06/05/20: The NBA’s Board of Governors approved a plan to return to play in July

 

Medias First Morning Read
Friday June 5, 2020

The NBA Board of Governors approved a competitive format to restart the 2019-20 season courtesy of a plans for 22 teams returning to play and a tentative start date of July 31. The NBA and the NBPA are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish a “rigorous” program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to COVID-19. The season restart is also contingent on an agreement with The Walt Disney Company to use Walt Disney World Resort as a single site for a campus for all games, practices and housing for the remainder of the season. The 22 returning teams would be the 16 teams (eight per conference) in current playoff positions as well as the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.

The restart would begin with eight “seeding games” for each returning team and include the possibility of a play-in tournament for the eighth and final playoff seed in each conference depending on combined records across regular-season games and seeding games. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs would proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The NBA Finals would end no later than Oct. 12. The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery would be rescheduled for Aug. 25, the 2020 NBA Draft would be held on Oct. 15 and the 2020-21 NBA regular season would likely begin on Dec. 1.

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”

PROGRAMMING

Good news for MLS and the MLS Players Association, which cemented a new collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday after the MLSPA voted to approve a revised plan. The new CBA will run through 2025 and includes agreement on a plan to resume the 2020 season with a tournament in Orlando,

NASCAR revealed its next set of events and will serve up racing at Pocono Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. FOX will close out its NASCAR Cup Series season with the *NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on July 15 at 8:30p on FS1. In turn, NASCAR welcomes back NBC for its sixth consecutive year of coverage when the NASCAR Xfinity Series (July 4 at 3p on NBC) and NASCAR Cup Series (July 5 at 4p on NBC) return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Fourth of July weekend. NBC will carry coverage of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series through the balance of the season, including the new Playoffs schedule that is currently scheduled to culminate with the crowning of three NASCAR national series champions at Phoenix Raceway in November.

The National Hot Rod Association is getting back on track with a return to live racing next month at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, with limited spectators allowed. The pair of events are slated for July 11-12 and July 18-19. “Because we are an outdoor sport, we feel comfortable opening these Indianapolis events to a limited number of fans who are the lifeblood of our sport and following the guidance of the state of Indiana to resume racing,” said NHRA president Glen Cromwell said in a statement.

The American Century Championship is on deck to bring golf, celebrity and community service together from July 8-12 on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Stephen Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Charles Barkley and two-time defending champion Tony Romo are among 80 sports and entertainment stars planning to compete and charity fundraise for nine hours of live NBC Sports coverage over three days at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. All prize monies will be donated to COVID-19 relief and area non-profits. “There’s a tremendous amount of challenging work to be done,” said Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports, which owns and operates the tournament. “We have our arms around the precautionary aspects because health and safety are the priorities. As we’ve all seen, golf can be played in a responsible, socially-distanced way.”

NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim announced that the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA G League season, which was suspended March 12, has been canceled. “While canceling the remainder of our season weighs heavily on us, we recognize that it is the most appropriate action to take for our league,” said Abdur-Rahim. “I extend my sincere gratitude to NBA G League players and coaches for giving their all to their teams and fans this season. And to our fans, I thank you and look forward to resuming play for the 2020-21 season.” In the coming weeks, the NBA G League will announce end-of-season award winners, including the Most Valuable Player, Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

On June 8, Tennis Channel launches the Tennis Channel All-Star Fantasy Showdown is a “first-of-its kind simulated, virtual tournament with actual head-to-head classic matches determining the ultimate champion.” The men’s event takes place first with a match between Andre Agassi and Carlos Moya on Monday at 1p. The women’s tournament will start a week later with two Hall of Famers: Justine Henin facing Amelie Mauresmo on June 15, at 1p. The network used a panel of experts to put together the tournaments, seed the draws and research archives to select each head-to-head classic match that will determine which players advance throughout the week.

Tennis Channel also announced live coverage from the Valencia Tennis Challenge in Spain to its weekend schedule, beginning today at 10:30a. The network will show 12 total hours of the event live on air and on-demand on streaming service Tennis Channel Plus.

The National Lacrosse League officially pulled the plug on its 2019-20 season after deciding that it was too challenging to try to complete its postseason in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 13-team NLL suspended its regular season on March 12. “After an exhaustive effort weighing all of the factors, including the health and safety of our players and staff, immigration challenges, and the resources required to execute a post-season tournament under the current circumstances, our senior leadership and Board have agreed to redirect our attention to planning for next season,” said NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz in a statement.

