04/14/21: MLS gets P&G bounty

Medias First Morning Read


Wednesday April 14, 2021

With the MLS season kicking off on Friday, the league announced that Procter & Gamble signed on as its newest partner for a multi-year and multifaceted sponsorship deal. Procter & Gamble will sponsor the MLS All-Star Game, as well as the Campeones Cup, Leagues Cup and the Mexico men’s national team’s US tour. Additionally, Procter & Gamble will work with MLS and other partners to make soccer accessible at all levels through overcoming barriers such as cost and travel. The partnership will enable P&G brands such as Gillette, Old Spice, Crest, Oral B, Dawn, Charmin and Bounty to activate with MLS fans.

“We are proud to partner with P&G and its storied brands to deliver exciting and engaging activations for Major League Soccer’s diverse and dedicated fan base of millions of supporters around the world, while also positively impacting the communities where we live and play our matches.” said Gary Stevenson, MLS Deputy Commissioner, and President and Managing Director of MLS Business Ventures. “The sport is on the rise like never before, and adding P&G as a key strategic partner with incredible marketing and consumer engagement expertise will undoubtedly help us accelerate our growth. There has never been a more promising time for soccer, and we look forward to partnering with P&G for many years to come.”


NBC Olympics announced that Mike Tirico will make his debut as the Summer Olympics primetime host in July in Tokyo, anchoring the show outdoors from a fifth-floor deck with a panoramic view of the Tokyo skyline, highlighted by the landmark Rainbow Bridge. The location marks the first time that the host of NBC Olympics’ primetime presentation will anchor from outdoors. “We are excited to bring the energy of this vibrant host city to our primetime audience each night as Mike opens the show and interviews the stars of the Games from a spectacular vantage point,” said Molly Solomon, Executive Producer & President, NBC Olympics Production.

The Masters saw its final round on Sunday deliver 9.5 million viewers to CBS, ranking as the least-watched for its traditional outing since 1993, according to Nielsen. That said, the event was up 70% over its much-delayed tournament in November, which was pushed as a result of the pandemic, with this year’s event seeing Hideki Matsuyama’s one-stroke win.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports reports that its Live From the Masters coverage on GOLF Channel was the most-watched daily Masters preview programming on any network from April 5-11, averaging 437,000 viewers for the full Masters week from Monday through Sunday. For Thursday through Sunday coverage before each Masters round, Live From averaged 633,000 viewers.

The WNBA released its 2021 regular season game schedule with the league tipping off its landmark 25th season on May 14 with a weekend featuring all 12 teams. “As we tip-off this historic season with teams returning to play in their home markets, we celebrate the impact the WNBA has made on generations of young and diverse athletes and on sports and society since 1997,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “Together with our fans and partners, we look ahead to how the outstanding athletes of the WNBA will continue to provide the best women’s basketball in the world while also driving change, striving for justice and equality, and impacting future generations. In the game and beyond, we will continue to say, Count It, as a way to celebrate the WNBA’s impact not only on the game, but culture at large.”

FOX Sports revealed its broadcaster lineup for the 2021 MLS regular season. Play-by-play announcer John Strong and analyst Stu Holden return as FOX Sports lead MLS game broadcasters, while host Rob Stone and analysts Alexi Lalas and Maurice Edu provide studio coverage throughout the season. Edu also contributes as a game analyst alongside JP Dellacamera. Cobi Jones serves as a game analyst and is joined by play-by-play announcer Adrian Garcia Marquez, while game analyst Warren Barton teams with play-by-play announcer Jake Zivin on the call during the season. Dr. Joe Machnik returns as the network’s rules analyst. FOX Deportes’ game broadcasters include play-by-play announcers John Laguna, Rodolfo Landeros, Raoul “Pollo” Ortiz and Jorge Perez Navarro and analysts Mariano Trujillo, Martin “Pulpo” Zuñiga and Claudio Suarez. Host Giselle Zarur handles studio coverage alongside Laguna, Trujillo and Landeros throughout the season.

