05/01/17: DraftKings’ keys to the kingdom; Auds scout NFL Draft; Nick brings Turtles back to race


Good morning. It’s Monday May 1, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The company that transformed how fans engage with sports, DraftKings, is celebrating its five year anniversary since launching in 2012. With the rise of daily fantasy sports, DraftKings reports that nearly 80% of players have increased their sports content consumption and that two-thirds of its customers say that they play DFS because it makes watching sports more enjoyable. Other data points also show, according to the company, that 60% of DFS customers report watching games involving teams they don’t usually follow because they are following their fantasy players while 60% of fantasy sports contestants also say they watch more live sports and read more articles about sports since they started playing fantasy contests. Finally, 41% of DraftKings contestants report watching more sports specific TV programs as a result of playing on DraftKings.

As the company celebrates five years, Cynopsis Sports asked Paul Liberman, COO of DraftKings, about the company’s whirlwind half-decade, its merger with FanDuel, legal battles, and what to expect over the next few years.
Liberman on when he knew they were big: It’s hard to point to one, but if I had to it would have to be the first fund raising where we were able to focus on this full time. We had been spending most the last 6-8 months working in my spare bedroom and getting some traction but weren’t going to really be able to scale if we continued to work on it on the side. Our company really took off when we got our first check from our original investor Ryan Moore and his firm Accomplice Ventures. That allowed us to quit our jobs and focus full time on the product and we haven’t looked back ever since. It was probably the most pivotal moment for us, as crazy as it may seem with everything that has happened since.
On trends: DFS is changing the way fans look at, and take in sports and our users are proof of that. For example, we are seeing fantasy golf grow much faster than anticipated. We recently had our largest ever single day of user entry fees into our golf product/contests for the first Major of 2017. It was a 26% increase over the same golf major event last year. Also, the way sports are being consumed is a trend we’re seeing amongst fantasy players. For DraftKings to grow, we must focus on how we shift into the world of sports media consumption. Our expansion into this world is a natural growth point for us, agnostic of anything else happening in the industry. According to a recent survey among DraftKings customers, almost half of our players have started following another sport since playing
On merging with FanDuel: If the merger is approved, FanDuel and DraftKings are merging to bring together the best of each company to advance the fantasy sports industry by better serving players and fans. The combination will create operational efficiencies and cost savings that will enable increased investment in growth and product development, delivering enhanced user experiences and creating an overall stronger fantasy sports community. The merger comes at a pivotal moment in the rapidly evolving fantasy sports industry and our combined technology and product offerings will benefit consumers and generate strong user engagement.
On legal challenges: For anyone starting a business or who has an idea that has the potential to disrupt or redefine an industry, it’s very important to consider the implication your business may have for lawmakers and regulators. We continue to be optimistic about the regulatory landscape and we’ve embraced common sense legislation to ensure the long-term growth of our business and industry. We entered 2017 with momentum after legislation passed in eight states last year, including New York. We’re anticipating additional legislative victories this year but we’re realistic that passing legislation in many states will require a multi-session effort. For a new industry like ours, that’s to be expected, as many lawmakers aren’t familiar with fantasy sports or DFS- to date we have passed legislation in 11 states in a very short time.
On bolstering media content: One of the top reasons people play fantasy is to bring them closer to the games they love making their sports entertainment experience more exciting. We noticed there was an opening in the market for a much closer integration of what fantasy players consume in terms of content.  Our overall strategy is centered on creating the best user experience for all sports fans.  This includes content, games, more sports and ever evolving technology so that it all comes together seamlessly. A great example of this is our DK Live app. DK Live aggregates all of a player’s DraftKings contests, favorite players and proprietary insider information into a real-time news feed – it’s a personalized stream of the fantasy sports updates that players need on game day. DK Live is currently available for DraftKings’ NFL, NBA, NHL, Golf and most recently (as of Tuesday, April 18th), MLB.  
On expansion: This year we are extremely excited about our plans for international expansion. We launched internationally in February 2016 in the UK and have seen an unexpected growth and engagement with our product. In January, we announced that DraftKings had been granted a Controlled Skill Games License by the Malta Gaming Authority. We are now live in Malta and Germany! This license will allow us to expand to additional EU countries, further underpinning our expansion into Europe.

Opening night for the NFL Draft delivered gains for the event’s media partners. ESPN reports a total live audience of 6,924,000 viewers for its Thursday night telecast of Round 1, which ranks as the fourth most-viewed Round 1 telecast on ESPN since the new primetime format began in 2010, with a 7% uptick over last year. The NFL Draft on ESPN ranked as the highest-rated telecast on Thursday night among all the key male demos (18-34, 18-49, 25-54), as well as adults 18-34 and 18-49. Additionally, the telecast helped ESPN win the night among all networks in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos. On television, the telecast peaked in the 9-9:30 p.m. ET half hour with a 4.6 rating and 7,779,000 viewers.
Meanwhile, NFL Network saw day one of the NFL Draft average a 1.52 household Nielsen score and 2.5 million viewers, for markups of 22% and 24% respectively over 2016. Viewership ranked as the most-watched Day 1 of Draft ever on NFL Network. Between ESPN and NFL Network the viewership of 9.2 million combined marks the top draft viewership behind 2014.
The first-ever NBA Awards on TNT – set for June 26 at 9p – will also feature a slate of six new award categories in addition to the traditional end-of-season awards that will be presented during the show. Winners will be determined by fan voting across NBA.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  New NBA fan-voted awards will include: Dunk of the Year; Best Style; Block of the Year; Assist of the Year; Game Winner of the Year and Top Performance of the Year.
MLB Network announced that five-time All-Star Jim Thome is joining its lineup, where he will serve as an analyst appearing across the network’s studio programming. Thome makes his debut on MLB Tonight this evening at 6p, joining on former teammate Sean Casey and host Fran Charles.
RIP to editor and producer Henry Ralph “Buzz” Ringe II, formerly of NFL Films, On Tuesday, he died at 80 after suffering head injuries from a fall in his home.

