07/28/21: The NBA is bringing the Play-In back for another go


Medias First Morning Read


Wednesday July 28, 2021

The Play-In is back in for the 2021-22 NBA season. The NBA Board of Governors approved a proposal to continue the Play-In Tournament concept next year, with the event, which was also agreed to by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, following the same format as this year’s competition. The teams that finish the regular season with the seventh-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference will compete to fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference. For the 2021-22 season, the Play-In Tournament will take place April 12-15, between the last day of the regular season on April 10 and the start of the playoffs on April 16.


Oklahoma and Texas made their moves official, notifying the SEC that the schools are seeking “an invitation for membership” beginning July 1, 2025, according to a joint statement from the Big 12 schools. According to the release, OU and Texas sent SEC commissioner Greg Sankey their request Tuesday morning. ESPN reports that SEC presidents and chancellors are meeting Thursday to consider OU and Texas for official membership in what would become the first 16-team superconference. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby issued a statement that the conference would “face the challenges head-on.”

Speaking of college sports, Barstool Sports is getting into the bowl business, signing on as both a title sponsor as well as the new broadcast partner for the Arizona Bowl, running on Dec. 31 this year. Now known as the Barstool Arizona Bowl, the postseason game will depart CBS Sports in a multi-year deal with Barstool Sports streaming the game on its website, app and social media channels.

For the first time since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, NBC’s primetime Summer Olympics programming delivered successive viewership increases over the Opening Ceremony through the first two nights of competition, based on preliminary data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. Sunday night’s primetime show, which featured swimming, women’s gymnastics, women’s beach volleyball and triathlon, averaged a Total Audience Delivery of approximately 19.8 million viewers, up over Saturday night’s primetime coverage (15.3 million), which was up over Friday night’s primetime Opening Ceremony show. The 61% growth from Friday through Sunday is the largest increase ever in the first three nights of a Summer Olympics.

Elsewhere in ratings, in the first summer edition of X Games since 2019, X Games 2021 content across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC scored double-digit viewership increases on television and triple-digit growth on @XGames social and digital media platforms. X Games 2021 telecasts, totaling 15.5 hours of content, experienced a viewership increase of 13% versus X Games Minneapolis in 2019. On the social media front, X Games 2021 delivered more than 105 million video views – a 439% increase from X Games Minneapolis 2019 – and 326 million impressions across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, which drove an increase of 318% versus 2019.

Meanwhile, ESPN and ABC will exclusively televise the 2021 NBA Draft presented by State Farm live from the Barclays Center on Thursday at 8p with pre-draft coverage beginning at 7:30p on ESPN. For the first time, round one of the draft will simulcast on ESPN and ABC, while round two will air on ESPN. Rece Davis will return to host ESPN’s coverage with an expert panel of commentators, including analysts Jay Bilas and Kendrick Perkins, and NBA Draft analyst Mike Schmitz. SportsCenter anchor and college football/basketball host Kevin Negandhi will host the NBA Draft on ABC alongside NBA analysts Jalen Rose and Chiney Ogwumike and NBA reporter Malika Andrews.

The Tempest Awards cover every aspect of the rapidly expanding esports space, from Best Consumer Media Outlet to Innovative Use of Technology and so much more. This is your opportunity to make a name for your business in the industry, but time is running out… your entries are due TOMORROW: start your entry now.

Pac-12 Networks has announced its programming plans for the 2021 football season, headlined by 36 football games on Pac-12 Network. Pac-12 Networks relaunches its on-campus game day programming with The Pregame, presented by Redbox, and introduction of Pac-12 Tailgate, presented by Buffalo Wild Wings. Pac-12 Networks’ lead football analyst Yogi Roth returns to the broadcast team alongside Ted Robinson this season. Also returning to the booth is Pac-12 Networks veteran Roxy Bernstein on play-by-play, who will team up Lincoln Kennedy, entering the season as a regular game analyst.

Liberty Athletics and ESPN reached a new five-year extension for the exclusive media rights to Liberty’s home football games, beginning with the 2021 season through 2025. This new multi-year agreement is coterminous with Liberty’s bowl agreement with ESPN Events, which runs through the 2025 season.

Cynopsis Presents: That Big TV Virtual Conference
Tuesday, September 21 – Thursday, September 23


Proving Performance & Growing Your Business in a Convergent TV World
On Thursday, September 23, hear from Kevin Krim, CEO of EDO, who will share insights on how to break through the myths, lies, and complexity of Convergent TV to build your path to performance and growth in this new TV era.





