05/26/17: FOX Sports’ preps Mother lode; Greenberg reups; Bud Light goes another round

Good morning. It’s Friday May 25, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

FOX Sports is preparing for its first-ever presentation of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 with a programming lineup that will include televising all 16 Confederations Cup matches live from Russia from June 17-July 2 across its family of networks. FS1 carries 12 matches with two each appearing on the FOX broadcast network and FS2. The tournament is comprised of eight teams, winners of each of the six FIFA confederation championships (UEFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, CAF, AFC and OFC) as well as the reigning FIFA World Cup champion and the host nation. Host nation Russia opens the tournament against New Zealand on June 17 at 10a on FS1.  

Seth Greenberg will be calling ESPN home for the foreseeable future, as the college basketball analyst inked a multiyear extension with the company to continue his main roles of weeknight studio analysis as well as on College GameDay Covered State Farm. He will appear on various ESPN platforms, including regular appearances on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio programming.
Meanwhile, ESPN locked in plans for the opening week of the 2017 college football season, spanning a five-day slate (Aug. 31- Sept. 4) that includes Florida State/Alabama on Sept. 2 on ABC at 8p, while week 2 of ABC’s Saturday Night Football franchise will feature Oklahoma/Ohio State.  Meanwhile, top-ranked Ohio State begins its season at Indiana at 8p on Aug. 31 on ESPN, with Sept. 1 featuring Utah State/Wisconsin on the network at 9p. On the sport’s first full Saturday of the season sees Akron/Penn State while Michigan/Florida battle at 3:30p. Both games will air on ABC leading into the previously mentioned Saturday Night Football matchup. On ESPN, Kent State/Clemson open the slate at noon, as the first of four games on the channel that day.
Finally, ESPN firmed up its matchups for the Big 12/SEC Challenge, taking place on Jan. 27. Four of the 10 games will be televised on ESPN, four on ESPN2 and two games will air on ESPNU. This year’s matchups include Kentucky/West Virginia, Texas A&M/Kansas, Baylor/Florida, Oklahoma/Alabama, Ole Miss/Texas, Oklahoma State/Arkansas; Texas Tech/South Carolina, TCU/Vanderbilt, Tennessee/Iowa State and Georgia/Kansas State.
Turner and the NBA announced that global superstar Nicki Minaj will perform during the first-ever NBA Awards on TNT on June 26 with coverage set to begin at 9p. The 2017 NBA Awards on TNT will be hosted by Drake including integrations with the Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, along with the league’s biggest stars and celebrity presenters.
For the sixth year in a row, the 2016-17 TV season wrapped up with NBC’s Sunday Night Football ranking as primetime top TV show in all key metrics, according to the company using Nielsen scores, averaging 20.3 million viewers. SNF also ranked as the top show in the 18-49 demographic for the seventh consecutive TV season.
The ATP World Tour Finals are London-bound all the way through 2020, according to ATP executive chairman and president Chris Kermode. The week-long season finale for men’s tennis has been staged at the O2 Arena since 2009 and the partnership was due to expire in 2018.
Lagardere Sports and the International Weightlifting Federation reached a new multiyear media relationship that will run through to 2020. Lagardere Sports will serve as the host broadcaster for the next three IWF World Championships, and leverage its extensive worldwide network to market the television rights for each event around the world. In addition, the global sports marketing agency will serve as a consultant to the IWF to reimagine the IWF Grand Prix.
Hitting theaters soon will be Bellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva. The event will take place in cinemas on June 24, in addition to pay-per-view for a special one-night event at 10p. In addition, audience members will receive an exclusive commemorative poster with their ticket purchase with tickets available online starting today at www.FathomEvents.com .
Meanwhile, movie goers will pay tribute to the NHL and Stanley Cup with the theatrical release of “Names on the Cup,” described as “a documentary film showcasing the extraordinary and compelling story of the men whose names are forever immortalized on one of the oldest and most revered trophies in professional sports.” The film features more than 70 NHL players and coaches and will be seen in more than 80 movie theatres in Canada. The program will also air on NBCSN on May 28 at 8p.
SiriusXM is gearing up for the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Semifinals and National Championship game with live national coverage this weekend, beginning with Ohio State/Towson at 11:45a, followed by Maryland/Denver. The national championship game will be played on Monday at 12:45p. In addition to live play-by-play, SiriusXM will offer exclusive pre- and post-game programming featuring Paul Rabil and Paul Mittermeier.
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Digital marketing agency The Story Room is being tapped to handle brand strategy and digital marketing services for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The company will be charged with planning and implementing an integrated digital marketing strategy as well as developing the content program for the Gold Cup, targeting both English and Spanish-speaking soccer fans in the region of the Federation. In addition, the agency will generate a comprehensive digital audience research study on soccer fans across the CONCACAF region.

