04/18/18: The Professional Fighters League laid out its format and schedule for the 2018 season

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Wednesday April 18, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

 
The Professional Fighters League opened the books on its format and schedule, featuring individual fighters competing in regular-season match-ups, as well as win-and-advance playoffs, and season ending championship fights from a roster of 72 fighters from 13 countries. The action will kick off first on June 7 at Madison Square Garden in NYC as part of an 11 event, 126 fight schedule with 12 athletes in each of six different weight-classes. All competitors will have to win two fights in one evening during the playoff round to advance to the championship event. Six fighters will take home a 2018 PFL championship belt and a $1 million purse and the action running live on Thursday in primetime as part of “MMA Night in America” on NBCSN.  
 
 
ON THE AIR

The NBA Playoffs have now handed ESPN and ABC their best viewership for the event in seven years with the networks – through five games – combining to generate an average of 4,045,000 viewers during opening weekend, up 5% year over year. Meanwhile, 35 ESPN commentators are now on deck to contribute to this weekend’s NBA Playoffs game and studio coverage across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes.
 
Around the dial, NBC Sports reports that viewership for the first five days of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs across the networks of NBCUniversal rank as the best in four years, growing 5% over 2017. Total Audience Delivery for 18 games across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA Network, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app has averaged 761,000 viewers Opening weekend coverage on NBC alone averaged a TAD of 1.888 million viewers for three games, also the best in four years (2014; 2.151 million), and up 30% vs. 2017.
 
ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, ESPNU and ESPNEWS will combine to cover the 2018 International Champions Cup from July 20-August 12. The series of 27 international club soccer matches between 18 championship teams will be played in eight countries across North America, Europe and Asia over a three-week period. In addition, ESPN2 will televise the first Women’s International Champions Cup Final event on July 29, at 9p. Meanwhile, the ICC begins July 20 with Spain’s La Liga club Sevilla vs. Portuguese Premeira Liga’s Benfica, live from Letzigrund, Switzerland, at 2p on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
 
FOX Sports announced today that the August NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Bristol Motor Speedway will shift from Aug. 15 to 16 and will now air live on the FOX broadcast channel at 8:30p. FOX also will offer live coverage of the October 13 series race from Talladega Superspeedway at 1p.
 
NBC Sports Group announced coverage of the 59th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show – the largest in-water boat show in the world – running this December on NBCSN.December’s telecast on NBCSN marks the first of three consecutive years that the network will provide coverage of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, showcasing the latest vessels, technical innovations, and performance reviews, as well as highlight the wide array of lifestyle amenities. Filming will take place from Oct.31-Nov. 4.
 
FOX Sports premieres The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated on FS1 and FOX Sports GO on April 18 at 10p. Season 27 of the show will showcase a cast of eight unbeaten lightweight and eight unbeaten featherweight fighters coached by heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and light heavyweight champion and FOX Sports analyst Daniel Cormier.
 
Congratulations to FOX Sports’ sportscaster Pam Oliver, who was named a 2018 Gracie Awards winner for her contributions in sports. The honor was announced by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation and she will accept the award at the 43rd annual Gracie Awards Gala highlighting women in television, radio, cable and social media in Beverly Hills on May 22.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Ford Performance is looking to bring the company’s Mustang brand to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next year, which will mark Ford’s fourth different Monster Energy Series model since the “modern era” began in 1972, according to NASCAR, following the likes of the Thunderbird, Taurus and Fusion, which the current model. According to Ford officials, the Mustang is still going through initial testing and will be formally submitted to NASCAR for approval this summer.
 
Visa locked in a deal with professional footballer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who will be the new face of its global marketing campaign ahead of of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. “We have always been aware of Zlatan’s impressive on-field accomplishments, global appeal and colorful personality,” said Lynne Biggar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Visa Inc. “At Visa, we are thrilled to partner with Zlatan to bring our FIFA World Cup™ campaign and product innovation to life and connect with fans around the globe, showing once again Visa is ‘Everywhere You Want To Be’.”
 
Global sports entertainment brand Topgolf will celebrate National Golf Day on April 25, by offering complimentary golf lessons at 37 venues across the United States (with the exception of its Las Vegas location). In partnership with WE ARE GOLF, and guest who visits a Topgolf venue on April 25 from 9a-9p will receive a free, five-minute lesson from a golf professional.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

The Vegas Stats and Information Network revealed that the platform will now deliver daily sports updates for Cheddar Big News, Cheddar’s new general news network. Cheddar Big News will run VSiN video updates covering sports information and markets as part of the new network’s focus on the biggest news stories of the day. VSiN will supply multiple updates each day from its Las Vegas studio located in the middle of the sports book at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa.
 
beIN Sports Connect launched LaLigaTV, a new channel produced by LaLiga. The channel will include all LaLiga games live along with an exclusive new studio show analyzing the action before and after each match day, twice daily news bulletins throughout the week, and re-runs of the current season’s games.
 
ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight is moving, and will settle down with sister company ABC News, which said it would acquire the platform and become a part of the news division.
 
 
ESPORTS

Immortals are doing the Dew, inked a comprehensive partnership with Mountain Dew to make it the team’s first-ever “Official Beverage.” The pair are planning a slateof digital and live activations, including extensive programming on Mountain Dew’s Twitch channel, while players will be integrated into Mountain Dew-branded esports events, including Dew Tour and Mountain Dew League. In addition, Mountain Dew, Immortals and Lionsgate will team up on several premium content initiatives and properties as part of the partnership, including a pilot for an unscripted esports series offering fans a behind-the-scenes look at Immortals and its players.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Jazz/Thunder on NBA TV at 8p.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1995: Joe Montana announces his retirement from the NFL
 
In the Know: Which team did Notre Dame’s Joe Montana beat to win the 1977 college football national championship? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which four MLB teams did Nolan Ryan play for? Answer: The Mets, Angels, Astros and Rangers. Kudos: Marc Wollis-Cadent Network/NY; Andrew Feingold-Fox News/NY; Mike Bako-D S Simon Media/NY; Conor Moran-Pixability/NY; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Jay Leon-Turner Sports/Atlanta; Mark Lehman-Atlanta Braves/Atlanta; Rick Wiener-Allebach Communications/Philadelphia; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas-Fort Worth; Lance Davis-ESPN Milwaukee/Milwaukee; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Bloomington; Mark Stulberger-Stully’s Broadcasting School/Houston; Dave Sikula-San Francisco State University/San Francisco; Dave Behar-ION Network/Manhattan Beach; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Jim Bernard-VER/LA

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