01/25/19: NBC Sports is launching tracking technology in its NHL All-Star Programming

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Good morning. It’s Friday January 25, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 

Tomorrow’s coverage of the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game will see NBC Sports stream a first-of-its-kind digital-only presentation showcasing new puck and player tracking technology designed to deliver data and information in real time as the NHL’s top players compete for $1 million. The new puck and player tracking technology will be showcased throughout the digital broadcast, highlighting elements such as skating speed, shot speed, skating distance and shift times. In addition, graphic identifiers for players and the puck will be utilized as they move on the ice with NBC Sports leveraging graphic layouts to illustrate the data alongside the game action, including which players are on the ice and iso camera shots to hone in on a specific player’s data. Kenny Albert and Keith Jones will provide commentary for the digital-only presentation.
 
“We’re always looking to innovate our NHL coverage and create the most enjoyable viewing experience possible,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer & President, Production, NBC & NBCSN. “The All-Star Game provides us with a perfect opportunity to try all of these new elements and evaluate how we can utilize this real-time puck and player tracking data to enhance our coverage going forward.”
 
Tonight will see NBC Sports Group present P.K. Subban’s All-Star Special, a one-hour late night talk show hosted by the Nashville Predators defenseman and three-time NHL All-Star P.K. Subban at 11:30p on NBCSN, immediately following the conclusion of the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills and featuring live comedy vignettes by Subban, including “Tech Inventions Gone Bad” and “What I Did While On Injured Reserve.”
 
 
PROGRAMMING

Amazon Prime lined up a return trip for Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer to provide commentary and analysis for the 2019 season of Thursday Night Football on Prime Video. “Hannah and Andrea raised the bar last year as they became the first all-woman team to call NFL games,” said Marie Donoghue, Vice President of Global Sports Video at Amazon. “Customer feedback has been great and we could not be more excited for Hannah and Andrea to once again bring their extensive knowledge to Thursday Night Football on Prime Video.”
 
ESPN reports that – after 10 days of tennis’ first Major of 2019 – the Australian Open is up 35% on ESPN2 in audience over year ago numbers, with an average of 335,000 viewers. The most-viewed telecast from Melbourne came the 10th night of coverage on Jan. 22, at 9p, where Karolina Pliskova’s scored a third-set comeback victory over Serena Williams, pulling an average of 631,000 viewers.
 
Elsewhere in ratings, MLB Network’s exclusive coverage of the 2019 BBWAA Hall of Fame election announcement on Tuesday delivered its highest audience in the network’s 10-year history, averaging 212,000 viewers from 6-7p. The 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown will air live on MLB Network on July 21.
 
SNEAKY BIG is partnering with The Alliance of American Football as the official studio home and production hub for games and commentary for the rookie league. Broadcasted on CBS and CBS Sports Network, SNEAKY BIG will host all of the pre, post and halftime shows from its Scottsdale studio and will manage the various levels of production required for the live broadcast of games.
 
FOX Sports will see Danny Garcia and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini serve as analysts with host Kate Abdo at FOX Sports’ Los Angeles studios for pre- and postfight coverage of FOX PBC Fight Night: Thurman vs. Lopez on Saturday on FOX, FOX Deportes and streaming on the FOX Sports app. In addition, Lennox Lewis and Joe Goossen join blow-by-blow announcer Chris Myers to call FOX PBC Fight Night while Heidi Androl reports and interviews fighters, and Jimmy Lennon Jr. and Larry Hazzard Sr. join the show as ring announcer and FOX Sports PBC rules expert / unofficial scorer, respectively. Adrian Garcia Marquez and Jaime Motta call the fights in Spanish on FOX Deportes.
 
The Olympic Channel global digital platform will offer live streaming coverage of the International Fencing Federation 2019 Grand Prix Series, with coverage of the finals of each stop in the series available worldwide at olympicchannel.com and on its mobile apps. Foil competition begins in Turin, Italy from Feb. 8-10.
 
CBS Sports Network’s telecast of Friday night’s Buffalo/Kent State men’s basketball matchup at 6:30p will see both head coaches mic’d up throughout the game. Audiences will hear both Buffalo head coach Nate Oats and Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff offer a peek inside their coaching style and how they handle the ebs and flows of the game.
 
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel returns for season 25 on Jan. 29 at 10p on HBO. Segments include a feature on ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a report on whether children from affluent homes are fleeing tackle football due to parents’ rising concerns about concussions, and a look at rock climber Hugh Herr.
 
TNT‘s weekly NBA regular season Tuesday game coverage returns Jan. 29 with a doubleheader pitting the Pelicans/Rockets at 8p and 76ers/Lakers at 10:30p. New commentators for this year’s coverage will also include 14-year NBA veteran and former No. 4 overall draft selection Jim Jackson and 19-year veteran and NBA Champion Jason Terry,
 
SiriusXM announced that Georgetown University head basketball coach Patrick Ewing will host an exclusive new show on SiriusXM. Center Court with Patrick Ewing, co-hosted by Rick “Doc” Walker, will premiere Sunday at 11a on ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM with eps running every Tuesday night starting Feb. 5 at 7p.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
IT’S DEADLINE DAY!
 
  The Cynopsis Sports Media Awards are dedicated to celebrating the work of talented producers, hosts, sponsors and executives and saluting their game-changing initiatives in the space.
 
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Great Clips signed on as the official retail salon sponsor of the X Games in 2019, which includes X Games Aspen and X Games Minneapolis. As an official X Games sponsor, Great Clips will receive on-site branding spanning the X Games app and spectator guide, jumbotron, billboards and athlete bibs at X Games Aspen, as well as a consumer-facing brand experience at X Games Minneapolis’ X Fest. Great Clips will also receive branding and integrations during X Games event telecasts on ESPN and on XGames.com. Great Clips will also provide fans with insights and commentary from some of the biggest names competing at the X Games through custom video content that will air on ESPN and online channels leading up to and during events in Aspen and Minneapolis.
 
