05/14/21: ESPN lined up a long-term deal with MLB

 

Medias First Morning Read

 

Friday May 14, 2021

The Walt Disney Company, ESPN and Major League Baseball struck a long-term, wide-ranging rights extension with the seven-year agreement starting in 2022 and running through the 2028 season. The agreement sees ESPN exclusively televise 30 regular-season games annually, including 25 editions of Sunday Night Baseball, the national MLB game of the week, and the MLB Little League Classic. ESPN will exclusively televise five additional games each season, including the national Opening Night telecast. ESPN will also continue to exclusively carry the Home Run Derby as part of its cross-platform MLB All-Star coverage.

For each of its live events, ESPN will receive the rights to produce alternate presentations across its platforms, as well as the opportunity to simulcast all ESPN and ABC game telecasts on ESPN+. ESPN will exclusively televise the entire MLB Wild Card Series starting in 2022, if the event expands. In addition to the new live event simulcast rights, ESPN has gained the rights to create new MLB content for ESPN+, including studio and highlight-driven programming and ESPN also kept its extensive audio and Spanish-language telecast rights per this new deal.

This agreement will increase ESPN’s wide-ranging collection of highlight rights for all of its news and information platforms and digital MLB shows such as BBTN Live. Baseball Tonight will continue to serve as ESPN’s premier pre-event show for its season-long package of high-profile live events.

PROGRAMMING

Meanwhile, ESPN and LaLiga reached a long-term deal that will make ESPN+ the new English- and Spanish-language home for LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank in the United States for the next eight seasons (through 2028-29). Beginning in August, hundreds of live matches across both leagues will be available each year, exclusively on ESPN+. ESPN is already the home of Spanish Copa del Rey, Copa de la Reina and Supercopa de España. Beyond live matches, ESPN+ will offer a variety of surround programming, including match previews, highlights, magazine shows – and will continue to cover LaLiga extensively on signature ESPN+ shows including ESPN FC, Jorge Ramos y su Banda and Fuera de Juego.

Peacock cemented a multi-year agreement with the French Tennis Federation for a new package of Roland-Garros middle weekend night sessions, expanding NBC Sports’ exclusive coverage of the Grand Slam event. This year, Peacock will exclusively present the new night sessions in Paris: four live hours beginning at 2p on June 5 & 6, and three live hours starting at 3p on June 7. This new package is in addition to other exclusive windows of NBC Sports coverage on Peacock for the 2021 tournament, totaling nearly 20 hours of live Roland-Garros coverage across all three weekends of the 2021 event.

Continuing the deal theme, Amazon and the WNBA announced a multi-year agreement giving Prime Video exclusive global streaming rights to 16 WNBA games per season, as well as the Commissioner’s Cup Game on Aug. 12. Prime Video’s WNBA coverage tips off on May 29, as the Atlanta Dream take on the New York Liberty. The deal, featuring a WNBA game each week during the regular season, marks the first time Prime Video has exclusive global streaming rights to a women’s professional sports league. The WNBA on Prime Video will be available across hundreds of compatible devices worldwide as part of a Prime membership (excluding China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Finland, and Germany). Prime Video games will be distributed in the participating teams’ markets through the teams’ local distribution partners.

In scheduling news, the NFL rolled out its slate for the upcoming season, which will now add a week to the regular season mix. FOX Sports presents its 28th season of NFL coverage led by America’s Game of the Week, as well as Sunday afternoon matchups, games in Spanish on FOX Deportes, and Thursday Night Football. The lineup includes the league’s NFC package, including the NFC Championship, and also features all special holiday games this season. Green Bay/Kansas City at 4:25p on Veteran’s Day Weekend; Chicago faces Detroit at 12:30p on Thanksgiving Day; and Cleveland visits Green Bay at 4:30p on Christmas Day. The Sunday schedule includes at least 106 regular-season games, highlighted by 10 editions of America’s Game of the Week with the Cowboys, Buccaneers and Packers combining for more than 30 appearances on the network and kicking off with Packers/Saints on Sept. 12. TNF on FOX kicks off in Week 5 as the Rams head north to Seattle to face the Seahawks.

