02/06/20: Spotify picked up sports podcast heavyweight The Ringer

 

Thursday February 6, 2020

Spotify is adding Bill Simmons’ The Ringer under its umbrella, with the sports website and podcast network featuring over 30 shows, run and owned by Bill Simmons. Spotify will hire Simmons and all of his approximately 90 employees once the deal closes, likely in the first quarter of 2020.

“With the Ringer, we’re basically getting the new ESPN,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told Recode in an interview after the deal was announced. “What [Simmons] has accomplished in just a few short years, it’s nothing short of extraordinary. … It’s not just his own podcast, but his whole network that’s doing really well. He’s a talent magnet.”

PROGRAMMING

Fortunes were up for ESPN in Melbourne, which saw its audience for the Australian Open gain 4% in viewership across ESPN and ESPN2 compared to the 2019 event, averaging 365,000 viewers. The most-viewed telecast from Melbourne came Jan. 25, with the start of the Round of 16 and a telecast that included a battle of Americans – eventual champion Sofia Kenin defeating Coco Gauff. The entire six-hour telecast averaged 725,000 viewers. In addition, the women’s final was seen by an average of 673,000 viewers, second best of any telecast for the two-week tournament and up 27% over last year’s championship. ESPN and ESPN2 combined to air nearly 127 live hours of action from Melbourne, an increase of 14% from the scheduled 111.5 hours.

CBS Sports and Turner Sports are set to present the NCAA March Madness Bracket Preview, offering teams and fans an in-season look at the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship bracket on Saturday at 12:30p on CBS. NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee Chair and Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White will be in-studio for the reveal of the nation’s top 16 seeds. Host Greg Gumbel, analysts Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis, and White will discuss the selection, seeding process and reasoning behind the current rankings.

Under the eyes of Mark Jones (play-by-play) and analyst Chiney Ogwumike, ESPN serves up the 2020 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game Presented by Ruffles on Feb. 14, at 7p in Chicago. Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon serve as celebrity coaches for this year’s game, with Chance The Rapper and Common named team captains for this year’s Celebrity Game. Cassidy Hubbarth will be reporting live couchside from the ESPN stage in the Ruffles Celebrity Game Lounge, an exclusive new courtside area that will host celebrities and influencers. Ruffles will allow celebrity players to score four points by shooting from the potato chip brand’s four-point line, “The RIDGE.” For every shot made from “The RIDGE” during the game, Ruffles and the NBA will donate $4,000 to Special Olympics.

Kicking off the Premier League’s winter break, NBC Sports is on deck to serve up live television coverage of all ten matchweek fixtures over the next two weekends, marking the first time that every match will air live in its own television window. Play will span Feb. 8-17. Additionally, Telemundo Deportes will present all matches in Spanish on Telemundo, Universo, or digitally, marking the first time an entire 10-game matchweek will be presented in Spanish. Saturday’s coverage kicks off with Premier League Mornings at 7a on NBCSN, followed by Everton v. Crystal Palace at 7:30a.

D. Wade: Life Unexpected hits ESPN on Feb. 23 at 9p. The new feature documentary from ESPN Films and Imagine Documentaries chronicles three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade’s experience on and off the court as he enters into his final year in the league, and reflects on personal and professional victories and set-backs throughout his legendary career.

On deck as well for ESPN is the one-hour Year of the Black Quarterback television special on Sunday, at 1p on ESPN and ESPN App. Produced by The Undefeated, the program will serve as a host, with the show exploring the changing face of the NFL quarterback position, 50 years after Marlin Briscoe was drafted into the NFL as the league’s first black quarterback.

NCAA school Jacksonville U gets the spotlight when CBS Sports Network celebrates Black History Month with the premiere of “Jacksonville U: Can Do!” on Sunday at 7p. The one-hour documentary chronicles Jacksonville University’s NCAA Tournament run led by All-American Artis Gilmore and Head Coach Joe Williams that took place 50 years ago this March. The documentary is narrated Terrence Mann.

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Look for the return of SC Featured starting Sunday. The storytelling brand of SportsCenter will open with the story of “an iconic basketball court in the Philippines and one about strong family love involving an NBA player and a champion soccer player will be among the early highlights of the new season,” according to ESPN. The feature will run during the 8a hour of SportsCenter on Sunday, Feb. 9, with a re-air in the 11a hour.

ESPN International is set to deliver global coverage of the 2020 XFL season around the world when the league kicks off, including showcasing regular-season, playoff and the XFL Championship games produced by both ESPN/ABC and FOX. XFL games will be distributed on six continents (all except Antarctica) totaling more than 100 million households in over 200 countries and territories. “The XFL will debut an exciting brand of American football that we are thrilled to introduce to sports fans around the world by providing an expansive and robust global platform on ESPN networks, services and distribution partnerships,” said Tim Bunnell, ESPN Senior Vice President, International Programming, Production and Marketing.

Documentary film The Scheme hits HBO on March 31 at 9p. The film chronicles the extensive and unprecedented two-year undercover FBI investigation into college basketball corruption that came to a dramatic climax on September 26, 2017, when Adidas executives and assistant coaches at major college programs were arrested in a pay-for-play scheme.

