04/29/22: The NCAA will now allow partnerships with betting’s data companies

Medias First Morning Read
Friday April 29, 2022

Amid a slew of recent changes for the NCAA, the org is now opening the doors for individual schools and conferences to ink partnerships with data companies that sell that information on to sportsbooks. The Division I Interpretations Committee discussed the topic on Wednesday and determined that an individual, school or conference can provide stats to sports wagering companies if that information is also available to the general public, per Yahoo Sports.

PROGRAMMING

NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway announced the format and eligibility for the NASCAR All-Star Race, which runs May 22, and features four stages and 125 laps of on-track competition for a $1 million payday, along with stage winner incentives, amplified roles for pit crews, and a head-to-head elimination qualifying format. The race will consist of four stages, with the first three 25 laps in length and the fourth and final being a 50-lap shootout for the $1 million prize. The new format has provided a major incentive to win any of the opening three stages or the pit stop competition during the break between Stages 2 and 3. “The NASCAR All-Star Race highlights our best athletes — from the driver to road crew to the pit crews — and this year’s edition brings that to another level,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR Sr. Vice President, Competition. “Fans will have a full weekend of exciting competition starting with a unique qualifying format and an All-Star Race that features the top talent in our sport.”

Prime Video and ONE Championship entered into a multi-year agreement for Prime Video to broadcast 12 live ONE Championship martial arts events annually, running exclusively on Prime Video in the United States and Canada. Marie Donoghue, vice president of Global Sports Video at Amazon, said: “We are proud to add exclusive coverage of ONE Championship events to our suite of marquee live sports offerings. In addition to offering a full suite of martial arts disciplines, ONE Championship shares our mutual commitment to elevate female athletes, boasting over 100 signed female fighters and five reigning female world champions.”

Meanwhile, Athletes Unlimited and ESPN inked a new multi-year rights agreement for pro softball and lacrosse that will bring more than 160 live games from the women’s sports organization that will run exclusively on ESPN platforms over the next two years. In all, at least 90 Athletes Unlimited events will be televised on linear networks over the two years of the deal, including 34 on ESPN or ESPN2 and 56 on ESPNU. The remaining games will be available to stream on ESPN+. In addition, ESPN will have international rights for these competitions to air on TSN in Canada, ESPN Latin America, and other platforms. In addition, on May 4 during the espnW Summit in New York, ESPN will carry live coverage of the Athletes Unlimited Softball Draft, as part of its live stream of the Summit events. The Draft will announce the initial group of college players who will be invited to join the championship season in Rosemont.

Leading into the 148th Kentucky Derby, NBC Sports revealed that its Premier League studio show will deliver live coverage from Churchill Downs on May 7. Rebecca Lowe will host the Premier League Mornings and Premier League Live shows alongside analysts Robbie Earle, Robbie Mustoe and Tim Howard from the paddock at the racetrack. In addition, Lowe, who was part of NBC Sports’ 2019 Kentucky Derby team, will serve as a feature host on next week’s “Run for the Roses” coverage following the Premier League matches.

Play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti was tapped to serve as the voice of MLB Sunday Leadoff, Peacock’s exclusive Sunday morning Major League Baseball package, which begins on May 8. Benetti will be joined in the MLB Sunday Leadoff booth each week by local analysts from the participating teams. “Jason is one of the best baseball announcers in the business,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports Executive Producer. “We’re excited to expand his role within the NBC Sports family, with a new national MLB platform to complement his role as the voice of the White Sox for NBC Sports Chicago.”

ESPN announced the network designations for the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship. Highlighting the tournament television schedule includes quarterfinal and semifinal matchups on ESPNU and the title game airing on ESPN for the first time. All 28 games of the single-elimination tournament will air on an ESPN platform. The NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship begins with first and second round games on May 13 and 15 on ESPN+.

