04/21/16: ESPN deletes Curt Schilling from post; NBCSN is in Jeopardy; ESPN’s NBA Playoffs on the rise


Good morning. It’s Thursday April 21, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Curt Schilling‘s run at ESPN is over. The network announced that the former pitcher had been terminated from the company after posting an anti-transgender meme over Facebook, which he subsequently deleted, but marked the latest in a line of  controversial posts from the baseball talent. "ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated," the company said in a statement.


Dan Patrick’s run with NBC Sports just got a little deeper. NBC Sports Group and Crackle announced that Crackle’s Sports Jeopardy! will run on NBCSN following the network’s nightly coverage of the Rio Olympics. NBCSN nabbed exclusive television rights to the series hosted by Dan Patrick, and which airs originally on Crackle with a debut set for Aug. 6 at midnight and running nightly for two consecutive weeks until the conclusion of the Games. The franchise will then return in the fall as a weekly staple on the network immediately following the network’s coverage of NHL Wednesday Night Rivalry. NBC Sports commentators and highlights of NBC Sports Group’s live events will be incorporated into the show.

ESPN’s Warriors/Rockets matchup on April 16 pulled in 4.8 million viewers on average, marking a 29% spike over last year’s equitable game. So far this postseason, ESPN is averaging 2.6 million for the NBA Playoffs, up 3% over the same point a year ago.

Golf Channel lined up plans for the 2016 World Long Drive season, which will wrap up from October 6-12 with the World Long Drive Championship at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. 2016 will see the return of local and regional qualifying with the “Callaway World Long Drive Qualifying Series beginning with the WinStar Long Drive Launch May 12-14. The format will be tweaked this time around, with local and regional qualifying sets consisting of eight drives within a 3-minute time limit.

Orange County and Citrus Bowl officials are reportedly making a play for the NFL’s Pro Bowl. The AP writes that a bid to bring the NFL’s all-star game to Orlando has been placed and looks to host for a three-year period beginning in 2017.

Beta Research Corporation released their 2016 Brand Identity of Basic Cable/Broadcast Networks study, listing ESPN as the top basic cable network among all male viewers as a network they like to watch online, on tablet or smartphone. The network also took first among Men 25-54, 18-34 (tied) and 18-49 (tied) as one of their favorite channels. Among all men, ESPN2 was tied with ESPN for first for being a network they like to watch on a tablet, smartphone or computer. 

ESPN Films brings back the SEC Storied series returns on May 1 at 9p on SEC Network with the premiere of Norm, chronicling the life of Missouri men’s basketball coaching stalwart Norm Stewart. The pic marks the first of three documentaries that will be released in May and June.


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The AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger campaign signed on to serve as one of the sponsors for Kasey Kahne and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Jeff Gordon had served as the face of the campaign in recent years. Drive to End Hunger will be primary sponsor in two Sprint Cup races, taking place Aug. 20 at Bristol Motor Speedway and Nov. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway, while being featured as an associate sponsor of the team in other events.

Colorado Rockies rookie Trevor Story is moving quickly on his new-found fame, locking in a deal with Topps AuthenticsSM the will feature signed items including baseballs, jerseys, bats and oversized cards for baseball fans. “Trevor Story’s first week as a big leaguer was phenomenal,” said David Leiner, Topps Vice President and General Manager of North American Sports & Entertainment. “No one has done what he has done at this level. The excitement he brings to every game is something that can’t be matched. We are proud to have Trevor join our Topps Authentics lineup.”


UFC is dishing out its first-ever emoji keyboard, presented by MetroPCS. Fight fans based in the US will be able to download the app or by visiting UFCEMOJIS. This keyboard debuts in conjunction with UFC 197: Jones vs. Saint Preux on Saturday, April 23 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.   
PlayStation Vue is adding Longhorn Network to its channel lineup in Texas and Oklahoma. The University of Texas sports channel will be available through PlayStation Vue’s Core multi-channel plan starting at $34.99 in select cities.

Sports Illustrated Play acquired Tourney Machine, a leader in tournament management and scheduling software. The new acquisition will offer a state-of-the-art tournament management product to complement SI Play’s core league and team management and in-game scoring capabilities. “We share a common bond with Tourney Machine in our devotion to the communities of people connected through youth sports. We’re already talking about new ideas and ways we can spotlight the great accomplishments taking place on athletic fields, as well as ways technology can make it more efficient for all of us who contend with the ever-increasing demands on our time,” said Jeff Karp, CEO of SI Play.


It’s the end of the line for gaming staple Xbox 360. Microsoft announced Wednesday that the famed console will no longer be made after a ten-year run and the release of Xbox One in 2013. Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced the decision in a blog post, noting that “The Xbox 360 helped redefine an entire generation of gaming at Microsoft. I am incredibly proud of all of the work and dedication that went into development of the Xbox 360 hardware, services and games portfolio over the last decade. And I’m grateful to the fans for their continued passion and support.” Meanwhile, current Xbox 360 owners will continue to receive Xbox Live services for their console and Xbox Live servers that support Xbox 360 services will also remain online and active.

SuperData downgraded its revenue projections for VR to $2.9 billion for 2016, off 22% from its previous estimates of $3.6 billion (which were down from its original numbers of $5.1B). The company notes that the revised numbers are due to headset production lagging behind demand, noting that 13 million Americans intend to purchase a VR headset this year, but only 7.2 million would likely be shipped.

Skype is partnering with ESL for PAX East this weekend, to host a live, #GamewithSkype Q&A show that will be broadcast once a day during the expo. ESL hosts Joshua Gray and Ceez will field fan questions during Finals for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and Gears of War, along with the first Halo Championship Series Pro League qualifier.

The newborn Rocket League Hoops is bringing in the heavyweight, locking in a deal with the NBA to offer an NBA Flag Pack to players for $1.99 that grants access to all 30 NBA team flags.


Thunder/Mavericks on TNT at 7p.



Entries are open for the 2016 Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards. With new categories to choose from such as:

Best Guest Appearance on a Kids Show
Best Kids Sports-Related Series or Special
Best Kids Tech Activation
Best Use of Music in a K6-11, Preschool or Tween Show
and more!
What are you waiting for? Enter by 5/18.

ON THIS DAY in 1995: The Celtics play their final game at Boston Garden.

In The Know: What was the original name of Boston Garden when it opened in 1928? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What was the name of Dolph Lundgren’s character in Rocky IV? Answer: Ivan Drago. Kudos: Keith Marder- Halstead Property/NY; Dan Hadel-ESPN/NY; RJ Simoni-ESPN/NY; Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Justin Hirnisey-USA Gymnastics/Indianapolis; James J. Pepe-Kwik Goal/Quakertown; Tim Buckman-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Matt Marini-MLB Network/NJ; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; John Kukla- KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; David Hauptman/Denver; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Richard Sindell-RSA Management/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; Scott Brofman-Renegade83/LA; Mike Bridges-New West Broadcasting/Hilo.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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