04/15/20: Networks feel Drafts; Leagues extend pause

 

Wednesday April 15, 2020

The NFL cemented its broadcast plans for the 2020 NFL Draft, running April 23-25, and carried across ABC, ESPN, and NFL Network for a multi-network presentation for all seven rounds. The 2020 NFL Draft will serve as a three-day virtual fundraiser benefitting six charities that are battling the spread of COVID-19 and delivering relief to millions in need. ESPN and NFL Network will combine to offer a singular presentation across both networks, while ABC will present its own distinctive, prime-time telecasts for rounds 1-3, in addition to simulcasting the ESPN and NFL Network telecast of rounds 4-7. The 2020 NFL Draft telecasts will now originate from ESPN’s Bristol campus with proper social distancing guidelines and local workplace rules due to COVID-19. Draft hosts and a limited number of commentators will be in-studio while a majority of the analysts, reporters and other experts will contribute remotely from home studios. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will introduce the picks from his home.

Trey Wingo will host all three days of ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage and will be joined remotely by ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr., Louis Riddick and Booger McFarland. NFL Network host Rich Eisen, Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah and Pro Football Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Kurt Warner will also contribute remotely all three days. ESPN NFL host Suzy Kolber will conduct remote interviews with NFL draftees from an ESPN studio, and ESPN Senior NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will again be part of the three-day telecast, providing updates from their respective homes. ABC sees hosts Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer and Maria Taylor lead ABC’s prime-time presentation of the NFL Draft on April 23-24. Featuring NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay and college football analysts Kirk Herbstreit (third), Desmond Howard, David Pollack and correspondent/feature reporter Tom Rinaldi.

“We recognize the challenging times we are living in, but we are looking forward to presenting the 2020 NFL Draft and providing some hope for football fans everywhere,” said Seth Markman, ESPN vice president, production. “For the past couple of years, ESPN’s NFL and college teams have worked together on our draft coverage, and it has been a win for our viewers. This year, we are further excited to collaborate with the NFL Network creating an All Star broadcast. We are also committed to producing the ESPN/NFL Network and ABC shows in the safest possible environment for our announcers and production teams.”

PROGRAMMING

Speaking of drafts, the WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm runs live on ESPN on Friday. Leading into the draft, coverage will include WNBA guests on the 6p edition of SportsCenter, classic programming, multiple features on ESPN.com, social activations and special editions of the Around the Rim podcast. The 2020 WNBA Draft telecast – originally scheduled to be on-site in New York City – will now originate in-part from ESPN’s Bristol studios, with all operations adhering to proper social distancing. Ryan Ruocco will host ESPN’s studio coverage from Bristol with analyst and Hall of Famer Rebecca Lobo and current WNBA star and women’s college basketball analyst Sue Bird. Holly Rowe will join the coverage remotely. The WNBA Draft will be conducted virtually with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announcing the picks from a remote location. In coordination with the WNBA, numerous first-round picks are slated join the ESPN telecast via remote set-ups. The entire WNBA Draft will last three rounds and is expected to take approximately two hours.

MLB announced plans to premiere one new episode of its new programming series MLB Originals weekly on the league’s YouTube channel. The lineup of six new shows premiered with QUICK QUESTION, which takes a closer look at common customs and situations found in baseball through experts and animation. A new episode of one of the series will premiere on MLB’s YouTube channel Mondays at 11a.

Multiple reports state that ESPN is asking its 100 highest-paid employees to take pay cuts of 15%. Disney executives have already been told they would have to take salary cuts of 25% to 50%, according to Bloomberg, with thousands of other workers, including those at the theme parks, store employees and film and TV production staff set to go on unpaid furloughs starting April 19.

The NHL is extending its self-quarantine recommendation for players, coaches and staff through April 30. The announcement marks the third time the NHL has pushed back its timetable since suspending play on March 12 because of the coronavirus.

MLS released an update on the suspension of the 2020 season, announcing that “Major League Soccer continues to regularly evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how it will affect our plans for the 2020 season. Although we hoped to return to play in mid-May, that is extremely unlikely based on the guidance of federal and local public health authorities. Our goal remains to play as many games as possible, and while we currently have enough dates to play the entire season, we recognize at this time that it may become difficult to do so. We continue to learn more every day from the medical experts, and we expect to have additional details in the coming weeks regarding when we can return to play. As we have throughout this process, we will update our fans with every decision, and we thank them for their support and understanding during this extremely challenging time.”

