07/19/19: MLS and Liga MX are doubling its number of teams for the Leagues Cup

 

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Good morning. It’s Friday July 19, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Major League Soccer and Liga MX are already doubling down on the upcoming Leagues Cup, announcing that the upcoming tournament will expand from eight teams in 2019 to 16 teams in 2020 between the top two soccer leagues in North America. Qualifying criteria for the eight MLS clubs will be determined by the top four teams in the 2019 MLS Eastern Conference regular season standings and the top four teams in the 2019 MLS Western Conference regular season standings that will not be participating in the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. Meanwhile, the eight Liga MX teams will include the 2019 Apertura champion, 2020 Clausura champion, 2019-20 Copa MX champion, and the next five best teams in the combined Apertura 2019-Clausura 2020 standings that have not already qualified for Leagues Cup. Leagues Cup kicks off this Tuesday, in Chicago and Los Angeles.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

FOX Sports Films, in association with Major League Baseball, is lining up new documentaries focusing on the past, present and future of the game. Upcoming programs include The Pence Method on July 20 on FS1, In the Blood on Aug. 17 on FS1, Truth Be Told: Rick Ankiel on Oct. 4 on FS1, Walk-Off Stories: One Crazy Night in Baseball on Oct. 13 on FS1, and Seaver on Oct. 13 on FOX.
 
Speaking of docs, GOLF Channel announced details for its next GOLF Films project, Tiger Woods: Chasing History, which will premiere on Monday at 8p. The film will present viewers with a chronological glimpse at the sights and sounds from each of Woods’ 81 professional victories, from his first at the Las Vegas Invitational in 1996, through the most recent win at the Masters earlier this year.
 
ESPN cemented its plans for College GameDay this season, and won’t be messing with its recipe, where it will run in its traditional 9a-noon slot on ESPN, beginning Fort Worth, Texas on Aug. 31 ahead of the Oregon/Auburn game. Lee Corso has appeared on the show each season dating back to its launch in 1987. Herbstreit enters his 24th season on the show, and Desmond Howard will return for his 15th season on the program, while David Pollack enters his ninth. Davis enters his fifth year as host of College GameDay
 
Elsewhere in college football, ahead of the Big Ten Network’s 13th football season, the network updated its programming plans, which will now include all of BTN’s network content – including games, studio shows and original programming –being housed in the FOX Sports app alongside Big Ten football games airing on FOX and FS1 instead of on BTN2Go, which will cease to exist in its current form. In addition, in examining the way in which people engaged with BTN in 2018-19, the network found that over 13 billion minutes of content were consumed via BTN platforms. That data was bolstered by linear network viewership growth of approximately 10% year-over-year, in addition to the significant role social and streaming platforms also played.
 
FOX Sports will live stream three undercard bouts on Saturday from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas leading up the FOX PBC Fight Night. Bouts will be streamed on FOXSports.com, the FOX Sports PBC on FOX YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter starting at 4:45p. Offerings include Genisis Libranza/Carlos Maldonado, Jayar Inson/Mahonri Montes and Abel Ramos/Jimmy Williams.
 
Mark your calendars! Sept 10-12 will see the return of the Esports Business Summit, the industry’s biggest esports business event, and we haven’t event announced some of our biggest names yet! Take in days of networking, outings, play, awards and a bevy of C-level executives and global brands sharing their insights into opportunities in competitive gaming. Click here for more information and get your tickets now!
 
Maria Taylor will host the draft selection with special guest appearances by analyst Rebecca Lobo and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. The Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne and the Las Vegas Aces’ Aja Wilson will serve as team captains and draft the All-Star Game rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves. The 30-minute WNBA All-Star Team Selection Special will also include an interview with newly appointed WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
 
MLB on TBS weekly regular season game coverage continues this weekend with an Interleague matchup pitting the Colorado Rockies against the New York Yankees on Sunday at 1p. Brian Anderson (play-by-play) will be joined by analyst Ron Darling to call the Rockies/Yankees telecast.
 
World TeamTennis makes its broadcast debut on Sunday on CBS with Andrew Catalon, LZ Granderson and Olivia Dekker, leading coverage of the Philadelphia Freedoms at Vegas Rollers matchup cat 4p. Play features Bob and Mike Bryan, Danielle Collins, Monica Puig and Sam Querrey.
 
After a two-week break, the Premier Lacrosse League resumes play this weekend with the All-Star Game on Sunday at 8p on NBCSN. The league’s inaugural All-Star Game will feature the league’s top 50 players selected by fans. Brendan Burke (play-by-play) and Ryan Boyle (analyst) will have the call from Banc of California Stadium. For Sunday’s All-Star Game broadcast on NBCSN, Paul Rabil and Justin Guterding of Team Baptiste, and opposing team captain Matt Rambo will be mic’d up for in-game under-the-helmet interviews.
 
MotorTrend Group, in partnership with Discovery owned Eurosport, announced a new agreement for the MotorTrend App to become the exclusive, live streaming home of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship in the US, Canada, China, Japan, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The MotorTrend App will broadcast live coverage of the remaining 2019 Bennetts BSB events this season including qualifying, race one and race two of the Snetterton 300 on Saturday and Sunday.
 
In local news, NBC Sports Washington announced Justin Kutcher as its new play-by-play announcer for Wizards broadcasts, where he will replace longtime announcer Steve Buckhant and will now join Drew Gooden (also a new addition) as an analyst on game broadcasts.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Nike formally submitted a countersuit against new LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard following the player’s own lawsuit against the company last month over the use and ownership of the “Klaw” logo that was developed and used during Leonard’s time as part of Jordan Brand. “In this action, Kawhi Leonard seeks to re-write history by asserting that he created the ‘Claw Design’ logo, but it was not Leonard who created that logo,” Nike stated, per ESPN. “The ‘Claw Design’ was created by a talented team of NIKE designers, as Leonard, himself, has previously admitted.
 
