07/21/17: AT&T redials MLS deal; Buzzer Beater falls short; Andrea Kremer stays Real

Good morning. It’s Friday July 21, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

AT&T is going deeper with soccer, announcing a deal through Soccer United Marketing for a multi-property sponsorship extension that renews AT&T’s status as the Official Partner of Major League Soccer, US Soccer and the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol. Activation will be a multichannel approach with brand integration across broadcast, digital, video, content, in-stadium exposure, and on-site activation at key events. In addition, AT&T now becomes the presenting sponsor of MLS’ Decision Day, the final day of the regular season when every team plays at the exact same time.

It appears to be the end of the line for ESPN’s Buzzer Beater channel with multiple reports that the college basketball-driven channel will not return for the 2017-18 season. The decision comes as a cost-cutting move for the company, with the channel first launched in 2011. “With more ways than even to program our networks across all screens, we have decided to shift resources to better position ourselves for the long-term,” a spokesperson told the site.
HBO Sports locked in Andrea Kremer for a new multi-year agreement following her 10-year run as part of the channel’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. “Andrea Kremer is an accomplished broadcaster who since her first assignment at Real Sports has been delivering provocative interviews of some of the most visible personalities in sports,” said Joe Perskie, executive producer of the show. “Andrea lands high-profile interviews because of her determination to succeed, her superior knowledge of the subject matter and her track record of fairness.  We are thrilled to know she will continue reporting for HBO.”
FOX Sports detailed coverage plans for the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, with live coverage from Chicago starting Aug. 2 at 8:30p on FS1 and the telecast featuring Ref Cam technology. Rob Stone hosts pregame, halftime and postgame studio coverage from a field-level set at Chicago’s Soldier Field alongside former MLS stars Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda and Stu Holden. Once the action begins on the field, play-by-play announcer John Strong calls the match alongside Brad Friedel, with Katie Witham reporting from the sideline. Meanwhile, FOX Soccer’s Facebook Live show “The Rec League,” hosted by Holden and Rachel Bonnetta, with a 30-minute preview show on Aug. 1 at 10:30a.
In other All-Star action, ABC’s coverage of the WNBA All-Star Game 2017 will tip off tomorrow at 3:30p from Seattle. Ryan Ruocco will call the action with Rebecca Lobo and reporters Holly Rose and LaChina Robinson. Production highlights include Rowe and Robinson having in-game access to both the Eastern and Western Conference benches, conducting live interviews with players; both All-Star coaches wearing mics during the game; four players mic’ed during the game; and pre-game and halftime locker room access.
As college football season approaches, ESPNU announced plans to air a four-part series chronicling new University of Minnesota head football coach P.J. Fleck as he prepares for his first season with the Gophers. The multi-episode program is titled Being P.J. Fleck and debuts on Aug. 2 at 9p. 
Around the dial, BTN and BTN2Go will provide more than 14 hours of live coverage at Big Ten Football Media Days with coverage that will include the press conferences of all 14 Big Ten head football coaches, as well as remarks by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany starting Monday at 1p. On Wednesday, BTN will air the Kickoff Luncheon Special at 8p with each head coach discussing the upcoming season. Purdue quarterback David Blough, the Big Ten Conference Leader in touchdown passes and passing
WWE and SuperSport are tangling for a new, multi-year agreement to broadcast WWE programming live for the first time in more than 50 countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa starting Aug. 28. “SuperSport is a best-in-class partner who shares our vision and passion for engaging with and entertaining our fans,” said Ed Wells, WWE Executive Vice President, International. “Televising WWE programming live in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time is an important milestone for us, and we look forward to working with SuperSport to cultivate new fans in the region.”
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The Verizon WNBA All-Star Game 2017 is poised to serve up a slew of brand activation with a lineup that includes (but is not exclusive to):
  • Title partner Verizon showcased via logo inclusion on the pole pads, seatbacks, press conference banner, courtside and LED stanchion signage in addition to presenting the pregame and halftime warmups.
  • Cisco is receiving in-arena branding and working with the WNBA to conduct Cisco Jabber Video conversations between select All-Stars and media located around the world remotely in addition to two Cisco Telepresence behind-the-scenes content posts during WNBA All-Star on WNBA’s official Facebook page and Twitter account.
  • Gatorade getting a presence in in-arena branding, courtside signage, courtside equipment setup, and product placement on the press conference tables plus serving up a 30-second video highlighting the top plays and moments from the first half of the WNBA All-Star Game.
  • Harman serving up a JBL-branded Dance Cam for fans on the KeyArena videoboard.
  • Kaiser Permanente, presenting partner of both the WNBA All-Star FIT Clinic and Fan Fest, owning a branded activation space to engage fans around health and wellness and providing hospitality benefits to employees, business and community partners,
  • Nike offering an in-arena oncourt activation, “Shoot or Pass,” that will select two fans at random who will be brought to center court to compete in a skills competition for the opportunity to win prizes. In addition, Nike will host a dedicated player hospitality suite in the player hotel.
  • Pepsi’s “Aquafina Bottle Flip Challenge,” will have two contestants competing for a prize based on who can complete the most Aquafina bottle flips.
Mattel and WWE are teaming up to launch a girls’ product line that showcases  the first-ever fashion dolls of Nikki and Brie Bella, Sasha Banks, Natalya, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Alicia Fox and Eva Marie. The product line was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con and offers role play items that include a WWE Women’s Championship title belt in addition to  accessories like a Bayley-inspired headband and Sasha Bank’s “Legit Boss” rings.

