05/19/16: ESPN steps up again for Special Olympics; Ohno, White added to NBC’s Rio team; Alibaba targets FIFA



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Good morning. It’s Thursday May 19, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

ESPN and Special Olympics are beefing up their partnership, announcing two new agreements: a new, three-year global programming agreement and an extension, and expansion, of ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports. The deal will see ESPN maintain its slot as an Official Broadcaster of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, and the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, as well as providing additional news and feature coverage of other Special Olympics content.


ESPN also confirmed new roles for some of its college football crew. The shifts will see Samantha Ponder join the ABC Saturday Night Football telecast as a reporter, while play-by-play commentator Joe Tessitore heads to the ESPN College Football Primetime game. Steve Levy returns to a weekly college football play-by-play role and will team with Brian Griese to call action on ABC or ESPN on Saturday afternoons.

Elsewhere on the talent front, NBC Sports is bringing in Apolo Ohno and Tanith White to serve as reporters for NBC’s coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The pair will report from various venues and locations throughout the Games, and will contribute to features the include The Olympic Zone. Ohno serves as a short track analyst while White has worked as an ice dance analyst and reporter for NBC Sports Group’s figure skating coverage.

NBC Sports Group announced that its latest Premier League season reached more than 36 million viewers to mark a record and a boost of 26% over last season. Across all networks, NBC Sports Group averaged 514,000 viewers per match window, up 7%. The 2015-16 Premier League season delivered 613 million minutes and 2.6 million unique users on NBC Sports Live Extra, up 118% and 26%, respectively, from last season.

The Seahawks’ Russell Wilson announced his return as host of Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Sports 2016 via Instagram. The list of nominees will be announced today with the event taped live from UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in LA on July 14 before debuting on the channel on July 17 at 8p.

NBC carries Building 43 on May 21 at 1p, spotlighting the history of Richard Petty Motorsports, the 1967 season that crowned “The King," and the No. 43 team’s current run. Following the premier of Building 43, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist goes for the next stage of the Triple Crown at 5p.



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China’s e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding is reportedly in talk to become a top sponsor of FIFA, according to Bloomberg. "We never comment on speculation concerning current or reported contractual negotiations as matter of principle," FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer told Reuters on Wednesday.

Bridgestone Americas inked a partnership with US Paralympics that will see the company support the US Paralympic team over the next eight years. Through this relationship, Bridgestone will support U.S. Paralympics  and its athletes  at the upcoming Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, and the soon-to-be-determined 2024 Paralympic Games.

The PGA TOUR, Desert Classic Charities and CareerBuilder are turning to Phil Mickelson to serve as an official ambassador of the CareerBuilder Challenge beginning in 2017. Mickelson will promote the tournament and participate in various functions during tournament week. Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation will end its official role with the tournament.

In addition, the PGA TOUR and Ellie Mae announced an agreement that makes the mortgage-based software company the title sponsor of the Web.com Tour’s tournament. The newly named Ellie Mae Classic is scheduled for the week of July 25-31.


Nitro Circus is launching its new online store – shop.nitrocircus.com. The initial rollout features ’47 headwear and new Nitro Circus apparel not available at shows or in retail stores and, for the first time ever, fans can get the same gear that Nitro Circus riders wear. This announcement represents the first phase of Nitro Circus’ extensive licensing and consumer products strategy. In the coming months, Nitro Circus will unveil an expansive collection globally across both soft-lines and hard-goods inclusive of sporting goods, toys, video games and more.


In today’s eSports & Gaming issue…
·       Google gives VR gaming a new home with Daydream
·       Movie makers look for new success with videogame-based movies
·       Twitter gets Amp’d
·       Turtle Beach discusses its rules for marketing to gamers


Raptors/Cavaliers on ESPN at 8:30p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1935: The NFL announces plans for its first college draft to begin in 1936.

In The Know: Who was the last pitcher to lead his league in strikeouts in three consecutive seasons? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The last time the Warriors had the very first pick in the NBA draft, who did they select? Answer: Joe Smith. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Troy Perlowitz-ESPN/Charlotte; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
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