02/03/21: EA is once again diving into college football

 

Medias First Morning Read

 

Wednesday February 3, 2021

College football is returning to the world of Electronic Arts, which announced a partnership with CLC for the development of EA SPORTS College Football. The franchise was a consistent top-five sports title in North America during its previous run, generating tens of millions unit sales from 2005-2014. Through the CLC partnership, the franchise will include the rights to more than 100 institutions featuring the logos, stadiums, uniforms, gameday traditions and more. The college game will not include student-athlete names, images and likenesses.

“We’ve heard from the millions of passionate fans requesting the return of college football video games,” said Cam Weber, EA SPORTS EVP and GM. “We love the energy, tradition and pageantry of college football and I am beyond thrilled to say we are back in development. We have a lot of really exciting work ahead of us, and a great team that is eager to bring a new game to players in the next couple of years.”

“We’re very excited to collaborate with EA SPORTS to bring back the college football franchise, one of the most popular collegiate licensed products in our history,” said Cory Moss, CLC CEO. “The college football video game connects passionate fans to college brands and introduces new fans to the storied traditions, excitement, and game day experience that make college football unique.”

PROGRAMMING

Tennis’ first Major of the year – the 2021 Australian Open – is set to start on Sunday, with every match available across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS ESPN+ and ESPN3. Daily marathon telecasts from Melbourne, will see more than 110 hours of television plus 1,000 hours streaming, and culminate with the Women’s and Men’s Championships February 19 and 20, respectively, both at 3:30a. Due to the pandemic, ESPN’s production will be based at its headquarters in Bristol, and commentators will work from a combination of there, home offices or on-site in Melbourne.

Major League Baseball will look to start Spring Training on time after all, issuing a statement that after proposing a one-month delay to the start of Spring Training, the MLBPA rejected the proposal, prompting the league to move forward and instruct clubs to report for an on-time start to Spring Training and the Championship Season, subject to reaching an agreement on health and safety protocols.

The 10th Annual NFL HONORS presented by Invisalign hits CBS on Saturday at 9p, with the annual two-hour primetime awards special honoring the NFL’s best players, performances and plays from the 2020 season Steve Harvey returns for his third consecutive year as host while Green Day will open the show with a special performance.

Meanwhile, Super Bowl Greatest Commercials 2021, an interactive countdown special where viewers will be able to vote live for the top Super Bowl commercial from the past 20 years, will be broadcast tonight at 8p on CBS. The special, celebrating its 20th anniversary, will be hosted by Boomer Esiason and Daniela Ruah. Beginning today, viewers can watch and vote for their favorite Super Bowl commercial from the past 20 years in addition to featuring two of the biggest spots of this year’s Super Bowl from Frito-Lay.

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College basketball ‘Bracketologist’ Joe Lunardi inked a new multiyear deal to continue with ESPN. “I’m grateful for the way ESPN has always valued and promoted Bracketology,” Lunardi said. “To be a part of the greatest college basketball coverage anywhere is a genuine passion. I’ll continue to take the work seriously, but not myself. I’m just a fan who knows a little more about brackets than most.”

Meanwhile, ESPN features coverage of National Signing Day today with five hours across ESPN2, SEC Network, ACC Network and Longhorn Network. CFB Live: Signing Day Special will air on ESPN2 from 4-5p, hosted by Wendi Nix with analysts Craig Haubert, Tom Luginbill, Greg McElroy and Tom VanHaaren. Twonye Malone, ranked No. 45 in the ESPN 300, will make his announcement live during the show.

For the first time, NHL Network is producing a live season-long regular-season NHL game package using its own on-air talent roster and production facilities. The NHL Network Showcase presented by SAP will feature 16 regular-season weekend afternoon games. The first matchup features the Rangers/Devils on Saturday at 2p, called by NHL Network’s Stephen Nelson (play-by-play) and Mike Rupp (analyst). In addition, NHL Network’s Brian Lawton, Dave Reid and Kevin Weekes, among others, will be part of a group of NHL Network on-air personalities who will call games this season.

On the local front, YES reports that its season viewership for the Nets is up by 69% for its “Big 3” era, averaging 122,000 viewers since James Harden made his Nets debut. YES’ Nets 2020-21 year-to-date season average of 94,000 Total Viewers is YES’ best Nets start since the 2012-2013 season.

Amazon announced an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary for FC Bayern Munich, which Prime members will be able to watch exclusively on Prime Video. Produced by W&B Television, the documentary follows the people who have shaped the club and shows how characters pass the baton to a new generation. The film will debut this fall.

