08/03/18: ESPN and Top Rank locked in a seven-year deal

Good morning. It’s Friday August 3, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

ESPN and Top Rank are going the distance, announcing “the most comprehensive, exclusive rights agreement in the history of boxing” in a seven-year deal runs that runs through 2025 and includes 54 events per year, as well as a full offering of exclusive shoulder programming, classic fights and studio content. Top Rank on ESPN content will air on ESPN linear networks or stream on ESPN+ with an annual breakdown that includes 18 events on ESPN; 12 exclusive, prime time events on ESPN+; 24 premium international events on ESPN+; and undercard coverage of all 54 events on ESPN+. Subscribers to ESPN+ will also have access to a variety of new and existing boxing content throughout the year.
Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks, said: “ESPN is thrilled with this new long-term agreement with Top Rank, which represents the most innovative and comprehensive relationship in the world of boxing today. By creating and distributing significantly more Top Rank events and boxing content, ESPN and Top Rank will jointly cultivate upcoming fighters and fights, creating the stars of tomorrow while providing fans with the sport’s best content in a more personalized manner.”

For the 28th consecutive year, CBS Sports serves up coverage of the PGA Championship with coverage across its broadcast, cable and digital platforms highlighted by the third and final rounds on Aug. 11-12, running 2-7p each day. Additionally, broadcast coverage features highlights of early-round play airing on CBS both Aug. 9-10 at 12:37a. Jim Nantz will serve as anchor and join Sir Nick Faldo who will be lead analyst. Production upgrades will include becoming the first US broadcaster to use 4D Replay on a golf broadcast with a spotlight on the 495-yard Par 4 15th hole through a camera covering 270 degrees of the tee box that allows for 3D manipulation of the video giving announcers and viewers an all-new look at a golfer’s swing. Overall, the telecasts will leverage 110 cameras and 175 microphones and include- for the first time at a PGA – the use of Hawk-Eye Green Technology, along with the enhancement of Toptracer, Toptracer RF and ARL, Virtual Eye, 4K HDR, Smartcart, SwingVision, Aerial Drone Coverage, Cup Mics and all new on-air Graphics look.
Sister channel CBS Sports Network takes on the event with week-long coverage that will include PGA Championship on the Range, PGA Championship Clubhouse Report, PGA Championship Replay, and PGA Championship Archives.
Turner Sports, meanwhile, tackles the PGA Championship with more than 100 hours of live action slated across TNT, the PGA Championship suite of digital products and Bleacher Report Live. TNT’s live coverage will include at least six hours from Aug. 9-10 starting at 2p,, along with third and fourth round play on Aug. 11-12 from 11a-2p. Commentators will include Ernie Johnson and fellow host Brian Anderson, analysts Ian Baker-Finch and Billy Kratzert, with Amanda Balionis providing pre- and post-round interviews. Special integrations commemorating 100 years of greatness of the PGA Championship are planned across all platforms, including an interactive “ultimate bracket challenge” highlighting the greatest moments in the storied history of the Championship.
Finally, Golf Channel announced its programming plans surrounding the PGA Championship, led by Golf Central Live From the PGA Championship and more than 60 total hours of live news coverage throughout the week. NBC Sports host Mike Tirico will help preview the championship on Vantage Point with Mike Tirico, premiering at 9p on Aug. 7. Coverage of the PGA Championship will be complemented by several dedicated features appearing within Golf Central Live From the PGA Championship, Vantage Point, Morning Drive and on the network’s digital and social media platforms.
Continuing the golf theme, the one-on-one showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson is reportedly locked and loaded and will take place in November at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, according to ESPN. With a potential $10 million on the line, the event will be either Friday (Nov. 23) or Saturday (Nov. 24) of Thanksgiving weekend.
