07/22/20: High profile investors helped create the NWSL’s newest team

 

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Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday July 22, 2020

An all-star group of investors united to land the exclusive right to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles that will kick off in Spring 2022. The majority woman-founded group is led by actress and activist Natalie Portman, technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, and tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian who led the investment through his firm Initialized Capital. While the team’s official name and venue partner will be announced before the end of the year, the group has formally coined itself “Angel City” in honor of its planned home in Los Angeles.

Led by consortium President Julie Uhrman, other names on board to back the franchise include Serena Williams and daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., actors Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, and Eva Longoria, late night talk show host Lilly Singh, former US Women’s National Team players including Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini Hoch, and Saskia Webber, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA World Cup Champions Lauren Cheney Holiday and Abby Wambach, author and activist Glennon Doyle, Netflix VP Original Content Cindy Holland, tech entrepreneur and filmmaker Casey Neistat, Founding Board Member of Baby2Baby, Sabina Nathanson, Media Executive David Nathanson, Baby2Baby Co-President Norah Weinstein, and Bad Robot President and COO Brian Weinstein.

“The growth trajectory of the NWSL is incredibly exciting, but we also need to be strategic and thoughtful about how fast we expand and the communities we partner with. We’ve long sought the right partner in LA considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general. Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.” – NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird.

PROGRAMMING

NBC Sports will deliver over 120 hours of coverage from the NHL’s 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers across NBC, NBCSN and USA Network beginning Aug. 1, highlighted by at least 10 hours of wall-to-wall NHL action each day from August 1-5, comprised of Qualifying Round and Round Robin matchups. Opening coverage on Aug. 1, will feature a doubleheader on NBC beginning at 3p with the Oilers/Blackhawks. Primetime coverage at 8p on NBC will pit the Penguins/Canadiens. The 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers begin at noon on NBCSN with the Rangers/Hurricanes. In total, more than 25 NHL games will be shown on NBCSN in a seven-day span.

ESPN released findings from the second wave of its “ESPN Coronavirus Lockdown Fan Study.” Among the notable points from the survey, 78% of respondents supported professional and collegiate sports leagues resuming without fans in attendance, marking a double-digit increase from results in the first wave (68 percent) and three times as many as those that oppose it (22 percent). In addition, 59%say that they can’t wait to see sports back on television and plan to watch as much as they can, while 64% say the prolonged suspension of live sports has driven greater appreciation for them.

In ratings news, the Memorial Tournament on CBS on Sunday ranked as the most-watched final round of the tournament since 2015, according to Nielsen. The round averaged 3.227 million viewers for a 9% rise of last year. Since returning to live golf in June, CBS Sports’ has seen overall viewership grow 28% over comparable events last year, averaging 2.480 million viewers.

Meanwhile, GOLF Channel’s final round lead-in coverage of the Memorial Tournament on Sunday earned 1.47 million average viewers, up 40% year-over-year. That is good enough to score as the most-watched GOLF Channel lead-in telecast ever at the Memorial and became GOLF Channel’s most-watched lead-in telecast to-date in 2020, and the most-watched since the 2019 Genesis Open final round in February.

Elsewhere, Sunday night’s Cruz Azul vs. Chivas Copa battle on Univision scored 919,000 Total Viewers, according to Nielsen, with 478,000 Adults 18-49 on UniMás. Overall, the first-ever Copa por México tournament averaged 423,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 223,000 Adults 18-49 over the course of its 14 telecasts across Univision Networks – Univision, UniMas and TUDN.

CBS saw its broadcast of the World TeamTennis match on July 19 between the Vegas Rollers and Washington Kastles delivered 484,000 viewers, the most in the league’s 45-year history. The previous viewership record for World TeamTennis occurred on July 21, 2019, with the league’s debut on CBS for a match featuring the Philadelphia Freedoms and Vegas Rollers and averaged 409,000 viewers.

Speaking of tennis, the ATP has officially called off next month’s Citi Open as a result of the pandemic. The event in DC was scheduled to mark the planned resumption of the ATP Tour following the suspension of professional tennis in March, with qualifying starting Aug. 13. The USTA did announce afterward that the decision “in no way impacts the US Open or the Western & Southern Open.”

The Sports Business Awards virtual event is three weeks away – will you be joining us? We’re excited to feature a killer guest list of talent and tributes that are driving our community today. Learn more here and register today (it’s free to attend!).

In talent news, FOX Sports formally announced the addition of play-by-play announcer Adam Amin, who joins FOX Sports’ NFL and Major League Baseball coverage as well as the network’s college basketball telecasts. Amin makes his network debut alongside Eric Karros on Saturday, at 1p on FOX as the Milwaukee Brewers head to Wrigley Field and face the Chicago Cubs. In addition to his FOX Sports duties, Amin will also serve as the Chicago Bulls primary television play-by-play announcer, beginning with the 2020-21 season.

