05/03/21: WarnerMedia exec Shah breaks down Turner’s plans for the NHL


Medias First Morning Read


Monday May 3, 2021

Last week’s announcement that the secondary package of the NHL would be heading to Turner Sports in a seven-year agreement shook up the landscape, with the league heading to WarnerMedia platforms beginning with the 2021-22 season. The deal includes the Stanley Cup Final as well as the Stanley Cup Playoffs heading to TNT and TBS for the first time, with Turner Sports landing rights to up to 72 regular season games as well as the NHL Winter Classic each season, with ESPN of course possessing the primary package.

Now, Turner Sports finds itself with a wealth of sports content spreading across the week and will be gearing up to bring a new sport to its channels. Cynopsis Sports caught up with Tina Shah, EVP & GM, Turner Sports, to discuss the deal and what Turner Sports has in mind for the sport.

Shah on what makes the NHL a good fit with Turner programming: A key pillar in our programming and business strategy is premium live sports content, as it drives engagement and fuels passionate fandoms like nothing else. If you look across our Turner Sports and Bleacher Report portfolio, there is an emphasis on championship-level competition and content, propelled through powerful storytelling, accessibility and innovation. The NHL, as the world’s best hockey league and one of the preeminent sports leagues, offers must-see live sports content that will be consumed across our Turner linear networks, digital and social platforms, as well as distribution channels of the future. We’re thrilled to be crowning a Stanley Cup Champion three times over the length of this agreement and look forward to creating experiences that resonate with all fans through this transformative partnership.

On putting Turner’s stamp on the league: We’ll have much more to share on our programming and production plans in the months ahead, but we have proven track record of creating highly engaged content and custom experiences for fans. We’re going to pursue opportunities to apply our unique sensibilities which have made our programming and content distinct, such as the iconic Inside the NBA – which is being honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame next week – to the NHL. Over the last year alone, we’ve revamped our NBA on TNT Tuesday Night show, demonstrated an innovative approach to NBA All-Star through unique and compelling offerings like the Bleacher Report Open Run and House of Highlights Showdown, presented the NCAA Men’s Tournament, debuted a new MLB studio team, revitalized The Match franchise, added new talent, such as Curtis Granderson, and renewed others like Shaquille O’Neal. One thing we’ve also discovered is that we have a LOT of passionate NHL fans working at Turner Sports. So we are in the process of developing those plans and we will tap into all of the many resources we currently have while also partnering with the NHL and looking to attract additional talent in front of and behind the camera.

On the company’s ever-growing primetime schedule of sports programming: Premium live sports have always been must-see programming that passionate fans crave. That said, we have been very disciplined in our approach to investing in sports rights. We focus on premium live sports that elevate the value of our portfolio of networks and platforms, along with our distribution and advertising partners. We’ve always maintained a commitment to grow our portfolio in ways that delivers reach, desirable demos, premium CPMs from advertisers and have contributed to the must-have nature of our networks with distributors, along with the expansive offerings for fans across digital and social channels. And, when opportunities arise, such as this one with the NHL, we do our due diligence to understand the value for us as a media partner, but also the incremental value we can deliver for our fans. We couldn’t be more pleased with the depth of premium sports properties within our current portfolio.

On leveraging B/R and House of Highlights for coverage: Bleacher Report and House of Highlights really stand on their own in the sports media landscape as the #1 brands for engaging with Gen Z and millennial audiences. That is very attractive to all of our league partners, including the NHL, who are always looking for opportunities to increase their reach – and perhaps even more importantly, connect – with sports fans. B/R and House of Highlights are brands that really live and breathe not just sports, but also the community and pop culture around those sports – both on/off court or ice drama, in this case, and amazing feats and accomplishments. These brands lean into innovation, such as the recent B/R Open Run live stream event and B/R’s NFT drop during NBA All-Star. That kind of sensibility will be invaluable over the course of this long-term deal with the NHL, which is really transformative, in my opinion. We’ll have extensive digital rights for B/R, including the ability to simulcast and/or distribute highlights for any NHL game airing on TNT. We’ll also be able to create ancillary programming, events and bespoke digital experiences for the next generation of hockey fans. The possibilities are endless.


Round 1 coverage of the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland topped viewership numbers for the Oscars, with the event seen by an average audience of 12.6 million viewers across TV and digital via ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes and more. That is up 11% over Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft and ranks as the second-highest Day 1 on record, surpassing 2014 (12.4 million) and behind only 2020 (15.5 million). Digitally, Round 1 coverage delivered an AMA of 598K across NFL O&O, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ABC platforms – up 54% vs. 2019 (389K).

