03/04/16: ELeague names its Generals; NASCAR gets Allegiant; Microsoft feels the Madness


Road To The Final Four
Men’s College Basketball Conference Tournaments

Missouri Valley Tomorrow 3:30 & 6:00 ET
Patriot League Sunday & Wednesday
Mountain West Thursday & Friday
Conference USA Friday
Atlantic 10 Saturday

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Good morning. It’s Friday March 4, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Turner Sports and WME | IMG have their faces to the upcoming launch of ELeague. The eSports competition will see Min-Sik Ko serve as Commissioner of the organization while Christina Alejandre becomes Vice President and General Manager. The pair will lead the development and strategy of the league, which debuts in May. Specifically, Alejandre will be responsible for business operations, content and program strategy, as well as the pursuit of new eSports opportunities, while Ko will provide administrative leadership within the league, directing team, business and eSports relations and managing the continued development and implementation. Ko previously served as an agent in charge of the gaming and eSports department at WME | IMG following the acquisition of Global eSports Management. Alejandre most recently served as a consultant for Electronic Sports League where she identified and developed the core elements to establish the company’s long-term growth in North America. 


Let’s open with some March Madness news. FOX Sports will showcase five conference championship games across FOX and FS1 over the next week, including the Big East men’s and women’s, Pac-12 and Conference USA men’s and Big 12 women’s conference tournaments starting today and running through March 12. The Big East championship returns to broadcast television for the first time in 20 years on March 12 at 5:30p on FOX, while first-round, quarterfinal and semifinal games run on FS1. Three Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament contests will be seen on FS1, including the final quarterfinal matchup, Friday’s second semifinal and Saturday’s championship. FS1 and FS2 deliver the Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament starting with the quarterfinals, while the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, will see games on FOX College Sports (first-round), FOX Sports Regional Networks (quarterfinals) and FS1 (semifinals and final) starting today and running through Monday.

Meanwhile, CBS Sports Network unveiled championship week plans with “Bracket Week presented by Kubota,” featuring men’s and women’s action from the Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Missouri Valley, Mountain West and Patriot League tournaments. Play opens on Saturday at 3:30p with the Missouri Valley Men’s Semifinals and includes the Patriot League Men’s Semifinals on Sunday and Championship on March 9. The next day, the Mountain West gets the spotlight with quarterfinal action starting at 3p, while the Conference USA Men’s Semifinals begin March 11 at 4p. The Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Semifinals tips off March 12 at 1:30p.

NBCSN will carry the CAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday at 1p with Game 1 of the semifinals and continues Sunday at 3:30p with Game 2. Monday night will see the network offer the Championship Game at 7p. Mike Corey handles play-by-play for all CAA Championship games on NBCSN, and will be joined by analyst Ron Thompson. In addition, NBCSN will present second-round and Quarterfinals coverage of the A-10 Men’s Basketball Championship beginning on March 10.

Speaking of NBCSN, the network saw Wednesday’s Blackhawks/Red Wings battle drum up an average of 848,000 viewers for the rivalry game, marking the network’s most-watched regular-season outing since 2013 (not counting opening night action). That was up 42% over the average Wednesday Night Rivalry viewership for the first quarter of 2015. Chicago led all local markets with a 5.4 rating for the Blackhawks’ win, with Detroit scoring a 3.0.

ESPN takes the mound for this season’s lineup of Division I College Baseball coverage, announcing plans that will include more than 900 games throughout the 2016 season across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, ESPN3 and SEC Network +. The slate includes the American, ACC, Atlantic Sun, Big South, Horizon League, Missouri Valley, SEC, Southern, Southland, Sun Belt and SWAC Championship games. ESPNU opens the season on March 19 with Louisville/Miami, and feature ACC Mondays, SEC Thursdays throughout the season.

Save the dates! Cynopsis Sports will hold its Sports Business Summit and Hall of Fame on June 22 while our eSports and Gaming Summit will take place on June 23 in NY.

USA Gymnastics is returning to Prudential Center for the 2017 American Cup, scheduled for March 4, 2017, with this year’s event also set at the venue on March 5. The decision marks only the second time since 2002 that the American Cup will be held at the same arena in consecutive years.

