01/27/21: The NFL saw year-over-year gains in its conference championships

 

Medias First Morning Read

 

Wednesday January 27, 2021

Some great storylines and matchups helped propel the NFL’s Conference Championships this past Sunday to an average of 44.3 million TV and digital viewers, growing 3% over last year’s tally. The NFC Championship helped blaze the way, as Tom Brady and the Buccaneers clinched a ticket to Super Bowl LV in the NFC Championship Game, scoring an average audience of 46 million across FOX, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports streaming platforms, NFL Digital and Verizon Media Mobile properties. On FOX, the NFC Championship drew an average audience of 44.8 million, up 3% over last year’s game and up 8% over last year’s comparable window to rank as the most-watched telecast of any kind on any network since Super Bowl LIV.

PROGRAMMING

NBCUniversal went big for Peacock, inking a deal with WWE to make the platform the exclusive home to WWE Network in the United States. The SVOD service launched in 2014 and the move enables WWE to showcase its top events, including WrestleMania to Peacock’s 26 million subscribers. The move will begin on March 18.

Meanwhile, the company also announced that Peacock Premium becomes the new streaming home of NTT Indycar Series coverage beginning with the 2021 season.NBC Sports’ exclusive streaming coverage will shift from NBC Sports Gold’s “IndyCar Pass,” to Peacock Premium and offer live coverage of 2021 INDYCAR qualifying and practice sessions as well as coverage surrounding the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500, Indy Lights races, race-day warmups and full-event replays of INDYCAR races in 2021. Peacock Premium will surround the 105th Indianapolis 500 with exclusive practice and qualifying coverage as well as ancillary content.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC returns on Saturday at 8:30p with the Lakers and Celtics in action. Mike Breen returns as the voice of NBA Saturday Primetime with ESPN NBA analysts Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Rachel Nichols. ESPN Radio commentator Marc Kestecher will provide commentary over the airwaves with analyst P.J. Carlesimo. Cassidy Hubbarth will host Hoop Streams, ESPN’s 30-minute digital NBA pre-game show, alongside NBA veteran and former Boston Celtic, Kendrick Perkins. The duo will be joined by special guests leading up to the showdown.

NBC Sports, the PGA TOUR and PointsBet announced the first-ever betting companion show during a PGA TOUR event – a live second-screen experience entitled NBC Sports Edge BetCast, which will be available on Peacock Premium. The show will debut alongside NBC Sports’ telecasts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open on GOLF Channel and NBC from Feb. 4-7. “We are excited to debut this unique betting show with our partners at the PGA TOUR and PointsBet,” said David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks, and Executive Vice President, Content Strategy, NBC Sports Group. “With TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course as the backdrop, we look forward to a compelling sports betting presentation on Peacock Premium as a companion to watching the world’s best golfers competing on some of the most iconic holes on the PGA TOUR.”

WWE announced that Bad Bunny will perform his single “Booker T” off his new album “El Último Tour Del Mundo” live for the first time at Royal Rumble on Sunday, streaming live on WWE Network at 7p. “Performing at the Royal Rumble is a childhood dream come true,” said Bad Bunny. “I have been a lifelong fan of WWE and I am excited to take the stage and entertain fans around the world.”

The 2021 nine-event Bassmaster Elite Series makes its FOX Sports debut live on Feb. 13 at 8a on FS1 from Florida’s St. Johns River as the network revealed broadcast plans for the property. In addition, the signature Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk scores live FOX broadcast network coverage on Saturday, June 12 at 8a.

Entercom announced the launch of BetQL Audio Network. The network will feature sports gambling programming heard across Entercom’s portfolio of sports stations, as well as the RADIO.COM app and digital platform. The network will be headlined by two daily shows – “You Better You Bet” with Nick Kostos and Ken Barkley, and “BetQL Daily” with Joe Ostrowski and Ross Tucker. As part of the network launch, KEZW-AM in Denver will relaunch as The Bet 1430AM, serving as a broadcast distribution channel for “BetQL Audio Network” content. The network will subsequently launch on 93.1 HD3 in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Winners, Inc. is launching an exclusive video podcast on its site this quarter featuring company CEO Wayne Allyn Root, former Baywatch star Angelica Bridges, and other to be named celebrity hosts as well as handicapping experts. The interactive video podcast will give audiences “an insider’s view on the fascinating worlds of sports, entertainment, and sports wagering.”

