04/28/17: Intentional Talk pitches a double; Celtics prove lucky for TNT; Kentucky Derby’s AI run


and MLB Network are set to launch a new content collaboration initaitive, with ESPN2 set to add MLB Network’s Intentional Talk to its afternoon lineup starting May 1. The weekday show will air Monday through Friday on the network from 4-5p during the season, and as a 30-minute telecast in the offseason. Intentional Talk will also continue to air in its regular 5p on MLB Network. “Intentional Talk provides us with a highly-entertaining, weekday afternoon MLB presence as we have with other signature sports properties,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming & Acquisitions..
”Intentional Talk joins Baseball Tonight, our long-standing MLB studio show, as a second and distinct MLB studio offering. The move provides us with more baseball studio content than we’ve ever had. These shows, combined with our 100-plus game schedule – including an annual Wild Card Game – are important parts of a myriad of cross-platform baseball content at ESPN, underscoring that MLB content is fundamental to ESPN’s offerings. We’re grateful to have such a productive relationship with our Major League Baseball partners and we look forward to our continued collaboration on this and many other projects.”

With the first round of the NFL Draft from Philadelphia in the books and Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett selected with the first pick, the hunt is already on for the site of next year’s foray. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said representatives from 14 different cities attended the draft site in Philadelphia this week in a move to better position themselves as host in 2018. Goodell also downplayed an ESPN report that suggested that Dallas was the favorite to play host in 2018. “I don’t know who came up with that, but there are 14 cities here that wouldn’t agree with that,” Goodell said Thursday, per NFL.com. “They really love the draft. I think they see the opportunity here. There’s a lot of competition for this, and I think Philadelphia has raised the bar. One of the things we want to take from this experience is to see what went well, see what went wrong and see what we can improve on.”
Wednesday night’s Bulls/Celtics telecast extended TNT’s winning streak to nine games, as the network once again took the evening, and ranking tops among P18-34, M18-34, M18-49 & M25-54, according to Nielsen. The contest averaged 4.3 million viewers for the network, up 17% vs. last year’s comparable coverage. Meanwhile, with NBA TV’s five originally produced first-round NBA Playoffs telecasts in the books, the network averaged 452,000 viewers to mark its most-viewed playoff coverage in three years.
NBC News weather anchor and correspondent Dylan Dreyer will take on the Kentucky Derby, joining NBC and NBCSN coverage of the 2017 race as a lifestyle correspondent. The gig marks her first assignment with NBC Sports Group and fourth consecutive year serving as TODAY’s on-location reporter during Derby week. Dreyer will document the “sights, sounds and pageantry” at historic Churchill Downs.
ESPN will tip off its 16-game regular-season slate of WNBA games on May 13, at 5p, showcasing the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks and the Seattle Storm. Ryan Ruocco is on deck to return as the lead play-by-play voice beside analyst Rebecca Lobo and reporter Holly Rowe. This season will also see ESPN again televise each game of the WNBA postseason from the first round to the Finals. ESPN will also launch a new promotional campaign, “Remember When / Watch Now,” which will air weekly during games and look back at several great WNBA moments, as re-lived by ESPN’s WNBA commentators and analysts.
Spike TV reports that its Patricio “Pitbull” Freire/Daniel Straus 4 battle on the network last Friday drew 949,000 viewers for the Bellator 178 main event, with the card scoring 733,000 viewers overall. So far this year, Bellator MMA is averaging 922,000 viewers to mark the highest in franchise history.
Eleven Sports is adding darts to its programming mix, announcing that it will showcase 14 international darts competitions in the US during 2017 courtesy of an agreement with Matchroom Sport. Events include the 2017 World Cup of Darts, the World Match Play, the Grand Prix of Darts, the Grand Slam of Darts and a number of World Series events, with coverage launching May 24 with the Dubai Masters – World Series.
FIFA confirmed that video replays will be used at the World Cup for the first time in 2018. The AP writes that FIFA President Gianni Infantino told an audience in Santiago that “at the 2018 World Cup we will have video referees, because so far the results are very positive,” adding that  “we are going to help the referee to not make any mistake, or commit less mistakes, and we are going to give a bit more of justice to football.”
WWE and TV5 locked in a new deal to showcase WWE’s flagship program SmackDown in the Philippines beginning Sunday. Every week, the network will televise a one-hour edition of the series on Sundays at 3p. SmackDown will be simulcast online at TV5.com.ph and Sports.tv5.com.ph.
Following a deal with KABC, the Los Angeles Chargers have now added iHeartMedia Los Angeles, KAZA-TV Azteca America 54 and KFWB 980 AM the team’s other official flagship English and Spanish language broadcast partners. The Chargers will take their ‘Fight For LA’ to the airwaves and collaborate extensively with each flagship in developing a wide range of content, including preseason games, exclusive shoulder programming, behind-the-scenes shows, news features, community events and promotions. Overall, the Chargers will be offering up nearly 400 hours of programming on an annual basis across the four TV and radio flagship stations.
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The 3rd Annual Cynopsis Rising Star Awards is shaping up to be our best year yet and we are excited to honor the accomplishments of these young professionals who are helping to forge new paths in media. Join us in celebrating their ambition, creativity and potential:

