02/22/21: Catching fire as a startup during the pandemic



FOX NFL BREAKS THROUGH as the #1 NFL Network for viewers and brands

Averaging over 18.1MM viewers, the NFL on FOX delivered more viewers than any other NFL network this season. America’s Game of the Week was the most watched telecast of the week every week it aired. FOX NFL Sunday games also averaged 6.7MM female viewers, delivering more female viewers than any program on TV.

and be part of the #1 NFL Network next season at FOXAdSolutions.com

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Medias First Morning Read


Monday February 22, 2021

If you went up to almost anyone in the sports event business a year ago and said that PPE would be an emerging category for innovation and partnerships you probably would have gotten some quizzical looks. However, we know that the last year has been strange in many ways, and that as fans return to stands, health and safety are going to be top of mind for business success. Masks, hand sanitizers, grab and go, cashless systems will all be a part of return to play, probably for the foreseeable future.

Who are the innovators in the space? One is Boston based Osun Labs, a company that has brought together several senior sales, marketing, design and brand development executives from various areas of sport to help solve issues teams, leagues and a host of other related industries will deal with safe return to venues. Their first product from this gathering is the GO-Clip, a allowing fans with headwear to wear masks safely, cleanly and comfortably. The GO-Clips were on prominent display for the first time this past weekend at the NHL Outdoor Games in Lake Tahoe, and will probably be seen in and around places like MLB spring training in the coming weeks. We asked Osun Labs Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Jeff Eagles to walk us through the business.

Eagles on the business model: Our model is simple – build mask optimization products to help business leaders help their people, particularly those who are key parts of our societal infrastructure, get back safely to work. We’ve come together as a team of people from across many businesses to drive this mission-for-good through that model. While mask wearing is expected to be part of health and safety protocols for the foreseeable future, it’s important to recognize the uncertainty that remains ahead. We’re all navigating this together every day, and that inspires our new product development, which will go beyond headwear to apparel or any other need that helps people live and work safely.

On how a startup in the PPE business gets traction in sports: Our focus has been on streamlining the design, production and operations. This is not just about players or referees or game operations. We’re actively in discussions across nearly every industry, from infrastructure through sports…ushers, food vendors, security staff…and entertainment properties, that look to protect their employees and to better serve their customers and make them feel safe at every encounter. Beyond scaling distribution and awareness with consumers, this will ensure the GO-Clip meets its core principle to keep people safe.

On how GO-Clip becomes a scalable business: Right now, we are laser focused on seeding the market and driving consumer demand. The feeling you get when the GO-Clip helps make your mask fit securely and comfortably is game changing. ‘Mask Optimization’ is a new category that we are creating; so early education will be critical. We’ve had great initial validation and responses from leading national and local retailers, who know their customers best. Our success in building traction and scale will come from the development of these relationships and the brand customization the GO-Clip offers.

On Licensing and Media Partnerships: It is an important foundational element for an innovation center, such as Osun Labs, to have partnerships with some of the industry’s best licensees, in Game Time and Winning Streak Sports. Working with them to build brand affinity and customization represents key differentiators for the GO-Clip. It also provides a multitude of brand, sponsorship, and creative opportunities, especially as a platform of self-expression for fans of all ages. As far as media partnerships, we think there is a natural fit, no pun intended, for all those in front of and behind a camera to see the value in the product, and because of that fit keep your eye out for where the product pops up.


The NCAA announced championship game times and broadcast networks for all six rounds and 63 games of the 2021 Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. In addition to ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU coverage, for the first time since the 1995 championship was carried on CBS, portions of the tournament will be carried by a broadcast network, with ABC now set to carry at least six tournament games. ABC will broadcast a doubleheader on the opening day of play —March 21 — and carry additional doubleheaders during the Sweet Sixteen on March 27-28. “ESPN’s coverage of women’s basketball has always been driven by our passion for the sport, its players and its coaches. We’re proud to continue our commitment with the addition of ABC to our network lineup for this year’s NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship,” added Carol Stiff, ESPN vice president, women’s sports programming and acquisitions. “As home to the championship for the past 26 years, and after the cancellation of last year’s women’s tournament, we can’t wait to bring the best of women’s college basketball to even more viewers as the sport crowns a new champion.”