CNN announced that longtime sportscaster Bob Costas is joining the network, where he will serve as a contributor. “Bob Costas is a legendary, respected voice across the spectrum of sports and beyond,” CNN President Jeff Zucker wrote in a statement. “As the world continues to change amid the coronavirus pandemic, we are confident that Bob’s insightful analysis will help our viewers better understand what the future holds as the sports and teams we love evolve to meet this moment.”

Paul Burmeister was tapped to serve as the play-by-play voice of NBC Sports’ coverage of the 20-game PLL Championship Series alongside analyst Ryan Boyle and sideline reporter Todd Harris, beginning this Saturday, July 25. Burmeister and Boyle will call the action from the booth onsite at Zions Bank Stadium during each matchup of the 20-game tournament, while Harris will provide pre-game, halftime, and postgame reports as well as sideline interviews. All three will be inside the Premier Lacrosse League’s quarantined bubble in Salt Lake City.

ESPN reached a multi-year contract extension with ESPN Radio host Freddie Coleman. Coleman will continue to host ESPN Radio’s weeknight show Freddie and Fitzsimmons, alongside football sideline reporter and analyst Ian Fitzsimmons as part of the recently announced new lineup.

The NBA on TNT lined up its commentators to handle the league’s official restart on July 30, with a doubleheader. Ian Eagle, analyst Stan Van Gundy and reporter Chris Haynes get microphone duties for the Jazz/Pelicans, while Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and reporter Jared Greenberg are on deck for the Clippers/Lakers matchup.

In a conference call on Tuesday, NFL Players Association leadership informed players there would be zero preseason games this year, according to NFL.com. The league initially offered a two-game schedule earlier in the offseason as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday sees NFL Network serve up The Top 100 Players of 2020, once again counting down the top players in the NFL as determined solely by the players themselves. This year, NFL Films collected 970 ballots and interviewed 132 players. The Top 100 Players of 2020 airs July 26-July 28 with three, one-hour episodes each night starting at 8p.

The Caddie Network locked in a new commercial and content partnership with Rocket Yard Sports designed to help connect the Caddies Associations on both the PGA and the European Tours. According to the announcement, the relationship “will create a collaborative content-rich environment between all parties to help stimulate and engage a global golf audience. In addition, by combining the efforts of both The Caddie Network and Rocket Yard Sports.”

When the 2020 Major League Baseball season begins on July 23, SiriusXM will deliver play-by-play of every regular season and postseason game, plus daily news, talk and analysis on the exclusive MLB Network Radio channel. In addition, the SiriusXM app offers 30 play-by-play channels dedicated to streaming the official radio broadcasts of every MLB team, giving fans the choice between the home and visiting team announcers for every game. The 2020 MLB season begins with an Opening Night doubleheader tomorrow that will feature the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees at Nationals Park at 7p.

With one year to go to next summer’s delayed Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, athletes share personal stories from “coping with uncertainty to building resilience” in the new original series What Moves Me Presented by Toyota. The six-episode Olympic Channel web series premiered worldwide this week at olympicchannel.com and its apps.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Bud Light celebrates the return of sports via two new spots, celebrity partnerships and a sweepstakes for the chance to win a commemorative homerun ball. The first spot highlights the ballpark song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The second ad brings the classic baseball beer vendor in a :15 spot, “Beer Vendor.” “Sports are back, and we’re excited to formally welcome fans back from a long hiatus,” said Andy Goeler, Vice President of Marketing, Bud Light. “Bud Light is always aiming to connect to authentic fan celebration moments and while these moments will look a little different, it’s our job to ensure that fans can be fans – even at home. We look forward to the upcoming baseball season and are eager for the return of the other professional sports leagues as well.”

Zenni Optical will become the Official Eyewear of the Boston Red Sox beginning with the new season in a multi-year partnership that will create multiple touchpoints to “introduce and underscore the Zenni value proposition of finding truly affordable eyewear online, throughout New England and extending nationally to the Red Sox devoted fan base.” Zenni will have category exclusivity serving as the official eyewear of the Red Sox as well as static home plate and baseline rotational signage during select games. Additionally, Zenni will leverage social and digital assets to engage with fans including presenting partnership of a dedicated social feature highlighting unique views of the team’s greatest plays on the field.

In partnership with WWE, Wargaming and World of Tanks Console are launching Update 5.0 – Season 1 SummerSlam!, a new season pass featuring WWE inspired tanks, legendary Superstar collectible crews, new garages and much more to World of Tanks players on PlayStation and Xbox. As part of the new season, players will have the chance to command five legendary Superstar Collector Tanks inspired by WWE Superstars The Undertaker and Becky Lynch, as well as WWE Hall of Famers Andre the Giant, Sgt. Slaughter and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who will be free for all players!

