05/30/18: ESPN detailed new elements for part four of the NBA Finals rivalry

Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 30, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Round four of the Warriors/Cavaliers in the NBA Finals will see ESPN offer up coverage that includes the first-ever “NBA Surround:” Pre-game and In-game Second-screen Streaming Offerings for All Games, Plus Special Post-game “NBA at the Mic” Shows. ABC once again serves as the home of the series with Game 1 set for Thursday at 9p. Mike Breen, analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson and reporter Doris Burke will call their ninth championship series together. The first “NBA Surround” initiative will offer pre-game and in-game second-screen streaming offerings for every game, as well as special post-game “NBA at the Mic” shows on ESPN2 or ESPNEWS, which will carry post-game press conferences.
During every NBA Finals game, ESPN will present “Full Court Press” – a second-screen experience featuring a slate of top ESPN NBA commentators and special guests, and an array of on-screen stats, data and on-screen graphics. Host and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth will join several NBA personalities, including Alvin Gentry, Richard Jefferson and Caron Butler for Game 1 and Tom Thibodeau, Jefferson and Butler for Game 2. Dan Le Batard will lead Game 3’s “Full Court Press” coverage from Miami. On the broadcast front, each game during the NBA Finals on ABC will begin with a custom broadcast open featuring songs from recording artist J. Cole’s best-selling album KOD.

Speaking of the NBA, TNT’s presentation of 2018 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 7 between the Warriors and Rockets delivered the second most-watched NBA game in the history of cable television and the most-viewed NBA telecast of the 2018-19 season.  The telecast averaged 14.8 million viewers and TNT’s coverage of the WCF series overall averaged 9.4 million viewers, up 51% over last year’s Eastern Conference Finals airing on the network (Cavaliers/Celtics) and an increase of 45% vs. the 2017 WCF (Warriors/Spurs).
Meanwhile, Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final on Monday between the Caps and Golden Knights handed NBC Sports with a Total Audience Delivery average of 5.279 million viewers across NBC, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app, making it the most-watched Game 1 in three years. Viewership was up 7% over last year with local ratings records in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. Overall, the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs remain the most-watched in 21 years.
Rounding out the ratings news, ABC’s final Indianapolis 500 telecast drew a 3.4 overnight score, according to Nielsen, down from last year’s 3.6 and a 4.1 in 2016.
Telemundo Deportes will partner with David Villa and his newly-launched production company, Designated Player, to produce a wide range of soccer content around the World Cup to air across all Telemundo network and digital platforms. As part of the partnership with Telemundo, Villa will narrate a video series entitled Como Llegaron, which will detail the ups and down that 10 national teams (the eight Latin American countries participating in the tournament, as well as Spain and Portugal) endured in order to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. He will also conduct a series of in-depth interviews with international soccer stars who will be participating in the World Cup this summer.
HBO Sports will team up with the Bill Simmons Media Group for Courtside at the NBA Finals, an unscripted one-hour special chronicling the sights and sounds of the 2018 NBA Finals, debuting June 19 at 9p, just days after the conclusion of the 72nd edition of The Finals.
NBA TV debuts a special Open Court: Pioneers Edition show today at 9p, hosted by Matt Winer. The program will feature a roundtable discussion with five pioneers that helped lay the groundwork for the league and shape today’s NBA: Jerry Colangelo; Wayne Embry; Arn Tellem; Isiah Thomas; and Rod Thorn.
Major League Soccer named FC Cincinnati as the league’s newest expansion team. The squad will continue to use the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium as its home until its own new, soccer-specific venue is completed. “Major League Soccer is proud to introduce Cincinnati as our 26th team,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “The rise of Cincinnati as a passionate soccer market in recent years, coinciding with the city’s growing economy and reputation as a top destination for young professionals makes it an ideal city for our growing league.
In other expansion news, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the press that if the league adds Seattle as an expansion franchise in the near future, the team will receive the same expansion terms given to Vegas. The commissioner acknowledged that the city could secure that spot within the year. The vote on adding a Seattle franchise won’t happen next month during the board of governors meetings in Las Vegas, Bettman said.
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Nestle Waters North America and WWE announced a joint campaign that encourages consumers to live a healthy lifestyle and “choose water.” The campaign kicks off with a sweepstakes, which encourages consumers to share the reasons they choose water. Additionally, WWE and Nestle Waters North America will release custom, co-branded, digital videos, featuring WWE Superstars Charlotte Flai®, Natalya, The New Day, Sin Cara and Titus O’Neil that will encourage fans to show how they #ChooseWater and highlight the benefits of staying hydrated.
Project Play 2020 added a slew of new members as part of a national initiative mobilizing industry and foundations to take next steps in growing sport participation and related metrics among youth, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program announced. New members will include Amazon, ESPN, the NHL, and U.S. Tennis Association, which complete the set of 20 organizations at the center of the effort.

Poker Central announced that Twitch will serve as a media partner for the 2018 World Series of Poker, covering 30 tournaments and 25 final tables with live streams starting on June 2. David Tuchman will lead every Poker Central Twitch broadcast with Jeff Platt and a rotating cast of Twitch poker personalities and professionals from around the world joining him in the booth throughout the summer.
NBC Sports’ SportsEngine announced a multi-year partnership with USA Field Hockey. The partnership makes SportsEngine the official club technology provider of the org, which includes more than 27,000 USA Field Hockey members and 300 member clubs nationwide. SportsEngine will provide USA Field Hockey member clubs with powerful online registration solutions and a professional, easy-to-use content and league management system.

Overwatch League’s Boston Uprising named Twitch as the official and exclusive streaming service of the team and its players. The partnership with Twitch will provide a global means to foster the growth of the Uprising and its group of team partners, including the opportunity to brand the stream with additional partner logos. “We are excited for the opportunity to team up with an industry leader such as Twitch,” said Chris Loranger, President of Gaming for The Kraft Group. “As the popularity of esports continues to ascend, the importance of a quality streaming service cannot be understated. This deal will serve as an invitation for others around the globe to see more of what the Overwatch League has to offer.”

Caps/Golden Knights at 8p on NBCSN.
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ON THIS DAY in 1983: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is suspended for one week after criticizing umpires.
In the Know: Which actor/comedian actually voiced the George Steinbrenner character on Seinfeld? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The 2009 film Whip It marked Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut and was about what sport? Answer: Roller Derby. Kudos: Traci Liner-Endeavor/NY; Matthew Willence-ITN Networks/NY; Grace Kang-Endeavor/NY; Eric Wright-DSSimon/NY; Brianne Maciejowski-Miles/Sarasota; Stephanie Ann-Inside Lacrosse/Baltimore; Sonia Durr-Carat/Atlanta; Allison Weiner-MMSI/Warwick; Matt Fumagalli-Levy/Chicago; Lynn Fraker-The Loomis Agency/Dallas; Alicia Smits- Potawatomi Hotel & Casino/Milwaukee; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; Tom Tyrer-Circle Change Media/LA; Tony Reyes-Walt Disney Imagineering/Glendale; Jack Simmons-US Army Reserve/LA; Anne Wettig-Fox Cable Networks S&P/LA
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