The NHL finalized its entertainment lineup for the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game, slating platinum-selling recording artist Lauren Jauregui, country music star Chad Brownlee and the Stanford Band have joined the entertainment lineup for the event. Jauregui and Brownlee will perform the U.S. and Canadian National Anthems, respectively.  As previously announced, Bebe Rexha will headline the entertainment with a performance in the second intermission.
 
ASICS announced multi-year sponsorship deals with female distance runners Emma Bates and Allie Kieffer. This announcement comes on the heels of ASICS renewed brand focus centered on running. With a heritage deeply rooted in running, the brand is making investments in 2019, including the expansion of athletes on their roster to re-instill that commitment at all levels within the sport. As new additions to the ASICS family, both athletes will support the brand’s focus on running through activations and campaigns that will be rolled out over the course of the year.
 
The LA Kings are extending and expanding their partnership with HockeyShot and as a part of the agreement, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, the Kings and HockeyShot built a state-of-the-art “Off-Ice Training Center” at the team’s practice facility, Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. As the presenting sponsor of the facility, HockeyShot will have a designated retail space where visitors will have the opportunity to sample and purchase equipment aimed at helping players with their technique-focused, off-ice training progress.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

ESPN and Caffeine announced that portions of the X Games Aspen 2019 will be available on the Caffeine platform with around ten hours of content available on an X Games-branded channel on the platform. Caffeine users can also host their own interactive streams featuring X Games content and be able to watch and chat during shows on Caffeine hosted by Maddie Bowman, Brita Sigourney, and Scotty Lago. “Working with companies like Caffeine provides the X Games exposure to potentially new audiences while giving X Game fans another innovative way to experience the event,” said Tim Reed, VP of the X Games. “Caffeine’s mission to bring fans together complements our company mission to serve sports fans, anytime, anywhere.”
 
 
ESPORTS

Epic Games is bringing Fortnite to ESL, with the tournament organizer announcing a partnership to bring the game to ESL’s flagship event. The ESL Katowice Royale – Featuring Fortnite will take place at IEM Katowice Expo 2019 with action spanning two weekends,. First, $100,000 in prizes will be up for grabs at the Polish Edition from Feb. 23-24 while players will battle it out for a $500,000 prize pool at the International Edition, taking place on March 1-3. “Fortnite is a global game, and there are amazing, passionate players all around the globe,” added Rob Hodson, Esports Manager at Epic Games. “Partnering with ESL in Katowice gives us the chance to showcase some of these incredible international competitors.”
 
PUBG Corporation mapped out a slate of initiatives designed to support the professional esports teams associated with the game and its tournaments with perks that include profit-sharing on team and league-branded digital items, direct support of team operating costs, and event sponsorship. To directly bolster team participation in PUBG’s North American and European leagues, PUBG Corp. will help offset expenditures associated with team operation costs with expenses that include costs associated with team travel, housing subsidies and local transportation fees. Additionally, NPL and PEL-specific in-game items will be created starting with Phase 2 of each league with 25% of all in-game item sales dedicated to each of the teams in their respective leagues. Financial support will continue with hosted by official PUBG partners later in the year where exclusive in-game items will be created for each of these global events and 25% of sales will go directly to the participating teams.
 
Team Liquid landed the keys to a new Honda deal, with the auto brand signing on as the team’s official automotive sponsor. Team Liquid’s League of Legends team will arrive at their first match of the LCS in a Team Liquid-branded Honda Odyssey minivan and will have access to a fleet of branded Civics. The partnership was brokered by livestreaming platform Twitch, while the Honda logo will appear on jerseys.
 
Overwatch League franchise Washington Justice signed a partnership with Events DC as its founding partner and signature sponsor. Company branding will be displayed on the front of team  jerseys in addition to activations via watch parties and content.
 
DOJO Madness locked in a deal with Sportradar to launch Bayes Esports Solutions, a joint venture that leverages esports data products for business customers, including betting companies, esports broadcasters and general media. “This will put us in a perfect position to take advantage of the projected 36% annual growth rate of the esports market from about USD 655 million in 2017,” said Martin Dachselt, Managing Director of Bayes Esports Solutions.
 
Marquette University announced plans to launch a varsity esports team in fall 2019, which will serve as “the first in the nation run by a major conference Division I athletics program.” When it launches in fall 2019, Marquette’s varsity esports team will be run like any other varsity sport: tryouts, a coach will be hired, regular practices will be held and the team will represent Marquette at esports tournaments. The new varsity team will be managed by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, in close collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs, the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of Admissions. “ Marquette has had an esports club team since 2015.
 
 
INDUSTRY/ROSTER MOVES

FOX Sports named Brad Zager as Executive Producer, EVP/Head of Production & Operations effective Feb. 1. In the new role, Zager will oversee all live event production, pre- and post-game shows, all operations and creative services. Most recently, Zager led operations across all productions airing on FOX Sports, FS1 and FS2.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT
NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ABC and Disney XD at 3p.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
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Join your peers as we celebrate our talented finalists , screen the winning videos, feature thought-provoking panels on the state of the industry, and share insights with colleagues over drinks and appetizers. Passionate about short form? This one is for you.
 
 

ON THIS DAY in 1924: the first Winter Olympic Games open in Chamonix, France.
 
In the Know: Leon Sandcastle was the fictional name for which real-life athlete in a former Super Bowl commercial? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who is the Patriots’ all-time career sack leader? Answer: Andre Tippett. Kudos: Kathi Gillin-Comcast Spotlight/Langhorne; Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
 
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