01/17/18: NBC is giving Dale Earnhardt Jr. the greenlight for Super Bowl and Olympics coverage

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Wednesday January 17, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making an early start for NBC Sports, with the company announcing that he will now make his NBC debut as a contributor for the network’s coverage of Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, followed by the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, beginning Feb. 8. In PyeongChang, he will “explore the culture, people, and traditions in South Korea, and experience Olympic competitions first hand.” Of course, in July, he will serve as on-air analyst and contributor for NBC’s coverage of the 2018 NASCAR season.
 
“We can’t wait to get Dale’s take on what is one of the most compelling aspects of the Winter Games – sports that offer a mix of speed with the prospect of danger, an equation that he knows very well. But instead of the turns at Daytona, it’s the downhill, the luge, and the short track oval. And I think he will have something unique to offer about the need for speed on snow and ice” said Jim Bell, President, NBC Olympics Production and Programming.
 
 
ON THE AIR

Top Rank on ESPN has its early 2018 card in place, announcing fight dates for the first seven months of the year. Bouts include Ray Beltran on Feb. 16, WBO featherweight world champion Óscar Valdez on March 10, and Irish Olympian Michael Conlan on St. Patrick’s Day. Top Rank on ESPN kicks off its 2018 season on Super Bowl LII weekend on Feb. 3 at 10:15p with Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez defending his WBO world title against Habib “Wild Hurricane” Ahmed. Meanwhile, 2017 saw Top Rank on ESPN in primetime average 1,575,000 viewers on ESPN and 95,000 on ESPN Deportes.
 
In other fighting news, Bellator announced that Jay Glazer will join the Bellator broadcast team. Beginning with Bellator 192, Glazer will host the broadcast desk as Bellator kicks off 2018 on Paramount Network on Saturday at 9p. He joins reporter Jenn Brown, play-by-play men Mike Goldberg and Mauro Ranallo, as well as color commentators “Big” John McCarthy and Chael Sonnen. In addition to his broadcasting duties, Glazer will also appear in upcoming original content produced by Bellator’s digital team.
 
TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, captains, reserves and newly formatted teams over a span of three telecasts during its TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader pregame coverage starting Thursday at 6p where they will unveil the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, prior to TNT’s doubleheader coverage featuring the 76ers/Celtics at 7p and Timberwolves/ Rockets at 9:30p. The following week, TNT’s Players Only crew will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Jan. 23, at 7p. Finally, the newly formatted team rosters – selected by the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most fan votes – will be revealed on Jan. 25, during a one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7p. 
 
In other NBA news, season three of NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC presented by YouTube TV tips off on Saturday with two games, the Thunder/Cavaliers at 3:30p, followed by Warriors/Rockets at 8:30p. NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC broadcasts will include the use of I-MOVIX cameras, plus select players and coaches will be mic’d up for the games. NBA Countdown, ESPN and ABC’s NBA pre-game show, will air at 8 p.m. each Saturday night, leading into the featured game with Michelle Beadle joined by Jalen Rose, Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce.
 
With more Nielsen numbers in the books, FOX Sports reports that Sunday’s Vikings win delivered a 19.3/35 household rating/share with 35.645 million viewers on the FOX broadcast network. Combined with FOX Deportes & FOX Sports GO, Sunday’s broadcast delivered 36.084 million total viewers. That projects to be the most-watched show of any kind this broadcast season as well as the highest-rated and most-watched event of the NFL weekend.
 
MLB Network delivers the 2018 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot won the channel (along with MLB.com and MLB’s Facebook page) at 6p on Jan. 24 as part of a five-hour announcement show beginning at 3p. MLB Network’s program will exclusively feature National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson revealing the results, as well as the first interviews with the electees. Greg Amsinger and Brian Kenny anchor.
 
Speaking of Hall of Fame news, NBCSN presents live coverage of the 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday at 8p. The two-hour special will celebrate honorees Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ron Hornaday Jr., Ken Squier, and Robert Yates. In addition, the ceremony will recognize legend Jim France, with the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR, as well as longtime motorsports reporter Norma “Dusty” Brandel, with the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. NBC Sports Group’s Krista Voda and lead race announcer Rick Allen will co-host Friday’s ceremony.
 
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Experiential marketing and events can increase lead generation and sales…but how do you execute experiences that will resonate with your target audience and supercharge your story? How do you amplify them on social, and accurately measure their success? Find out in 3 weeks during the Cynopsis webinar on Tuesday, January 30th.
 
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Bellator inked a deal with Boost Mobile that will kick in with Saturday’s Bellator 192 in LA and running on Paramount Network. In addition to being featured throughout Bellator broadcasts, the long-term deal will see the wireless carrier as a key partner in the launch of unique virtual reality and digital content opportunities. The two brands are offering exclusive VR content and viewing experiences during televised events and Boost Mobile will also be featured prominently throughout the broadcast, including on-screen integration and placement inside the Bellator cage.
 