The Pac-12 added a pair of big brands to its roster. Old Trapper signed on as an official sponsor of both the 2021 Pac-12 Football Championship Game, presented by 76, as well as the 2022 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, presented by New York Life. As the official jerky of the Pac-12 Conference and a sponsor of next season’s Pac-12 Football Championship Game and Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Old Trapper will receive a slate of media inventory across Pac-12 Networks’ linear, digital and social channels, along with in-stadium branding and hospitality at the two flagship championship events.
Campbell Snacks was named the Conference’s official sweet and salty snack and bakery product partner, and an official partner of the Pac-12 Football Championship Game. “We welcome Campbell Snacks as our newest blue-chip partner,” said Steve Tseng, Pac-12 Networks Executive Vice President of Sales. “When watching Pac-12 sports with friends or family, either in-person or at home, Campbell Snacks offers an assortment of longtime fan favorites. We’re excited to have them as an official sponsor for one of our biggest events throughout the year.”

With less than one month to go until the start of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, NBCUniversal reports ‘unprecedented corporate support and wide-ranging partnerships” that allowed the company to present a record 1,200 hours of programming around the Tokyo Paralympic Games, taking place August 24-September 5, 2021, in Tokyo. Toyota again signed on as presenting sponsor of Paralympic coverage and will be the exclusive auto advertiser across the linear and digital networks of NBCUniversal. A pair of wide-ranging partnerships with Twitter and NowThis have allowed NBCUniversal to increase storytelling around the Paralympic Movement, continuing through the duration of the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Paycom locked in an exclusive, 15-year naming rights partnership that will evolve the downtown home of the Thunder into Paycom Center. The name change takes effect immediately, with exterior signage to be completed in time for the start of the 2021-22 Thunder season. “On behalf of our ownership group and the entire Thunder organization, we look forward to presenting our new arena partner, Paycom, to the NBA global audience. We are especially proud to be able to welcome back our fans to again enjoy the Thunder game experience inside the fresh and exciting Paycom Center ,” Bennett said.

Kubota Tractor Corp. signed on as official partner of PBR, making them the Official Tractor of the Unleash The Beast (UTB), Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, and Global Cup USA. Kubota will have an exclusive equipment presence at PBR’s top two U.S. tours as well as the five-nation Global Cup tournament.

John O’Hurley and Josh Beckett are teaming up to co-host The Leap Celebrity Golf Invitational presented by Rubicon Advisors, a celebrity-am tournament benefitting the Epilepsy Foundation. The 2021 edition of the tournament will take place Oct. 24-25 at Reflection Bay Golf Club in Lake Las Vegas. Rubicon Advisors, a wealth management and financial services firm, signed a multi-year partnership to become presenting sponsor of The Leap Celebrity Golf Invitational.

The New York Jets released an eight-part documentary series that takes an in depth look at the inaugural season of the girl’s high school flag football league formed in partnership by the New York Jets and Nike. The series documents the entire season, from the launch of the program to the finals and highlights the activities that took place around the Jets x Nike Girls Flag Football League.

Athletes Unlimited announced the extension of nine partnerships, as well as the addition of two supporting partners ahead of the 2021 seasons for lacrosse and softball. Athletes Unlimited official partners GEICO (Official Insurance Partner) and Guaranteed Rate (Official Mortgage Partner) have both extended through April 2022 to include the 2021 lacrosse and softball seasons, as well as volleyball in early 2022. Additionally, official partners Gatorade (Official Beverage Partner), Hyperice (Official Recovery Technology Partner), Nike (Official Uniform, Footwear and Training Partner), Topps (Official Trading Card Partner) and WEST + WILDER (Official Wine Partner) have all renewed through 2021.


Gannett revealed an exclusive agreement with Tipico USA Technology to leverage their Tipico Sportsbook brand. Tipico becomes the exclusive sports betting and iGaming provider for Gannett, with integration of odds, props, free to play games and betting trends across the USA TODAY NETWORK. The five-year agreement includes $90 million in media spend by Tipico together with performance incentives payable to Gannett for customer referrals.

