05/16/22: FOX Sports will offer both the Super Bowl and World Cup at this year’s upfronts

Medias First Morning Read
Monday May 16, 2022

As upfront season hits overdrive today, FOX is set to make its pitch today at 4p in New York City, and offering a lineup to advertisers that will include the World Cup later this year in addition to its rich roster of sports stalwart that include the NFL and the Super Bowl, college sports, NASCAR and MLB, among others. With multiple sports properties showing viewership upticks this year, Mark Evans, Executive Vice President of ad sales for Fox Sports – who oversees sports sales for FOX, FS1, FS2, FOX Sports Digital, FOX Deportes and FOX Soccer Plus – is heading into his first upfront as the head of sports ad sales for the network. Cynopsis Sports asked Evans about the market and what advertisers can expect to see in today’s presentations.

Evans on the overall sports marketplace: The overall sports marketplace remains tremendously strong. It’s primarily driven by the migration of viewers to live sports, as compared to the waning ratings across the rest of the ecosystem. Every major sport we broadcast, whether it’s regular season baseball, college football, the World Cup and of course the NFL, we’re seeing the continued focus of advertisers investing significant portions of their marketing budget to secure the highest-rated programs and guaranteed ratings points. They will supplement elsewhere across the industry, but if you want to premiere a movie or launch a new product, and you need to reach millions of Americans quickly, there’s no better place to do it than live sports.

On FOX’s newly released NFL schedule: We were thrilled with the NFL schedule unveiled last week. The depth of games for America’s Game of the Week, from beginning to end, will ensure its spot as the most-watched show in all of television for the 14th consecutive season. Couple that with the most postseason ratings points any network will have in 40 years – including two Wild Cards, two Divisionals and the NFC Championship Game, all of which lead into the Super Bowl – and its unparalleled.

On one sports weekend on the calendar that stands out: The anchor of our sales proposition this fall begins and ends with an unprecedented number of events during Thanksgiving weekend – kicking off with Giants/Cowboys, followed by a World Cup match between the United States and England which leads into the best rivalry in all of college football with Michigan-Ohio State and culminating in an action-packed doubleheader headlined by Rams-Chiefs. It all comes during a weekend where 180 million Americans will kick off the holiday shopping season with over $50B in consumer spending.

On other sports properties that are flourishing: Fortunately, we are experiencing steady demand across our entire sports portfolio. Demand for inventory in Major League Baseball, college football & NASCAR are all pacing far ahead of last season. We are also very excited with how the marketing community has immediately embraced the launch of the USFL. We are thrilled with its performance to date and have tremendous plans for next season and beyond.

On emerging categories: Not surprisingly, both Gaming & Cryptocurrencies have emerged as consistent players across the sports marketplace. But what we’re seeing at FOX is the emergence of direct-to-consumer brands that previously focused on other dayparts migrating to live sports for the aforementioned reasons of needing to build scale quickly. Year over year, we continue to see non-traditional brands entering our sports marketplace.

On what we can expect to see at the Upfront: Expect us to lean into what we do best – The premise of our brand is that live events are the most popular, most valuable, most compelling content in media. Our primary goal every year is to be the industry leader in live event consumption, and we’ve now done that three years in a row. Our focus will be on our tentpole events anchored by the NFL and an unprecedented World Cup in 4Q. Plus, our anticipation for the MLB Postseason and the evolution of Big Noon Kickoff, with our tremendous slate of college football, all culminating with the most robust NFL Playoff offering since the 1982-83 season and a Super Bowl in Arizona.

PROGRAMMING

The NBA has its lineup of conference finals contenders locked in, along with game times and networks for each of the series. The Eastern Conference Finals will pit Boston/Miami, with Game 1 tipping off at 8:30p on ESPN tomorrow and Game 2 on Thursday, both on ESPN. ABC then takes the reins for Games 3 and 4, on May 21 and 23, with ESPN resuming coverage for any remaining games. Mike Breen will serve as the voice of the Eastern Conference Finals alongside analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. Lisa Salters will serve as the sideline reporter. The Western Conference Finals, meanwhile, will all run on TNT and open at Golden State on Wednesday at 9p. Remaining games are slated for May 20, 22, 24, 26, 28 and 30.

Former NFL quarterback Drew Brees is reportedly not returning to NBC Sports after a single season as a studio and game analyst, according to the NY Post. The report stated that Brees preferred doing games over the “Football Night in America” studio show. He also served as a game analyst for NBC Sports’ coverage of Notre Dame Football.

