07/16/18: NBC Sports’ Rick Cordella breaks down the addition of Peter King, the World Cup and its digital initiatives

Good morning. It’s Monday July 16, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Today see Peter King’s new Monday morning NFL column – Football Morning in America –on NBCSports.com with hit first entry since his move featuring interviews with Philadelphia quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, Eagles coach Doug Pedersen on whether QB Carson Wentz will return from injury for Week 1, a look at the NFL’s officiating shakeup, Tony Romo‘s next step toward a golfing future, and a new section titled, “What I’ve Learned…” with a football personality talking about life lessons
As football season prepares to churn, NBC Sports’ digital platforms are coming off record numbers for the group’s carriage of the World Cup, courtesy of Telemundo. Cynopsis Sports asked Rick Cordella, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Digital Media, NBC Sports Group about King’s move, the company’s innovations and lessons learned.
Cordella on Peter King: Peter is the best and most well-known NFL columnist, likely ever. And for any team, when you add a star player, he’s going to fit in. But I think there is a special connection with NBC and Peter. He has been working on Football Night in America since 2006, and there is a long-term relationship and comfort that exists for both sides. Looking across our NBC Sports digital platforms, we really feel like we’re offering some of the best NFL coverage anywhere on the internet: number one, Peter King’s Football Morning in Americacolumn every Monday; two, Mike Florio and ProfootballTalk; three, Rotoworld’s fantasy football coverage; and number four, the streaming of FNIA and Sunday Night Football.
On World Cup viewing trends: The number of peak concurrents for Telemundo, which we service through our own white label streaming service — Playmaker Media — far surpassed anything we could have expected. The Mexico-Sweden game on Wednesday, June 27, exceeded one million peak concurrent users, and was our third-most streamed game ever for the NBC Sports Group, trailing only the 2015 and 2018 Super Bowls.
I also give a lot of credit to the entire NBC Sports Digital Tech and Product teams. This is the third and final leg of an incredible run over the first half of 2018. Starting with streaming Super Bowl LII, through the PyeongChang Olympics, and now with the 2018 World Cup, the team has handled the three largest world-wide sporting events flawlessly. I’m really proud of how they’ve performed, and it demonstrates Playmaker’s ability to handle the absolute biggest events in sports. 
On NBC Sports Gold: We had the benefit of an existing Tour de France product that was launched back in 2009, long before D2C was a true strategy. We added to that since and started in 2016 an umbrella brand for our direct-to-consumer verticals called NBC Sports Gold, which now contains Cycling, Rugby, Premier League, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Track & Field, Motocross, and IndyCar in 2019. We believe the verticals maximize the pay/value equation. Subscribers are paying for exactly the content they want. And selling seasonal passes versus monthly to those verticals evens out the choppiness of the schedule, while reducing overall churn. We’re really happy with how NBC Sports Gold is progressing.
On the Tour de France: As I mentioned earlier, we have the benefit that this is our 9th year offering TDF via D2C. Each and every year, we’ve grown the number of subs and revenue, and 2018 is no exception. We’ve seen continued impressive growth. And to put that in perspective, before Day 1 of the 2018 tour, we surpassed the total revenue for the entire 2017 Tour De France.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowls each locked in deals to host College Football Playoff games for another six years, running through 2026. The three bowl games will host a CFP game every year during the six-year period: the semifinals twice, and other games assigned by the CFP selection committee four times. “These bowl games have provided a quality experience for the student-athletes and fans for many years, including the first four seasons of the CFP, and we know that will continue,” said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the CFP. “The communities of greater Dallas, Phoenix and Atlanta have fully embraced the opportunity to be a part of this very popular event and to showcase the unique opportunities they offer to visitors.”
ESPN inked a multiyear contract extension that will keep radio personality Paul Finebaum in the house and remain a key contributor on ESPN and SEC Network. Finebaum will continue his presence across a number of high-profile network shows and programming, including as the host of The Paul Finebaum Show and as an analyst on SEC Nation. Complementing his daily hosting duties on The Paul Finebaum Show and weekly appearances on SEC Nation throughout the fall, Finebaum is featured on a variety of additional ESPN programming, including Get Up!, First Take, SportsCenter, College Football Live, Finebaum Film Room and College GameDay.
Speaking of ESPN, Saturday’s Wimbledon Ladies’ Championship on ESPN earned a 2.1 overnight rating from Nielsen, up 27% from a 1.7 a year ago and marking ESPN’s best number for the match since 2015. Overall, the full ESPN telecast scored a 1.3 for an uptick of 86% over last year.
NASCAR on NBC analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte have been tapped to take over the broadcast booth for an analyst-only call of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on July 22 at 2p on NBCSN. Lead NASCAR on NBC race announcer Rick Allen will contribute to next Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice and race coverage from The Magic Mile.
ESPN New York 98.7FM locked in multiyear contract extensions with Michael Kay and Don La Greca to continue as host and co-host of the weekday afternoon drive show The Michael Kay Show, where they will continue to work alongside Peter Rosenberg.
NBC Sports Regional Networks serve up Fair Play: Youth Sports, a new documentary that runs tonight on NBCSN at 11p. The project explores the $15 billion organized youth sports industry and is presented by GEICO. The program focuses on the benefits and challenges of youth sports as told through the voices of students, coaches, professional athletes and scholars and is hosted by NBC Sports Washington’s Julie Donaldson.
The Esports Tempest Awards
Presented by Cynopsis, Chief Marketer and Event Marketer
The Tempest Awards celebrate the brands, teams, leagues, players and business leaders driving the competitive gaming industry, with categories that span production, marketing, talent & technology. Winners will be announced live on stage during the Esports Business Summit at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Tuesday, October 2.


