02/16/18: FOX Sports locked in production upgrades for the Daytona 500

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Good morning. It’s Friday February 16, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

FOX Sports paved its road for the upcoming Daytona 500, mapping out production details for its coverage of Sunday’s race, which will run at 2:30p on FOX. This year will see the addition of aerial drone coverage as well as a record number of in-car cameras for the event with 14 in the cards. In addition, Visor Cam, a small camera clipped to the helmet of a selected driver, will return, with Kurt Busch and Daniel Suarez donning Visor Cams for Sunday’s race. Other production enhancements include an improved 3D-cutaway car, camera-tracking technologies to provide FOX Sports the ability to place 3D-graphics in the real environment by combining with VIZRT for the graphic rendering, and FOX’s Gopher Cam.
Meanwhile, FOX Sports is lining up a sequel for its “Driver’s Only” race telecast, which this year will take place live on FOX on April 28 from Talladega Superspeedway. Drivers will include Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as well as newcomers Brad Keselowski and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. Harvick again has the call alongside analysts Bowyer and Logano. 

With headlines dominated by the mass shooting in Florida, NBC Olympics’ saw coverage of the PyeongChang Olympics dip from Sochi numbers, delivering an average of 19.2 million viewers on Wednesday, according to live plus same day officially data from Nielsen, and digital data from Adobe Analytics. In addition, eight days into the PyeongChang Olympics, NBC Sports Digital has streamed 862 million live minutes of coverage – more than doubling the 420 million live streaming minutes for the full 2014 Sochi Olympics, with an average minute audience of 237,000 for Wednesday night’s coverage. 
Ahead of NBA All-Star festivities, Turner Sports announced that NBA on TNT’s live game coverage this season is delivering the net’s most viewed season-to-date viewership since 2013-14 with an average of 1.9 million viewers through 44 telecasts. That is up 20% over last year with double-digit growth across all key demos – People 18-34 (+20%), People 18-49 (+23), People 25-54 (+26%), Men 18-34 (+18%), Men 18-49 (+24%) and Men 25-54 (+31%) – when compared to last season. Meanwhile, NBA TV continues to deliver its most-watched live game telecasts ever, averaging 354,000 viewers, up 20% over last year’s comparable coverage.
Turner and the NBA announced today that the 2018 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT will air live on June 25 at 9p from Barker Hangar in Santa Monica with honors that include the unveiling of the Kia NBA MVP, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kia NBA Rookie of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award, and more. The second annual NBA Awards on TNT will once again feature current and former NBA players, coaches, musical performances and celebrity presenters throughout the evening. Additionally, the Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal will be integrated throughout the show.
For the first time, MLB Network’s Top 100 Players Right Now! series wraps up live tonight, with the top-10 players being unveiled at 10p. MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger, Ron Darling and Bill Ripken will count down and analyze the top-10 players, plus MLB Network will create exclusive bonus content via its social media platforms, including recap segments and incorporating fan feedback in the episode.
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Univision detailed plans for the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League tournament with play beginning Feb. 20. Univision Deportes will broadcast the games on UDN, Univision Deportes Radio, and its digital platforms, featuring Univision Deportes’ team of sportscasters that includes: Pavel Pardo, Enrique Bermudez, Ivan Zamorano, Ramses Sandoval, Jose Luis Lopez Salido, Diego Balado, Xavier Sol, and others. The first match kicks off Tuesday at 8p live on UDN, with Costa Rica’s CS Herediano squaring off against Mexico’s reigning champion Tigres UANL.
Poker Central and ESPN released their preliminary live coverage schedule for the World Series of Poker Main Event, which will air start to finish everyday coverage from July 2-14. On top of its daily WSOP Main Event coverage, ESPN will broadcast the “Big One for One Drop” July 16-17 – a $1,000,000 buy-in tournament that takes place every other year. In addition, PokerGO will offer exclusive WSOP Main Event coverage that is not broadcast during ESPN. Overall, ESPN will telecast at least 40 hours of live WSOP coverage, plus an additional 130 hours of originally produced episodes.
BTN unveiled its 2018 coverage of Big Ten men’s and women’s lacrosse, lining up plans to carry at least 28 games, including six postseason matchups, and stream approximately 30 other games on BTN Plus. Men’s television coverage begins on Feb. 17 with Stony Brook/Penn State at 2p. Women’s lacrosse coverage on BTN starts March 14, with Drexel/Penn State. Leading BTN’s coverage is a group of analysts that includes Mark Dixon and Sheehan Stanwick Burch along with play-by-play announcers Joe Beninati, Dean Linke and Jason Knapp.
Monster Jam is taking its Monster Jam World Finals to a rotating lineup of venues for its annual competition beginning with MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ in May of 2019, following a 19-year run in Las Vegas. The Monster Jam All-Star Challenge will still be held annually in Las Vegas. “Monster Jam World Finals is a marquee event for the sport, serving as the destination for our top athletes and most dedicated fans for a weekend of larger-than-life, adrenaline-pumping action,” said Juliette Feld, Chief Operating Officer of Feld Entertainment. “As we approach the 20th year of this competition, we’re excited to bring the action to more fans and cities around the world, adding a new dynamic to the overall experience much like other annual premier sporting events. As the home to many firsts for the franchise, Las Vegas will always be an important city and we are eager to bring the new Monster Jam All-Star Challenge to fans.”
FOX Sports is reporting that – courtesy of a successful season capped by a Stanley Cup Final appearance by the Nashville Predators – both viewership and attendance for their games have spiked during the 2017-18 season. Games televised on FOX Sports Tennessee are delivering triple-digit growth versus the 2016-17 season in the Nashville DMA, with an average household rating of 1.9, up 142% through Feb. 3 across 43 games on the network. Meanwhile, predators games streamed on FOX Sports GO have also seen significant growth over the same time period versus last season with average minutes streamed per game up 562%, unique streamers per game up 374%, and total streams per game up 347%.
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Nielsen released its Year in Sports Media 2017 report, with the usual roundup of goodies and informational nuggets for those of us in the space. Among the data found in the report, Nielsen reports that sponsorship across the “Big Four” leagues, PGA Tour, NASCAR and INDYCAR accounted for $7.35 billion in QI Media Value in 2017, marking a $54 million increase over the last year with banking, financial services and healthcare collectively averaging 8% growth per year over the last three years. In addition, the report states that if the US Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey and gives individual states a say in sports betting, the category will become a major new advertising and sponsorship category for the leagues and networks. Using the ad/sponsorship spend by sports betting companies in the UK and Australia where sports betting is legal, Nielsen projects that the category will generate over $2.6 billion for US-based leagues, teams and media companies if the majority of states pass sports betting legislation. The full report may be downloaded here.

