07/29/20: Twitter landed a deal with the NHL and Disney for Live Look-Ins

 

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday July 29, 2020

The NHL, Twitter, and Disney Streaming Services unlocked a partnership designed to deliver two-minute Live Look-Ins on Twitter of select NHL games during the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Stanley Cup Playoffs to fans in the U.S. In addition, hockey fans will be able to utilize Twitter poll voting to select which games will feature Live Look-Ins, as part of an effort to drive awareness and viewership of NHL game broadcasts. The initiative kicks in on Aug. 1, where the NHL will select two game nights per week that will feature the Live Look-Ins on Twitter. On the days leading up to the selected dates, fans will be invited to vote for the game they’d like to see featured as the Live Look-In game via the NHL’s Twitter channel. In addition users will see video highlights during each round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs plus Twitter Moments during the final two rounds, featuring top Tweets from top hockey personalities and content partners.

“NHL fans are fiercely passionate and are among the most engaged sports fans on social media,” said Heidi Browning, NHL Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer. “Everything our fans do shows us they want to have deeper connections with the League and our teams, and this exciting partnership with Twitter and Disney Streaming Services – especially during this unprecedented time of social distancing – provides the perfect platform to facilitate fan interaction and conversation, as well as drive broadcast tune-in. The 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Playoffs are going to be a wildly exciting and unique time for our game, and we’re thrilled to provide our fans this opportunity to demonstrate their team pride through voting for the games they want to see and to engage in conversation on social during game broadcasts.”

PROGRAMMING

A hot start for the WNBA, as ESPN’s opening weekend coverage ranked as the league’s most-watched opener on the ESPN family of networks since 2012, delivering an average 539,000 viewers. In addition to achieving a multi-year high, ABC’s viewership for Saturday’s Sparks/Mercury match-up was up 19% from last year’s season opener on ABC, while the network’s Sunday telecast between the Sky/Aces averaged 433,000 viewers.

ESPN also announced that it would be expanding what was already its largest regular season WNBA schedule ever with the addition of 13 more games, bringing the total for the 2020 season to 37. ESPN commentators will continue to call the games remotely from ESPN’s Bristol campus while Holly Rowe continues to report from inside the #Wubble. Booth teams include: Play-by-Play Ryan Ruocco and Analyst Rebecca Lobo; and Play-by-Play Pam Ward and Analyst LaChina Robinson.

Meanwhile, the NWSL also got good news as coverage of Sunday’s championship between Houston and Chicago averaged 653,000 viewers on CBS. That ranks as the most-watch match in NWSL history and was up 293% over last’s year’s final. The top market was Norfolk at a 1.20/3, followed be Nashville, Houston, Chicago and West Palm Beach.

CBS Sports also reports that its final-round coverage of the 3M Open was up 14% in viewership over last year, averaging 2.599 million viewers. Since the return to live golf in June, CBS Sports’ overall viewership is up 25% from comparable events last year.

NBC Sports’ presentation of the Premier League season, which spanned 352 days due to the coronavirus pandemic, finally wrapped up on Sunday to deliver the most-watched Premier League season in four years, according to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. NBC Sports Group averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 462,000 viewers per match window for the 2019-20 season – marking the highest average Premier League viewership since 2015-16, and up 1% from last year. Premier League highlights on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and the NBC Sports channel on YouTube, and NBC Sports Soccer content across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook this season generated more than 200 million views – doubling last season’s total.

Rounding out our ratings news, the Premier Lacrosse League announced a number of viewership milestones from its opening weekend of the PLL Championship Series, played on July 25-26. Sunday’s game between Atlas/Waterdogs nabbed a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 341,000 on NBC, making it the second-most watched outdoor pro lacrosse game in media history and the third-most watched pro lacrosse game in 15 years. Saturday’s Chrome/Chaos matchup measured a TAD of 155,000 to rank as the most-watched game in PLL history for a game on NBCSN.

Elsewhere at NBC Sports, the company rolled out details for its commentary and production plans ahead of the NHL’s Return to Play this week with five games across NBC and NBCSN on Aug. 1. NBC Sports’ game commentary and studio teams will feature a combination of nearly 20 on-air announcers providing coverage from the NHL hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton, as well as remote locations. Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick joins play-by-play commentators for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Playoffs, along with Mike Tirico, John Forslund, Kenny Albert, Brendan Burke, and Gord Miller. Eddie Olczyk, Mike Milbury, and AJ Mleczko will serve as game analysts, while Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher will provide insights from their customary ‘Inside-the-Glass’ roles. Liam McHugh, Kathryn Tappen and Tirico will anchor NBC Sports’ studio coverage alongside Patrick Sharp, Keith Jones, and Anson Carter. NBC Sports’ coverage of the NHL’ Return to Play will feature enhanced audio elements and camera angles.

In addition, NBC Sports announced that NASCAR analyst and team owner Brad Daugherty joined its NASCAR commentary team. He is slated to make his debut with NBC Sports during the Michigan doubleheader the weekend of August 8-9 and will primarily join the team of studio analysts for pre- and post-race coverage alongside current NBC Sports NASCAR analysts Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty. He will also join the broadcast booth for select Xfinity Series races.

