04/10/17: NBC’s new Cup Anthem; CONCACAF’s united nations; UFC’s Fight Week Card


Good morning. It’s Monday April 10, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With the NHL regular season in the books and the Stanley Cup Playoffs set to launch on Wednesday, NBC Sports Group is moving quickly to drive interest and engagement for its lineup of games through June, with its campaign, “There Is Nothing Like Playoff Hockey.” Coverage could include as many as 105 playoff contests and possibly more than 260 hours of programming across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and USA Network (along with NHL Network).

This year will see a strategic shift in marketing strategy under the eye of NBC Sports CMO Jenny Storms, who lined up the company’s largest on and off-channel media plan ever for the event, leveraging targeted paid advertising that will include ads on non NBCU cable networks, YouTube, etc.. In addition, specific TV spots are being built for each market of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, featuring the local TV/Radio voice calling teams in markets and players on those teams, as well as a push for fans in major sports markets that are not in the playoffs under that banner. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Storms about the plan of action, the role of the RSNs, and what we can expect for the postseason.

Storms on the postseason campaign: This year will see the largest media plan we have ever put into place for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including the most robust off-channel media in history. In the past, we have done a number of stunts such as food deliveries, etc. But now, because it is so important for us to continue to understand and monitor consumption and consumer behaviors, we are changing that strategy because people move very quickly. Attentions spans are now shorter and mobile is getting into the space much more heavily. When you look at that combination, we have to adjust our sails and make sure we are still reaching the right destination which means much more targeted national as well as local media. We want to be able to intercept people at appropriate moments and get them to that next games or series. We have to be able to get into their social feeds when there is an overtime when so they know when Game 2 is. So that plan has changed to use social and television more to be very relevant and authentic at appropriate times with the right content.

On the theme: The beauty of our plan is how we are bringing the overall story together. One of the themes that you will see throughout the campaign right now is the iconic trophy because at the end of the day, that passion and emotion  whether your team is in or out  will resonate as the players compete for that Cup. When you look at the spot, Anthem, it really brings that to life. The other pieces come in by getting into the local heartbeat and connect with the fans to talk with them uniquely. It is easy to take great content and push it out everywhere. What we are taking great pride in is how we are getting to the level of customization where we are speaking to Caps fans, Blackhawks fans, Wild fans, etc. and deliver a specific team experience that gives them something that they value.

On working with RSNs: This is where being in a family with regional sports networks can be really fun and extremely valuable to the consumers. You have the operational and content opportunity out of Stamford, where we are producing all of this robust content, but then you have CSN Mid-Atlantic and the Capitals, for example, with their ability to go in and speak directly to the local fans. That creates a great back-and-forth relationship where we are able to feed them content that they may not have the resources to be producing or developing, while they are able to provide us with local insights and information that also makes what we are doing even better. As a company, we can also collaborate in the non-linear space, social for example, where we can push and pull consumers.

On her run at NBC Sports: I am extraordinarily blessed to have joined such an amazing organization and it has certainly been a fun ride, especially with some of the properties they have here such as the Olympic Games. I feel strongly that it is less about being a marketing organization that is creating “marketing plans” and more about being a consumer engagement organization. We have been building the group and I believe that we are the chief architect of the consumer experience  – now and in the future  – and that means we have the responsibility to understand consumer insights and data and how to reach them by leveraging what they value about NBC Sports Group. I think that if we take that on as a team, we will be very successful in the future.


CONCACAF is making big moves, with Reuters writing that the league is lining up plans for a new league competition of national teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean. The organization’s ‘League of Nations’ plan would essentially eliminate friendlies and echo UEFA’s plan for a Nations League in Europe. "There has been overwhelming acceptance that it is a great idea and the way we need to go. There are a few formats that we have looked at and we have had various members coming back with ideas. We have a format that we have landed on and we will show it to our members first," CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani told the outlet.

