04/20/17: Univision turns up the audio; Bucs next on Knocks; AVP serves up sponsor spikes

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Good morning. It’s Thursday April 20, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Sports briefing!

Univision Deportes is launching a new national sports radio network, appropriately named Univision Deportes Radio. The platform will offer a lineup of soccer matches, including live national broadcasts featuring teams from LigaMX, CopaMX, the US National teams, MLS and Liga Portugal in addition to local radio assets and partnerships with local market contests that include: MLB / Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Texas Rangers; NBA / Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks; MLS / FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Chicago Fire; NFL/Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals; and NHL/ Chicago Blackhawks. Overall, the network will launch in 10 markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, LA, Miami and New York.
“We are excited to enter the sports radio spectrum with the launch of Univision Deportes Radio and to provide our loyal viewers with yet another means to access the sports content we know they’re craving,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, President of Univision Deportes. “This launch completes our 360-degree offering, allowing us to position Univision Deportes as a leading multi-platform sports brand. We are very proud to be the No. 1 destination for soccer in the U.S. and we’re equally excited to build on this by offering our audience local MLB, NBA and NFL games, in-depth and informative in-studio radio shows, as well as a wealth and variety of sports content across the country.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will serve as the centerpiece for HBO Sports’ next run of Hard Knocks. The 14-time Sports Emmy Award-winning series will debut the new season on Aug. 8 at 10p with other eps running on Tuesdays at the same time, with encore plays Wednesday nights. “The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have everything we look for when it comes to Hard Knocks: a young, dynamic team filled with big names; an experienced coaching staff focused on taking their squad to the next level; and high expectations in a division that has represented the NFC in the past two Super Bowls,” said NFL Films Senior Executive Ross Ketover.
TNT saw Tuesday night’s NBA Playoff doubleheader (Bulls/Celtics and Jazz/Clippers) average 3.2 million viewers for the network to claim the night across cable. That number is up 28% over 2016. The network’s coverage of the Bulls/Celtics, meanwhile, averaged 3.4 million viewers, up 76% over 2016. Meanwhile, NBA TV’s Tuesday night coverage of Bucks/Raptors averaged 539,000 viewers for the channel, marking 2% growth over last year’s comparable coverage.
Turner Sports announced plans to premiere the second season of The Dunk King on TNT, showcasing 24 of the top amateur dunkers from around the globe. The new season begins in May with new episodes airing nightly immediately following the network’s coverage of the first four games of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The show, created by Turner Sports and produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions, will be hosted by Terrence J and Kenny Smith and feature two new judges this year, Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Nate Robinson – along with Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Brent Barry.
Phil Simms’ run at CBS Sports will continue, as the company announced that Simms – after being replaced by Tony Romo in the broadcast booth for its NFL games – will now serve as a studio analyst on The NFL Today. “Listen, I didn’t make any comments for a lot of reasons and you want to sit there and think about it,” Simms told SI. “Initially was my pride hurt? Absolutely. Of course it was … So it took a little bit. Not long. I started thinking about it in a positive way and then I became excited about it.” Simms will replace Tony Gonzalez in the studio, and teaming with James Brown, Bill Cowher, Bart Scott and Boomer Esiason.
Speaking of football, ESPN will air SportsCenter Special: 2017 NFL Schedule Release on Thursday, from 8-10p timed to the league’s announcement of the 2017 regular-season schedule. Trey Wingo hosts, with analyst Jerome Bettis, and NFL Insiders Louis Riddick and Adam Schefter.
Tennis Channel is adding on-air analyst Martina Navratilova to its booth during coverage of this weekend’s Fed Cup semifinal between the US and the Czech Republic. This will mark first time in her 11-year Tennis Channel career that Navratilova will offer commentary during coverage of the event, with competition starting Saturday at noon where she will be paired with Brett Haber.
Layer3 TV announced that it will now offer Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and MASN2 in HD as part of the allHD Platinum package for Layer3 TV subscribers in DC metro area. “The O’s and Nats are both off to great starts this season, and we’re delighted that Layer3 TV’s customers are now part of the excitement,” said Jim Cuddihy, MASN’s Executive Vice President of Marketing, Programming and Affiliate Relations.  “Layer3 TV’s allHD platform brings fans the crystal-clear picture quality they want, all the way down to the stitching on the ball and the dirt on the diamond.”