Sunday’s final round of The Senior Open presented by Rolex on NBC handed the channel with 1.244 million average viewers to make the event’s final round the most-watched PGA TOUR Champions sanctioned event telecast since the 2010 U.S. Senior Open final round on NBC. Combined with Saturday’s record viewership (980,000 average viewers, most-watched third round at this event in 12 years), NBC Sports’ combined weekend coverage (.76 U.S. Household Rating, 1.107 million average viewers) becomes the most-watched weekend at this event in nine years, since 2009 on ABC.
ESPN reports that X Games Minneapolis 2018 delivered double-digit audience growth on TV with programming across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC by 38% year-over-year for all telecasts. On ESPN, telecasts saw viewing by fans 18-34 rise 34% year-over-year with viewing by fans aged 12-34 across all telecasts growing by 21%. 
Univision Deportes reports that the network averaged 495,000 Total Viewers and 306,000 Adults 18-49 with its Wednesday night telecast of the 2018 MLS All-Star Game on UniMas and UDN. That also marks increases of 37% among Total Viewers 2+ and 65% among Adults 18-49 relative to the 2016 MLS All-Star Game against England’s Arsenal F.C. (the last time the All-Star Game aired on UniMas), according to Nielsen.
On MLB Network, the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline on Tuesday led to increases in viewership across MLB Network’s studio programming over the 2017 MLB Trade Deadline. Beneficiaries included MLB Central with a rise of 18%, MLB Tonight: Trade Deadline Edition, up 12%; MLB Now up 12%; and Intentional Talk growing 2%.
Major League Baseball and ESPN announced that the 2018 MLB Postseason will begin exclusively on ESPN on Oct. 2 with the National League Wild Card Game presented by Hankook. The game will also be available on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and the ESPN App. Matt Vasgersian, analysts Alex Rodriguez and Jessica Mendoza, and reporter Buster Olney  will culminate their first season together to call the contest. Additionally, ESPN will exclusively televise all tiebreaker games on Oct. 1, if necessary.
Last call for judges for The Tempest Awards, which will take place at Esports Arena Las Vegas on Oct. 2 as part of the Esports Business Summit. Shoot an email to [email protected] if interested.
In NASCAR news, NBC Sports Group will blanket its first NASCAR road course race of 2018 this weekend with a multifaceted presentation and more than 16 hours of trackside coverage from Watkins Glen International. Combining NBC Sports Group, MRN (Motor Racing Network) and SiriusXM’s expertise covering live NASCAR races, Saturday and Sunday’s race telecasts will be called from multiple vantage points throughout the road course. Rick Allen and Steve Letarte will call both races from NBC Sports’ traditional broadcast booth above the start-finish line. Thy will be joined by analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton as well as Veteran MRN and SiriusXM radio announcer Mike Bagley, who will contribute to the race telecast from three individual locations around the track. In total, NBC Sports’ lap-by-lap race coverage will be called from four different vantage points around the road course.
Glory Road, hosted by Ray Evernham, will premiere on Tuesday with a twin bill of episodes at 6 and 6:30p on NBCSN. The series chronicles the history of NASCAR, from its beginnings 70 years ago to its place of prominence today. Each 30-minute episode showcases the people, places, cars, and events that were mile-markers in the sport.
beIN SPORTS addressed Verizon Fios’ decision to drop the channel, releasing a statement that “beIN SPORTS USA learned late last night that despite its offer to extend its contract with Verizon on the same rates and terms, Verizon chose to abruptly cease negotiations and drop the beIN SPORTS channels from its platform.  Verizon falsely claims that beIN sought “significant” rate increases.  In fact, beIN offered to continue under the same modest fee increase structure it established when it launched in 2012. Verizon, conversely, sought to re-package beIN to higher more expensive tiers where customers have to pay more for the content they love,” said Antonio Briceño, beIN SPORTS’ Deputy Managing Director for the US and Canada. 
We’re searching for the most innovative executives in digital media who excel in digital content, marketing, advertising, social media to take their place on Cynopsis Digital’s “It List.” These are the people who shake up the status quo and are shaping digital media’s future. Honorees will be announced in early September and the awards event will take place on Friday, November 9th at ThreeSixty in Manhattan. Questions? Contact Cathy Pearson at 203.899.8470.


