a game they bet on, with 88% of those who responded positively aged 18-29. 64% of respondents in that age range would be more likely to bet if they could wager on their phones.

DreamHack is tackling 2019 with a revised slate of events that will include visits to ten cities in Europe and North America, along with a new stop in South America. In 2019, DreamHack will host three-day, non-stop festivals in 10 major cities, including debuts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Dallas, TX, USA. Additional locations include Leipzig, Germany; Tours, France, Valencia and Sevilla, Spain; Montreal, Canada; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; and DreamHack Summer and Winter in Jönköping, Sweden. The action begins from Feb. 15-17 with DreamHack Leipzig, Germany, followed by DreamHack Rio from April 19-21. North America stops will include DreamHack Dallas from May 31-June 2, DreamHack Montreal from Sept. 6-8, and DreamHack Atlanta from Nov. 15-17.
The Game Awards saw Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast reveal a new esports competition for 2019 based on Magic: The Gathering. Play will dangle a prize pool of $10 million. The Magic Pro League will feature 32 of the top ranked Magic players from around the world with all competitors offered play and streaming contracts worth $75,000. The program kicks off with a $1 Million Mythic Invitational at PAX East 2019 in Boston.
Formula 1 announced that the 2018 F1 New Balance Esports Series drew a record audience of 1.2 million across selected TV networks in addition to 3.2 million people through a dedicated live stream. That organization also reports more than 100 million social media impressions and 20 million online video views of F1 Esports content that were accumulated over the course of the series with 70% of viewers who watched the final below 34 years old.
Intel Extreme Masters announced that the debut of IEM Chicago from Nov. 10-11 drew a near capacity crowd of 6,500 fans and viewership numbers nearly doubling that of its predecessor, IEM Oakland 2017. Via distribution channels both online and on linear TV, IEM Chicago generated over 38 million sessions streamed with online viewers consuming almost 11 million hours of content throughout the event, a 110% rise over last year with over 12 million unique viewers. Chicago will remain the home of the IEM North American event for the next two years.

Vikings/Seahawks at 8:15p on ESPN.
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ON THIS DAY in 1992: The NHL awards new franchises to Miami and Anaheim for the 94-95 season.
In the Know: Pro wrestler Chris Jericho is the founder of what band? (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: Other than Roger Staubach, name one other player from Army or Navy who won the Heisman Trophy. Answer: Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis, Pete Dawkins, Joe Bellino. Kudos: Aymon DeMauro-ADM Media & Marketing/NY; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Mark Lehman-Atlanta Braves/Atlanta; Michael G. Hawkins-Francis Marion University/Florence; Paul Brewer-TV Talent Agents, Inc/North Augusta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Rich Wolfe-Lone Wolfe Press/Scottsdale; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Brian Robin-Pechanga Resort Casino/Temecula
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