05/06/20: ESPN announced that this year’s ESPYS will focus on acts of courage and heroes in the industry


Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday May 6, 2020

With an eye toward “extraordinary acts of heroism and humanitarian aid happening around the world,” The 2020 ESPYS will shift its customary focus from honoring athletic achievement and instead focus on highlighting narratives of service, perseverance, and courage from within the world of sports. The 2020 ESPYS Presented by Capital One will run n June 21 at 9p. Although the ceremony will preserve several core elements of the annual show, including the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, the Pat Tillman Award for Service, and the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, the show will now include the Sports Humanitarian Awards, sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb, with several key awards including the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award and the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, among others. Of course, due to safety concerns surrounding any large gatherings, ESPN has cancelled the live events for The 2020 ESPYS and the sixth annual Sports Humanitarian Awards.


Charles Davis is on his way to CBS Sports, where he signed on as a game analyst for the network’s coverage of The NFL on CBS where h will team with Ian Eagle, along with reporter Evan Washburn, to form the Network’s No. 2 NFL on CBS announce team. Davis also will contribute with analysis and commentary to all the CBS Sports platforms including CBS Sports Network, as well as CBS Sports HQ and various CBS Sports digital platforms, during the Network’s coverage of both the NFL and college football.

Next Monday sees ESPN debut an expanded weekday lineup showcasing 11 consecutive hours of live and quick turnaround original studio programming. The expanded daily slate features a 30-minute edition of First Take Extra at 3:30p, highlighting the best conversations from that morning’s First Take. That will be followed by a one-hour block of three, 20-minute shows. Jalen & Jacoby gets underway at 4p, followed by the daily return of Highly Questionable at 4:20p and Around the Horn at 4:40p. The afternoon schedule will culminate with two hours of SportsCenter, at 5p, which will also include Pardon the Interruption segments at approximately 5:30p. This adds to ESPN’s existing live and quick turnaround weekday lineup from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with Get Up, First Take, SportsCenter, NFL Live and The Jump.

In addition, ESPN reached an agreement with Eclat Media Group for the KBO League – South Korea’s most popular sports league – to exclusively televise six, live regular-season games per week. One game will air each day, Tuesday through Sunday, generally on ESPN2 and on the ESPN App. The telecasts will air Tuesdays-Fridays at 5:30a, Saturdays at 4a and Sundays at 1a. As part of the agreement, ESPN will become the exclusive English-language home for KBO League live games and highlights for the 2020 season.

The PGA TOUR, NBC Sports and Sky Sports announced the return of televised golf with TaylorMade Driving Relief, a $3 million charity skins match supported by UnitedHealth Group to raise money and awareness for the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation. On Sunday, May 17, from Seminole Golf Club, TaylorMade Driving Relief will feature two-time FedExCup champion and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and 20-time PGA TOUR winner Dustin Johnson, teaming up against two Oklahoma State University alumni: PGA TOUR superstar Rickie Fowler and 2019 first-time TOUR winner and 2019 NCAA National Champion Matthew Wolff. PGA TOUR Entertainment will produce live coverage, which will feature commentary from NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico from his home in Michigan, as well as analysts Paul Azinger and Gary Koch and play-by-play with Rich Lerner from an off-site production facility. On site at Seminole Golf Club will be on-course reporters Jerry Foltz and Steve Sands.

On the ratings front, ESPN’s The Last Dance continues to reach massive audiences, averaging 5.8 million viewers across premieres of its first six episodes, On Sunday, episodes 5 and 6 averaged 5.5 million viewers across ESPN & ESPN2 from 9-11p.

NFL Network serves up Schedule Release ‘20 Presented by Verizon on Thursday at 8p, a three-hour show which breaks down the upcoming 2020 NFL regular season schedule, division-by-division, analyzing the top matchups and primetime games. The program will include interviews from the homes of NFL head coaches, general managers and other guests.

World TeamTennis is pivoting amid the pandemic, with org CEO Carlos Silva releasing a statement that “While we remain hopeful that the WTT season will begin on July 12, as originally scheduled, we have concluded that it is not possible for players, staff and fans to complete the necessary air travel to and from our nine host cities. Safety for all involved remains at the forefront of our decision-making. Therefore, the WTT season in its normal format will not take place this year. However, we are developing a new plan to conduct the 2020 season in one venue, in one city. We are very excited about this prospect and believe that this will be a unique way to allow our athletes the opportunity to compete for the 2020 WTT King Trophy and this year’s $1,000,000 prize.”

