06/16/17: IMG to host esports boot camp; Olympic Channel set for debut; MLB relaxes uniform rules for a weekend

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

The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA is coming to more than 35 million homes next month, allowing fans to connect to Olympic sports, athletes and stories all year round. Olympic Channel programming will complement 400 hours of Olympic Sports coverage already scheduled to air in 2017 on NBC and NBCSN, and streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Formed through a collaboration between the IOC, U.S. Olympic Committee and NBCU, the Olympic Channel will be available to most subscribers of Altice, AT&T DirecTV, Comcast, Spectrum and Verizon at the July 15 launch. It will also be available on streaming services including DirecTV Now, Fubo, Hulu, Sony PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV.
ESPN will deliver coverage of every game from the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, for the 15th straight year. Eight schools remain in the 2017 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, which begins June 17. A total of 17 games could be televised over a 12-day span on ESPN and ESPN2.
The SEC Network will also provide onsite coverage from Omaha, given that three teams from the Southeastern Conference (Florida, LSU and Texas A&M) are among the eight remaining schools in the College World Series. SEC Now will be live from TD Ameritrade Park, with coverage continuing as long as a SEC team advances.
Bill Russell will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the first-ever NBA Awards on TNT, which airs Monday, June 26, with coverage beginning at 9 am. Russell, a Hall of Famer who won 11 NBA titles with the Boston Celtics, was the first player to win a college championship, Olympic gold medal and NBA title. The NBA Awards on TNT – held in New York City — will feature integrations with TNT’s Inside the NBA studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.
The UFC has extended its long-term partnership with FOX Sports Asia, announcing a multiyear deal to broadcast more than 40 live events annually throughout Asia, fostering the growth of the UFC brand and the sport of MMA across the region. FOX Sports will also have exclusive rights to UFC’s reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, and will air magazine programming and archived events.
Courageous, the NBC Sports Films documentary that chronicles Ted Turner’s quest to win sailing’s 1977 America’s Cup, will be narrated by two-time Academy Award-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas. The special will air on June 17 at 2:30 pm on NBC, immediately following the first two races of the 2017 America’s Cup Match in Bermuda. Douglas has family roots in Bermuda that date back to the 1600’s and lobbied to bring the America’s Cup to Bermuda.
Former Arsenal and Crystal Palace standout Ian Wright has joined FOX Sports as a studio analyst for the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, which will be televised June 17 through July 2 across the FOX Sports family of networks. Wright, who’s currently a leading British television soccer pundit, will make his FOX Sports debut tomorrow and follows German legend Lothar Matthaus and coaching icon Guus Hiddink as the network’s recent signings.
After 30 years, college football’s Holiday Bowl has a new television home. The Dec. 28 postseason game, officially known as the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, will air on Fox Sports 1 this year. It was the longest-running bowl partner in ESPN’s history, but the Holiday Bowl’s contract expired after the 2016 game.
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Major League Baseball is planning to let players express their personal style on the field for one weekend in August, according to a Yahoo Sports report. The Players Weekend is scheduled for Aug. 25-27 and MLB will let players put nicknames on the back of their jerseys, wear cleats in fluorescent colors and personalize a patch that pays tribute to someone instrumental in their development, Yahoo Sports said.
Also in MLB, the Seattle Mariners’ stadium won’t be known as Safeco Field beyond next season. With a 20-year, $40 million contract expiring, the Mariners have initiated preliminary talks for a new naming rights deal that will likely be struck with a corporate partner based in the Seattle area, the Tacoma News Tribune reported.
The New York Jets are giving fans a chance to sit in a different seat location for every home game this season through their new Jets Boarding Pass, becoming the first NFL team to offer fans a season-long mobile ticketing subscription. Fittingly, the 100% mobile pass is presented by JetBlue. It can be purchased for $725 and includes seats from the lower bowl to the 300 level. Pass holders are notified of their seat location through the Jets App upon arrival at MetLife Stadium on game day within two hours of kickoff.
The LA Galaxy is unveiling the largest video display board at a MLS stadium in North America through a partnership between the team, its home stadium (StubHub Center) and movie studio theme park Universal Studios Hollywood. The 20-foot high, 53-foot wide video board will debut tomorrow at StubHub Center during the Galaxy’s match against the Houston Dynamo.
The Canadian alt-rock band Arkells will perform at the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion draft presented by T-Mobile on June 21 in Las Vegas. The all-in-one event, which will be broadcast by NBCSN in the U.S. and Sportsnet in Canada, honors the top performances of the 2017-17 NHL season and reveals the first members of the NHL’s 31st franchise: the Vegas Golden Knights.
Alliance MMA Inc. has teamed with Roy Englebrecht Promotions, California’s longest-running fight promotion company. Alliance MMA is a professional mixed martial arts company that brings together the best regional productions in the industry. Englebrecht has promoted fights for more than 30 years and Alliance MMA President Robert Haydak said the company will “tap into his extraordinary promotional experience” right away in the Southern California media market.
Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett is collaborating with YouTube Kids for their global #ReadAlong Month campaign. Book publishers such as HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and National Geographic Kids have created digital content to help kids learn how to read and how to enjoy reading. Bennett joined the campaign to inspire his 4-year-old daughter and other children to develop a passion for reading.
The E3 Expo, the world’s biggest event for video games, technology and entertainment, drew more than 68,000 people to the Los Angeles Convention Center this week, with millions more watching online worldwide. More than 2,000 products were showcased by 293 exhibitors and the show generated 15 million E3-related posts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  
Yahoo Esports has shut down following Verizon’s $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo, eliminating one of the most recognized spaces for esports media. Yahoo and AOL will be merged into a new subsidiary – Oath – and Yahoo ceased its esports focus to instead expand the Yahoo Sports brand.
IMG this summer is introducing a one-of-a-kind esports boot camp that will be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The camp, which runs from July 30 through August 5, is open to kids age 12 to 18 and will center on Valve’s popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CG:GO). Professional CG:GO player Spencer “Hiko” Martin will be among the game instructors who will work at the camp alongside IMG Academy’s performance experts, focusing on communication, leadership, nutrition, fitness and reaction times. Martin says the camp is the perfect opportunity for kids to experience professional esports from an inside point of view. “Having something like this when I was younger would have really kick started my professional career,” he said.
Nike Inc. is cutting 2% of its workforce – as many as 1,400 employees – as part of a global restructuring in which the athletic brand is seeking to speed up production development, refocus on key markets and ward off competition from rivals such as Adidas AG and Under Armour.
U.S. Open golf second-round play, on FS1 at 11a.

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ON THIS DAY in 1989: There had been only 17 holes-in-one in U.S. Open history before four were made on this day on the 6th hole at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.
In the Know: How many NBA Finals games did the Chicago Bulls lose during their run of six championships from 1991 through 1998? (Email Erik Matuszewski ‎at ematuszewski24@gmail.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What color is NASCAR’s rookie stripe? Answer: Yellow. Kudos: Drew Panaro-Fox Sports/New York; Brad Stern-POM Technologies/New York; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison, NJ; Gayathri Jayakumar-THREE/Saratoga Springs, NY; Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick, RI; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing; Joe Lyons-SOS/Dallas; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; David Westberg-SAG/AFTRA/Burbank, CA.

Later — Chris

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JOB OPENING: ACCOUNT MGR/NEWSY/NYC: Maintain/optimize the performance of client partnerships, from signing to renewal & mng day-to-day relationships w/major strategic partners. BA deg req’d & 2-4+ years’ exp in publisher development, acct mngmnt, or affiliate relations. Full info/apply HERE (6/22)

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