04/19/17: ABC’s TV Warrior; Stanley Cup Playoffs Power NBC Sports’ Platform; MLBPA gets personal

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April 19, 2017 and this is your your first early morning
Sports briefing!

The NBA Playoffs continue to surge, as ABC’s coverage of
the Warriors’ Game 1win over the Trail Blazers on Sunday drummed up a total live audience (television and streaming) of 6,624,000 average viewers, making it the network’s most-watched NBA Playoffs opening weekend game ever, according to Nielsen. That number was up 22% over the corresponding game last year. Through five games, viewership for the 2017 NBA Playoffs on ESPN and ABC has grown 8%, averaging 3,957,000 total live viewers with 3,865,000 on TV. It was also ESPN’s most-streamed NBA Playoffs opening weekend ever, with an average minute audience of 91,800 viewers, 303,900 average unique viewers and 71,616,500 total minutes streamed.

Meanwhile, NHL postseason action has continued the postseason uptick trend. NBC Sports Group reports that – through the first five days of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs – the company has experienced year-over-year increases, record-setting digital consumption, and the best start ever for its cable networks. Total Audience Delivery for the first five days of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs (18 telecasts) averaged 726,000 viewers across its platforms, marking a 9% rise over the same time period last season while cable coverage of the playoffs marked off to its best start ever, with TAD averaging 581,000 viewers for 15 telecasts, up 14% vs. last year. On the digital front, the company’s live streaming coverage of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs delivered 437,000 unique users and 53.1 million minutes, both postseason records, and up 15% and 17%, respectively.
Speaking of the NHL, the league locked in Las Vegas for the 2017 NHL Awards and include the NHL Expansion Draft as well as part of a two-hour television program on June 21 at T-Mobile Arena. NBCSN will carry the event at 8p. “We are thrilled to be in Las Vegas again for the NHL Awards,” said Steve Mayer, NHL Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President. “To be able to pair this perennial show with the excitement of the Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights is a unique event that we think our fans will greatly enjoy.”
The NCAA locked in a lineup of 613 host sites for preliminary rounds and finals of its predetermined championships in Divisions I, II and III through 2021-22. Overall, there were 43 states selected to host at least one round of an NCAA championship, with Pennsylvania leading the way with a total of 53. Among the highlights will be Dayton continuing to host the NCAA First Four through at least 2022, while North Carolina returned to the mix following a year of controversial legislation with Greensboro set to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2020, while Raleigh will host the first and second rounds in 2021. Regional sites for 2019 will include: Kansas City, Louisville, Anaheim and Washington, D.C. Regional sites for 2020 will hit Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Houston and New York, while Brooklyn, Memphis, Minneapolis and Denver host in 2021. Finally, 2022 will see Philadelphia, Chicago, San Antonio and San Francisco as the homes for the tournament.
The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl has a new home on linear television, locking in a deal with CBS Sports Network in a multi-year television partnership to televise the annual collge bowl game starting this year on Dec. 30. The Bowl will feature teams from the Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences. “We are excited to partner with the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl and add another bowl game from a terrific destination city to our college football lineup,” said Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming, CBS Sports. “We always welcome the opportunity to provide our viewers with more high quality post season college football.” 
FOX Sports unveiled the 10-week schedule for The BIG3, the
3-on-3 professional basketball league debuting on June 25. The season will tip off at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, followed by regular season stops in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Tulsa, Nashville, Dallas, Lexington and LA. The BIG3 Playoffs will hit Seattle on Aug. 20 with the inaugural season championship crowned in Las Vegas on Aug. 26. “When we created the BIG3, we set out to bring elite basketball talent and highly competitive 3-on-3 action to fans across the country,” said BIG3 President and Commissioner, Roger Mason Jr. “We couldn’t be more excited to deliver on that promise and unveil our 2017 season schedule including cities that are home to some of the sport’s most diehard fans.”
IMPACT Wrestling
detailed promotional plans for its new alliance with Lucha Libre AAA, with their talent exchange set to begin on July 2 with Slammiversary 2017 from The IMPACT Zone in Orlando. Meanwhile, AAA will present its 25th Anniversary Triplemania XXV on August 26in Mexico City. In addition, the two organizations will launch co-branded live tours in the fall while Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp. will work with Lucha Libre AAA to expand the distribution of Fight Network.
Tyron Woodley and Yves Edwards are set to serve as analysts on the FOX Sports desk with host Karyn Bryant for UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Lobov on FS1 and FS2 on Saturday. Meanwhile, Brian Stann joins blow-by-blow announcer Todd Grisham to call the fights live from Nashville.

