|The concept of social distancing today was not what veteran sports marketer Rich Abend had in mind when he launched Famer last year, but coaching at a distance was. The platform, which focuses on youth teams, leagues and coaches, gives both participants and coaches the ability to watch, share and engage on a cloud-based system with any device in any location. While COVID-19 was not in the plan, Famer has seen an explosion of usage, what was a steady growth of about 5,000 in early March has almost doubled weekly, and the business has already surpassed its projections for April and into May, with brands and elite properties now looking to find ways into the homes of the over 50 million engaged youth sports participants. Cynopsis asked Abend to break down the business, the partnerships and the growing opportunities in the massive youth sports space that has not slowed.
Abend on innovating in challenging times: Famer’s model is predicated on creating custom produced and highly curated content for sports clubs, organizations and coaches. With our social distancing rules, we’ve had to adjust in two key ways: First – to empower coaches/trainers to create, upload and distribute their own short form actionable mobile video. We’re helping them become better content creators and they’re doing a great job creating that content on their phones from their homes or any patch of grass or concrete they can find. Secondly – We have great “off the shelf” content we’ve created or are creating with partners like Tyler Relph (NBA Basketball trainer) or Team Elevate Lacrosse. This way we can provide organizations a way to get training immediately with great, proven content from influencers
On youth sports market challenges: The mindset of these organizations are changing by the day as the news changes. The loss of revenue for the biggest sports season of the year both for the clubs and the coaches are really hurting. Youth Sports organizations either have to give money back OR they haven’t collected fees yet and are trying to find ways to keep the engagement and provide something of value during this challenging time. Famer also stands for coaches and good coaches/trainers are the lifeblood of any youth sports organization and they are clearly in a tough spot. Loss of earnings through the club/org they coach for and the loss of personal training revenue makes it a challenging time. We are really trying to be that resource for coaches to continue to engage athletes and earn a living
On brand integration: Brands have an opportunity to save great sports organizations from going out of business or from laying off most of their staff. They also have an opportunity to engage with athletes in a unique way by bringing programming like Famer directly to their mobile phones to keep kids training, moving and engaged. Famer’s platform offers organizations two-way communication and analytics as well so it allows brands to also support athletes improvement both on and off the field. It doesn’t just have to be about training for your sport. It can include fitness, nutrition, teamwork and mindfulness.
On building marketshare: Our customers range from big national early education partners like Super Soccer Stars to great local sports clubs like Downtown United Soccer Club, Team Elevate Lacrosse and LevelUp Basketball to major influencers/trainers like Tyler Relph. We’re also working with WITS (Wellness in the Schools) and currently offering free programming to 30+ schools and counting. We’re excited to announce a few big partnerships coming with a major professional league organization and the biggest youth sports registration players. These organizations saw the vision of distance learning/mobile coaching before “our new normal” and they’re succeeding now because they were ready
On evolving a business model: Famer obviously believed that distance learning/mobile coaching was where the training/coaching market was going before COVID-19. Obviously, no one could’ve predicted what we’re currently dealing with and we never saw Famer taking the place of in-person coaching/training. We saw it as an extension and enhancement. Coaches will be more comfortable using Famer, loading content, sharing a coaching plan and communicating on our platform. Athletes will be more comfortable getting assigned a plan (we call it playwork) through mobile, executing the workouts, sharing videos back and communicating through platforms like Famer. Organizations are going to make sure they have mobile coaching platforms both as a back-up plan but also as a way to keep the athletes training/engaged when they’re not together on the fields. We always said before COVID-19 that with Famer, practices are never going to be cancelled again.
The President met by phone with a slate of key pro sports leaders on Saturday to discuss how that industry has been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic. The AP reports that a person with direct knowledge of what was discussed on the call said Trump believes the NFL season — scheduled to begin Sept. 10 — will start on time with fans in seats. The report also states that some commissioners, including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, stressed to Trump that they are working on multiple plans to resume their seasons but cautioned that none of those plans can be enacted without clearance from public health officials.
As the WNBA season tip-off nears, league commissioner Cathy Engelbert released a statement noting “As developments continue to emerge around the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extension of the social distancing guidelines in the United States through April 30, the WNBA will postpone the start of its training camps and tip of the regular season originally scheduled for May 15. While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees.” She went on to say the they would continue plans for the virtual WNBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm on April 17.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Women’s Open in Houston is now being moved to two weeks before Christmas after the LPGA Tour pushed back the resumption of its schedule until the middle of June. Subsequently, the event will now move from June 4-7 at Champions Golf Club to Dec. 10-13, the latest a major championship has ever been played.