Univision’s TUDN also laid out its MLS plans. Talent this year will include play-by-play from José Luis López Salido, Ramsés Sandoval, Francisco “Paco” Villa, and Luis Omar Tapia; and analysis from Diego Balado, Carlos Pavón, and Tony Cherchi. Studio programming sees Fútbol Central, featuring Alejandro Berry, Adriana Monsalve, and Lindsay Casinelli, along with Somos MLS and Mercado MLS in the programming lineup.

Speaking of soccer, Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was named as host the 2021 Gold Cup final, Concacaf announced Tuesday. The Gold Cup final on August 1 will take place the day after the first anniversary of the stadium’s opening. For soccer matches, the venue hosts 61,000.

Thanks to our terrific partners at Sneaky Big Studios, this year’s Sports Media Awards Gala will raise your virtual events’ experience standards. On April 21 at 3:00 PM ET, you’ll want to grab some popcorn and start streaming to your TV as we unveil winners and celebrate industry excellence.

Major League Baseball and SiriusXM expanded their agreement to include additional streaming rights starting with the 2021 MLB season. For the first time, SiriusXM subscribers with a streaming-only subscription now have access to live play-by-play broadcasts of every MLB game as they listen on the SiriusXM app and on connected devices and speakers in their home. The SiriusXM app offers 30 play-by-play channels dedicated to streaming the official radio broadcasts of every MLB team, giving fans the choice between the home and visiting team announcers for every game, all season long. All 30 MLB play-by-play channels are also available on vehicles equipped with next generation SiriusXM with 360L radios.

Leading into the 2021 NFL Draft, ESPN’s lead college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit will topline a new ESPN series featuring candid conversations between him and six of the highest-rated quarterbacks in this year’s class. QB21 with Kirk Herbstreit, premiering on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, will delve into the journeys of Justin Fields (Ohio State), Trey Lance (North Dakota State), Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Mac Jones (Alabama), Kyle Trask (Florida) and Zach Wilson (BYU), debuting April 17.

ESPN will also deliver its first Daily Wager Special alternate presentation for an NBA game tonight at 7p with the Nets/76ers. As part of the multiplatform coverage, ESPN+ and ESPN2 will both carry Daily Wager Special, which is ESPN’s first alternate presentation fully driven by sports betting content and features feature regular commentators from ESPN’s sports betting news and information program. The traditional game telecast for Nets vs. 76ers will air on ESPN.

SHOWTIME Sports Documentary Films announced The Kings, a four-part series chronicling the journeys of Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Durán, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, and Sugar Ray Leonard, with weekly episodes starting June 6 at 8p.

On the local front, the Atlanta Braves home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies on Bally Sports South this past Friday, delivered an average of a 4.05 HH rating in Atlanta, ranking first amongst all programming in Atlanta on Friday night. That score was the highest rating for a Braves home opener since the 2017 season.


Cynopsis is looking to honor the Top Women in Media leading the charge in the TV & Digital world. Nominations are now open in fourteen categories for our annual Top Women in Media Awards. Who among your team deserves the spotlight?

Winners will be announced at our gala this October!


(sponsored by TurnkeyZRG)



The Paris 2024 Organizing Committee locked in a deal with Cisco to provide networking infrastructure, cybersecurity and video conferencing solutions to power the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024. Cisco will continue to provide the network infrastructure for the Games and is expanding its role to also provide cybersecurity infrastructure and conferencing software. “We are extremely honored to have the opportunity to support the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. This is a historic moment to host one of most inclusive, sustainable, and technologically-advanced events, and we are excited to help further France’s goal to build a strong digital foundation on which to drive growth for the future,” said Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO, Cisco.

Great Clips, the Official Hair Salon of the NHL, announced the return of “Legendhairy Lineup,” an interactive campaign that “spotlights and celebrates the best #HockeyHair styles of players across the National Hockey League.” From April 12 through June 6, fans can visit www.NHL.com/HockeyHair to build a weekly fantasy lineup featuring six current and past NHL stars that best represent each week’s distinct hairstyle category for a chance to win prizes, including free haircuts for a year from Great Clips, $150 gift cards from NHLShop.com for NHL merchandise, and the grand prize of a VIP experience at a 2022 NHL event.

