05/02/18: World Surf League locked in new deals with CBS Sports and Turner Sports

Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 2, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The World Surf League inked expanded and new national media partnerships for the 2018 season with CBS Sports carrying more than 40 hours of surfing coverage as the television partner across CBS and CBS Sports Network while Turner Sports’ B/R Live will distribute extensive live WSL coverage and become the league’s official destination for championship-caliber video on demand (VOD) content, replays and highlights. Coverage begins with the WSL Founders’ Cup of Surfing presented by Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold event from May 5-6.
The CBS Sports deal will see, for the first time, surfing running live for four hours across the CBS broadcast network, beginning with The Founders’ Cup event and in September for the WSL Surf Ranch Open, a Championship Tour stop. Meanwhile, CBS Sports Network will air 20 hours of live coverage including the Vans US Open of Surfing, Championship Tour stops and Big Wave Tour events. In addition to the live event coverage, CBS Sports Network will air 15 one-hour WSL specials throughout the year.
Turner Sports joins the WSL team as a media partner with B/R Live providing live coverage of the entire Founders’ Cup and additional WSL events throughout the season.

In playoff news, TNT reports that its first round coverage of the 2018 NBA Playoffs, presented by Hulu, led the network to cable’s top ranking in primetime over the two-week period, based on an average of nearly three million viewers in that particular telecast window and scoring the network’s most-watched first round coverage since 2014. TNT’s first round action averaged a 2.3 U.S. HH rating and 3.6 million viewers for its 23 live game telecasts, up 10% and 5% respectively, vs. 2017. In addition, since the start of the NBA Playoffs, TNT’s Inside the NBA is averaging its most-viewed telecasts since 2015 with an average of 1.7 million viewers, up 9% vs. 2017.
Around the dial, NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs is now averaging a Total Audience Delivery of 891,000 viewers, ranking as the best in six years through the third Sunday of the playoffs. Coverage on NBCSN is averaging a TAD of 780,000 viewers to mark the best viewership on record for the time period, while NBC is averaging 1.975 million viewers, the network’s best since 2014. Through the first 51 games of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, live streaming coverage has set records for uniques (1.7 million; up 65%), total live minutes (245 million; up 24%), and Average Minute Audience (28,400 viewers; up 47%).
In talent news, ESPN reached a multi-year agreement with current WNBA player Chiney Ogwumike to make her a full-time multi-platform ESPN commentator. Ogwumike will add a regular basketball studio analyst role to her slate of SportsCenter Africa co-hosting responsibilities. Ogwumike will contribute analysis for ESPN’s cross-platform NBA, WNBA and women’s college basketball studio coverage.
Meanwhile, sources tell Sporting News that Colin Cowherd expects to step down as co-host of Speak for Yourself with Jason Whitlock on FS1 sometime this year. If he leaves it, the 54-year old Cowherd is expected to focus on his long-running TV/radio simulcast, The Herd with Colin Cowherd and Fox NFL Kickoff, his NFL pregame show with Charissa Thompson.
AXS TV Fights celebrates its 400th event with Legacy Fighting Alliance 40 on May 25 at 9p. In celebration, the network is a producing a special edition of Cageside that will run on May 18 at 9p and look back at memorable moments in combat sports on HDNET & AXS TV Fights. “Back in 2004, our network saw an opportunity to be a part of the fastest growing sport in the world and gave U.S. fans the first high-definition MMA television broadcast,” said AXS TV Fights CEO Andrew Simon. “In our 400 broadcasts and travels around the globe, we worked with over 45 combat sports promotions and many of the greatest athletes to ever compete in our sport. We thank all the fighters, promoters, fans and the great team at AXS TV FIGHTS for helping us reach this historic event.”
SiriusXM serves up coverage of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. The wire-to-wire race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby is provided by NBC Sports Radio and produced in partnership with HRRN and Westwood One.  That day will see SiriusXM offer more than 11 hours of programming originating from Churchill Downs that will provide listeners with day-of news and pre-race analysis, and interviews with jockeys, trainers and owners.  On site coverage begins at 8a with a live edition of HRRN’s Equine Forum show.
New York Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso has reportedly offered to invest $500 million into the North American Soccer League if he receives certain assurances from the United States Soccer Federation, according to Sports Illustrated. That report states that Commisso offered to invest in the league, which was forced to cancel its 2018 season after a slate of clubs ended their affiliation when US Soccer revoked the league’s Division 2 status, including $250 million of his own money.
Uniting media’s most philanthropic teams 
The Cynopsis Social Good Awards
Tuesday, May 22nd | 8:30am – 10:30am | The Yale Club, NYC
Join us for the  Cynopsis Social Good Awards  as we celebrate the companies, programming, campaigns and people who have made the most of their role in media to benefit the community.  Take a look at the finalists who continue to wow us with their philanthropic approach and be sure your team is there to accept the recognition you deserve!