A new four-team format is featured in Supercopa Pilsener 2021 carried Live on Pay Per View by Integrated Sports Media which distributed all four games with the semifinal first slated for Feb. 4 at 8p.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

This year’s Super Bowl commercials will be missing another familiar face as Anheuser-Busch announced that Budweiser would not be a sponsor of these year’s telecast, with the company instead dedicating the money it would have spent on the game toward coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts. Of course, four minutes of advertising during the game will still be dedicated toward the company’s other brands including Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer.

Meanwhile, Michelob ULTRA unveiled its Super Bowl commercial which about the role joy plays in success. The :60 spot, “Happy,” enlists the help of sports superstars including Serena Williams, Anthony Davis, Peyton Manning, Brooks Koepka, Jimmy Butler and Alex Morgan, to showcase the “important parts of their lives that ultimately play a role in their success: time spent with family and friends, exploring a new hobby and enjoying life.” “Enjoying the moments along the journey is as important as the journey itself,” said Ricardo Marques, Vice President of Marketing, Michelob ULTRA. “That’s why we’re partnering with some of the greatest athletes of our generation: to remind us all that joy and happiness are not a distraction but instead, a key ingredient to winning and success.”

Major League Baseball and loanDepot announced a new multi-year partnership agreement that establishes loanDepot as the Official Mortgage Provider of MLB. The pair will partner to promote the company’s brand, products and services through MLB’s multi-media digital and linear outlets including MLB.com, MLB Network, MLB social media platforms and MLB’s national broadcast partners, FOX, Turner and ESPN. In addition, loanDepot and MLB will collaborate on additional partnership activities and community-based initiatives that will be announced at a later date.

Hyland, a content services provider, signed a multi-year partnership extension with PGA TOUR star Xander Schauffele through 2023. As part of the partnership, Schauffele will continue to serve as a brand ambassador for Hyland and will be seen wearing the Hyland logo on the right sleeve of his Adidas apparel in PGA TOUR and European Tour events, including the four major championships. Hyland is also designated as Schauffele’s exclusive software partner.

Austin FC entered into a multiyear stadium naming rights partnership with Q2 Holdings, Inc. an Austin-based provider of digital transformation solutions for banking and lending, for their state-of-the-art, $260 million stadium. Austin FC’s 20,500+ seat stadium, now known as “Q2 Stadium,” will become one (1) of 20 soccer-specific stadia featured within MLS in 2021.

GSE Worldwide signed USC receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown for representation in all of the former Trojan receiver’s marketing and sponsorship deals heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. St. Brown joins current NFL clients in the GSE family that include Alvin Kamara, Jarvis Landry, Dioantae Johnson and Josh Norman, and NFL Legends Bo Jackson, Ray Lewis, Steve Young and Warren Sapp.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

FanDuel Group will start providing real-time highlights of PGA TOUR golf events to FanDuel Sportsbook app users. FanDuel customers will be able to view automated highlights through media push notifications, capitalizing on FanDuel’s vision to use in-game, real-time content to enhance the customer experience. “We’re taking the FanDuel Sportsbook app experience beyond just placing a bet — now our customers will get the best TOUR highlights delivered to them each week to consume and act on,” said Adam Kaplan, GM/VP of Sports Content, FanDuel Group. “Part of our ongoing focus is providing a fully integrated experience that gives our customers the ability to follow and interact in real-time with the sports they care about.”

UFC locked in a new, multi-year licensing agreement with Panini America. Negotiated by IMG, the deal grants Panini America the rights to become UFC’s official and exclusive collectible trading card partner and will officially launch in April with the release of Panini’s UFC Prizm collectible series. As part of the partnership, Panini America will capitalize on UFC’s key moments in real-time with the company’s direct-to-consumer Panini Instant platform making trading cards of UFC’s biggest fights, moments and milestones available just hours after they happen.

