01/26/22: PFL locked in another deal to be carried on ESPN

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday January 26, 2022

The Professional Fighters League is tapping ESPN with a new, multi-year media rights agreement that will see expanded coverage on ESPN linear networks and ESPN+. The deal sees the entire 2022 PFL Playoffs and majority of Regular Season events set to be carried on ESPN, with additional event coverage broadcast on ESPN2. In addition, ESPN platforms will bring fight fans pre- and post-event coverage, as well as exclusive PFL content.

“After two successful years of providing fans with premium MMA content alongside ESPN, PFL is proud to extend and expand our agreement,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “As MMA continues to evolve as a sport and rights property, our differentiated product and unique approach will help shape its path forward and in 2022 fans can expect more events, matchups between the world’s best fighters and innovative content than ever before.”


The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs saw the quartet of games average 38.2 million viewers to rank as the highest Divisional Round average on record, up 20% over 2020 and 12% over 2019. Digitally, the Divisional Round produced an average minute audience of 1.6 million across NFL, Yahoo Sports and broadcaster platforms – ranking as the highest digital AMA on record for the Divisional Round, and up 47% vs. 2020 and up 88% vs. 2019. To date, the NFL playoffs are averaging 33.6 million viewers, ranking as the highest average through the Divisional Round since 2015-16.

Breaking it down even further, FOX Sports saw the 49ers/Packers game deliver nearly 37 million viewers for the matchup, scoring as FOX most-watched Saturday telecast ever. That is also up 40% over the comparable window a year ago.

CBS Sports saw the Chiefs’ dramatic overtime victory versus the Bills lay claim to the most-watched Divisional Playoff game on any network in five years, averaging 42.736 million viewers and up 18% versus last year’s comparable game window. After registering its most-watched regular season in six years, CBS Sports is averaging 35.883 million viewers for its playoff games this season, the Network’s best postseason through the Divisional round in 10 years and its second-best on record. The Bengals/Titans Divisional Playoff game on Saturday, averaged 30.752 million viewers, up 13% versus last year’s comparable game window.

Finally, NBC Sports’ presentation of the Rams/Bucs drew a TAD of 40 million viewers, becoming the most-watched NBC Sport NFL game (not counting Super Bowls) since the SNF package debuted in 2006.

Speaking of football, the United States Football League will play its inaugural game on April 16, in prime time at 7:30p at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama and televised live on both NBC and FOX, making it the first scheduled sports competition to air at the same time on two competitive broadcast networks since Super Bowl I aired on NBC and CBS. NBC Sports will provide pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage of the Generals/Stallions game which will air on both networks, utilizing its on-air, production, and technical personnel. FOX Sports will produce the game coverage, which both networks will carry, using its broadcasters, production, and technical staff, and the same commercials will run on each network throughout the broadcast.

The USFL reached agreements with the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Authority and the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board to play all 2022 regular-season games in The Magic City, Birmingham, Alabama.

Clock’s ticking, get ‘em in! 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.

The NBA revealed a new format for the 2022 Clorox Rising Stars, set to be played on Feb. 18 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland as part of NBA All-Star 2022 at 9p on TNT. Clorox Rising Stars will feature four seven-player teams competing in a mini-tournament consisting of three games. Each game will be played to a Final Target Score, meaning that a game will end with a made basket or a made free throw instead of with the clock running out. The pool of 28 players for Clorox Rising Stars will consist of 12 first-year NBA players, 12 second-year NBA players and four elite young players from NBA G League Ignite.

A special episode of NFL Media’s NFL Explained series will focus on player health and safety innovation tonight at 10:30p on NFL Network. The show begins with a spotlight on helmet innovation and a deep dive into the labs of the entrepreneurs and manufacturers developing next-generation, cutting-edge helmets destined for NFL fields in coming seasons.


Don’t miss the February 16 entry deadline! Your brand or project will contend with top brands in the sports media world. We’re excited to see your entries!



Farmers Insurance inked a five-year extension of its relationship with the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour and the renewal of sponsorships for APGA Tour players Kamaiu Johnson and Willie Mack III. “We are excited to extend our relationships with the APGA Tour and Farmers brand ambassadors Willie Mack III and Kamaiu Johnson,” said Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance. “As part of our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, we are focused on helping to remove the financial burden associated with the game of golf and providing players with the access, tools and support they need to develop on and off the course. We look forward to continuing our work with the APGA Tour and hosting this weekend’s APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Invitational for a third year in a row.”

