05/08/15: NHL goes another round with Discover; Univision Deportes begins its upfront play; US Soccer gets Simpsonized



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Good morning. It’s Friday May 8, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NHL is reupping with Discover, announcing a multiyear sponsorship renewal with Discover Financial Services in the U.S. The deal will see Discover remain the Official Credit Card and Official Payment Service Partner of the NHL and for all U.S.-based League events through 2019. The Brand will also “deepen its engagement with hockey fans of all 30 NHL teams” with the launch of its NHL Discover it card, which allows consumers to add the NHL Shield or a team’s logo from among all league teams. Discover will also continue to be the title sponsor of the annual NHL on NBC broadcast of the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown on the Friday following Thanksgiving.

“The NHL is a great partner that allows us to reach our customers,” said Jennifer Murillo, VP of Brand Communications for Discover. “With our new agreement we will be able to deliver even more of what our customers want. The new NHL Discover it card will not only offer NHL fans great rewards and discounts, but also the ability to show their colors by selecting their favorite NHL team’s logo as part of their card design.”


beIN SPORTS, The International Sports Network,
is the multi- platform sports destination that brings the passionate sports fan live action, news, and analysis of the top soccer leagues and sporting events from around the planet, including: Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1 and EXCLUSIVE coverage of Copa America 2015.

For more information, please visit www.beinsports.tv.

Follow us on Twitter @beINSPORTSUSA and/or @ESbeINSPORTS and like our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page for breaking news and real-time updates.


Univision is making its play at the upfronts, announcing (among other initiatives) a move toward “billennials” at its upfront presentation on May 12. The Spanish-language broadcaster is lining up multiple sports initiatives for Univision Deportes, including “UD Fantasy,” which will allow fans to create their own fantasy team and compete for the overall ranking, join private leagues with their friends, and challenge UD talent (launching in July). Other content will include super tournament Copa America Centenario; Campeon de Campeones, that will see the two champions of Mexico’s Liga MX face off for the first time; and The Senadoras Search, a search for the “most creative, talented, and beautiful women to be a part of the show and represent the Univision Deportes brand across UCI shows and at live events.”

Showtime Sports will offer a sit down with Floyd Mayweather on Saturday, immediately following the network’s premiere of Mayweather/Pacquiao at 9p.  Jim Gray sits down with the fighter, who addresses the potential of a rematch. “Did I text Stephen A. Smith and say I will fight him again? Yeah, but I change my mind,” said Mayweather. “At this particular time, no, because he’s a sore loser and he’s a coward… If you lost, accept the loss and say, ‘Mayweather, you were the better fighter.’”

Speaking of which, Yahoo Sports writes that sales figures for the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight could see PPV numbers hit a mind-boggling 5.625 million. The report states that DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T’s uVerse and Verizon’s FIOS services along drew 2.25 million in sales.

The NHL revealed updated start times and national television information for 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Eastern Conference games scheduled for the weekend. Saturday will see the start time for Game 5 (if necessary) of the Canadiens/Lightning series set for 7p on Saturday on NBCSN. Sunday could see Game 6 (if necessary) of Rangers/Capitals at 7p on NBCSN as well.

USA Network and WWE announced today that Chris Jericho has signed on to host WWE Tough Enough, and will be joined by a panel that includes Hulk Hogan, Daniel Bryan and WWE Diva Paige. The reality series premieres June 23 at 8p on USA Network. Contestants will be trained by Booker T, Billy Gunn and Lita. To date, entrants from 113 countries have submitted videos to enter. The WWE Tough Enough app will also launch on May 25.

FOX Sports 1 announced Pete Rose’s starting date, with MLB’s all-time hit king set to make his first appearance on the network on Monday on America’s Pregame at 5p. He will also appear in a taped segment that will air on Monday night’s FOX Sports Live at 11:05p and appear on MLB Whiparound on Tuesday and Wednesday.

NBA TV will commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Houston Rockets’ back-to-back championship seasons on Clutch City, a documentary that will be televised during The Finals on June 8, at 9p. Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Kenny Smith, Robert Horry, Sam Cassell and Vernon Maxwell will all reflect on their experiences as part of interviews with more than 30 Hall of Famers.

NBC Sports Group serves up 16 hours of live coverage of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California starting at 5p on Sunday on NBCSN and concluding with NBC’s live coverage of the final stage on May 17 at 1p. Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen and Christian Vande Velde will be on broadcast duties along with reporters Steve Schlanger and Steve Porino.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will join the next episode of Studio 42 with Bob Costas on Sunday at 8p on MLB Network. In the one-hour interview, taped on Manfred’s 100th day in office, Manfred discusses his thoughts on the designated hitter, suggested changes to the length of the MLB schedule, pace of play, youth participation in the sport, and the possibility of MLB exhibition games played in Cuba.

Jack Link’s Major League Fishing returns to CBS Sports on Saturday at 3p. The hour-long episode was filmed in and around Shreveport, Louisiana. In February, Major League Fishing’s telecast of the General Tire Summit Cup championship drew more than 1.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen. “This is the second time this year that Major League Fishing has aired on CBS Sports and we are pleased to be able to further demonstrate the broad appeal of riveting competition found in this unique bass fishing tournament,” said Jim Liberatore, President and CEO, Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks division. “We look forward to continuing to develop innovative programming, such as Jack Link’s Major League Fishing, to entertain the more than 130 million-plus active outdoor adventure participants and armchair observers in the U.S.”