Super Squares, the live mobile game show that launches Advertising as a Sport, is hosting the World’s Biggest Super Bowl Squares Party, happening concurrently with Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7. Fans seeking a multi-screen experience will be able to join a live Twitch watch party hosted by notable NFL analyst Mike Golic, and NFL Super Bowl XLVII Champion and Commissioner of Sports at React, Matt Birk.

Jock MKT surpassed $2 million in user trades since launching in September of 2020. Now approved in 34 states, Jock MKT is planning to host their first “cash market” for the Super Bowl Users will be able to bid on virtual shares of Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers players during an IPO stage that will conclude prior to kickoff.

ESPORTS

NASCAR revealed that the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will return in 2021. NASCAR and iRacing jointly announced that a new-look Pro Invitational will see NASCAR Cup Series stars compete virtually in a 10-race schedule that will complement NASCAR’s real-life racing schedule. FOX Sports will broadcast the first five races of the series live in primetime on FS1. NBC Sports will air the final five races of the series, with its schedule and details to be announced at a later date. “The success of our eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series was underscored by an industry-wide effort to entertain fans during the early months of the global pandemic,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR senior vice president and chief digital officer. “This year the Pro Invitational will return with a schedule of midweek races that will bridge the gap between our real-world races each weekend.”

Electronic Arts and the NFL revealed the celebrities, NFL Legends and current Pro Bowlers competing in the Pro Bowl: The Madden NFL 21 Edition Presented by Verizon. The event will stream on the NFL YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, as well as EA Madden NFL Twitch on Sunday, at 5p. The event will feature Snoop Dogg, Deshaun Watson, Derrick Henry and Keyshawn Johnson competing for the AFC, while Bubba Wallace, Marshawn Lynch, Kyler Murray and Jamal Adams will play for the NFC. Michael Strahan and Charissa Thompson will host the Sunday event with streamers Ninja, FaZe Swagg, AustinShow and AMP also hosting live watch parties on their channels.

Immortals Gaming Club announced that Progressive Insurance signed on as the Official Insurance Sponsor of its Immortals League of Legends Championship Series team and will partner on a series of unique collaborations that celebrate esports and its passionate fans through activations that will bring together Immortals talent and the Progressive brand including special virtual gaming events and custom content. “Immortals’ LCS team is excited and proud to partner with Progressive Insurance,” says Jon Tuck CCO of Immortals Gaming Club. “Progressive is a leader in its field and aligns well with Immortals’ competitive spirit. We look forward to partnering with Progressive to bring our fans fun, unique content gaming content as well as the competitive coverage our fans crave.”

Team Liquid is extending its 10-year run with Alienware, inking an extension that will see Alienware continue to supply hardware for Team Liquid and mark the longest partnership between a gaming company and esports team. The renewal will see new programs established to push the industry in three areas: fan engagement, player performance and community opportunities. “Ten years ago, I was introduced to a team at Alienware – the same team that I work with today – after an event during my Curse days,” said Team Liquid’s co-CEO Steve Arhancet. “I didn’t know it at the time, but that conversation would go on to help shape Team Liquid, and with it, my entire life. Alienware and Team Liquid have been partners for a decade because we dream hard and work even harder. In our next chapter, we’re going bigger than we ever have by introducing programs that contribute to fans and players, starting with our Liquid+ launch, and open up the esports industry to underrepresented voices.”

FGC staple Combo Breaker announced that the annual event will again be cancelled due to the pandemic. The event was cancelled last year as well and was set to resume in May in Illinois. However, organizers announced that this year would instead see a new multi-day digital festival that would run over Memorial Day Weekend.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Excel Sports Management opened the doors to an expanded partnership structure for the agency. The move will see Emilio Collins promoted to Partner, where he will help direct the strategic growth of the company while continuing to oversee all sales and marketing for the agency. Collins joined Excel in 2017 as Chief Business Officer.

Executive search/talent recruitment firm ZRG announced the acquisition of Turnkey Search. All Turnkey staff and assets merge into ZRG, (renamed “TurnkeyZRG”) and will continue to be led by Len Perna, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Turnkey.

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