02/08/17: NBCU sets up Winter Road Block; CBS Sports Radio adds to Rome journey; FOX Sports runs digital 500


Good morning. It’s Wednesday February 8, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NBCUniversal hits the one year mark before the Winter Olympics today and unveiled a lineup of promotional and editorial initiatives to begin promoting the event across its broadcast, cable, digital, regional, local, and radio assets. Anchoring the blitz will be an 8p “Road Block” that will see a 60-second Olympic announcement voiced by Milo Ventimiglia running across more than a dozen NBCU broadcast and cable networks, including NBC, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, and more. Meanwhile, one-year-out promotional and editorial content will run across its more than 50 websites with additional support on social media and via eblasts.

On the content side, NBC Sports Digital devotes coverage to the occasion with video, pictures, graphics and long-form stories across NBC Sports’ social media platforms while NBCSports.com’s OlympicTalk will publish more stories focused on athletes than ever before. Meanwhile, TODAY will cover the one-year-out celebration from both New York and PyeongChang.

“One year out is always the beginning of our comprehensive Olympic consumer engagement plan in which we use the unmatched power of NBCUniversal’s promotional and editorial assets to connect viewers to the athletes and the Games,” said Jenny Storms, CMO, NBC Sports Group. “Our 2018 campaign will focus on the stories of the athletes more than ever before, and it all begins with our 60-second ‘road block’ content. By curating fun and personable content from the athletes’ very own social media accounts, we’re able to introduce the public to emerging stars such as Nathan Chen and Chloe Kim, and reconnect them to Olympic champions such as Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White.”


In talent news, Jim Rome is going long with CBS Sports Radio, inking a new multi-year deal. Rome has been the host of “The Jim Rome Show” since the launch of CBS Sports Radio in January 2013. “The Jim Rome Show was the critical building block in the successful launch of CBS Sports Radio four years ago, and brought immediate star power and credibility to the network,” said Chris Oliviero, Executive Vice President of Programming, CBS RADIO. “We now look forward to writing the next chapter together in the storied history of Jim’s show, which has been and continues to be the standard by which all nationally syndicated sports shows are judged.”

Meanwhile, ESPN is bringing Mark Teixeira aboard as a Major League Baseball analyst. In the multi-year agreement, Teixeira will regularly contribute to ESPN’s MLB studio coverage, SportsCenter and additional ESPN platforms, including ESPN Radio. The 14-year MLB veteran is expected to begin during ESPN’s 2017 Spring Training coverage.
ESPN also added award-winning journalist Sam Borden to the company as a writer and television contributor. Borden joins from The New York Times and will focus on enterprise and investigative work around international sports, largely contributing to coverage surrounding major global football leagues and competitions including FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships, the Premier League, Champions League and more.

The USGA is upping this year’s purse for the 2017 US Open to $12 million to mark the most lucrative event in golf, according to Golf Channel. The announcement marks a $2 million bump over from last year’s event at Oakmont, which saw Dustin Johnson take home $1.8 million from a $10 million purse. Meanwhile, 2016 saw The Players and PGA Championship both offered purses of $10.5 million, while the Masters had a purse of $10 million. As part of the same announcement, the USGA also added $500,000 to the U.S. Women’s Open purse, making the total prize money come in at $5 million.

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields is set to make her professional television debut on ShoBox: The New Generation on March 10 on Showtime. She will square off against Hungary’s Szilvia “Sunset” Szabados in the bout, which will mark the first women’s boxing match to headline on premium television.

MLB Network carries the 2017 World Baseball Classic Roster Special tonight at 6p. The hour-long program will be hosted by Robert Flores, and offer insight and analysis on the 16 WBC teams’ final rosters from analysts Mike Lowell and Al Leiter and insider Jon Morosi.

Keywest Marketing acquired the Canadian interest in the World Fishing Network from Insight Sports of Toronto. The channel is owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE). According to the release, the purchase of World Fishing Network, in partnership with KSE, will allow both companies to draw from their collective digital media and print publishing assets to create a multi-platform model for the channel.
CBS Sports Network offers the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Million Dollar Hole in One for Charity for the second year in a row. The closest to the pin contest features 30 players from across the sports and entertainment worlds including Justin Timberlake, Peyton Manning, Mark Wahlberg, Bill Murray and Toby Keith and will see Jim Nantz host, along with analyst Gary McCord, airing tomorrow at 1:30a ahead of its its broadcast debut on CBS Sports on Saturday at noon.