CBS Sports updated its programming schedule leading into the 2020 NFL Draft highlighted by re-airs of classic NFL on CBS games on CBS and CBS Sports Network from April 16-22. The broadcasts on CBS and CBS Sports Network will help raise awareness for COVID-19 relief efforts and promote the “Draft-A-Thon” – a three-day virtual fundraiser being held during the NFL Draft to support charities that are battling the spread of COVID-19 and delivering relief to millions in need.

NBC Sports delivers four Stanley Cup clinching games between 2012-15 on NBC this weekend, continuing the network’s month-long presentation of the NHL’s 12 most-recent Cup clinchers. Saturday’s coverage begins at 3p and features the Los Angeles Kings’ victories over the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers in 2012 and 2014, respectively. The focus shifts to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at 3p on NBC, showcasing Chicago’s wins over Boston in 2013 and Tampa Bay in 2015 to give the Blackhawks three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

TUDN will air a collection of the most memorable matches from the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Euro Cup and UEFA Europa League archives with exclusive Spanish-language play-by-play and commentary provided by TUDN. Contests continue each weekday at noon, with TUDN delivering condensed versions of historic UEFA clashes.

The Cynopsis Top Women in Media Awards is gearing up to celebrate the women whose contributions to entertainment, tech and sports & esports are elevating the space. Join us as we applaud them for all they give to our industry by nominating a deserving colleague today. Honorees will be celebrated at the annual award gala taking place on September 24th in NYC. Nominations are due one week for today. Click here to get started.

In this week’s Wednesday night Best of the NBA presented by State Farm series, ESPN will re-air Game 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals and Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, both won by Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to the games, Hoop Streams, will be live on Twitter and the ESPN App beginning at 6:30p with host Cassidy Hubbarth, and analysts Kendrick Perkins and Amin Elhassan to reflect on the Lakers’ back-to-back titles.

In its first official streaming activation with Facebook Sports, World TeamTennis reports that its drew 150,000 streams across Facebook and WTT.com for its special, uncut presentation of the entire 2020 WTT All-Star Match presented by Barefoot Hard Seltzers featuring never-before-seen footage and behind-the-scenes player audio. Additionally, WTT’s All Star Match presented by Barefoot Hard Seltzers highlight show on CBS delivered 400K viewers when it ran.

Documentary Jump Shot, executive produced by Steph Curry and showcasing the true story of Kenny Sailors, “the forgotten basketball legend who pioneered the jump shot and revolutionized the game of basketball for women,” is set for a special digital release from April 16-18. The film goes into depth about Kenny’s life, his impact on the game of basketball, and features intimate interviews with a slate of basketball legends including Curry, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Bob Knight, Nancy Lieberman, and more. 10% of proceeds will go toward COVID relief efforts.

Bill Simmons announced a new limited series podcast, “Flying Coach” hosted by Steve Kerr and Pete Carroll. The series will see Kerr and Carroll discuss their experiences in leadership and coaching, how they run their teams, where the NBA and NFL overlap, and the formative influences on their careers. Throughout the series, they plan to have fellow coaches join as special guests to share their own insights on leadership, coaching and more. This podcast will benefit both the Warriors’ Community Foundation and Seahawks’ Charity Foundation, both which will make donations to charities helping to fight Coronavirus and the frontline workers who are putting themselves at risk to protect others.

M-1 Global is hosting eight live MMA bouts starting today from Minsk, with contests viewable in the US on a video app ClashTV. “On April 15, 17, 18 and 25, we will hold a series of bouts, featuring world-class young fighters who are poised to become international stars,” the company said in a statement. “Each event will take place under the most stringent conditions as determined by trained medical doctors. All of the fighters and participants are being tested and monitored for COVID-19 by trained medical professionals and everyone supporting the fight will be wearing masks for their safety.”

RIP to New York Yankees co-owner Henry “Hank” Steinbrenner, who died Tuesday morning at his home in Clearwater as a result of “a longstanding health issue.” He was 63.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Kyle Larson was dropped from Chip Ganassi Racing after using a racial slur during a live-streamed virtual race that prompted partners such as McDonald’s, Credit One Bank and Chevrolet to pull their funding from the team. The organization stated that they fired the 27-year-old Larson on Tuesday in what was described as “an emotional call,” according to the AP.

The New York Rangers and Northwell Health are partnering for the “Stick Taps for Service” initiative, designed to honor and recognize those who are fighting every day to keep everyone safe and healthy during pandemic. For the activation, the Rangers are encouraging fans to share stories of those in their community making a difference (healthcare workers, restaurants, cops, EMTs, firefighters, etc.) with select stories highlighted on Rangers social channels while people will be awarded with custom player jerseys.

UFC contender Tony Ferguson ordered up a new brand partner in Anheuser-Busch label, Cerveza Montejo. His marketing team, Oren Hodak, confirmed the deal, which will see Ferguson join Montejo’s lineup of partners involved in its new campaign “Stories That Defy” and support the brand’s new launch into bottles.