Code 3 Associates, a non-profit specializing in animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas, announced plans to sponsor three more Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races with Danica Patrick in conjunction with the One Cure project as well as a fourth race as solo. The two organizations will sponsor her No. 10 Ford on May 13 at Kansas Speedway, in the Open all-star preliminary race on May 20 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Aug. 19 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Kansas and Charlotte cars will showcase a Wonder Woman movie paint scheme promoting the film’s June 2 release. Finally, Code 3 Associates will be primary sponsor on its own for the June 25 event at Sonoma Raceway.

he Kentucky Derby is adding AI tech to the famed race, which takes place on May 6 this year. For the first time ever,
race organizers, Churchill Downs and TwinSpires, the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby, will partner with Unanimous A.I., a Silicon Valley startup and creator of artificial swarm intelligence that will harness Swarm A.I. to handicap the Kentucky Derby. Picks from this new partnership will be released to the public on Thursday, May 4, and will be the basis for a $10,000 Players’ Pool on TwinSpires.com.
ESPN’s TheUndefeated.com published “Segregation in the NFL” – described as an in-depth examination of the complex role race plays in determining which players play certain positions on NFL teams. Content highlights include:  a look at Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey who became the first white tailback selected in the first round in decades; a look at the emergence of young QB superstars such as Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Dak Prescott and others and more.
Game executive Mike Taramykin is spearheading a new mobile product called HypSports brings all sports fans together in a year-round, competitive, social fantasy sports platform. Taramykin, who previously led sports product development at EA SPORTS, Zynga, and FanDuel, will utilize “ proven game mechanics to drive season long fan engagement of live sports, with the roster growing over the course of a season, allowing fans to constantly improve their lineups and their chances of winning. Currently, HypSports offers competitive play in major sports like basketball, baseball, and football. Starting this summer, esports leagues will be added as well.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
is teaming up with GameSopt to launch the Injustice 2 GameStop Hometown Heroes tournament, anchored by the upcoming game. Operated by ESL, open online qualifier tournaments will begin June 4 before eight Regional Finals tournaments take place in local GameStop retail locations on Aug. 12, leading up to the Injustice GameStop Hometown Heroes Finals at the GameStop Managers Expo in Las Vegas on Aug. 27.
European team ASUS ROG Army locked in a sponsorship deal with Adidas to supply the squad with custom-designed uniforms that showcase team and sponsor insignias until 2020. The outfit will also be sold to fans  in the Spanish professional videogaming league’s official store.
In other sponsor news, Acer was named Official Sponsor and Monitor Partner for League of Legends Esports this year and will offer Predator gaming monitors for a series of events that includes the 2017 League of Legends World Championships, Mid-Season Invitational, and the Summer Split League of Legends Championship Series in both North America and Europe. The brand will also serve as the presenting sponsor of the “Big Plays” broadcast segment, which will air each week and recap the week’s biggest and best plays.
The Brisk brand is going all in with OpTic Gaming, announcing that it is expanding its sponsorship of the team to include the entire Brisk portfolio of products. The deal, according to the announcement, will include new content, giveaways, a fan Smooth competition and more.
ESL founder Jens Hilgers raised $18.5 million for
BitKraft Esports Ventures
, the world’s first esports-specific venture capital fund. Hilgers and his partner Markus Fuhrmann put up $11.5 million of BitKraft’s first fund with the other $7 million coming from a slate of investors that include aXiomatic Group, Inner Circle Sports, and GGV Capital, according to Forbes.

Celtics/Bulls on ESPN at 8p.


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1960: The Lakers move to Los Angeles.

In The Know
: NFL Draft Week: 1983 saw six QBs taken in the first round of the draft. Name four. (Email
[email protected]
with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which school had the most players taken in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft? Answer: The Ohio State University. Kudos: Kyle Helm-CBS Sports/NY; Traci Liner-WME/IMG/NY; Jay Goldstein-AdMore/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Scott Leslie-UPS/Atlanta; Ken White-KWTV/Charlotte; Wayne “World B.” Otto-Pro-Am Sports/Boone; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Doherty-Starcom Media/Chicago; Dory Petsrillo-CoxReps/Dallas; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank

Later — Chris

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