Westwood One delivers coverage and play-by-play of Super Bowl LV, live from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday, February 7, 2021. Kevin Harlan will handle the play-by-play duties for the Super Bowl for the eleventh straight year, while Kurt Warner will return for the third consecutive year as the lead analyst. Tony Boselli will be back for a fifth straight year as sideline reporter and will be joined by longtime field reporter Laura Okmin, who will return to the Super Bowl crew for the second time. Jim Gray will anchor the pregame and halftime coverage.

NBC Sports presents live coverage of the National Women’s Hockey League Isobel Cup Semifinals and Final this Thursday and Friday evenings on NBCSN, marking the first-ever women’s professional hockey games to be shown live on a major national cable network in the United States. Microphone duties will see play-by-play from John Forslund, with AJ Mleczko as analyst and Kathryn Tappen as studio host. Coverage begins with Game 1 at 5:30p on Thursday, while the Final is at 7p on Friday.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

A bevy of Super Bowl activation news continues to bubble. Logitech announced the launch of a brand campaign, DEFY LOGIC, featuring creators, artists and activists “who are defying expectations and breaking barriers to inspire and change the world” and anchored by an ad that will air during the Super Bowl, featuring Lil Nas X and his upcoming song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).”

Pepsi unveiled the next installment of its Halftime Show campaign starring The Weeknd. Titled “The Walk,” the spot, voiced by The Weeknd’s life-long friend and creative director La Mar Taylor, t is set to air on CBS right before Super Bowl LV kick-off. “This year, we turned a 12-minute performance into a six-week immersive experience that brings fans closer to The Weeknd like never before as he prepares to perform on the world’s biggest stage – the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show. With our introduction of ‘The Walk,’ new augmented reality experiences, and an ongoing look behind the scenes, we are hoping that fans will continue to ramp up their excitement and anticipation for his performance,” said Todd Kaplan, Vice President of Marketing – Pepsi. “The Weeknd is one of the most dynamic performers in the world, and is always pushing the limits of creativity with his commitment to the characters and storylines he develops, and we’re excited to share his vision with fans in a whole new way.”

Meanwhile, “to help get fans ready for the Mtn Dew Major Melon Super Bowl LV ad featuring WWE Superstar John Cena,” WWE and Mtn Dew are teaming up to show how the world’s top athletes have been training with watermelons all week long. From watermelon weightlifting to smashing watermelons to oblivion, in the social video features WWE Superstars including Charlotte Flair, Carmella and Sheamus taking their training regimen to a fruity level. The brand is also launching a $1 million in-game contest as fans “get transported to the wacky world of Mtn Dew Major Melon.”

Finally, Shaquille O’Neal serves up the “ultimate Big Game Sunday Kick-Off Show: Mercari Presents The SHAQ Bowl.” Broadcasting live from Tampa in a custom-built SHAQ Bowl stadium, the new event will feature professional athletes, celebrities, and A-list stars across two teams competing in challenges to win the first-ever SHAQ Bowl Trophy. The live three-hour special begins Sunday at 3p and is available for free on Facebook (@SHAQ) and via SHAQBowl.com. Sponsors include Pepsi, Corona, Papa John’s and BACARDÍ Coco Conga.

The Big West Conference announced that Air Force Reserve will serve as the title sponsor of the 2021 Big West Basketball Championships. The 2021 Air Force Reserve Big West Basketball Men’s and Women’s Championships, presented by the Hawaiian Islands, will take place March 9-13 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. All 10 men’s and nine women’s teams will compete in the 45th edition of the tournament on the men’s side and the 37th in women’s play.

The PGA of America and PGA REACH entered into a partnership with National Car Rental, which has been named the inaugural title partner of the National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship Season. PGA Jr. League is the flagship youth pillar program of the PGA of America’s 501(c)(3) foundation, PGA Foundation, Inc. Boys and girls ages 17 and under learn and play golf on teams, wear numbered jerseys and receive expert coaching from PGA Professionals.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard officially announced a new two-year partnership with RISE Brewing Co., an organic nitro cold brew coffee. The partnership will officially kick off Feb. 4 with the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort. RISE will be featured at domestic elite-level skiing and snowboarding events moving forward. As part of the partnership, RISE Brewing Co. will continue to support health care workers by donating products through the U.S. Ski & Snowboard partnership with Intermountain Healthcare in Utah.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

The Sacramento Kings, in collaboration with Intel Sports, announced the launch of Intel True View at Golden 1 Center, a continuation of ongoing efforts to “push the envelope of innovation and immersive fan experiences.” Fans can now access unique video content, including 360-degree highlights and unbounded perspectives of basketball action, via the Sacramento Kings + Golden 1 Center App and team social channels.