More organizations are ending their partnership, at least temporarily, with Papa John’s in the fallout from company founder John Schnatter’s admission that he used the n-word. Among the orgs severing ties are several MLB teams, according to multiple reports and/or statements from the clubs, include the Nationals, Yankees, Marlins, Royals, Mariners, and, Orioles.
Fusing NFL and NASCAR, Alex Bowman will drive a NASCAR Cup Series car with an NFL team’s colors and logos. Axalta, a Hendrick Motorsports sponsor, announced Friday that Alex Bowman, would race with a Philadelphia Eagles paint scheme on July 29 at Pocono Raceway. According to NASCAR, an NFL spokesman confirmed that the paint scheme is now approved under a revised league policy.

Karate Combat’s next event, Karate Combat: Olympus is on deck to live stream from Athens, Greece on July 28 from the Zappeion Courtyard. Jon Gerstel will executive produce the event with the stream available on Karate Combat’s site karate.com, on its iOS and Android apps, and with distribution partners such as YouTube, Dailymotion, Titan, FITE, CBS’ Sports Live, Pluto TV,
Major League Baseball digital collectibles are coming to the Ethereum blockchain, according to Yahoo report, courtest of Lucid Sight, which is launching MLB Crypto Baseball, through a licensing deal with MLB. In MLB Crypto Baseball, users will pay in ether to buy digital avatars tied to specific moments in recent games. They can then sell the items, or in some cases, earn rewards and stickers.
Eleven Sports agreed a strategic partnership with IMG to launch two new channels in the UK, which will carry its newly-acquired coverage of Serie A and La Liga. Eleven Sports 1 and Eleven Sports 2 will launch in August as an online streaming service in the UK and Ireland. As part of the deal. IMG picked up a minority stake in the two new channels.

Luminosity Gaming landed a deal with Universal Music Canada, marking the first time that a music label and esports organization have exclusively partnered together to formally connect music and gaming, according to a team announcement. The deal was announced by Universal Music Canada President & CEO Jeffrey Remedios and Luminosity Gaming Founder Steve Maida, and will open a “new platform for Universal Music artists to share their music and connect with listeners on a global scale and for Luminosity followers to get closer to their favorite artists with exclusive contests, breaking news, sneak previews, events and more.” Universal Music is also introducinga new playlist designed for gamers to stream while they play – the Gaming Hip Hop playlist.
Twitch is launching an Ambassador program, announcing fifteen ‘Ambassadors’ for TwitchCon, designed to “embody what Twitch is all about, from games to cosplay to IRL streams and more.” This year’s honorees include:  Avajaijai, Data_Dave, DeejayKnight, DistractedElf, Djarii, Elspeth, ESBC, Gibson, Pokimane, Sequisha, Skybilz, ThatBronzeGirl, UmiNoKaiju, Wish, and Xmiramira,

T-Mobile Home Run Derby at 8p on ESPN.
 August 2  |  9AM-3:30PM  |  NYC
Join the industry’s top measurement experts ( view speakers ) as we explore new strategies for quantifying & crediting consumption of content and ads across devices. You’ll also have the opportunity to network and share insights with fellow attendees from GroupM, Facebook, Horizon Media, Coca-Cola, Starcom, Del Monte, Marvel, DigitasLBi, Google, Hulu, Turner and more. Seating is limited – register before 7/20
Sponsored by: GroupM, Ultimate Data, Data+Math, Discovery, TV Time, 605 & Nielsen

ON THIS DAY in 1941: The Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio hits safely for his 56th straight game.
In the Know: Which school was the last to win the SEC West AND not be Alabama, Auburn or LSU? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In which sci-fi comedy film did Jim Brown portray former world champion boxer Byron Williams? Answer: Mars Attacks!. Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; George L. Sauli-USIM/NY; Jack Bushell-Pathway/NY; Ken White-KWTV/Charlotte; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Matt Laramee-MMSI/Warwick; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Rich Wolfe-RichCraft/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
Later – Chris
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