04/13/18: The NBA Playoffs will tip off Saturday with play spanning ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM beIN SPORTS
beIN SPORTS is ready to spring into action!

The 2018 MotoAmerica season launches this weekend at Road Atlanta!
The top motorcycle racing competition in North America returns as reigning Superbike Champ Toni Elias is back to defend his title.

Catch the ultimate clash between fierce rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in El Clásico on May 6th. Watch super soccer stars Ronaldo and Messi live from Camp Nou.

For times and dates check your local listings or at:  http://www.beinsports.com/us/tv-guide

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Friday April 13, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

 
The 2018 NBA Playoffs TV schedule is locked and loaded across ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV. Opening play will see Saturday offer up four games starting at 3p with Spurs/Warriors on ABC, followed by Wizards/Raptors at 5:30p, Heat/Sixers at8p and Pelicans/Blazers at 10:30p on ESPN. Sunday then sees TNT join the fray at 1p with Bucks/Celtics at 1p, Jazz/Thunder at 6:30p and Wolves/Rockets at 9p. ABC carries Pacers/Cavs at 3:30p. NBA TV gets a piece starting Tuesday with Wizards/Raptors at 7p.
 
Meanwhile, the league reports that it scored all-time records for total attendance, average attendance and sellouts during the 2017-18 season. For the fourth consecutive season, the league established a new record for total attendance, surpassing the 22 million mark for the first time, with 22,124,559 fans attending games this past regular season. NBAStore.com established a new record this season with overall sales up 25 percent over the 2016-17 season and the league established new records across social media this season for actions (+25%, 808 million) and video views (+43%, 11 billion).
 
 
ON THE AIR

Diving deeper, ESPN and ABC detailed talent lineups for the NBA Playoffs, including Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, and reporter Lisa Salters calling a pair of telecasts this weekend. In addition, Michelle Beadle will host two editions of NBA Countdown on ABC from ESPN’s Seaport District Studios in New York on both days, while The Jump Playoff Preview presented by Kia airs on Friday at 7p. 
 
Around the dial, TNT preps for more than 40 NBA Playoff games with its own talent, that will include Ernie Johnson alongside Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal with Kenny Smith providing analysis during the TNT NBA Tip-Off Presented by Autotrader pregame show and the American Express Halftime Report, with extensive postgame coverage on Inside the NBA presented by Kia. The network’s Sports Emmy Award-winning playoff coverage will include six commentator teams during the first round:
 
  • Marv Albert with analyst Chris Webber
  • Kevin Harlan with analyst Reggie Miller
  • Brian Anderson with analyst Kevin McHale
  • Ian Eagle with analyst Brent Barry
  • Spero Dedes with analyst Mike Fratello
  • Pete Pranica with analyst Greg Anthony
Speaking of the NBA on TNT, Turner Sports reports that game telecasts averaged 1.7 million viewers this year to deliver the network’s most-watched NBA regular season coverage since 2013-14.  This year’s viewership across its 67-game schedule is up 13% in total viewers when compared with the 2016-17 regular season (64 games).  TNT also garnered double-digit growth across all key demos including People 18-34 (+14%), People 18-49 (+15%), Men 18-34 (+14%) and Men 18-49 (+18%).
 
In other ratings news, ESPN’s coverage of the Frozen Four scored audience increases in all three games and hit multi-year audience highs for the collective three game event and the national championship game. The National Championship game between Minnesota Duluth and Notre Dame on April 7 drew an average of 653,000 viewers, up 40% from the 2016-17 college hockey season finale, ranking as the most-watched Frozen Four National Championship game since 2014. The Frozen Four National Championship game combined with the semifinals (April 5) averaged 409,000 viewers a game, up 49% from last year’s three games and is also the most-watched Frozen Four since 2014.

 

Wednesday’s Yankees at Red Sox game on MLB Network Showcase on MLB Network delivered 568,000 average viewers to rank as the channel’s most-watched regular season game since 2014 for Derek Jeter’s final home game at Yankee Stadium, and its sixth-most watched regular season game ever.

Speaking of hockey, Las Vegas is set to host the NHL Awards for the next three years, courtesy of a new deal with the 2018 NHL Awards presented by Hulu slated for June 20 at 8p at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
 
NBC Sports Group offer live coverage of the 122nd annual Boston Marathon on Monday at 8:30a on NBCSN. Coverage will be streamed live on NBC Sports Gold’s “Track and Field Pass” commercial-free. In addition, the NBC Sports app will offer a unique finish-line camera during the race, allowing fans, and runners’ family and friends, the ability to see all runners cross the finish line on Boylston Street. Paul Swangard calls the action, joined by analysts Craig Masback, Tim Hutchings, and reporter Trenni Kusnierek.
 
A big thank you to everyone who attended the Cynopsis Sports Awards yesterday, with special shoutouts going to our luminaries and presenters! Congratulations to all of the winners, with multiple honors going to companies that included FOX Sports, the NBA, NBC Sports Group, Univision, Showtime, Turner Sports, Time Inc. and WWE. The full list of winners can be found here.