NBC will run five spots “that play like mini-movies” on Super Bowl Sunday with each 60-second promo featuring the life story of an Olympic athlete designed to drive interest in the Pyeongchang Winter Games that begin on the network starting Feb. 8. According to a USA Today report, the spotlight will focus on skier Mikaela Shiffrin, snowboarders Chloe Kim and Shaun White as well as skier Lindsey Vonn. In addition, the ads will debut one at a time on Today on the weekday mornings leading up to the Super Bowl and through each of those days on a variety of other NBC platforms.
 
The BIG EAST Conference launched a cross-channel marketing campaign to promote and sell tickets for the 2018 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Tournament presented by the Jeep at Madison Square Garden from March 7-10 with #MarchToMSG. The campaign includes national and local television, social, digital, SEO, out-of-home, partnership & grassroots marketing. Television spots will air nationally and locally on the FOX family of networks plus the Conference’s social & digital platforms
 
Conference USA locked in a deal with athlete marketing platform opendorse that makes C-USA the first conference to invest in “building the brands of its players and partner universities on social media.” The deal will allow C-USA and member universities to share content on social with their entire athletic ecosystem —through the social channels of current student-athletes, athlete alumni, coaches, sports administrators, and university athletics accounts creating access and opportunities no other NCAA conference has been able to offer before and will launch the partnership by using the opendorse platform to promote the 2018 C-USA Basketball Championships.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

IMPACT Wrestling is boarding the Twitch train, with the Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp. subsidiary launching a new channel on the platform that will feature a 24-hour live stream and exclusive weekly programming. The channel debuts today and feature exclusive content, including monthly live events and house shows featuring top stars in professional wrestling. The channel will also feature lifestyle programming showcasing IMPACT Wrestling stars outside of the ring.
 
FloSports unveiled a partnership with USA Wrestling to launch a new competition titled Final X. FloWrestling will provide exclusive live and on-demand coverage of the three-event series that will determine the 2018 US Senior World Teams in men’s and women’s freestyle. Final X will be held over three consecutive weekends and in three different cities beginning June 9. “Final X is not just an event series but a status,” FloSports co-founder and CEO Martin Floreani said. “Only the best American wrestlers of our generation make it to Final X, and those that become Final X have the opportunity to represent the most glorious country on earth.”
 
 
ESPORTS

ESL is bringing PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds to Poland for a PUBG Invitational at IEM Katowice. The event will take place adjacent to Spodek Arena at the International Conference Center, as part of the IEM World Championship 2018 in Katowice where 16 teams from regions around the world will battle for their share of a $50,000 prize pool throughout the weekend of February 24-25. 9 teams will be directly invited from North America (3), Europe (3) and Asia (3). The remaining 7 teams, from North America (3), Europe (3), and South America (1) will fight their way through a series of regional qualifiers that starts with a 512 team open qualifier that will start Jan. 20 on ESL Play.
 
In related news, ESL announced that Intel will serve as the official headline sponsor of the ESL Premiership, the UK’s national esports league. As part of the deal, Intel will work with Currys PC World to spotlight its processors.
 
The British Esports Association announced first details of its inaugural British Esports Championships, designed specifically for school and college students. Competition will get underway with a pilot in February, running across three games: League of Legends, Overwatch and Project CARS 2. Weekly matches will take place, with fixtures pre-arranged, and time will be allowed for schools and colleges to hold their own internal trials, in order to put together their most competitive teams. British Esports will be working with the teachers, school leaders, representatives from the Department for Education and academics specializing in esports to monitor the pilot and demonstrate impact and best practice.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

Galen Gordon joined NFL Media as Vice President, Talent Management where he will be charged with for leading the company’s talent department, whose duties include providing consistent feedback and coaching to NFL Media personalities, overseeing on-air presentation and scheduling, and identifying and recruiting new talent. In addition to all talent dealings, Galen will also work closely with NFL Media’s senior production team and show runners, playing a key role in show and content development across all platforms.
 
Intersport unveiled plans to open a satellite office in Detroit and named Michael Kraft as VP, strategic partnerships. Kraft will be responsible for bringing Intersport’s ideas, content and experiences to Detroit’s brand marketers and agencies across the sports, entertainment, lifestyle, culinary and media landscape in addition to helping open the Detroit office.
 
FanDuel named marketing veteran Mike Raffensperger Chief Marketing Officer. Mike will lead all marketing efforts for the company, developing new growth strategies and overseeing customer acquisition and retention channel and joins from l from Amazon, where he served as Head of Marketing for Amazon Advertising.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Ohio State/Northwestern on BTN at 9p.

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ON THIS DAY in 1997: The NBA suspends Dennis Rodman for kicking a cameraman. 

In the Know: Which action star did Dennis Rodman team up with in the movie Double Team? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The movie Better Off Dead centered around which sport? Answer: Skiing. Kudos: Tim Gardner-Endeavor/NY; Bill Hirsh-Learfield/NY; Brian Schweibert-Publicis Media/NY; Jackie Mahon-Freelance/NY; Ken White-KWTV/Charlotte; John Langermann-WINK-TV /WXCW-TV/Fort Myers; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Joe Lyons-SOS Global/Dallas; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Marketing Group/Chicago; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; John Ward-Tennis.com/Chicago; Michael Jaquet-MJE/Park City; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Thomas Tyrer-Circle Change Media/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
 

Later – Chris

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