05/08/17: AVP’s Sun talks volleyball’s spike; NBC’s grand Dreams; FIFA’s new flier

Good morning. It’s Monday May 8, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
This past weekend saw the opening of the AVP season, complete with a new deal with NBC Sports Group to carry all eight AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour events of the season on NBC and NBCSN, and additional content slated to run across digital and social platforms including AVP.com and across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and more. The tour made headlines leading into its opening event in Huntington Beach, as long-time Olympian team April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings formally announced their amicable split, with Walsh Jennings posting on Facebook that “I have so much love in my heart for April. We fall on different sides of this situation, but that does not change my high opinion of her nor can it change the amazing times we shared together. April has made my life better. Period. It was a true joy to get to know her better and to compete with her. She is deserving of everything beautiful in this world and in her life.”
Cynopsis Sports caught up with said Donald Sun, Managing Partner, AVP, to talk about the new deal, the AVP’s growth strategy as well as the festival atmosphere the brand exuberates.
Sun on NBC’s partnership: NBC Sports has been a terrific proponent for the sport, not only as media partner for the AVP, but through the Olympics, where beach volleyball is still one of the most-watched sports, and it has helped tremendously for them to give us promotional support, favorable timeslots and general support overall. Going forward, I don’t think anything will change regarding that.
On the digital strategy: At the moment we are on AVP.com, and our viewership has gone up for the last couple of years. Obviously the events themselves are driving audiences, but we are also coming up with smaller featurette. That’s what viewers like nowadays. While it’s cool to watch ten hours of volleyball, you have to throw in 3-6 minute segments that they can consume to help with viewership retention. Moving forward, we are definitely open to exploring an OTT network and other different opportunities to enhance the sport.
On sponsor activation: Our brand is definitely unique and represents a lot of the aspects that brands are looking for. We are obviously a lifestyle brand and offer this cool, southern California lifestyle that has this beachy feel to it. But our brand is also about fitness, being healthy, and we have a family aspect to go with that as well. If you are in Iowa and you see us, you know what the AVP is all about, and you want to be outdoors, you want to be active, even if you aren’t on the coast.
On experiential offerings: I think that definitely, with today’s generation when they go out to an event, they want to really feel like they are a part of the experience. So we are doing everything we can to make them feel that way, some of it directly through AVP and other parts through our partners, but always fun. That could include a fun, cool beer garden that is overlooking the action, or the jump-zone, which is a thrill-seeking thing. As we keep going from stop-to-stop, we will alter that experience to include a slip-and-slide, etc. I think that festival-goers what to have that 360-degree experience and beach volleyball opens the doors to some terrific things.
On his biggest accomplishment/challenge: The biggest challenge has been the brand itself. The AVP history has seen some owners mismanage it and there was some bad blood when I purchased the organization, which I didn’t know about at the time. But I think that we’ve turned the ship around, and now both our players as well as our fans are skewing younger. In fact, they are turning out just to watch the qualifier. That is exactly what we have been trying to accomplish and I think that the confidence level has been really high for this brand and people are trust management again and want to be a part of it.

Always Dreaming’s victory at the Kentucky Derby handed NBC with its second-best Derby overnight Nielsen score since 1992. The race drew a 10.5/23 on Saturday, up 12% over Nyquist’s win in 2016. NBC reports that its Kentucky Derby has posted a TV-only 10.0-or-better overnight number for 4 of past 5 years. Top markets: Louisville 39.0/65; Ft. Myers 21.3/39; Cincinnati 18.8/37; Buffalo 17.9/31; Knoxville 17.0/28.
QB Jay Cutler landed a new home, joining the broadcast booth at FOX Sports, where he will be paired with play-by-announcer Kevin Burkhardt, analyst Charles Davis and sideline reporter Pam Oliver. “We’re thrilled to welcome Jay to the FOX Sports family,” said John Entz, President of Production & Executive Producer, FOX Sports. “We’re very excited about the potential he brings to the booth and are looking forward to hearing his analysis during what is sure to be another great season of the NFL on FOX.”
In other talent news, ESPN re-signed announcer Adam Amin to a multiyear deal. As part of the new agreement, Amin will continue calling key college and professional games year-round across a variety of sports on both television and radio.
Following Canelo Alvarez’ victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Saturday, the fighter announced that his next battle will be against unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin. The bout will take place Sept. 16 at a site to be determined. “I’ve already had several calls from around the world wanting to stage this fight,” Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya said at the postfight news conference, per ESPN. “I literally had a missed call from Dubai, a missed call from the U.K. There’s interest all over the world. Those negotiations, those talks, will start in the weeks to come. This is the most anticipated fight, right next to Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, but the difference is this fight will have a lot of action, nonstop action.”
The NBA laid out schedule scenarios for Friday, noting that if Game 6 is necessary in both the Celtics/Wizards and Warriors/Jazz series (as of press time), ESPN would carry the Eastern Conference contest at 8p, followed by the Western game at 10:30p. If the game is necessary in the Golden State-Utah series and not necessary in the Boston-Washington series, then Warriors/Jazz would take place at 9p. .
Hale Irwin joins Golf Channel’s Feherty tonight, at 9p where the 20-time PGA Tour winner will discuss topics that range from the opportunity for professionals like him to find new success through a “second career” after turning 50 and earning eligibility on the PGA TOUR Champions in addition to discussing his work ethic, and how he wasn’t going to be “out-efforted,” knowing his talent alone didn’t necessarily size up against the best in the game during his era.
Being a “Rising Star” means being part of something bigger; there’s a talented, driven group of people who are excited about the “what’s next.”
– Haley Schilling, Associate, Digital at IFC
Join us for the 2017 Cynopsis Rising Star Awards as we honor the future leaders of the media industry and celebrate ‘what’s next.’