Speaking of golf, the PGA Championship is reportedly back on the calendar, with the San Francisco Chronicle writing that the tournament, originally scheduled for May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, will be moved to Aug. 6-9.
Tomorrow you can hear about what you need to know now! Cynopsis Sports, Esports Business Summit and the Nevada Esports Alliance are teaming up to offer our latest webinar, The New Opportunity: Esports Betting, taking place Tuesday, April 7 at 1:30p ET. All eyes on are this industry, and hear from the drivers who will break down the state of the business, pros and cons of esports wagering, what titles could be next to hit the sportsbooks, who publishers and leagues will benefit, and more! Click here for more information.
In programming news, NBC Sports’ new daily sports talk show, Lunch Talk Live, debuts at noon today on NBCSN, featuring host Mike Tirico joined by special guests, including current and former athletes, NBC Sports’ lineup of on-air commentators, and other prominent voices and figures within sports and media. Lunch Talk Live focuses on the current state of the sports world and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, providing guests with a platform to discuss the state of sports, voice their personal stories and detail how they are adapting their daily lives during this challenging time.
The NBA and ESPN are reportedly working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition involving several high-profile players, per ESPN.com. Discussions have been ongoing among the NBA, NBPA and ESPN about a competition among several players in isolation — presumably using home gyms — that would include them competing shot for shot in the traditional playground game.
GOLF Channel announced its plans for The Masters, lining up “an immersive programming experience” to celebrate the years at Augusta National Golf Club. Among its initiatives and premiering at 8p tonight and tomorrow, is Celebrating The Masters, which reflects on what makes The Masters so special through a collection of past critically-acclaimed GOLF Films Shorts produced for Golf Central Live From The Masters.
This week on ESPN, several college basketball award winners will be presented live on SportsCenter. The John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s (Player of the Year – Women) will be presented during the 5p edition of SportsCenter today, with the winner interviewed live on the show. Rutgers women’s head coach C. Vivian Stringer is the recipient of the 2020 John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award, and will also be recognized during the show. On Tuesday, April 7, the John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s (Player of the Year – Men) will be announced live on the 5p. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame women’s positional awards will also be presented today during the noon edition of SportsCenter while the men’s awards will be presented on Tuesday on the show.
Starting today and running Monday-Friday at 8p, NFL Network serves up Path to the Draft, with in-depth analysis of all the top prospects, the latest news reports and more leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23-25. Led by NFL Network analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks, and host Rhett Lewis the 30-minute show also delves into all 32 NFL teams’ needs, breaks down which players can help each team, and discusses where in the draft teams can select the players to help them next season. Additionally, NFL Mock Draft Live airs Tuesday and April 14 at 9p on NFL Network, with Jeremiah, Brooks and host Colleen Wolfe.
In addition, NFL RedZone is making an early comeback, and will replay every Sunday from the 2019 NFL season in chronological order for 17 consecutive days on the NFL RedZone network at 8a 3p and 10p starting today with week 1 and subsequent weeks featured every day through April 22.
Today also sees ESPN2 celebrate 25 years of Major League Soccer with an eight-hour programming marathon featuring four classic matches. The programming marathon will anchor MLS-themed content across multiple ESPN platforms, including on-demand streaming of a collection of historic matches on ESPN+, a special edition of Banter with Taylor Twellman digital show, and two classic matches on ESPN Deportes. The MLS classic match marathon will begin at 6 p.m. ET with the 1996 MLS Cup. D.C. United scored a 3-2 golden goal overtime victory over LA Galaxy to capture the league’s inaugural championship.
Pac-12 Networks is set to air The 12 Best, presented by Opus Bank, throughout the month of April. The marathon will highlight the top dozen women’s hoops games from the 2019-20 season. Programming will be featured on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at 7:30p.
|The New Opportunity: Esports Betting
Cynopsis Webinar: Tuesday, April 7th 1:30PM EST
In Partnership with Esports Business Summit and Nevada Esports Alliance
The esports industry is grabbing the reigns not only with audiences, but also in providing fans with new, live options for betting and daily fantasy moves with audiences in lockdown. Learn all about it in this timely 90 minute discussion with industry experts from: Esports Integrity Commission, GRID esports GMbH, Fifth Street Gaming, GameCo LLC and DraftKings.
|SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
FOX Sports announced the release of its new PSA, “For The Team”, urging viewers to work together to help limit the spread of COVID-19. The piece features on-air sports personalities Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Tony Gonzalez, Jeff Gordon, Gus Johnson, Urban Meyer, Kristina Pink, John Smoltz and Charissa Thompson. In the PSA, the stars lay out a game plan asking Americans to rally as a team, do their part to heal the world and get everyone “back in the game.” “Teamwork is the only way to win during these unprecedented times,” said Mark Silverman, President, National Networks, FOX Sports. “We at FOX Sports will continue to do everything we can to help get our communities healthier and back to the sports we love.”