In addition, the NCAA is planning on opening its doors for its Division I basketball Championships, announcing that both the men’s and women’s tournaments, set to all take place in individual cities this year, will allow a limited number of fans to attend all rounds. The men’s games will allow up to 25% capacity with physical distancing was made in conjunction with state and local health authorities in Indianapolis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The women’s tournament will be allowed to have a capacity of up to 17% from the Sweet Sixteen through the Women’s Final Four, with the event taking place in the San Antonio region.

The NFL is reportedly looking to double its rights fees as the league negotiates with broadcast partners for a new deal. According to CNBC, the league is in active discussions on renewal rates with all four of its existing network partners — NBC, CBS, Fox, and ESPN, with an eye to get primary package renewals completed by March 17. That said, the report states that Disney already rejected paying anywhere close to $3.8 billion per year for its new deal, doubling its current $1.9 billion bill.

On the ratings fronts, FS1 saw 498,000 viewers tune in to watch the USA and Canada square off in the SheBelieves Cup on Thursday. That marks the most-watched match ever for the cup on the network and is up 78% over the 2019 average

Elsewhere, Univision’s Tuesday afternoon telecast of Barcelona vs. Paris Saint/Germain averaged 1.07 million Total Viewers and out-delivered last year’s Barcelona/Napoli match by 10% to rank as the top UEFA Round of 16 match ever in the U.S. The match also drew 573K Adult 18-49 viewers, marking the second highest performance for the round in the demo all-time and best in six years, according to Nielsen.

ESPN announced that Matt Miller, the former NFL Draft analyst and insider for Bleacher Report who recently launched The Draft Scout, is joining ESPN as an NFL Draft contributor. In addition, Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy signed an extension to return as an ESPN NFL Draft contributor. A former NFL scout with nearly two decades worth of experience, Nagy has contributed to four Super Bowl Championship teams over the course of his career with the Washington Football Team, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks.

NBA TV, in partnership with the Southwestern Athletic Conference, will showcase back-to-back live NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Basketball Games between Historically Black Universities Grambling State University and Jackson State University today in honor of Black History Month. The pair of SWAC conference games will tip at 3p (Women’s game) and 5:30 p.m. (Men’s game), respectively, with Ro Brown (play-by-play) and Deuce McCallister (analyst) to call the action. Pregame, halftime and postgame studio coverage will be led by Stephanie Ready, Sam Mitchell and Ro Parrish starting at 2:30p.

The Pac-12 Conference announced a schedule adjustment for the 2021 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, which will now begin on Wednesday, March 3 and feature an open date on Saturday, March 6. The Championship game remains scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 7 at 5p PT on ESPN2 at Michelob ULTRA Arena. The 2021 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, presented by New York Life, remains scheduled to take place March 10-13 at T-Mobile Arena.

Rounding out our collegiate news, ESPN networks are set to air more than 180 NCAA women’s lacrosse matchups this season, with action on ESPNU, ACC Network (ACCN), ESPN3, ESPN+ and ACCNX. Play by play commentators for women’s coverage includes Jay Alter, Mike Monaco and Leah Secondo with analysts that include Sheehan Stanwick-Burch and Dana Boyle. ESPN will also provide coverage of the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship, with championship weekend taking place at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md. (May 28-30).

CSI Sports has announced a multi-year agreement with CIGNAL, Philippines’ premier direct-to-home satellite provider, to launch FIGHT SPORTS. The platform will be available on Cignal Pay TV and Cignal’s streaming app, Cignal Play. “We are excited to have finalized an agreement to reach a wider audience in the Philippines, and to be working with Cignal, one of the premier operators in the territory. With our original series line-up expanding such as RETURN to the RING premiering this month and INTRODUCING next month, plus our live event slate kicking off the year with back to back World Title fights, we are ready for a great year ahead filled with more announcements of our continued expansion.” said CSI Sports Co-CEOs Craig and Richard Miele.