With NBC Sports playing host to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, the 2021 Sunday Night Football schedule on NBC and Peacock will feature 20 NFL games during the 2021 regular season, as well as four postseason games and one preseason contest. All 2020 NFL playoff teams are on the NBC SNF schedule, including three games each for the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs, and NFC North champion Green Bay Packers. The season begins with NFL Kickoff 2021 on Sept. 9 with the Cowboys/Bucs, while the SNF season opener pits the Bears/Rams. The special Thanksgiving night matchup features the Bills visiting the Saints.

CBS Sports’ docket for the NFL season is home to the American Football Conference and includes 10 national doubleheaders, a London morning contest, the annual Thanksgiving showdown in Dallas and four postseason games, including the AFC Championship. The NFL ON CBS annual Thanksgiving Day broadcast features Las Vegas/Dallas Nov. 25. The CBS schedule features 12 appearances by the New England Patriots, 11 appearances by the Las Vegas Raiders, 10 appearances each by the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers, 9 appearances each by the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.

ESPN produces 19 regular season games consisting of 17 Monday Night Football games (Weeks 1-17) and a Saturday, Week 18 doubleheader (January 8). The 2021 Monday Night Football campaign begins with an ABC simulcast of ESPN’s production, with the Raiders expected to welcome fans into Allegiant Stadium for the first time in the regular season as they host the Ravens in Week 1. All 14 teams that qualified for the 2020 NFL Playoffs are set to appear on the MNF schedule, including half of the playoff teams appearing multiple times (Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Seattle). Following ESPN’s record-setting regular season presentation, the company will produce an NFL Wild Card game and the NFL Pro Bowl (with both games airing on multiple Walt Disney Company networks.

On the golf front, CBS Sports is set to broadcast the PGA Championship live from the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, S.C. from May 20-23. Coverage is highlighted by the third and final rounds on May 22 & 23 from 1-7p on CBS, with broadcast coverage streaming live on the Paramount+ subscription service. CBS Sports’ technological enhancements include: live drone coverage; wind analysis; robotic camera bunkers, Fly Cam; 4D replay; and the Atlas Camera., along with Toptracer and SwingVision technology.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s live coverage of the PGA Championship will see a 70% increase in live hours from the company, with more than 229 hours of live play across ESPN and ESPN+ during the four days of the championship. ESPN and ESPN+ will have 12 hours of live play each day from the first and second rounds of the championship on May 20-21. As was the case last year, ESPN+ will open the coverage with the first tee shot both days at 7a and continue to follow play with traditional coverage from 7a-1p each day. Live play then shifts to ESPN from 1-7p both days. Featured Group coverage on ESPN+ has been doubled on the two weekdays for this year with eight groups per day on Thursday and Friday (four in the morning and four in the afternoon). ESPN and ESPN+ will offer golf fans five hours of live coverage from morning and early afternoon play on May 22-23, as well as exclusive Featured Group and Featured Hole coverage all day both days.

Nigel Lythgoe, the television producer and creative force behind television franchises American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, is teaming with Triller Fight Club to create a new series, So You Think You Can Fight. The weekly, hour-long series is part of a new overall relationship between Triller Fight Club and Lythgoe, who also becomes Creative Partner, Visionary and an Executive Producer of Triller Fight Club The series will pair a celebrity action star with a pro fighter, each who will select an amateur boxer through a global talent search and competition, along with audience voting and participation. The selected contestants will each go through rigorous mental and physical training, squaring off against each other with one winner for each category, lightweight, heavyweight and MMA. Each winner will go on to a pro bout on a Triller Fight Club main event that will launch their pro boxing career.

NBC Sports and Peacock announced the media schedule for the 2021 Premier Lacrosse League season, featuring comprehensive coverage of 44 games this summer across NBC, NBCSN, and Peacock. Peacock will stream all 44 matchups, which sets an NBC Sports record for the most-ever professional lacrosse game coverage in a season. The 2021 Premier Lacrosse League season will feature 21 of the games on NBC (4) and NBCSN (17). Opening weekend of the 2021 PLL season will take place June 4-6 with five matchups from Gillette Stadium.

