04/17/20: The NBA cemented a new partnership with Microsoft



Medias First Morning Read
Friday April 17, 2020

The NBA and Microsoft announced a new multiyear alliance, designed to “transform the way fans experience the NBA.” As part of this collaboration, Microsoft will become the Official Artificial Intelligence Partner and an Official Cloud and Laptop Partner for the NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NBA G League, and USA Basketball beginning with the 2020-21 NBA season. Microsoft and NBA Digital will create a new, innovative, direct-to-consumer platform on Microsoft Azure that will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver next-generation, personalized game broadcasts and other content offerings as well as integrate the NBA’s various products and services from across its business.

As part of the partnership, Microsoft will become the entitlement partner of the NBA Draft Combine beginning next season and an associate partner of future marquee events, including NBA All-Star, MGM Resorts NBA Summer League and WNBA All-Star.

“This partnership with Microsoft will help us redefine the way our fans experience NBA basketball,” said Adam Silver, NBA commissioner. “Our goal, working with Microsoft, is to create customized content that allows fans — whether they are in an NBA arena or watching from anywhere around the world — to immerse themselves in all aspects of the game and engage directly with our teams and players.”


The PGA Tour announced plans to bring back competition in mid-June, with the revised schedule due to be played without spectators. The opening stop will take place with the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11-14 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. The slate would then theoretically see play every week through Thanksgiving, with the Rocket Mortgage Classic and the Memorial Tournament now set to be played later in the year while the RBC Canadian Open and Barbasol Championship have been cancelled. “Today’s announcement is another positive step for our fans and players as we look toward the future, but as we’ve stressed on several occasions, we will resume competition only when – working closely with our tournaments, partners and communities – it is considered safe to do so under the guidance of the leading public health authorities,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan.

NBC Sports extended its partnership with TVG through at least the end of May, with NBCSN continuing to simulcast TVG’s Trackside Live from Friday through Sunday every week through at least May 31. Headlining Trackside Live in the coming months will be live coverage of the $750,000 Arkansas Derby on Saturday, May 2.

FOX Sports: The Home Game will debut tonight at 11p on FS1. Produced remotely, the series will see host Chris Myers is joined each week by two celebrity guests who compete against one another to answer sports and pop culture trivia questions with the debut show featuring Brady Quinn against Jeff Gordon.

ONE Championship announced that One World: Together At Home — a globally televised and streamed special in support of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, will air on ONE Championship’s official Facebook Page and on the ONE Super App on Saturday. Launched by international advocacy organization Global Citizen, and the World Health Organization, One World: Together At Home will show unity among all people who are affected by COVID-19 and will also celebrate and support brave healthcare workers doing life-saving work on the front lines.

The Gulf South Conference and FloSports announced a media rights partnership to provide live and on-demand coverage of the conference’s complete football programs and team sports championships to fans worldwide. The 4-year partnership extends through the 2023-24 season and includes streaming rights to the complete Gulf South Football and Conference Championships across the conference’s 18 official and associate member schools.

Bleacher Report is taking on the NFL Draft with expert analysis and content during its B/R Gridiron 2020 NFL Draft Show presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. Hosted by Adam Lefkoe with B/R NFL Draft expert Matt Miller and Connor Rogers, the show will be streamed live in the B/R app and offer fans the opportunity to comment, build chat groups and share breaking news around their team’s latest picks. The program kicks off April 23 at 8p.

Major League Soccer and its long-standing Spanish-language broadcast partner Univision today announced that its TUDN sports cable network will air “Lo Mejor de la MLS,” the best matches in MLS history as selected by TUDN. Each match will be condensed to a 60-minute version with select matches to feature exclusive commentary and participation from key personalities involved in the game. The “Lo Mejor de la MLS” games will be aired Monday through Friday at 6p.

GOLF Channel teed up Feherty Up Close (From a Distance), a new short-form take on the Emmy-nominated original series Feherty. Featuring brief, topical interviews with sports and entertainment guests joining David Feherty remotely via video conference. “I’m not one to embrace long stretches of idle time with nothing to do other than binge-watch Live PD, so I wanted to offset my extreme boredom by seeing how others were coping,” said Feherty. “People have made a habit of distancing themselves from me for decades, but hopefully these quick conversations can fill some small entertainment void for fans while we wait for some sense of normality to return.”