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Nickelodeon will once again return as a title sponsor for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, locking in Chicagoland Speedway and its Sept. 17 event, which will now be known as the Tales of the Turtles 400. “Following the success of last year’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, we are ecstatic to continue our relationship with Nickelodeon in 2017,” said Chicagoland Speedway President Scott Paddock. “This blend of exciting racing and family entertainment is the perfect formula to launch the playoffs for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kickoff at our magnificent mile and a half.”
Meanwhile, NASCAR also announced that 14-year-old Amelia Conway directed the latest NASCAR Acceleration Nation television creative, developed the treatment and directed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon. A new spot promoting the sport’s national youth platform launched online and aired over the weekend during the Richmond races on FOX and FS1.
The WTA revved up a multi-year deal with Porsche to become the title sponsor for the WTA Finals qualification campaign, which will now be known as the “Porsche Race to Singapore.” The season-long campaign builds towards the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore. In addition, the player who finishes the regular season as the No.1 player on the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard will also be congratulated with a new Porsche 911 GTS Cabriolet.
Kraft Heinz named Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania as the winner of Kraft Hockeyville USA 2017. The Kraft Hockeyville USA contest, now in its third year of partnership with the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association, is awarding $150,000 in arena upgrades to The Rostraver Ice Garden and the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game between the Penguins and Blues that will be televised live on NBCSN.

Major League Baseball named Marlins’ legends Jeff Conine and Hall of Famer Tony Perez as MLB All-Star Ambassadors for this year’s Midsummer Classic in a move to generate public awareness for this year’s game and its surrounding events. They will also participate in All-Star events and make a variety of appearances throughout All-Star Week in Miami.

Back to the NFL Draft, Bleacher Report announced that the site set a new daily traffic record on Friday, fueled by its coverage of the event.  The site and its app collectively delivered an all-time best eight million unique visitors in a single day, based on Google Analytics, generating a spike of 41% in unique visitors for the first two days of the NFL Draft (Thursday and Friday) over the comparable editorial coverage last year.
Major League Lacrosse announced that Twitter will live stream the MLL Game of the Week during the 2017 season. The streaming schedule consists of 15 regular season games as well as two postseason games and will be available globally for free to logged-in and logged-out users on Twitter and connected devices. “Having MLL games streamed live on Twitter is a major step towards improving the accessibility of our great game,” MLL Commissioner David Gross said. “We have made a concerted effort in recent years to cater to an audience that relies more and more on digital streaming, and this partnership is the next phase of that effort. We are thrilled to be working with Twitter this season.”
NBC Sports Digital reports record live streaming metrics for the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs with connected TVs accounting for 204,000 uniques and 68 million minutes of its tally, up 98% and 78%, respectively, for the 39 first round games this year. Overall, the first round of the Playoffs delivered 798,000 total unique users and 134 million minutes, both up 19% versus last year.

Overwatch continues to over-deliver. Blizzard Entertainment announced that the popular title and esports pillar has surpassed 30 million players since launching in May of last year via PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Blizzard previously announced that 25 million players were on-board for the game in January.
China’s LPL League of Legends league has become the first in the world to officially end regulation and start franchising. Wanplus reports that the process would launch for the 2017 Summer Split with teams that qualify for the event being guaranteed franchise spots. The story adds that the league will be expanded to 14 teams in 2018.
The International University Sports Federation and International e-Sports Federation locked in a memorandum of understanding to promote esports in FISU, with the deal also exploring ways to synergies between the two federations. As a first step, IeSF will be supporting the FISU Web Games developed by FISU in a move to engage university youth through international on-line competitions and contests, promoting sport, knowledge, entertainment, education, art and culture worldwide.

Rockets/Spurs on TNT at 9:30p.


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May 23, 2017
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ON THIS DAY in 1940: The 1940 Olympic Games are cancelled.
In The Know
: Which sports movie featured the tagline,
“He doesn’t play golf… he destroys it.” (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question:
1983 saw six QBs taken in the first round of the draft. Name four.
Answers: John Elway, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Todd Blackledge, Ken O’Brien & Dan Marino. Kudos: Michael Strauss-CoxReps/NY; Bruce Jackson-Disney and ESPN Media Networks/NY; Michael A. Neuman-Scout Sports & Entertainment/NY; Ralph Sorrentino-Viacom/NY; Margaret LaMura-Dara-The CW Network/NY; Andreas Droste-Time Inc./NY; Chris Schwartz-International Speedway Corporation/Charlotte; Tom Lopez-UPS/Atlanta; Howie Schwab-Tandem Enterprises/Lakewood Ranch; Pamela Wise-The E.W. Scripps Company/Cincinnati; Matt Fumagalli-NBC Sports/Chicago; Brad Brown-Nevco, Inc./St. Louis; Steve McNair-KUBE TV/Houston; Tom Doherty-Starcom Media/Chicago; Jack Neumann-University of Calgary Dinos 5th Quarter Alumni/Calgary; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica.

Later — Chris

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JOB OPENING: SALES EXEC/DANNY LIPFORD: Seeking dynamic/highly motivated Eastern Regional Ad Mgr for its expanding nationally synd TV & Radio shows & Digital platforms. Min 5yrs direct sales exp. Proven track rec of working successfully w/lrg nat’l accounts. Home improvement, TV or Radio exp a +. Resumes HERE (5/6)

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