ESPN will present nurse and former boxer Kim Clavel with the Pat Tillman Award for Service sponsored by MassMutual at The 2020 ESPYS presented by Capital One airing June 21, at 9p on ESPN. “It is an honor to receive the Pat Tillman Award on behalf of all the healthcare workers battling COVID-19 on the frontlines,” said Kim Clavel. “Just as Pat put his NFL career on hold to serve his country, I felt the same duty to serve my community. Although recently I have pursued my dream of boxing, helping people is my passion and I’m proud to be able to make a difference.”

FOX Sports is expanding Big Noon Kickoff to the network’s digital and social platforms where it will run every Wednesday on the @FOXSports and @CFBONFOX Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts. Host Rob Stone leads a panel of analysts including Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Urban Meyer and Joel Klatt to discuss the biggest news in the sport, answer a weekly poll question and respond to fan comments.

SiriusXM is adding Australian Football League programming to its sports lineup for the first time ever, delivering a new exclusive show hosted by Eddie McGuire, as well as play-by-play broadcasts of an AFL Match of the Week. Aussie Football Rules America with Eddie McGuire will run every Thursday from 6-7p on SiriusXM’s Dan Patrick Radio channel.

ESPN2 hosts AKC World of Dog Sports on Saturday at 11a. The new series “celebrates the athleticism and competitive achievements of our canine companion” and follows teams of dog and handler across the sports of Agility, Fastest Dog USA, Diving Dogs, and Flyball.

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Join your peers and sports media insiders from: Pac-12, SeventySix Capital, Lefield IMG College, NBC Sports Group, NASCAR, FOX Sports, Athletes Unlimited, New Balance, USOC, Walk Swiftly Productions and more.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Nielsen unveiled plans to extend its “existing capabilities to systematically assess the media value of new branding opportunities within sports venues worldwide” with Nielsen’s Whitespace Valuation service now covering all major sports leagues and venues. The expanded Nielsen service will offer sports teams and rights holders intelligence to help them realize new revenue opportunities as games are played without live audiences present. The platform can also enable valuation of the social media content that sports properties leverage to drive engagement and interaction with fans. “As live sports start to make a return to TV, the need for trusted sponsorship assessment and valuation services has never been more pressing,” said Jon Stainer, Managing Director, Nielsen Sports. “During this interim period when games are played without live audiences, Nielsen is uniquely positioned to help teams and rights holders get creative in meeting their business objectives and realizing the value of new assets. By helping to drive near-term monetization, we are ensuring our clients’ long-term success once sports fans are able to fill stadiums again and regular revenue streams start flowing again.”

With the new Monster Energy Team Challenge debuting Friday night, PBR released a slate of sponsor integrations that will take place within the 40-hour televised team tournament running from June 5-July 12 on CBS and CBS Sports Network. Teams will be sponsored by Ariat, Boot Barn, Caterpillar, Cooper Tires, Can-Am, Las Vegas, Lucas Oil, Pendleton Whisky, South Point, Union Home Mortgage, Wrangler and YETI. Sponsors will also receive visibility in arena takeovers throughout the “Pendleton Whisky Let ‘er Buck Saloon” television set comprised of 880 LED panels. Additionally, Ford will award the Built Ford Tough MVP award at the conclusion of the tournament, which after four televised weekends at South Point culminates in a ticketed weekend at Denny Sanford PREMIER Center July 10-12. Additional sponsor activation includes a “campfire” for interviews in South Point Arena with natural product integrations such as a Ford Truck, Can-Am Defender, and YETI coolers as the setting for intimate interviews with the cowboys on CBS.

The PGA TOUR engaged Sanford Health to conduct on-site COVID-19 testing of players, caddies and essential personnel at PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and Korn Ferry Tour tournaments in the continental United States for the remainder of the season. Starting with next week’s resumption of the PGA TOUR schedule at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, testing will be conducted by lab technicians who will be traveling to tournaments in one of three mobile testing units that Sanford Health is deploying across the country.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

The Topps Company’s “Project 2020,” which saw more than 100 cards issued, has now sold more than 1,000,000. “’Project 2020’ has taken on a life of its own, especially over the past month,” said Jeff Heckman, Global Director of Ecommerce. “We’ve been blown away by the amazing designs that these talented creators have produced, and we are gratified that the work of so many of them have been so popular with fans and collectors.”

Sports streaming platform Fanatiz made a string of announcements including the unveiling of a new web platform and brand identity, its launch on Android TV and a new sports package. In addition to the release of the new branding, Fanatiz is expanding accessibility with the launch of its first free offering, Freemium, boasting a wide variety of soccer channels complete with highlights, interviews, documentaries and more. Fans will be able to access free content and soccer channels, including Real Madrid TV in Spanish and Sevilla TV.

