03/20/17: Eleven Sports books US voyage; NCAA Tournament opens on a run; Team USA drives WBC score


Good morning. It’s Monday March 20, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The entry of Eleven Sports into the US television market a week ago marks the latest strategic acquisition for the growing sports media entity. Last week’s announcement that the global broadcaster picked up certain distribution assets stateside from ONE World Sports now brings the company to 50 million homes across the US, where it will  according to the company  “build a strong portfolio of rights in the US from sports including cycling, ice hockey, basketball, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, cricket, drone racing and other millennial-focused sports.”

With distribution in hand, Cynopsis Sports spoke with Anthony Bailey, Senior Vice President of Aser Media about the deal and what fans can expect moving forward.

Bailey on targeting the US market: We’ve been looking at the US for over a year and we had a plan to come into the market on our own. Then ONE World Sports approached us and we looked at them as a business and we decided we didn’t want to buy their business for various reasons but we would be interested in buying their distribution agreements because those were the most valuable things for what we were trying to do. Our business is different form their business and we want to make our business different from what they’ve built, but their footprint was interesting and would jumpstart what we wanted to do, which would take years and a lot of money.

On changes: We are not here to compete with ESPN or FOX. We’re not going to take them on or overspend in rights. But we are going to be a 24-hour live sports network. We are actively signing rights deals and we are going to have a lot of global rights and we are also going to have a lot US events that Millennials in this country have been watching in various forms. So you are going to end up with a channel that has a lot of live events, no debate, and one that is going to give viewers an option to watch both niche and established sports. You are going to see it programmed very differently, meaning the era of the 30-minute show is done. You may see us put 11-minute content out there, because that is what people are consuming on the digital side. If we find good content and good content providers that we want to be tied with, we will program our network around them.

On the Eleven Sports brand: Eleven Sports’ worldwide strategy has been to go out and bring big rights to underserved markets. We’ve been very successful at that. Everywhere it is on, it has brought in a good group of premium rights and quickly shot up to become one of the most-watched sports networks in those territories. We are also going to bring smaller rights to the bigger markets, meaning niche sports and not take on the big boys in a bidding war. We’ll still have some football and basketball for some of the leagues that may be underserved.

On advertising: We are selling ads on the network and we are trying to do that differently too. We are going more for sponsorship/”own a night” instead of sponsorship-specific spots and dots. You can own a sports, own a night, we’ll build content around the advertiser. We’ve also hired a third-party company called Edge Media Sales, based in NY, who will be out representing us in the market.

On esports: E is a big part of our strategy. We are looking hard at esports, we are looking at sports that do well with the college crowd such as Ultimate Frisbee, rugby and  of course  esports. Esports has a very dedicated following and if done right, that following could make it a big homerun. But that is definitely one of the rights we will be announcing here soon.


The 2017 NCAA Tournament opened big for CBS and Turner Sports, as live game coverage across the networks, including the First Four and first Thursday games, averaged 7.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen, for an uptick of 5% over last year. Thursday’s game generated 8.2 million viewers, up 4 and ranks as the third most-watched first Thursday since 1991. Meanwhile, the NCAA First Four on truTV last week grossed 5.9 million viewers, up 12% over last year, ranking as the second most-viewed First Four coverage since the format was introduced in 2011. On the digital front, NCAA March Madness Live (scored an all-time record 31 million live streams through the first Thursday of the tournament, an increase of 26% over last year.

In other ratings news, Nielsen fast nationals show that Team USA’s win over Team Dominican Republic on Saturday in the World Baseball Classic handed MLB Network with 852,000 viewers on average, marking MLB Network’s best West Coast primetime game telecast ever. Overall, viewership for the 2017 World Baseball Classic is up 12% over the last tournament in 2013, and MLB Network is on pace to see its most-watched first quarter ever. The championship round begins today with Team USA next facing Japan on Tuesday night.

The NCAA locked in its 16 teams taking part in the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship along with broadcast info. Regional action begins March 24 with carriage across ESPNews, ESPNU and ESPN3/WatchESPN, beginning with Harvard/Providence on ESPNU at 4p. The Men’s Frozen Four will begin on April 6 on ESPN2 with the National Championship set for April 8 at 8p. 

The second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship wraps up today with eight matchups spanning ESPN2 and ESPNU. Coverage begins at 6:30p with several matchups on ESPN2, including Syracuse/UConn, Kansas State/Stanford, while Oregon/Duke tips off at 6:40p and Tennessee/Louisville begin at 6:45p.

Get you tickets here! Don’t miss out on the Cynopsis Sports Awards, our annual breakfast honoring the best media and marketing in sports, taking place on April 13 in NYC. Click here for tickets and a list of nominees and get ‘em before they sell out!

Univision serves up a pair of key CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifiers on Friday on UDN, Univision Network and UniMas with the evening’s first battle pitting Mexico/Costa Rica with coverage starting at 8p. US/Honduras than battle at 10:45p.

