04/24/17: FloSports’ Big plans; Cavs win continues TNT’s hot pace; MLBShop’s top crop

Good morning. It’s Monday April 24, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Sports briefing!

Friday saw the Big 12 Conference deepen its relationship with FloSports, announcing plans for the steaming platform to provide live and on-demand coverage of the 2017 Big 12 Tennis and Outdoor Track & Field Championships on FloTennis.com and FloTrack.com, respectively. The partnership between FloSports and the Big 12 Conference officially launched in January 2017 and lasts through the end of each sports’ season in 2017.
The addition to the FloSports lineup cements a hot quarter for the company, which just completed its best quarter to date, with more than 58,000 new subs in Q1, as well as more than 300 event rights deals signed in the same period, including 8 year deal with USA wrestling, the Big12, and expansion with JuJitsu federation. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Martin Floreani, co-founder and CEO of the FloSports, about its strategy, partnerships and trends.
Floreani on company goals: Ever since we took the venture capital funding, our plans were to set the right environment into place to transform ourselves as a media company. Within sports media, we have great relationships with event rights holders because we make them more money and build them media equity and because we have a direct-to-consumer product, we have access to more data. Our culture is absolutely obsessed with data. So our plan was three-fold: 1) be 100% digital; 2) provide better value for rights holders than anybody; and 3) be better than anyone in the world as it relates to live events as it relates to data. If we do those three things, we believe 100% that we will be bigger than ESPN one day.
On providing ROI for partners: We know the value of live events better than anyone. When we go into a relationship with a rights holder, we want to make their events as big as we can make it because we are trying to build up their media equity while they are trying to build up their social around the event. We are also trying to build up the biggest economy around those events. So they get more cash up front as well as the media equity component. Our partnership with USA Wrestling is a perfect example of this and we’ve now totally flipped the economic model for a slew of these sports. They were paying for distribution and production. We now pay them an event rights fee, we take care of logistics and build equity in media rights for them.
On trends: The deterioration of cable is pouring fuel on our fire. But there is a bigger story. I was on a SXSW panel, and there was a guy on it who made a lot of his money via advertising on cable. His big thing was that content was king. I don’t think he’s right however, because I think experience is king. Of course you have to have great content, but you also have to have a great product. When you watch cable, you still don’t think you have a great product. You have commercials, you can’t watch what you want when you want it, etc. That’s not the definition of a great product. Our approach is that we cover sports with more depth and authenticity than anyone else. Who you align with someone’s passions, you have a much deeper level of engagement.

Turner Sports reports that Thursday night’s NBA Playoff action saw the Cavs/Pacers battle hand TNT with an average of 3.6 million viewers, scoring a 42% rise of the equivalent game in 2016. The game won night on cable (marking the fifth time in five nights for the network), and delivered TV’s top program for audiences/Men 18-34, People/Men 18-49 as well as Men 25-54.
The American Athletic Conference announced that ESPN Events added the Miami Beach Bowl to its roster with the game poised to leave Florida with the deal. The Miami Beach Bowl was created by the American and has been played at Marlins Park the past three seasons but will now reportedly shift its home to Frisco, Texas where it would be played in Toyota Stadium.
Mikhail Prokhorov is reportedly set to sell a minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets, with ESPN reporting that the team owner will put 49% of the team up for sale. He told Russian media that “currently the process is going on and we are looking for a buyer.”
With Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event rained out in Bristol yesterday, FOX Sports announced that the race will now take place today at 1p on the broadcast channel. Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds will call the action.
Eleven Sports struck an agreement with European boxing promotion Sauerland Boxing for live/exclusive coverage of select fights in the future. The channel also locked Saturday’s Murray/Rosado fight in a deal with Matchroom Sport, while the agreement with Sauerland Promotions was completed through MP & Silva.
Matthew McConaughey is set to join David Feherty tonight on Golf Channel’s Feherty at 9p. The interview takes place over a few holes in addition to a sit-down conversation in the clubhouse with subjects that include: the similarities between golf and acting; how his brother Pat turned him on to golf after he broke his foot and his time spent raking bunkers while working on the golf course maintenance staff growing up.
Pac-12 Networks launches coverage across its linear and digital channels of Pac-12 Championships in several spring sports that include Men’s and Women’s Golf, Men’s and Women’s Tennis and Beach Volleyball.  The action begins with the 2017 Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championships today from Tucson.

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MLBShop.com reports that the Cubs’ Kris Bryant topped the site’s most popular player list based on sales since the World Series. Rounding out the top five were three other Cubs, with Anthony Rizzo in second, Javier Baez in fourth and Kyle Schwarber. Breaking the sweep in the number three position was the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. The average age of players overall on this list is 26-and-a-half – more than 1.5 years younger than any previous list’s mean age.
AEG announced a deal with HotelTonight that makes the app the official hotel-booking partner of LA Live and the LA Galaxy. The partnership, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, marks HotelTonight’s first partnership with an MLS soccer team in the US in a first-time category for AEG.

UFC Fight Pass will stream the induction of former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice Smith to the 2017 UFC Hall of Fame class as a Pioneer. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 6 in Las Vegas.
BTN is crossing the Atlantic to cover the University of Michigan Football travel party this week as they hit to Rome. Content will be shared from the social media platforms of both Michigan and BTN, and follow the Wolverines through a week’s worth of educational opportunities, excursions, team-building exercises and football practice.
Roku is teaming with international sports broadcaster beIN Sports are making the network’s premium sports streaming service, beIN Sports Connect available on Roku®streaming players and Roku TVs in Canada. “Live sports is a key ingredient of TV programming, but still today not all sports can be watched live by consumers. With beIN Sports Connect Canadian Roku users can access a wide variety of live sports programming, whether you are a soccer, motor racing or martial arts fan,” said Ziba Kaboli-Gerbrands, director content acquisition at Roku.


Riot Games is looking to end relegation in the League of Legends NA LCS and implement franchising in team for the 2018 NA LCS Season, according to theScore esports. The article states that League of Legends teams that currently hold NA LCS spots, or that will hold them the split prior to franchising’s implementation, will not be guaranteed spots in the league for 2018.
Superdata reports that gaming video content audiences have now hit 665 million people. The company’s current study states that more people watch GVC than HBO, Netflix, ESPN and Hulu combined. Meanwhile, ads and direct consumer spending will push GVC earnings to $4.6 billion this year. Compared to the days of the stereotyped gamer, the current viewer base has a high female representation (46%) and high average income ($58K in the US).
The Immortals are adding Facebook Live to their toolkit, with the platform now joining Twitch for simulcasts of team content. The squad will leverage Restream.io, according to PVPLive, for video. “A big part of our mission here at Immortals is to be on the lookout for new ways to reach our fans with entertaining and engaging content,” said Immortals CEO Noah Whinston. “By adding Facebook to our cross-platform live streaming roster, we’re giving our fans even more, options than before to watch a match or interact with their favorite player on the go, anywhere and anytime.”
Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, is making history as the first all-women’s school to announce a varsity esports program that will be supported with scholarships. According to ESPN, the program will begin in fall of 2017 with the team set to compete in the Tespa Collegiate Series for Overwatch, with the title selected, per the school’s site, because “of its diverse and strong female characters.”

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


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ON THIS DAY in 1974: The NFL grants a franchise to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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JOB OPENING: MGR INT’L PR/LPGA/FL: Manage key int’l sports PR plans & media coverage. 5 yrs Int’l PR exp. Bilingual English/Asian language req’d. Strong kwldg of sports & golf pref’d. Resume to: http://bit.ly/2orxzMs (4/29)

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