Authentic Brands Group and 101 Studios announced the formation of Sports Illustrated Studios, the exclusive vehicle to develop, produce and distribute long-form film, television and audio content based on the brand’s present and future work, as well as SI’s archives of culture-shaping stories and photography. 101 Studios will be managing and overseeing all production, distribution and marketing for Sports Illustrated Studios in collaboration with ABG. “At the core of 101 Studios, we seek to tell stories that create cultural conversations, which is the same pillar behind the stories that have been told and continue to be told by Sports Illustrated,” said David Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios. “Sports Illustrated has covered every major story in sports since the 1950’s and, before the Internet, they were often the only publication covering the most famous and memorable stories in depth. Through this new partnership, we have the chance to bring these archival and current stories to life in ways people have never seen before.”

Speaking of production, ONE Championship hired Refinery Media to serve as the company’s production partner in The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition, bringing the hit reality television series to life for air in Q4 of 2020. The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition will invite sixteen contestants handpicked from around the world to compete in a high-stakes game of business and physical challenges. The winner will receive a $250,000 job offer to work for a year directly under Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong as his protege in Singapore.

Showtime acquired rights to the award-winning documentary Ringside, which chronicles the upbringing of two boxing prodigies and follows the divergent paths they take as they navigate life’s uncertainties on the South Side of Chicago. Filmed over the course of nine years by award-winning director Andre Hormann, the series will premiere on Showtime on June 12 at 8:30p.

Undertaker: The Last Ride, WWE’s new five-episode limited series event, will begin streaming on WWE Network on Sunday, May 10 at approximately 10p immediately following the Money In The Bank pay-per-view. The highly-anticipated documentary series gives viewers a look at Mark Calaway, the man behind the legendary Undertaker, as he prepares for the final chapters of his storied 30-year career in WWE.

Speaking of WWE, FOX Sports delivers WWE’S Greatest Ladder Matches on Saturday at 8p. The special highlights some of the top WWE matchups of all time, as well as some of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time, with hosts Corey Graves and Michael Cole.

FloSports picked up The Crossing, about Cuban wrestler Anthony Echemendia and his journey alone through Central America to the United States to pursue his dreams of becoming a champion wrestler. The film will exclusively stream on FloSports beginning May 8.

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UFC named Manscaped as the Official Electric Trimmer of UFC
in a multi-year partnership that will officially begin with UFC 249 : Ferguson vs. Gaethje on May 9. Manscaped will be integrated into select UFC pay-per-views and Fight Nights hosted within the US for the remainder of 2020 and continuing through 2021. Placement of the brand’s logo may include the exterior Octagon bumper, exterior floor decals and athlete prep points and the company will also serve as the presenting sponsor of the telecast’s Rules of the Octagon feature.

The governing bodies of world tennis teamed up to raise in excess of $6 million to create a Player Relief Program aimed at supporting players who are particularly affected by the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative has seen the ATP, WTA, the four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, The Championships, Wimbledon and the US Open – and the ITF, unite in a show of support to players with professional tennis currently suspended until July 13. In addition to contributions of their own, the ATP and WTA will administer the financial distributions of the Player Relief Program, which sees respective contributions from the four Grand Slam tournaments and ITF split equally between men and women. The Player Relief Program will target a total of approximately 800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players collectively, in need of financial support.


CBS Sports HQ launched on Pluto TV, making its live, anchored coverage featuring the latest sports news available directly to Pluto TV users. “We’re very pleased to expand the distribution of CBS Sports HQ to Pluto TV, making our round-the-clock sports news even more widely accessible to the millions of Pluto TV users,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, Executive Vice President and General Manager, CBS Sports Digital.

The Milwaukee Brewers locked in a partnership with fantasy sports and gaming platform Monkey Knife Fight, which will serve as the team’s official and exclusive daily fantasy sports site. In addition, Monkey Knife Fight has contributed $50,000 to the Brewers’ Miller Park employee relief fund, which supports ballpark employees out of work due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The women’s basketball committee will reportedly start using the NCAA Evaluation Tool instead of RPI while evaluating teams for the annual basketball tournament starting with the upcoming season, according to the AP. The Division I men’s basketball committee, meanwhile, has been using NET since the 2018-19 season.


Big news for the NBA 2K League, which cemented TV broadcast deals in the US and Canada. Stateside, ESPN and the NBA 2K League announced an agreement for ESPN networks to air live NBA 2K League matches throughout the 2020 season. ESPN2 will carry NBA 2K League matches on Tuesdays at 7p through May 19. Matches on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays will air at 7 p.m. ET on the ESPN app and ESPN.com throughout the season. ESPN telecast and streaming details for matches beginning May 26 will be announced at a later date. NBA 2K League matches on ESPN2 will mark the first-ever linear telecast of NBA 2K League games in the U.S. Every NBA 2K League match on ESPN’s platforms will also air live in the Caribbean, Latin America, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa on ESPN2 or on one of ESPN’s digital platforms. In Canada, the NBA 2K League is hitting Sportsnet.

