08/09/21: FOX Sports talks plans for this week’s MLB Field of Dreams game

 

Medias First Morning Read

 

Monday August 9, 2021

MLB and FOX Sports dish out the MLB at Field of Dreams Presented by GEICO event this week, an homage to the famed movie and featuring the White Sox and Yankees squaring off at 7p on Thursday, with pregame coverage beginning at 6p from Iowa. After being postponed in 2020, the game will take place at a temporary field built near the property used in the Field of Dreams film and marks the first major league baseball game in Iowa. Joe Buck and John Smoltz will call the game, with Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci on board as reporters. Members of the “Field of Dreams” cast will also be on hand, while Sox and Yankees players will share their thoughts on the film.

Cynopsis asked Brad Zager, EVP, Head of Production & Operations, Executive Producer at FOX Sports about preparing production for the game, the legacy of the movie and what fans can expect to see this week.

Zager on producing the game: There really is nothing better than being able to start with a blank canvas, and that is what we’ve been able to do with the MLB Field of Dreams game. At this point, most events have a blueprint, so when we first heard about this opportunity, I think everyone at FOX got excited about the opportunity to bring what we do best and to explore new possibilities with our partners at MLB in this iconic setting.

On what fans can expect to see: I hope viewers get a real sense of the setting and the uniqueness of this event. One thing we have stressed is to make sure we don’t overthink or overproduce this and get in the way of this special night. We have an amazing opportunity on Thursday and Pete Macheska (Producer) and Matt Gangl (Director) will find that right balance throughout the game.

On what inspired him from the movie: For me, it was remembering that Field of Dreams, at its core, is about the love of baseball and the generational connection the game provides. It’s a movie that takes me back to when I was a kid playing catch, going to Tigers games with my dad and just talking about baseball like nothing else in the world mattered during the summer. I can’t wait to see those families in the crowd Thursday night knowing they are watching something special and not thinking about anything besides what an amazing memory this is going to be for them.

On challenges: The fun of being able to start from scratch on this event also comes with the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know until you get there, and that is what will keep all of us up at night next week, making sure we didn’t miss anything. But we have an amazing team of Production, Operations and Graphics people that have been working nonstop to make sure we are covered.

On unique venues: FOX Sports has done events from some unique locations in the past, including supporting our U.S. military with shows from West Point (2019), Fort Benning (2018, 2014), Naval Station Norfolk (2017), Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (2015), Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan (2009) and the USS Harry S. Truman in the Mediterranean Sea (2000), and believe me, our imaginations continuously run wild with ideas. I’m always a bit biased and think right away of what we could do in Michigan since I’m from there — so a baseball game in the Big House would be cool if we could pull that off. I was lucky enough to produce the Dodgers/Red Sox preseason game at The Coliseum in 2008 so I know what an amazing setting a venue like that could be a for an MLB game.

PROGRAMMING

Saturday saw NBC deliver the final night of competition for the Tokyo Olympics, which featured the U.S. women’s basketball team winning its seventh consecutive gold medal and the U.S. women’s volleyball team capturing gold for the first time. With competition complete, the company reports that – despite the viewership dips this year – NBC’s Tokyo Olympics competition coverage delivered 11 of primetime TV’s 25 most watched shows in 2021, led by Day 2 of the Games on July 25, which averaged 19.5 million viewers.

The closing of the Olympic Games saw International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach declare the Games to be a success despite all of the difficulties surrounding the event. In these difficult times, you give the world the most precious of gifts: hope,” he stated. “For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together. Sport returned to center stage. Billions of people around the globe were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration. This gives us hope. This gives us faith in the future.”

Meanwhile, FOX Sports reports that the Steelers win over the Cowboys in the 2021 NFL Hall of Fame Game delivered 7,326,000 viewers to FOX and FOX Deportes, up 37% over the last matchup in 2019 and ranking as the most-watch NFL preseason game since 2017. On FOX alone, the game averaged 7,311,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.

Speaking of the NFL, Ed Sheeran will be performing in Florida next month as part of NFL Kickoff, according to the AP. The NFL announced that Sea Run will headline a pre-match concert on September 9th at Julian B Lane Riverfront Park in Tampa before the Buccaneers face the Cowboys. Part of the performance will be shown in pregame on NBC and NFL Network.

Season seven of the National Women’s Hockey League is locked and loaded with the league revealing its full 2021-22 regular-season schedule. A total of 60 games will be played across a 19-week period with all six teams competing 20 times including 10 home and 10 away contests balanced evenly with four games against each opponent with play starting Nov. 6. “A new era of the NWHL is less than 100 days away and we couldn’t be more excited,” said NWHL Commissioner Tyler Tumminia. “We look forward to building on the momentum generated during a historic Season 6 where our athletes showcased their skills before record-setting broadcast audiences and displayed their resiliency throughout challenging circumstances. But most importantly, Season 7 will be special because we get to share it with our passionate fans who will be back to cheer us on.”

