01/14/22: NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico will cross the Pacific to host both the Olympics and the Super Bowl

Medias First Morning Read
Friday January 14, 2022

Mike Tirico is pulling a major double duty, with NBC Sports announcing that he will host both the NBC Olympics primetime show in Beijing (beginning Thurs., Feb. 3) and Los Angeles, while also hosting the Super Bowl LVI pregame show from SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13. Tirico will anchor the Olympic primetime show in Beijing from through Feb. 10 before flying 6,200 miles to Los Angeles, where he’ll continue his Olympic hosting on Feb. 11 – from a special set outside SoFi Stadium, which will host Super Bowl LVI. He will host the primetime Olympics show again on Saturday night, before hosting the five-hour Super Bowl LVI Pregame Show on Feb. 13. Immediately following Super Bowl coverage, he’ll return to the lake set to host Sunday night’s Olympic competition.

“There’s no one better than Mike Tirico to navigate this unique confluence — a global gathering of elite Olympic athletes in 15 sports in the world’s biggest media event and the game crowning the NFL champion in our country’s ultimate single-day sporting and media spectacle,” said Molly Solomon, Executive Producer & President, NBC Olympics Production. “Mike’s knowledge, preparation and ability to converse on anything from figure skating to football are second-to-none. We are counting down until it all begins next month.”

Meanwhile, NBCUniversal details plans for a Winter Olympics-record 2,800+ hours of coverage across NBC, Peacock, USA Network, CNBC, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app when the XXIV Olympic Winter Games from Beijing, begin this February. NBCU will provide unprecedented full-day coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 4, on NBC and Peacock. The day will include live coverage in the morning followed by a special edition of TODAY, an afternoon Olympics preview show, and an enhanced primetime presentation of the Opening Ceremony, with a special focus on Team USA. The NBC broadcast network will feature 18 nights of primetime coverage, beginning on Feb. 3. USA Network will be the cable home of the Winter Games, providing coverage from Feb. 2-20, while Peacock will live stream all Winter Olympics coverage on its premium tier and immediately host replays of all

PROGRAMMING

FOX Sports announced the official launch of the FOX Sports Podcast Network. As part of the launch, three new podcasts have been developed to premiere in the coming months: The Skip Bayless Show, What’s Wright With Nick Wright and Wesley, with more to be announced. The new podcasts join Club Shay Shay with Shannon Sharpe, which ranks among the top sports podcasts on the Apple Podcasts charts. “FOX Sports is the leading destination for top quality original digital content from the biggest personalities in sports,” said Charlie Dixon, Executive Vice President and Head of Content, FOX Sports. “The creation of this new podcast network allows us to deliver fans exclusive commentary and enthralling stories providing hours of entertainment through this important medium.”

Turner Sports locked in a multi-year agreement with Nabil Karim, who will serve as a host for NBA TV, while also contributing as host and reporter across basketball and hockey programming. He will make his Turner Sports on-air debut on NBA TV today, hosting NBA GameTime starting at 7p. Karim was most recently at ESPN, anchoring SportsCenter and various other studio shows since 2019.

In other talent news, Max McGee joined ESPN as an anchor for SportsCenter. He will begin his new duties on January 31. McGee comes to ESPN from WJZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore, Md., where he was a news and sports anchor for the past three years.

Journalist Pete Thamel is heading to ESPN as a college football senior writer where he will cover college football year-round for ESPN, as well as some college basketball. His multi-platform role will include writing for ESPN, as well as television and radio. He officially starts Saturday. “Pete has long established himself as one of the sport’s top news breakers and storytellers. He’ll bring that sensibility and his unique voice and perspective to every platform at ESPN,” said Lauren Reynolds, vice president and executive editor, ESPN.com. “We’re thrilled to welcome Pete to ESPN and excited for his contributions as he joins our team of award-winning college sports reporters who create smart, distinctive coverage.”

