01/22/18: CBS Sports Digital breaks down the state of the realm

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Monday January 22, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Amid a landmark year for CBS Sports Digital in 2017, where the outlet’s platforms ranked second in comScore’s sports category for the fifth consecutive month in December and saw 9% year-over-year growth in 2017, the group kicked off 2018 with the announcement that it had promoted Jeff Gerttula to Executive Vice President and General Manager of the platform. As the digital entity adds more brands to its network, recently ranging from the likes of the National Lacrosse League to the Colonial Athletic Association, Cynopsis Sports caught up with Gerttula to talk about his vision for the platform.
 
Gerttula on 2017: Our goals focus on all levels of audience development, expanding reach and engagement through our content and products. To achieve those goals we focus closely on trends in media consumption — where they’ve been and more important where they’re going. This has driven us to invest in mobile centric content and products and now connected TV experiences. It’s also driven us to expand our subscription and community businesses through investments in 247Sports, Scout, the relaunch of SportsLine. But we need to stay nimble with how and where we distribute our content while staying steady in our focus on the needs of sports fans. Delivering on the needs of fans who watch sports remains our core mission.
 
On surprises: The size and scope of interest in the Mayweather-McGregor fight was like nothing we’d ever seen before. We knew it would be big, but we didn’t expect it would shatter all of our audience records. It was the biggest traffic day in the history of our site by a long shot.
 
On emerging sports: We’ve seen healthy growth in a range of non-traditional American sports. It’s no surprise that soccer keeps gaining audience. More of a surprise was the interest we found in fitness-oriented sports like CrossFit and Tough Mudder. It was cool to see their passionate communities translate into media audience when we covered those events.
 
On challenges: Shifting business models are presenting a larger existential challenge for all digital publishers and the game is to stay ahead of the trends in consumption and monetization. And you need both. Audience without a business model isn’t a business. We’re changing our business model to adapt to where we think the industry is going and we know we won’t be making money the same way five years from now as we are today.
 
On sponsors: We’ve had some great sponsor integrations over the past year including with returning sponsors. Our high school sports site MaxPreps partnered with the Marines for the second year on the MaxPreps Semper Fidelis Athlete of the Month program presented by the Marines. Each month of the school year, MaxPreps names a male and female High School Athlete of the Month, leading up to the Male and Female Athletes of the Year in June, and athletes are chosen because they embody the ideal qualities of a Marine on and off the field. So far, nominations for the program have grown 40% compared to the 2016 season. As part of a partnership with Dr. Pepper that started in 2015, we created a series of social videos celebrating local college football gameday traditions for SEC teams. The videos really resonated and generated strong engagement on Facebook.
Ahead of the 2017 fantasy football season, we partnered with Comcast to deliver our CBS Sports Fantasy Football Commissioner product to the X1 App on Xfinity.  Throughout the season, our commissioner players were able to track their fantasy teams, live scores, stats and projections on their TV within the X1 App all while watching the game. This is a great example of matching product innovation with a sponsorship to create a cool user experience.
 
 
ON THE AIR

ESPN announced programming plans for X Games Aspen 2018, running Jan. 25-28 from Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen Snowmass. The company is lining up 15.5 hours of coverage and live content distributed across ESPN, ABC, WatchESPN, WatchABC and the ESPN app with an additional eight hours of competition carried on ESPN3 and available on demand on YouTube. This year will see the event introduce the first-ever Adaptive Snow BikeCross demo. Jack Mitrani will return to host.
 
Rob Riggle has been tapped to host this year’s NFL Honors, taking place on Feb. 3. The two-hour primetime awards special will air nationally at 9p on NBC. Music for the show will be performed by vocalist-instrumentalist Spencer Ludwig.
 
Showtime Sports announced that the showdown between undefeated three-division world champion Mikey Garcia and Sergey Lipinets has been rescheduled for March 10. The Premier Boxing Champions event was delayed following a training injury to Lipinets’ hand. The fight will be live on Showtime and will remain in San Antonio but move to the Freeman Coliseum.  
 
Time is running out! 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.
 
SiriusXM detailed its programming lineup for the 65th PGA Merchandise Show, which spans Jan. 23-26 from Orlando. SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio will offer more than 32 hours of coverage from the PGA Show Demo Day at the Orange County National Golf Center and PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center, and feature the debut of a new monthly show hosted by PGA Professional Eden Foster. Meanwhile, SiriusXM’s annual “Teachers Town Hall” will take place on the PGA Forum Stage at the Convention Center on Jan.  24 at noon while Thursday sees sees PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua host a special edition of his SiriusXM show, State of the Game at noon.
 