May the 4th sees ESPN line up a special “Star Wars”-themed MLB broadcast of the Yankees and Astros. TheWrap writes that the grassroots Star Wars holiday will see on-air commentators sport in full costumes, including Karl Ravech (play-by-play) as Luke Skywalker, Tim Kurkjian (analyst) as Yoda and Eduardo Perez (analyst) as Poe Dameron. Reporter Marly Rivera will report from Yankee Stadium to capture anything being done in-stadium to celebrate “Star Wars,” and the broadcast will also feature custom animation and graphics.

The National Women’s Soccer League revealed the full schedule for the upcoming 2021 regular season with the 10 teams squaring off in a single table, 24-game regular season – with 12 home games and 12 away games per club. Three matches highlight opening day of the regular season on May 15. Kansas City NWSL and Racing Louisville FC, the league’s newest clubs, kick off the season with a matchup at Lynn Family Stadium. The NWSL regular season will not break for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, and will conclude on October 31. The top six teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the expanded NWSL Playoffs, with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye. The league will close out the 2021 campaign with the 2021 NWSL Championship on Nov. 20.

Speaking of which, soccer Stars Toni Pressley and Ali Riley are launching their own cooking show via Brandon Marshall’s I AM ATHLETE platform. The NWSL teammates will offer vegan cooking featuring original recipes and special guests including Marta Silva, Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson, USWNT star Ali Krieger, and more. Girls Gone Veg will stream exclusively on the I AM ATHLETE YouTube page and new episodes will premiere each Friday at noon.

The National Women’s Hockey League laid out plans for the 2021 NWHL Draft, taking place on June 29. For the first time in league history, all 30 picks across the five-round selection process will be presented live via Twitch online at twitch.tv/NWHL beginning at 7p. “The NWHL Draft is a special time for aspiring professional women’s hockey players to be recognized for their achievements and to take an important step forward in their careers,” said Lisa Haley, the NWHL’s Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations. “It’s also an exciting opportunity for our teams to build towards upcoming seasons and for fans to get to know the future stars of the league.”

2021 State of Media & TV Upfronts Report is here!
Check out what we discovered on expectations + insights on the upfront markets…

Here’s a peak at what we found:
-Industry is split on preferring a calendar year vs. summer media buying season.
-Nearly 1/2 of industry execs say they are seeing budgets for live linear TV shifting to other outlets.
-Even faced with many challenges, media execs see a wide range of business opportunities.




Hisense signed on for a partnership with FIFA to become an Official Sponsor of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and will be involved in a program that will range from on-site engagement opportunities and logo visibility across various platforms to global advertising campaigns. “It gives me great pleasure to welcome Hisense on board as an Official Sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, and we are delighted to partner with this internationally respected brand, which also has a growing presence in the sports market,” said FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura. “FIFA and Hisense are both focused on technology, innovation and giving people the best possible experience. I am confident that this collaboration will support the global objectives of both organisations and contribute to the success of what is sure to be an amazing event next year.”

For the first time, the NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association will celebrate Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month as part of their annual Hockey Is For Everyone campaign. On May 1, the League released a tribute video celebrating the great playmakers in NHL history. “The NHL is committed to building actions to educate, empower, and raise awareness around the Asian and Pacific Islander community,” said Kim Davis, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs. “Hockey is an inclusive home for people of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and nationalities. We’re proud to be focusing on stories of the pioneers, trailblazers, and influencers of Asian descent and heritage this month.”

PlayersTV and UBS cemented a multi-year global media sponsorship that will see the duo produce two co-branded original series, Front Office and Long Game, focusing on entrepreneurship, financial education, wealth management and lessons on building one’s legacy.

Lexus entered into a multi-year agreement with MLS’ Houston Dynamic FC soccer club, as well as the Houston Dash and the BBVA Stadium. The brand will serve as the exclusive luxury automobile partner for the three sports brands and focus on bolstering the fan experience during game days.


PEAK6, a financial technology business, announced the completion of an additional investment in Sportsdigita. “The team at PEAK6 is energized by Sportsdigita’s growth and vision,” said Jenny Just, PEAK6 Co-Founder. “Sportsdigita has already made a major impact during the pandemic by powering solutions for remote selling and digital interactions. They have demonstrated the ability to pivot and capitalize on challenges and are continuing to diversify their offerings by extending into new verticals outside of sports. This investment will accelerate the growth of the Digideck platform at a critical inflection point in its trajectory. We are also proud to invest in a woman-run business, which is a key area of focus for PEAK6 as we continue to look for opportunities to support forward-thinking female founders and entrepreneurs.”


