06/20/17: Regulators look to block DraftKings-FanDuel merger; Pacquiao to fight on ESPN; Olympic Channel swaps athletes

Good morning. It’s Tuesday June 20, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is looking to block the proposed merger of DraftKings and FanDuel, attempting to prevent the creation of a company that would control almost 95 percent of the U.S. daily fantasy sports market. The companies said in November 2016 that they planned to merge to help cut their legal bills.

While DraftKings and FanDuel argue that they compete against large companies such as ESPN and Yahoo for fantasy sports participants, U.S. regulators said a merger would deprive customers of the benefits of direct competition between the one-time rivals. The FTC is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the merger while it reviews whether the merger is legal under antitrust law.
DraftKings and FanDuel said in a joint statement that they’re “disappointed” by the decision and continue to believe that a merger is “in the best interests of our players, our companies, our employees and the fantasy sports industry.” The companies said they are considering their legal options.
Manny Pacquiao’s next title fight will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, his first non pay-per-view bout since September of 2005. Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division world champion, will defend his WBO welterweight title on Saturday, July 1 against Australia’s Jeff “The Hornet” Horn in Brisbane, Australia. ESPN’s coverage of “The Battle of Brisbane” will begin on Friday, June 30 with live coverage of the weigh-in and also includes three bouts on the July 1 undercard. Says ESPN President John Skipper: “Working with Top Rank on a match normally seen on pay-per-view is a significant moment for ESPN and for boxing fans.”

The Solheim Cup is returning to network television for the first time in 15 years, with NBC airing the final singles matches for the women’s golf match-play event between the U.S. and Europe. Golf Channel and NBC will broadcast a combined 30 hours of live tournament play from the three-day event, held Aug. 18-20 in Des Moines, Iowa. On Sunday, Golf Channel will begin airing the final singles matches, with NBC continuing coverage from 4 p until the event’s conclusion.

ESPN’s next documentary in its 30 for 30 series will chronicle Mike Francesa and Chris Russo’s “Mike and the Mad Dog” radio show that ruled afternoon drive time in New York for almost 20 years and forever changed sports radio. Show will premiere Thursday, July 13 at 8 p on ESPN.

NHL Network will have an exclusive reveal of the NHL regular season schedule on June 22, before a wider distribution by the league’s 31 clubs. The program will air at 3 p, with host Steve Mears and analysts E.J. Hradek and John MacLean announcing the schedule, providing analysis and hosting guest interviews.

NBA TV will air live coverage and pick-by-pick analysis throughout both rounds of the June 22 NBA Draft, including commercial-free coverage of the top 14 picks. NBA TV’s coverage also includes post-selection interviews, on-site production from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and live reports from Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The network’s panel of commentators includes Kenny Smith, Steve Smith, Seth Davis and Scott Howard-Cooper.

HBO will close out tonight’s episode of “Real Sports” with a remembrance of Frank Deford, who died May 28 at age 78. Deford was often considered the finest sportswriter of his generation and – in addition to his work with Sports Illustrated, his novels and radio commentaries — spent 22 years with Real Sports, reporting on 117 stories.

What happens when Olympic athletes switch sports, if only for a day? The Olympic Channel has a new series called “Sports Swap” in which an Olympian is given just one day to learn a new sport from a fellow Olympic athlete and then is challenged to perform their new skills. The first six episodes are available on the Olympic Channel mobile app and olympicchannel.com, with sports including soccer, gymnastics, shooting, boxing, archery, curling and BMX.

Royal Ascot, one of the most prestigious horse racing meets in the world, will make its U.S. television debut today with live coverage on NBCSN. The network will air daily coverage of the five-day Royal meeting in Ascot, Berkshire, England through Saturday, June 24, with a total of 22 ½ coverage hours.

The NASCAR Cup racing series returns to NBC on July 1 and NBCSN said it will present a live show each week from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, beginning on July 5. The weekly telecasts, which will take place every Tuesday or Wednesday, will feature an in-depth interview with an active driver, and highlight their journey to professional racing.

Veteran commentators Mauro Ranallo and Mike Goldberg have joined the broadcast team for the Bellator MMA pay-per-view event on June 24, when Chael Sonnen will meet Wanderlei Silva at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Ranallo will join longtime color commentator Jimmy Smith as an analyst for the first time live at 10 p, with Goldberg anchoring the desk for the broadcast.
Time to Tune-in to the Future Industry Leaders
The Third Annual Cynopsis Rising Star Awards is gearing up for its best year yet…Don’t miss this great opportunity to honor yourself or a colleague with a nomination. The groundbreaking work that these ambitious and creative young professionals have accomplished over the past year deserves to be celebrated – and we can’t wait to see what they have to offer!   