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As expected, CAA Sports emerged victorious to represent global sponsorship rights for Formula One and will now be charged with taking the Formula One brand into new markets and expanding the sponsorship portfolio to include new and innovative commercial partners.
BodyArmor is turning to Kobe Bryant to launch its first-ever national television advertising campaign during the NBA Playoffs this week. With Bryant serving as the brand’s third-largest investor, the former Laker wrote, directed and narrated the 60-second spot, which carries the slogan “Obsession is Natural” and features the likes of James Harden and Mike Trout. The ad debuts Wednesday night on TNT.
MetLife is working with the PGA TOUR to debut a new broadcast feature called the MetLife MatchUp that in a move to “engage fans around the world in a season-long contest whose winner is only determined at the end of a season of challenging holes and courses.” Each weekend at select events broadcast by CBS, the two players who best navigate challenging situations will be recognized and highlighted on PGATOUR.COM/MetLife and compete head-to-head in the weekly MetLife MatchUp, where fans worldwide can cast votes for the shot they feel was best navigated.
Aflac signed on to partner with Tough Mudder and will serve as the “Official Supplemental Insurance Provider” for Tough Mudder’s 2017 events season. The deal will include a six-month campaign aimed at small businesses via the Aflac Small Business Challenge.
National Car Rental unveiled a new sponsorship deal with the Boston Red Sox where the brand will serve as the Official Car Rental Partner of the club through 2021. The Red Sox agreement marks the company’s ninth MLB team partnership, and the brand will now receive in-stadium signage above the Green Monster outfield wall as well as behind home plate and will sponsor the new Emerald Club Express Gate. National will also have a presence in the Royal Rooters Club and will sponsor the National Call to the Bullpen during all regular season home games.
Univision announced that UCI Live – its in-house live event and experiential marketing unit –selected Kissimmee, Florida as the host city for the first-ever Prospects Cup, with the international youth soccer tournament held at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate Sports Field Complex from December 18-22.
The MLBPA is opting to get more social, announcing the launch of Infield Chatter, a mobile social network for baseball fans and players. The platform will allow fans and MLB players with verified accounts to showcase pics, videos and more to their in-application feeds. Fans can also take part in video chats with players and take part in contests for a shot at prizes. More than 1,000 players already have accounts.
The NBA announced a multi-year partnership with PlayON to serve as the league’s official daily fantasy partner in the Asian, European and Latin American markets. The deal will see PlayON create locally tailored daily fantasy games for fans.
NeuLion is launching its newly developed technology service, NeuLion ACE Analytics for customers who have licensed the NeuLion Digital Platform. The service will look to offer up OTT real-time consumer watch data, user data, and support data generated by the NeuLion Digital Platform. “NeuLion ACE Analytics provides our customers all the tools needed to uncover intelligence and insights that drive effective OTT business outcomes,” said Roy Reichbach, NeuLion’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This newly launched service is a very significant value add for our NeuLion Digital Platform customers, who will get sharper insights and real-time data to stay competitive and grow their OTT businesses.” 
FloSports announced its 2017 first quarter results, revealing that it had added nearly 20,000 subscribers per month, and increased unique visitors by 48% year-over-year. In addition, the company grew its social media following by 50% to more than 2.2 million. “Our coverage is inspired by the passion of sports fans, who want uncompromising, authentic coverage,” FloSports co-founder and CEO Martin Floreani said. “Unlike cable-based networks, we have a direct relationship with our consumers, which gives us the ability to offer an unparalleled experience to our subscribers.
PBR and Twitter announced a partnership to live stream the PBR Built Ford Tough Series event at the Tacoma Dome this weekend. The live stream on Saturday will be available for free to logged-in and logged-out users on Twitter and connected devices in the United States and accessible at pbr.twitter.com or on @PBR. The stream on Twitter will also include advertising packages with TV-style ad spots. Fans will also experience a full musical integration throughout the event as Warrant performs as the “PBR House Band,” including performing the national anthem, the musical beds leading up to and under each ride, and during breaks in the action.

Intel Extreme Masters is reteaming with HyperX to serve as the exclusive peripheral and memory partner for Season 12 of the series. The deal will see pro players practice and compete with HyperX headsets, keyboards, mice, and using systems complimented by HyperX memory in IEM tournaments. This will be the fifth consecutive year HyperX is a sponsor. “We are thrilled to once again partner up with HyperX, who we have had a successful relationship for several years now,” said Michal Blicharz VP Pro Gaming at ESL, “HyperX’s ongoing commitment to excellence has made it a perfect match for Intel Extreme Masters for the last 4 years. Taking this commitment into the next season will only improve it further.
Chinese investment company Tencent is launching its own global game platform, according to TEO, which will be known as WeGame. The platform will extend the currently-running TGP worldwide.

Whistle Sports announced that J LaLonde has joined the company to serve as VP of Content. LaLonde will oversee the company’s multi-platform content development, production and programming worldwide. Prior to joining Whistle Sports, LaLonde served as an executive producer of original programming and development for Mashable Studios.
The New York Red Bulls named Jayne Bussman-Wise as Senior Director, Content and Communications and will be charged with developing and executing strategy around communications and content via the club’s digital and social platforms.

Trail Blazers/Warriors on TNT at 10:30p.
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