Meanwhile, CONCACAF has also lined up an event today in which the org is expected to formally announce that the US, Mexico and Canada will officially bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

Ahead of the NHL playoffs, NHL Network created a new 25′ x 19′ rink surface inside Studio 21 at its headquarters in Secaucus, that will be available for on-air use year-round, starting with tonight’s edition of NHL Tonight: 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview – Western Conference at 6p. NHL Network will use the rink across its programming for segments and in-depth demonstrations on specific players, teams, matchups and trends.

Eleven Sports locked in live and exclusive coverage of the American Ultimate Disc League in the US, lining up a deal that will see the league’s events hit TV for the first time. Programming will include 13 regular season games, including a Game of the Week, as well as all five playoff contests. The first broadcast took place yesterday as as the DC Breeze hosted the reigning East Division champions the Toronto Rush. “We are very pleased to add the American Ultimate Disc League to our growing portfolio of new and exciting sports rights in the US,” said Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, Eleven Sports. “Aligned with our core strategy, the AUDL represents a fantastic opportunity for us to reach a new generation of millennial fans who are looking for fresh and exciting sports content. This is an exciting time and we’re looking forward to continuing the momentum with further

We warned ya! Tickets for the Cynopsis World Esports Summit are now sold out! If you are still interested in attending, make sure to get your name on the waitlist now by contacting [email protected]. Meanwhile, tickets are almost gone for the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards as well, so don’t wait and click here to claim your spot.

ESPN laid out its initial programming plans dedicated to the NFL Draft, with coverage starting tomorrow and more than 20 hours of original NFL and NFL Draft-related programming in the cards, including the eighth season of Gruden’s QB Camp and the debut of the new multi-platform original series We The Fans: Section 250. Other themed offerings include SportsCenter Specials, NFL Matchup: Draft Special, ESPN Sport Science: Draft Combine and the NFL Films-produced Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL.

Univision Deportes Network is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a month-long celebration of its accomplishments since its launch on April 7, 2012. The network’s activities will include a series of vignettes, as well as 60-minute summaries of “the most heart-stopping matches it has covered” along with flashbacks of top moments in the Mexico/US soccer rivalry and highlights from Liga MX play and MLS. Hour-long programs are set to runs Monday through Friday starting today at 2p and 4a, and Tuesday through Friday at 7a. 

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco made the addition of Wichita State to the NCAA conference official, with the school set to join the league for men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports beginning July 1. The conference’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to accept the school as its newest member. “We are pleased and proud to welcome Wichita State to The American,” Aresco said. “This is a University with a strong athletic and academic heritage which shares our Conference’s commitment to excellence, and we look forward to having them as a member. The University has an exceptionally strong tradition of success in men’s basketball and baseball. The addition of Wichita State in basketball and Olympic sports extends our Conference’s national footprint, enhances our national profile, and strengthens our position as a leader in intercollegiate athletics.”


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UFC detailed plans for its annual UFC International Fight Week in Las Vegas, with events taking place from July 5-8 and showcasing two live events in two nights, the 2017 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, the Ulti-man 5K as well as the two-day UFC Fan Experience. The experience will offer a new, easily-accessible and fully interactive two-day event on July 7-8 at Toshiba Plaza and “The Park,” offering access to UFC champions, top-ranked contenders, UFC Hall of Famers, celebrities, legendary fighters and Octagon Girls during meet & great and autograph sessions. Meanwhile, brand activations will be hosted by UFC partners that include: Budweiser, EA Sports, Harley-Davidson, MetroPCS, Monster Energy, Reebok, Toyo Tires and UFC Gym.

The NHL’s annual national activation, Kraft Hockeyville USA 2017, has its ten finalists in the search for America’s most passionate hockey community. The first round of public voting will begin April 11 at www.krafthockeyville.com. Each of the 10 finalists will be awarded funds for arena upgrades from Kraft Heinz, and the grand prize winner will be awarded $150,000 and the opportunity to host an NHL Pre-Season game televised live on NBCSN. Communities include: Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex  Rochester, NY; Falmouth Ice Arena  Falmouth, Mass.; Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena  Geneseo, NY; Louis Astorino Arena  Hamden, Conn.; The Rostraver Ice Gardens  Bell Vernon, Penn.; Bloomington Ice Garden  Bloomington, Minn.; Douglas Ice Arena  Douglas, Wyo.; MAYSA Arena  Minot, N.D.; Pepsi Ice Center  Bloomington, Ill.; and Riverside Arena  Austin, Minn.

