03/23/17: NBC feathers west coast RSNs; Team USA fuels MLB Network surge; NFL addresses spot snips


Good morning. It’s Thursday March 23, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

CSN Bay Area and CSN California are getting a facelift, as NBC Sports Regional Networks announced plans to rename the two RSNs to NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, respectively, on April 2. “The two networks mark the first of NBC Sports Group’s nine regional networks to incorporate the “NBC Sports” brand. A re-brand for the remaining RSNs is currently in exploration, given the unique partnerships with team partners across the RSN markets.

“From a consumer and business standpoint, it’s ideal for fans to engage with one brand, regionally and nationally,” said David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy. “The re-branded name allows us to better associate the prestigious NBC Sports legacy with the strength of our Comcast Sports Networks’ local sports coverage in Northern California. The re-brand will not affect our coverage, however, as fans should expect to continue to receive the most compelling news and content on their favorite local teams in our markets on the platform of their choosing.”


All signs continued to point up leading into last night’s championship game for the World Baseball Classic, as MLB Network scored 1.4 million viewers for Tuesday’s semifinal game between Team USA/Team Japan, marking the channel’s most-watched non-Postseason game telecast ever and up  48% over its previous record for a WBC game. The two 2017 World Baseball Classic semifinal games showed gains of 102% from the average viewership for the two semifinal games in 2013, and overall viewership for the 2017 World Baseball Classic on MLB Network is up 21% over the 2013 WBC through the semifinal round.

FOX Sports picked up broadcast rights to the BIG3, the professional 3-on-3, half-court basketball league that tips off on June 25 at Barclays Center. BIG3 Founder Ice Cube and President & Commissioner Roger Mason Jr made the announcement with the first BIG3 show set for June 26 at 8p on FS1 with eight-teams set to play. The league championship takes place on Aug. 26 on the FOX broadcast network.

After hitting the US market, Eleven Sports locked in a deal with RDA to showcase the Emirates Airline Twenty20 (T20) cricket tournament in an exclusive a deal/ The tournament will feature six international teams competing across two days starting today. “We are very pleased to add the Emirates Airline T20 cricket tournament to our rights portfolio,” says Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, Eleven Sports. “Our aim is to offer a new generation of fans live and exclusive access to emerging and exciting sports action that is not available through other networks. Today’s announcement brings this strategy to life and we are looking forward to confirming more top sports rights very soon.”

IMPACT Wrestling, a subsidiary of Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp., locked in an alliance with Promociones Antonio Pena S.A. de C.V., the owner of Lucha Libre AAA. The deal will include a talent exchange between the organizations as well as other opportunities to collaborate with each other in their respective markets. “In 2017 and beyond, IMPACT Wrestling will be working with more promotions around the world, which is best for the professional wrestling industry as a whole,” said Jeff Jarrett, Chief Creative Officer of IMPACT Wrestling. “This is an exciting time to collaborate, coinciding with AAA’s 25th anniversary and IMPACT Wrestling’s 15th anniversary. By building bridges with various partners globally, we can give fans a premier product featuring the best possible talent, which has always been a top priority. Looking to the future, IMPACT Wrestling will be unveiling more international partnerships in the coming weeks and months.”

ESPN saw its presentation of the NCAA Wrestling Championships (March 16-18) score 8.6 million people overall on television, for an uptick of 6% over last year’s tournament. The NCAA Wrestling Championships Finals on March 18 drummed up 753,000 viewers, up 12% from last year’s Finals to mark the largest for the sport’s final night in the last four years and is the fourth most-watched on record, according to Nielsen.

Speaking of ESPN, the Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN series is set to debut with a 10-round battle for the vacant NABF Middleweight title featuring pitting Jason "El Animal" Quigley/Glen "Jersey Boy" Tapia on ESPN2 tonight at 10p. Blow-by-blow commentator Bernardo Osuna and analyst Teddy Atlas will handle microphone duties, joined by Bernard Hopkins.
NBC Sports revs up for Formula One coverage on Sunday with the Australian Grand Prix on NBCSN at 12:30a. Overall, the company will deliver nearly 200 hours of coverage with viewership has more than doubling since the first season on NBCSN in 2013. In addition, NBC Sports Group will present comprehensive coverage of practice and qualifying of all 20 races across its family of networks and NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Streaming coverage will also enhance race coverage with dedicated feeds, including an On-Board Feed, Pit Lane Feed and Driver Tracker. NBC Sports Group’s Formula One commentating team returns for a fifth consecutive season, with lead race announcer Leigh Diffey, analyst David Hobbs, analyst Steve Matchett, and F1 insider Will Buxton.

Showtime announced that Kell Brook will defend his IBF World Welterweight title against Errol Spence on May 27, live on Sky Sports Box Office and on Showtime via Showtime Championship Boxing. “This is one of the best fights in world boxing,” said Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn.  “Many believed that Kell Brook would look to avoid Errol Spence but he is a proud man who never ducks a challenge.  Coming off the fight with GGG this is an extremely tough fight to come back to but I believe Kell Brook is the best welterweight in the world and he will have the chance to prove it on May 27.  It’s ‘The Special One’ vs ‘The Truth’, a historic event at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane  we are planning an unforgettable night.”
CBS Sports and Turner Sports added Virginia Tech Head Coach  Buzz Williams as a guest studio analyst for the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship programming. Williams will join the Atlanta studio team alongside host Ernie Johnson and analysts Brendan Haywood and Seth Davis for Regional Semifinals coverage on today and Friday.

