04/27/17: ESPN’s high-profile cuts; Golf Channel’s collegiate course; Bleacher Report revamps its Game

Good morning. It’s Thursday April 27, 2017 and this is your your first early morning Sports briefing!

An anticipated brutal day was worse than expected as ESPN dropped the axe on around 100 staffers on Wednesday, more than the projected 50-70 cited previously in various publications. Among the on-air casualties were Trent Dilfer, Len Elmore, Danny Kanell, Jay Crawford, Pierre LeBrun, Jane McManus, Brendan Fitzgerald, Mike Goodman, Jim Bowden and Mark Saxon. “Our goal continues to be to maximize our unparalleled scale in every medium with storytelling that stands out and makes a difference,” Skipper said in a memo to employees, per the AP. “We are well-equipped to thrive going forward by embracing those themes.”
In addition, the round of casualties will now see the ESPNU studio operation shift from Charlotte to Bristol, according to the Charlotte Observer, although SEC network operations, as well as an events division, will remain in the city. In addition, according to THR, other ESPN personalities may see their roles “significantly reduced,” including Baseball Tonight‘s Karl Ravitch, ESPN Radio’s Ryen Russillo and mainstay Hannah Storm.

The hot streak continues for TNT, courtesy of the NBA Playoffs, The network saw Houston’s series-clinching win over Oklahoma City average 4.2 million viewers for the channel, up 136% vs. last year’s comparable coverage to win the night on cable. Overall, TNT’s NBA Playoffs coverage is averaging 3.5 million viewers through Tuesday, up 17% vs. 2016
Golf Channel
detailed broadcast plans for the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships in May with more than 100 hours of combined news and tournament coverage for the two tournaments from Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. Spanning May 19-31, the 2017 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships will be contested in back-to-back weeks, with the network dedicating its full suite of production resources to the championships, featuring nearly 30 hours combined hours of live tournament coverage, as well as more than 50 hours of encores. In addition,
Golf Central
will feature nearly 30 hours of combined pre-and post-event live news coverage produced on location, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and Golf Channel Digital.
The 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, determining the order of selection for the first 15 picks in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft, are set to will be held on Saturday in Toronto. The results of the NHL Draft Lottery will be announced shortly after 8p during live coverage of the event on NBC.
Telemundo Deportes
gears up for exclusive coverage of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017 today, with the 11-day event kicking off with Iran/Mexico at 3:20p. All matches will air live on Telemundo Deportes’ digital platforms, TelemundoDeportes.com and the Telemundo Deportes EN VIVO App. Coverage will be led by Telemundo Deportes’ Copan Álvarez and Karim Mendiburu, alongside Frederik Oldenburg and special guest analyst, former beach soccer player and assistant coach the U.S. National Team, Francis Farberoff.
Pac-12 Networks
announced a double-bill for Saturday, as Oregon and UCLA will get the spotlight as spring football wraps up. The games will kickoff at 11a PT,  with Oregon football televised on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Oregon. Later in the afternoon, UCLA football will air on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Los Angeles beginning at 1p PT. In addition, the platforms will offer a special 60-minute episode of Pac-12 Sports Report: NFL Draft Special at 8:30p with hosts Mike Yam and Ashley Adamson will team up with Pac-12 analyst Yogi Roth and guest analyst John Middlekauff.
emerged as the winner of a multi-year agreement to
showcase the newly-moved Los Angeles Chargers. ABC7 will serve as the team’s English-language station and include televising three preseason games as well as pre and postgame shows. The stations will also feature two weekly Chargers series on Saturday evening primetime during the NFL season.

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Bleacher Report
is launching a new “Up Your Game” brand campaign timed to the unveiling of its enhanced app and logo treatment. The marketing campaign will be featured across television, digital and social platforms beginning today, Wednesday, April 26. “B/R is redefining the way millennial fans consume content, blending sports with culture and capturing all of the most meaningful moments that matter both on and off the playing field,” said Dave Finocchio, Bleacher Report CEO & Founder. “Our new brand campaign, logo and app is a reflection of that vision, as we strive to develop an unrivaled experience and deeper connection with our passionate fans.”
The NASCAR Silver Bullet Bash presented by Coors Light will take center stage in Charlotte for the first time on May 18. The promotional event will lead off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star weekend festivities with live music, special guests and unique experiences for all comers, and include a performance by Maren Morris, “The NASCAR Silver Bullet Bash was specifically designed for Coors Light to connect and engage with our fans at participating bars and restaurants in the weeks leading up to the event,” said Lou Garate, vice president, partnership marketing, NASCAR. “This year’s event will build excitement and set the stage for the Monster Energy All-Star weekend festivities taking place in Charlotte.”
The NFLPA – through its licensing and marketing arm, NFL Players Inc. – locked in a partnership with rideshare company Lyft, for the upcoming season. The partnership launches this week with the NFL Draft, with the company providing ride credits to rookies. Additionally, all active players will be eligible to receive $250 in ride credits, as well as the ability to earn additional credits through an ongoing social influencer promotion. Players will be able to redeem Lyft credits in 30 of 32 NFL cities. “This partnership will do so much for our players,” Ahmad Nassar, president of NFL Players Inc. said. “First and foremost, it allows players league-wide to have a consistent and safe option for rides. But more than that, Lyft will provide career and business opportunities for both active players and those transitioning to life after football.”
Finally, the Topps Company and Baseball Factory announced the renewal of their partnership that will include a focus on Topps Now a Topps.com-exclusive product that will depict the greatest moments and milestones from the Major League Baseball season Bowman Baseball, the Topps brand focused on baseball’s top prospects, will serve as the official trading card of Baseball Factory and will provide Topps with access to over 600 events and 35,000 players within the Baseball Factory training and development system. 

will celebrate its five-year anniversary by hosting a live broadcast to accompany the NFL Draft with all three co-founders, Jason Robins, Matt Kalish and Paul Liberman, as well as host of New England’s 98.5 The Sports Hub and former Patriot, Scott Zolak and fantasy football experts. The show will begin at 7:30p on Faebook Live via the DraftKings’ Facebook page where the panel will break down each draft pick as it happens. In addition, DraftKings is celebrating all week with a slate of contests and prize opportunities for fans.
Meanwhile, the NFL Draft will see 120 Sports serve up coverage that will include live look-ins, in real-time. Content begins on Facebook Live with a preview of the draft at 7:30p, followed by an 8p special three hour edition of the Rally on Twitter that will offer instant reaction to every pick of the NFL Draft.

In this week’s edition of Cynopsis Esports & Gaming
**Unikrn doubles down in Vegas with Leet pickup
**Allied Esports talks pyramid plans
**Talent updates
**NGE goes to Battle
**Team Liquid makes a commitment
**Nintendo gets Happy
**Ubisoft feels the heat
**Capcom’s skin game

Who will be number one? The NFL Draft starts at 8p on ESPN and NFL Network.


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ON THIS DAY in 1908: The fourth modern Olympic games opens in London.
In The Know
: NFL Draft Week: Which school had the most players taken in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft? (Email
[email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: NFL Draft Week – In 1999, Saints coach Mike Ditka traded his entire draft to which team for the right to pick Ricky Williams? Answer: The Redskins. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Eric Wright-DS Simon/NY; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; John Ward-Tennis Channel/Chicago; Lance Davis-Good Karma Brands/Milwaukee; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris

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