FOX Sports takes on the second of three CONCACAF Gold Cup matches in Social Virtual Reality for the semifinal matchup between the United States/Costa Rica on Saturday at 10p on FS1. Teaming with LiveLike and presenting sponsor Buffalo Wild Wings, coverage will include ,ultiple live-event, high-resolution camera angles w/ the ability to choose between views or sit back and simply select a director’s cut that automatically selects the best camera angle for live game action. When entering the experience, users will be able to select a “Social” tab and a “Join Friends” button that connects them to Facebook upon authorization.
Nielsen Sports and the International Paralympic Committee locked in an extension of their relationship that runs through the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The deal will see Nielsen Sports help analyze new revenue streams for the IPC which could also become a blueprint for National Paralympic Committees in addition to TV media valuation and market research. In addition, Nielsen Sports will also work with the IPC to create a digital strategy as well as digital evaluation monitoring and measurement.
SEGA Networks, in partnership with WWE, launched WWE Tap Mania, a mobile game that is now available worldwide to download for free with in-app purchases on the App Store for iPhone and iPad and Google Play Store for Android devices. Included in the action are names that include The Rock, John Cena, Triple H, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Sasha Banks and The Miz, with play-by-play commentary by WWE announcers Michael Cole and Corey Graves.
NextVR, in partnership with Relevent Sports, is taking on the International Champions Cup in virtual reality. Soccer fanatics will now be able to experience El Clasico live for the first time in VR. “We’re thrilled to be broadcasting El Clasico live in VR for the first time and to give fans new experiences like the pre and post tournament shows to further enhance our ICC programing,” said David Cole, NextVR CEO. “Virtual reality immerses you in the action and we’re able to transport fans into the match to provide them unprecedented access to one of the world’s most premier sporting events.”

Daybreak Games detailed plans for this weekend’s Elite Series kick off at DreamHack Atlanta. The action will see two H1Z1: King of the Kill tournaments – one for five-player teams and one for solo players – with a combined prize pool of $250,000. Twenty-four teams of five will compete in the qualifiers, including organizations like Echo Fox, Team Kaliber, Panda Gaming, Noble, Epsilon, and SoaR Gaming. Solo finals run on Saturday at 10p, with team finals on Sunday at noon.
With registration open for the WorldGaming Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Canadian Championships, the company announced that Snakmandoo signed on as sponsor and official snack of the WorldGaming Counter Strike: Global Offensive Canadian Championships. Throughout the sponsorship, Snakmandoo will offer social contesting and influencer activations leading up to and at the National Finals event at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto.

Major League Rugby is bringing in the consulting services of Michael Jaquet to oversee media and commercial activity for the League. Jaquet joins MLR from US Ski and Snowboard where he served as CMO. “How many opportunities are there in sports to help start a league from scratch?” said Jaquet, “I believe there is an incredible opportunity for the sport of rugby in America and this is a great client to launch my consulting business. There are great people in place here running a model that will guarantee its success.”
The World Surf League named Sophie Goldschmidt as the next CEO of the organization. Goldschmidt will officially take over from interim CEO Dirk Ziff in August and joins from CSM Sport and Entertainment where she served as Group Managing Director and was responsible for developing and driving new business initiatives and commercial growth across the company’s global operations, in addition to managing the group’s brand development and marketing.

The Open continues on Golf Channel starting at 1:30a.
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ON THIS DAY in 1976: Gymnast Nadia Comaneci of Romania nabs two more u perfect 10 scores to win the gold medal in the women’s all-around competition at the Summer Olympics in Montreal.

In late July or early August 1976, ABC‘s sports summary program Wide World of Sports produced a montage of Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci‘s routines during the 1976 Summer Olympics and used “Cotton’s Dream” as the background music. It was this American television montage that cemented the association of the tune with Comăneci in the public mind. (Comăneci herself never performed her floor exercises using this piece of music, however. She used a piano arrangement of a medley of the songs “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” and “Jump in the Line“.)
In the Know: Renamed “Nadia’s Theme” in honor of Olympian Nadia Comaneci, this song was original known by what name? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which American holds the record for most runner-up finishes at the Open with seven? Answer: Jack Nicklaus. Kudos: Christopher Long-DraftKings/NY; Brian Traynor-WME/IMG/NY; John Langermann-WINK-TV/WXCW-TV/ Fort Myers; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; John Ward-Tennis Channel/Chicago; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Don Surath-KPIX-TV/KBCW-TV/San Francsico

Later — Chris

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