05/17/21: FOX Sports’ Winters breaks down the company’s approach to the upfronts

 

Medias First Morning Read

 

Monday May 17, 2021

Friday saw FOX Sports deliver its virtual upfront presentation, with executives stating that the opportunities in its sports portfolio poised to be the most lucrative in a decade. On the NFL front, the company’s NFC slate hits home for 13 of the 15 largest U.S. media centers, and its 16 NFL markets are home to 42.9 million TV homes, as fans prepare to return to full stadiums and arenas. Other key assets of course included college football, World Cup broadcasts in 2022, as well as Major League Baseball. FOX Sports also announced network designations for three college football games this fall, with Ohio State/Minnesota on Sept. 2 on FOX, Oregon/Oho State on Sept. 11 on FOX Big Noon Saturday and Ohio State/Michigan on Nov. 27 on FOX Big Noon Saturday.

Cynopsis Sports asked Seth Winter, Executive Vice President, Sports Sales for FOX Sports, about the market and FOX Sports’ approach this year.

Winter on what’s different this year: We’ve seen such a significant interest in sports that our conversations began weeks ago, and we’re seeing price premiums that we haven’t seen in a decade. Sports are truly the foundational element of every media plan that seeks reach, brand building and the ability to launch products. We’re well ahead of the cadence of prior upfronts which really speaks to the strength of sports as a media property as well as the client’s urgency to lock in their media investments.

On the overall sports marketplace: It’s extraordinarily healthy. Sports continues to be by far the strongest marketplace of all traditional media genres. As we all know, last year we were dealing with an uncertain environment, but now we’re starting to turn a corner and navigating the other side of the pandemic. That, along with today’s overall economic health and consumer confidence, has led us to a marketplace that we haven’t seen in a decade.

On the NFL schedule release: The release of the schedule is possibly the most important day of the year for the television business, and we could not have been happier with how the FOX NFL season is laid out this fall. We were able to retain a dominant amount of top game requests submitted to the league and with the NFC Conference solidified as our tentpole through 2033, FOX continues to deliver national exposure to the NFL’s most storied franchises and valuable brands – including the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. We’re also the only network that can claim home to numerous key markets across the country (Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.). This, combined with the fact that we have consistently delivered the No. 1 show on television with America’s Game of the Week, continues to drive an enormous amount on interest and demand around our season.

On other healthy properties: The college football marketplace is white hot. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of interest for this season specifically as fans return to stadiums and we continue to feature coverage of three of the top four major conferences. This season, we have a number of appointment-viewing matchups including Oregon-Ohio State, Ohio State-Michigan and Ohio State-Minnesota.

On emerging categories: First and foremost, we are seeing a broad spectrum of advertisers supporting the market and actively pursuing marketing campaigns in the upcoming upfront. We’ve been pleasantly surprised to see categories that thrived as a result of Covid-19 continue to stay strong, if not stronger, than they were before the pandemic. Coupled with the reemergence of categories that were largely dormant last season, like motion pictures; travel; and entertainment, we’re extremely excited with the direction things are moving. To round out the market, the streaming category gets bigger and bigger. The Insurance and daily fantasy categories continue to surge, and we’re also seeing technology and wireless very healthy as well as real optimism in the automotive category too.

PROGRAMMING

Marv Albert will reportedly retire at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season, according to a story by the New York Post. Albert, 80, has called NBA telecasts for Turner Sports for the past 22 seasons and broadcasted professional basketball for 59 years. The publication all states that Turner executives have been contacting NBA teams to prepare tributes for the veteran broadcaster during the upcoming NBA Playoffs in anticipation of his retirement.

Meanwhile, the NBA laid out broadcast plans for its post-season play-in tournament. Charlotte/Indiana will square off on Tuesday at 6:30p on TNT, followed by Washington/Boston on the network at 9p. Wednesday’s matchups, meanwhile, hadn’t been fully determined at press time, but will both run on ESPN, beginning with San Antonio/Memphis at 7:30p. Thursday then sees the winner of the first TNT game face off against the loser of the second, with ESPN following the format on Friday.

With the NHL Playoffs underway, NBC Sports reports that the 2020-21 NHL regular season produced many viewership milestones. Highlights include: NBC’s most watched game of the season was the season opener between Washington/Pittsburgh, which averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 1.731 million viewers on Jan. 17; opening night of the 2021 NHL regular season averaged a combined TAD of 778,000 viewers across all three NBCSN games, making it the most-watched NHL Opening Night in seven years; Wednesday Night Hockey finished the regular season with an average TAD of 508,000 viewers across 15 games, an increase of 15% from 2019-20 and this season drew the most-streamed NHL regular season in Average Minute Audience (AMA) across NBC Sports digital platforms, averaging 10,800 viewers.

FIGHT SPORTS reports that the platform landed rights to the return of Floyd Mayweather in his fight vs. Logan Paul on June 6. FIGHT SPORTS acquired the rights to this event in over 50 countries including most of Asia, as well as the Middle East/North Africa region, and several countries throughout Europe including Spain and Portugal to name a few.