Meanwhile, tournament officials announced a wide-ranging, four-year partnership with Choctaw Casinos & Resorts as the presenting sponsor of the inaugural ClubCorp Classic, April 19-24, at ClubCorp’s Las Colinas Country Club. As presenting sponsor of the annual PGA TOUR Champions event, Choctaw Casinos & Resorts brings its status as an entertainment venue to the tournament with fan enhancements, on- and off-site promotional activations and charitable efforts benefitting local organizations.

The BIG3 will see Monster Energy return as a league sponsor for the upcoming 2022 season. “Monster Energy congratulates the BIG3 on another outstanding year and we are excited to announce the continuation of our sponsorship,” said Dan McHugh, Monster Energy CMO. “The BIG3 has certainly changed the game with unmatched athleticism, passion and innovation to bring the fans a truly entertaining event. Like the BIG3, Monster Energy focuses on the fan, and we will continue to team up with the BIG3 to enhance the fan experience through our on-site activations throughout the 2022 season.”

NASCAR named Southern Computer Warehouse as the Official Technology Value-Added Reseller of NASCAR in a multi-year partnership. “SCW brings a vast array of technology products and solutions to NASCAR as a successful value-added reseller in the tech industry,” said Jeff Wohlschlaeger, NASCAR Vice President and Chief Sales Officer. “Through this partnership, we’re able to expand our Technology Partner Platform, encouraging additional collaboration with our partners as we help shape the direction of the sport’s future.”

Athletes Unlimited announced the addition of three new partners and the extension of six others prior to Wednesday’s start of the first of five seasons of play across four women’s professional sports in 2022. Global professional services provider EY joins as Official Professional Services Partner of Athletes Unlimited Basketball and Volleyball, and Baden Sports becomes the Official Ball Partner of Athletes Unlimited Basketball. Meanwhile, official partners Nike (Official Uniform, Footwear and Training Partner), Gatorade (Official Beverage Partner) and Topps (Official Trading Card Partner), along with Supporting Performance Insole Partner VKTRY, have extended their relationships with Athletes Unlimited through 2022, while WEST + WILDER (Official Wine Partner) and Blue Sky CBD (Supporting CBD Partner) all renewed through the first two seasons of the year.

OOFOS and U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced a two-year partnership for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The partnership names the footwear brand as the Official Recovery Footwear Supplier for the team. Throughout the 2022 and 2023 competitive seasons, OOFOS will supply the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Freeski Team and U.S Snowboard Team and staff with OOFOS recovery footwear and will be supporting the teams with a number of investments, including recovery footwear for staff and athletes, presence at domestic World Cup events and product showcases.

The National Hockey League reeled in Interwetten as an Official Partner of the NHL in Austria and Germany. The online sports betting company will leverage its NHL partnership to increase brand awareness, establish individualized entertainment experiences and provide secure betting products for fans.


Ahead of the Winter Games, NBCUniversal is teaming with TikTok for an advertising partnership designed to promote the network’s coverage of the Olympics. “The Tokyo 2020 Games highlighted our community’s appetite for sports-adjacent content that shows a different side of the Games and the athletes, creating new avenues and content strategies for brands — including NBC — to engage with and entertain them,” a TikTok spokesperson said to TechCrunch. “While this partnership does present unique opportunities for NBCUniversal advertisers, it also includes a robust slate of content that NBC will share across its TikTok accounts, including daily posts showcasing everything from highlights to topical trends, and three livestreams hosted by a TikTok creator. The athletes’ stories and journeys are an integral part of NBC’s coverage of the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, so fans can expect to see them on TikTok across their handles.”

LIVENow secured the rights to stream 18 top events from the horse racing calendar in France, Italy and Germany. The first event from “The Crown Jewels” series, The Pegasus World Cup, will be streamed live from Hallendon Beach, Florida on Jan. 29.

Hollywood Park officially launched the Hollywood Park Technology Alliance. The program encompasses a strategic group of leading technology companies that contribute and help generate cutting-edge solutions for Hollywood Park’s technological infrastructure and implementation. The Technology Alliance includes: SoFi, Google Cloud, YouTube, Verizon, Deloitte, Cisco, Samsung, Square, Ticketmaster, Ross, Willow and PAM.

fuboTV secured exclusive U.S. rights through a six-year sublicense with FOX Sports to stream select matches from Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The deal kicks off with the UEFA Nations League in June 2022.


A heavyweight deal sees ESL Gaming and FACEIT merge under the name ESL FACEIT Group after the two companies were acquired by Savvy Gaming Group. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in Q2 2022. According to the announcement, the deal will “combine ESL’s expertise in building, broadcasting, and commercializing premium esports ecosystems, including arena and festival events, with FACEIT’s capabilities in developing best-in-class tools for competitive games and a leading social network of competitive players.” ESL and FACEIT will retain their leadership teams in the new group, with a new structure that would see Craig Levine and Niccolo Maisto as co-CEOs. Ralf Reichert, co-founder of ESL, will move into a non-operational role as Executive Chairman, supporting the leadership team.

