02/19/16: MLBAM plays the field; Bellator adds a contender; FOX Sports cooks up new Daytona promotion


Good morning. It’s Friday February 19, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

MLBAM is beefing up to enter a new weight class as a sports behemoth. The company is looking to snatch media rights to more sports properties for a new service as it looks toward the future. Bob Bowman, President and CEO of MLB Advanced Media, told the crowd at the Code/Media conference that the company is in discussions to raise money to bid on more rights, noting, “You just go where the people are,” he said. “If the consumers are on their mobile devices and that’s where they’re spending 90% of their connectivity on a mobile device, it’s not hard to figure out that’s where you got to be.” He told the crowd that MLBAM currently generates revenue of about $1.2-$1.3 billion per year, with the bulk of it still coming from baseball.


Bellator MMA is looking to expand its portfolio with the launch of Bellator Kickboxing this April via the promotion’s partnership with Spike. The new brand will showcase the likes of Joe Schilling, Raymond Daniels, Kevin Ross, Keri Melendez and Anastasia Yankova with the current Bellator MMA team overseeing the new league. The first event for Bellator Kickboxing will be a co-promoted show with Bellator MMA and Oktagon Kickboxing on April 16 at the Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy.

The new college basketball postseason tournament, the Vegas 16, found its TV home, locking in a multi-platform agreement with CBS Sports for coverage of this year’s inaugural tournament on CBS Sports Network. Meanwhile, the College Sports Live digital streaming service will offer games as well. Overall, CBS Sports Network will televise seven games beginning March 28, including the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game, while College Sports Live and Vegas16.com will live stream eight first-round games.
ESPN reports that its NBA regular season first-half viewership is on the rise, up 7% over last season’s Nielsen numbers with an average of 1,727,000 viewers and a 1.1 U.S. household rating. Meanwhile, through six games, ABC’s NBA games are averaging 5,056,000 viewers and a 2.9 rating, which includes two games in the new NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC series with overall viewership up 7%. In addition, through 56 games, WatchESPN has averaged 143,500 unique viewers per game and an average minute audience of 38,000, up 69% and 80% respectively.

ESPN locked in Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowl defensive back Charles Woodson to serve as an NFL analyst for the company where he will be part of Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown. He will also pop in on other ESPN studio shows and platforms with an expected debut in July.

The FIFA President Election will see ESPN offer weeklong coverage, programming daily Outside the Lines shows hosted by Bob Ley, with live reports from Zurich throughout the week. Coverage begins on Sunday at 8p with E:60 Reports documentary on former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, while ESPN FC will air special editions previewing the FIFA elections starting Feb. 23 on ESPN2 at 5p. On Feb. 26, SportsCenter offers live reports of the proceedings at the emergency FIFA Congress in Zurich when the new FIFA president is elected. 

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will honor Verne Lundquist, CBS Sports’ lead play-by-play announcer for college football and broadcaster of more than twenty different sports, as its Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports at the 37th annual Sports Emmy Awards on May 10. “Verne Lundquist is one of the most iconic voices in sports television,” said Bob Mauro, President, NATAS. “He has delivered some of the most memorable calls, from ‘Yes Sir’ to an ‘Answered Prayer.’ From his days with the Dallas Cowboys, through many a Masters Golf Tournament to Olympic figure-skating competitions not to mention numerous NFL and College football games, Verne’s educated, entertaining and insightful look into the world of sports has been a treat for all viewers.”

Sunday’s telecast of FS1 UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs. Cowboy will see Jon Anik and Brian Stann call the showdown on FS1 live from Pittsburgh, while Victor Davila and UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum make the call in Spanish on FOX Deportes. Meanwhile, Tyron Woodley and Kenny Florian have been tapped as analysts alongside host Jay Glazer in the FOX Sports Los Angeles studios.

Correction: A type misspelled Zebra Technologies in yesterday’s edition. We apologize for the error.


[CYNOPSIS SPORTS WEBINAR] Virtual Reality: How to Get in the Game
Wednesday, February 24 – 1:30PM to 3:00PM ET
Learn how to leverage your sports content to connect with fans and more!