The doors are open! Nominations for the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards are now being taken for their year’s ceremony, taking place on April 19, live (hopefully) in NYC. New categories are seeking champions! Have a gander by clicking here.

fuboTV signed on to be the exclusive home to the Premier League in the Canadian market for the next three seasons beginning in 2022/2023. fuboTV will exclusively carry all 380 Premier League matches each season and shoulder programming on its growing Canadian platform through the 2024/2025 season. All content will stream live on fuboTV and its linear channel, Fubo Sports Network.

ESPN reports that all of its Nielsen-rated shows — NFL Live, Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and NFL Rewind – scored audience boosts year-over-year. NFL Live registered the show’s best audience in five years (2016 season), averaging 425,000 viewers an episode, including averaging 457,000 viewers in December and 439,000 viewers in November. For the season, the 425,000 viewers is up 30% from 2020 season and 20% from the 2019 season. For the aforementioned final two months of 2020. Monday Night Countdown jumped its audience 23% this season, increasing its viewership to 1,493,000 viewers a show. NFL Rewind averaged 369,000 viewers, increasing its audience by 3%.

SHOWTIME Basketball and Iverson Manselle Bates Enterprises, the live sports and lifestyle brand co-owned by NBA legend Allen Iverson and businessmen Jai Manselle and Bobby Bates Jr., are teaming up to create content around elite high school basketball events as part of a wide-ranging collaboration. Building on SHOWTIME Basketball’s ongoing sponsorship of Iverson Manselle Bates events, the new content creation agreement will include SHOWTIME Basketball’s first ever live broadcast on its YouTube channel with the airing of the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic All-American Game in April.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The NBA honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by boosting the national dialogue on race and equality and encouraging collective action in communities nationwide. In addition to its four games on TNT and NBA TV on Monday, NBA teams playing Jan. 13 – 17 will wear custom Nike NBA MLK Day warm-up t-shirts designed in collaboration with the NBPA, The King Center and Martin Luther King III. The front of the t-shirt features words from MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, “now is the time to make justice a reality for all,” while the back reads “Honor King” with the lettering adorned with Dr. King Jr.’s signature. Last week, the NBA unveiled “Imagine”, the new spot that honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and throughout this week and through the weekend, all 30 NBA teams will honor Dr. King’s fight for justice and examine the history and impact of inequality in America.

MANSCAPED, the men’s lifestyle consumer brand and male grooming category creator, and UFC inked a multi-year extension of their partnership in which MANSCAPED will continue to serve as the first-ever Official Electric Trimmer of UFC. MANSCAPED will maintain visibility in front of UFC’s global fanbase of more than 625 million people and over 178 million social media followers. Placement includes signage on the Octagon, including exterior horizontal bumpers for all Pay-Per-View and Fight Night events. MANSCAPED will also serve as the presenting sponsor for rounds four and five of all UFC events. Additional elements of the partnership include in-venue fan interactions, as well as in-broadcast integrations, including the “Fighter Description” feature during athlete walkouts for all Pay-Per-View events, and activations across digital and social platforms for select events.

Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. and Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp locked in a multi-year marketing partnership renewal with Mattress Firm, expanding the role of the mattress specialty retailer as the Official Sleep Partner of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, Westchester Knicks, Knicks Gaming, MSG Networks and the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes. Mattress Firm will partner with the Knicks and Rangers on a co-branded sweepstakes that will provide the winners with the opportunity to attend a Knicks or Rangers game at Madison Square Garden later this season. As part of the renewal, Mattress Firm will receive “significant” brand integration at Knicks games including courtside LED signage and as Presenting Partner of the GardenVision “Oblivious Cam,” which highlights “junk sleep” – the impact a poor night’s sleep has on people.

