02/16/17: Nielsen sees opportunity in 2016 sports report; NBC Sports RSNs draft TOMBOY; 2017 NBA All-Star Game spots filled in


Good morning. It’s Thursday February 16, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Nielsen cracked open its numbers for sport in 2016 as part of the annual Nielsen Year in Sports Media Report, examining the engagement with the Olympics, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, Indycar, UFC, soccer, golf, college sports and hockey. “If sports in 2016 taught us anything, it’s that despite the proliferation of devices and unprecedented media fragmentation, sports programming continues to thrive,” noted Stephen Master, Regional Head of Revenue for Nielsen Sports. “As connectivity rises, connections suffer, but sports provide an ideal vehicle for brands to integrate with content and reach passionate consumers.”

Overall, more than 8,000 parent brands were tracked in Nielsen’s North American Sport24 syndicated sponsorship media valuation database, garnering $7.4 billion in QI Media value. Gatorade led all brands tracked in Sport24, with a presence across every major league and 53% of its exposure value coming from NFL game broadcasts. State Farm received the second-highest QI Media Value, with 75% of it coming from NBA broadcasts.

Meanwhile, Nielsen Sports also broke out the science behind “what’s next,” as it relates to measuring fans’ consumption behavior, monetizing content across platforms and creating deeper partnerships across the sports ecosystem. Breakout conclusions included: Esports evolving from niche to mainstream; richer, deeper partnerships across the sports ecosystem built around content; OTT, social media and out-of-home viewing creating a truly omnichannel environment; edging closer to cracking the code on ROI; and data becoming driving force in optimizing fan relationships and maximizing revenue.


NBC Sports Regional Networks announced the launch of Tomboy a multi-platform documentary designed to spark conversation about gender in sports that will be told through the voices of many of the world’s most prominent female athletes, broadcasters and sports executives. The integrated initiative will wrap up with a special one-hour documentary that will span all NBC Sports Regional Networks, as well as NBCSN and NBC O&Os. Every weekday leading up to the launch, the CSNs will release daily podcasts, articles, and interviews “with the biggest and most influential names” and most CSN markets will also host symposiums in conjunction with local colleges to encourage participation and conversation at a regional level. Participating names are set to include Lindsey Vonn, Mo’ne Davis, and Ann Meyers-Drysdale, with the doc premiering during Women’s History Month in March. Viewers can find the latest TOMBOY news and interviews, tailored to their regional athletes, across each CSN network’s website and social media handles.

In talent news, ESPN locked in a new multi-year deal with veteran play-by-play commentator Mark Jones. The 27-year veteran of ESPN currently serves as the voice of NBA Sunday Showcase series on ABC this season, among other NBA duties. Jones will also provide play-by-play for ESPN’s extensive coverage of the NBA’s Summer League, while continuing to be a regular contributor to ESPN’s college football and men’s college basketball telecasts.
Sports Illustrated is reportedly launching an unscripted TV series in partnership with Jerry Bruckheimer Television that will focus on true-crime stories involving sports figures. The series, Sports Illustrated: True Crime, will be pitched to linear and digital outlets in the coming weeks.

President Donald Trump isn’t feeling March Madness. The Washington Post broke news that he will not continue former President Barack Obama’s tradition of filling out the brackets for both the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments, which had become a staple during the event. An ESPN spokesperson noted that the company wanted to keep the projections alive, but were unable to lock him in.

A shift to FOX saw the network’s coverage of the NHRA Winternationals draw an average of over 1.2 million viewers on Sunday. That marks the most-viewed telecast ever for the race with a 91% bump over last year’s equivalent on FS1 with P18-49 swelling 103% to 318,000 viewers.

On the local front, FOX Sports Arizona announced that former Diamondback Mark Grace will join the network to serve as its new “D-backs Live” pre and post-game show analyst. Grace will make his debut on Friday, March 31.
Raycom Sports announced a new television show set, A Cut Above: The Legacy of New York City Basketball and the ACC, that will run beginning the last weekend in February. The series traces the ties between the ACC Tournament and the New York City basketball. Omar Epps will narrate the special.

SiriusXM takes on NBA All-Star 2017 starting today with special live programming from New Orleans on the SiriusXM NBA Radio channel with coverage that will include live shows hosted by Milwaukee Bucks guard Jason Terry, former players Eddie Johnson and Tim Legler, as well as Frank Isola, Jason Jackson, Joel Meyers, Justin Termine and Brian Geltzeiler. Subscribers will also get ESPN Radio’s broadcasts of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, February 19 (8:30p) on both ESPN Radio (SiriusXM channel 80) and on SiriusXM NBA Radio (Sirius channel 207, XM channel 86). The State Farm All-Star Saturday Night events (Taco Bell Skills Challenge, JBL Three-Point Contest, Verizon Slam Dunk Contest) on Saturday at 8p will air on ESPN Radio.


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Ad inventory for this weekend’s 2017 NBA All-Star Game on TNT is now out of stock. Ad Age writes that, for the third year running, the Turner Sports ad sales team has sold out of spot openings for the game. According to Turner Sports Exec VP-Ad Sales Jon Diament, Sunday night’s matchup sold out even earlier than last year’s telecast, with the entire slate of All-Star Weekend programming, now off the books. "This is the third year in a row we’ve been in a sold-out position on all three nights, and a lot of that has to do with the caliber of the event," Diament told the publication. "Advertisers are clamoring for high-profile, live sporting events, and All-Star Weekend is a great environment to roll out new activations."