On the heels of a record-breaking year, USA Network continued to tout its roster of sports events in its presentation to advertisers. Programming will include competition series that include “The Chain: Alaska,” featuring adventure racers and survival experts battling through the elements, and new docuseries “Austin Dillon’s Life in the Fast Lane” following the “over-the-top” lifestyle of Daytona 500 Champion Austin Dillon on and off the racetrack. “Race for the Championship” will take viewers inside the personal and aspirational lives of NASCAR’s top drivers and teams against the backdrop of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and Championship. For the first time, USA Network will be the exclusive home to international sporting events that include golf’s U.S. Open and The Open Championship; cycling’s Tour de France and track & field’s World Athletics Championships. USA Network is also the cable home of the Premier League, which kicks off the 2022-23 season in August. Motorsports shift into gear in the second through fourth quarters, with NASCAR, NASCAR Playoffs and INDYCAR.

The Premier Hockey Federation unveiled plans to award recipients for the 2021-22 season on May 19. For the second straight year, winners will be announced as part of a special interactive program on Twitch beginning at 7p, presented by Discover. “Congratulations to all of the award nominees for outstanding achievements and contributions to the PHF this season,” said Reagan Carey, PHF Commissioner. “We look forward to connecting with our passionate fans to showcase these talented athletes and provide well-deserved recognition for their efforts on and off the ice to help grow the game and inspire future generations of players.”

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

TikTok signed on to become an official partner of the Women’s EURO 2022. With the deal, TikTok will launch an official UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 TikTok account that will offer fans exclusive behind-the-scenes content, plus current and archival footage. “Since our partnership with UEFA for EURO 2020, we have seen TikTok become the home of football fandom; with creators, players and nations alike coming together to share their passion for the beautiful game, in a uniquely TikTok way,” said Rich Waterworth, General Manager, Europe, TikTok in the announcement. “We are delighted to continue this partnership as the Official Entertainment Platform of UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, and to build on our joint efforts to promote equality and inclusion in football through TikTok’s #SwipeOutHate campaign and UEFA’s #EqualGame.”

The European Tour group unlocked a new partnership with Hilton Worldwide that will see the brand become an Official Partner of the DP World Tour and Official Hotel of the 2023 Ryder Cup in a three=year deal. The Tour will also work with Hilton to launch joint content with its players, leveraging the DP World Tour’s digital platforms to help drive brand awareness and audience engagement. Hilton will also become Official Tournament Partner at four tournaments on the DP World Tour schedule each year.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Caesars Entertainment and Indianapolis Motor Speedway inked a partnership that makes Caesars Sportsbook an Official Sports Betting Partner of the Indy 500 and IMS. The collaboration also makes Caesars Sportsbook a sponsor for the remaining IMS races on the 2022 calendar and includes the opening of the very first exclusive betting lounge at the venue. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500 are iconic American sports traditions,” said Eric Hession, Co-President of Caesars Digital. “Partnering with one of racing’s most iconic venues and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ provides our customers with unique experiences through Caesars Rewards. This will be an impactful partnership for us that builds upon our commitment to the state of Indiana alongside the investments into our resorts and the communities they serve.”

The NBA opened the doors to a new VR environment on Meta’s Quest platform for the playoffs. Titled NBA Lane, the platform offers fans games, content and other interactive features in addition to NBA content that includes highlights, interviews, and archive footage.

ESPORTS

Riot Games named Copenhagen and Istanbul as hosts of VALORANT’s remaining international events within the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour. The second Masters event of the season will run in Copenhagen in July 2022 while the final international event will take place in Istanbul in September. “Our goal is to see our biggest international events played in front of a live audience and both of these cities provided clear pathways towards this goal, while also providing the best possible guarantee that all qualified teams will be able to safely attend and compete,” the publisher said in the announcement.

MultiVersus developer Player First Games revealed a 2v2 tournament that will take place at EVO 2022. The top 32 teams will compete for $100k with the annual fighting game fest slated to run Aug. 5-7 out of Las Vegas.

Sizzle.gg, an AI-driven platform that creates automatic and personalized highlights, raised $5 million in a seed funding round led by White Star Capital along with Progression Fund, Eterna Capital, Play Ventures, Mindset Ventures, Xoogler Ventures and others also taking part. The news comes as the company emerges from its initial beta phase. “There are so many valuable applications for what we’re delivering to leagues, teams and streamers – we’re just scratching the surface of what’s to come,” said Vijay Koduri, co-founder and CEO of Sizzle.gg. “With this recent round of funding, we’ll be able to expand further and offer even more to creators and leagues, helping them continue to grow and reach their audiences in new and unique ways.”

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Ben Mathan has been promoted to chief strategy officer at Learfield. Mathan has previously held the role of senior vice president, strategy and business operations and will be responsible for the company’s overall strategy and data analytics.

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