UFC sewed up a new, multi-year marketing partnership with Trifecta Nutrition, the nation’s largest all-organic meal delivery service. Under the agreement, Trifecta becomes UFC’s first-ever “Official Meal Delivery Partner”, launching a brand-new sponsorship category for UFC. In return, Trifecta will have a branded presence at the UFC Performance Institute and an activation presence at UFC’s live events. UFC and Trifecta will also collaborate on a co-branded video series and social media campaigns, and Trifecta will utilize UFC branding to create custom delivery boxes and to promote national sweepstakes for UFC events.
Bud Light is celebrating the Eagles Super Bowl LII victory with the release of limited edition “Philly Philly”- themed Super Bowl commemorative packs that will include Super Bowl LII Bud Light glassware and bottles. Overall, only 20,418 (corresponding to the date of their Super Bowl win) will be available starting Aug. 16, and they’ll be individually numbered and hold a chance for fans to win tickets to the Eagles’ season-opening game on Sept. 6.
Menswear brand Mizzen+Main unveiled its first-ever TV commercial featuring Phil Mickelson. The commercial features Mickelson sporting the Mizzen+Main “Kennedy” style shirt while showcasing his dance moves as he tries to dodge golf balls on a driving range, while highlighting the brand’s performance dress shirts.

The Los Angeles Dodgers Ownership, in partnership with Nomar Garciaparra and Aaron Trolia announced the launch of E|L1. This venture will look to help “solve the challenges facing today’s youth athletes and their families by providing players, teams, leagues, and their existing coaches with access to an elite curriculum and an always-on support system that prioritizes mental health and well-being.” For leagues and teams, E|L1 will alleviate some of the administrative and financial challenges by providing access to state-of-the-art technology and assistance with registration, team communication, marketing, advertising and fundraising.
Crunchyroll premiered its first documentary, featuring Mike Daniels, the defensive end for the Green Bay Packers. The doc, titles He Was Anime, tells the story of how the world of anime propelled Daniels from his childhood as a bullied, skinny kid to one of the most formidable players in the NFL.
Former NFL tight-end Martellus Bennett debuts his new podcast, Revenge of the Jocks, on PodcastOne Sportsnet. The weekly program explores the infinite world of creativity. Bennett will be joined by friends to discuss a broad spectrum of topics, including what it means to be a creative, activist, and overall culture-shaping world-changer.

The Overwatch League made it official, signing its first two expansion teams as the organization heads to season two with Atlanta and Guangzhou, China becoming the next cities to enter the fray. The news was had been expected, with the Atlanta franchise being backed by Cox Enterprises, which partnered with Province, Inc. to form Atlanta Esports Ventures. The Guangzhou, China team will be supported by the Nenking Group, a financial and entertainment conglomerate, and owner of the Guangzhou Long Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association. Further details about official names, marks, and rosters for Atlanta and Guangzhou will be announced soon by each team in conjunction with the Overwatch League. Information about other new Overwatch League teams and the 2019 season schedule will be released at a later date.
Madden NFL 19 unveiled its official ad to celebrate the game’s release on Aug. 10, featuring the likes of Nicki Minaj, Quavo of Migos, Chris Redd from SNL, Lil Dicky, DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans, and Joel Embiid from the 76ers
 eGency Global, in collaboration with SMU Guildhall, announced the Bounty Royale Brawl featuring Fortnite, will be held during OP Live Dallas. According to Mark Nausha, Deputy Director of GameLab at SMU Guildlhall, “At OP Live, Epic will present an educational session on Unreal Engine, the middleware game engine developed by Epic, which is used by a good portion of the video gaming industry and in two-thirds of the games we’ve developed at SMU Guildhall. Fans will learn more about what Unreal Engine does and how to work with it.”
Rivalry.gg announced a partnership with veteran esports journalist, tournament host and analyst Richard Lewis. The partnership, facilitated by IMG, will promote the importance of responsible and safe betting in esports. Kevin Wimer, co-founder of Rivalry.gg, commented: “Our partnership with Richard Lewis represents our commitment to supporting stalwart members of the esports community who have actively worked to end the unregulated and often predatory betting on esports. We believe Richard more than anyone has worked to uncover and expose the harm done by these sites.”

Yankees/Red Sox on ESPN on Sunday at 8p.
Unveiling our newest endeavor, a new online hub centered on the business of esports: cynopsisesports.com . The destination will serve as a comprehensive source and research tool for anyone in the esports and media community looking to stay one step ahead of this rapidly growing, billion dollar industry.

ON THIS DAY in 1986: The first NFL ‘American Bowl’ exhibition game at London’s Wembley Stadium sees the Bears beat the Cowboys.
In the Know: Which Premier League team holds the record for most consecutive titles, claiming three in a row two separate times? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Later – Chris
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