05/16/17: SportsCenter’s new groove; FOX Sports’ brand play; The Cavs get patched up

Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 16, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

SportsCenter is getting an upgrade, as ESPN announced a slate of “enhancements” for its flagship series, along with new deals will a slate of anchors. The new SportsCenter Right Now initiative will “bring news updates to both digital and television platforms during daytime hours as well as during halftime of televised prime-time sporting events.” Starting in August, the series will launch up-to-the-minute news updates that will be seen on both digital and television platforms running multiple times per hour on ESPN.com and in the new home-screen video player on the ESPN App. Content will be produced specifically for the digital platforms, with topics determined by the use of real-time analytics to ensure that the updates are centered on the questions and conversations in which sports fans are most passionately engaged in addition to airing twice hourly within ESPN daytime programming between 7a-3p.
Meanwhile, SportsCenter anchors Steve Levy, Kenny Mayne, John Anderson and John Buccigross signed new deals to continue with ESPN as hosts of the 11p SportsCenter, while Sage Steele signed a new, multiyear deal and beginning in late August will anchor SportsCenter:AM from 7-10a Monday-Thursday.

Speaking of ESPN, SI writes that broadcaster Beth Mowins will take on play by play duties for the Sept. 11 game between Chargers/Broncos as part of the network’s opening week doubleheader, where she will join Rex Ryan in the broadcast booth. The last woman to call play by play for an NFL regular season game was Gayle Sierens, who called a Seahawks/Chiefs game for NBC Sports in 1987. For the past two seasons Mowins has called the Raiders’ exhibition games in addition to her college football duties.
Meanwhile, ESPN and t he College Football Playoff are looking to bring a Super Bowl-style halftime show to the national championship game, according to the AP. The move will see a special musical guest perform at halftime on Jan. 8, although college marching bands would still be included in the festivities.
Poker Central acquired global television and digital media rights to the annual summer World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, and locked in a deal with ESPN to expand programming from the tournament including live event coverage and original episodes throughout the year. The agreement marks the first time ESPN will air same-day coverage of the WSOP from day one of the Main Event to the conclusion of the final table, a model which will continue through 2020, carrying an estimated 40 hours of live(ish) action of the WSOP Main Event coverage each July, plus a commitment of original packaged shows totaling 130 hours annually.
In ratings news, ABC’s coverage of the Warriors’ win in the 2017 NBA Western Conference Finals on Sunday night scored a 5.6 metered market rating, according to Nielsen, up 37% from ESPN’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 coverage in 2016. The matchup also marked ESPN’s best streaming audience ever, across metrics, for an NBA Conference Finals Game 1, drawing an average minute audience of 182,200 viewers, up 20% from last year. Game 2 takes place tonight at 9p on ESPN, preceded by the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery at 8:30p.
Derek Jeter Night was a hit for YES, which showcased the live telecast of the ceremony in which Jeter’s #2 was retired. The event scored as the most-viewed non-game program in network history, averaging 724,000 Total Viewers in the New York DMA (a 5.79 average TV Household rating).
Eleven Sports locked in a deal with the FIA World Rally Championship in a move that will bring a ll remaining rallies in the 2017 season to the network, which now becomes WRC’s exclusive pay TV partner. “We are very pleased to continue the momentum we are steadily building in the U.S. by adding the FIA World Rally Championship to our rights portfolio,” says Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, ELEVEN SPORTS. “Our aim is to offer a new generation of fans LIVE access to exciting, edge of the seat sports action. Watching the world’s best drivers competing for glory feeds the enthusiasm of every motorsport purist and we are excited to provide a platform for them to share and enjoy their passion.”
NBCUniversal’s Championship Sunday coverage will once again see 10 Premier League matches presented live simultaneously across 10 company networks on May 21 at 10a. In addition, Telemundo and NBC Universo will each televise one match in Spanish. Coverage kicks off at 9a on NBCSN with networks also set to include NBC, USA, CNBC, Syfy, MSNBC, Bravo, E!, Esquire, and Oxygen.
NASCAR announced the addition of a fourth stage to the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with the four stages in the 400-lap race uniformly set at 100 laps apiece. “The stage racing format is delivering more dramatic moments over an entire race, fueling tremendous racing action this season,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “With a fourth stage added to the Coca-Cola 600, the historic event will have another layer of strategy for teams, and even more excitement within the race for fans.”
The LA Clippers and the NBA Development League announced that the team acquired the right to own and operate an NBA Gatorade League team that will begin play in Ontario for the 2017-18 season. The team’s name will be the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, playing its 24 games at Citizens Bank Arena.
ESPN announced plans to cover every game from all 16 Regionals of the NCAA Division I Softball Championship for the first-time ever, resulting in up to 112 games on an ESPN network between May 18-21. “Adding complete coverage of the Regional round is another sign of our commitment to college softball and another way we are serving the fans,” said Dan Margulis, senior director of programming and acquisitions. “We have been working towards this goal in the last several seasons, including covering 12 Regionals each of the last two years. This season, we are thrilled to cover all 16. Providing fans a platform to watch every game from the regionals, super regionals and the WCWS is the culmination of our extensive history with the sport and its Championship.”
Pac-12 Networks locked in Yogi Roth and Steve Lavin to multiyear extensions. Roth will continue to provide color commentary for the Pac-12 Networks’ football telecasts along with regular in-studio appearances on Pac-12 Sports Report and special football programming. Lavin will continue to provide color commentary during the Networks’ coverage of men’s basketball.
Marketing Strategy for Social Good Webinar
May 23, 2017
Social good initiatives can be a powerful connector between networks, viewers and brands, but it’s crucial for companies to champion causes and produce social good content that align with their brand values.  Our expert panel, including Young & Rubicam’s: Chief Client Officer, Shelly Diamond , and Chief Strategy Officer, Belle Frank , as well as AT&T’s Senior Manager of Corporate Responsibility, Brynne Dunn Jones , will share insights and case studies on how doing good can be good business.

