05/04/22: ESPN saw its highest NBA first round numbers since 2014

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday May 4, 2022

Round one of the 2022 NBA Playoffs became the most-watched on ESPN since 2014, according to Nielsen, with the eight games that ran on the network averaging 3,346,000 viewers, up 28% from 2021 and 69% from 2020. The slate now ranks as the third-most watched first-round of the NBA Playoffs on ESPN ever, dating back to 2003. The Golden State Warriors victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on ABC averaged 7,714,000 viewers and scored as ABC’s most-watched Conference Semifinals game in 11 years, dating back to 2011. Viewership for Game 1 was up 97% over last year’s ABC Conference Semifinals average. Additionally, the Milwaukee Bucks win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series averaged 5,370,000 viewers on Sunday, up 37%.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff joined ESPN as a studio analyst for the remainder of the 2022 postseason. Bickerstaff will regularly provide insights and analysis on ESPN daytime studio shows, including NBA Today, Get Up and SportsCenter.


Turner Sports lined up commentators for Round 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which hit TNT and TBS with two doubleheaders on Thursday. TNT and TBS will televise up to 49 games during the postseason including up to 28 First Round games, along with the Second Round, and the Conference Finals. The Penguins/Rangers Game 2 sees a grouping of Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst), Bryce Salvador (ice level), Jackie Redmond (reporter). The Caps/Panthers features Brendan Burke, Darren Pang, Jennifer Botterill, and Tarik El-Bashir. Predators/Avalanche serves up Randy Hahn, Shane Hnidy, Darren Eliot, and Taryn Hatcher. Finally, Dave Goucher, Drew Remenda, Meaghan Mikkelson, and Erika Wachter work the mics for the Stars/Flames.

NBC Sports presents the 148th Kentucky Derby on Saturday at 2:30p on NBC and Peacock as the Road to the Triple Crown begins this week, highlighted by live five-hour Kentucky Derby Day show at 2:30p. NBC Sports kicks off more than 12 hours of Kentucky Derby Week action this Friday, May 6 with live coverage of the Kentucky Oaks beginning at 1p on USA Network. Mike Tirico hosts, anchoring Derby coverage for the sixth time; joined by analysts Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss. Rebecca Lowe will serve as a feature host during Saturday’s “Run for the Roses” coverage after hosting Premier League studio shows. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rutledge Wood will serve as lifestyle correspondents. NBC News’ Dylan Dreyer and E!’s Zanna Roberts Rassi, who makes her NBC Sports horse racing debut, will serve as fashion correspondents.

SiriusXM again offer listeners nationwide coverage of the Kentucky Derby, with the wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby provided by NBC Sports Audio Network. SiriusXM’s race-day coverage begins at 8a Saturday with a live edition of Horse Racing Radio Network’s Equine Forum on SiriusXM channel 219/201.

In international waters, FITE has been granted PPV rights to major global territories including the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany and Australia, for The Global Titans Fight Series, on May 14. The Event features Floyd “Money” Mayweather returning to the ring to face unbeaten “Dangerous” Don Moore. FITE will present the pay-per-view event live at 2p.

UFC announced a new multi-year media rights partnership with CJ ENM, the multi-media conglomerate, that calls for CJ ENM to carry all of UFC’s live events and additional programming in South Korea. Starting with UFC 274: OLIVEIRA VS GAETHJE, this Sunday, the partnership between UFC and CJ ENM includes 42 live UFC events per year.

Becoming ANNIKA” – a new documentary produced by NBC Sports in conjunction with the United States Golf Association, will premiere on May 10 at 9p on GOLF Channel, profiling the life and career of golf icon Annika Sorenstam. Hilary Swank narrates. The documentary, which began production at the 2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Open, Sorenstam’s first USGA championship in 13 years, features interviews with members of Sorenstam’s family, as well as influential players, executives and reporters within the game of golf.

ESPN will debut the next installment in the 30 for 30 series on May 31 with “The Greatest Mixtape Ever,” examining how 1990s streetball and the And1 Mixtape transformed basketball culture at large. “The Greatest Mixtape Ever” will premiere at 8p on ESPN and is narrated by Jadakiss, featuring original interviews with Fat Joe, Funk Master Flex, Iman Shumpert, Isiah Thomas, Kemba Walker, Lou Williams, Rafer Alston and Scoop Jackson, among others.


