05/08/18: NASCAR is mulling a sale of the org

Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 8, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

NASCAR may be up for sale. Reuters and NBC both report that the majority owners of NASCAR are exploring options for the future of the organization with considerations that include the sale of their entire stake. The France family, which controls NASCAR, is working with investment bank Goldman Sachs Group to identify a potential buyer for the company. The report states that any plans are only at the exploratory stage and no agreement of any kind is certain.

Flush with new partners and content, Professional Bull Riders locked in a deal with CBS Sports – which has carried PBR on CBS and CBS Sports Network since 2012 – for an expanded agreement that will see the broadcast channel carry rodeo events and the PBR Global Cup as the org’s primary distribution partner. The league will also offer fans new access to rodeo events on RidePass, the new digital sports network. Programming on CBS will include two hours of rose this summer on the channel, with the Calgary Stampede on July 21 and Days of ’47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo from Salt lake City on July 29. The network will also showcase a combined four hours of the PBR Global Cup and premier rodeo content on CBS with final round broadcast coverage in 2019 and 2020.
With more numbers in the books, NBC Sports reports that its coverage of the 144th Kentucky Derby and the subsequent primetime Penguins/Capitals Stanley Cup Playoff Game 5 on Saturday posted multiple milestones, according to fast national data provided by Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics. The Derby race cleared a TAD of 15 million viewers across NBC and NBC Sports Digital platforms – marking the sixth consecutive year that Kentucky Derby viewership averaged at least 15 million viewers. Game 5 of the Penguins-Capitals second-round series delivered a Total Audience Delivery of 4.331 million viewers, making it the second-most watched early-round Stanley Cup Playoff game on record (since 1993).
The PGA TOUR announced that, with more than 200 hours of digital coverage complementing 22 hours of live, limited-interruption telecasts from Golf Channel, NBC Sports, Sky Sports and dozens of broadcast partners around the world, THE PLAYERS Championship will feature the most expansive global programming in the history of the event this year. Stateside, NBC Sports and Golf Channel will provide a total of 22 hours of live coverage with limited commercial interruption while PGA TOUR LIVE will provide live streaming coverage not only on competition days but also from key events leading up to Thursday’s first round. Meanwhile, Twitter will distribute a “free preview” of the Premium Featured Groups coverage on both Thursday and Friday while Facebook will stream 30+ hours of live coverage from THE PLAYERS Wednesday through Sunday on Facebook Watch.
Booger McFarland is poised to join the new-look Monday Night Football crew in the new season, according to The Athletic. The site writes that he would serve as a field analyst on the franchise, joining Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Lisa Salters.
The NBA announced today that 69 players are expected to attend the 2018 NBA Draft Combine powered by Under Armour. The event will see five-on-five games as well as strength and agility drills at Chicago’s Quest Multisport on May 17-18 with ESPN 2 providing coverage both days from 3-7p.
MLB Network analysts Joe Girardi and Pedro Martinez will join host Greg Amsinger on MLB Tonight this evening immediately following MLB Network’s national telecast of the Red Sox/Yankees with Bob Costas (play-by-play), Jim Kaat (analyst) and Lauren Shehadi (reporter) on the call at 7p. Leading up to the telecast, former Red Sox and analysts Kevin Millar, Ryan Dempster and Hall of Famer John Smoltz will discuss the series throughout MLB Network’s studio programming, plus an essay on the renewed passion for this rivalry will air, written by MLB Network’s Tom Verducci.
FOX Sports is tapping UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, Dominick Cruz and lead UFC host Karyn Bryant to handle the FOX Sports desk for UFC 224: Nunes vs. Pennington programming on Friday and Saturday. Jimmy Smith joins blow-by-blow announcer Jon Anik to call UFC 224 live from Brazil on FX and FOX Sports GO on Saturday at 8p.
Entercom and the Brooklyn Nets inked a new multiyear agreement that extends the team’s broadcast rights with WFAN through the 2020-21 season. Rights include airing regular season and any postseason games. In addition, WFAN will continue to be the home of the Nets’ in-depth pregame and postgame coverage for all contests broadcast on the station.
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The WNBA is partnering with Sylvain Labs, an innovation and brand design consultancy, to develop a long-term growth strategy and identify new marketing opportunities. The partnership entails a complete review of every aspect of the league to learn more about its fans and how best to engage them. “Our research makes clear that fans are interested in establishing a deeper connection with our players and teams and experiencing the game in every way imaginable,” said WNBA President Lisa Borders.  “We are delighted to work with Sylvain Labs to help us meet these objectives and continue the WNBA’s growth for our 22nd season and beyond, with an increased emphasis on engaging a young female audience through rich storytelling.”
Oberto Beef Jerky is teaming up with Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner to serve as the new face of the brand. The multi-faceted campaign will continue to build upon Oberto’s positioning in the jerky space with Wagner set to star in Oberto’s new television campaign as the latest sports superstar to communicate with “The Little Voice Inside My Stomach” (as portrayed by Stephen A. Smith). Wagner will also be featured in Oberto’s digital and social content programming, point-of-sale materials, print and radio advertisements.

