01/02/20: Former NBA Commissioner David Stern passed away

 

 

Thursday January 2, 2020

The fourth Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, David Stern, passed away on Jan. 1 as a result of the brain hemorrhage he suffered approximately three weeks ago. The NBA Commissioner Emeritus was 77 and oversaw the league from 1984-2014.

“For 22 years, I had a courtside seat to watch David in action. He was a mentor and one of my dearest friends,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We spent countless hours in the office, at arenas and on planes wherever the game would take us. Like every NBA legend, David had extraordinary talents, but with him it was always about the fundamentals — preparation, attention to detail, and hard work.

“David took over the NBA in 1984 with the league at a crossroads. But over the course of 30 years as Commissioner, he ushered in the modern global NBA. He launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world. Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand — making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation.”

Other execs also paid respects to Stern’s legacy in sports. “I am extremely saddened at the passing of my mentor and long-time friend David Stern,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “He was a man of great vision and energy who is responsible for the operational and business advancements of the modern sports industry. David taught me how to be a commissioner, and, more importantly, how to be a good person.”

PROGRAMMING

Meanwhile, NFL broadcast partners were quick to tout seasonal gains as the regular season concluded on Sunday. FOX Sports reports that the 2019 NFL regular season handed the channel with its best viewership in three years as America’s Game of the Week, while pregame studio shows FOX NFL Sunday and FOX NFL Kickoff scored new ratings records. For the complete 2019 regular season, FOX NFL recorded an average audience of 19,236,000 viewers, resulting in an uptick of 7% over versus 2018 while America’s Game of the Week averaged 24,356,000 viewers, up 10% compared to last year’s average. With an average audience of 5,002,000, FOX NFL Sunday saw a viewership increase of 6% compared to last year (4,719,000 viewers) while FOX NFL Kickoff delivered its best season ever with 1,349,000 viewers, up 3% from last season. Across digital platforms, NFL on FOX had its best regular season ever, with the streaming audience growing 57% over last year.

NBC concluded its 14th season of Sunday Night Football, posting its highest average viewership since the series’ record 2015 season, and drawing a Total Audience Delivery average of 20.5 million viewers in 2019 – up 5% from last year, according to fast national live plus same day data released by Nielsen, and digital data from Adobe Analytics. NBC’s Football Night in America studio show averaged 7.3 million viewers from 7:30-8:15 p.m. ET this season – up 2% from last year (7.1 million).

The NFL on CBS, meanwhile, notched its top regular season numbers in three years, up 4% over its 2018 numbers and reeling in an average of 17.216 million viewers. Its coverage of the Bills/Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day ranks as the most-watched regular season game on any network this season with 32.643 million viewers.

Looking forward, the NFL locked in times and networks for this weekend’s Wild Card action, opening Saturday with Bills/Texans on a ESPN/ABC simulcast at 4:35p, followed by the Titans/Patriots on CBS at 8:15p. NFC action starts Sunday at 1:05p on FOX with the Vikings/Saints, followed by the Seahawks/Eagles on NBC at 4:40p.

In addition, the NFL announced that Steve Harvey would return for his second consecutive year as host of NFL Honors on Saturday, Feb 1 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. The two-hour primetime awards special will air nationally at 8p on FOX and recognize the NFL’s top players, performances and plays from the 2019 season.

Wrapping up the rating news, Univision/TUDN’s simulcast of the second leg of the LMX Apertura Final featuring América vs. Monterrey saw the match window average 3.3 million Total Viewers 2+ and 1.8 million Adults 18-49, making it the highest rated LMX Apertura contest since 2016.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Sentry is extending its run as title sponsor of the Sentry Tournament of Champions since becoming the sponsor in 2018, locking in a long-term deal that runs through the 2029-30 PGA TOUR Season. The new 10-year deal replaces the original five-year agreement, which was announced in August 2017. “On behalf of the PGA TOUR, thank you to Sentry Insurance for its long-term commitment to the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the betterment of the Maui community,” said Andy Pazder, PGA TOUR Chief Tournaments and Competitions Officer. “Sentry’s partnership has been integral in the tournament’s success in the last three years and we’re thrilled at today’s announcement that secures the PGA TOUR’s winners-only event for years to come.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Sinclair’s FOX Sports RSNs have been dropped from fuboTV’s carriage lineup with the New Year, with the provider stating that “Despite these changes, fuboTV continues to be a sports-focused cable TV replacement with home team coverage in top markets. fuboTV still offers other regional sports networks including NBC Sports Networks in Chicago, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay area and Boston, NESN, MSG, and ATT Sportsnet Southwest.”

FanHub expanded its relationship with the ATP, building and launching the first-ever bracket challenge game for the inaugural ATP Cup, which will be held in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, Australia from Jan. 3-12. “Tennis has long been one of the sports where fans have enjoyed competitive gaming and being able to work with the ATP in building this bracket challenge will be a great way to expose this unique, first-time event to a global audience,” said Andrew Cronyn, Managing Director FanHub. “The free to play game enables the ATP to engage with fans throughout the tournament, giving them a reason to keep coming back to ATP’s digital platform and bringing the sport of tennis to the forefront.. We believe this will help set a year-round standard for sports like tennis and golf to consistently grow their fanbase like never before.”

Olympic Channel is teaming with Bridgestone to present an Olympic State of Mind. The multimedia experience helps users “become the best version of yourself by exploring how Olympic athletes use sport psychology techniques such as mindfulness, visualisation and motivation to perform their best.” The offering is available now at olympicchannel.com and its mobile apps.

ESPORTS

CEO Gaming is unveiled its official tournament schedule for 2020 with each of its three major events returning to Wyndham Orlando Resort, and this year will be “offering three individual events focused on the sub-genres of fighting games that inspired them.” CEO Dreamland runs March 13-15, featuring the Super Smash Bros. Series and other popular Platform Brawler titles. The CEO Fighting Game Championships take place June 26-28, featuring Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat 11, retro titles, Pro Tour support, and more. The CEOtaku Anime Fighting Game Championships, meanwhile, run Sept. 25-27, featuring established anime flavored fighting games such as Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, UNICLR, Karaoke, etc.

Overwatch League will open its third season without some key faces, who announced their departures with the New Year. Among the talent who will not come back as a regular will be veteran esports host Chris Puckett along with analyst Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles. Puckett told fans that “I want to thank everyone who made the first two seasons at @overwatchleague so special. Starting with the visionary who put it all together @natenanzer. When he first brought me in to see his master plan, I thought he was crazy. 2 years later he made it happen.”

The Orlando Magic’s Magic Gaming opened up a new partnership with Bud Light. The partnership will focus on “both the fans and the NBA 2k players, and Bud Light will become the presenting sponsor of the Bud Light 2K Tournament series,” according to Orlando Business Journal.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

The Premier Lacrosse League released the name of its expansion lacrosse club: Waterdogs LC. The club is scheduled to begin play in the 2020 season. The Premier Lacrosse League will hold an official Expansion Draft on February 12th to select 18-players who will join the Waterdogs LC roster in 2020.

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ON THIS DAY in 1977
MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspends Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner for one year.

In the Know
Who portrayed Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane in the movie White Men Can’t Jump? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
The XFL will be starting training camp in the coming weeks; who won the first and only title in the XFL’s first iteration? Answer: Los Angeles Xtreme. Kudos: Michael Ritz-Northwestern Mutual/NY; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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