02/19/19: Heavyweight champ Tyson Fury punched a deal with Top Rank and will appear on ESPN

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Tuesday February 19, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
 
 
Tyson Fury and promoter Frank Warren are done shopping for a home, locking in and agreement with promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank that will bring Fury under the boxing umbrella’s deal with ESPN. Fury, the undefeated lineal heavyweight champion, will have his bouts co-promoted by Top Rank and Queensberry Promotions with a minimum of two bouts per year in the US. BT Sport will continue to be the television home in the United Kingdom for all of Fury’s fights.
 
“Top Rank is very excited to enter into the promotional arrangement along with Queensberry Promotions for the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury,” Arum said. “He is a generational heavyweight talent at the peak of his powers. We also look forward to our growing relationship with MTK Global, which represents so many world-class fighters.”
 
“MTK Global are thrilled to have played a role in what can only be described as a monumental partnership, no doubt the biggest one in the boxing industry, and we’re looking forward to working more closely with the teams at Top Rank and ESPN well into the future,” said Sandra Vaughan, CEO MTK Global.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

The new season of NASCAR opened on a rise for FOX Sports, anchored by coverage of the Daytona 500, which drew a 5.5/11 metered market score, up 8% over 2018. The race comes out ranked as the top-rated event of the weekend, with the company’s NASCAR Raceday on FOX drawing a 2.77, also up 8%. Meanwhile, FOX Sports Films’ edition of Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon, handed FS1 with 854,000 viewers in its debut last week, up 86% over last year’s post-Duel programming on the channel and ranking as the channel’s most-watch original film debut ever.
 
Early numbers from Nielsen also showed that the NBA All-Star Game on TNT and TBS snagged a 5.0 rating, down slightly from alst year’s 5.1, but ranking as the top-rated program of the evening on cable.
 
UFC Fight Night on ESPN saw its debut telecast of the main card from 9p-midnight average a 1.1 metered market rating, while the UFC Fight Night on ESPN Prelims on ESPN pulled a 0.7 score. Based on overnight ratings, the night’s main card, according to the network, ranks as the highest-rated UFC Fight Night on cable since the Dillashaw-Cruz headlined event on January 17, 2016.
 
NBC Sports announced that Mike Tirico will serve as host of its first-ever coverage of the 103rd Indy 500 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, running May 26 at 11a on NBC and marking first time the race has ever aired on the network after 54 years on ABC. This will be the first time Tirico has worked on the Indy 500 in any capacity. “There’s no better way to come on the air for the biggest spectator event in the world than with Mike Tirico, the best big-event host in sports television,” said Sam Flood, President, Production, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “Mike’s role will be to set the scene for the millions of viewers watching at home, not only touching on the drivers and the racing, but also on the enormous crowd and countless happenings around the speedway that make this a bucket-list event for all sports fans.”
 
WWE announced that Minute Maid Park in Houston will host the Royal Rumble on Jan. 26, 2020. The event will mark WWE’s debut at Minute Maid Park and the second time the Royal Rumble has been held at a baseball stadium following this year’s event at Chase Field in Phoenix. “We are thrilled to bring one of WWE’s biggest events of 2020 to Minute Maid Park,” said Janis Burke, CEO of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority. “We look forward to WWE fans from around the world descending on Houston for the Royal Rumble.”
 
SHOWTIME slated The Resurgence: DeMarcus Cousins, a new SHOWTIME Sports Documentary Films original chronicling the NBA superstar’s comeback from a career-threatening injury and his path through free agency. The program will debut on April 13 at 8p.
 
ESPN will offer a special Full Court Press Second Spectrum presentation of the Bucks/Lakers game on ESPN3 on March 1 at 10:30p. The presentation will feature three different viewing modes: Coach mode – a heavy X’s and O’s analytical presentation of the game, featuring on-court diagrams of the live action; Player mode: featuring above-the-rim cameras and graphics displaying the scoring probability of all five offensive players on the court throughout each possession, changing in real time; and Mascot mode: a fun, entertaining presentation featuring special graphic treatments, including a fire graphic on the basket when a team goes on a scoring run, a 3D on-screen brick if a player misses badly, and more.
 
ESPN also cemented its plans for the global coverage of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, beginning with a live three-hour special of the Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony from Zayed Sports City Stadium on ESPNEWS. The 2019 Special Olympics World Games will span March 14-21 and ESPN’s coverage of these Games will include more live coverage of competition than ever before, offering multiple live feeds each day on ESPN3, delivering more than 25 hours of live coverage across venues and competitions including Swimming, Athletics, Soccer, Volleyball, Basketball and more. Additionally, ESPN will produce an evening studio program airing on ESPN2 and ABC, bringing viewers the stories, athlete profiles and features from around the 2019 World Games, as well as recapping key results from each days’ competitions and more.
 