The General Insurance and brand ambassador Shaquille O’Neal teamed-up again to “surprise and support everyday people with a break from the financial challenges they are facing” in an all-new, three-part video series, Shaq Gives Back on Bleacher Report that launched this week. Within each episode, Shaquille and The General visit a local Atlanta-based organization – a record store, a restaurant, and a non-profit delivery meal service – to learn how each company and its owners, staff, and communities have come together during the COVID-19 pandemic. New episodes of the three-part series will debut each Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Therabody is partnering with the team. The partnership will integrate Therabody’s percussive massage therapy devices and pneumatic compression devices into the team’s training and recovery programs to help improve player health and overall team performance.


Verizon and Univision entered into a multi-year partnership that can deliver advanced 5G viewing experiences for fans of the most-watched soccer league in the U.S., the Liga MX. Through the partnership, Univision will exclusively launch the TUDN Vision content portal experience, where fans can portal through the stadium with 360 camera views. Verizon will also work with Univision to virtualize and enhance production processes over 5G, and partner with Univision on an Enhanced Data Analytics feature.

NBC Olympics, ClassDojo, and Classroom Champions partnered to connect children with Olympic and Paralympic athletes in a new exclusive learning series, “Heart of a Champion”. In the series, children hear stories from elite U.S. athletes about building important life skills such as perseverance, courage, and goal setting. Each athlete will share their experience with one important social or emotional trait. “Heart of a Champion” will be available to the public for free at ClassDojo.com/heart and distributed for free to all classrooms on ClassDojo.

The ITF announced the results of a global research project examining sports gender equality across the media and social media, commissioned as part of its ITF’s Advantage All gender equality strategy. The report found that the conversation and coverage of men’s tennis is more focused on the sport, with a “strong combative narrative and a sense of history, elite competition and achievement.” Conversely, the conversation around women’s tennis is less intense and relatively more focused on life off court, from health and age to family. Key findings from Global English, France and Spain data include: women’s tennis content is twice as likely to reference a player’s age; men’s tennis content is twice as likely to refer to ‘battle’ terminology; and men’s content is 70% more likely to mention a player’s physical prowess.

CBS Sports HQ will now be available on the Amazon news app on Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and Alexa devices. “As we continue to build on a period of strong growth, we’re very pleased to expand the distribution of CBS Sports HQ to Amazon’s news app across multiple devices, making our round-the-clock sports news even more widely accessible,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, Executive Vice President and General Manager, CBS Sports Digital.



Epic Games unveiled a $1 billion funding round, giving the “Fortnite” creator a $28.7 billion valuation. The round includes a $200 million investment from Sony. Additional investors include Luxor Capital, Franklin Templeton, and Fidelity Investments Inc. “Their investment will help accelerate our work around building connected social experiences in ‘Fortnite,’ ‘Rocket League,’ and ‘Fall Guys’ while empowering game developers and creators with Unreal Engine, Epic Online Services, and the Epic Games Store,” said Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney in a statement.

Meanwhile, OverActive Media Corp. announced a second closing on their previously announced private placement, bringing the aggregate gross proceeds of their brokered and non-brokered financings to over $40 million. OverActive also announced that the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens joined the ownership group as part of the funding. This strategic investment in OverActive is the Canadiens’ first move into the esports industry. OverActive also saw Phil Kessel of the Arizona Coyotes and Carl Hagelin of the Washington Capitals join OverActive’s list of celebrity and athlete owners.

Overwatch League returns this week with the org announcing the launch of Power Ranking with IBM Watson for the 2021 season. The platform was developed by a team of data scientists at IBM alongside Overwatch League experts and uses AI algorithms to analyze every player and team’s performance in every Overwatch League match. Trained on data from previous seasons, Watson’s algorithm correlates those statistics and assigns a weight to each, determining how each factor tips the balance toward a win or a loss. Every week, the league will provide a comprehensive list of the top performers in the league on the Power Rankings with IBM Watson page on its website.