The Atlanta Dream announced a renewal of its television partnership with FOX Sports South and SportSouth for the 2015 WNBA season, which will see 16 home games and two road games carried by the channel. Matchups will be broadcast by Bob Rathbun and LaChina Robinson for a sixth consecutive season.



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The FIFA Women’s World Cup is getting the Simpsons treatment. The series produced a special soccer-themed couch gag to open Sunday’s episode at 8p on FOX. In addition to the couch gag, three members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team  Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Abby Wambach  join a roster of athletes and sports personalities who have been “Simpsonized.” “Being able to connect the U.S. Women’s National Team with an iconic brand like THE SIMPSONS to help raise awareness for the Women’s World Cup is really quite an honor,” offered Robert Gottlieb, Executive Vice President, Marketing, FOX Sports.  “The Women’s World Cup is going to be a truly cultural event in the U.S. beginning next month, and this partnership with The Simpsons and Gracie Films is one of several examples of how elements of 21st Century Fox have worked together in creative ways to promote this huge tournament.”  
Honda debuted a new spot for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last night, dubbed “Worthy.” The spot highlights Honda’s all-new HR-V Crossover, CR-V and all-new Pilot and touts, the only vehicles with cup holders worthy of carrying this [Stanley] Cup.” “This new spot gives Honda the opportunity to celebrate its love of hockey and appreciation for passionate fans,” said Jeff Conrad, Honda Division Senior Vice President & General Manager.

Soccer United Marketing and Bayer HealthCare locked in a multi-year, multi-property partnership that makes Coppertone the Official Suncare Partner of U.S. Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League. Throughout this partnership, Coppertone, U.S. Soccer and NWSL will spotlight the importance of using sun protection during every occasion. "We are very excited to partner with Coppertone, whose leadership in the suncare industry and track record for high performance sunscreens is a natural fit with the NWSL," NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said. "We boast some of the hardest working elite athletes in the world and are backed by passionate fans who desire a dedicated brand that can support them every step of the way both on the field and in the stands."

The United States Olympic Committee announced a new awards program, entitled the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, which is designed to recognize the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes year-round. In addition to presenting sponsor Dow, a cadre of associate sponsors joins the new awards program, including DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kellogg’s, Samsung and USG. “We are delighted to launch the Team USA Awards program, which is all about connecting Americans to our talented athletes as we celebrate their remarkable achievements, and the spirit of Olympic and Paralympic sport,” said Lisa Baird, USOC chief marketing officer. “The U.S. Olympic Committee and our generous sponsors are actively engaging the American public in more ways than ever before, while generating important support for Team USA.”


The X Games is getting an overhaul, with XGames.com getting redesigned to deliver “an improved mobile-first user experience that showcases high quality action sports content across devices.” Heading into the 20th anniversary of the X Games, the new site is built on ESPN technology infrastructure that enables it to integrate easily with other ESPN digital properties (ESPN.com, ESPN FC, espnW and more) and share features that include the everscroll feed of content. "The action sports audience prizes technology, mobility and high quality content,” said Mary Fenton, Associate Director of Digital Content Strategy. “Having a fully responsive, easy-to-use product that presents content as the focal point was hugely important to us from a user-experience standpoint. We’ve also amassed a vast collection of both raw and highly-produced content  from X Games events, original series and weekly World of X Games programming, and users will be able to find that and more on the new site.”

In addition to yesterday’s NewFront news, Whistle Sports Network and the Canadian Football League unveiled a new content and sales partnership in a move to place CFL stars and social content in front of Whistle Sports’ subscriber base on their various platforms including Youtube and Facebook. In addition, Whistle Sports and the CFL will work together to produce content in partnership with the Whistle talent roster which includes YouTube stars such as Brodie Smith and Dude Perfect.

FOX Sports announced that episode 8 of Garbage Time with Katie Nolan saw digital viewership reach an all-time high with over 875,000 full episode of clip views. Overall, the show saw total combined linear and digital viewership hit nearly 1.5 million viewers.

TVG reports “significant” increases in both turnover and active customer numbers on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, driven by a sharp rise in customers wagering on mobile devices. Stakes placed via TVG’s iPhone and iPad Apps rose 100% year-on-year, with the number of customers using mobile for the first time rising 70%.


8K Solutions completed a full technology upgrade for the Syracuse University football program. The upgrade included the creation of a remote controlled camera system for the new Ensley indoor practice field, a workflow retrofit, and full facelift for the video office.


The PLAYERS Championships tee off today on Golf Channel at 1p, with NBC joining in on Saturday at Sunday at 2p.



ON THIS DAY in 1982: The Oakland Raiders to move to LA.

In The Know: Which MLB player is credited with hitting 60+ home runs in a season three different times? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: How long (measured in distance, not time) is the Kentucky Derby? Answer: One and 1/4 miles/2 kilometers/10 furlongs. Kudos: Mitch Burg-Impact Communications/Israel; Lewis Blaustein-Lewis Brand Solutions/NY; Katie Cifarelli-ESPN/NY; Deborah Kapetanakis-Universal McCann/NY; Rick Rosenfelt-ESPN New York/NY; Liz Eng-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick; Michael Goodman-Radio One/Atlanta; Matt Marini-MLB Network/NJ; John Kukla- KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Gretchen Brady-KDAF/Dallas; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc /Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA.

Later — Chris
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