Markelle Fultz, the projected top pick in this year’s NBA draft, agreed to a multiyear shoe contract with Nike after talking with all the other major shoe brands, according to Yahoo Sports. Fultz grew up with Nike, starring at a pair of Nike-sponsored schools: DeMatha High School in Maryland and then at the University of Washington.

Donald De La Haye is putting his college football future in the NCAA’s hands. The University of Central Florida placekicker said he will keep taking advertising revenue for his popular YouTube videos, the Orlando Sentinel reported. De La Haye was warned by the school’s compliance office about a week ago that he was risking his NCAA amateur status by receiving money for advertising.

Bruin Sports Capital and WPP have teamed with the NFL to grow Game Pass – the league’s on-demand video service – in Europe. Bruin and WPP formed a new company based in London that will evolve NFL Game Pass, which features all live NFL games, NFL RedZone, NFL Network and NFL Films. “We believe Bruin and WPP are the best companies to help take Game Pass to the next level in Europe, technologically, operationally and in terms of growing the user base,” said Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president of International and Events.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association rebranded itself more concisely as U.S. Ski & Snowboard, adding a new brand mark along with the name change. The brands of the successful U.S. Ski & Snowboard teams have become among the most recognized commercial marks in the winter Olympics. A variety of marks had been used over the organization’s 112-year history, including most recently different logos for the three national teams – the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing.

The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) has partnered with Twitter to live stream 16 game-of-the-week broadcasts during the 2017-18 season. The NWHL’s 2018 All-Star Game and two games from the league’s Summit Series against the Russian Women’s National Team will also be broadcast by Twitter via a global live stream. It is Twitter’s second collaboration featuring a professional women’s sports league, following a recently-announced deal with the WNBA.

USA Swimming broadened its partnership with NBC Sports Group, tabbing NBC Sports’ Playmaker Media to power its video content delivery. Playmaker Media will power the launch of USA Swimming Productions, which is part of the organization’s effort to produce video, social, informational and educational content for different USA Swimming platforms designed to grow its membership and fan base.

fuboTV, the U.S.-based sports-first streaming TV service, has raised an additional $55 million in Series C funding, raising its total investment to more than $75 million to put toward additional content, engineering talent and expanding marketing. Launched in 2015 as a streaming soccer service, fuboTV has evolved into one of the top virtual multichannel video programming distributors in the U.S., bringing subscribers to dozens of sport, entertainment and news channels. The entry-level bundle the company launched in April has a lineup of 55 channels, including 31 that feature sports content. 

Tencent recently detailed a $14.6 billion eSports investment in which the world’s largest mobile gaming developer would create new leagues, tournaments, associations and eSports-themed industrial parks in China over the next five years, according to esportsobserver.com. Chinese sports authorities would work closely with Tencent to establish unified standards for eSports in the country.

Splyce has partnered with Turtle Beach Corporation to outfit its teams – across several console eSports including Call of Duty, Gears of War and Halo – with Turtle Beach audio gear from the “Elite Pro” series.

Valve announced the six teams that have received direct invites to August’s The International 7 tournament, which currently has a prize pool of $16 million. Four-time Major champions OG are joined by Team Liquid, Invictus Gaming, Newbee, Virtus.pro and Evil Geniuses. Another 12 teams will join the field through regional qualifiers.

ESports-only bookmaker Unikrn is launching its own cryptocurrency called UnikoinGold that will be the exclusive token used on a new skill-based betting platform.
College World Series – Florida vs. Louisville, on ESPN at 8p

Entries are NOW Open!
The 5th Annual Cynopsis Digital Model D & It List Awards:
Honoring the best in online video, content, advertising, talent, and digital media’s movers and shakers.

in 1936: Jesse Owens of the U.S. sets the 100-meter world record in 10.2 seconds.

In the Know: When Tony La Russa was fired as manager of the Chicago White Sox after a 26-38 start to the 1986 season, who replaced him? (Email Erik Matuszewski ‎at [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which team did Reggie Jackson play for the season before he joined the New York Yankees? Answer: The Baltimore Orioles (Jackson played the 1976 season with Baltimore after being traded by the Oakland A’s and joined the Yankees as a free agent later that year.) Kudos: John Russo-INSP/New York; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda, MD; Keith Marder-Halstead Property/New York; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/Washington D.C.; Mike May-PHIT America/Florida; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach, FL; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina, MN; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station, TX; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica, CA; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills, CA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA/Burbank, CA; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo, CA.

Later — Chris

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