The World Squash Federation renewed its sponsorship contract with performance footwear brand Teutron Sports with Teutron also set to become the federation’s official clothing partner starting in January.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

The American Cornhole League is launching ACL Virtual – the technology platform allows players to compete remotely in tournaments. With the launch of ACL Virtual, ACL Directors will be able to organize and operate events for anyone, with singles, doubles, or blind draw play available. As an added benefit, international players will also be able to compete in these events. ACL Virtual will run through ACL’s app. “This is a challenging time for people across the globe, but while we endure and fight to regain our sense of equilibrium we can’t forget to take the time to enjoy ourselves safely,” said Stacey Moore, Commissioner and Founder of the American Cornhole League. “ACL Virtual allows cornhole enthusiasts across the world to indulge their passion with social distancing in effect and will continue to be a great platform well into the future for players to compete remotely even when in-person tournaments are again possible.”

Enthusiast Gaming Holdings partnered with daily fantasy sports company Monkey Knife Fight to help promote and build brand awareness of the platform. According to the announcement, MKF sees an opportunity to cultivate and grow its esports fan base to better position the platform to capitalize on the continued growth of the gaming industry. Enthusiast Gaming will leverage its media platform, activate its network of esports influencers and create custom content on YouTube and Twitch to reach its gamer communities and promote MKF’s platform.

ESPORTS

Major League Soccer and FOX Sports announced that eMLS Tournament Special presented by Coca-Cola and PlayStation will debut on Sunday on FS1 and FOX Deportes at 7p, hosted by FOX Sports Stu Holden, Rachel Bonnetta and Rodolfo Landeros, with color commentary from Mike LaBelle. Each subsequent Sunday at 7p, the five-episode series will team up MLS players and eMLS players from the same MLS clubs in single-elimination EA SPORTS FIFA 20 tournaments. The Week One Tournament pits the Chicago Fire against FC Cincinnati before the digital version of ‘El Trafico’ between LA Galaxy and LAFC takes the stage.

The Teamfight Tactics: Galaxies Championship is poised for takeoff, showcasing the top-tier play with competitors from all over the world who will compete for their share of a $200,000 prize purse. Riot unveiled details of the event on Monday, stating that the company was “creating a clear path to the Championship that will be globally accessible through both the in-game ladder and online tournaments” with plans to wrap up each set with a competitive global Championship. The Teamfight Tactics: North America Final will take place in mid-August across two days with sixteen qualified competitors to become one of the two players representing North America at the Teamfight Tactics: Galaxies Championship.

FIA World Rallycross Championship race drivers are diving into the new RX Esports series. IMG, the promoters of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, partnered with Motorsport Games and Codemasters to launch the World RX Esports Invitational. The Esports series will be held on the dates of selected rounds of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy that have been postponed beginning with the Catalunya RX Esports Invitational, on Sunday. The series features professional race drivers from around the globe, including Andretti Autosport’s Cabot Bigham, competing against gamers carried on the World RX YouTube and Facebook channels.

Electronic Arts, in partnership with FIFA, lined up a bevy of international broadcast partners for its “Stay Home. Play Together” initiative, anchored by the EA SPORTS FIFA 20 Stay and Play Cup, running today-April 19 as 20 professional footballers from world-renown clubs go head-to-head tournament. Four matches take place every day with the semifinals and Grand Final on Sunday. In addition to play on the EA Sports FIFA Twitch and YouTube channels, stateside carriers will include ESPN 2 and Telemundo. “We are committed to continue serving our sports fans with entertaining live and original content during this challenging period,” said Ray Warren, President of Telemundo Deportes. “We are excited to add the Stay and Play Cup to our esports offering, giving fans the opportunity to experience the thrill of their favorite clubs and stars playing while leagues are on hiatus.”

Gen.G is partnering with The Penn Relays, the oldest and largest track and field competition in the US to produce an all-new Digital Penn Relays, presented by The United States Marine Corps. The Digital Penn Relays will be the first ever digital livestream with gaming-related content designed to connect the community with competition and infotainment. The event will take place on April 24 from 12-5p on Twitch. Multiple teams of speedrunners and individuals will compete against each other to conquer custom-built Minecraft courses around famed Franklin Field, including hurdles, water, lava and an ice race course.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

David Levy joined global merchant bank The Raine Group as senior advisor. There, the former head of Turner Sports will work with Raine on “identifying and executing investment and advisory opportunities.” He will be based in New York.