The Royal Bank of Canada will become the exclusive title sponsor of the Brooklyn Half, the largest half marathon in the United States, and a strategic partner of New York Road Runners (NYRR). The four-year deal also includes RBC’s sponsorship of Rising New York Road Runners and the launch of a new race, the RBC Race for the Kids. “We are thrilled to partner with RBC to put on the largest half marathon in the country, in addition to sharing a vision with them to inspire the next generation of runners,” said Christine Burke, NYRR Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Runner Products. “The RBC Brooklyn Half and RBC Race for the Kids Presented by NYRR will reach thousands of adults and kids, giving them a goal to strive for and encouraging them to stay healthy and active.”

The Football Business Academy and the National Women’s Soccer League entered into an agreement that will see the Swiss educational institution collaborate with the league. “We are excited to work with the FBA and their students. We hope their passion for women’s sport will translate into new thinking and projects to collaborate on. We look forward to welcoming their students to the NWSL,” said Mitch Poll, Chief Revenue Officer, NWSL.

GENYOUth, a national non-profit organization which creates healthier school communities, announced in partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation and Frito-Lay the opening of ticket sales for Taste of the NFL, a Super Bowl weekend culinary event. The National Football League (NFL) will donate a portion of event proceeds to GENYOUth’s End Student Hunger Fund. The NFL has also earmarked a portion of funds as a donation to support the Super Bowl host city’s Los Angeles Unified School District and its Kool Kitchens renovations program, a district-wide initiative addressing student food insecurity. Taste of the NFL will be held on February 12, from noon to 4 p.m. PST, at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Guests will be able to indulge in delicious food and cocktail experiences, and celebrity appearances.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Fan Controlled Football announced the closing of a $40 million Series A investment round led by Animoca Brands and Delphi Digital. Other investors include Gemini Frontier Fund, 6th Man Ventures, Jump Crypto, Red Beard Ventures, executives at GoldenTree Asset Management, and Sebastian Borget, co-founder of The Sandbox. With the infusion, FCF is also announcing two new NFT-governed expansion teams, owned by leaders of the Bored Ape Yacht Club and Gutter Cat Gang communities, respectively.

Data Driven Sports, parent company of ShotTracker, entered into an agreement with ESPN to provide data and analytics for Big 12 Conference basketball games. The multi-year deal gives ESPN the opportunity to integrate ShotTracker data throughout its linear and digital properties to drive fan engagement, enhanced storytelling and broadcast automation. The first stage of the collaboration kicked off last Saturday afternoon with advanced graphics integrated into ESPN’s broadcast of the Kansas vs. Texas Tech men’s basketball game on ESPN2.

The NFL began releasing virtual commemorative tickets in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to fans who attended select games. Now throughout the postseason, virtual commemorative ticket NFTs will be released for attendees at each game. Super Bowl attendees for the first time ever will get a custom NFT stamped with their section / row / seat.

Sportsdigita is partnering with the podcast, Are You Not Entertained? to support Sportsdigita’s growth and presence with sports organizations across the United Kingdom. Sportsdigita will be credited as the presenting sponsor for the flagship show of the AYNE platform, Groundsmen Conversations. Sportsdigita, as title sponsor of the show will also have a featured “Sportsdigita Question of the Week” during each show, put to the guest.

DraftKings will become the official sportsbook provider of the Oregon Lottery. The transition is set to begin on January 18, and current Scoreboard customers will be able to create a DraftKings account and transfer their existing funds to the DraftKings Sportsbook app at that time. DraftKings’ deal with the Oregon Lottery marks the second exclusive lottery agreement the company has made after inking a deal in 2019 with the New Hampshire Lottery.

Sportradar Integrity Services and the Canadian Hockey League announced a multi-year education and bet monitoring services agreement. This new relationship increases Sportradar Integrity Services’ portfolio of ice hockey partners to nine different leagues and federations around the world and strengthens its leadership position across North American sports leagues.

