01/25/18: Showtime Sports upped Stephen Espinoza to President and laid out its 2018 calendar

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Thursday January 25, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

SHOWTIME Sports named Stephen Espinoza as President, Sports and Event Programming, where he will continue to develop and execute the overall strategy of the group. In addition, the org unveiled its television lineup for Showtime Championship Boxing w/ Premier Boxing Champions for the first half of the year at the 2018 boxing upfront for advertisers. The network locked in 10 live boxing events featuring 12 world champions and 12 world title fights with a slate that offers seven matchups of top-10 ranked fighters, four matchups of top-five ranked fighters, four top-10 pound-for-pound rated world champions and one world title unification bout.
 
Meanwhile, Espinoza’s promotion comes after a year in which he guided Showtime to 33 world championship fights and 71 live bouts overall in 2017, including the Mayweather/McGregor fight last August. “Simply stated, Stephen is the heavyweight champion of his profession,” said David Nevins, President and CEO, Showtime Networks. “He is an innovator, equal parts thoughtful and tenacious, who has turned SHOWTIME boxing into the market leader, while also driving excellence in our documentaries and sports series.”
 
 
ON THE AIR

ESPN drafted its 2018 NFL Pro Bowl plans for Sunday’s game, at 2:50p on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, the ESPN App and simulcast on ABC. The company’s multi-day Pro Bowl event coverage includes the second annual Skills Showdown, reports from team practices, and more. Suzy Kolber will host a special Postseason NFL Countdown pregame show at 1p on ESPN and ABC with analysts Randy Moss and Charles Woodson, and NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Reporter Michele Steele will also contribute to coverage from the stadium.
 
NBC will put its frequent flier miles into overdrive next month, announcing that a record 89 NBC Olympic commentators will provide coverage of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. As previously mentioned, Mike Tirico will make his debut as NBC’s primetime Olympic host with Katie Couric returning to NBC to co-host the Opening Ceremony. The roster includes Olympians who have won a combined total of 46 Olympic medals working coverage across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, the NBC Sports app, and NBCOlympics.
 
Outdoor Channel’s Major League Fishing is back for a new season on Saturdays at 2p, featuring 24 of the world’s best anglers vying to be the 2018 Summit Select Champion. Outdoor Sportsman Group also acquired the programming library of MLF for its outdoor global, subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service MyOutdoorTV. “This is a great opportunity to showcase the new season, our great sport and the participants who create the drama and excitement week-in and week-out,” said MLF General Manager, Jim Wilburn. “MyOutdoorTV and Outdoor Sportsman Group are providing a platform that we feel benefits our business objectives as we move forward in a new era of viewing and programming.”
 
Gun Runner headlines the field in the $16 Million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the world’s richest horse race, from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale on Saturday at 4:30p on NBC. Laffit Pincay, III hosts the show, alongside Hall-of-Fame jockey and analyst Jerry Bailey; analyst Randy Moss; and reporters Nick Luck and Britney Eurton.
 
Stadium is spinning up a partnership with the American Ultimate Disc League to bring live games to fans across Stadium platforms for the 2018 and 2019 AUDL seasons. As a part of this new partnership, Stadium will broadcast an AUDL Game of the Week each week, including playoff rounds. Stadium will also broadcast a women’s game from the 2018 EuroStar tour hosted by the AUDL.
 
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Wednesday, FEB. 7th | Espace, NYC
In addition to our talented TV Awards finalists and Buyers & Planners honorees, we’re proud to announce that one of the insurance industry’s most distinguished executives, Rand Harbert, EVP and Chief Agency, Sales & Marketing Officer of State Farm, will be receiving the prestigious Luminary Award. Don’t miss this gathering of television’s best and brightest! Be sure to register by Jan 30th before ticket prices increase!
 
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The NFL laid out activation for the Pro Bowl from Orlando’s Camping World Stadium as part of the week of events, including free interactive fan experiences, youth and high school football competitions, and a series of community events with nonprofit organizations and military personnel to positively impact thousands of local residents, children, and their families. New this year is the Pro Bowl Kids Stadium Takeover, where kids ages 14 and under with parents at Camping World Stadium will be invited to run around the field. Additional Pro Bowl Week activities will include the NFL Flag Championships; Play Football High School Day; Pro Bowl Skills Showdown; access to AFC & NFC team practices, the NFL Pro Bowl Experience and NFL PLAY 60 events.
 
Kumho Tire USA announced a partnership with five-time NBA All-Star guard John Wall. The deal includes a national advertising campaign and several marketing initiatives that include the launch of “Kumho Tire Hip-Hop Handles”.  The national competition invites basketball players and enthusiasts to demonstrate their ball-handling skills and talents by submiting a 30-second ball-handling video at http://www.kumhohandles.com/.
 
Sprite unveiled its latest campaign featuring LeBron James, who – this time – will be an ace pitcher named “Big Taste” and joined by hip hop artist Kamaiyah, playing his catcher named “Ice-Ya.” “Continuing the lightheartedness of the ‘Wanna Sprite’ integrated marketing campaign, we wanted to find a fun way to remind consumers of the big taste that a cool, crisp and refreshing Sprite has,” says Bobby Oliver, Brand Director, Sprite. “We decided to put LeBron James and Kamaiyah together in a larger than life environment that we’re not typically used to seeing them in and the result is pretty refreshing.”
 