Tuesday saw the launch of the “SheIS” movement, an initiative centered on empowering female athletes, with the release of a PSA and featuring commissioners and presidents of numerous sports leagues in the USA and Canada, including the WNBA, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, WWE, Women’s Professional Lacrosse, National Pro Fastpitch, the National Women’s Hockey League and the United States Tennis Association. Each league took the pledge to “be better, do better” for female athletics, with a promise to support the women’s sports outside of the one they are affiliated with.
opendorse shared the 2018 NFL Draftee’s with the Strongest Individual brands on social, releasing stats that ranked Lamar Jackson atop its rankings on Twitter, where he saw an audience of 262K total with engagement of 2.8%. He was followed by Baker Mayfield, Derrious Guice, Shaquem Griffin and Saquon Barkley as leaders on that particular platform while Mayfield led the pack on Instagram, with an audience of 600K total and engagement of 17%.
Richard Petty Motorsports announced a partnership to make World Wide Technology the primary sponsor for six races with Darrell Wallace Jr. and the No. 43 team starting next weekend at Kansas Speedway. Additional races include Sonoma (June 24), Indianapolis (Sept. 9), Las Vegas (Sept. 16), Charlotte’s road course (Sept. 30) and Dover (Oct. 7).

The Glimpse Group, Inc., a Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality platform company comprised of multiple VR and AR software & services start-ups, announced today that it had acquired the VR/AR assets of iKnow.io, Inc. (and established its 10th subsidiary company – MotionZone, LLC. MotionZone provides Web VR data visualization and analytics solutions targeting the sports industry, including: esports, fantasy sports, sports media, leagues and franchises.
WWE Network’s animated series Camp WWE returns for season two, premiering on demand this Sunday at noon. The series reimagines WWE Superstars and Legends as kids at their favorite summer camp, owned by Vince McMahon.
PHIT America is launching PHIT America Month in May, looking to help people boost health at PHITMonth.org, offering hundreds of local walking, running, swimming, and tennis events to get the country “off the couch and engaged in physical activities” .

ReKTGlobal continued to add high-profile investors to its umbrella, announcing that members and management of multiplatinum band Imagine Dragons had joined the roster of owners. In addition to stake in ReKTGlobal, Daniel Platzman and Wayne Sermon of Imagine Dragons join Grammy-nominated artist Steve Aoki as co-owners of ReKTGlobal’s Las Vegas-based esports organization Rogue. “We love gaming and esports and have been looking for new ways to contribute to this community for a long time—but we never found the right fit until now,” said Mac Reynolds, Manager of Imagine Dragons. “We expect to see esports continue its rapid growth internationally, and we think Rogue and ReKTGlobal are the partners who will help make our hometown of Las Vegas the premiere team and gaming event destination.”
The National Association of Collegiate Esports signed a partnership agreement with Hi-Rez Studios to build varsity esports competition in both SMITE and Paladins.  The partnership will help provide the necessary infrastructure and resources for colleges and universities to expand their esports departments into additional esports, creating valuable opportunities for more students to compete and earn degrees. The deal will see both orgs create recruiting systems and outreach to help connect coaches and interested students together with seasons coordinated with Hi-Rez’s professional leagues.  Competition will start beginning in August.
Amazon announced that Mobile Masters 2018 would run June 23-24 at Amazon’s HQ in Seattle, dangling a $100,000 prize pool for games that include Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, Survival Arena, World of Tanks Blitz and Critical Ops. Power Rangers: Legacy Wars and Survival Arena will be running early round qualifiers for players to earn a spot, powered by GameOn, Amazon’s recently launched competitive gaming service.
With the NBA 2K League officially underway, the league announced a new multiyear partnership that will make Scuf Gaming the Official Gaming Controller of the league. The partnership will also include a merchandising component, giving fans of the NBA 2K League the chance to game with the same official NBA 2K League controllers that will be used in competition.
Meanwhile, the NBA 2K League will also see athlete endorsed footwear designer ISlide courtesy of a licensing deal to design and sell custom slides for all league teams. The slides are now available for all 13 teams for just $49.99 on the ISlide website.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment and Events DC, the District’s convention and sports authority, announced a partnership to make Events DC a sponsor of Wizards District Gaming, beginning with its inaugural season in 2018, as a member of the NBA 2K League. “As the official convention and sports authority of the District, Events DC’s partnership with Monumental Sports & Entertainment to sponsor Wizards District Gaming fortifies our city’s commitment to the future of esports in Washington, DC.  Cities are competing on a global level to drive tourism, new events and economic impact to their region – and esports is just another opportunity for DC to lead the country,” said Max Brown, Chairman, Board of Directors at Events DC. “Our collaborative partnership with MSE in the esports landscape is vital for our city’s growth in this rapidly-expanding vertical.”

Jazz/Rockets at 8p on TNT.
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ON THIS DAY in 2015: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. beats Manny Pacquiao in 12.

In the Know: Who is the reigning two-time World Surf League champion? (Yes, I know this applies to both the men’s and women’s tour but I will take either.) (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What number did the Dodgers retire to honor Pee Wee Reese? Answer: #1. Kudos: Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Networks/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Art Salisch-Hearst Television/NY; Aymon DeMauro-ADM Media & Marketing/NY; Ken White-KWTV/Charlotte; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Rich Dubroff-PressBoxonline.com/Baltimore; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; David Hauptman/Denver; Dave Sikula-San Francisco State University/San Francisco; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Jack Simmons-US Army Reserve/LA; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA

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JOB OPENING: ASSOC EDITOR-PROD/iN DEMAND/NYC: Editing promos, trailers, social & long form. Writing scripts/producing projects. Expert in Adobe Premiere & familiar w/After Effects. Prof editing exp req in broadcast/entertainment. Resume & reel to: [email protected] (5/9)

JOB OPENING: BOOKER, VARNEY/FOX Business Network/NYC: Book dynamic and high-profile guests for top-rated business program daytime bringing in new guests. 4+ yrs TV news exp. Identify/pitch stories and guests appropriate for the show and each individual hour. Full info/apply HERE (5/8)

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