FloSports tied up rights with EuroLeague Basketball to be the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague’s and 7DAYS EuroCup’s official distribution partner in North America. The deal enables FloSports to provide live and on-demand coverage of more than 250 EuroLeague and 180 EuroCup games on FloHoops.com. FloHoops’ coverage includes the entire regular season and postseason for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, including playoffs and championships. This 2017-18 season, FloSports will also cover all Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four games that will be played on May 18 and 20 in Belgrade.
STATS locked in a new five-year agreement with the National Rugby League to serve as the official data provider of the org. STATS expands its statistics collection to include men’s and women’s live and post-match data for 1,357 matches across 24 international, national, state, and age grade competitions ranging from NRL’s Telstra Premiership to under 16 junior representatives.
Season three of ESPN’s 30 for 30 Podcasts launches May 22 with five episodes covering the story of the rise and fall of Bikram yoga, and “how the community is still grappling with its identity in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against its founder Bikram Choudhury.” Reported and produced by ESPN’s Julia Lowrie Henderson, the series explores how this young Indian yogi used his connections with celebrities to launch a yoga empire that changed yoga in America forever

VY Esports, a global esports company specializing in experiences and creative content for the esports generations, announced a partnership with Electronic Arts and Coca-Cola to launch the Russian Interactive Football Cup as an official qualifying competition of the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series, on the Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018. The EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series is a multi-tiered worldwide competition where the top esports players will compete in the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 Grand Final in August. VY Esports will create branded content around the Russian Cup that will include player stories, game highlights, recap shows, and more. With this concept, VY brought together all the right partners in the Russian Esports Federation (RESF), Football Union of Russia (RFU), EA and Coca-Cola to collaborate on the Russian Cup.
Engine Shop announced the acquisition of SA Studios Global esports and soccer divisions with the leadership team of Scott Debson and Jamie King now joining the agency as part of the deal. With this move, Engine Shop extends its industry-leadership in esports strategy, content and live event production capabilities. As part of the acquisition, ES is now the US agency for Umbro and will also act as the lead agency for eMLS, MLS’ competitive FIFA 18 league.
Hi-Rez Studios opened the doors to Skillshot Media, a 35-person esports tournament operator and production company based in Alpharetta. The subsidiary of Hi-Rez Studios will operate multiple esports leagues for both SMITE and Paladins, as well as games from other publishers with a production studio that features 16,000 square feet of production technology, soundproof player booths for live events, and custom show stages designed for an immersive broadcast experience. Hi-Rez co-founder Todd Harris leads the new venture as our President, while Nabil Ismail acts as Vice President of Operations.
The Australian Football League and Riot Games locked in a partnership to bring League of Legends to Melbourne for an event in November. Gamers will be pulled from the Oceanic Pro League and represent their home states. In addition, an esports studio will be built in the city as part of the AFL and Riot Games’ push to develop League of Legends on the local front.
Epic Games and Marvel are teaming up for a crossover between Fortnite: Battle Royale and Infinity War. The limited-time partnership begins today with Entertainment Weekly writing that the Infinity Gauntlet will spawn on the map, and the player that finds it will turn into Thanos.

The Rockets looks to close out the Jazz at 8p on TNT.
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ON THIS DAY in 1984: The USSR announces that the country will not participate in the Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
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