ESPN announced plans to live stream 11 regular-season games during the 2017 WNBA season, starting May 30 with Indiana/Dallas. The slate will include three games featuring the San Antonio Stars, with all games streamed live on the ESPN app.
Performance-based crowdfunding platform Pledge It announced that it has already raised more than $300,000 for charitable causes through its 15 MLB 2017 charitable campaigns, more than double the amount raised for charity in the entire 2016 MLB season. “Through our Pledge It campaigns, we’ve found that 7 of 10 fans choose performance pledging over a flat donation because the pledge is being earned. And our average pledge is nearly twice the national average for online donations” said Scott Shirley, Pledge It CEO. “Our community of athletes are inspired to earn the change they want to see and we are thrilled at the early impact of the campaigns in raising funds for such compelling causes.”
SkyCommand , a remote technology that creates a secure link between on-site SkyCam, its computer system, as well as pilot and operator, will debut its innovative and remote accessibility for the first time ever at the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship game on Sunday, streaming live on the ESPN app from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. “We are extremely excited and interested to prove how well our patent-pending technology works under game conditions,” said SkyCam Chief Technical Officer Stephen Wharton. “In the same manner as current leagues review action on the fields, courts or ice, SkyCommand™ allows for remote technology processing that includes our uniquely identifiable WildCat camera angle, as well as key SkyCam production enhancements, to oversee multiple events from a remote location. This technology creates the same response, speed, performance, communications and safety that a pilot and operator would experience on site.”

Bud Light is recharging its 2017 Bud Light All-Stars esports camping and will – for the next two weeks – encourage fans 21 and over to vote for their favorite players from four different games – Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone and Street Fighter V. Winners and final Bud Light All-Stars will be announced in late June with each member set to begin streaming on the Bud Light Twitch channel each Thursday from June 29 through December. Contenders include: Clayster, Crimsix, Jkap, and Scump for CoD; JDM, Rush, SGares and Shahzam for CS: GO; Firebat, hafu, HotMEOWTH and Reynad for Hearthstone and Chris Tatarian, Flash, jWong and Marn for Street Fighter V. “We took a big first step last year when we introduced Bud Light All-Stars, and through our live and digital programming we learned a lot about what esports fans want to see from brands,” said Eelco van der Noll, VP of experiential marketing at Anheuser-Busch. “We listened to both fans and players, and this year they’ll see a stronger focus on enhanced digital experiences that consistently bring them and their friends closer to their favorite top players in North America.”
Twitch is partnering with BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America, publisher of TEKKEN 7 to launch the TEKKEN World Tour. In addition to being the exclusive broadcasting platform for this competitive gaming league, Twitch will manage TEKKEN 7 league operations, circuit events, and content on a global scale. The tour kicks off on June 16-18 at the CEO Fighting Game Championships with additional stops in Orlando, Dallas, Orange, and more. The six-month season will have a total prize pool of over $200,000.
The Professional Esports Association announced two new members to the association with the additions of Team Dignitas and Misfits. The two teams now bring the overall tally of member squads to nine, joining Team solo Mid, Cloud 9, Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming, NRG Esports, Immortals and Complexity.
Penny Arcade and ReedPOP announced a global expansion of PAX gaming events under a new Powered by PAX brand with the first slated to be GC PLAY Powered by PAX in Guangzhou, China from November 10-12. The Powered by PAX brand of events will be run by the same teams behind the successful North American and Australian shows including PAX West, PAX East, PAX South, PAX Aus, PAX Unplugged and PAX Dev.
NASCAR’s Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing and Clint Bower of Stewart-Haas Racing will battle off the track courtesy of a high-stakes Halo tournament at the Charlotte Motor Speedway tonight at 8p. The battle will see the two captain members of Evil Geniuses and one lucky fan for each team taking place at twitch.tv/hisense .

Indianapolis 500 on Sunday on ABC at noon.

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ON THIS DAY in 1923: The first Le Mans Grand Prix d’Endurance is run.
In The Know : Traditionally, what beverage does the winner of the Indianapolis 500 drink after the race? ( Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What is number did the Twins retire to honor Kirby Puckett? Answers: 34. Kudos: Edward Flamos-comScore/NY; Brad Stern-POM Technologies/NY; Eric Wright-DS Simon/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports/NY; Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick; Chris Faulds-Massively Inc./Toronto; Jonny Codalata-CSM Sport & Entertainment/Zionsville; Liya Hershkowitz-MLB Network/NHL Network/Secaucus; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; Mark Stulberger-Stully’s Broadcasting School/Houston; Jill Montag-McCann Minneapolis/Minneapolis; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank

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