New session alert for June 7th:

Modern Methodologies in Cross-Screen Measurement

Presented by: Trevor Hamilton,
Managing Director, Americas,



The WNBA announced plans to acknowledge the importance of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner to the league. During the 2022 season, which tips off on Friday, Griner’s initials and jersey number (42) will be featured along the sideline of all 12 WNBA courts. “As we begin the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “We continue to work on bringing Brittney home and are appreciative of the support the community has shown BG and her family during this extraordinarily challenging time.”

FIFA landed a blockchain home, tying up a deal with Algorand for a sponsorship and technical partnership that makes the company the official blockchain platform of FIFA. Algorand will also become a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Regional Supporter in North America and Europe, and a FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 Official Sponsor. As part of the agreement, Algorand will also assist FIFA in further developing its digital assets strategy, while FIFA will provide sponsorship assets including advertising, media exposure and promotional opportunities.

Major League Baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers mapped out plans for live fan events running July 15-19 and centered around three LA venues: Los Angeles: Dodger Stadium, L.A. Live, and Santa Monica Pier & Beach. MLB All-Star Week opens with its first-ever beach event on July 15 when Capital One All-Star Oceanfront begins at the Santa Monica Pier & Beach. On July 16, MLB Live in DTLA gets underway with Capital One Play Ball Park – the world’s biggest and most playable baseball & softball festival – inside and outside the Los Angeles Convention Center and throughout the L.A. Live campus. The 2022 MLB Draft will also take place at MLB Live in DTLA. MLB All-Star Week’s action on the field begins July 16 at Dodger Stadium with an exclusive doubleheader – the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game followed by the MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game. The T-Mobile Home Run Derby headlines Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on July 18 from Dodger Stadium.

On the golf front, Cisco and the APGA Tour unveiled an official partnership centered on driving greater inclusivity in the sport by providing “enhanced pathways for players of diverse backgrounds to succeed both on and off the golf course.” As part of the partnership, four APGA players at various stages of their playing careers — Kevin Hall, Aaron Beverly, Troy Taylor II and Olajuwon Ajanaku — will join the brand’s team of sponsored professional golfers. “We are proud to expand our commitment to the sport of golf and work together with the APGA towards a shared vision of fostering greater inclusivity in the game we all love,” said Mark Patterson, SVP and Chief of Staff to the Chair and CEO at Cisco. “We are thrilled to welcome Kevin, Aaron, Troy and Olajuwon to Team Cisco and to support them as they work to achieve their goals both on and off the course. Today’s announcement marks another important step forward toward achieving our purpose to power a more inclusive future for all.”

Rory McIlroy pinned down a multi-year equipment extension with TaylorMade Golf for his clubs and golf ball, the company announced Tuesday. “Over the last several years I have had the chance to work with the best equipment company in golf,” McIlroy said in the announcement. “Today I am excited to announce TaylorMade clubs and ball will be staying in my bag for many years to come. A combination of the dedicated people and unmatched performance is what drove me to remain a part of Team TaylorMade.”

The Pac-12 announced Directors Mortgage as an official partner of the Conference, as well as official mortgage partner of the league’s three flagship championship events, the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, and the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. Directors Mortgage has earmarked annual scholarship funds for Pac-12 student-athletes pursuing graduate degrees. The company will also participate in the first Pac-12 Symposium, which will bring together recent graduates and Pac-12 business partners for a networking event in San Francisco.


The PGA TOUR and Quintar, Inc. locked in a three-year agreement to expand the TOUR’s augmented reality experience on mobile devices for fans attending events. As part of the agreement, the TOUR will also receive minority equity rights in Quintar, which is now the Official Mobile Augmented Reality Developer of the PGA TOUR. With the new agreement, the AR experience will expand to 10 events in 2022 and more events in 2023 and 2024. “The PGA TOUR is excited to expand our relationship with Quintar with a goal of creating a more immersive and engaging tournament experience for fans,” said Scott Gutterman, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President of Digital Operations. “We have seen positive interaction and growth with our previous Quintar AR engagements and look forward to building on the momentum.”