Olympic Channel serves up Inspired by Sport, featuring Olympic athletes inviting viewers to experience how sports can positively change lives through community-based organizations. The five-episode Olympic Channel original series is available worldwide exclusively at olympicchannel.com, and features Olympians and elite athletes visiting sport programs and organizations that have effectively changed the landscape of their community tackling the most relevant social issues through sports development.

The next edition of #HockeyAtHome will feature Wayne Gretzky and Alex Ovechkin in their first-ever joint sit-down interview. Hosted by NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen, the interview will premiere on Monday, April 20, at 5p on NBCSN; SN; NHL.com; and the NHL’s Facebook, IGTV and YouTube platforms.

The Women’s Professional Lacrosse announced that it will cancel its 2020 season, which was scheduled to begin on June 13 at Stony Brook University. “We will always put the health, safety, and well-being of our athletes, fans, partners and staff first,” said WPLL CEO and Founder Michele DeJuliis, who added “While we are very disappointed, we remain hopeful for all that lies ahead. We made incredible progress during this offseason solidifying numerous multi-year partnerships that support our vision and passion for this league, and our dedication to driving women’s lacrosse forward at the professional level.”

Instagram welcomes WNBA draftees tonight via a Virtual Orange Carpet pre-show as #WNBAslay maked its 2020 debut. The Orange Carpet Live will begin at 6:30p on @WNBA Instagram Live hosted by celebrity stylist Kesha McLeod and two-time WNBA Champion Cappie Pondexter.

Marquee Sports Network on Friday at 5:30p CT will roll out Off the Mound with Ryan Dempster, a half-hour late night-style talk show hosted by Ryan Dempster and featuring interviews and skits with MLB stars past and present, actors, musicians and comedians. Joining Dempster, who is currently a Marquee Sports Network analyst, for the first show will be reigning American League MVP Mike Trout and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

RIP to Howard Finkel, the legendary ring announcer and WWE Hall of Famer, who passed away at 69. When WWE was established in 1980, Finkel became its first employee.

A message from American Red Cross



Schedule at redcrossblood.org


ESPN named Facebook, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and State Farm as presenting sponsors of the upcoming 10-part documentary series, The Last Dance. ESPN is lining up two versions of upcoming documentary series The Last Dance, the 10-part project about Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls. A version containing strong adult language will air on ESPN (while an alternate option edited for that language will air simultaneously on ESPN2. The documentary series premieres on ESPN in the U.S. on Sunday nights over five weeks from April 19 through May 17. Special feature content for each episode will see Facebook present “Trivia,” revealing surprising and impressive stats on the Bulls dynasty and the NBA in the 1990s; State Farm offer “The Vault,” showcasing content from the ESPN archives; and Reese’s brand delivering “Remember When,” recalling stories about the dominant Bulls championship team from the ‘90s.

IEG released an estimate that $10 billion in sponsorship value in the U.S. will need to be made up due to the sports and entertainment shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Properties are slightly more bullish on the opportunity to make up lost sponsor value with 64% of properties believing they will make up all lost exposure, while only 45% of sponsors agree. The COVID-19 pandemic will also change future sponsor/property partnerships, according to the IEG Outlook 2020 survey, which noted that 79% of sponsors will approach their marketing mix differently, while 60% of properties will change sponsorship structures and sales. “The sponsorship market has reached the point of no return for fully capturing lost value based solely on the length of the ongoing stoppage, said Peter Laatz, Global Managing Director, IEG. “There are three likely scenarios for sponsorship reconciliation which include value forgiveness, value forbearance and value foreclosure. We expect to see all three of these scenarios play out.”

The NHL laid out relief efforts from its corporate partners. Initiatives include, but are not limited to: Bud Light Take Out; Canadian Tire’s $5 million Canadian Tire COVID-19 Response Fund; Dunkin delivering 40,000 gift cards to medical workers at 157 hospitals across the country; Molson Canadian donating $1 million to the United States Bartenders Guild; New Amsterdam Vodka & Spittin Chiclets teaming up to release a shirt to support your bartenders; and Rogers supporting Food Banks Canada by providing more than 1.6 million meals to those in need.

