04/29/19: The NFL reports viewership records for the 2019 NFL Draft

Good morning. It’s Monday April 29, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The 2019 NFL Draft scored new records in media consumption, with the three days of selections and analysis generating a combined 3.95 HH rating and average of 6.1 million viewers overall, according to the league, to rank as the highest-rated and most-watched Draft ever and topping the records set a year ago. Overall NFL Draft telecasts combined to reach over 47.5 million viewers over the three-day event, up 5% over 2018 with NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes in addition to NFL and ESPN digital and social properties all carrying the content. The combined rating and viewership was up by 11% and 8% respectively over 2018, per Nielsen Fast Nationals.
In addition to media consumption, the 2019 NFL Draft shattered records for attendance as over 600 thousand fans filled the streets of Nashville to celebrate the newest class of NFL rookies.
The 2019 NFL Draft scored new records in media consumption, with the three days of selections and analysis generating a combined 3.95 HH rating and average of 6.1 million viewers overall, according to the league, to rank as the highest-rated and most-watched Draft ever and topping the records set a year ago. Overall NFL Draft telecasts combined to reach over 47.5 million viewers over the three-day event, up 5% over 2018 with NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes in addition to NFL and ESPN digital and social properties all carrying the content. The combined rating and viewership was up by 11% and 8% respectively over 2018, per Nielsen Fast Nationals.
In addition to media consumption, the 2019 NFL Draft shattered records for attendance as over 600 thousand fans filled the streets of Nashville to celebrate the newest class of NFL rookies.
“The 2019 NFL Draft was a tremendous continuation of the celebration of the NFL’s 100th season and an opportunity to welcome the next generation of stars,” said NFL Commissioner  Roger Goodell. “Dramatic and emotional storylines played out in cities across the country with the energetic host city of Nashville serving as a breathtaking backdrop to hundreds of thousands of passionate fans who lined the streets and enjoyed a unique NFL Draft Experience. We congratulate our newest players and their families and thank the TN Titans, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., the City of Nashville, the volunteers, and everyone who made the Draft such a memorable, entertaining, and successful experience.”

In other ratings news, the playoff hockey continues to climb as the battle between the Stars and Blues on Saturday saw Game 2 continue NBC Sports’ ratings momentum with the matchup delivering a 1.12 overnight Nielsen rating with Dallas notching a 3.4 while St. Louis nabbed a 10.3. Meanwhile, the double OT game between the Blue Jackets and Bruins on NBC drew a 2.21 overnight rating, up 33% and ranking as NBC Sports’ highest overnight number of the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far.
Speaking of drafts and viewership, the Premier Lacrosse League announced that NBC Sports’ presentation of the org’s inaugural PLL College Draft on NBCSN drew a Total Audience Delivery of 168,500 viewers, according to Nielsen. The event was taped on April 22, at NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast and aired from 2-3a on April 24 and benefitted from the network’s Tuesday night coverage of a Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 doubleheader. “We’re very pleased with the quality of production and the viewership numbers delivered from our inaugural College Draft show with NBC Sports,” says PLL Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Paul Rabil. “This level of professionalism and interest is an exciting indicator of what’s to come this season.”
Meanwhile, the NBA Playoffs on TNT continues with three consecutive nights of Conference Semifinals coverage presented by AT&T beginning tonight with a doubleheader featuring the 76ers/Raptors at 8p, followed by the Trail Blazers and Nuggets at 10:30p.  
Another familiar name is locked for the launch of ACC Network this fall. Former Georgia Tech player Roddy Jones will join the channel this fall. He is currently a sideline analyst on ESPN’s college football coverage, but will move to the booth and serve as an analyst for ACC football games on the platform, which launches Aug. 22.
We’ll likely be diving deeper on this later this week, but multiple reports state that Walt Disney Co. reached a “handshake” agreement to sell its newly acquired FOX regional sports networks to Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., with Fox Business network first reporting the news. However, Friday also saw reports that Amazon had entered into discussions with Sinclair to partner on the acquisition of the RSNs.
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All England Lawn Tennis Club named OPPO as its first official smartphone partner, with the Chinese smartphone maker now becoming the first-ever Asian partner of Wimbledon tennis championships in a five-year deal. The Xinhua news agency reported the news, and marks OPPO’s first foray into tennis.
USA Cycling and USA Triathlon cemented a new partnership designed to offer joint programs and promotions to “serve existing members while attracting new participants to both sports,” highlighted by a joint annual membership option that provides access to all USA Triathlon- and USA Cycling-sanctioned events. The organizations will cross-promote their respective National Championships and select sanctioned races to each other’s members in an effort to expand racing opportunities for both groups In addition, USA Triathlon and USA Cycling will work together on promotional and educational programs benefitting athletes who compete in both sports.