Registration is now open for the Virtual Cynopsis Top Women in Media Awards (Oct 13 – 16). Join us as we spotlight the outstanding contributions by women in every facet of the media industry. From mobile to marketing, social media to social good, and data to distribution, we’re shining a light on the best of the best in TV, digital/tech, esports, sports and advertising. Click here to view these incredible honorees and register your team today.

FOX Sports host Sal Iacono, aka “Cousin Sal,” launched his own media company, titled Extra Points that will focus on sports, sports gambling, and comedy, beginning with a flagship podcast (also called Extra Points), which Iacono will host with Dave Dameshek and will serve up three original episodes a week that will be released Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays.

GOLF Channel unlocked coverage plans for the United States Women’s Amateur Championship, running Aug. 5-9). The network will provide 15 hours of live match-play competition – featuring uninterrupted coverage presented by Rolex. Television coverage that will begin Wednesday with the round of 64 matches.

SiriusXM announced continued coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season
starting with the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers through the Stanley Cup Final. Kicking off the new season, the NHL Return to Play Preview Show airs on Friday, July 31 (3p). In addition, a special edition of The Fantasy Hockey Show, hosted by Boomer Gordon and Jake Hahn, will air on July 31 at 1p to get listeners ready for their playoff pools. The regular roster of hosts will return fulltime including: former NHL GM Gord Stellick, Steve Kouleas, Scott Laughlin, Boomer Gordon and Mick Kern. Joining them daily will be NHL Insiders Brian Burke, Bob McKenzie, Elliotte Friedman, Pierre LeBrun, Jeff Marek, Pierre McGuire, Mike Rupp and more.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

PepsiCo is ramping up its activation plays. First, the brand announced a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for a seven-year partnership deal to bring PepsiCo beverages & Frito-Lay snacks to fans. As part of the deal, PepsiCo will expand upon its Eagles partnership with Gatorade and Frito-Lay, becoming the exclusive carbonated soft drink, water, sports performance (Gatorade), energy drink, freshly squeezed juice (excluding lemonade), vegetable juice and salty snacks provider of the Philadelphia Eagles. PepsiCo will also receive naming rights to HeadHouse Plaza at Lincoln Financial Field, transforming the space into the newly-named Pepsi Plaza.

Meanwhile, the return of the NHL season sees Pepsi celebrate the return of by giving away $500,000 through its Pepsi Zero Sugar NHL Shutout: Stanley Cup Qualifiers Edition program and 2020 Pepsi Zero Scores Sweepstakes. With each shutout that occurs, one lucky fan will receive $24,000, celebrating each of the 24 teams vying for the Stanley Cup title. “We’re thrilled to bring back our Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout program during a unique time that is sure to go down in hockey history,” said Melissa Duhaime, Director of Sports Marketing at PepsiCo. “We wanted to reward those unapologetic hockey fans that have been waiting nearly 150 days for the return of the league with something special – and what’s more special than a chance at a cash prize when your favorite goalie stands on his head?”

Zamst, a Japanese company that supplies high performance sports supports and braces, locked in a partnership with Atlanta Hawks All Star Trae Young to serve as their Global Ambassador. Trae follows in the footsteps of Golden State Warriors two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry, Anaheim Ducks three-time NHL All Star Ryan Getzlaf, and Denver Broncos eight-time NFL Pro Bowler/Super Bowl MVP Von Miller who have previously served as Global Ambassadors. “I am excited to partner with Zamst as their braces have been an invaluable addition to my conditioning and game day routine. As a global brand ambassador for Zamst, I hope to inform the importance of proper conditioning,” said Young. “Zamst’s braces are highly functional and comfortable, allowing me to focus on my game when I am on the court.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

The PGA TOUR and DraftKings are expanding their multi-year content and marketing relationship, upgrading DraftKings to become the first “Official Betting Operator of the PGA TOUR.” DraftKings will have rights in the US to use PGA TOUR trademarks, rights to advertise within TOUR media and TOUR partner platforms, plus content and video rights allowing DraftKings’ Sportsbook solution to create pre-game and post-game betting programming, as well as distribution of highlights to users who have placed bets. “The PGA TOUR couldn’t be more pleased with growing our collaboration with DraftKings,” said Norb Gambuzza, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President, Media and Gaming. “The growth in consumption and fan engagement we have seen over the last year in our DraftKings Daily Fantasy games has been tremendous. The expansion of the relationship to now include sports betting is a natural evolution and one which fully supports and promotes the PGA TOUR’s objectives of reaching and engaging new segments of fans while introducing them to our players, tournaments and media platforms.”