India’s largest digital network Times Internet reached an agreement to pick up Willow TV International, the leading cricket broadcaster in the US. This is the first international acquisition by Times Internet, and the first US acquisition for The Times of India Group, India’s largest media company. Willow will exclusively live broadcast and stream the ICC World Twenty20 tournament to US audiences when the matches kick off on March 8. 

ONE Championship in opening the doors to Thailand, announcing that fight fans in Bangkok will be able to attend ONE Kingdom of Champions in the country on May 27. The promotion’s first-ever event in the country will be headlined by reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke.

Stateside, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association will see its women’s title contest carries by FOX Sports North in a new deal. The channel will offer a live telecast of the conference title contest at 2p CT game Sunday and also be shown live on the FOX Sports Wisconsin alternate channel, ensuring coverage throughout much of the WCHA’s footprint. Jack Swanson and Natalie Darwitz are on microphone duties.


NewFronts Coverage

Digital advertising used to be just a small part of the Upfront season. Now, there are multiple digital publishers & nets all vying for a piece of the digital ad rev pie. Get your message heard with the help of Cynopsis through:
-Daily highlights in Cynopsis Digital
-Pre & Post-NewFronts Reports (5/3 & 5/16)
-“Backstage at the Upfronts” Reports
-“Upfront With” Reports: deep dives into 1 publisher/network’s positioning
-Dedicated webpage w/news, press releases & photos
For advertising info, contact Mike Farina.


NASCAR locked in its first-ever “Official Passenger Airline Partner” with a multi-year deal with Allegiant Air. Allegiant will also serve as the presenting sponsor of NASCAR Goes West on NASCAR.com and joins the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council, which brings together an exclusive group of nearly 60 Official NASCAR Partners four times per year to buy and sell products and services from one another.

Cricket Wireless is teaming with WWE in a multi-year deal that will see Cricket beef up visibility and consumer engagement at WWE’s top events of the year, including WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Royal Rumble and Payback. The deal sees the mobile brand sponsor WWE Network while WWE will also utilize its platforms to generate awareness and exposure for Cricket Wireless. John Cena will serve as a Cricket brand ambassador and promote the sponsorship through social and digital media.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment is tapping Lyft to become the first official rideshare partner of the Washington Capitals, Mystics, Wizards and Verizon Center. As part of the partnership, central pick-up and drop-off locations will be defined around Verizon Center to provide easy access for transportation to and from the arena. Lyft will also receive various experiential, sweepstakes and concourse tabling opportunities during games at the venue.
The LA Galaxy inked a deal with Southern New Hampshire University to expand educational opportunities for players, students and the greater LA community. The partnership will allow LA Galaxy players to pursue their education, while continuing their careers as professional soccer players, and SNHU students will have access to internship opportunities with the team. SNHU and the LA Galaxy will also work together in the creation of a Science of Soccer curriculum, designed to teach science principles through the lens of soccer.

LEGACY Global Sports is partnering with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village to draw up events, camps and leagues to the new national youth sports complex that will be a key component of the $500 million development of the Hall’s campus. “Hall of Fame Village will be a top destination for athletes participating not only in football but lacrosse, soccer and other field based sporting events,” LEGACY Global Sports President John St. Pierre shared. “Our company looks forward to attracting athletes from around the world who will come to Canton to compete at a place that espouses excellence.”


Microsoft is once again partnering with the NCAA in a deal that will see Bing create the NCAA March Madness bracket experience. The initiative will see Bing Predicts’ intelligent machine learning technology analyze social signals and use NCAA statistical data to help fans build “a smarter bracket,” offering intelligent match-up predictions, analysis and additional features. Bing’s smarter bracket will be available on all devices after Selection Sunday, March 13 on Bing.com. In addition, the NCAA built a universal app for Windows 10 to allow fans everywhere to experience the tournament anywhere.

Soccer brand FourFourTwo launched its new US site, marking Haymarket Media Group’s first consumer launch in the States. The platform went love last week with a digital preview for the new MLS season which starts on March 6th. The league will also serve as a new addition to FourFourTwo’s Stats Zone app for its 2016 season.


The MLS season gets underway on Sunday, including Portland/Columbus on ESPN at 4:30p, Seattle/Kansas City on FS1 at 7p and LA/DC on UniMas at 10p.




ON THIS DAY in 1995: George Foreman is stripped of his WBA Championship belt after declining to fight top contender Tony Tucker.

In The Know: Who played Angels manager George Knox in the movie Angels in the Outfield? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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