The National Women’s Soccer League laid out plans for its first-ever live NWSL Season Kickoff Show. Set to begin 30 minutes ahead of the 2022 regular season opener between Angel City FC and the North Carolina Courage today, the event will air live on CBS Sports Network at 10p. Hosted by Marisa Pilla alongside former NWSL and U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Lori Lindsey, the show will feature coverage of the Pink Carpet VIP entrance as well as interviews with players, team investors and NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman.

Wave Sports + Entertainment and the WNBA announced a content deal for the league’s 2022 season where the pair will work together to create social-first, short-form programming highlighting the best moments from past and present seasons and will launch new original series that authentically celebrates the league and its players. Programming will be distributed primarily on WSE’s flagship basketball brand BUCKETS.

DraftKings announced the signing of Mike Golic Jr. In his first project with DraftKings, Golic Jr. will partner with former teammate and friend, Brandon Newman. “GoJo,” a new daily podcast scheduled to debut on May 2. The hour-long video podcast will air five days a week where the duo will break down the biggest games of the week while hosting regular guests and personalities across sports and media.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

LEARFIELD and Opendorse entered into a strategic relationship to streamline access to NIL opportunities for student-athletes as they engage with their schools’ corporate brand sponsors. LEARFIELD will work with Opendorse as its NIL marketplace provider, and a free, school-specific marketplace will be made available to each university, allowing its student-athletes to connect with brands though a seamless, compliant platform. “LEARFIELD is unmatched in its support of the college athletics ecosystem,” said Blake Lawrence, CEO, Opendorse. “Today’s announcement ushers NIL forward with increased opportunity and support for college athletes everywhere. There are nearly 500,000 student-athletes who are at the center of our business, and this new collaboration brings the necessary players together to truly impact those athletes through greater visibility and ease-of-use when identifying new NIL opportunities.”

PepsiCo added 16 new organizations to this year’s “Team of Champions,” a national purpose platform that “improves access to soccer in underserved communities, including Black and Hispanic youth, across the U.S.” The $1 million commitment over three years will boost helping teams with apparel and equipment costs, field access, mentoring, coaching and education, and fan experiences. New to this year’s “Team of Champions” program is “Access for Champions,” an opportunity for participating players to connect with UEFA ambassadors.

Sleepme announced an innovative sports science collaboration with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. This partnership marks Sleepme’s formal entrance into the National Hockey League as the brand continues to build sleep coaching programs for athletes, which include current and recent partnerships with the Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners, Florida State University’s football team, and Santa Clara University’s women’s soccer program.

LifeBrand and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons are launching a multi-year partnership. Through the alliance, LifeBrand receives naming rights to the field level suites in both end zones at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will soon be renamed the LifeBrand Field Level Suites. A variety of in-game and digital assets are also included and will begin being deployed during the Draft.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Ones Basketball League unlocked its initial roster of storytelling and media partners, locking in SLAM Media, Playmaker, and Heart and Hustle Productions. SLAM Media will co-produce OBL digital content in and around every event this season, while Playmaker will “amplify OBL’s content and brand. expand the league’s social media presence, and integrate Playmaker social media talent into the OBL experience.” Finally, Heart and Hustle Productions’ production team will capture the inaugural OBL season and produce stories from on and off the court.

Psyonix announced that Formula 1 is coming back to Rocket League with the 2022 Formula 1 Fan Pass, available on all platforms beginning May 4. The package will feature F1 themed content throughout the year and the first release will include the new Formula 1 2022 Car, five F1 team Decals (Alfa Romeo 2022, AlphaTauri 2022, Ferrari 2022, McLaren 2022, and Red Bull 2022), a McLaren Miami 2022 Decal, and Pirelli Wheels. Additional content will be added to the 2022 Formula 1 Fan Pass later this year around upcoming Formula 1 races.

USA Track and Field is tapping RealResponse as their platform to track, monitor and address issues encountered by their athletes, coaches and staff. The system will officially launch in the next week while USATF will use the platform as an additional resource in its Safe Sport portfolio.