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM SHOWTIME SPORTS
SHOWTIME SPORTS® thanks CYNOPSIS SPORTS for honoring:
STEPHEN ESPINOZA with the Navigator Award
Congratulations to all the Finalists and Award Winners, Especially:
Webisode Series :   Legacy: Bob Hurley
Use of Snapchat:    Mayweather vs. McGregor
Spot (Over 30 Seconds):  SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® “Imagine Dragons” Music Video
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The PGA TOUR announced that FedEx will become the title sponsor for the newly-named World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, which will shift to Memphis beginning with the 2018-19 PGA TOUR Season, replacing the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, which has been staged in Akron since 1999. “The World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational is a significant milestone not only for FedEx and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but also the larger Memphis community,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president of Integrated Marketing and Communications for FedEx. “We are proud to continue our title sponsorship to benefit St. Jude, and we look forward to the many opportunities and positive economic impact a World Golf Championship event will bring to the city.” 
 
Meanwhile, the PGA TOUR announced today that beginning in 2019, Bridgestone will become the title sponsor for the SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, one of five major championships contested annually on PGA TOUR Champions. The event will be played at Firestone Country Club’s South Course with the 2019 tournament held the week of July 8-14, with a four-year agreement in place through 2022. Bridgestone also extended its Official Marketing Partner relationship with the PGA TOUR through 2022 and will remain as the “Official Tire of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions,” with activation at other TOUR events and messaging across TOUR media properties.
 
UFC announced the launch of its ‘Faces of UFC’ campaign as it commemorates its 25th anniversary in 2018. The campaign will feature a sweepstakes for fans who want to share their personal UFC fan stories with 25 winners selected and awarded an exclusive trip to the UFC 25th Anniversary event on Nov. 10.April 19 will see the promotion officially launch as the ‘Faces of UFC’ engagement hub, featuring personal fan stories, unique UFC videos, UFC trivia, and more.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

With ESPN+ open for business, the company saw the new ESPN App launch yesterday with a completely re-imagined experience that includes the seamless integration of ESPN+, At launch, the new ESPN App will be presented by Audi while ESPN+ is backed by American Express. The app delivers a “unique experience to every fan, while also enabling meaningful curation and presentation from ESPN’s unmatched storytellers, journalists and content creators.”
 
The Arena Football League announced new partnerships with DraftKings, Sportradar, Facebook and VSiN. The league named DraftKings as their exclusive daily fantasy partner, which will launch an AFL fantasy game and will stream AFL games through their app. Sportradar will build a new API for the AFL which can be licensed to new partners for the automated distribution of data. The partnership with Facebook calls for 12 games to be broadcast live in the US on Facebook Watch and globally via the AFL show Page. The AFL will also leverage Facebook products, including Groups and Stories, to engage directly with its fans. Finally, the deal with VSiN will create dynamic content that will give fans more data and information about teams, players, matchups and more. Fans will be able to tune in to VSiN-produced pregame shows and segments each week that preview betting odds and trends, as well as other co-produced live content focused on in-game betting angles.
 
Cadence13 and The Players’ Tribune unveiled a new documentary podcast series, David Ortiz: The Big Papi Story, which will premiere on Patriots’ Day, April 16. This special chronicles to date of the life of Red Sox icon and three-time World Series champion David Ortiz. In addition, the series will examine pivotal moments in his life off the field, from his difficult assimilation into American culture, to the sudden and tragic loss of his mother, to the raw emotion he shared with Hub fans following the tragic Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
**SOLD OUT**
April 12 at the New York Athletic Club in NYC
Sponsored by Showtime
We’re ready to celebrate the work of the most talented producers, hosts, sponsors and executives in the sports industry, saluting the initiatives that drove audiences and turned sports viewers into fans. Click here to view our phenomenal category finalists, as well as recipients of our annual Luminary Awards.
 

ESPORTS

Blizzard unleashed the playoff information for Overwatch Contenders, with 12 teams per region vying for the Championship, including Overwatch League Academy teams. The North American playoffs kick in on Sunday at 6p PT on Twitch, featuring Toronto Esports (Boston Uprising)/NRG Esports (San Francisco Shock); EnVision/XL2 Academy (NYXL); Fusion University (Philadelphia Fusion)/Mayhem Academy (Florida Mayhem) and Gladiators Legion (LA Gladiators)/OpTic Academy (Houston Outlaws). Meanwhile, the European playoffs get underway on April 22.
 
Maryland’s victory over Illinois to lay claim to the BTN League of Legends Championship sparked viewership growth. The network saw viewership peak at 21,467 viewers for a rise of 163% over last year’s contest. For the entire tournament, over 4.5 million minutes were consumed across seven matches, with 900K unique views.
 
The GWENT Challenger Tournament is mining some familiar faces for its upcoming event, which runs April 28-29 from the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine. Hosting duties will be held by Michele Morrow and Jesse Cox.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

NASCAR announced a slate of leadership promotions across its marketing and media operations, including the elevation of Jill Gregory to EVP and CMO, overseeing all NASCAR marketing operations. Meanwhile, Pete Jung has been promoted to VP, brand marketing, while Brian Herbst has been upped to VP, global media strategy and distribution.
 
Molly Arbogast, founder and CEO of boutique firm POV Sports Marketing, announced the addition of two associates, naming Katie Rose Thornton as Vice President/Strategy and Account Management in addition to Client Services Specialist Jennifer Conger.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

The NBA Playoffs get underway this weekend, starting at 3p with Spurs/Warriors on ABC.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1978: The Yankees hand out Reggie Jackson candy bars
 
In the Know: Final question for defunct teams week. The Chicago Enforcers played in which league? (Email chris-sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Keeping with the defunct leagues theme. The WHA lasted seven seasons, who won their first championship? Answer: The New England Whalers. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Ken White-KWTV/Charlotte; John Langermann-WINK-TV/Fort Myers; Tony Ferranti -MMSI/Warwick; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

Later – Chris
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