Ad firm MediaRadar reports that the coronavirus pandemic could cause roughly $1 billion in lost advertising for broadcasters of the top three U.S. pro sports leagues, per CNBC. Projecting leagues would resume in June at the earliest, MediaRadar used ad spend data from March 2019 to May 2019 to determine its recent forecast.
New Balance developed and is currently scaling production of a general-use face mask as urgent demand for personal protective equipment continues to intensify across the country. Developed in consultation with local medical and R&D institutions, New Balance produced its first face mask prototype less than a week ago. By mid-April, the company announced that its goal is to make up to 100,000 units weekly at our Lawrence, MA and Norridgewock, ME factories combined. New Balance is approaching distribution through a combination of direct medical facility coordination and communication at the Massachusetts and Maine state levels.
The Premier Lacrosse League is launching a new social media campaign, the Stay at Home Trickshot Challenge. The media initiative will be published on league and player social channels, with the aim of educating the public on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, encouraging social distancing and at-home activity, while uploading user-generated trickshot content that will be shared using the PLL hashtag #AtHomeTrickshot.
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH
WWE and DAZN announced a new multi-year agreement that will make WWE’s weekly flagship programming available live and on demand with original U.S. commentary on DAZN in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. “We are thrilled to be embarking on a new chapter for WWE in Germany as we bring our unique blend of action-packed, family-friendly sports entertainment to DAZN’s robust portfolio of premium sports content,” said Stefan Kastenmüller, WWE Senior Vice President & Group General Manager.
Kia inked a deal with Rogue’s League of Legends European Championship team in Berlin. As part of the deal, Rogue will leverage their friendship with partners Imagine Dragons as well as Steve Aoki and Nicky Romero for some musical talent and dedicated video content around the agreement with Kia. “Thanks to the brilliant work of our parent company ReKTGlobal, we at Rogue couldn’t be more excited about our partnership with Kia. Kia with its history of supporting competitive League of Legends at the highest level as sponsor of the LEC is a fantastic fit for our brand. We look forward to presenting uniquely creative content for Kia utilizing what our brand stands for: connecting music icons with League of Legends superstars.” – Anna Baumann, Managing Director, Rogue Sports Europe GmbH.
DreamHack announced that, due to the ongoing health and safety concerns in the world, DreamHack Masters has been rescheduled and will move to an online format. DreamHack Masters Spring will be split into two time periods: May 19-30, with the group stage of the regional championships in Europe and North America running parallel, and the playoffs taking place between June 8-14. The other two regional championships, Asia and Oceania, will also run simultaneously June 2-7.
Meanwhile, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment is significantly trimming its lineup for both the TEKKEN and SOULCALIBUR World Tours, announcing that multiple events, starting with TEKKEN Round Pro 9 on April 25 and running through Kiungo Games running June 20-21 have all been removed from the tour until further notice. “BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment is committed to delivering the best and safest tournament experiences possible in support of both the fighting games community and the greater esports community. We want to thank our competitors, fans, and event teams around the globe for their patience, understanding, and perseverance as we combine our efforts to fight Covid-19 together.”
Spacestation Gaming is teaming with NASCAR Xfinity driver Will Rodgers, who will now represent the organization as well as race in a specially-designed car while the two will launch a racing team together.
INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 will include the late Kobe Bryant, as well as Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett along with WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever; coach Kim Mulkey of three-time women’s NCAA champion Baylor; five-time Division II coach of the year Barbara Stevens of Bentley University; four-time NCAA coach of the year Eddie Sutton; and former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich. In addition, FIBA executive Patrick Baumann was selected as an inductee. They will be inducted Aug. 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
|We’re All In This Together
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|On This Day
1952: Sam Snead wins his second green jacket at the 16th Masters Tournament.
In the Know
From what school was Tim Duncan drafted? (Email email@example.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
The Detroit Pistons retired #32 in honor of which player? Answer: Richard Hamilton. Kudos: Keith Marder-Halstead Real Estate/NY; Sean Walker-Omnicon MediaGroup/NY; Chris Zamzow-Learfield IMG College/Winston-Salem; Willy Gibson-WTG Sports/Columbus; Christopher Kull-The Nielsen Company/Oldsmar; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; John Ward-Gamut Total/Chicago; Greg Molozik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
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