Spotlight Sports Group, a technology, content and media business specializing in sports betting and fantasy sports, announced a long-term strategic partnership with Playmaker Capital Inc brand Yardbarker. Dealpoints will see Spotlight Sports Group provide a turnkey horseracing destination on Yardbarker.com, featuring entries, results, content, tools, games, and coverage of all the largest US horseracing tracks.


The NHL announced that League corporate partners — Great Clips, Honda, Navy Federal Credit Union and Scotiabank — have returned as sponsors for the 2022 NHL Gaming World Championship campaign. “The League is proud to welcome back Scotiabank, Honda, Great Clips and Navy Federal Credit Union, four committed corporate partners who have been a big part of making the NHL Gaming World Championship a great success,” said Chris Golier, NHL Vice President of Business Development and Innovation. “Collectively, we have built this powerful platform to engage younger hockey fans around the world, and in its fifth season has become the most dramatic and competitive hockey championship off the ice. This season, our sponsors will bring world class content to the community around our virtual and in-person events to show the passion of fans — whether they are ‘EA SPORTS NHL 22’ players or virtual spectators.” The NHL GWC North American Xbox Console Semifinals drops the puck on the 2022 NHL Gaming World Championship live stream schedule beginning May 14 at noon on NHL and ELEAGUE TV Twitch.

FaZe Clan unveiled their first-ever immersive gaming lounge and retail pop-up store, titled The Armory. Located off Melrose & Fairfax in Los Angeles, the venue will be open to the public on select dates from May 14-June 10 in celebration of FaZe Clan’s foray into gaming products and electronics. The creative vision for The Armory was built from the mind of FaZe Clan’s longtime in-house designer and newly appointed Creative Director Jay Richardson. FaZe Clan teamed up with longtime partner NTWRK to operate. “This is an exciting moment for FaZe and a celebration of the next chapter of our consumer product offerings,” says Derek Chestnut, VP and Head of Consumer Products. “We’ve hosted pop-ups before, but have never had a retail space for this length of time allowing us to curate and program a true FaZe experience. Our goal is to bring gaming culture to life in the heart of the Fairfax streetwear scene while ultimately creating a space for our fans to interact with each other, our talent and our new products.”

Complexity Gaming signed on for an expanded partnership with the U.S. Army Installation Management Command’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (Army MWR) to host the largest installation of the duo’s Soldier Showdown tournament series to date. This year’s tournament will feature a 23-week season kicking off on May 28. Each week, active duty military personnel will have an opportunity to go head-to-head across five of the most popular game titles – Halo Infinite, EA SPORTS Madden NFL 22, Call of Duty Warzone, Rocket League, and Apex Legends – to climb the ranks on the Global Leaderboard.


FanDuel Group appointed David Jennings as the company’s Chief Financial Officer. Jennings will be responsible for oversight of all FanDuel’s finance functions including FP&A, strategy, accounting, procurement, tax and treasury in support of the company’s Sportsbook, Casino, Racing, Daily Fantasy, Retail and corporate functions and joins from parent company Flutter Plc (LON: FLTR) where he served as Group Director of Investor Relations and FP&A.

The NBA announced today that Joe Dumars has been appointed Executive Vice President, Head of Basketball Operations. In his new role, Dumars will oversee all Basketball Operations matters for the NBA, including the development of playing rules and interpretations, conduct and discipline, and policies and procedures relating to the operation of games. “My life has centered on the NBA for nearly 40 years, which makes the opportunity to serve the entire league incredibly exciting and rewarding,” said Dumars. “I’m looking forward to using my skills and experience to collaborate with all 30 teams on ways to shape the future direction of the league and help the game continue to evolve.”

Sportradar named Michael Gandolfo as Group Head, Regional Sales. Gandolfo will oversee Sportradar’s North American sales team and report to North America CEO Arne Rees. Gandolfo joins Sportradar from Fiserv, where he led the company’s Large Financial Institution Sales and Service Team.

World Chase Tag USA tapped Johnny McMahon as General Manager and Chief Content Officer of World Chase Tag. In addition, WCT received an additional equity investment from production partner Tupelo Honey, which is owned by Gray Television, Inc.


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