02/28/17: Daytona drives FOX; FIBA’s swoosh; MLG snags UFC Chief


Good morning. It’s Tuesday February 28, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NASCAR’s opening act this season in the Daytona 500 proved to be an all-round win. A last-lap pass for the win by Kurt Busch in the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on FOX delivered an average audience of 12 million across FOX platforms with 23.3 million viewers tuning in for all or part of the event. The race averaged 11.922 million viewers on FOX, up 5% over 2016’s average audience of 11.357 million with a 6.6/15 HH rating. The rating also saw demo gains, with upticks among M18-34, M18-49, M25-54 as well as A18-34, A18-49 and A25-54. In local news, Greensboro topped ratings with a 17.5/31, followed by Greenville, (16.5/28), Indianapolis (14.4/26), Knoxville (12.7/22) and Jacksonville (12.4/22). Meanwhile, FOX Sports GO delivered an average minute audience of 39,832, up +99% over last year.


In other ratings news, NBC Sports’ primetime presentation of the 2017 NHL Stadium Series on Saturday on NBC ranked as the most-watched NHL regular-season game in three years, excluding Winter Classics, according to Nielsen. The Penguins’ win averaged 1.917 million viewers, up 13% over last season’s primetime NHL Stadium Series matchup and was the most-watched regular-season non-Winter Classic game since the 2013-14 season, delivering a 1.12 household rating.

Meanwhile, Monday headlines saw a report that ESPN is secretly wooing FS1 star Katie Nolan to the company, according to The Sporting News. The report states that ESPN’s John Skipper, Connor Schell and producer Erik Rydhom held exploratory talks with the Emmy-winning star of "Garbage Time” with possibilities that include teaming her with "Mike & Mike in the Morning" co-host Mike Greenberg for a national show.

NBCSN is in line for an upgrade from DIRECTV, getting a new distribution tier from the company, according to SBJ. The shift will bump the channel’s distribution from 82 million homes to around 85 million homes.

Finally, CNN reports that Manny Pacquiao lined up a date for this next fight, squaring off against Amir Khan on April 23. It remains unknown where the bout will take place.
In other news, ESPN added the Cavaliers/Hawks game to its Friday, March 3 telecast schedule at 7p. Mark Jones, analyst Doris Burke and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth will handle microphone duties.

With the NHL trade deadline on Wednesday at 3p, NHL Network lined up 12 hours of live programming, beginning with a simulcast of Sportsnet’s Hockey Central Trade Deadline coverage beginning at 8a, offering live reports and analysis remotely from NHL Network’s E.J. Hradek, Brian Lawton, Tony Luftman, Steve Mears and Kevin Weekes. Following the deadline, NHL Tonight will continue its live coverage at 4p. 


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FIBA is adding a swoosh to its gameplay, with the International Basketball Federation announcing a deal with Nike for an 11-year commercial agreement covering FIBA’s Senior Men’s, Women’s and Youths’ flagship national team competitions. Nike will benefit from long-term global marketing rights related to the major FIBA national team competitions while FIBA’s ambitions to grow the game will be supported by Nike contributions in the areas of promotion, marketing communication and the engagement of top players and ambassadors. The first phase will see related activities focus on the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China. The agreement also sees Nike become the title partner for FIBA’s World Rankings – one of the most visited sections on FIBA.com, with countries ranked based on the performances of their national teams – renaming it Nike FIBA World Rankings.

Global insurance company Allianz signed on as a sponsor for Formula E in a deal that will see the German company become title sponsor of the series’ eVillage fan park.Allianz logos will now be shown on Formula E show cars, throughout the eVillage and on the Roborace cars.


Sports columnist William C. “Bill” Rhoden, formerly of The New York Times, is heading to The Undefeated where he will serve as a columnist and editor-at-large for the ESPN initiative. He will also establish the Rhoden Fellows, a sports journalism internship program that will identify and train aspiring African American journalists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Discovery Communications locked in an investment in Play Sports Group, a digital sports media company that owns cycling brands Global Cycling Network and Global Mountain Bike Network. Discovery’s stake will by 20% although financial terms weren’t disclosed.


Big executive moves in the esports world. Major League Gaming tapped former UFC Chief Content Officer Marshall Zelaznick as its new global head of business development. At MLG.tv, Zelaznik will oversee maximizing the revenue opportunities around the distribution of MLG and Activision Blizzard’s eSports content, building and executing on the growth strategy for MLG’s proprietary content distribution platforms. Projects on Zelaznik’s plate currently include the Call of Duty World League as well as Activision Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch League.

Meanwhile, Electronic Arts Chief Competition Officer Peter Moore is ending his long run at the company to become CEO of England’s Liverpool Football Club. Moore will oversee the business operations of the Premier League soccer team, and will report directly to the Fenway Sports Group that owns the club.

The Capcom Pro Tour 2017 unveiled its plans for the season, dangling $600,000 in prize money and making changes to the tour to help streamline the Capcom Cup qualification process. As in previous years, Capcom Cup will feature 32 of Street Fighter players from around the world, with previous champions auto-qualifying for the tournament but will still having to compete throughout the year for top seed at the finals. The tournament structure has been streamlined this year, with the Top 30 on the global leaderboards qualifying for the Capcom Cup. The tour will also launch a point system based on event results, with more points allocated to larger events.


Warriors/Wizards on NBA TV at 7p.


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ON THIS DAY in 2010: The 21st Winter Olympic Games close at Vancouver.

In The Know: In which country were the first Winter Olympic Games held? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which MLB team makes its Spring Training home at Disney World’s Champion Stadium? Answer: Atlanta Braves. Kudos: Christopher Long-Draftkings/NY; Bart Dinardo-Home Team Sports/NY; Steven Gold-The Nielsen Company/NY; Brian Krasik-WME/IMG/NY; Mark Lehman-Atlanta Braves/Atlanta; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Willy Gibson-WTG Consulting/Columbus; Jonathan Norman-Bespoke Sports & Entertainment/Charlotte; Joe Lyons-SOS Global/Dallas; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
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