WME Sports announced the signing of Sabrina Ionescu, a top 2020 WNBA draft prospect most recently a guard for the Oregon Ducks’ women’s basketball team, for all off-court activity. Bill Duffy, Chairman & CEO of BDA Sports Management, will serve as Ionescu’s basketball agent and advisor.


La Vida baseball announced a multi-year partnership with Minute Media to expand the reach of LVB’s daily, premium video content utilizing Minute Media’s publishing platform and distribution channels. The partnership will allow LVB to distribute daily content amongst Minute Media’s publishing partners and their proprietary technology will significantly expand the reach of LVB’s premium, daily video and content generated by its editorial team. The partnership will also help expand access to an enormous and engaged Latino baseball fan audience, estimated to be nearly 20 million in the U.S. alone.

Panini America announced an exclusive multiyear partnership with Elite 11 – a Student Sports property, to be the organization’s official trading card. Student Sports’ Elite 11 is the pre-eminent showcase of the most outstanding high school quarterbacks in the country with alumni that includes Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Teddy Bridgewater, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and more. As the official trading card of these premier events, Panini America will present the official invitation that is presented to all athletes selected to compete in the Elite 11 Finals and the National Showcase.


ESPN announced the Madden NFL 20 Celebrity Tournament, featuring athletes, celebrities and ESPN talent and kicking off Sunday with a bracket reveal show at noon on ESPN2, before all matches move to ESPN digital and social platforms, including ESPN Esports Twitch and YouTube, ESPN Twitter and the ESPN app. Matches will air each day at noon starting Monday. The tournament, executed and produced with PlayVS and Nerd Street Gamers, is a single elimination bracket with the winner receiving a donation to Feeding America in their name following the championship on April 26, airing on ESPN2 and hosted by ESPN’s Field Yates and Arda Ocal. Confirmed participants include NFL players such as Cam Jordan and DeAndre Hopkins to UFC athletes Chris Weidman and Daniel Cormier – UFC athlete and former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, ESPN talents such as Katie Nolan, Omar Raja and Pat McAfee to rappers Snoop Dogg, Lil Yachty and YG.

The Overwatch League named Xfinity as the Preferred Internet Service Provider of the Overwatch League in North America and the presenting sponsor of “Overwatch League Online Play” on the League’s English broadcast feed. Overwatch League Online Play presented by Xfinity will feature a combination of elevated content and unique engagements to bring fans more Overwatch action and special activations. In addition, Xfinity’s X1 platform will deliver exclusive content for Overwatch League fans such as the video series, “In Case You Missed It.”

Meanwhile, FOX Sports added the recently announced ABB Formula E Race At Home Challenge, a nine-week esports competition featuring all teams and drivers from the fully electric ABB FIA Formula E Championship, as well as a selection of top gamers, beginning April 25 at 10:30a on FS1. World feed commentator Jack Nicholls, Formula E pitlane reporter Nicki Shields and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti form part of a fully remote presentation team.

SeventySix Capital announced that it had invested in Maestro, the Los Angeles-based interactive streaming company. Maestro’s interactive video platform allows for esports streamers and traditional broadcasters to own, engage and monetize audiences. Maestro customers include Epic Games Fortnite, Activision Blizzard – Overwatch League, FIFA, Microsoft, Adobe, WarnerMedia and Coachella.

ELEAGUE and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment partnered to Final Kombat 2020 – through a new feature program set to premiere Friday at midnight on TBS. The two-hour special, ELEAGUE Presents Mortal Kombat 11 Final Kombat, will take fans on an all-access tour of Final Kombat 2020, which was held in early March at Chicago’s historic Park West theater. The show will offer an in-depth look at the competitors as they played their way toward the championship title for the Mortal Kombat 11 Pro Kompetition.