CLG and Samsung Electronics America cemented a partnership in which Samsung will be the Official Computer Memory Hardware Devices Partner for all CLG teams with the partnership boasting an editorial-style digital content series and premier brand integration throughout CLG’s team and player digital channels. Samsung also serves as the Presenting Partner for CLG’s Amateur Competition Platform “Samsung Open Tournament Series,” where Samsung will be involved in all marketing assets and throughout the livestreams of Samsung Open Tournament Series events on the CLG Twitch Channel. The first Samsung Open Tournament Series will take place on April 24, with Amateur players competing in League of Legends.

Esports tournament BLAST Premier secured eight new media rights deals for the rest of the 2021 season. TV channels SportsMax, Nordic Entertainment Group and BOLT+, among other new deals, will take the Counter-Strike tournament series to a number of new regions around the world, including: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Iceland, Canada, Kosovo, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and the Caribbean. The new rights partnerships will extend the esports media network’s portfolio of media rights to over 35 partners, meaning BLAST Premier will be shown in 18 different languages and across 157 territories.

Logitech inked a deal to become the Official Hardware Provider of Twitch Rivals. The partnership will unlock exclusive gear and power fun community moments throughout the rest of the year. Examples include a Chat Sweepstakes; Logitech Partner Hype; and Custom Twitch Rivals and ASTRO Gaming A40 Headset Tags.


The PGA TOUR and the golf division of Perry Ellis International extended their apparel partnership where PEI Golf will continue as the PGA TOUR’s licensee for branded PGA TOUR apparel through 2025 with contingent renewal options that would extend the partnership through the end of 2028. This new extension includes men’s, ladies and youth apparel.

Bloomberg Media added talent for the Quicktake global streaming and social news network, signing NBA All-Star and Entrepreneur, Chris Paul; as well as CEO and Founder of The Business of Fashion, Imran Amed; and NYU Stern Professor and Bestselling Author, Scott Galloway. Each will star in a show debuting later this year as part of Quicktake’s primetime programming slate.

Major League Baseball hired Brian Stedman as Executive Vice President, Strategy and Development, and will lead the newly created Strategy and Development department to collaborate with internal MLB departments, Clubs, and partners to create a strategic vision in important areas including media, ticketing, international, and marketing, among other disciplines. Stedman joins MLB after spending more than seven years at World Wrestling Entertainment where, in his most recent role he served as EVP of Global Strategy.

DraftKings expanded its executive team by hiring Brian Angiolet to oversee and optimize content creation and media strategy as the company’s first ever Chief Media Officer. Most recently, Angiolet served as SVP and Chief Business Officer at Verizon Communications Inc.

The NBA announced the formation of Jr. NBA Court of Leaders, a youth leadership council comprised of 18 15- and 16-year-old basketball players from across the U.S. Jr. NBA Court of Leaders aims to empower promising young men and women by providing resources to further develop as leaders and a platform to amplify their voices within their communities and across the youth basketball landscape. The youth-led council will be comprised of eight boys and 10 girls from diverse backgrounds and communities across the country who demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities.

Learn how to activate your brand with the fanbase
watching & engaging in sports and esports


Our virtual event for brand & agency execs will have exciting presentations from the following industry leaders in sports and esports: Riot Games, Roku, AEG, Twitch, 100 Thieves, ESL, Belong Gaming Arenas, Subnation, Super League Gaming, Professional Fighters League, Pac-12, ReKt Global, Gaming Community Network and The Game Awards.



On this Day
2019: Tiger Woods wins his fifth Masters title.

Who was the first player ever drafted into the WNBA? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
In which city did the first WrestleMania take place? Answer: New York City. Kudos: Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; Scott Jenkins-Gracenote/NY; Matthew Willence-ITN Networks/NY; Frank Costa-CBS Sports/NY; Christopher Kull-The Nielsen Company/Oldsmar; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Jacob Ullman-FOX Sports/LA; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo; Greg Dudsic/Lancaster; Larry Hutchings/San Luis Obispo

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