01/16/18: Golf Channel saw production staff walk out on Sunday during coverage of the Sony Open

Good morning. It’s Tuesday January 16, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Union workers handling video and audio production for Golf Channel events walked out Sunday following stalled contract negotiations and caused disrupted and limited coverage of three events including the final round at the Sony Open. Golf Channel had been negotiating an agreement for nine months with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, per the AP. The strike involves only tournaments that Golf Channel produces.
”Golf Channel has been working on negotiating an agreement for nine months with a union that represents our live tournament technicians,” the network said in a statement on its site. ”Those efforts have not yet yielded a resolution, and we look forward to reaching a mutually agreeable contract. However, some technicians have chosen to walk off the job today. We have contingency plans in place, and will continue to deliver coverage.”
“We apologize for the interruptions to today’s PGA TOUR telecasts due to a labor dispute between the Golf Channel and its live tournament technicians union,” the PGA Tour said in a statement. “We are working closely with our partners at the Golf Channel to provide as much television coverage as possible of the Sony Open in Hawaii, The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay and the Diamond Resorts Invitational in the interim. Of course, PGATOUR.COM and the PGA TOUR app will provide real-time scoring, and fans can follow tournament action via our social media channels. PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM, which can be streamed for free on PGA TOUR digital platforms, will also provide live coverage of the Sony Open as planned. Thank you for your patience and for being a valuable PGA TOUR fan.”

A wild Vikings win over the Saints handed FOX Sports with an estimated audience of 35.645 million viewers along with a 19.3/35, according to estimates released by Fox Sports on Monday, via USA Today. That marks a new high for the season, but was off-pace by 27% from last year’s numbers, when a Packers/Cowboys matchup delivered an estimated 48.5 million viewers. Meanwhile, the report states that the Jaguars upset of the Steelers on CBS drew a 20.4/42 to the network, off 7% from last year’s game. Meanwhile, NBC’s 17.4/34 overnight rating (not including digital) for the Falcons/Eagles on Saturday ranked as the top Saturday program since last January.
ESPN detailed plans for its new morning show Get Up, with Michelle Beadle, Mike Greenberg, and Jalen Rose and premiering in April 2. The weekday program will originate from a brand new studio at NYC’s South Street Seaport and will run live from 7-10a on ESPN, re-airing each day at 10a on ESPN2. “Sports fans start their days with sports and with ESPN,” said Bill Wolff, vice president, studio production, ESPN. “Our programming is based on two tenets — personality and authority. In both areas Michelle, Greeny, and Jalen are stars, which is why we’re so excited for Get Up.’”
The Automobile Racing Club of America and FOX Sports locked in a three-year broadcast rights agreement that calls for a minimum of eight ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards events to be carried on FOX Sports from 2018 – 2020. FS1 will drop the green flag on ARCA’s 66th season of competition at Daytona International Speedway with live coverage of the 55th Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire Feb. 10.
The clock is ticking! Don’t miss out on the Cynopsis Sports Awards, once again honoring the best in the business in production, marketing, digital and more. Don’t miss out on our new categories for 2018, including: Awareness Campaign for a Social Good Initiative; Event of the Year for a Breakthrough Sport; League of the Year for a Breakthrough Sport; Live Coverage of a Breakthrough Sport; Reality Series; Shining Stars (individual); Shining Stars (team/company); and Social Good TV Special or Episode. Get your work in NOW by clicking here.
ESPN’s Matt Hasselbeck is been tapped to serve as the analyst alongside Monday Night Football’s Sean McDonough and reporter Lisa Salters for the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl telecast on Jan. 28. “Matt has experience calling games and will be a great fit alongside Sean McDonough for this Pro Bowl assignment,” said ESPN Senior VP, Events & Studio Production Stephanie Druley. “He is a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback with connections to many players and coaches throughout the league, and he was already scheduled to cover the game as part of our ESPN studio team.”
NBC Sports announced that Carrie Underwood will open NBC’s Super Bowl LII on Feb 4 with a video filmed last year for her anthemic song, “The Champion.” The company will also incorporate the song into its coverage of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. “When we met with Carrie last year to discuss the Super Bowl open, we each brought ideas. Carrie presented first. After she spoke, we looked at each other and said ‘that’s the one,’” said Fred Gaudelli, Executive Producer of NBC Sunday Night Football and the network’s Super Bowl LII presentation. “Later on, our Olympics producers listened to ‘The Champion’ and decided that it would be a perfect complement for our Winter Games coverage. We are excited to highlight ‘The Champion’ in two events on the global stage in February.”
In other music/sports news, Leslie Odom Jr. has been tapped to sing “America The Beautiful” as part of Super Bowl LII pregame festivities at US Bank Stadium. The performance will be televised live on NBC prior to kickoff.
Finally, Trace Adkins will perform the national anthem at Bellator 192 from The Forum in LA on Jan. 20 at 9p. The event will air live on Paramount Network and CMT.
ESPN announced at the Television Critics Association Press Tour that the network has teamed up with Kobe Bryant’s studio, Granity Studios, on a new show called Detail, which will be written, produced and hosted by Bryant. The basketball analysis show will debut in March 2018 on ESPN. Detail will debut with a 15-episode run and will air during the back half of the 2017-2018 NBA season, concluding with The Finals.
The World Long Drive Association unveiled its 2018 schedule, which will feature five televised events airing live on Golf Channel. The five televised events mark a rise from three in 2017, and collectively account for half of the 10 events on the 2018 World Long Drive schedule, each airing live and in primetime on Golf Channel. The new events will include: Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun (Maricopa, Ariz., May 15); Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash (Atlantic City, N.J., June 5); and the Long Drive Classic presented by Niswonger Children’s Hospital (Kingsport, Tenn., August 13).
Legendary sports commentator Keith Jackson passed away Friday evening at the age of 89. Jackson spend 40 years at ABC Sports and while he worked a wide variety of events for ABC’s Wide World of Sports as well as Major League Baseball, NBA and 10 Olympic Games, he was best known for his college football telecasts. “For generations of fans, Keith Jackson was college football,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.  “When you heard his voice, you knew it was a big game.  Keith was a true gentleman and memorable presence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Turi Ann, and his family.”
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NBC is anticipating ad revenue above $500 million from Super Bowl Sunday, according to Executive VP/ of Sales and Marketing Dan Lovinger, who noted that the company had fewer than 10 spots left for the game. “We’re nearly sold out for Super Bowl LII with only a handful of game units left. Advertisers continue to recognize the massive scale and reach of the Super Bowl as evidenced by the fact that we’ll average more than $5 million for a 30-second spot in the game. In addition, our pre- and post-game units are also well sold, as is our special presentation after the game of This Is Us. Looking at this holistically, we expect February 4th will set the single day record for advertising revenue generated by a single media company.” Meanwhile, he noted that Olympic sales are pacing ahead of Sochi and expected to exceed $900 million in national ad sales.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, Ad Age writes that Toyota, which sat out last year’s Super Bowl, will return this year with two 60-second spots. Meanwhile, Toyota-owned luxury brand Lexus will advertise in the game for the second year in a row. Toyota’s first ad will air in the first quarter while the second spot will run during halftime.
GEICO inked an extension of its commitments to Team Lucas events, in a move that will see the brand serve as presenting sponsor of the Lucas Oil Off Road Series with additional major involvement in the Lucas Oil Pulling League, Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series, Lucas Oil Modified Series, Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and the Chili Bowl. It also will retain a presence at Lucas Oil Stadium. Overall, the deal will give GEICO an on-site presence at more than 150 Team Lucas promotions.