NBA Rookie of the Year and Charlotte Hornets Point Guard LaMelo Ball is partnering with One Up to launch his own esports brand: MB1 Gaming. Ball will launch the brand by hosting free-to-enter esports tournaments, merchandise giveaways, and exclusive content on his platform, including a NBA 2K Invitational presented by PUMA, on Feb. 5.

Wisdom Gaming announced its continued partnership with Riot Games for Season One of the 2022 Wild Rift North American Series. Wisdom Gaming will oversee operations and broadcast on behalf of Riot Games leading up to the North American Regional Championship in April 2022. In addition, the company is launching a podcast series and bi-weekly Fight Night event, under its Giant Slayer brand, in the coming weeks. The WNS tournament format features three circuits and a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), all culminating in the $150,000 North American Regional Championship in April.

The NBA 2K League announced that the 2022 NBA 2K League Draft will be held virtually on Feb. 26 at 6p, livestreamed on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch and YouTube channels ahead of the league’s fifth anniversary season. In celebration of its fifth season, the NBA 2K League is launching #NBA2KL5, a season-long campaign highlighting the top moments, performances and players throughout the league’s history. The draft broadcast will feature NBA 2K League President Brendan Donohue announcing select picks, technological advances showing hosts and broadcasters in a new LED immersive studio, a variety of viewing options through Twitch’s Command Center, clips from NBA 2K League original content series “Draft Hopefuls”, and broadcast segments of the top 5 Draft moments, Draft day outfits and Draft steals as part of #NBA2KL5.

All Sports Television Network teamed up with Swiss-based Racing Unleashed AG and Full Throttle Adrenaline Park to produce and air its first esports reality show, titled Racing Unleased, and slated to be produced in June 2022. The series is comprised of 13 episodes featuring twelve contestants competing against each other on Formula-1 style racing simulators. Contestants will be divided into 3 teams. Over the 13-week period, contestants will race against each other and will be eliminated until three are remaining.

Esports Entertainment Group received an Order approving a Transactional Waiver from the Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement which permits the company to begin accepting bets in the state. The Company becomes the first esports betting operator to receive a Transactional Waiver in New Jersey and plans to launch their VIE.gg betting platform following a five-day ‘soft play’ period.


Jake Paul tweeted that he and Anti-Fund partner Geoffrey Woo are making a joint investment in Endeavor. He wrote: “I’ve invested in EDR (UFC) stock with my partner @geoffreywoo 2 focus on UFCs ESG standards relating to fighters. We believe EDR can drive long-term economic value by increasing UFC fighter pay & providing them healthcare. Reaching out to @EngineNo_1 to partner on this ‘endeavor’”

ESPN and American University’s School of Communication are unveiling a new, funded Fellowship program for investigative and enterprise journalism. The fellowship will allow early-career journalists the ability to earn a Master’s degree at American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C. while working in the Investigative and Enterprise Journalism Unit at ESPN.

Rachel Walsh has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Communications at Excel Sports Management. She will oversee talent and corporate communications efforts as well as social media for the agency and its clients.


To better understand and influence where the $80 billion TV ad spend market will spread, join us at First Look: OTT Virtual Conference on Tuesday, March 8th at 1pm ET.


1913: Jim Thorpe relinquishes his 1912 Olympic medals for playing semi-pro baseball before competing in the Games.

The “Auld Mug” is the unofficial name for the trophy of what sporting event? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Who portrayed basketball coach Ken Carter in the film Coach Carter? Answer: Samuel L. Jackson. Kudos: Jackie Mahon-Havas Media/NY; Sean Walker-Omnicom MediaGroup/NY; Rick Ramage-UTA/NY; Kevin Christian-Powerphyl/NY; Ranfi Rivera-ViacomCBS/NY; Heather Allen-WWE Corporation/Stamford; Bill Graff-BeIN SPORTS/Miami; Derek Houston-Atlanta Braves/Atlanta; Louis Lewow-FITE/Atlanta; Travis Wacker-ESPN Chicago/Good Karma Brands/Chicago; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Nick Monroe / Monroe Photography / San Diego; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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Shoot and produce digital video content. Operate as a one-person band getting your own video, audio, and necessary coverage. Act as the primary liaison with our subjects and must always represent the core values of our brand in the field. Credits in digital/doc/reality programming & experience shooting on the Sony FS-7 or adjacent models. Full info HERE (2/6)

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