Panini America will produce collegiate trading cards that include student-athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) that will begin hitting the marketplace later this summer. Panini America currently maintains exclusive trademark licensing rights to more than 200 collegiate institutions in the trading card market through a license agreement with CLC, the nation’s leading collegiate licensing company. Panini America will work with current men’s and women’s student-athletes across all major sports, including Olympic sports, to produce trading cards featuring both college logos and student-athletes as allowed by each school’s NIL policies. In addition to producing NIL cards for its existing officially licensed collegiate trading card products, Panini America also has plans to produce NIL-only products and utilize its real-time Panini Instant platform to produce licensed NIL cards immediately following noteworthy performances in the college sports world.

TEGNA Inc.’s Locked On announced that 20 of its shows are now available as YouTube channels, as well as on TEGNA station’s OTT apps in select markets. “Locked On’s growth on YouTube reflects the appetite of our very engaged and diverse audience,” said Adam Ostrow, TEGNA’s chief digital officer. “Nearly 52 percent of our YouTube audience is younger than 35, and 20 percent of Locked On’s total watch time comes from connected TVs and video game consoles.”

The National Basketball Players Association announced that SLAM, the global basketball brand and publisher of hoops culture, will be the official media partner of the 2021 TOP 100 High School Basketball Camp. As the official media partner of TOP 100, SLAM will create and share an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this year’s camp that features 60 of the best high school players from around the country.


FaZe Clan cooked up a partnership with Totino’s Pizza Rolls that will be anchored by a new FaZe Clan/Totino’s content series hosted by Lil Yachty aka “FaZe Boat” and features special guests like FaZe Temperrr, FaZe Adapt, FaZe Rug, FaZe Swagg, FaZe JSmooth and FaZe Booya. The content series, which was filmed last week on a Totino’s and FaZe Clan decked-out yacht in Marina Del Rey, will run in the fall on FaZe Clan’s social channels. “We are really thrilled to be partnering with Totino’s and launching this fun and exciting content series,” said Jeff Pabst, FaZe Clan Chief Revenue Officer. “At FaZe we are always looking for innovative and organic ways to integrate our talent with brands, and to have this content series anchored by Lil Yachty with special appearances by FaZe talent is a perfect example of that.”

Envy Gaming is getting into the World Chase Tag USA circuit with a new sponsorship of GNF, one of the top chase teams in North America. Airing Aug. 6, 2021 at 7p ESPN2, the two-hour primetime special of WCT USA’21, will feature fast-paced, high energy parkour-based tag competition between competing teams. “What we love about World Chase Tag is the high-speed gameplay and universal accessibility – just like anyone can pick up a controller to play video games, anyone can set out to be the best WCT player,” said Envy Gaming CEO Adam Rymer. “The atmosphere of sportsmanship and competition that WCT cultivates is a great fit for our Envy brand and we’re excited to expand our team sponsorship portfolio into new and emerging areas of entertainment that our fans can get excited about. We can’t wait to see ENVY GNF compete to bring home a trophy.”

Enthusiast Gaming, the parent company of Luminosity Gaming, signed on for an extension and expansion of its alliance with G FUEL with the 18-month sponsorship also including the launch of a new limited-edition G FUEL flavor. G FUEL’s logo will continue to be displayed on Luminosity Gaming’s jerseys. As well as on all official Enthusiast Gaming merchandise.


The NBA announced that former President Barack Obama joined NBA Africa as a strategic partner. President Obama will help advance the league’s social responsibility efforts across the continent, including programs and partnerships that support greater gender equality and economic inclusion. In this capacity, President Obama will have a minority equity stake in the new venture, which over time he intends to use to fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa. “The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States—using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent,” said President Barack Obama. “By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people. I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities. That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”

FanDuel Group announced the hire of Brian Borkowski as Senior Vice President, Marketing. Joining from Hulu, he will leverage his experience in this new role, overseeing media, customer acquisition, and lifecycle marketing.

Patrick Mahomes took a stake in the ownership group of MLS club Sporting Kansas City. “I am grateful for the opportunity to join Sporting Kansas City’s ownership team and strengthen my connection to the fans and the city I love,” Mahomes said. “Sporting is a community-oriented club, and I am excited to continue supporting the growth of soccer in Kansas City.”

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1928: The IX Summer Olympic Games open in Amsterdam.

Who was the last American to win the US Open men’s singles championship in tennis? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Other than the two names listed in the last issue, what other names has Cleveland’s baseball franchise officially been known by? Answer: Naps, Bonchos, Bluebirds, Lake Shores. Kudos: Denis Barry-CBS Stations/NY; Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; Matt Deprey-C-SPAN/DC; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Joe Keaney/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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