WWE unveiled 12 charitable organizations paired up with WWE Superstars that will be competing in Mixed Match Challenge, a single-elimination mixed tag-team tournament, where the winning team will receive $100,000 to support their charity of choice. Mixed Match Challenge is a 12-week tournament that will stream live in the US exclusively on Facebook Watch starting today at 10p. The charities and teams include: Americares – represented by: Bayley and Elias; Boys & Girls Clubs of America represented by: Jimmy Uso & Naomi; Connor’s Cure represented by: Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman; Girl Up, represented by: Bobby Roode and Charlotte Flair; Global Citizen represented by: Lana and Rusev; Heroes USA represented by: Alicia Fox and Goldust; KaBOOM! represented by: Big E and Carmella; Make-A-Wish represented by: Natalya and Shinsuke Nakamura; Rescue Dogs Rock represented by: Asuka and The Miz; UNICEF represented by: Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn; Special Olympics represented by: Finn Bálor and Sasha Banks; and Susan G. Komen represented by: Apollo Crews and Nia Jax.

Major League Soccer confirmed its foray into esports, announcing a partnership with EA Sports to launch an esports league based on FIFA 18. The new event will see the top 19 players from the US and Canada compete in the inaugural eMLS Cup – taking place in April at PAX East – before moving on to take part in the EA Sports Global Series Playoffs and then the eWorld Cup. At launch, 19 MLS teams will participate, with each club entering its own player from its region. “This step forward into competitive gaming is a key component in our partnership with EA SPORTS to promote deeper engagement and connections between MLS supporters and the millions of FIFA players around the world,” said Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures.
In related news, the New York Red Bulls signed Mike LaBelle as the club’s first esports player. LaBelle will represent the Red Bulls in the eMLS, and in FIFA tournaments around the world.

Flyers/Rangers on NBCSN at 7p.
Registration is open for the 2018 Cynopsis TV Awards!
Wednesday, FEB. 7th | 4:45pm – 8pm | Espace, NYC
We’re gearing up for the annual Cynopsis TV Awards, saluting excellence in national TV programming, from writing and directing to casting, hosting and more.    The awards celebration will include the 2018 Buyers & Planners honorees, awarded for outstanding campaigns that have run on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms. Be sure to register your team before January 23rd as seating tends to fill up quickly!

ON THIS DAY in 1988: The NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals announce a move to Phoenix.
In the Know: The movie Better Off Dead centered around which sport? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What is the name of the trophy delivered to the winner of the NFC Championship Game? Answer: The George Halas Trophy. Kudos: Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Art Salisch-Hearst Television/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Jon Miller-NBC Sports/Stamford; Mark Lehman-Atlanta Braves/Atlanta; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Joe Lyons-SOS Global/Dallas; John Ward-Tennis Channel/Chicago; Tom Doherty-Starcom Media/Chicago; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Marketing Group/Chicago; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA; Jaymz Wooden-Bottelsen American Dart Lines/Santa Maria; Jack Simmons-US Army Reserve/LA

Later – Chris

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