02/13/19: World Surf League and FOX Sports locked in a long-term partnership

Good morning. It’s Wednesday February 13, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
World Surf League landed an agreement to make FOX Sports the org’s exclusive television broadcaster for WSL’s 2019 Men’s and Women’s Championship Tour as well as the Big Wave Tour. FOX Sports will now carry more than 500 hours of WSL programming, including live contests and highlight shows, across FOX, FS1, FS2 and the FOX Sports app in 2019. WSL programming launches with a one-hour 2019 World Surf League Preview Show on FOX on March 23 at 12:30p with the WSL Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours beginning April 3. FS2 will telecast all Championship Tour contests live or close to live throughout the year. FS2 will also present the US Open of Surfing, the premiere men’s and women’s Qualifying Series contest while FS1 will feature eight, one-hour highlight shows after select contests are over.
“We’re delighted with the additional coverage FOX Sports will bring to our events and millions of fans across multiple platforms,” said WSL Chief Executive Officer Sophie Goldschmidt. “With our athletes continuing to take the sport to new performance levels, more people than ever can now witness the excitement of professional surfing and everything that comes with our world class events.”

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced that ESPN’s Dick Vitale will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports this year at the 40th Annual Sports Emmy Awards. “Dick Vitale is one of the most unique, effusive and recognizable voices in sports broadcasting today,” said Adam Sharp, President and CEO, NATAS.  “His knowledge, enthusiasm and love of the game is captured in every comment, call and catchphrase he creates.  He is a master behind the microphone and a great humanitarian. The National Academy could not be more proud to honor him with our distinguished, Lifetime Achievement Awards for Sports!”
The NFL announced that the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine is adding ABC to the broadcast mix with a two-hour special on the network that will mark the first time the Combine is airing on broadcast television, in addition to the NFL Network and NFL.com. On-site coverage during the quarterback and wide receiver drills on March 2 at 1p. Trey Wingo will host ABC’s NFL Live: NFL Scouting Combine special with Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, Louis Riddick, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. In addition to the ABC special, ESPN will host multiple editions of NFL Live from the Combine with hosts Wendi Nix and Suzy Kolber, beginning Feb. 27.
Meanwhile, for the 15th year, NFL Network will provide live coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine beginning March 1 with the running backs, offensive linemen and special teams, and continuing with the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends on March 2, the defensive linemen and linebackers on March 3, and the defensive backs on March 4. Host Rich Eisen anchors coverage of the on-field workouts joined by Daniel Jeremiah in the booth at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Showtime Sports Documentary Films announced a multi-part docu-series titled Action, exploring the legalization of sports gambling and its evolving impact on the gambling community following the landmark 2018 court ruling. The four-part series will premiere March 24 a 8p on Showtime. The program chronicles the lives of professional gamblers, bookies and oddsmakers throughout the 2018 NFL season, culminating with Super Bowl Sunday.
GOLF Channel’s Feherty presented by Farmers Insurance returns for season nine on Feb. 25, running Monday nights at 9p.  David will welcome several of the sport’s most prominent figures in 2019, led by a two-part premiere with Fred Couples. In addition to Couples, the initial run of guests will feature a trio of young American PGA TOUR stars: Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka.
On the ratings fronts, beIN SPORTS saw the Copa del Rey semifinal “El Clasico” matchup between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid on Feb. 6 reach 820,000 total viewers across both networks during the premier to rans as the most-watched program among Spanish-language sports cable networks among all key demos.
CBS Sports Network celebrates Black History Month with the premiere of Althea & Arthur, a documentary highlighting the legacies of Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe on Feb. 18 at 9p. The documentary is narrated by Tony Award winning actress Phylicia Rashad and chronicles the impact Gibson and Ashe made to the world of tennis and in advancing civil rights in America during a time of racism and segregation.
Come out to play! Don’t miss the 2019 Esports Business Summit presented by Cynopsis Esports, Chief Marketer and Event Marketer from Sept. 10-12 at MGM Grand Las Vegas. Learn from key executives from brand marketing, television, sports and technology who are growing their businesses by leveraging the passionate global audience that esports delivers. Registration is now open for Esports Business Summit. Sign up early to save!
CBS Sports is producing a Facebook game with a twist on Saturday at 2p, analysts Pete Gillen and Steve Lappas set to be embedded with each team – Gillen with Middle Tennessee and Lappas with Marshall – where each analyst will “coach” the team during TV breaks. They will sit near the end of the bench and each have a telestrator, providing viewers with a different perspective on the game.
GOLF Channel will expand its tournament coverage of the Genesis Open on Thursday by offering viewers a live look-in to PGA TOUR Live, the tour’s over-the-top subscription video service running on GOLF Channel Thursday from 10a-2p, followed by traditional live tournament coverage from 2-6p. Featured Groups being shown during Thursday’s PGA TOUR Live coverage on GOLF Channel include: Cameron Champ/Dustin Johnson/Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson/Xander Schauffele/Jordan Spieth. Friday’s early coverage on NBC Sports Gold will include Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas as one of two Featured Groups.
RIDE TV launched the brand new series PBR Ride to Glory, featuring the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour and other bull riding events with 40 episodes set to run in primetime weekly for both the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The series will be hosted by Anthony Lucia, Colby Yates and Janie Johnson and will premiere on March 12.
FloSports announced a partnership with Dentsu to provide live and on-demand coverage of all Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (World Cup and World Challenge Cups exclusively in Canada through 2020 on FloGymnastics.com.  The first event begins Feb. 16 with the FIG Trampoline World Cup.
Combate Americas announced that its “Mexico vs. USA” live Mixed Martial Arts event will air live on television in the US on both Univision and UDN from Save Mart Center in Fresno on Feb. 22. The Univision and UDN airings complement the previously announced English airing of the event live on DAZN.
FOX Sports announced that Mikey Garcia will join Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and host Kate Abdo live in FOX Sports’ Los Angeles studios for coverage of FOX PBC Figth Night: Santa Cruz vs. Rivera on Thursday and Friday. In addition, Lennox Lewis and Joe Goossen join blow-by-blow announcer Kenny Albert to call the action live on Saturday at 8p on FOX. 
Esports Business Summit
September 10-12, 2019 | MGM Grand Las Vegas