FOX Sports dedicated a chunk of its Upfront presentation to its sports division, with a theme that – i n an era of ever-increasing media fragmentation, FOX Sports continues its rise – and the likes of Joe Buck, Terry Bradshaw, Alex Rodriguez and crew taking the spotlight and pushing points that included FOX Sports holding the No. 1 Q4 reach and live Sports Gross Rating Points, and that the top eight brands in sports appear more than 50 times on FOX Sports this fall, including the Cowboys. “FOX Sports will be at its best during the most valuable time of the year,” said FOX Sports President, Chief Operating Officer & Executive Producer Eric Shanks. The company also noted its new deal with the Big Ten conference, which will help fill the network’s Saturday programming slate of FOX Sports Saturday: FOX College Football.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to become the newest team to line up a patch sponsor. The tea inked a deal with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company for a multiyear sponsorship agreement for Goodyear’s iconic Wingfoot logo to appear on Cavaliers player uniforms beginning in the 2017-18 season. In addition to the Cavs, Goodyear will collaborate with Turner Sports, the official media partner of this agreement, who will bring to life the power of the jersey patch through custom branded content and advertising.
Swiss watchmaker Omega locked in a deal with the IOC to work with the Olympic Games as official timekeeper until 2032. Omega has been serving as the official timekeeper at the Olympics since the 1932 Games in LA.

Deltatre has set its sights on expansion into the Americas. The company tapped Google Executive Claude London as President, Americas to oversee all Deltatre activity in the Americas. “It is an honor to join what is widely regarded as the leading global media and technology solutions company in sports,” said Claude London, President of Deltatre Americas. “Over the past 30 years, Deltatre has built its reputation worldwide, and I see real opportunity for growth in the Americas which has historically been an early adopter of new technologies.  We at Deltatre Americas look forward to serving our great sports leagues and broadcasters, as well as to innovating with them.”
The WNBA’s new streaming deal with Twitter saw Sunday Night’s Dallas/Phoenix game produce over 1.1 million unique viewers tuning in through the platform with an Average Minute Audience of 62,459. The league and Twitter also launched a special Twitter only emoji that will be triggered all season long when fans Tweet with #WNBA or #WNBALive.
DraftKings announced a new wat to play MLB daily fantasy with the introduction of Arcade Mode. Arcade Mode “is more streamlined with updated scoring metrics” and offers a more rapid drafting experience, according to the company, and new statistics and bonuses will increase the number of scoring instances.
WWE Network will stream the WWE United Kingdom Championship Special on Friday at 3p, with a re-air in primetime at 8p. The action will be called by WWE Hall-of-Fame announcer Jim Ross, who will be joined by color analyst Nigel McGuinness.
Startup WinView raised $12 million in Series B funding from investors including Discovery Communications. The company’s app lets users win cash prizes by placing free wagers on sporting events while watching live TV. The second round of funding was led by media veteran Tom Rogers and includes Graham Holdings Co., Ted Leonsis’ Monumental Sports & Entertainment and Aryeh Bourkoff’s LionTree Partners.

Famed former Call of Duty player Matt ‘Nadeshot’ Haag signed with the WME/IMG tal ent agency as he continues to broaden his career as a YouTube content creator, a ccording to the Hollywood Reporter. He also serves as an eSports commentator and sports sponsorship/partnership deals with brands that include the likes of EA, G-Fuel Energy Drink, Hot Pockets, Samsung, Slim Jim and Sony
5-hour Energy inked a deal to become a new sponsor for Counter Logic Gaming. “We are ecstatic to help Living Essentials further their efforts in the gaming industry,” said John Spiher, Director of Business Development for CLG. “Teaming up with them gives us incredible opportunities for both our players and fans to fully experience 5-hour Energy. This sponsorship is a major development both for CLG and eSports as a whole.”

Spurs/Warriors on ESPN at 9p.
Ever wonder what your employees & teammates are really thinking?
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ON THIS DAY in 1965: Pitcher Jim Palmer debuts for the Orioles.
In The Know : The song “You’re the Best,” rose to prominence after being used in what 1984 film? ( Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which NHL team was the last to win back-to-back Stanley Cups? Answers: The Red Wings. Kudos: Bill Bergofin-Telemundo Deportes/NY; Christopher Long-DraftKings/NY; Traci Liner-WME/IMG/NY; Mike Polvere-Optimum Sports/NY; Mike Wilhelm-Momentum Worldwide/Atlanta; Liz Eng-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Tony Ferranti-MMSI/Warwick; John Langermann-WINK-TV/WXCW-TV/Fort Myers; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank

Later — Chris

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Partner w/Ad Sales team to produce actionable insights, compelling stories & persuasive network positioning. Bachelor’s degree & 3+ yrs of media rsrch exp. Expertise w/Nielsen, Star Media, MRI, Simmons, & Kantar systems. Full info/apply HERE (5/20)

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