Speaking of golf, the PGA TOUR unveiled plans for its new global home, which will consolidate area employees under one roof in Ponte Vedra Beach. Commissioner Jay Monahan made the announcement of the new 187,000 square-foot headquarters, which is expected to be completed in 2020, designed by acclaimed London-based architectural firm Foster + Partners.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Go experiential… here’s how!
Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018 | 1:30 PM ET
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

Pringles is making its maiden voyage for the Super Bowl, announcing that the brand will launch its first-ever Super Bowl advertisement. Bill Hader will star in the 30-second spot, which will showcase ‘flavor stacking’, where consumers blend different flavors to create new ones. The Pringles Super Bowl advertisement is an opportunity to show people a fun, new way to enjoy their favorite Pringles flavors with their family and friends. Whether there are four people at home or 30 people at your party, this idea’s ‘now why didn’t I think of that?’ spirit brings a whole new way to snack during the big game this year,” said Yuvraj Arora, senior vice president of marketing for Kellogg’s U.S. Snacks division.
 
Major League Soccer extended its partnership with Southern New Hampshire University for a new three-year term. SNHU will remain the official education partner of the league with the alliance designed to continue to allow all of the league’s players and coaches to pursue a degree online with the university in addition to supporting community-based initiatives.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

USA Volleyball launched the USA National Beach Rankings, a platform deigned to serve as the premiere domestic outet for all beach volleyball results. This site currently features all junior beach rankings and in the coming months will show all adult rankings as well and features four levels of competitions: International, National, Zonal and Regional. “Our goal as USA Volleyball is to be the driver of collaboration in the beach community,” said USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis. “Building this all-inclusive ranking system is a critical step in achieving a united platform to support our talented athletes in their pursuit of excellence. The USA National Beach Ranking platform will be the most complete and inclusive system in the United States.”

ESPN Digital drew 93.1 million unique U.S. users in December 2017, marking its highest total ever for the month of December, and up 9% percent over December 2016. In terms of average minute audience, ESPN Digital generated 34 percent of the US digital sports category in December, up from 32% for the same month the previous year.
 
DraftKings announced that its new single game fantasy football product “Showdown” will be available to play during the Super Bowl. Fantasy contestants put together a lineup of any four offensive and two individual defensive players combined from the two teams competing in the Super Bowl. This addition of defensive players unlocks a unique game experience by introducing entirely new scoring categories and drafting strategies that are condensed within the single game format
 
 
ESPORTS

The League of Legends North American League Championship Series inked State Farm as a new sponsoring partner for this year’s season as well as a North American sponsor of the 2018 League of Legends World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational, and All-Star Event. Ed Gold, Advertising Director at State Farm, said, “At State Farm, we have a long and proud history of partnering with sports leagues, teams, and their passionate fans. We’re so excited to become a part of largest esports community in the US with this NA LCS sponsorship and look forward to supporting LoL fans each week from the State Farm Analyst Desk.”
 
Speaking of LoL, Team SoloMid had its own pickup, locking in Dr Pepper to a new partnership deal. The agreement marks Dr Pepper’s first major esports team sponsorship.
 
Continuing the theme, Rocket Mortgage announced a sponsorship agreement with 100 Thieves in a deal that includes naming rights to a luxury gamer training house in California, with the 6,000-square-foot site now known as the “Rocket Mortgage Team House.” “The house enables 100 Thieves’ athletes to focus on developing their skills, while providing direct access to any resource necessary to ensure the team’s success, including sports psychologists, analysts, nutritionists and personal trainers,” Rocket Mortgage said in a statement.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

Facebook looks ready to up its game in the sports space, hiring Peter Hutton, Eurosport to oversee negotiations for worldwide live sports streams, according to multiple reports, reporting to Dan Reed.
 
US Club Soccer appointed Mike Cullina as Chairman of its Board of Directors, replacing Phil Wright, who stepped down from the position he held since 2003. He will serve a term through February 28, 2021.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

West Virginia/TCU on ESPN at 9p.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1989: After winning his third Super Bowl, 49ers head coach Bill Walsh retires.
 
In the Know: Bill Walsh twice served as head coach at which university? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: 1999 saw the NBA All-Star Game cancelled due to what? Answer: Player lockout. Kudos:Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Networks/NY; Lilka Adams-CBS/NY; Adam Palmer-Viacom/NY; Shana Nalitt-NBC Sports/NY; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Tony Ferranti-MMSI/Warwick; Wayne “World B.” Otto-Pro-Am Sports/Boone; Rich Dubroff-PressBoxonline.com/Baltimore; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA
 

Later – Chris

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