Qatar Airways signed on to serve as an Official Partner and the Official Airline of FIFA as part of a sponsorship package that runs until 2022 and will include events such as the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the FIFA Club World Cup, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar. The brand receives extensive marketing and branding rights at the next two FIFA World Cups and will see visibility at competitions such as the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the FIFA Futsal World Cup and the FIFA Interactive World Cup, the world’s largest online gaming tournament. “FIFA is delighted to partner with the world’s fastest-growing airline, Qatar Airways,” said FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura. “Known for introducing industry firsts, Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first-ever World Cup in the Gulf region, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. We look forward to working hand in hand with Qatar Airways to promote FIFA competitions and football around the world.“

NBC Sports Regional Networks got a digital boost from the NBA, NHL and MLB which all streamed simultaneously for the first time and helped the RSNs notch their most-streamed month on record in April, with 67 million total minutes consumed. Overall, NBC Sports Regional Networks streaming of MLB, NHL and NBA games has generated more than 250 million minutes across 831 games during the 2016/17 seasons on local CSN regional network websites, as well as NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
NASCAR opened polls for fans to vote their favorite driver into the 2017 Monster Energy All-Star Race, slated for May 20 at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 8p on FS1. The driver with the most votes will earn a spot in the all-star main event with fans allowed to vote once per day, while votes shared on Facebook or Twitter count double.
ESPN added its newest podcast, “The Basketball Analogy,” featuring a rotating lineup of NBA insiders, writers, reporters and hosts covering the latest news and analysis. Insider Amin Elhassan, reporter and senior writer Brian Windhorst, insider and analyst Tom Haberstroh, writer Kevin Arnovitz, insider Tim MacMahon, insider and analyst Kevin Pelton and sideline reporter Cassidy Hubbarth – along with contributors Rachel Nichols Pablo Torre (senior writer) and Ohm Youngmisuk (writer) – will all add their talents to the mix.

Daybreak Games is now offering a Royal Showdown for H1Z1: King of the Kill, with action for the title’s first European tournament set to be streamed live on Twitch on May 25. Qualification for the Royal Showdown will take place up until May 22nd and those who climb the Pre-Season 4 leaderboards will get a chance to participate in the European Grand Final.
DreamHack announced a slate of side tournaments for DreamHack Summer 2017, with play dedicated to junior, senior, and female CS:GO tournaments that will run beside the anchor tournament. The senior tournament will be dedicated to players 30 and over, while the junior tournament is open to players 18 years old and under. DreamHack Summer 2017 runs June 17-20 from Jonkoping, Sweden.
ELeague will bring back CS:GO this fall, posting that the Turner/IMG collaboration will return on Friday, September 1st at 10p on TBS.
The Stars Esports League announced its launch, designed to serve as an international benchmark in the world of clubs.” “We can accelerate the imminent growth trend of electronic sports in the global market in terms of professionalism, competitiveness, audiences and interest for the mass market, both at the level of the public and consumer brands,” said Sergio Reyes, CEO of Stars Esports League. According the release, SESLeague will look to generate a sustainable ecosystem over time, appealing to entities, players, club agencies, agencies representing sports clubs in eSports, and the competitive video game industry in general.
Wargaming is dangling $300,000 for its Grand Finals 2017 as a dozen World of Tanks pro-teams compete. The event will be held in partnership with Facebook and Rostelecom, beginning May 23–24 with the group stage. Viewers at home will be able to take part in social media contests and streams, snagging themselves lots of cool prizes and gifts from Wargaming and its partners. Meanwhile, for the first time ever, the Wargaming.net League has called on a “supernatural crustacean” to predict the winning teams in Grand Finals 2017 by choosing between two possible outcomes.

Capitals/Penguins on NBCSN at 7:30p.

“Our research shows that the lines are blurring more than ever between nonprofits and corporations. To succeed today, nonprofits need to think and act more like corporations to grow and innovate, and businesses have a mandate from their consumers to think as much about compassion and purpose as they do about commerce.” – Shelley Diamond, Chief Client Officer, Young & Rubicam and webinar panelist
Register for our May 23rd Webinar:

ON THIS DAY in 1984: The USSR announces that the country will not participate in Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
In The Know : Which WWE legend portrayed “Bone Saw McGraw” in the film, Spider-Man? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: LeBron James has now moved past which legendary player to rank as the No. 2 scorer in NBA playoff history? Answer: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kudos: Keith Marder-Halstead Property/NY; Andrew Feingold-Fox News/NY; Michael Brown-Lagardere Sports/NY; Rick Ramage-UTA/NY; Willy Gibson-WTG Consulting/Columbus; Mike Wexler-Moroch/Atlanta; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Mark J. Crepeau-Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame/Springfield; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Doherty-Starcom Media/Chicago; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Don Surath-KPIX-TV  KBCW-TV/San Francisco

Later — Chris

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