Bob Costas opens up about the penalties tagged to those engaged in the Astros cheating scandal and the challenge talk show hosts have when there are no games.
Interviewed by Sports Broadcast Journal, iconic broadcast figure Bob Costas defended the rulings by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on the Astros cheating scandal. The baseball boss had been criticized for going too easy on the players.

Among his reasons was: “Like a prosecutor, Manfred had to make a deal. If he had his druthers, he would have sanctioned the players too. But he had to deal with the Players Association and he needed information from the players involved. That was the trade-off.”

He suggests that The CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) negotiation is coming up and penalties for this sort of cheating can now be codified.
Costas says that doing long-form talk shows today are an impossible challenge with no games to stir healthy debate.

Costas: “To find meaningful new topics now is difficult and most daily shows go for three hours. How many times can you revisit classic debates like the greatest trade, the worst trade, who’s the best ever at this or that? You’re eventually exhausted of ideas.”

Notes from the opinion mongers

Fox’ Skip Bayless said Tom Brady wants to fuel expectations in Tampa Bay. He is trademarking his initials “TB” for Tom Brady with “TB,” which also stands for Tampa Bay.

SiriusXM’s Chris Russo asks “If the Houston Astros cheated against the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in the 2019 MLB Playoffs, why did they not cheat during the World Series and ultimately lose all four home games against the Washington Nationals?”

Russo had ESPN’s Chris Fowler as his guest, Fowler suggests that these three options are being considered for college football this season:
· The season begins on time, likely with no fans.
· The season begins later in the fall after more testing and safety precautions have been put in place. As a result, the season would be shortened, and the CFP would be changed accordingly.
· The season begins in the spring in lieu of the fall. This is the only feasible way revenues from the season won’t be lost.

Happy Birthdays:

Steve Somers April 17- WFAN talk show host in his 34th year
Wayne Larrivee April 17- Voice of Green Bay Packers
Boomer Esiason April 17- CBS Sports/NFL
TonyBoselli April 17- NFL Radio Network
Bill Raftery April 19- CBS and Fox Sports/College Basketball
Kent Pavelka April 19- Voice, Nebraska basketball
Steve Weissman April 19- ESPN
Tommy Hutton April 20- Florida Marlins, pre/post TV
Steve Bornstein April 20- Former executive NFL Network and ESPN
Ralph Lawler April 21- Retired voice LA Clippers
Spencer Tillman April 21- Fox Sports/College Football
Tony Romo April 21- CBS Sports/NFL

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On this Day
1999: The Cleveland Browns select Tim Couch with the first pick of the NFL Draft.

In the Know
For which college did Tony Romo play football? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
In 1999, the Chicago Bulls traded Scottie Pippen to which other team? Answer: Houston Rockets. Kudos: Sean Walker-OMG/NY; Kathi Gillin-effectv/North Wales; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; John Ward-Gamut Total/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego

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06/06/23: Apple unveils Vision Pro

Apple unveils Vision Pro

Tuesday June 6, 2023 Today’s Premieres A&E: Customer Wars at 9p; Storage Wars at 10p ESPN: 30 for 30: The Luckiest Guy in the World at 8p HBO: Burden of Proof at 9p History: Beyond Skinwalker Ranch at 11p ID: Late Night Lockup at 10p Paramount+: Destination: European Nights IN THE NEWS “To those whose […]

06/05/23: Cynopsis Media Tech Update

Big reveal for "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi

Monday June 5, 2023 Amazon has agreed to payments to settle two federal lawsuits alleging that the tech giant violated users’ privacy through its Alexa voice assistant and its Ring doorbell cameras. The FTC found that Amazon violated children’s privacy law COPPA by keeping voice recordings of children, in some cases failing to honor deletion […]

06/05/23: Big reveal for “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi

Big reveal for "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi

Monday June 5, 2023 Today’s Premieres Fox: Stars on Mars at 8p; Crime Scene Kitchen at 9p Freeform: Cruel Summer at 9p Hulu: Age of Influence Nat Geo: America’s National Parks at 9p NBC: American Ninja Warrior at 8p Netflix: Barracuda Queens IN THE NEWS YouTube will no longer remove content that advances false claims […]