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NBCU is changing up its ad sales efforts for the Winter Olympics and will set guarantees using its Total Audience Delivery for the first time by selling a cumulative P2-plus rating across all platforms, according to Ad Age. The shift allows NBCU “to deliver audience guarantees with viewing that takes place both on the traditional screen and on its apps, through over-the-top devices and other non-traditional platforms.” "We always want to prioritize delivering on our audience promises. Given the dynamic shifts in viewing from one platform to another, we wanted to create a system that allows us to pivot from one platform to the other in real time," said Dan Lovinger, EVP- Advertising Sales. "P2+ allows us to pivot an advertiser to where that consumption is taking place."
Turner Sports lined up the NBA on TNT Road Show to originate from Champions Square in New Orleans for NBA All-Star 2017, featuring live telecasts with the Inside the NBA studio team, interactive fan experiences, basketball clinics, pop-up stores, a food truck and more. The 70,000 square-foot experience will feature performances by Travis Scott (Feb. 16) and Pitbull (Feb. 18) along with experiential components that include  Inside the NBA themed activities, an on-court hoops experience, a  Tissot :24 challenge; Area 21, and more.

The University at Buffalo is tapping Learfield as the Bulls’ first-ever athletics multimedia rights partner in school history. The multi-year deal begins March 1 with the establishment of Learfield’s UB Sports Properties, dedicated to UB Athletics and manage all aspects of the Bulls’ rights related to signage, digital, corporate sponsorships, television and radio play-by-play, and coaches’ shows.

Nitro Circus locked in two new licensing agencies to launch a slate of new consumer products in several European markets: License Connection in the Benelux countries and The Licensing Locomotive in Spain, Portugal and Central Eastern Europe. “We are excited to partner with License Connection and The Licensing Locomotive,” said Cassie Dombrowski, Director of Global Licensing for Nitro Circus. “For half a decade Europe has been such a highlight of our live tours. So teaming up with industry leaders who have extensive experience in these key territories is a tremendous opportunity to expand on our brand footprint.”


FOX Sports hits Daytona with a bevy of digital content, announcing its “Daytona 500 Hour Countdown” which will see FOX Sports and NASCAR produce 500 unique pieces of digital content, representing the roughly 500 hours between the Super Bowl and the green flag to start the Daytona 500. “Doing a ‘500 Hour Countdown’ to Daytona Day is something we think fans really are going to love,” said Robert Gottlieb, FOX Sports EVP of Marketing. “It’s going to be a chance for fans to really feed their appetites for all things Daytona as they get ready for the Great American Race.”
MLB.TV opens the 2017 MLB season with nearly two dozen interactive features for its subscribers with tech set to include a team view, new apps, a web media player and access to listen to live games without blackout restrictions using the new MLB skill on the Amazon Echo platform. All Access features will offer home and away feeds, At Bat Premium, and 60fps tech. The premium version will run $112.99 this season, while single-team packages will cost $87.49.


Psyonix released details for the third season of the Rocket League Championship Series. Season three launches March 4 with the World Championship in June and will include Oceanic contenders for the first time while the prize pool swells to $300,000. Play will be carried on Twitch, with the publisher also launching a new RLCS weekly talk show starting in mid-March.

Ahead of DreamHack Masters Las Vegas this month, DreamHack announced its return to Malmo, Sweden. The organization will break DreamHack Masters Malmo 2017 to the city from Aug. 30-Sept. 3, dangling $250,000 for the event.


Blackhawks/Wild on NBCSN at 8p.




ON THIS DAY in 1986: The Hawks’ Spud Webb wins the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

In The Know: From what school was Spud Webb drafted? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who was Ali’s opponent  in “The Rumble in the Jungle?" Answer: George Foreman. Kudos: Sheila Mills-Showtime/NY; Charmaine Leary-NBCU Content Distribution/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Rick Ramage-BIENSTOCK/NY; Richard Sanders-Visit Panama City Beach/Panama City Beach; Fred Petrosino-JBG/Jupiter; Anthony Stellato-Charter Communications/Stamford; Michael Narracci-NESN/ Watertown; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Matt Fumagalli-NBC Sports/Chicago; David Hauptman/Denver; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Jeff Mirkin-Phoneatics/Santa Monica; Don Surath-KPIX-TV/KBCW-TV/San Francisco; John Sutton-Charter Digital Media/LA; Steve Morrow-Eclipse TV/Mill Valley.

Later — Chris
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