ESPN lined up an eight-episode docu-series titled We The Fans that chronicles the lives of Chicago Bears season ticket holders in Soldier Field’s Section 250. The series hits TV on April 11 at 10p on ESPN, with additional elements on ESPN’s print, digital, social and audio platforms. The last episode will be a special reunion show hosted by ESPN’s Sarah Spain and will feature “We The Fans” characters recapping their season and experiences that viewers saw over the previous seven episodes.

CSN Chicago announced that former Cubs/MLB standout David DeJesus has been named the new Cubs studio analyst for CSN’s Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group and Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois beginning with the 2017 MLB regular season. DeJesus will be paired with veteran CSN Cubs Pre/Postgame Live host David Kaplan.


JUST ANNOUNCED: Sports Media Awards Finalists

Our 6th annual Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast is set for Thursday, April 13 from 8:15-10:30am at NYAC. Network with your peers and hear about the year’s best sports programming and marketing.

Join the finalists, support your colleagues and network with the best in the industry!

** Preview the list of finalists & register for the Awards event **


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued an open letter to fans of the sport, informing them that the league was working with its TV partners to “reduce down time and the frequency of commercial breaks in our game. “Together with our broadcast partners, we will be working to meaningfully reduce down time and the frequency of commercial breaks in our game,” we wrote. “We will also be giving our broadcast partners increased flexibility to avoid untimely breaks in the action. For example, we know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it.”

Foot Locker is partnering with WWE to bring limited-edition footwear and apparel to select Foot Locker stores around the country with the release of a collection of Puma product designed by Alexander-John. Product will featuring exclusive art "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Ultimate Warrior, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Ric Flair, André the Giant and Undertaker. The collection will include limited pairs of WWE-inspired white Puma Clydes in custom boxes, retailing for $199. Additionally, 23 pairs of black Puma Clydes will be sold exclusively in Orlando for $499, touting Undertaker imagery and packaged in a collectible sneaker casket. The WWE Legends will also be featured on exclusive Puma T-shirts, available for $44.99.

The Collegiate Licensing Company locked in a deal with the University of Richmond to manage its domestic trademark licensing program effective July 2017. Through this new partnership, Richmond will gain access to the CLC’s industry-leading brand protection, brand management and brand development services. CLC will also work with the university to leverage best-in-class licensees, tap into key retailers, provide access to exclusive retail intelligence and consumer insights, and develop customizable national and regional retail marketing programs.
Formula 1 unveiled the launch of F1 Experiences, described as the organization’s Official Ticket and Travel Package Program. F1 Experiences will offer fans unique benefits and access including the opportunity to access unique Formula 1 race weekend experiences, from touring the track and walking the pit lane to meeting legends of the sport.


DraftKings is expanding its golf offerings, releasing an update to GOLF on the company’s DK Live app that will feature a new version of leaderboard added specific to PGA as well as hole by hole results and player scorecards. Since DraftKings’ 2014 launch, golf has experienced a 23x growth and more than 15 million entries. In addition, the company is launching a campaign showcasing how fantasy golf is easy to play and makes watching golf on TV more fun.


In this week’s edition of Cynopsis eSports & Gaming
·       DreamHack continues its Twitch run
·       IMG’s Simon Abitbol breaks down Boomeo
·       BTN lines up ‘League’ Championship
·       Facebook opens the doors for game streaming
·       ELeague’s word on the Street


CSE announced two key promotions within its leadership team, naming Chris Baumgartner to Senior Vice President, Account Services and Jelanii Reed as Vice President, Diversity Marketing. “Both Chris and Jelanii are true representatives of what it means to be a part of the CSE family,” said Doug Manning, President of CSE.  “Their commitment and passion to constantly improve our agency is inspiring.”


Michigan/Oregon (CBS) and West Virginia/Gonzaga (TBS) open the Sweet Sixteen tonight at 7p and 7:30p respectively.


WEBINAR: What You Need to Know Now About the Hottest Social Media Platforms

The rapid-fire pace of the social media landscape (R.I.P., Vine, hello Houseparty) requires an ever-evolving social strategy for networks and brands. But staying on top of social is a real challenge. Music Choice and Octagon will offer insights on new platforms and features programmers and advertisers should be exploring, as well as what social media skills your team should focus on updating.


ON THIS DAY in 1994: Wayne Gretzky scores his record breaking 802nd career NHL goal.

In The Know: The NHL’s Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is designed to honor what each season? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What school remains the only 15 seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? Answer: Most popular answer – George Mason (wasn’t a 15 seed). Correct answer – Florida Gulf Coast. Kudos: Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Paul J. Bamundo-Ivy League Sports Marketing/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports Network/NY; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Dick Daggett/Ft. Myers; Jon Parla-CMG Sports/Atlanta; Wayne "World B." Otto-Pro-Am Sports/Boone; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
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