The National Hockey League detailed activation plans for its NHL Stadium Series event in Pittsburgh, with The PreGame, the official tailgate party of the contest taking place on Feb. 25. The PreGame will see Stadium Series title partner, Coors Light giving fans legal-age fans beverages, while the Dunkin’ Donuts tent will offer free coffee and munchkins and take home a commemorative photo in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts’ ice rink. NHL Network will allow fans the chance to call the action from the NHL Network set while the Pepsi Zero Sugar Sharp Shooter allows fans to showcase their shooting accuracy, take their best shot, and enjoy free samples. Other brands taking part include the GEICO Memory Game, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile; the Planters NUTmobile, Reebok’s Immersion Zone and more.

Courtesy of a new deal with Audi, the DC United will now soon be playing at Audi Field. The venue opens in 2018 and will feature 32 luxury suites, seating for 20,000, as well as bike valets and 20,000 square feet of retail space. “We are excited to work with D.C. United and to continue our support of soccer in America as well the community near our Northern Virginia headquarters,” said Loren Angelo, vice president of marketing, Audi of America. “This commitment helps Audi connect with passionate soccer fans of all ages and the greater community through unique experiences that continue to elevate their excitement in America’s fastest-growing sport."


Ahead of Daytona, NASCAR and DeskSite jointly announced the official launch of the NASCAR DeskSite, an interactive and personalized video app that delivers premium, high-definition video content on-demand to NASCAR fans for free. NASCAR is the first professional sports league to launch DeskSite, which has partnerships with individual NFL, NHL and MLS team franchises. The NASCAR DeskSite enables automatic downloads and stores videos directly to devices based on user preferences, allowing fans the ability to view NASCAR.com video content offline without an Internet connection.
The Olympic Channel announced that the platform is now available in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Latin American Spanish in addition to English. The launch of the six additional languages on the Olympic Channel represents the first non-English languages to be added to the global digital platform. “This is a great way to reach more people around the world and to tell the great Olympic stories in a way that connects directly to them,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “The launch of the Olympic Channel platform in multiple languages ensures that more fans around the world will be able to discover and explore stories that will help them to connect with their favourite sports and athletes in their own language.”
Minute Media, parent company of 90min and 12up, announced the closing of a $15 million investment round, bringing its total funding since inception to $60 million. The proceeds will serve to power Minute Media’s expansion into “key global markets ahead of the 2018 World Cup, the introduction of several new sports brands, and continue to expand editorial and commercial teams across the company’s global operations.” The round was led by Qumra Capital, an Israeli late-stage venture fund, and joined by Minute Media’s existing investors Battery Ventures, Dawn Capital and ProSieben.
TuneIn’s plans for NBA All-Star 2017 are set to include a mix of original shows, NBA TV simulcast content and live play-by-play of the NBA All-Star Game to fans around the globe. The company will debut two new originally-produced live audio shows that will join the programming lineup on its "NBA on TuneIn" station with special All-Star editions of NBA on TuneIn LIVE and Two Man Weave. 

Saturday saw the men’s lacrosse matchup of Loyola Maryland/University of Virginia become the first NCAA men’s lacrosse game ever streamed live on Twitter. The steam resulted in the most watched Campus Insiders game on Twitter of all-time, with over 680,000 unique viewers, besting all of the college football and basketball games Campus Insiders & Twitter have live streamed this past season.

An ownership group led by Alliance Baseball completed its purchase of Baseball America from TEN: The Enthusiast Network. “We’re excited to take ownership of one of the great baseball media brands,” Green said. “No other outlet covers the sport so thoroughly and definitively as Baseball America. The talented staff gives readers everything they could want about the players they know and the ones they should. We can’t wait to help take the operation to the next level.”


In this week’s edition of Cynopsis eSports & Gaming
·       DreamHack eyes new opportunities as it prepares for Las Vegas
·       GINX eSportsTV hits North American
·       Nielsen dissects the esports fan
·       Cynopsis World eSports Summit launches Bruin Battles to lift industry growth
·       PewDiePie’s recent bites
·       Twitch’s Community endeavors
·       ESA serves up jobs report


Alliance MMA named Iron Tiger Fight Series General Manager Scott Sheeley to serve as Director, Emerging Markets for the  ompany.  In this new role, Sheeley will capitalize on his off-shore experience and personal network to help Alliance MMA generate additional revenue streams outside of the United States.


Celtics/Bulls on TNT at 8p.


The best content is so good viewers aren’t just happy to view it – they want to share it. But how do you create the kind of seamless experience that both engages audiences and gives brands meaningful, monetize–able exposure? On 2/28 experts from BEN and Discovery Communications will offer case studies and insights into the kinds of creative, innovative experiences you need to bring to the table to appeal to both your audience and brands.
Sign your team up today!

ON THIS DAY in 1984: Bill Johnson becomes the first American to win Olympic downhill skiing gold.

In The Know: Which NBA legend has the most All-Star appearances, clocking in at 18? (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 the youngest player to play in the NBA All-Star Game? Answer: Kobe Bryant at 19. Kudos: Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Ethan J. Tyer-CBS Sports Network/NY; Cameron Haberberger-SUNY Jamestown Community College/NY; Barry Solomon-Retailability Inc./NY; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; John Langermann-WINK-TV/WXCW-TV/Fort Myers; Brad Brown-Nevco, Inc./St. Louis; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Ryan Rabe-Comcast Spotlight/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Anne Wettig-Fox Cable Networks/LA; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills; Don Surath-KPIX-TV/KBCW-TV/San Francisco.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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