ESPORTS

Esports organization Evil Geniuses inked a new sponsorship deal with LG in a deal that designated the LG UltraGear monitor as the official gaming monitor of the team. Monitors will be installed at both the EG training facilities in Seattle and Los Angeles and will be featured in EG’s digital content, while team players will take part in LG UltraGear streams. Specific details of these streams are expected to come soon. The LG logo is also being incorporated into the new look Evil Geniuses jerseys that were released as part of the recent rebrand.

MMA staple Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson signed on to join Method Gaming as a Content Creator and will be streaming on Twitch while creating content and building his community, making charity campaigns and custom activations, and attending gaming events around the world representing Method. “I am super excited to be a part of Method – the best in the World in World of Warcraft – the most achieved raid guild of all-time,” said Johnson. “I look forward to creating content under the stream team banner and continuing to share my passion for Azeroth with all of the fans out there. Alliance you stink.”

Riot detailed plans to offer in-game rewards to fans who tune in to live League matches via watch.lolesports.com. The new “Drop” initiative begins in the third week of the 2020 LCS and LEC Summer Split for fans from all regions. Watching competition during key moments will earn fans digital goods that include skin shards, chromas, prestige points, and Clash tickets.

Team Liquid and Chinese live streaming platform HUYA extended their exclusive streaming partnership through 2022. “HUYA continues to be a critical partner in Team Liquid’s expansion within China. The broader team has not only helped us navigate the region’s competitive streaming market, but make a real impact with a new audience. We look forward to the next chapter of our collaboration and producing more memorable content and experiences for this expanding fan base,” Mike Milanov, Team Liquid COO.

Gfinity inked a five-year deal with Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, which operates oFormula 1’s annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, to design, develop and deliver a new virtual motorsport esports racing championship, aka ERC. The ERC will be jointly owned by Gfinity and ADMM, and will reportedly feature two seasons in each calendar year, with the first season taking place in 2020.

High-end audio solutions and technology brand EPOS inked a partnership with Riot Games to serve as the Official Audio Partner of the Oceanic Pro League.“The continued growth of the OPL in Split 1 was fantastic to see and we are thrilled to bring EPOS on board as an Official Partner to support and enhance the OPL,” said Daniel Ringland, Head of Riot Games in Oceania. “As a business we want to work with leaders in their field and when it comes to Audio, EPOS have incredible technology and products that will deliver an exceptional audio performance to the league.”

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Marketing leaders announced the formation of Leverage Marketing Advisors, described as a global consultancy “built for today’s new and ever-changing business landscape” in a move to leverage their collecting experience and provide a fresh perspective to help brands, properties, teams, and leagues conduct business. Partners include:Mark Ingall, Steve Fund, Roger Duthie, Ben Sturner, Tim McGhee, Peter Geary, Chris Rayner, Omar Khan, Tiffany Rosen, Stephanie Rudnick, and Chris Farrell.

SPORTS BROADCAST JOURNAL w/David J. Halberstam

There’s some talk that the NFL is considering allowing signage on the field that would have television visibility. It’s much like what you might see watching soccer. Fewer or no fans in stadiums means that signs in the upper reaches have little value to advertisers. On the field signs would give teams opportunities to make up lost income by promising signage advertisers television exposure. That’s a big deal for which teams can generate some real revenue.

MLB Network’s Bob Costas and Tom Verducci will host a series next week that focuses on great broadcasters and their great calls. Vin Scully is on deck first. For the first time ever, national viewers will hear the amazing broadcaster’s call of the Rhubarb in the Coliseum which I believe is Scully’s best available radio call ever. It is so rich, colorful and breathtaking that it’s hard to believe all these years later that Scully was just 31 in 1959 when he pulled off that flawless extemporaneous act.
Halby’s Morsels: MLBN launches Sounds of Baseball; NFL thinking new signage?; Big Calls; New Voices

Quieter days in Minneapolis? Sid Hartman is an absolute icon in the Twin Cities. He’s 100 years young and still writes a column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and does commentary for WCCO Radio. Sports are a diversion and Sid shares his memories of some great moments there since the depression.
Hartman says that as feisty as they were, Billy Martin was the greatest baseball manager Minneapolis ever had and Bill Musselman the best basketball coach. Sid pegs Herb Brooks as the greatest hockey coach. “They would rather get fired than take advice – even if the advice makes perfect sense,” he recalls.
Lighter moments in Minneapolis? Icon Sid Hartman,100, remembers sports’ characters and joys

There’s a vibrant bracket-like countdown taking place to narrow down the best ever TV and radio call the last 50 years. Watch the brackets as they evolve. It’s down to the final 8. Still very much alive are Kirk Gibson’s home run and Hank Aaron’s homer that shot him ahead of Babe Ruth.
Best sports calls on TV and radio the last 50 years: Voting is down to the Elite-8; Scully, Jack Buck prominent