Derek Belch, Founder/CEO – STRIVR Labs Inc.
Michael Davies, SVP of Field & Technical Ops – Fox Sports
Andre Lorenceau, Founder & CEO – LiveLike VR
Jeff Miller, Director of Digital Marketing – Gatorade



Just in time for Daytona, FOX Sports is cooking up a new promotion with Meredith Corporation and Allrecipes.com to launch a food-focused social community dedicated to NASCAR fans. The page launches this weekend timed with Sunday’s Daytona 500 and offers “new and exciting content, along with recipes, videos and entertaining tips to NASCAR fans by creating a personalized user experience on Allrecipes.com.” The site will promote FOX NASCAR coverage and encourage the sport’s community of followers to tune-in and watch the events live while FOX Sports will drive viewers to the site for inspiration to prepare their own viewing parties at home, which will feature race day party menus.

Meanwhile, FOX Sports is turning the parking ticket to its advantage, with its “NASCAR in Boots” promotion which runs through today. FOX arranged for the No. 18 M&M’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car of defending champion Kyle Busch to be parked in Columbus Circle where it has gradually collected parking tickets and the parking enforcement boot. This morning, a graphic will be added to the vehicle reading #DaytonaDay and the car will be loaded on a tow truck and driven throughout Manhattan.

Continuing the theme of Daytona activation, Chevrolet and Daytona International Speedway announced a new delivery experience at the venue as an extra cost option that will be available later this year through U.S. Chevrolet dealers on select new vehicle orders. Customers who order the option will receive a tour of Daytona International Speedway, as well as an on-track experience, a keepsake and authentication that the vehicle was delivered and driven at the Speedway.

The 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series announced that Sunday’s game will feature a performance from Cheap Trick, Soul Asylum, Jazmine Sullivan and the University of Minnesota marching band. The game also will include a special tribute to hockey in Minnesota, featuring current and former members of the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota North Stars.

The ACC Network is launching the 2016 All-ACC Fan Vote with Havoline on board as a partner. The free promotion gives fans a chance to choose their own First and Second Team All-ACC selections, with results announced during the ACC Network telecast of the 2016 New York Life ACC Tournament Championship game on March 13. In addition, the Havoline Basketball Sweeps offering fans a shot at a VIP trip to the 2016 New York Life ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Washington DC.


WWE unleashed an overhauled WWE.com, offering “the most immersive and personalized experience the site has ever featured, and a functional design across devices that optimizes content for fans anytime and anywhere.” New features a slate of site designs and experiences that change depending on the time of day and day of week; a video experience that puts video first and nearly everywhere and the launch of English, Spanish and German language sites as well as as upgraded social sharing and commenting features. “WWE has always been at the forefront of embracing new technology, and the all-new WWE.com will allow us to better serve our fans by providing them with compelling content anytime, anywhere on the platform of their choice,” said Rajan Mehta, WWE Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer. “With locally relevant content, WWE.com will enhance the experience for our fans around the world.”

Crain’s Chicago Business reports that 120 Sports is slimming down and cutting 15-20% of its staff this week. The platform will also reduce live programming, eliminating its midday show. According to the report, most of the staff cuts were in production.

Don’t miss out on the likes of STRIVR Labs Founder/CEO Derek Belch, FOX Sports SVP of Field & Technical Ops Michael Davies, Gatorade’s Director of Digital Marketing Jeff Miller and LiveLike VR Founder/CEO Andre Lorenceau as Cynopsis Sports presents our latest webinar about the future of VR and Sports on Feb. 24. Hear from the drivers who are changing the game by registering here.

NESN.com unveiled NESN Fuel, a new digital property spotlighting automotive content. The platform will feature information on auto racing, consumer news and tips, as well as a look at car culture and entertainment. “The national success and growth of NESN.com has given us confidence to expand our digital portfolio and expertise,” said Sean McGrail, NESN’s President and CEO. “We hope this site will be a one-stop destination for car enthusiasts, hobbyists and race fans.”
SendtoNews reports that it set a new digital record in Canada for the Super Bowl. The network saw over 23.1 MM views in the country for a 168% markup over 2015 spanning Feb. 1-8.


Daytona 500 at 1p on Sunday on FOX.


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ON THIS DAY in 2002: Vonetta Flowers becomes the first black athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, joining Jill Bakken to take first in their bobsledding event.

In The Know: What was the name of Tom Cruise’s character in Days of Thunder? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: How many members of a NASCAR pit crew are allowed over the wall at one time? Answer: Six to work on the car while a seventh may be allowed to service the driver. We’ll take both answers. Kudos: Aymon DeMauro-Discovery Communications/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Brad Stern-POM Technologies/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Clark Haptonstall-Rice University/Houston; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Chris Hartweg-Wunderman/Chicago; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Doug Kelly-Foster Farms Bowl/South San Francisco.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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