NESN saw its Boston’s Beanpot tournament coverage on Monday, featuring Northeastern/Harvard and Boston University/Boston College. The Beanpot was seen by approximately 642,000 unique people throughout New England (excluding Out-of-Home and vMVPD viewership, according to Nielsen and NESN research). The .71 average rating for Adults 25-54 (A25-54) for the two semifinal games was the best average rating since 2009.

Friday, during the Rangers/Sabres game, will see MSG Networks debut a new in-game feature, “MSG Networks Spotlight,” which will put an increased focus on one selected player throughout the night. The enhanced telecast on Friday on MSG will highlight Rangers star Artemi Panarin, with dedicated cameras on Panarin during the game, both while he’s on the ice and on the bench in between shifts. The telecast will feature custom graphics, as well as increased two box formats to keep a spotlight on Panarin.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The NHL detailed attractions and hockey interactives planned for the Truly Hard Seltzer NHL PreGame, the official fan festival of the Feb. 15 outdoor game between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings in Colorado Springs. The PreGame will entertain fans of all ages at Falcon Alley at U.S. Air Force Academy with dynamic activities from 1-530p. Anchoring the event will be the Navy Federal Credit Union fan activation that will include a hockey puck drop game, a custom NHL Stadium Series puck wall art piece, and video booths for fans to film their own stick tap to celebrate their time at NHL Stadium Series.

Amstel Light and Phil Mickelson are teaming up in a multiyear partnership that will see the launch of a campaign focused on “addressing the challenges in adult male friendships.” Throughout the campaign, Mickelson will provide support and advice to men on and off the golf course seeking to make new friends in his own personal comedic style. Consumers will have opportunities to engage directly with Mickelson, both on social and through on-and off-premise activations. A series of contests will be announced using the hashtag, “#FriendswithPhil” through which consumers will have the opportunity to earn the friendship of the golfer.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

FOX Sports’ digital team detailed a slate of success from Super Bowl LIV week across its digital platforms, which saw more than 100 million video views and counting on social media platforms alone — almost 3x more than the company’s 2017 coverage, with Sunday alone delivering 13 million social media video views and counting, up more than 70% over 2017. The company’s Super Bowl LIV Watch Party with Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Drew Brees scored over 6 million views for the company. Super Bowl LIV scored as the most live-streamed Super Bowl ever with an average minute audience of 3.4 million, up 30% over last year, and up 103% over 2017.

Meanwhile, Super Bowl LIV became the biggest day ever for FOX Bet with more active players than any other day since launch in September 2019. Total bets on FOX Bet for Super Bowl LIV more than doubled previous high for the mobile sportsbook, which saw Kansas City’s 4th quarter comeback victory come out a winner for 62% of FOX Bet wagers across money line and spread markets. FOX Sports Super 6 also hit an all-time high for the game on Super Bowl LIV with over 550k entries.

ESPN reports that in 2019, ESPN Digital achieved its best year on record with an average of 95.5 million unique visitors per month, up 14% year-over-year and 25.2 million more than the next closest competitor. Additionally, the ESPN App and ESPN Fantasy App each recorded their best year on record in monthly uniques (21.3 million and 5.4 million, respectively). The ESPN App also set a record in average monthly minutes (1.95 billion).

ESPORTS

In this week’s edition of Cynopsis Esports
· Flashpoint is a GO
· Evo 2020 solidifies slate
· Call of Duty Challengers hits seven figures
· Esports Arena launching new series
· Coca-Cola serves up key deal for NASCAR’s esports series
· Overwatch League opens Stats Lab
· Misfits Gaming’s new HQ
· ESA’s Game Generation

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

NASCAR revealed changes to the NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination and induction processes, reducing the annual number of inductees from five to three and splitting potential nominees into two ballots – one for contemporary stars and one for the sport’s pioneers. The process will kick in starting with the upcoming Class of 2021. A new Honors Committee – largely comprised of all living Hall of Famers, Landmark Award winners and Squier-Hall Award winners – will evaluate and provide five nominees for the Pioneer Ballot.

The Premier Lacrosse League entered into a strategic partnership with Nation United Foundation to provide “impactful programming opportunities and support collaborative efforts related to diversity and inclusion awareness and personal development.” As part of this partnership, members of the PLL will play a key role in the Nation United/Professional Players Mentoring Network (NUPro Network).

THE MAIN EVENT

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On This Day
1970: The NBA expands to 18 teams with the additions of franchises in Buffalo, Cleveland, Houston and Portland.

In the Know
What was the team name of Buffalo’s NBA franchise? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Name an NFL player who has won Dancing with the Stars. Answer: Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, Donald Driver & Rashad Andre Jennings. Kudos: Pete Gautieri-A&E Networks/NY; Michael Dittelman-Dedicated Sports Marketing/NY; Lori Gallarello-Alcock-Little Roosters, Inc./NY; Phyllis Toss-Wavemaker/NY; Mark Lehman-Braves/Atlanta; Brianne Maciejowski-Miles/Sarasota; Mike Seidel-CSI Sports/Jersey City; Stephanie Ann-Freelance TV Director/Baltimore; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; John Kukla-KWFW/KDFI/Dallas; Dory Petsrillo-CoxReps/Dallas; John Tingue-hulu/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Rich Wolfe-Lone Wolfe Press/Scottsdale; David Hauptman/Denver; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Anne Wettig-FOX/FOX Sports S&P/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego

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