Happy Birthdays and many happy returns

Brian Anderson, June 7 Turner/CBS MLB and basketball, Milwaukee Brewers
Dick Vitale, June 9 ESPN – legendary basketball analyst
Gary Thorne, June 9 TV Voice, Baltimore Orioles
Dan Fouts, June 10 Ex-CBS, NFL analyst
Scott Graham, June 10 Voice of NFL Films

SPORTS BROADCAST JOURNAL

The adtech community is stepping up to the plate…

The Cynopsis Adtech Awards
Enter by June 10th

During a time when in-person events have been cancelled, the adtech community is stepping up. They’re helping to guarantee marketers upfront inventory and preserve revenue for media owners by using breakthrough approaches and solutions. Adtech providers are a group that lives on the cutting edge of innovation, which is why we are celebrating their platforms, campaigns, and strategies in more than 20 categories. View them all here.

On this Day
1982: Martina Navratilova wins the French Open women’s championship for the first time.

In the Know
In the Herbie movies, what kind of car is the vehicle? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
What is the name of Speed Racer’s car? Answer: The Mach 5. Kudos: Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; Steve Scheer-FOX Sports/NY; Gary Brooks-INSP Networks/Charlotte; Mike Evranian-NASCAR/Richmond; Roger Furman-Sports Marketing Communications/Greentown; Matt Deprey-C-SPAN/DC; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas; Kyle Krebs-Intersection/Dallas; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica

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PUBLICIST, COMMUNICATIONS
Earth Day Network
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Help support the dvlpmnt/ execution of multi-channel, integrated communications and engagement strategies. 3+ yrs of communications planning and execution exp. Superior communication skills a must. Full info HERE

DIRECTOR OF SALES >>
RNN/Rye Brooke NY: Responsible for growing and managing its Diginet business across all of its TV stations. Minimum of 5 yrs exp in sales in the TV industry and experience in Diginet/multicast/D2 business required. Exp’d networking & establishing new relationships with key players at agencies and advertisers. BA deg Full info HERE (6/16)

SR PODCAST PRODUCER
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Glass Entertainment Group/Philadelphia:
Story producer to help lead a new episodic podcast. You will be involved in episode dvlopmnt, rsrch, interview prep & prod episodes (both during actual record & in post). Background in storytelling & min 5yrs exp making audio, pref w/proven field reporting exp. Full info HERE (6/16)

PRODUCER, BROADCAST LIVE >>
AccuWeather/State College PA:
Produce compelling live video segments for the national network on a daily and as-needed schedule. Put together the rundown for each individual segment and work with a team. Entrepreneurial spirit & working knwldg of non-linear editing suites req’d. Full info HERE (6/16)

MARKETING MANAGER, SVOD >>
AMC Networks’ Acorn TV/Silver Spring, MD:
Plans, implements, evaluates performance/KPIs of multi-territory subscriber acquisition campaigns; acts as creative lead and agency POC. Spanish fluency required; marketing exp, 5+ yrs. Full info/apply HERE (6/15)

MGR/DIRECTOR, MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS
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ISE/LA:
Passionate, innovative & driven candidate to support planning, development & execution of marketing, brand building & PR initiatives for the company’s Football & Basketball clients. 5+ yrs comms, sales, superior marketing & athletic brand building skills a must. Full info HERE (6/15)

PUBLICIST, COMMUNICATIONS >>
Earth Day Network/DC:
Help support the dvlpmnt/ execution of multi-channel, integrated communications and engagement strategies. 3+ yrs of communications planning and execution exp. Superior communication skills a must. Full info HERE (6/15)

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER/WRITER >>
Newsmax Media/NYC:
Exceptional storyteller with a dedicated command for news and cultural trends to write for fast-paced primetime and overnight newscasts. 3+ yrs of national or large market local news experience. Full info HERE (6/12)

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER/WRITER >>
Newsmax Media/NYC:
Exceptional storyteller with a dedicated command for news and cultural trends to write for fast-paced primetime and overnight newscasts. 3+ yrs of national or large market local news experience. Full info HERE (6/12)

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PRIMETIME >>
Newsmax Media/NYC:
Responsible for working with show hosts, preparing the rundown of new stories, identifying and integrating guests, overseeing and executing the prod of key video & graphic elements w/guidance from the EP. 3+ yrs EP exp or overseeing newscast production. Full info HERE (6/11)

Sr NEWS PRODUCER >>
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Responsible for the production of live newscasts, news shows and recorded video segments for TV & digital platforms. Strong understanding of Newsmax brand and talent. Strong writing & organizational skills req’d as is the ability to produce content under heavy deadline pressure. Full info HERE (6/11)

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