Toldright, a “first-of-its-kind on-demand production resource,” announced its official launch. “Today is a historic day for toldright. In this digital, work-from-anywhere age, it is more critical than ever to incorporate the latest technology and innovation to create premium content and tell great stories,” said Max Heineman, CEO and Co-Founder of toldright. “Through our exclusive Neighborhood of nationwide creative leaders, toldright is simplifying the content creation process and providing the most agile way for clients to access talented video production experts for any project.”

Yahoo Sportsbook powered by BetMGM launched in Michigan, allowing fans to view betting odds across a variety of sports. Users of legal age in the state can click through the odds on Yahoo Sports and the Yahoo Sports app to place bets through the BetMGM platform. Verizon Media and BetMGM entered into a multi-year strategic relationship in October 2019.

ESPORTS

Global talent and entertainment company UTA signed FaZe Clan to its roster of clients and will look to amplify FaZe’s efforts as the team expands its content into scripted, unscripted, podcasting, live streaming and brand partnerships. “Through its execution of innovative concepts such as #FaZe5, FaZe has cultivated an unprecedented fanbase and has established itself at the forefront of entertainment, technology and culture,” said Damon Lau, UTA’s Head of esports. “We look forward to partnering with the team on developing one-of-a-kind content to further grow their audience.”

Anzu, the global advertising platform dedicated to gaming, announced $9 million in new funding. The round was co-led by BITKRAFT Ventures and HBSE Ventures, with participation from WPP and Sony Innovation Fund, and more. The funding will be used to catalyze Anzu’s commercial growth and fuel sales and marketing activities to propel the company forward on a global scale. “Gaming is one activity that has exploded over the past year and increasingly an important advertising channel,” said WPP CEO Mark Read. “In partnership with Anzu, together with our agencies, we can make it simpler for them to reach the growing audience in the esports and gaming space.”

Immortals Gaming Club inked a deal with HotelPlanner for a multiyear partnership for the brand to serve as the Official Hotel Booking Partner of MIBR CS:GO & Immortals LCS teams. MIBR and Immortals will be sharing their own travel stories showcasing local food and entertainment while also giving fans insight into a day in the life of the players as they travel around the world competing in esports events.

Misfits Gaming Group’s Florida Mutineers will host the second annual “In The Know Bowl 2021” with Verizon Media’s content brand In The Know. The live Call of Duty showdown is set to feature Call of Duty League franchise team Florida Mutineers players alongside professional athletes in sports including Jarvis Landry, Stephen Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Justin Jefferson, Chase Claypool, Henry Ruggs III, Mark Ingram and DeVonta Smith. The event will take place online on Friday and will be livestreamed on InTheKnow.com from 5-8p. The exhibition is sponsored by Pizza Hut and will pair top professional Call of Duty players and influencers with pro athletes in a single-elimination 2v2 Call of Duty tournament. Anthony “Nameless” Wheeler and Jeremy “StuDyy’” Astacio will provide in-game action and commentary throughout the event, and Kay Adams will be interviewing players and athletes throughout the show.

KRAFTON revealed additional details around the format for PUBG Global Invitational.S, running Feb.5 – March 28 as an eight-week long LAN/online-hybrid event featuring 32 teams from eight regions. Teams will compete each week to earn part of the $3.5 million prize pot, with the team that earns the most being crowned champion. All matches will be broadcasted globally on various platforms in 12 languages, including English, Russian, Turkish, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Blue Mammoth Games announced that the 2021 competition for Brawlhalla will offer a $1 million prize pool across its regions, and starting with the Winter Championship, which begins on Feb. 27 and culminating with the Brawlhalla World Championship 2021 in November. In addition, the Brawlhalla Pro Series is also returning with a new format in June.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

WWE announced the appointment of Christine Lubrano as Senior Vice President, Creative Writing Operations. Lubrano will be responsible for overseeing all strategic operations for the company’s Creative Writing division and charged with developing and leading a team of writers for WWE’s weekly flagship programs, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.

Panda Global, a North American esports organization, is tapping sports industry veteran Dave Riggs to lead and grow their sales team. Dave Riggs is former Vice President of Integrated Sales & Talent Marketing for WWE.

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