SHOWTIME Sports announced the title and premiere date of the upcoming documentary KEVIN GARNETT: Anything Is Possible. The film will premiere on July 30 at 9p on SHOWTIME and will include scenes from Garnett’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, taking place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut this Saturday.

Through six telecasts, ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Presented by Taco Bell viewership is up 34% from the 2020 full season average, according to Nielsen. The exclusive, national Major League Baseball game of the week is averaging 1,651,000 viewers. The May 9 edition of Sunday Night Baseball, with the traditional Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves telecast on ESPN and the Statcast edition on ESPN2, averaged 1,724,000 viewers, up 40 percent from the 2020 full season average.

SiriusXM is launching a new weekly show devoted to the WNBA which will debut today, which is also Opening Night for the WNBA’s 25th season. WNBA Central with Holly Rowe will be hosted by Holly Rowe and will air every Friday at noon ET/9:00 am PT on the SiriusXM NBA Radio channel. Each week, Rowe will interview players, coaches, executives and other guests from around the WNBA to discuss the latest headline stories, recap performances and preview the weekend’s games.

The Basketball Africa League announced partnerships with Canal+, ESPN, beIN SPORTS, NBA TV, Tencent Video, TSN, American Forces Network (AFN) and Voice of America (VOA) to broadcast BAL games throughout Africa and around the world. The inaugural BAL season will tip off Sunday, at 10a when Rwanda’s Patriots Basketball Club takes on Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers at the Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda. In the U.S, all games will be available on ESPN+ while the opening game and Finals will also air on ESPNews. NBA TV will broadcast 12 live games and select games on delay in the U.S. and around the world across the group phase, quarterfinals, semifinals and Finals.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
Warner Bros. Pictures revealed images of the Goon Squad, courtesy of character posters ahead of the July debut of Space Jam: A New Legacy. James stars alongside Don Cheadle, Khris Davis, Sonequa Martin-Green and more. The film will be released in theaters nationwide on July 16, 2021 and will be available in the U.S. on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release.

PUMA announced the signing of WNBA MVP and Champion Breanna Stewart, “Stewie” to its roster. As part of the long-term, groundbreaking partnership, Stewart will receive her own signature shoe. She will also serve as a brand ambassador both on and off the court and will play a role in assisting the growth of PUMA’s business by collaborating and creating products, including her signature shoe. She will also be part of the brand’s women’s platform “She Moves Us,” which celebrates women who move culture and sports forward and inspire other women around the world.

Major League Baseball announced the debut of MLB Food Fight presented by Mastercard where fans have the opportunity to determine their favorite ballpark food this year, with 30 MLB ballpark food items to choose from (one dish per Club). The winning Club dish will be recognized on MLB Network and MLB.com, and fans who enter have a chance to win tickets to a future game to enjoy their favorite ballpark food in person.

Ford Proud to Honor Hall of Heroes announced that Retired U.S. Staff Sgt. Charles Eggleston of Bowie, Maryland, was named the third member of the Hall of Heroes. Eggleston received an honorary knock on the door from Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl XII MVP and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Randy White, who delivered the news. Ford Proud to Honor Hall of Heroes is a program created by Ford Motor Company and Pro Football Hall of Fame to recognize deserving military men and women who exemplify hard work, selflessness and a commitment to excellence. Hall of Heroes serves as an extension of the Ford military program, Proud to Honor, which works

The NBA announced the creation of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award, a new annual honor that will recognize a current NBA player for pursuing social justice and upholding the league’s decades-long values of equality, respect and inclusion. The recipient will have advanced Abdul-Jabbar’s mission to drive change and inspired others to reflect on injustice and take collective action in their communities over the previous year.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Amazon Web Services and the National Hockey League will debut two new advanced analytics during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. These new stats powered by AWS will appear as on-screen graphics and data visualizations during NHL games and “give fans a better understanding and deeper appreciation of how their favorite players and teams perform during crucial moments.” The first two stats, shot analytics and save analytics, will debut on May 15, during the first day of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and be used throughout the 2021-22 season.