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Bleacher Report detailed plans to take over Charlotte’s Music Factory for NBA All-Star 2019 with B/R X NC on Sunday from 1-6p, offering fans basketball courts and concert stages that will feature live programming, music, non-stop hoops, interactive exhibits, the debut of a House of Highlights activation and more. The event, hosted by Bleacher Report and House of Highlights talent including Adam Lefkoe, Taylor Rooks,Lance Fresh and Omar Raja, will be led by sponsors Caesars Entertainment, MTN DEW, Ruffles, Intel, McDonald’s, State Farm and Wilson. 2 Chainz, will close out the event with a headline performance on the Caesars Sports Music Stage. All-day basketball programming will include highlights such as “The MTN DEW x Ruffles Ballers Ball on the MTN DEW x Ruffles Basketball Court” and the return of the State Farm streetballers Dunk Contest.

Digital sports video platform SendtoNews secured a multi-year digital partnership with NASCAR Digital Media. Under the new agreement, SendtoNews receives rights to distribute NASCAR race highlights and other event content to its more than 1600 digital publishing partners across North America. The partnership will provide highlights for all NASCAR national series races and qualifying events, including the upcoming 61st running of the Daytona 500 on February 17.

As the 2019 season prepares to warm up for the NBA 2K League, the organization announced a multiyear partnership with Champion Athleticwear to serve as the league’s official outfitter ahead of the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft, set for March 5 at Barclays Center. The deal will see Champion provide the NBA 2K League’s 21 teams with game uniforms as well as warmup, travel and practice apparel. In-game avatars will also be outfitted in Champion-branded uniforms and throughout the season, Champion will provide apparel for marquee events like the NBA 2K League Draft Clash, in-season tournaments and the NBA 2K League Finals.
Heavy hearts from around the gaming community yesterday after Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick announced in an earning call that the company would be laying off 8% of its workforce, amounting to approximately 800 jobs from across the company, which includes Activision, Blizzard and King. The consolidation would mainly affect non-game development departments, with reports of heavy cuts in publishing and esports.

ESL is renewing vows with Facebook Gaming, announcing an expansion of the league’s partnership to bring coverage of all global ESL esports competitions non-exclusively to the Facebook platform. ESL will broadcast both its flagship circuit events, Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) and ESL One, as well as the premier professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro League. “ESL brings together a global community of esports fans and aims to deliver amazing esports experiences to audiences around the world, both online and through large scale events,” said Ralf Reichert, Co-CEO, ESL. “ESL will be providing multiple sources in which fans can experience our flagship circuits online — including a return to Facebook Gaming to continue bringing content to its rapidly growing audience.”

T-Mobile and the Houston Outlaws renewed their partnership through the 2019 season. The upcoming season will see the brand retain its status as the presenting partner of the Houston Outlaws and continue to serve as the Official Wireless Partner of the team. Together, the pair will continue to offer exclusive VIP perks to T-Mobile customers while providing all fans exclusive access to the team with the #OutlawsUnlimitedvideo series and events within the Houston Area.

Premier Lacrosse League, which begins its inaugural season on June 1, locked in investment from Alibaba Group Holding billionaire Joe Tsai in a a Series A funding round led by Tsai,. He’s joined in the investment by Hildene Capital Management President Brett Jefferson and the Raine Group, which led the league’s initial round in September. The PLL has a multiyear broadcast agreement with NBC Sports Group, which will show games across its platforms. NBC will show three, while another 19 will be broadcast on NBCSN.

Warriors/Trail Blazers on ESPN at 10:30p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1976: Dorothy Hamill wins Olympic figure-skating gold in Innsbruck.
In the Know: In the movie The Warriors, what is the name of the gang that took its look from the New York Yankees? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Name a driver who won the Daytona 500 twice in a row. Answer: Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Sterling Marlin. Kudos: Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Jonathan Norman-Bespoke Sports & Entertainment/Charlotte; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA
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