Speaking of Nike, James Madison Athletics entered into a partnership with Nike through BSN SPORTS. The five-year agreement sees all JMU sport programs now unified competing in Nike apparel. “James Madison has enjoyed a previous partnership with Nike, but we are excited to expand our Nike relationship further to encompass all of our sports thanks to a partnership with BSN Sports,” JMU AD Jeff Bourne said. “Apparel is a significant piece of brand representation and recognition, and Nike stands at the top when it comes to the college sports apparel industry. It is a key example of an outside entity recognizing the value of the JMU brand and seeking to invest in a relationship for mutual benefit.”
 
MP Brand announced World Champion and American-record holder Chase Kalisz joined Team MP as the first competitive swimmer named an official global ambassador of the MP Brand. As part of Team MP, Kalisz will train and compete utilizing the industry-leading MP Brand range of products from training equipment to performance swim suits.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Abu Dhabi Media announced the launch of ‘UFC Arabia,’ the first Arabic language UFC streaming platform in the MENA region, allowing fans in the region’s 21 countries to exclusively live stream events as well as access a range of fight videos. “We are very excited to welcome back UFC to Abu Dhabi through the launch of this first Arabic language streaming platform, UFC Arabia. We are thrilled to allow all passionate fans in the UAE, and MENA, a chance to exclusively live stream all UFC events, and this step reaffirms our commitment to bringing all major sports to our viewers in the region,” said Abdulrahman Awadh Al Harthi, Executive Director of Television at Abu Dhabi Media.

Bleacher Report is launching the Mariano Rivera World Tour Apparel Collection – a collaboration that pays tribute to his career milestones. The collection will feature two designs in short and long sleeve: Unanimous World Tour and Save New York – featuring locations for all of his 652 saves during his career and designed by contemporary Latino pop artist and native New Yorker, M. Tony Peralta.
 
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated unveiled the 2019 Fashionable 50 list naming the most stylish athletes across all sports. 2019 SI Fashionable 50 honorees Serena Williams, Lindsey Vonn, Ashlyn Harris, Tyrod Taylor, Ben Simmons, Michelle Wie, P.K. Subban, Iman Shumpert, Rudy Gay, Evander Kane, Kelly Oubre Jr., PJ Tucker, Malcolm Jenkins, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, DeAndre Jordan are among those expected to attend SI’s invite-only Fashionable 50 event in Los Angeles.
 
 
ESPORTS

AT&T continues to dive deeper into esports, announcing new agreements with both ESL and DreamHack. The ESL partnership sees the brand bring new experiences to ESL’s marquee North American events, including Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Chicago and ESL One New York, as well as the expansion to new regions of the ESL Mobile Open presented by AT&T. The deal continues AT&T’s designation as the Official Telecommunications Partner for ESL North America, and broadens ESL and AT&T’s commitment to making esports accessible and inclusive.
 
Meanwhile, the new partnership with DreamHack will see AT&T take on a “key role” in DreamHack’s North American events, including the recent CORSAIR DreamHack Masters Dallas in June and the upcoming DreamHack Atlanta in November. AT&T will now serve as a key part of DreamHack Atlanta, which will take place Nov. 15-17 at the Gerogia World Congress Center. In addition to being a festival supporter, AT&T will also be a head sponsor of all DreamHack esports tournaments at DreamHack Atlanta, including the DreamHack Open and DreamHack Fighting Game Championships.
 
Speaking of DreamHack, the company announced that it will return to Jönköping, Sweden for 2019 DreamHack Winter. The gaming lifestyle festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary during DreamHack Winter to honor the date of the very first DreamHack festival on December 9, 1994 with the festival running Nov. 29-Dec. 1. “We are thrilled to officially kick off the celebration DreamHack’s 25th anniversary with some of our closest supporters and fans at DreamHack Winter,” said DreamHack Co-CEO Marcus Lindmark. “This will be our longest festival ever, offering 80 hours of BYOC, which will open the night before the festival kicks off. We will also feature a live music concert with a women-led metal night, and fans will experience the largest gaming expo in Sweden. With many more celebratory events and commemorations planned, this will truly be a not-to-be-missed event.”
 
Cavs Legion Gaming Club, the NBA 2K League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, unveiled plans for an esports center in Cleveland’s Battery Park neighborhood. The center, which is set to open this fall, will serve as the practice facility for Cavs Legion GC and will be open to the public for organized gaming competitions, tournaments and events.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

The Open concludes on Sunday with coverage on Golf Channel from 4:30-7a and 7a-2p on NBC.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1989: NFL owners vote unanimously to form the World League of American Football.
 
In the Know: What was the team name for the Barcelona franchise in the WLAF/NFL Europe? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your company and city).
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What was Shaq’s jersey number while with the Magic? Answer: 32. Kudos: Kevin Cartini-NBCUniversal/NY; Jim Morrison-SendtoNews/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Greg Conner-Tennis Media/NY; David Scherzer-Sizzle Sports Media/New Jersey; Roger FurmanLange Marketing/Greentown; World B. Otto-Pro-Am Sports/Boone; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; John Tingue-hulu/Chicago; Mark Stulberger-Stully’s Broadcasting School/Houston; Trevor Arroyo-KDFW FOX 4/Dallas Fort Worth; JT Ward-Spark Foundry/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Anne Wettig-Fox/Fox Sports S&P/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Jaymz Wooden-Bottelsen American Dart Lines/Santa Maria

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