Kagan and S&P Global Market Intelligence released a copy of the 2019 Sports Report, which examines live sports content in the television industry. Among the highlights:
  • Most pay-tv subscribers get well over 100 channels in their multichannel packages, and about 17 of those networks are sports-related networks.
  • Sports programming costs as a percentage of cable average revenue per user was an estimated 22.1% in 2018, up from 14.1% in 2009.
  • RSN segment adds new players including Amazon, Sinclair Broadcast Group and FloSports, but their impact on local sports rights values will be minimal in the next few years.
  • NBA’s top tier digital audience is now the same size as MLB’s, according to their surveys.
The 2019 NFL Draft saw Electronic Arts announced that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes would be the official EA SPORTS Madden NFL 20 cover athlete on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Origin for PC and Madden NFL Mobile.

The Overwatch League today tied up deal with AB InBev, making Bud Light the official beer of Overwatch League. The brand will now activate at fan watch parties around the world (excluding China) and will include sponsorship of fan activations when the league hits the road, including last weekend’s events in Dallas, along with Atlanta Bud Light Homestand Weekends and the LA Rivalry Weekend. ABI and Bud Light will also be activating at the Overwatch League’s 2019 Grand Finals. “Our company has a long history of aligning ourselves with great sports partners and Overwatch League certainly fits that bill,” said João Chueiri, SVP of consumer connections marketing at AB InBev. “Bud Light was one of the early adopters of esports with our Bud Light Esports All-Stars program years ago and we are excited to expand our footprint with the premier esports property in Overwatch League. This partnership provides us with an opportunity to engage with a new segment of legal-drinking-age fans and align our brands with one of the most exciting esports properties out there right now.”
ESL and Intel locked in Intel Extreme Masters will be returning to Chicago on July 20-21 for the 76th global IEM tournament and taking place at the United Center, featuring Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gameplay. Out of the eight participating teams, six will be invited directly to the group stages of the event, which will kick off on July 18-19. The remaining two spots will be filled with the winners of competitions in Europe and the Americas. In addition to professional gameplay, IEM will feature a wide array of activities at sponsor booths. IEM Chicago 2019 will also be a part of the Intel® Grand Slam, which will award a $1 million USD bonus prize for the first team to win four of the last ten major CS:GO events organized by ESL and DreamHack.
Magic: The Gathering is upping the ante on its esports endeavors, announcing the launch of Magic Pro League starting May 11 with action set to be carried on its Twitch channel. MPL features 32 of the best players in the world competing in divisional play across three “splits,” each feeding MTG Arena Mythic Championships with $750,000 in prizes. The first split is titled the Spark Split—will see players competing in four divisions, with top performers in each division earning a guaranteed slot in Day Two of Mythic Championship III, the first Mythic Championship run entirely on MTG Arena.
Supercell unveiled the 12 teams that will compete in the new West region of the Clash Royale League. Teams are set to include Immortals, NRG Esports, complexity Gaming, Tribe Gaming, Team Queso, SK Gaming, Team Liquid, Dignitas, Fnatic, Misfits, paiN Gaming and Cream Esports.
Hawks Talon Gaming Club announced their first partnership with The Raynor Group as its Official Gaming Chair Partner. Raynor Group will equip Hawks Talon GC players with club-branded gaming chairs for practice.

Octagon named Susie Piotrkowski as Vice President, New Business, leading proactive new business outreach for Octagon’s US Marketing and Event business. Piotrkowski joins Octagon from the National Women’s Soccer League, where she served as Vice President of Sponsorship Sales, and was the first head of sponsorship with sole focus on the NWSL.
LA 2028 reportedly named former Washington Redskins’ president of business operations and chief operating officer Brian Lafemina as its chief business officer, and former Visa Olympics marketer Amy Gleeson as its chief marketing officer.

76ers/Raptors on TNT at 8p.
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