In regional news, The Franklin Group announced an official partnership with the Miami Heat, becoming the Official Printing Partner of the NBA franchise. The multi-year partnership will see the Heat provide assets including distribution night on suite levels, networking event opportunities and advertising presence on Heat.com. The Franklin Group will look to enhance the fan experience with innovative co-branding and promotional items.
 
Meanwhile, the Madison Square Garden Company and Lyft today announced a marketing partnership, naming the rideshare company as the Official Rideshare Partner of Madison Square Garden. The agreement provides Lyft with premier brand integration and exposure across Madison Square Garden’s unrivaled set of assets, including digital platforms, venue signage and presence in Madison Square Garden as well as discounts for new and existing Lyft users.
 
CashBet has announced a partnership with Premier League football club Arsenal FC ahead of the Initial Coin Offering of its new cryptocurrency, CashBet Coin. The deal makes CashBet Coin the club’s exclusive and official Blockchain Partner, and sees Arsenal become the first major team in world football to officially partner with a cryptocurrency.
 
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association is partnering with the Headway Foundation for a Concussion Awareness Weekend on Feb. 2-4. The initiative will look to provide a platform for players to unite in creating a positive mental shift in athletes’ approach to concussions. all WCHA Men’s and Women’s League student-athletes will be wearing Headway stickers on their helmets to promote a “New Tough Campaign.”
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

Super Bowl LII will see NBCUniversal present “Super Stream Sunday” on Feb. 4, with 11 continuous hours of unauthenticated NBC streaming content available to fans that include NBC’s presentation of Super Bowl LII, Justin Timberlake headlining the Pepsi Super Bowl LII halftime show, the Super Bowl LII pre- and post-game shows, and NBC’s post-game presentation of This is Us. The special access event kicks off at noon with NBC’s Super Bowl pre-game coverage.
 
SendtoNews announced that 2017 marked its largest year-over-year growth in unique viewers for a video platform in US Digital Sports. From 2016, STN saw their unique viewers grow by 44% to 9.8 million per month. “This growth showcases the great work of our publishing partners and illustrates that news sites remain the engaged fan’s go to source for content on their favorite team ” says SendtoNews CEO Matthew Watson.  “Together, we combine the insightful, fan-focused writing of our publishers editorial staff with relevant, official highlights and content, creating a fan experience not replicated anywhere else.”
 
TOPPS will issue its latest set of Olympic trading cards this week in advance of the Winter Games, showcasing a record 50 athletes competing in Pyeongchang and celebrating the career of skier Lindsey Vonn via e two Lindsey Vonn Career Milestones insert cards of the 15-card set. Each hobby box of 2018 Topps U.S. Olympics & Paralympic Hopefuls includes one autographed card and two relic cards, which feature a piece of Team USA apparel worn by the athlete. Cards will be available on Friday.
 
 
ESPORTS

In this week’s edition of Cynopsis Esports & Gaming…   
  • ELEAGUE’S Major deals
  • NFL’s Pro Bowl sets up fight club
  • Ubisoft tweaks Rainbow vision
  • SMITE’s Spring cleaning
  • ESL redoes the DEW
  • Breaking down NA LCS numbers
 
ROSTER MOVES

David Clanachan, Commissioner of the Canadian Premier League announced that Paul Beirne has been named President of the CPL, set to debut in spring 2019. Beirne will manage the day to day league operations of the CPL with a primary focus on ensuring all elements are in place for the league’s debut in spring 2019 and its long-term success.
 
LiveXLive Media, Inc. announced that former ESPN CEO Roger Werner has been appointed special advisor to the company. “Roger was on the ground floor in the development of the pay TV programming industry, and he continues to build revolutionary programming services in the digital OTT world.  He is a true visionary and his insight will be invaluable as we scale LiveXLive,” commented LiveXLive Chairman and CEO Rob Ellin.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Timberwolves/Warriors at 10:30p on TNT.

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Cynopsis Sports is celebrating the work of the most talented producers, hosts, sponsors and executives in the sports industry, saluting the initiatives that drove audiences and turned sports viewers into fans. Crossing the spectrum of television, radio, and online platforms, our list covers all the corners of the industry including best series and savvy marketing tactics as well as top digital content. Click here to view last year’s finalists .
 

ON THIS DAY in 1924: The first Winter Olympic Games open in Chamonix, France.
 
In the Know: Who has coached the most Pro Bowls? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The Endless Summer is a movie that centers around which sport? Answer: Surfing. Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; Joe Isabella-WCBS TV/NY; Rob Maffei/NY; Jackie Mahon /NY; Rich Boland-Oath/NY; Ken Nice-TeamPeople/Falls Church; Tom Lopez-UPS/Atlanta; Michael Narracci-NESN/ Watertown; Bill Graff-beIN Sports/Miami; Jack Hodgson-Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; Kristin Staskowski-Spectrum Reach/Birmingham; Dory Petsrillo-CoxReps/Dallas; Mark Stulberger-Stully’s Broadcasting School/Houston; Michael Jaquet-MJE/Park City; Tony Reyes-Walt Disney Imagineering/Glendale; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; John Sutton-Charter Digital Media/LA; Jack Simmons-US Army Reserve/LA; Don Surath-KPIX-TV/KBCW-TV/San Francisco
 
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