WWE is tapping platinum selling singer, songwriter, producer and entertainer Tinashe to perform “America the Beautiful” ahead of WrestleMania 33 on April 2, running live on WWE Network at 7p. “Tinashe joins the likes of renowned artists Ray Charles, John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Nicole Scherzinger, and most recently Fifth Harmony, who have opened WWE’s annual pop-culture extravaganza,” said Neil Lawi, Senior Vice President and General Manager, WWE Music Group. “Tinashe will continue this great tradition and we look forward to her performance at this year’s WrestleMania.”


Everything you need to know to join the eSports movement and succeed. Tickets are flying off the shelves. Register now for the East Coast’s premiere eSports Summit!
Thank you to our 2017 Sponsors/Partners: Go To Team, PromaxGAMES, Polygon, Bruin Sports Capital, theScore eSports, eSports Ad Bureau, rEvolution, rEvXP.


Boasting the likes of NFL Thursday Night Football games, eSports as well as content from other leagues, Twitter announced plans to participate for the first time in the Digital Content Newfronts, with its presentation taking place on May 1. Twitter will showcase new original content offerings and live programming to brands and agencies entering the 2017 upfront season. "We have made major investments in video over the past few years, and being able to present the breadth, depth and quality of that content at the Newfronts is the ultimate culmination of those efforts," said Matthew Derella, VP of Global Revenue & Operations at Twitter in a statement to media. "In 2017 and beyond, we are investing further in the video viewing experience, content development and collaborations, and video solutions for advertisers and we are excited to tell that story to the industry."

The Hertz Corporation will continue its run with the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, inking a four-year partnership agreement that will see Hertz serve as the Official Rental Car Sponsor of the PGA TOUR tournament. Hertz will also work with Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation, an organization founded by Arnold Palmer that supports children and families in need. "Our partnership with Hertz is one of our longest and most valuable," said Marci Doyle, COO of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. "We couldn’t be more pleased to extend our partnership and help further the important work of Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation." 

Manchester City became the first Premier League team to announce a shirt sleeve sponsor for the new season. announcing a deal with South Korean tire manufacturer Nexen Tire.

Ahead of the 35th America’s Cup this year, the organization named the Conquer Cancer Foundation is the “Official Cancer Charity” partner of the event in a move to fight cancer by funding breakthrough research, connecting physicians and patients to the latest information, and developing programs to improve the quality of and access to cancer care for patients around the world. “The America’s Cup competition is one of the most challenging sailing competitions in the world,” said Russell Coutts, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority. “However, the challenges of the race course in Bermuda are nothing like those of a cancer diagnosis. We are extremely proud to partner with Conquer Cancer Foundation to raise awareness and directly contribute to their vision of creating a world free from the fear of cancer.”


120 Sports announced that the 120 Spotlight will reair key MLB games from last season showcasing some of the sport’s top athletes, leveraging MLB Network’s annual ranking of the best players in the game. The slate begins today with Joe Altuve from his June 25, 2016 game against the Royals. Other athletes to be featured include Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson and Clayton Kershaw.


Machinima is getting an overhaul at the top with news that CEO Chad Gutstein would be departing to pursue entrepreneurial projects while Russell Arons was named general manager of the company. Arons most recently was SVP of worldwide marketing for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and will now oversee Machinima’s creative, marketing services, data analytics and business development and operations, as well as the Machinima multichannel network.

Fnatic unveiled a strategic partnership with Chinese esports agency, B.O.O.T, at the 2017 China Cup, with the agreement designed to help the organization “better engage with a growing Chinese audience and expand its footprint in Asia.” "We are very excited to launch this strategic partnership with B.O.O.T, and we look forward to pushing the global boundaries of esports together,” said Patrik Sattermon, Fnatic’s Chief Gaming Officer. “Fnatic and B.O.O.T share the same vision of making esports more global, and this partnership will allow us to bridge the gap and close the distance between Western and Eastern esports."

CD Projeckt Red is taking its upcoming title GWENT: The Witcher Card Game straight into esports with a tournament being organized courtesy of a partnership with ESL. The tournament will pit 4 best players from the community against professional gamers with a total prize pool of $100,000 and play beginning April 8.


Warriors/Thunder on TNT at 8p.


We are looking forward to celebrating the Year’s Most Talented Women at the 3rd Annual (sold out) Top Women in Digital Awards in NYC.
Whether they’re leaders in their fields, or pros who flawlessly execute a strategic vision, these are the women who are making it happen, in the trenches and at the cutting edge of the digital world – and Cynopsis Digital is proud to shine a spotlight on them..

ON THIS DAY in 1911: The National Squash Tennis Association is created.

In The Know: In which movie could you see the Globo Gym Purple Cobras play? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Two teams playing today in the NCAA Men’s Tournament are known as the Gamecocks. Who are they? Answer: South Carolina & Jacksonville State. Kudos: Scott Jenkins-Gracenote/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Alexandra L. Randall-FOX Networks/NY; Tom Lopez-UPS/Atlanta; Joe Guarnieri-ESPN/Bristol; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Jim Sweeney-MIKE on Sports/Clearwater; Brendan Lewis-CSN Chicago/Chicago; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/KTXA/Dallas; Steve Hebel-Milestone Internet/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Maria Shuckahosee-Audible/San Francisco; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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