05/18/22: ESPN announced a deal with the XFL at its upfront presentation

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday May 18, 2022

The XFL has a new home, inking a new, global multi-year agreement with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, which includes exclusive broadcast rights for all gameday content, tentpole events and more, for its upcoming 2023 season through 2027. Each season, all 43 games (40 regular season games, two playoffs, one championship) will be featured on a combination of ABC, ESPN networks and FX. Additionally, the agreement includes exclusive content rights across TWDC and ESPN’s digital, social and direct-to-consumer outlets such as ESPN+. The XFL’s 2023 season will kick off on Feb. 18, 2023.

“Without question, we have long admired Disney’s distinct ability to engage an expansive consumer fanbase across verticals, while also maintaining a deeply authentic, nuanced and heartfelt approach to storytelling much like our own,” said Dany Garcia, Chairwoman of the XFL. “To find a partner that honors our foundation and to be able to root our vision of unwavering passion, accessibility and the future of football with Disney as our home, is a dream come true. We are extraordinarily excited to explore the endless possibilities of this partnership – today is surely just the beginning.”

PROGRAMMING

Elsewhere at the Walt Disney Company Upfront presentation, Peyton Manning announced the second expansion of the Places Universe on ESPN+ through 2024. The series returns with three new sports each hosted by a legend from that sport. Sue’s Places will hit the hardwood exploring college basketball with 2-Time NCAA Champion Sue Bird serving as host. P.K.’s Places will take the ice and explore the NHL with 3-Time All-Star P.K. Subban. McEnroe’s Places will serve up stories from tennis with 17-Time Grand Slam Champion John McEnroe. Additionally, Eli’s Places will return for a second season and Peyton’s Places will return for a third season.

In addition, ESPN and Tennis Australia signed a nine-year agreement – 2023 to 2031 – for continued exclusive live “first ball to last ball” coverage across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN+ for the Australian Open. “We are proud of our nearly four-decade relationship with Tennis Australia and are thrilled to continue our exclusive coverage of one of the sport’s most important events,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “The Open has provided so many memorable moments on our networks. With the capacity and quality of ESPN+, we can bring fans Down Under for every match, from qualifying through the championship of each division.”

Finally, ESPN revealed key college football matchups in the early-season 2022 schedule. On Sept. 3, Georgia kicks off its season against Oregon in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at 3:30p on ABC. On ABC’s Saturday Night Football presented by Capital One, Notre Dame takes on Ohio State Buckeyes on ABC at 7:30p. The Labor Day

On the viewership front, the Celtics win over the Bucks in Game 7 on ABC this past Sunday ranked as the most-watched NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals game in 10 years, according to Nielsen, averaging 7,481,000 viewers. Through the first two rounds, the NBA Playoffs across ESPN and ABC are averaging 4,573,000 viewers (25 games), up 25% over 2021.

Meanwhile, despite a blowout, Sunday’s decisive Game 7 win by the Mavericks ranked as the most viewed NBA Playoffs game on cable this year, averaging 6.3 million viewers. Overall, TNT’s NBA Playoffs coverage has led the network to win the night on cable in prime seven times and TNT continues to deliver its most watched NBA Playoffs coverage since 2018, averaging 3.8 million total viewers through 37 telecasts.

In addition, Turner Sports’ coverage of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round 1 finished as the most watched first round on cable ever, and broke individual game and total round all-time records for cable. Sunday’s Rangers overtime victory over the Penguins in their decisive Game 7 matchup delivered 2.3 million average viewers and is the most-watched non-Stanley Cup Finals game on cable since 2018. Stanley Cup Playoff games televised on TNT and TBS averaged 812,000 viewers across 25 telecasts and is the most-watched Round 1 on cable ever, up 60% vs. 2021 Round 1 on cable.

Telemundo Deportes is expanding its Spanish-language sports programming lineup adding the 147th Preakness Stakes to its roster of live sporting events. Coverage will be presented live this Saturday, beginning at 6:30p on Universo, TelemundoDeportes.com and Telemundo Deportes App. Coverage will feature race-announcing veteran Omar Amador and official Telemundo Deportes race caller Edgar Lopez.

Sports marketing’s All-Star event is almost here! Join the heads of marketing from leagues, networks, teams and brands as they break down the latest and greatest ways to connect with your audience. Newest speakers include representatives from Heineken, adidas and Intersport! Tickets are FREE for Tuesday’s virtual event so do not miss out by clicking here.

