06/29/17: ESPN snags A Woj; FOX navigates the All-Stars; VR gets social

Good morning. It’s Thursday June 29, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

NBA journalist Adrian Wojnarowski made it official and is joining ESPN as an NBA Insider starting July 1, where he will make his debut on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt at Midnight and will then also join the NBA Free Agency Special hosted by Rachel Nichols on ESPN2. In addition to ESPN’s lineup of programming, he will also appear regularly on ESPN Radio programs and periodically contribute features to ESPN The Magazine. Meanwhile, ESPN announced that Bobby Marks is also joining ESPN as part of their multimedia coverage of the NBA. Marks will serve as ESPN’s NBA Front Office Insider, providing insights and analysis on the inner workings of how NBA teams operate, make personnel and business decisions, manage the salary cap, navigate free agency and more.
“Woj is a breakthrough multimedia journalist and one of the most authoritative voices on the NBA,” said Rob King, ESPN Sr. Vice President, SportsCenter, News and Information. “He has earned the respect of fans and peers with consistent excellence, impeccable journalistic credentials and a blend of work ethic, creativity and versatility. We are excited to have him join ESPN.”

FOX Sports laid out plans for the 2017 All-Star Game from Marlins Park in Miami on July 11, with pregame coverage beginning at 7:30p on FOX. John Smoltz will be joined in the broadcast booth by Joe Buck, who calls his record 19th All-Star Game. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci report throughout the game from the dugouts. Coverage begins on July 10 at noon on FS1 with a special edition of The Herd hosted by Colin Cowherd with co-host Kristine Leahy live from Marlins Park.
ESPN locked in on a multi-year deal with USA Softball to carry games from the World Cup of Softball, an annual tournament featuring Team USA and the world’s top teams. This year, the event will run July 5-8 with two teams with the best-record from round robin play advancing to the championship game on July 9.
Monday night’s debut of BIG3 saw the professional 3-on-3 basketball league draw 398,000 viewers for FS1 with 250,000 viewers in the Adults 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen. Year-over-year, the telecast scored 310% increase in average Monday night viewership from 8-11p. On the digital front, the game scored an average minute audience of 5,013 on FOX Sports GO.
NBA TV tackled summer league coverage with a lineup of nearly 60 live game telecasts in 14 days starting Saturday. The network’s schedule includes live game telecasts from all three Summer League locations – including 20 games from the Mountain Dew Orlando Pro Summer League 2017 (July 1-6), and six games in Salt Lake City (July 3-6) from the 2017 Utah Jazz Summer League. The network will also present 30 live game telecasts of NBA Summer League 2017 from Las Vegas from July 7-14.
Showtime Networks announced the start of an expansive project examining the modern history of the NBA and the league’s impact on global popular culture. Executive producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter of SpringHill Entertainment will team with filmmaker Gotham Chopra for the three-part documentary film series that will premiere on SHOWTIME in 2018.
Anthem Wrestling Exhibitions, parent company of IMPACT Wrestling, entered into an agreement to acquire Global Force Wrestling. Jeff Jarrett, the founder of both IMPACT Wrestling and Global Force Entertainment, will join Anthem Wrestling Exhibitions as a member of its board of managers, equity owner and Chief Creative Officer.
ESPN announced that the 2017 GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff will conclude this year’s Summer of Next. The seven-game slate will see 10 states represented, and 22 players who have already committed to top college football programs. For the first time ever, a same-site doubleheader on Aug. 26, will include four of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2018 with the first matchup showcasing Saraland High School (Ala.)/Heard County High School (Ga.) and the second featuring Bartram Trail High School (Fla.)/Cartersville High School (Ga.).
In international news, ONE Championship renewed its partnership with ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ leading media and entertainment organization for access to all ONE Championship content, including live events in the Philippines.
ESPN extended its rights with the Premier League in Brazil through the 2021/2022 season.  The agreement includes rights for all media, including broadcast and pay television, streaming and VOD.
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NBC Sports Groups detailed its marketing campaign for the launch of the 2017 NASCAR on NBC season via the Guts, Glory and NASCAR campaign for this season’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of 2017 on the network on Saturday at 7p on NBC. Activations include a ground campaign in targeted local markets that will see a fleet of NASCAR themed food trucks, coined the “NASCAR on NBC Pit Stop,” to deliver complimentary bites to race fans throughout the country. In addition, the company is surrounding Dale Jr.’s final career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway with a complete campaign centered around “one last time.”
Bridgestone USA announced its initial athlete lineup for its first Winter Games, partnering with Nathan Chen (figure skating), Elana Meyers Taylor (bobsled), Amy Purdy (para snowboarding), Evan Strong (para snowboarding) and Ashley Wagner (figure skating). “These athletes embody what it means to ‘Be Bridgestone’,” said Gordon Knapp, CEO and President, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “They have a drive to be the best and a commitment to performance at the highest level. On top of that, they’re incredible people with stories of passion, determination and ingenuity. They inspire us to keep chasing the impossible, and we are extremely proud to help them chase their dreams.”

FOX Sports announced the worldwide debut of Social Virtual Reality, connecting viewers experiencing select matches of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the biennial international men’s soccer championship of the North, Central and Caribbean regions. Through its FOX SPORTS VR app, viewers will have the ability to recognize each other’s avatars and communicate with one another throughout the experience. The platform comes through LiveLike, and will see Buffalo Wild Wings serve as presenting sponsor. Overall, FOX Sports is producing three live CONCACAF Gold Cup matches in VR starting July 8 at 4:30p on FS1 with the USA/Panama match.
The NBA announced that it will host the second annual NBA Hackathon from Sept. 23-24 in New York City. This year’s event will take on an expanded two-day format and add a business analytics track. Teams will work for 24 hours and present their solutions to a panel of expert judges consisting of NBA executives, professors and media members with prizes awarded to the top three teams in each track, with a grand prize that includes a trip to NBA All-Star 2018 in Los Angeles and lunch with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

In this week’s edition of Cynopsis Esports & Gaming
  • Nickelodeon’s Super play
  • SLG talks growth
  • X Games fuels up for Rocket League
  • EU’s LCS finals invades City of Lights
  • Cyberathlete Professional League hit the spawn point
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds gets the spoils
  • ESL’s curriculum

Outdoor Sportsman Group – Winnercomm, the production and content development arm of the group, announces the promotion of Tim Cremin to Senior Vice President of Original Programming and Development. Previously, Cremin served as the Vice President of Original Programming for the division.

Cubs/Nationals on MLB Network at 4p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1990: Dave Stewart of the Oakland Athletics and Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers both throw no-hitters on the same day.
In the Know: Dave Stewart was a part of three World Series clubs, who were they? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Robert Wuhl and Sandra Oh once starred in a comedy about the life of a sports agent, what was the name of the show? Answer: Arli$$ (but I’ll take Arliss). Kudos: Cindy O’Connor-CoxReps/NY; Russell Sargeant-NBC Sports/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Andrew Feingold-Fox News/NY; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Jonny Codalata0CSM Sport & Entertainment/Zionsville; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Adam Samrov-New England Newspapers/Bennington; Joe Lyons-SOS Global/Dallas; Matt Fumagalli-Levy @ Wrigley Field/Chicago; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; Jeremy Bowman-ESPN/Chicago; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank

Later — Chris

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