ESPORTS

Envy Gaming is picking up the operating rights for Esports Stadium Arlington with the org set to use the stadium to host home team matches in addition to drawing events to the city. The team acquired the operating contract for the stadium from Esports Venues. “Esports Stadium Arlington is without a doubt the best venue in North America right now for any publisher or league considering an esports event with spectators,” said Geoff Moore, president and COO at Envy. “Keeping Esports Stadium Arlington operating at a high level is a natural extension of what we strive for at Envy Gaming: we want to give all people that love gaming the opportunity to enjoy amazing competitions in a social environment.”

North American esports organization Immortals locked in a multi-year League of Legends naming rights deal with Progressive that will see its LCS squad compete under the moniker Immortals Progressive. Progressive will also serve as the official insurance sponsor of Immortals. “Our new branding previews how we intend to integrate visual representations of the Great Lakes Region throughout our merchandise, content and other collateral,” said Brad Peters, Immortals Director of Brand. “This jersey design demonstrates how we are breaking the traditional mold of what fans expect to see from esports teams visually.”

Activision Blizzard revealed esports plans for World of Warcraft this year for Arena World Championship, Mythic Dungeon International, and Classic Arena Tournament, announcing both changes to the ecosystem as well as over $1.8 million in prizing across all three programs. Competition opens on March 18 with competition for the Arena World Championship. The Great Push tournaments also return via a multi-weekend mini season with an additional $210,000 in prizing after the Mythic Dungeon International global finals.

Riot Games announced that Kia will return for the fourth year in a row as Automotive Main Partner for the League of Legends European Championship Spring and Summer 2022. “We are delighted to extend our partnership with the LEC, one of the world’s premier esports leagues,” says Hyojung Jung, VP and head of Marketing Communications Group of Kia. “As the LEC’s longest-running main partner, we look forward to deepening our engagement with global esports fans in 2022, while introducing innovative experiences based on Kia’s brand belief that movement inspires ideas.”

BLAST rolled out the roadmap for the 2022 BLAST Premier CS:GO tournament series, with seven events scheduled throughout 2022 and a prize pool of $2.47 million. Spring groups open play starting Jan. 28 with the Spring Showdown set to run April 20-24 and the Spring Final live from Jun 14-19.

Evil Geniuses signed former Los Angeles Sparks Vice President of Corporate Partnerships Caroline (Cay) Young. As a Director of Corporate partnerships, Young will focus on identifying, negotiating and securing new partnerships that expand Evil Geniuses’ brand recognition to broader audiences.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will debut new tracks for the 13th season of the series with drivers competing on virtual circuits that more closely mirror the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Six tracks make a first-time appearance on the 19-race calendar, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which opens the season with an exhibition race on Feb. 1. In addition to the L.A. Coliseum, virtual events will also debut at the newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Dirt Race, Dover International Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway and Nashville Superspeedway. For the first time in its history, the series will conclude at Phoenix Raceway on October 25. “The 2022 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season is shaping up to be one of our most exciting yet,” said Tony Gardner, iRacing President. “With a refreshed schedule, led by our opening exhibition at the L.A. Coliseum, a track developed in iRacing, the pursuit of this year’s championship will take some exciting new turns this year. We’re excited to kick off the chase for one of the largest purses in sim racing, with well over $300,000 on the line, and look forward to crowning a champion in Phoenix!”

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Sportradar announced the hiring of Jim Brown as Head of Integrity Services & Harm Prevention in North America. For the past eight years Brown served in various risk management roles at the NCAA, most recently as the Managing Director of Enterprise Risk Management.

Major League Wrestling filed a lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment, claiming that the company is attempting “to undermine competition in and monopolize the professional wrestling market by interfering with MLW’s contracts and business prospects” and that WWE pressured third parties to abandon contracts and prospective relationships with MLW.

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Happy Birthdays
Dave Campbell 1-14 ESPN/Padres
Alex Faust 1-14 LA Kings
Doug Gottlieb 1-15 Fox Sports Radio
Joy Taylor 1-17 Fox Sports Radio
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Allison Williams 1-18 Ex-ESPN
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