Sportradar and the NBC Sports Regional Networks announced a data and content partnership. As part of the agreement, Sportradar will offer the NBC Sports Regional Networks a comprehensive suite of solutions and offerings from the company’s Broadcast Services to enhance its live-game coverage. At the heart of this relationship, the NBC Sports Regional Networks are leveraging Sportradar’s expertise in bringing together live sports and data to drive fan engagement.

DraftKings and Bleacher Report are launching on a NFL Futures betting show called B/R Drop Zone: Futures Week in the Bleacher Report app and on Bleacher Report’s YouTube and Twitter. The show features an announcement of 2021 NFL Futures on DraftKings bringing our fans a look at the featured props and odds in five different categories, including Regular Season Win/Loss Totals, Division Winners, Conference Winners, Super Bowl Winners, and Player Performance Awards. The series is hosted by B/R talent Cabbie Richards, Greg Ivory, and Connor Rogers.

Roush Fenway Racing, in partnership with Socios.com announced plans to launch a $ROUSH Fan Token. Fan Tokens are collectible digital assets, minted on the Chiliz blockchain, that provide owners with access to voting rights in polls, VIP rewards, exclusive promotions, AR-enabled features, chat forums, games and competitions on the mobile app Socios.com. Roush Fenway Racing will become the first US sports team to launch a Fan Token on Socios.com.

Upper Deck announced the long-awaited launch of its first golf card set in more than seven years. Artifacts Golf serves as a premium trading card set that offers collectors a wide array of autograph and memorabilia cards from the game’s icons and rising stars. The new release is the latest addition to the company’s ever-growing golf portfolio of signed pin flags, images, hats, shoes and other memorabilia pieces.

ESPORTS

Overwatch League reports that May Melee generated upticks in viewership over last year’s numbers, reporting an Average Minute Audience of 95,000 on YouTube and up 51%. According to Forbes, the league stated that viewership for each of the qualifying weeks in the West region more than doubled year-over-year as well to 89,000, 76,000 and 77,000 for weeks one, two and three, respectively.

Allied Esports reached an agreement with streaming workflow platform MuxIP to distribute hundreds of hours of content to select OTT platforms available around the world. The multiyear agreement is Allied Esports’ first distribution deal for originally produced content. More than 250 hours of Allied Esports-produced competition and broadcasts from HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas and international online tournaments is now available on the Allied Esports channel on streaming platforms PLEX, RiverTV, SportsTribal TV, Switch TV and HerogoTV. “The demand for high-quality esports content continues to grow exponentially as streaming platforms expand their entertainment programming and overall reach,” said Jud Hannigan, CEO of Allied Esports. “We’re thrilled to tap into our library and introduce new viewers and fans to some of the top competitive gaming content in the world.”

The London Royal Ravens, ReKTGlobal’s Call of Duty League franchise team, announced the addition of leading esports and sports betting platform, Midnite, as team sponsor. This new partnership will include jersey sponsorship, content creation, and more. “The London Royal Ravens proudly stand as the sole team representing the United Kingdom in the Call of Duty League, so we’re thrilled to be partnering with another UK-based organization in Midnite,” said Brad Sive, Chief Revenue Officer at ReKTGlobal. “Midnite is the best-in-class, so we know this partnership will add value to our community that are Royal Ravens fans, as well as those that are fans of traditional sports.”

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

The Pac-12 Conference found its new leader, naming sports business executive George Kliavkoff as Pac-12 Commissioner. He joins the Pac-12 Conference from MGM Resorts International, where he was president of entertainment and sports. His five-year contract begins July 1. “At each step of his career, George has navigated complex, quickly changing environments and has been a successful consensus builder. George is a visionary leader with an extraordinary background as a pioneering sports, entertainment and digital media executive, and we are delighted and honored that he has agreed to become our next Pac-12 Commissioner,” said University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill, chair of the five-member search committee. “He is the new prototype for a sports commissioner. While George has deep sports experience, his biggest asset is his ability to listen, connect with diverse groups, find common ground, collaborate and navigate an evolving landscape. We believe George’s overall skills and experience will become even more prevalent in college sports leadership.”