ESPN launched ESPN Stories, a new editorially curated platform that delivers “fun, dynamic storytelling content from the No. 1 sports media publisher on social platforms to fans on the No. 1 sports app in the U.S.” “The introduction of ESPN Stories is an exciting opportunity to not only bring some of ESPN’s social content and personality into the ESPN app but also create new and exclusive executions – many of which will be driven by our great roster of digital hosts and commentators,” said Ryan Spoon, SVP of Digital and Social Content, ESPN. “We have seen terrific growth over the past year on social platforms and the ESPN app – which is, by a good margin, the largest sports app – and this personality-driven approach will support our leadership on both.”

The Topps Company’s TOPPS NOW card depicting Thursday’s Major League Baseball opening night first pitch by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading expert on the current COVID-19 pandemic, saw a record 51,512 copies sold, more than doubling the previous record for the platform.

To celebrate the NBA restart on Thursday night, the FanDuel Sportsbook announced the return of the “Spread the Love” promotion for the upcoming Lakers/Clippers matchup on July 30 at 9p. For every 2,500 customers in Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Colorado (five states the FanDuel Sportsbook offers mobile sports wagering in) that bet on the Lakers, FanDuel will move the spread one point in the Lakers favor. “Spread the Love is one of our signature promotions and it’s exciting to watch the line move throughout the day, especially for such an important game on the first night of NBA action returning,” said Mike Raffensperger, CMO of FanDuel Group. “There is no limit to how good this spread can get and it doesn’t matter what line you have when you place a wager, everyone will get the final spread.”

The Caddie Network announced its partnership with Swing Index – a technology that provides golfers with a personalized game-improvement experience by pairing the player with a world-class golf coach through an AI-assisted coaching engine. Tour Pro caddies will provide a personalized input on course management, mental strategies and warm-up/fitness routines to players through their mobile devices.

Bleacher Report entered into a licensing agreement with the NBA to offer official license to IP and logos from the League for an exclusive “NBA Returns” apparel collection. For the coordinated ecomm drop, designs resemble commemorative tour merch with each squad getting their own treatment. The “NBA Returns” collection will be promoted across B/R’s widely popular social accounts and the B/R App and drops today.

Home Plates announced plans to serve Dodger Stadium fan-favorites like Dodger Dogs, micheladas and garlic fries to Los Angeles-area fans’ doorsteps via Postmates. Home Plates will initially launch in Los Angeles’ Hollywood and West Hollywood neighborhoods with plans to expand to additional neighborhoods throughout LA. Dodgers dishes created and packaged by Home Team Kitchens’ restaurants.

ESPORTS

Verizon joined FaZe Clan as the official 5G and 4G LTE network sponsor of the organization, landing team exclusivity across FaZe Clan talent including pro players and content creators. In addition, Verizon and FaZe will be partnering to create live events and original content showcasing the impact Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network can have on gaming content and the transformational experience it enables for fans, players, and creators. “We are excited to team up with a partner like FaZe Clan to demonstrate the power of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network to their massive gaming community,” said John Nitti, Chief Media Officer, Verizon. “This partnership will enable opportunities to bring gaming content, entertainment and events to the next level for players, fans, and content creators around the globe.”

The team also revealed plans for the FaZe Clan VALORANT Invitational, in partnership with Riot Games and running Aug. 6-9. Sixteen teams of up-and-coming talent will compete in the tournament, “We are so excited to team up with our friends at Riot and our amazing partners at Nissan and Verizon to put on this tournament,” said Jeff Pabst, chief revenue officer of FaZe Clan. “Building our livestream business is a huge priority of ours for 2020 and beyond. We are excited to keep our momentum going in this space with the FaZe Clan VALORANT Invitational. Fans can expect a true FaZe Clan live experience chock-full of entertainment unlike any tournament the gaming community is used to seeing.”

PlayVS is expanding its high school offering to include two different league systems: Varsity and Recreational in addition to adding Overwatch to its title offerings for high school recreational leagues. The partnership agreement with Blizzard Entertainment will allow high schools on the PlayVS recreational platform to register to compete in open, regional leagues for the esports title starting this fall. “Esports is at a pivotal moment as its popularity is growing exponentially, especially as students need creative, productive and competitive outlets during COVID-19,” said Delane Parnell, Founder and CEO at PlayVS. “We’re thrilled to be expanding our high school offerings so that students can participate and compete in esports at multiple levels. Our team is also excited to welcome new and returning players this fall, whether from their schools or at home. Either way, we’re ready for them!”

BLAST announced a global partnership with NEOM that will push the growth of esports in Saudi Arabia. The deal will seek to engage, educate and benefit the local and global esports ecosystem. As part of the partnership BLAST will develop technology and share expertise to help build the esports academy and develop the sport in the Kingdom.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

The Professional Fighters League named Loren Mack as Vice President of Corporate Communications. Mack will be working out of the PFL’s Las Vegas office and joins from ONE Championship. “As the most innovative and fastest growing league in the world, the PFL continues to expand to a global scale,” Murray said. “Loren Mack brings a wealth of experience and drive to the league; we’re thrilled to have him join the team. He will play a pivotal role in continuing to build the brand in the United States and abroad through impactful storytelling.”

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