The Mexican Baseball League locked in a deal with ESPN to broadcast the 2021, 2022 and 2023 baseball seasons in Mexico. The agreement covers Opening Day (May 20), playoff games and 150 regular season games that will be broadcast on the ESPN signal including 14 weekly games.

TOP WOMEN IN MEDIA CATEGORY SPOTLIGHT:
NEWS AMBASSADORS

This past year, news people themselves have been part of the news. We never want to take for granted all the people in front of the camera and behind do to deliver what we need to know. Cynopsis wants to honor the women in these roles with their Local and National News Ambassadors category at this year’s Top Women in Media Awards. Nominate those in your organization who bring us vital information on a daily basis. Get started here.

(sponsored by TurnkeyZRG)

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

 

Mastercard is joining the National Women’s Soccer League as an official partner, where the brand will work with the league to “elevate the experience for fans, with one of the top NWSL players, Crystal Dunn, joining the all-star roster of soccer players who serve as Mastercard Global Brand Ambassadors.” To celebrate the new partnership, Mastercard will begin rolling out Priceless experiences both virtually and in-person via the VIP Game Day Experience. “Growing passions and fostering connections is core to what Mastercard stands for,” said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard. “We are honored to support the very passionate NWSL fan base. Together with the league, we look forward to elevating their game day experiences all season long, bringing fans closer to what they love.”

PepsiCo Beverages North America partnered on a three-year deal with FC Cincinnati to become the official carbonated soft drink, water and non-alcoholic juice partner of the soccer club, where it will serve its signature brands to fans across all events at TQL Stadium. As part of its continued support of the city, PBNA is once again working with Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank near TQL Stadium and donating 30,000 meals to give back to the local community after a challenging year.

Pit Boss Grills added ESPN television and radio personality Marty Smith to its crew. “We are very excited to welcome Marty Smith to Pit Boss Nation,” said Dansons President Jeff Thiessen. “As a man of faith, family and community, Marty perfectly encapsulates the Pit Boss brand and what it represents. We are blessed to add an individual of his character to our team. Quality and authenticity are the pillars we’ve built our business on, and few people align with those principals better than Marty.”I’m honored to be joining the Pit Boss family,” Smith said. “Spending time around the barbecue exemplifies the impact of food and fellowship throughout the United States that makes our country beautiful. Pit Boss is authentically motivated by producing quality products that bring people together, and I am blessed to partner with a company that holds those core values. I look forward to getting acquainted with Pit Boss Nation and turning up the heat with the United States of Barbecue.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Betway and the National Hockey League cemented a new multiyear U.S. partnership, naming Betway an Official Sports Betting Partner of the NHL. This deal represents Betway’s first sports betting partnership with a North American professional sports league. At the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Betway will receive significant brand exposure on NHL game broadcasts via a corner in-ice brand position and camera-visible dasherboard. Betway will also receive a corner in-ice brand position at NHL tentpole events, including the NHL Winter Classic, NHL Stadium Series and NHL All-Star Weekend.

The LPGA inked a multi-year agreement with BetMGM, a leading sports betting and digital gaming company, to become an Official Betting Operator and Partner of the LPGA Tour. As part of the agreement, BetMGM will showcase LPGA odds in BetMGM’s diverse betting menu, alongside the PGA Tour, the European Tour and other global leagues and sporting events. Additionally, BetMGM will have rights to use the Official Tour Partner logo in connection with the advertising and promotion of their sports betting products and services.

Penn National Gaming announced that the Indiana Gaming Commission approved the Company’s application to offer online sports wagering in Indiana. Penn National plans to launch its Barstool Sportsbook mobile app on iOS and android, as well as for desktop users on May 18, pending any final regulatory approvals.

ESPORTS

HyperX is partnering with the National Hockey League as the Official Gaming Headsets supplier of the 2021 NHL Gaming World Championship. The one-year deal sees HyperX provide headsets to the GWC broadcast team and qualified competitors, engage in product placement opportunities throughout all phases of the global tournament, and participate in community giveaways during the matches on Twitch. “As we have paused live special events temporarily due to COVID-19, having the best equipment for our competitors in a remote broadcast environment is paramount,” said Chris Golier, NHL Vice President of Business Development and Innovation. “HyperX is the category leader in headsets and we are thrilled to partner with them to provide Cloud headsets to our talent and competitors for a superior audio experience this NHL GWC season.”

The FIFAe World Cup formally announced its return to London after last year’s hiatus due to the pandemic. Running Aug. 6-8, the EA SPORTS FIFA 21 Global Series pinnacle features the 32 best players from all over the globe battling for the FIFAe World Cup 2021 trophy.

Call of Duty League’s Minnesota Røkkr is teaming with eFuse to co-host the sixth Women of the eRena event, which will be played in Call of Duty: Warzone on May 26. The women-only event is presented by Activision and features 16 teams competing for $ prize money.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

FanDuel CEO Matt King is leaving his position with the company, according to multiple reports. King has led the company since November 2017. Peter Jackson, Flutter Entertainment chief executive, added: “FanDuel has achieved so much in the three years since PASPA [the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act] was repealed and that is due in no small part to Matt’s leadership and the strong team built around him.

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On this Day
1998: David Wells throws a perfect game.

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