Newcastle United confirmed that FUN88 will remain as the club’s primary partner, courtesy of a new long-term agreement that will see FUN88 continue to be featured on the front of players’ shirts and training wear.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

FOX Sports unveiled its new FOX Sports App and FOXSports.com, sporting a complete redesign. Innovations include a patent-pending Bonus Cam experience for enhanced fan access, starting with FOX Sports’ first-ever quadruple header to lead off the season of Major League Baseball on Saturday on the network. Additionally, enhanced personalization gives users access to their favorite league, team and player content. Real-time odds, powered by FOX Bet Sportsbook, are integrated throughout the products. Key features include: Stories; Live TV; Bonus Cams; scores and favorites.

DraftKings revealed findings from its national consumer study of American sports fans, including how 78% are willing to sacrifice traditional aspects of sports if it means a return to play. “With over half of respondents having reported missing sports during the resultant hiatus, fans across the country are inarguably eager for the return of their favorite leagues and teams, albeit with largely adjusted expectations as exemplified by our latest findings,” said Matt Kalish, co-founder and president, DraftKings North America. “By deepening our understanding of the American fan through data and leveraging the technology of our platform, we are better able to adjust and serve the new experience of sports fans throughout the U.S.” As a result of the pandemic, over one in four American fans began following a new sport, and 67 percent plan to continue following said sport even as more prominent leagues resume. Esports (40%) stand as the most popular newly followed sport trailed by international soccer.

ESPORTS

ESL named Craig Levine as Co-CEO of the company, where he succeeds David Neichel. Levine previously served as Chief Strategy Officer for the organization and, prior to that, served as CEO of ESL North America. “I could not be more excited to have Craig step into this role alongside me,” said Co-CEO and Founder Ralf Reichert. “Craig has been part of the ESL and broader esports family for many years, has been a key leader in shaping our growth and developing the organization globally. He loves ESL and esports as much as I do and it is a natural step to appoint him to help us continue driving our vision given his industry expertise, passion for our team and deep understanding of our strategy, products and fans.” David Neichel, meanwhile, will transition to a Senior Advisor to the CEOs.

Speaking of ESL, the league locked in their third partnership with retail group EURONICS International. The global cooperation will be expanding on the already existing partnership and landmark sponsorship of ESL One Hamburg in October 2019 and ESL’s signature major, the Intel Extreme Masters as retail partner. Furthermore, Euronics will for the first time be presenting sponsor of the “Instant Replay” segment and in addition feature on the in-game banner in the English main broadcast

Riot Games gave an overhaul to LoL Esports, delivering a new logo for the brand with an emphasis on regional leagues and global events. The facelift touches the overarching League of Legends competitive and was officially announced on its Twitter account. In addition, the platform will serve up additional content that includes three new series: Weekly Rundown; The Penta, a “Top Five” plays format; and Champ Select, a bi-weekly show featuring guests from regional leagues advocating for standout players, launching July 23.

Secretlab plotted a partnership with Evil Geniuses that opens the door to the Secretlab Evil Geniuses Edition chair, “equipped with all the features of the award-winning Secretlab 2020 Series, including the upgraded PRIME 2.0 PU leather, patent-pending cold-cure foam, and a wide range of adjustments”. “As one of the original esports organizations, we’re constantly looking toward securing a greater competitive edge, both to honor our storied history and to deliver unforgettable victories for our fans,” said Nicole LaPointe Jameson, CEO, Evil Geniuses. “We’ve found a partner in Secretlab that shares our values and commitment, and we feel like they’ve perfectly captured Evil Geniuses’ roots and ambitions in the Secretlab Evil Geniuses Edition. EG aspires to be nothing less than the very best in all of our ventures. As the global leader in performance gaming seats, Secretlab is set to provide our players with the comfort and support they need to always perform at the highest level.”

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

SeventySix Capital unveiled its SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory venture, designed to work with top sports executives, leagues, organizations and athletes across the evolving landscape of sports management with a focus on esports, sports betting, media and social responsibility. The Sports Advisory will be led by Dan Bravato. “The mission of this organization aligns perfectly with the trajectory of the sports industry,” said Bravato. “SeventySix Capital’s experience across these sectors, coupled with our managing directors and alliance partners’ collective expertise, has us poised to help organizations and executives be on the forefront of this sports revolution.”

Following a report of widespread sexual harassment allegations within Washington’s football franchise, the team has now hired anchor and reporter Julie Donaldson to oversee all of its broadcasts as senior vice president of media.

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On this Day
1963: Sonny Liston knocks out Floyd Patterson

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