360 Hoops announced the appointment of Archie McEachern as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. McEachern brings more than 25 years of experience in merchandising, product creation and sales on a national and global level at Nike, Inc. to the position.

DDSports Inc. (ShotTracker), announced that former Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany has joined the company in the newly-created role of special advisor on strategy and partnerships. “We welcome Jim Delany’s experience and his insight into ShotTracker,” said ShotTracker CEO Bill Moses. “His business acumen, his understanding of the opportunities in the college space with regard to technology and infrastructure, and his visionary planning will be invaluable to us as we accelerate implementation on a wide scale in the coming months, and continue to grow relationships on broadcast integration.”

ESPN announced promotions for five team members across the organization to vice president-level roles, including Meg Aronowitz (senior coordinating producer), Scott Favalora(vice president, ESPN directing), Emily Horowitz (vice president, digital media programming), David Kraft (vice president, news) and Lauren Reynolds(vice president, executive editor).

Shirin Malkani joined Buzzer as Chief Commercial Officer. In her role, Malkani will oversee all commercial deals, developing the strategy and execution of all partnerships across the sports ecosystem – including leagues, regional sports networks, MVPDs, SVODs, and betting operators, among others – to drive business development and usage of the Buzzer platform.

SPORTS BROADCAST JOURNAL w/David J. Halberstam

The NFL announced its schedule – Here’s a breakdown by network and by package: Sunday, Monday and so on. Announcer changes, notes +
Full 18 week NFL TV schedule; Al Michaels’ final NBC season, Talent dominoes, Network execs comment

Jim Spence was the number #2 executive at ABC Sports behind Roone Arledge. In the late 80s, he wrote an insider’s book on network TV. Did a Q&A with him – lots of interesting stuff on Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and others. He takes us under the hood of network sports
Executive Jim Spence saw it all at ABC Sports, from pompous Howard Cosell to gentleman Keith Jackson

Fox’ veteran play-by-play voice Tim Brando takes us behind the scenes. He tells us what it’s like preparing all week for a Saturday college football game.
Football Prep: Fox’ veteran Tim Brando takes us through a week of getting ready for a college game

Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling have become the darlings of baseball broadcasting in NY. You’ll enjoy the one on one with play-by-player Cohen, now in his 33d year with the Mets.
The Mets’ popular Gary Cohen grew up as a radio guy and still considers himself a radio guy doing TV

Happy Birthdays and many happy returns:

Suzy Kolber, 5/14 ESPN
Dan Patrick, 5/15 Fox Sports Radio
John Smoltz, 5/15 Fox Sports
Tim Ryan, 5/16 Retired CBS, NBC, ESPN
Ken Schanzer, 5/16 Retired president, NBC Sports
Eric Nadel, 5/16 Texas Rangers radio
Craig Bolerjack, 5/16 Utah Jazz TV
Jim Nantz, 5/17 CBS Sports
Lisa Byington, 5/18 Big Ten TV
Glen Kuiper, 5/20 Oakland A’s TV

Sports Broadcast Journal

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On this Day1918: Sunday baseball is made legal in Washington, D.C.

IN THE KNOW
The Portland Trail Blazers retired #22 in honor of which player? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
What was the name of the long-running SNL skit (pictured on Wednesday) that once featured Michael Jordan? Answer: Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley. Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; Aymon DeMauro-ADM Media & Marketing/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Networks/NY; Shara Kabakow-Embassy Row/NY; Chris Long-DraftKings/NY; John Hayden-JMH Creative/South Florida; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Rick Dascher-WarnerMedia Studios/Atlanta; Creed Heilskov-ImOn Communications/Cedar Rapids; Lisa Fikeys-NissanUnited/Chicago; Kyle Krebs-Limestone Minerals/Dallas; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas-Fort Worth; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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Conceives, plans, and directs the full scope of communications and public relations strategies and works with senior management to develop positive messaging priorities about the company and its activity. Provides strategic direction, guidance, and input. Minimum 12 years of experience including senior-level PR required. Full info HERE (5/18)

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