USA Rugby locked in a deal with adidas to serve as the official kit supplier for USA National Teams and representative teams. The brand now becomes be the primary creator and outfitter of all team training and competition apparel for USA Rugby.

Airbnb is looking to deliver a new experience for San Francisco Giants fans, announcing a listing that will see six superfans “live like a Giant” on April 28. The experience will include a meet-in-greet with Giants legend Dave Dravecky, a VIP tour of AT&T Park, on-field batting practice, an exclusive dinner at a hidden club inside the stadium with Giant’s CEO Larry Baer, then head up to the owner’s box to watch a game from the best seats in the house.


The NHL postseason will see the league launch the Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge, allowing fans to create and submit brackets containing their predictions for each and every series online or via the NHL App. Brackets will be locked at 6:59p on Wednesday, and again showcase celebrity fans from the worlds of television, movies, music and sports in the “Famous Hockey Fans” league. Prizes will be awarded to US or Canadian entrants who finish at the top of the leaderboard in the Bracket Challenge with the Grand Prize winner receiving a trip for two to the 2017 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

ESPN saw its live coverage of the first and second rounds of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club score its highest streaming numbers ever for the two day span. Overall, golf fans streamed a record 25.8 million total minutes, for a 5% uptick over 2016 with a two-day average minute audience of 46,812 (up 3%). The tournament also included a record two-day average of 961,000 unique visitors to golf content on the ESPN App, up 34% over 2016. ESPN’s live telecast of the second round of the Masters on Friday earned a 1.8 rating, averaging 2.603 million viewers, down from last year’s telecast rating of 2.2.

Showtime Sports opens the door to the sixth and final installment of digital documentary Legacy: Bob Hurley, today on SHO.com and the Showtime Sports YouTube channel. The documentary, which premiered on Feb. 20 on Showtime Sports digital platforms, was scheduled to release its final installment on Monday, March 27 but has been adjusted to capture the resolution of the team’s financial crisis.


Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch League appears to have its primary faces in place, signing Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles and Erik "DoA" Lonnquist to call matches for the league, according to ESPN. The pair have 11 years of casting experience between them which includes a run as the primate English announcers for South Korean gaming channel OGN. "Obviously we will serve as broadcasters for the Overwatch League once it begins in Q3 of 2017, but we’re also excited to serve as consultants to Blizzard as the broadcast and shoulder content takes shape," Mykles told ESPN. "One of the most compelling aspects of moving back to the States is the opportunity to help build a show from the ground up that resonates with fans as an authentic esports product rather than overreaching into outmoded models from traditional sports."

International e-Sports Federation announced that its ninth Esports World Championship 2017, which features international esports players competing as representatives of their countries, will take place this year in Busan, Korea from Nov. 8-12. The organization’s lineup of potential titles, according to Inquirer, would include League of Legends, CS:GO, Winning Eleven, FIFA17, Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, StarCraft: Remastered, and Gran Turismo, with ongoing discussions with the related game companies for license work.


Dodgers/Cubs on ESPN at 8p.


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Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: NFL great Jim Brown retired from the league while filming what movie? Answer: The Dirty Dozen. Kudos: Rob Casalaina- ITN/NY; Pete Gautieri-A&E Networks/NY; Art Salisch-Hearst Television/NY; Bob Eisenstaedt-Granite Springs Productions/NY; Michael Narracci-NESN/Watertown; Fred Petrosino  JBG/Jupiter; Rich Dubroff-PressBoxonline.com/Baltimore; Tony Ferranti-MMSI/Warwick; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Tony Reyes-Karga Seven Pictures/LA; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills.

Later — Chris
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