WePlay Esports saw both Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment-owned NetheRealm Studios and Bandai Namco Esports each deliver statements Friday saying that the companies will no longer work with esports tournament organizer, which recently held the WePlay Ultimate fighting League featuring titles from the two publishers, citing “differences in vision.”

IMC is set to host IMC College Clash, a series of university tournaments presented in concert with Team Liquid. Taking place over the first two weekends of May in three global regions — North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific — College Clash will consist of three open tournaments for university students to celebrate gaming and win prizes by competing in Riot Games’ League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics. College Clash will be broadcasted in its entirety on Team Liquid’s Twitch stream with tournaments beginning each day at 6:00 PM local time.

Coinbase, CS.MONEY and Red Magic were named as partners for BLAST Rising, which kicks off this week. The trio of brands will see their branding feature heavily across the three-week Counter-Strike tournament. For Coinbase and CS.MONEY the partnership is an extension on their current sponsorship of BLAST Premier while Red Magic will be returning for their second event after sponsoring last year’s BLAST Premier Fall Series.

Ubisoft was finally able to firm up plans for the Six Invitational, announcing that the event got approval from French authorities and will still take place in Paris. The offline event begins May 11 and will take place with no audience on-site and will be under strict sanitary measures, according to the release.


The Seattle Kraken completed the acquisition of their team and officially joined the National Hockey League. “On behalf of the Board of Governors, I am delighted to officially welcome the Seattle Kraken to the NHL as our 32nd Member Club,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Congratulations to David Bonderman, the Bonderman Family, their partners, the entire Seattle Kraken organization, the city of Seattle and Kraken fans as the Club continues on its exciting journey towards puck drop in October.”

Measurement & Data Virtual Conference


SESSION SPOTLIGHT: Automating the Ad Buy
The key to automating ad buy/sell processes & workflows is connecting all the necessary and vital data throughout the advertising ecosystem. On Tuesday, June 15, Mark Gorman (CEO at Matrix) will look at how the industry is evolving to make tangible the reality of self-serve inventory ad buys, i.e. adopting a standard unit of measurement across platforms, eliminating makegoods, and the tech & integration points needed to make it happen.



On this Day
1936: Joe DiMaggio makes his MLB debut.

In which movie was Cam Neely introduced as Sea Bass? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Name two active NFL teams who have never had the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. Answer: Broncos, Seahawks and/or Ravens (depending on how you count their Cleveland days). Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; Frank Costa-CBS/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Michael Dittelman-Dedicated Sports Marketing/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Dory Petsrillo-CoxReps/Dallas; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

Cynopsis Team

Chris Pursell
Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Roberta Caploe

Cynopsis Ad Sales
Albert Nassour
Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
John Cox

Check out more jobs in Cynopsis Classifieds »
Job of the day


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INTERACTIVE ONE/NYC, NY: help craft sales strategies and creative solutions in response to RFPs as well as help build a roster of off-the-shelf and custom program offerings to support and drive the sales process. Minimum 6-years of digital advertising sales marketing experience required. Full info HERE (5/14)

BROADWAY VIDEO ENTERTAINMENT/NYC, NY: Negotiating, reviewing and drafting production and distribution agreements. Traffic outside counsel workflow including maintaining overall counsel budget and shepherding invoices. Law degree or paralegal or business affairs experience with demonstrated interest in Entertainment industry. Full info HERE (5/12)

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CLEAR CHANNEL OUTDOOR/NYC, NY: Translate technical product details into customer benefits in collaboration with the CCO RADAR and Programmatic teams. Achieve on-going fluency in the details and nuances of CCO Radar and Programmatic products and develop product marketing strategies. Deep understanding of Programmatic Buying & Planning, Product Marketing required Full info HERE (5/12)


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NEWSMAX MEDIA/NY, NY: Resp for managing tech/logistical traffic supporting live news shows. Full knwldge of video and tech workflow throughout all locations. Provide tech guidance to help create better video workflows. Ensure all broadcast feeds are meeting specific tech quality standards. Min 3 yrs tech managing, or equivalent knwldge. 5 yrs in live TV prod. Full info HERE (5/7)

GFX Op >>
NEWSMAX MEDIA/NY, NY: Must be able to set up and play out all graphic elements which are included in pre-recorded or live programming. Mnge graphic content as it corresponds to live and pre-recorded programs. Satisfy all production req for live and pre-recorded programming under the supervision of the show’s director and technical operations mngmt. Min 3 yrs of exp in graphic and character generation, plus 1yr exp with Ross Xpression. Full info HERE (5/7)

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Write for fast paced news and opinion show. You are an exceptional storyteller with a command of political news and cultural trends. At least 3 years of national or large market local news experience. Full info HERE (5/7)

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