Sinclair Broadcast Group is partnering up with VSiN in a move to bring sports betting content to broadcast television viewers in Nevada. Hosted by renowned sportscaster Brent Musburger, the series is titled Point Spread Weekly: Powered by Vegas Stats and Information Network, offering the week’s best sports gambling advice compiled by VSiN, “Point Spread Weekly: Powered by VSiN” will continue to air weekly with encore episodes on Saturday Mornings. 
 
Congratulations to longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein and legendary Los Angeles Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler, who are the 2019 Curt Gowdy Media Award recipients for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The award is presented annually to members of the electronic and print media whose longtime efforts have made a significant contribution to the game of basketball.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The NHL announced activations planned for The PreGame at the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, the official fan festival of the Feb. 23 outdoor game between the Flyers and Penguins in Philadelphia. Highlights of the events include the American Legacy Black Hockey History Tour, a mobile museum showcasing black hockey history, which includes items from the Hockey Hall of Fame and current NHL players. Sponsor plans include: Coors Light Slapshot; the Dunkin’ Fan Zone; a custom penalty box photo opportunity from GEICO and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Other sponsors will include Honda, Jagermeister, MassMutual, MGM Resorts, Navy Federal Credit Union, New Amsterdam Vodka, Pepsi / Frito Lay, Planters, PPG, Upper Deck and Xfinity.
 
Manchester United inked a multi-year partnership with Hawaii-based sunglasses and eyewear brand Maui Jim in a deal that will see the brand supply the Manchester United first team, academy and women’s teams with glasses from their sun and optical ranges. As part of the agreement, Maui Jim eyewear will be available to fans in the Old Trafford Megastore.
 
The New York National Lacrosse League team announced that its name will be the New York Riptide. The New York franchise was awarded to live events and sports media entertainment company GF Sports in December 2018.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

NBA Digital, jointly-managed by the NBA and Turner Sports, is now making all NBA, WNBA, NBA G League and NBA 2K League game recaps available on Facebook Watch. Video recaps will span every game during the season, including the Summer League, preseason and playoffs where applicable. Additionally, the NBA will host a weekly Watch Party on Facebook, allowing fans around the world to watch and interact with game recaps and videos together in real-time. WNBA, NBA G League and NBA 2K League Watch Parties will be held monthly on the platform.
 
 
ESPORTS

The Overwatch League added a blue chip to its portfolio, announcing just before its new season last week that State Farm had signed on as the official insurance provider for the growing OWL. Other non-endemic sponsors currently with the league include Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, and Toyota.
 
ESL and the Big Ten Network will partner to stream the BTN League of Legends Season, an online series as part of Riot Games’ College League of Legends Season. Matches culminate in the BTN League of Legends Championship Tournament, beginning on March 28. Teams from each of the 14 Big Ten schools will compete in the BTN League of Legends Season, with the competition being streamed on Caffeine TV, Twitch and YouTube. Two matches will be streamed each Saturday while five teams will go head-to-head in offline competitions throughout the duration of the regular season for a total of seven matches every week.
 
StarLadder is officially on deck to host the CS:GO Major at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin. The StarLadder Major will mark the 15th in the game’s history.The main event will run Sept.5-8 at the venue.  
 
Activision Blizzard is tapping ULT as its newest official merchandise provider for the Overwatch League. ULT had previously been a partner for OWL’s Philadelphia Fusion franchise and produces its own line of clothing as well as merchandise for eUnited and Gankstars.
 
 
INDUSTRY/ROSTER MOVES

The NBA and the International Basketball Federation announced their plan to launch the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa. The BAL will be built on the foundation of current club competitions FIBA is organizing in Africa and is slated to tip off in Jan. 2020, marking the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America. The NBA also today announced its plan to introduce a re-imagined direct to consumer offering of NBA games for fans in Africa by the start of the 2019-20 NBA season. The NBA and FIBA also plan to dedicate financial support and resources toward the continued development of Africa’s basketball ecosystem, including training for players, coaches and referees, and infrastructure investment.
 
The United States Soccer Federation provisionally sanctioned the National Independent Soccer Association as a Professional Soccer League, clearing the way for the league to begin play in the fall of 2019. Clubs in Atlanta, Charlotte, New England and Philadelphia have already announced their efforts to be part of the league, with the rest expected to go public in the coming days. Unlike other American soccer leagues, NISA will play a fall-to-spring season with a winter break, allowing time off during December & January.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Maple Leafs/Blues on NBCSN at 8p.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1965: The NFL adds the line judge.
 
In the Know: NHL great Brett Hull played for 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: What was the name of Michael Jordan’s team in Space Jam? Answer: Toon Squad. Kudos: Christopher Doyle-Twitter/Toronto; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Aimee Clark-Tony Fay PR/Dallas; John Tingue-Hulu/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
 
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