ReKTGlobal locked in an investment and partnership with TalentX Entertainment, for a new company titled TalentX Gaming, catered toward personality-driven esports athletes and streamers. “TalentX Gaming is the formation of a unique and dynamic talent management company, combining ReKTGlobal’s esports industry leading position and TalentX’s meteoric and unprecedented success with TikTok content creators,” said ReKTGlobal co-founder and CEO Dave Bialek. “This partnership now affords gaming and esports influencers and athletes with unparalleled support, insights and execution.”

ESL announced that the 2020 edition of ESL One Cologne will take place without a live audience from August 21-30. In addition, the company stated that Intel Extreme Masters Melbourne 2020 will now be rescheduled for 2021. ESL One Cologne 2021 is set to be held on July 16-18 of next year while IEM Melbourne 2021 will return on August 21-22.

Collegiate StarLeague unveiled plans to host its 2019-2020 collegiate season finale all online on May 30-31. Produced with remote production staff and casters entirely online, the event will feature the culmination of CSL’s largest collegiate esports leagues, including League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Magic: The Gathering Arena, and Rocket League.

Super League Gaming reports audience growth across new user registration, total hours of gameplay, video views, and digital advertising impressions with April 2020 serving as a record-breaking month for the company and propelling year-to-date numbers to higher levels than the company notched in all of 2019. Metrics include: more than 16 million monthly gameplay hours on the Super League platform in 2020 through April, which represents nearly 10% more gameplay hours than all of 2019; and 205 million monthly video views and digital ad impressions across Super League’s network of digital and social channels in April, up 70% over all of 2019.


ESPN Research & Insights released its findings from a nationwide survey of 1,004 sports fans ages 18+, fielded from April 17-20, to investigate current perceptions around the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on sports moving forward. Nearly twice as many fans would prefer to watch televised sporting events without crowds than those who believe sports should only restart when fans can experience the game in person (65% vs. 35%, respectively). Furthermore, 76% say that they support the return of sports without fans in the stands if players were kept in hotels and their contact with others was closely monitored.

FOX Bet named Andrew Schneider as Chief Marketing Officer where he will oversee all aspects of marketing and report to Chhabra. Schneider most recently served as Senior Vice President, Marketing for Disney Streaming Services.

Barbarian, the digital creative agency backed by Cheil Worldwide, announced a unique global alliance with media personality Jay Williams to build out its lifestyle and entertainment expertise at the agency. Williams will serve as a chief entertainment and lifestyle advisor at the agency, working with Barbarian’s CEO Steven Moy and his leadership team to identify new areas of investment in order to drive business growth.

Cynopsis Presents A Virtual Conference…
The Great Sports Disruption:
Preparing For Success In A Post-COVID World
JUNE 9 | 1 – 5PM ET

The sports industry is eager to get back to business but the challenges brought on by the Cov-19 pandemic are already leaving their imprint on audiences, sponsors, and budgets. Join us on June 9th as A-list speakers break down the new ways of doing business and how they will shape the risks and rewards that lie ahead for the sports sector.

Registration will open soon. Questions? Contact [email protected].

On this Day
1997: Rick Pitino becomes coach of the Boston Celtics.

In the Know
In the famed poem, “Casey at the Bat,” what city did Casey play for? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
In 1987, Astros outfielder Bill Hatcher shattered his bat, to reveal a hollowed-out portion that illegally contained what substance? Answer: Cork. Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; Holli Sarner-Home Team Sports/NY; Luke Condolora-ICON International/NY; Tom Buffolano-LTN Global Communications/NY; Michael Doherty-BC Media/NY; Leonardo Penagos-ESPN Deportes/Bristol; Bill Graff-beIN SPORTS/Miami; Willy Gibson-WTG Sports/Columbus; Mark Lehman-Braves/Atlanta; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Kyle Krebs-Intersection/Dallas; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Greg Dudsic/Venice; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Brian McAloon-Fox Sports/LA

Cynopsis Team

Chris Pursell
Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Roberta Caploe

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Mike Farina

Albert Nassour

Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
Trish Pihonak
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directly support our Sales team while focusing on international platforms. 2-3 years of exp in a similar role. Previous experience with international digital content programming is req’d. Full info HERE (5/11)

WGN America & Antenna TV:
Partner with Ad Sales on both digital and linear Insights and industry materials, act as a liaison for Digital Ad Operations, Programming, Marketing, Promo Scheduling, and News division. Provide insightful reporting and data analysis. BA degree & 2+ years of Media research experience at a broadcast or cable network, agency or vendor. Full info HERE (5/11)

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Whistle/NYC: Focus on generating revenue by selling our new OTT product: WhistleTV to large US companies and to multi-platform agency clients. 8-10 yrs in OTT sales and/or multi platform digital video, incl a track record of outstanding results in attaining quarterly revenue goals. Full info HERE (5/11)

FilmRise/Brooklyn NY:
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