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Athletes Unlimited announced that Gatorade (Sports Drink), Hyperice (Recovery Technology) and Mariner Wealth Advisors (Wealth Management) signed on as the first three national corporate partners supporting its’ inaugural volleyball season, which will showcase 44 of the world’s best players from February 27-March 29 in Dallas. All 30-matches will be carried live via a distribution package with CBS Sports Network, FOX Sports and streaming partners Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Twitch and Dailymotion.

Major League Fishing and Toro, a worldwide provider of innovative solutions for the outdoor environment, entered into a sponsorship agreement designed to showcase the Toro brand to millions of outdoor and fishing enthusiasts. Toro has been named the title sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour Stage One event at Sam Rayburn Reservoir and will sponsor the “Toro Cut Line” – a television feature segment that will showcase anglers that are on the elimination bubble at each event. Toro will also receive exclusive exposure across numerous MLF media platforms, including its many tournaments and activation opportunities, website and MLF social media outlets.


BetMGM and Topgolf Entertainment Group announced a new partnership centered around an integrated sports betting and entertainment experience. The two companies will collaborate on marketing and promotional offers through the BetMGM platform at select Topgolf venues and within WGT by Topgolf. Details of the partnership include BetMGM digital branding throughout Topgolf venues in cities where BetMGM operates, including Topgolf’s marquee Las Vegas location at MGM Grand; Indianapolis; Nashville; Detroit; Virginia Beach; and Denver, as well as within the WGT by Topgolf platform. BetMGM will also activate branding and promotional integrations in additional Topgolf locations as its sports betting and gaming platforms become available in new states.

Ready, Set, Gold! (RSG!) is launching a new eight-week classroom series this Spring featuring tips and advice from Olympic and Paralympic athletes designed to help students in all grade levels to stay active while distance learning from home. Released nearly every Monday beginning March 1 through April 26, each 30-minute video covers a thematic topic focused on evidence-based physical activity and social emotional learning.


BlizzConline saw the Overwatch League reveal its course for the 2021 season, which will feature 208 matches during the regular season, in addition to four tournaments. Play for the two divisions will launch April 16 with the Outlaws/Fuel and the Shock/Gladiators. The league is altering its broadcast times to better cater to its fans, as all live broadcasts featuring teams playing in the West will now start at noon PT, while broadcasts featuring teams playing in the East will start at 5p China Standard Time. This season a total of $4,250,000 is up for grabs, with prizing split between tournaments and the playoffs.

The Super Smash Bros. World Tour is looking to return in 2021 after cancelling plans a year ago. The setup will blend online qualifiers with offline invitational tournaments this Spring. Circuits for both Smash Ultimate and Smash Melee will conclude in the Smash World Tour Finals at the end of the year. The Finals will include a $75,000 prize pool for each game in addition to $60,000 in prizes during the various Regional Finals events.

The BBC is partnering with Electronic Arts to air live coverage of the FIFA 21 Global Series in a deal that will see the broadcaster stream the series’ European regional qualifiers and playoffs live via its digital platforms, including BBC iPlayer, as well as the BBC Sport website and app. Coverage will continue to be available on the EA Sports FIFA Twitch and YouTube channels.

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On this Day
1980: The “Miracle on Ice” sees Team USA beat the Soviet Union, 4-3.

Where did the Miracle on Ice take place? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Which movie franchise featured vampire baseball? Answer: Twilight. Kudos: Luke Watson-Entertaining Concepts/NY; Michael Dittelman-Dedicated Sports Marketing/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Lisa Fikeys-NissanUnited/Chicago; Creed Heilskov-ImOn Communications/Cedar Rapids; Jack Hodgson-Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo

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