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As AVP gears up for the 2017 AVP Pro Beach Tour season, the organization revealed its lineup of sponsors for the year with Boston Beer’s Truly, Kona Deep, Frontier, Rox and Klenskin now joining the roster of official sponsors, alongside returning sponsors Wilson, Smarty Pants, Obrigado, Power Crunch and Breville. The eight-stop tour kicks off in Huntington Beach from May 4-7 and will continue onto Austin, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Chicago. Also sponsoring the 2017 AVP Pro Tour are Obrigado Coconut Water, Power Crunch, Breville and Rox.
Competitor Group, operators of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, locked in an expanded relationship with Michelob ULTRA to serve as the new title sponsor of the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon. As part of the deal Michelob ULTRA has also extended its longstanding partnership as ‘Official Beer Sponsor’ and ‘Official Sponsor of Post Race Celebrations’ across the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series 22 events in the United States. Michelob ULTRA has served as the official beer sponsor of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series since 2012.
Toyota and AEG are extending their comprehensive partnership across AEG’s key Southern California properties in a multiyear, multimillion-dollar renewal agreement. The new agreement, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, renews Toyota’s longstanding Founding Partner status at STAPLES Center, L.A. LIVE and StubHub Center. Toyota will also remain an official partner to the LA Kings.
The NBA, FIBA and the Israel Basketball Association today announced that the next edition of Basketball without Borders Europe will be held Aug. 13-16 at The Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel. This marks the first time that the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program will be held in the country.

April 27 will see Yahoo Sports offer a live show covering the NFL Draft starting at 8p with host Mike Hill will be joined by Charles Robinson, Pat Forde, Tank Williams, Brad Evans, Brandon Funston Tony Siragusa in Yahoo’s New York City studios. The group will offer football and fantasy analysis, breaking news and live questions from social media throughout the entire first round. Day 2 of the draft will see Yahoo Sports coverage evolve into an all-fantasy cast from 7-8:30p with streaming on Yahoo Sports and Facebook Live.
Video platform SportsCastr.Live is officially off and running, allowing users to serve as color commentators and enabling viewers to select which sportscaster they wish to have call, recap or make predictions on a game. Founding investors include David Stern, NBA Commissioner Emeritus; Jim Boeheim, Syracuse University Head Basketball Coach; Donald Schupak, former Managing Partner of the ABA’s Spirits of St. Louis; Vernon Davis, two-time NFL Pro Bowler and Washington Redskins tight end; Andrew Schupak, SGI MB CEO; and Eric Bechtel, IdeaQuest Founder. The company is led by CEO Kevin April. Users can enhance their streams with real-time scoreboards, on-air motion graphics and augmented reality. The platform is now in public beta and available for free on the iTunes App Store.
Olympic Channel announced plans for the second season of The Z Team and is now casting for sports teams that could benefit from the help of an Olympian. Cameroon Olympic gold medalist and former Arsenal defender Lauren and Olympic gold medalist in beach volleyball Jackie Silva have signed on to volunteer with additional Olympic athletes announced at a later date.
Stream unveiled a partnership with Go To Team in a move to allow end customers to go to Stream for a “turnkey solution” and remove the need to source an additional vendor for production services. “The Stream partnership allows us to continue to offer added value to our clients that are constantly looking for high quality cost effective solutions to move content efficiently to whatever platform, server and end user they choose,” says Go To Team Managing Partner/COO, Shawn Moffatt.
fuboTV will now offer Chelsea TV, the English Premier League club’s channel featuring 24-hour-a-day programming, to Fubo Premier subscribers as an add-on package for $5.99/month. fuboTV will be the first third-party platform in the United States to make Chelsea TV available to its customers.

In this week’s edition of Cynopsis Esports & Gaming

**DreamHack Austin gears up with new twists for viewers

**Daybreak Games’ Laura Naviaux talks Promax, marketing and H1Z1

**Shaq leads lineup for ELeague’s celebrity invitational

**Who is esports top-paid team?

**DC’s NRG surge

**ESA’s 2017 Essential Facts

Octagon named Matthieu Fenaert as Executive Director of Octagon Russia to lead the agency’s marketing and events business through FIFA World Cup 2018. Fenaert previously served as the Co-Managing Director of Octagon Brazil.


Thunder/Rockets on TNT at 8p.

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