Quest For The Stanley Cup, the behind-the-scenes documentary series chronicling the remaining eight Stanley Cup Playoff teams, returns May 27. A first look, The Quest Begins, will premiere on NHL Network and the NHL’s YouTube and Facebook channels on May 20 before the series drops weekly on Friday nights, exclusively on ESPN+ in the U.S. and at YouTube.com/NHL in Canada.

Award-winning broadcaster Steve Cangialosi is stepping down as MSG Networks’ Devils play-by-play announcer. Cangialosi has served as the voice of the Devils for the last 11 seasons. “Steve has informed us of his decision to step down as MSG Networks’ Devils play-by-play announcer beginning next season,” the network said in a statement. “We will certainly miss his calls after eleven wonderful years in this role and sixteen years as part of Devils broadcasts on our networks. We look forward to Steve continuing as the play-by-play voice for our Red Bulls telecasts this season.”

MEASUREMENT & DATA CONFERENCE

New session alert for June 7th:

Working lunch session with Caitlin Petre, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The NBA premiered “Welcome to the NBA Finals”, the last chapter in the league’s season-long campaign celebrating its 75th Anniversary Season. The promo returns to the fictional neighborhood of “NBA Lane” as Michael B. Jordan, the neighborhood Hoop bus driver, welcomes the audience to the Finals arena as he delivers the newly evolved Larry O’Brien trophy. The “NBA Lane” campaign was created in conjunction with Translation LLC.

Blend360 announced today that they will be sponsoring LPGA player Ana Belac. As part of their partnership, Ana will wear the Blend360 logo on the right shoulder blade of her shirt, a look that she debuted in the recent Palos Verdes Championship.

In advance of the 2022-23 NFL season, OMORPHO, a fitness company with micro-weighted sportswear, announced partnerships with Minnesota Vikings running back Alex Mattison, Seattle Seahawks running back DeeJay Dallas and Philadelphia Eagles rookie free agent signing Britain Covey. All three NFL players will join the Omorpho Gravity Team alongside founding partner and NFL wide receiver Julio Jones.

Chipotle is partnering with The Famous Group during the Colorado Avalanche’s second round Stanley Cup Playoff series vs the Blues and will premiere a new mixed-reality ad that will mark the first time the NHL leveraged mixed-reality technology for broadcast viewers. During the game’s second intermission, a Chipotle branded Zamboni will bring out a giant burrito bowl and fork to the middle of the rink with the messaging “Real Food for Real Athletes.” A giant hockey glove will then burst through the ice, grab the bowl, and submerge itself back under the ice. A few beats later, the hockey glove will emerge, hungrily pawing for the fork, and finally holding it up in victory.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

beIN SPORTS en Español and beIN SPORTS XTRA en Español officially launched on YouTube TV through the streaming service’s Spanish Plan and Spanish Plus add-on. The Spanish-language flagship and ad-supported channels will bring beIN’s library of live sports and original programming to YouTube TV viewers.

The Topps Company announced a long-term historic partnership with MLB’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays superstar features exclusive trading cards as well as a variety of game used items such as helmets, elbow/shin guards, batting gloves, bats, jerseys, hats, and socks to be cut up and included in future trading card products.

ESPORTS

HyperX renewed its partnership with Team Liquid and will remain Team Liquid’s official peripheral partner. In addition, Team Liquid’s Juan ‘Hungrybox’ DeBeidma has been named as a HyperX global ambassador. As part of the deal, HyperX will bolster Team Liquid’s tournaments, community initiatives and content.

Esports Scotland appointed Strive Sponsorship to develop its commercial approach across its range of properties ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and beyond. Strive Sponsorship, the sport and entertainment consultancy, is updating Esports Scotland’s commercial partnership proposition and strategy, upskilling staff’s sponsorship skills and helping the organization “better understand the value of all its leagues, tournaments, venue, and teams.”

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Elevate Sports Ventures named veteran, international sports industry executive Prashanth (Shawn) Doss to the role of Chief Business Officer, International. Doss will be responsible for leading business development and serving as the lead liaison for the agency’s rapidly expanding roster of international clients; he will report to Elevate President Chip Bowers.

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