Fancurve, a blockchain-enabled digital fashion company, announced the launch of its platform focused on building communities around virtual sports apparel and lifestyle collectibles. Founded by Chris Chaney (C4+, OpTic Gaming/Houston Outlaws, Limitless Studios), Louis George (Anchorage, McKinsey) and Andrew Nestor (Dugout, Bologna FC, MP & Silva), Fancurve has raised a $6.25M seed round from a diverse cross section of investors across the sports, technology and Web3 landscape. Led by Greenfield One, other key partners (among 42 total investors) include Shima Capital, 6th Man Ventures, OneFootball, Reverb Ventures and Valhalla Capital. In May, Fancurve will unveil its suite of initial drops, headlined by a flagship partnership with a top La Liga football club.

ESPORTS

Riot Games is going even bigger with Valorant, announcing the introduction of international and domestic leagues as well as a new competitive game mode for potential pro players that kick in next year. For top pros, the publisher is launching three international leagues dedicated to the Americas, Europe and Asia that will host weekly competitions and LAN events with live audiences with the best teams facing off in two Masters events before ending with a Champions event. Throughout the rest of the year, Riot will seek out teams for long-term “permanent partnership.” Selected teams won’t have to pay entry or participation fees, and will instead receive an annual stipend from Riot. Partnered organizations will also have the option to collaborate with the developer on in-game events and branded products. In addition, Riot announced it would launch domestic leagues for up-and-coming talent.

FaZe Clan unlocked an exclusive, long-term partnership with Current, a U.S. financial technology platform serving Americans working to create a better future for themselves. The partnership will give FaZe Clan talent “new tools and resources to creatively engage their fans using Current’s mobile banking products.” To launch the partnership, Current is powering the finale episode of “Road to FaZe1.” “Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed FaZe Clan revolutionize gaming and internet culture as true innovators in the creator space,” said Adam Hadi, VP of Marketing, Current. “With this new commitment to each other, we’re able to work together to create meaningful cultural moments and produce content that’s not only engaging but also improves their fans’ financial lives, which furthers our mission at Current.”

Team Liquid and Alienware unveiled The Pro Lab, described as a “first-of-its-kind Performance Lab set to transform the competitive gaming industry,” implementing software designed to measure core cognitive skills and brain functions to optimize player performance. The Pro Lab’s testing and software implementation will be managed by Performance scientists and analysts who will collaborate with trainers and staff to continuously evolve the program, make data-informed decisions, implement new approaches as needed, and develop player-specific regimens.

SCUF Gaming locked in an expanded six-figure sponsorship deal that names SCUF the Official Controller of the OpTic Texas team in the Call of Duty League, as well as the OpTic Gaming and Envy brands. Elgato, sister brand to SCUF within parent company CORSAIR, will also sponsor the organization outfitting Hector “HECZ” Rodriguez and creators across the OpTic and Envy brands with its industry leading streaming equipment.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Lea Miller-Tooley has been named the Executive Director of ESPN Events’ Bahamas Bowl. Miller-Tooley is the founder and president of Complete Sports Management, an all-encompassing sports marketing agency that founded the Bahamas Bowl in 2014. Prior to founding Complete Sports Management, Miller-Tooley worked for IMG Worldwide.

The Austin Gamblers, a founding part of the PBR Team Series, announced the expansion of the team’s ownership group with the addition of Michael Dell, the chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Technologies. “I am pleased to invest alongside the Durbans in an exciting new professional sports team in the PBR,” said Dell. “Importantly, the Gamblers promise to add a truly Texan dimension to Austin’s growing sports and entertainment offering, further enhancing our great community.”

For Soccer Ventures announced the start of the Alianza de Futbol National Finals in Phoenix, from April 30-May 5. The winning teams and top players from the 2021 Alianza tour, which featured over 30,000 players and 300,000 attendees, will meet marking the first time the National Finals have been held since 2019.

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