LiveLike announced a $9.6 million Series B round, featuring new investors that include Greycroft Partners and Lepe Partners. The Series B investors will join existing backers including David Stern, Commissioner Emeritus of the National Basketball Association, Evolution Media, Courtside Ventures, Elysian Park, Dentsu Ventures, and the GC VR Gaming Tracker Fund. “LiveLike has been successful because we have built a platform that connects with younger generations seeking a more non-traditional experience,” said Andre Lorenceau, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LiveLike. “Thanks to our investors, we are now in a position to hire for key positions and continue delivering a premier next-generation sports OTT platform.”
USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Mars Reel, a leading provider of premium coverage of the top athletes and teams in high school basketball, have formed a content distribution partnership which includes USA TODAY High School Sports’ online and social platforms, reaching a combined audience of 60 million annually. “Our high school sports sector has grown exponentially over the past year and with partners like Mars Reel, we will leverage differentiated highlights and create unique branded video content for our voracious high school basketball fans,” said Chris Pirrone, General Manager, USA TODAY Sports.

Overwatch Contenders are locked and loaded for 2018, with this year’s lineup set to include leagues operating in North America, Europe, South Korea, China, the Pacific region, Australia, and South America, according to Blizzard. Competition begins March 11. There will be three Overwatch Contenders seasons during 2018, with a total prize pool of more than $3 million to be won worldwide.
Ahead of showcasing the Orlando Open for the first of six HCS World Championship tournaments this year, Twitter reports that 2017 saw more than 218 million tweets about gaming globally. Rishi Chadha, head of gaming content partnerships at Twitter, published a blog post about the sector, stating that there were 218 million gaming Tweets in 2017,
The PAX brand is going French, announcing a new gaming festival as part of the PAX brand: PLAY Paris Powered by PAX. The event will be held at the Grande Halle de la Villette on April 21-22, designed to “give a voice to the French gaming community by bringing them together in the one convention that celebrates video games, PC games, and tabletop games.” Esports tournaments will include the world finals of StarCraft II (Nation Wars V), exclusive panels and ceremonies including the Retrogaming Awards & The Indies Conference, as well as live concerts featuring The Toxic Avenger and the Neko Light Orchestra.

Alliance MMA named Ira S. Rainess as President of the company, effective immediately. “This is a remarkable opportunity to develop the Alliance MMA brand, while honing the Company’s operations in our efforts to attain profitability,” said Rainess. “Our talented team of promoters at Alliance is committed to producing exciting, high-profile MMA events, and I look forward to helping them succeed at the highest level.”  

Good golly, this weekend is too tough to pick a side. We have nightly primetime Olympics coverage on NBC, Sunday sees the Daytona 500 at 2:30p on FOX as well as TNT hosting the NBA All-Star Game at 8p.

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ON THIS DAY in 1985: The Devils score a hat trick in 42 seconds.
In the Know: Who holds the record as the youngest winner of the Daytona 500? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Name someone on FOX Sports current NFL broadcast team who was once the very first pick of the NFL draft. Answer: Troy Aikman/Terry Bradshaw. Kudos: Kyle Helm-CBS/NY; Tim Gardner-Endeavor/NY; Greg Conner-Tennis Channel/NY; Rick Ramage-United Talent Agency/NY; Michael Narracci-NESN/ Watertown; Jonny Codalata-CSM Sport & Entertainment/Zionsville; Peter Lasser-Lasser Productions/Atlanta; Rich Dubroff-PressBoxonline.com/Baltimore; Ron Salcedo-Zimmerman/Nashville; Lance Davis-ESPN/Milwaukee; Kyle Krebs-KXAS-TV/Ft Worth- Dallas; Tom Doherty-Starcom Media/Chicago; Matthew Shapiro-AT&T SportsNet/Denver; Willie Price- American Forces Network/Riverside; Jacob Ullman-FOX Sports/LA; Jim Bernard-VER/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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JOB OPENING: COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR/PAC-12/SF: In this critical role, you will drive corporate communications, executive communications and internal/stakeholder communications efforts for the Pac-12 Networks. Min 10 yrs exp in strategic communications, including corp comm. Full posting/apply HERE (2/23)

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