Maxx Sports TV announced an alliance with Undisputed Pro Wrestling to become the new exclusive broadcaster for the UPW. The platform will broadcast bi-weekly, daytime UPW events starting August 22, in addition to interviews with fighters and their family members regarding the wrestling events.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

 

America250, the nationwide commemoration of America’s 250th anniversary in 2026 led by the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, is partnering with the NFL for the America250 Awards – a multiyear awards program that “celebrates Americans who exemplify the intangible qualities of the American spirit.” “The NFL is proud to partner with America250 to help shed light on those who have selflessly given back to their communities and beyond,” said Brendon Plack, senior vice president, public policy and government affairs, NFL. “As we celebrate our country’s 250th anniversary, we hope the stories of these award winners will inspire others to create positive change for centuries to come.”

The NBA Foundation announced 22 new grants totaling $6 million to help create employment opportunities, further career advancement and drive greater economic empowerment for Black youth. The grant recipients were named as part of the NBA Foundation’s third grant round on the one-year anniversary of its incorporation on Aug. 6, 2020. In its first year, the NBA Foundation has awarded 40 grants, inclusive of those announced today, totaling $11 million to nonprofit organizations.

CBS unleashed its new promotion for the upcoming NFL season on the network in September. Anchored by a remix of the classic song “See You in September” from the popular DJ and EDM/Dance music producer Jauz , the promotional videos showcase players “going through the rigors of training camp as they prepare for the upcoming season and features new and returning star players including Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, Cam Newton, Julio Jones, Tom Brady and more.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

DraftKings struck an agreement with Genius Sports to access and leverage the company’s official sportsbook data, content and fan engagement solutions, with access to Genius’ official data and live video feeds from over 170,000 events per year. The deal will see DraftKings push BetBuilder, Genius Sports and Sportcast’s automated single-game parlay solution for the North American major leagues, and use Genius’ data-driven advertising technology for customer acquisition and retention.

SportsEngine formed a partnership with National Collegiate Rugby to serve as its official provider of technology solutions to serve NCR’s membership. SportsEngine’s member management solution will be launched this month in conjunction with the return of the rugby season in September. “We’re excited to form a partnership with SportsEngine to help improve how National Collegiate Rugby connects with our leagues across the country,” stated Jeremy Treece, National Collegiate Rugby CEO. “Expanding our tech capabilities was a much needed next step in the growth of our organization and we’re eager to share the SportsEngine HQ solution with our members.”

ESPORTS

With Delta spiking, Riot announced that all matches for the 2021 LCS Championship will now be held at the LCS Arena in Los Angeles instead of at the Prudential Center this year, noting “We scheduled the LCS Championship as a road show with fans and made the decision to move forward based on the very promising roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Spring. However, over the past month, we’ve been closely monitoring the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases across the United States. Given the current state of affairs, we cannot in good conscience conduct a massive fan event at this time.”

DarkZero Esports is checking into the brand-new Resorts World Las Vegas. That team will bring its athletes, partners, and ‘industry leaders’ to the resort while the Resorts World Las Vegas’s logo will be seen on the left sleeve of the team’s Rainbow Six: Siege and VALORANT team jerseys. DarkZero’s homepage, as well as the social media channels of the organisation and its players, will also integrate resort branding.

More major brands continue to hit pause on activation in Overwatch League, following parent company Activision Blizzard’s recent harassment and discrimination lawsuit and allegations. State Farm and Coca-Cola became two of the latest brands reported to be reevaluating its partnerships, according The Washington Post with State Farm declaring that it was “re-evaluating our limited marketing relationship with the Overwatch League”, while also requesting that no advertisements run during Overwatch matches over the weekend. Other brands who also appear to have withdrawn, according to various reports, include T-Mobile (which also paused its Call of Duty League activation), IBM and Kellogg’s.

The Los Angeles Chargers reached a deal for a partnership with Esports Entertainment Group, which now becomes the Chargers’ official esports tournament platform providers. Meanwhile, the Chargers receive an equity stake in Esports Entertainment and co-branded events through the Esports Gaming League.

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ON THIS DAY in
1936: Jesse Owens becomes the first American to win four Olympic gold medals.

IN THE KNOW
Which city was home to the John F Kennedy Stadium, demolished in 1992? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Newly inducted Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Flores won a Super as a player for which team? Answer: Kansas City Chiefs. Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; MIchael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Louis Lewow-FITE/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Jason Brist-Outdoor Sportsman Group/Chicago; Bill Robertson-USHL/Bloomington; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Joe Keaney/Burbank

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