01/04/21: The NBA saw gains for its opening week


Medias First Morning Read


Monday January 4, 2021

Let’s get caught up on the big stories. Sure, the dates might be different, but Kia NBA Tip-Off 2020, spanning Dec. 22-25, ranked as the most-watched opening week since 2012, with combined viewership across TNT, ESPN and ABC up 67% vs. last year’s Opening Week from Oct. 22-25, notching 3.4 million viewers vs. 2.0 million viewers. NBA League Pass, the league’s live game subscription package, also delivered strong viewership during Opening Week 2020, with average minutes watched increasing 67% vs. Opening Week 2019. The NBA’s social media platforms generated record engagement from Opening Week, with a 36% increase in video views and a 279% increase in minutes watched vs. last year.


The NHL will see it’s 2020-21 regular season begin Jan. 13, with a five-game lineup that will include the Blackhawks/Lightning, Penguins/Flyers, Canadiens/Maple Leafs, Canucks/Oilers and Blues/Avalanche. The 868-game regular-season schedule, with 56 games per team, wraps up on May 8. In addition, the league will reportedly look to play two outdoor games at Edgewood Lake Tahoe Resort in Shoreline, Nevada, according to Sportsnet. NBC will carry the duo, which will pit the Avalanche/Golden Knights and Flyers/Bruins.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football saw its season finale featuring Buffalo at New England on Dec. 28 generated an audience of 14,447,000 viewers across ESPN and ABC to score the franchise’s second-best viewership of the season based on Nielsen’s initial reporting. The audience also was up 6% from last year’s Week 16 presentation. In the final six weeks of the regular season, Monday Night Football averaged 12.9 million viewers per game (

Week 16 also saw a boost for The NFL on CBS, whose singleheader coverage on dec. 27 grew 25% over last year’s comparable week. In addition, CBS Sports delivered its best season average for singleheaders in four years with an average of 15.698 million viewers, with games highlighted by Indianapolis/Pittsburgh. Viewership for THE NFL ON CBS’ eight singleheaders this season averaged 15.310 million viewers.

FOX Sports reports that its Christmas Day telecast delivered 20.1 million viewers across FOX and NFL Network for the Vikings/Saints clash with 20.6 million tuning in across all platforms. That ranks as the most-watched Christmas Day telecast since 2016, and FOX’s best Thursday Night Football telecast since Nov. 2018.

Tomorrow night sees ESPN carry the 86th Heisman Trophy Ceremony presented by Nissan at 7p. For the 27th straight year, Chris Fowler will host the one-hour telecast, joined by reporter Maria Taylor. ESPN analysts and former Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard and Tim Tebow will also contribute remotely. The 2020 Heisman Ceremony will originate from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios for the first time with all four finalists – Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask – appearing via satellite from either their homes or schools.

Hit pause on the 2021 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, as tennis’ “fifth major” has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. This year’s event was originally slated to run for March 8-21, the tournament in California will now be held at an undetermined date later this year. “The tournament is proactively working with the ATP and WTA Tours as well as title sponsor BNP Paribas to confirm dates later in the year to hold the event,” the tournament said in a news release. “Details will be released in the near future as plans are finalized.”



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Chick-fil-A will continue its run with the Peach Bowl, inking an extension to its long-running partnership and continue the brand’s title sponsorship of the Peach Bowl and Kickoff Games. “Chick-fil-A has been a fantastic title partner in growing the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl into one of the preeminent bowl games in the country and becoming a part of the New Year’s Six bowl games while also assisting Peach Bowl, Inc. change the face of college football with the advent of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game format,” said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl, Inc. CEO and president. “Chick-fil-A wrote the book on how to leverage and activate against a title sponsorship and they do it better than anyone. They’ve been an incredible partner for a quarter of a century and we’re proud to have them on our team.” Among New Year’s Six bowls, Chick-fil-A is the longest-standing current title sponsor among all bowls in the College Football Playoff.

Jeep signed on as the jersey sponsor for Italy’s powerhouse team Juventus, according to the AP, in a deal that will bring the Italian champions $55 million per season through 2023-24. “This agreement stems from the mutual satisfaction of a successful partnership that has been accompanying Juventus and Jeep since 2012/2013 sporting season,” the club said in a statement.


VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, is now expanding its partnership with iHeartMedia in a move to grow its audio reach and sees VSiN shift its dedicated streaming radio programming to iHeartRadio. “We’re thrilled to build on the success we’ve had with iHeart on the podcasting and betcasting front to announce an expanded partnership that will help us offer a better product to a broader audience for free,” said Brian Musburger, founder and Chairman of VSiN. “We believe that removing the subscription hurdle on audio platforms will launch the critical next chapter for us on a technologically ubiquitous platform and set us up for 24/7 live programming in the very near term. This not only allows VSiN to get to more listeners on more devices but also to capture more advertising revenue as legalized sports betting continues its rapid spread across the U.S.”

UFC will reportedly charge fans an extra $5 for PPV events on ESPN Plus, with the price rising from $64.99 to $69.99, according to Variety. In addition, the price of an annual ESPN+ subscription for new subscribers will go up 20%, rising from $49.99 to $59.99 per year.


Valve released plans for the return of the Dota Pro Circuit, lining up two seasons that will lead up to the famed The International 2021. The first season kicks in on Jan. 18 with each region sporting a six-week league that will lead up to a Major and spanning Jan. 18 to Feb. 28 for most regions. Season two sees all regions compete from April 13-May 23.

Esports Charts released its roundup of the most popular esports leagues around the world in 2020, ranked by hours watched. The LCK took the top spot as the Korean League of Legends entity drew 136 million hours watched. Taking number two was the Mobile Legends Professional League with 95 million hours watched. The ESL Pro League took third for its CS:GO endeavors, with over 77 million hours watched. The LEC took fourth was nearly 73 million hours consumed, with the LCS rounding out the top five around 63 million.

WWE SVP of programming and media operations Craig Tello announced that he is heading to Electronic Arts to serve as their head of market communications and content strategy with a focus on competitive gaming. Tello had been with WWE for nearly 15 years.


Searchlight Capital Partners, ForgeLight and Grupo Televisa announced the completion of Searchlight and ForgeLight’s acquisition of a majority ownership interest in Univision Holdings. Televisa will maintain its ownership interest in Univision and will convert its warrants into common stock. Televisa will also maintain its Program License Agreement and will continue to serve as an important strategic partner to the company’s new majority owners.

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On this Day
1920 The Negro National League, the first black baseball league, is organized by Rube Foster.

Who is the all-time career leader in sacks for the NY Jets? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Who was the first rookie quarterback to surpass 3,500 passing yards and throw fewer than five interceptions? Answer: Dak Prescott. Kudos: Traci Liner-MediaCom/NY; Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Russ Camlet/NJ; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas-Fort Worth; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA

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