The Famous Group will dive deeper into Mixed Reality with the naming of Nathanael Horton as the new Senior Producer. In addition to his time in MR, Horton brings with him a decade of animation and VFX experience.

Go To Team & Assignment Desk announced plans to release over $290k to vendors and crew members to support them during the pandemic crisis. “It takes laser focus minute by minute to navigate this crisis to keep my loved ones healthy and not only help take care of our great employees, but also vendor partners,” said Shawn Moffatt, Managing Partner.

GF Sports, a live events and sports media entertainment company, announced that Rich Lisk, who serves as an Executive Vice President for the business, is expanding his role to oversee all lacrosse and business operations for the New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League. In addition to his role with the Riptide, Lisk will continue to provide sales, marketing and operations leadership across GF Sports’ portfolio of live sports and entertainment properties.

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Exp’d media rsrch & analytics professional within the direct response marketing world. 20+ yrs knowledge of media buying across all verticals, client services, acct mngmnt & data analysis. Seeking FT or consultant role. Expert in Nielsen, comScore, MRI, Simmons, Tableau. NYC area or remote welcomed. [email protected] (4/18)

SITUATION WANTED >>
Looking for an account management/client success position where I can apply my client dvlpmnt & relationship building skills. I have more than 13 yrs exp in addressing business pain points, developing creative partnerships, & helping clients succeed. Based in NYC. Google Suite, SalesForce, Zoho, Microsoft Office, Mac, and PC. Contact: [email protected] (4/18)

SITUATION WANTED>>
Experienced professional seeking an opportunity in marketing and promotions. I have 5 years of experience in Media and Marketing Strategy and am seeking work in Los Angeles. Contact: [email protected] (4/17)

SITUATION WANTED>>
I recently was let go from my position at FOX Bet as a VP/EP. Prior to that role I was with NBCUniversal as Director of Branded Content. I have 15+ years of experience in Marketing (social/digital), Commercial Production and Broadcast Television and VOD. Contact: [email protected] (4/17)

SITUATION WANTED>>
Creative Director -20 plus years of experience branding networks, launching shows (CBS, Fox, WGN America) on all platforms -Los Angeles, CA -editing (Premiere), copywriting, producing, English and Spanish VO. www.bradroe.net (4/17)

SITUATION WANTED >>
Manager/Director level Content Scheduling, Strategy and Acquisitions Professional with 8+ year’s experience over multiple highly rated cable brands. NYC Based. Fluent in GSuite and Microsoft Office. Contact: [email protected] (4/17)

SITUATION WANTED >>
TALENT PRODUCER/BOOKER: Over 20 yrs booking Talent for Entertainment & Sports shows (Nat’l & regional) from a 1-hr sit-down to a segment hit. Have a vast contact list of PR/mgrs/agents who handle: Athletes, Celebs, Chefs, Reality & Music artists. NYC based–but can book from anywhere! Email Steve: [email protected] (4/16)

SITUATION WANTED >>
Experienced Atlanta area Project Manager with a demonstrated history of Emmy-Award winning work in the sports industry looking for work in Field Production, Event Management, Immersive Technology, Content Management and Media Production. Contact: [email protected] (4/16)

SITUATION WANTED >>
Curran Bhatia is a 4-time Emmy® nominated fmr. Producer at HBO. Curran produced/directed long-form documentaries and 250+ live events for nearly a decade. Since HBO, Curran has stepped in front of the camera as on-air talent featured on FOX Sports, B/R Live, & PlutoTV. Contact HERE: [email protected] (4/16)

SITUATION WANTED >>
Business Development, Mktg & Sales! 30+ years of analog & digital exp. Former United States Air Force Officer & Law Enforcement exp. Serial Entrepreneur & intrapreneur to get projects done, sales made & happy clients. Metro NYC & LA mkts, good w/LinkedIn, webinars & cold/warm calls. Great social network David W Stern [email protected] (4/16)

SITUATION WANTED >>
Experienced professional seeking an opportunity in marketing and promotions. I have 5 years of experience in Media and Marketing Strategy and am seeking work in Los Angeles. Contact: [email protected] (4/16)

SITUATION WANTED >>
Creative Director/Marketer in L.A. with 20+ years experience at CBS, Fox and WGN America is available to guide creative and marketing strategy for shows, brand campaigns, BTS and integrated marketing on social media/digital, on-air and radio. Also available for copywriting, producing and editing. Fluent in Spanish. www.bradroe.net (4/16)

SITUATION WANTED >>
Highly experienced booking, research and archival producer available to bring your non-fiction project to life. Provide me with a title, log line or show concept and I can help you develop your project from the ground up with real people, compelling stories and real footage. NY, LA or remote. Please contact me by email: [email protected] (4/16)

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