08/13/18: ESPN+ locked in deals with multiple soccer leagues

Good morning. It’s Monday August 13, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

ESPN continues to beef up its international partnerships for ESPN+, picking up streaming rights to Australia’s Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League as well as the Chinese Super League and the Dutch Eredivisie league for carriage in the US. For the Aussie matches, the deal will see ESPN+ carry up to 140 Hyundai A-League matches spanning Oct.-May with a minimum of 17 Westfield W-League matches. Last week, ESPN+ also announced a new multi-year agreement with Serie A TIM that includes more than 340 Italian soccer matches per year.
“This agreement further boosts the position of ESPN+ as the leading new platform for live soccer matches in the U.S.,” said Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling, ESPN in a statement to press. “These leagues join a lineup of hundreds of top-division live matches from Europe and North America, along with a strong lineup of original and studio soccer programming.”

The NBA officially released its full game schedule and broadcast lineup for ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV and ESPN Radio for the 2018-19 regular season, which tops off on Oct. 16. The league noted that the number of times when teams play games on back-to-back days will be an all-time low for the fourth consecutive season with a team average of 13.3 back-to-backs. The league previously announced its national television schedule for Week 1 of the 2018-19 regular season as well as its lineup of five Christmas Day games on ESPN networks and three Martin Luther King Jr. Day games on TNT. 
The 2018-19 ESPN and ABC NBA regular season schedule will showcase 101 live game telecasts, including 84 on ESPN and 17 on ABC. ESPN will also carry NBA preseason games and ESPN and ABC will combine to televise up to 44 NBA Playoffs telecasts, culminating with exclusive coverage of the 2019 NBA Finals presented by YouTube TVon ABC. The NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC will return for its fourth season on Jan. 19 with a doubleheader, while the NBA Sunday Showcase on ABC series returns on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, with a special 2p.  NBA on ABC highlights include six appearances each by the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers.
ESPN will televise 84 regular-season games, including five opening week games, three Christmas Day games and 38 weeknight doubleheaders throughout the season. Network highlights include 14 appearances by the Lakers and 11 appearances by the Warriors with 10 appearances each by the Celtics, Rockets, Thunder and 76ers.
Turner Sports lined up a 66-game schedule for its 2018-19 NBA regular season on TNT that will include the return of Players Only telecasts on eight Tuesdays beginning in January. The network will 13 appearances each by the Lakers and Rockets with 12 appearances by both the Warriors and Celtics and 11 by the Thunder and 76ers. TNT will televise doubleheaders on 21 Thursdays and 10 Tuesdays throughout the regular season. In addition to its regular-season coverage, TNT will be the exclusive home of NBA All-Star Weekend’s signature events including the All-Star Game from Charlotte on Feb. 17 and more than 40 NBA Playoff games.
Around the dial, NBA TV will televise 107 live games during the 2018-19 regular highlighted by double-digit appearances by the Warriors, Rockets, Celtics, 76ers, Lakers, Thunder and Raptors. In addition to Opening Week’s five games in four nights, NBA TV will have a flurry of games over a concentrated number of days several times throughout the season, including six games over six days (Nov. 19-24), seven games in four days (Dec. 8-11), seven games over seven days around the holidays (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) and 22 games in 20 days to close out the regular season (Mar. 19-Apr. 7).
CBS Sports reports that its third-round coverage of the 2018 PGA Championship on Saturday drew an average household metered market rating/share of 3.7/9, for a 54% markup from last year’s 2.4/6 and scoring as the highest rating for the third-round of the event since 2009. Top markets included St Louis at a 9.0/23, followed by Ft. Myers, Dayton, Nashville and Louisville.
Meanwhile, Turner Sports saw TNT deliver its most-viewed third round coverage (since 2010 for the PGA Championship, with an average of 1.8 million viewers, up 40% vs. 2017’s comparable coverage. Through three rounds, TNT’s coverage of the 100th PGA Championship is up 5% vs. 2017, averaging 1.2 million viewers. In addition, the company saw PGA.com, PGA Championship.com and the PGA Championship App set all-time records in live video starts and time spent viewing for a complete four-day PGA Championship.
The return of The Ocho propelled ESPN’s second annual ESPN8 “The Ocho” presented by KFC Battle of the Buckets event on ESPN2 to an uptick of average total audience of 150% over last year’s showing on ESPNU. The most viewed sporting event on the slate of alternative sports programming was the 2018 Dodgeball World Cup (with 247,000 average viewers, up 226% over last year’s most viewed event, the 2017 Championship of Bags.
SEC Network hired Alyssa Lang as a host and anchor for its studio show programming. Lang joins the network as the new host of SEC Featured on Monday nights, and will have a supporting role in SEC Network’s studio show, Thinking Out Loud. Following football season, Lang will join the SEC Now anchor desk rotation.
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Marketing, events and public relations agency KemperLesnik and GumGum Sports unlocked a multi-year agreement to provide media valuation of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, which runs Nov. 19-21. GumGum Sports will apply its computer-vision capabilities to measure media value for the tournament’s sponsors across multiple platforms, including linear television, streaming and social media. “We are excited to partner with GumGum Sports for the 2018 Maui Jim Maui Invitational,” said Tom Valdiserri, executive vice president at KemperLesnik, which operates the Tournament. “The company’s innovative methodology will help us further tell the story of the Tournament. With a deep basketball background, our collaboration with GumGum Sports is a very natural one, and we look forward to the great insights.”

The Missouri Valley Football Conference will see more than 50 events run on ESPN’s networks during the 2018 season, producing eight league games as part of its 2018 Game of the Week package, with each streaming live on “Valley Football on ESPN” — the league’s co-branded digital network. Of the league’s 56 regular-season home contests, 13 will air on ESPN3, and the remaining 43 will appear on ESPN+.
PBR released a new documentary, titled Belles of the Bull, on Facebook Watch. The five-episode streaming series, an IMG Original Content production, follows four PBR couples – Kaitlyn and Cooper Davis, Peyton Martin and Gage Gay, Jilian and Fabiano Vieira, and Brittany Paige with Stormy Wing – during the five days of PBR World Finals last November in Las Vegas.

Supercell’s Clash Royale League announced plans to launch its Fall season in North America on August 20 with fans able to watch the action on the new Esports Royale YouTube Channel. This year saw Supercell offer players around the globe a Path to Pro: the chance to be signed by an elite pro team starting with an in-game event called the Clash Royale League Challenge. Twenty five million players competed to qualify for the CRL in 2018, and just under 7,000 players from 113 different countries made it to the next round. With rosters now finalized, competition will begin for the eight teams representing North America in the CRL, which are Cloud9, Team SoloMid, Tribe Gaming, Immortals, NRG, Complexity, 100 Thieves and Counter Logic Gaming. 
PUBG Global Invitational 2018 wrapped up on July 29 after offering a $2 million total prize purse. The event, according to PUBG Corp, peaked at over 100 million concurrent viewers from around the world via Twitch, YouTube, and more. “We are humbled by the enthusiasm from fans around the world to experience the pinnacle of PUBG competition at PGI 2018.” said Changhan Kim, CEO, PUBG Corp. “With the foundation laid at this year’s world championship event in Berlin, we made major strides in proving the potential of PUBG esports on a global scale and aim to present an even more robust esports offering in 2019 as we roll out our continued vision.”
Aug. 25 will see Overwatch League’s Atlantic and Pacific Division All-Stars square off in a series of custom skill-based games. The 18 players on each roster will compete in at least one game mode, and there will be no substitutions within each game, according to Blizzard, clashing in Lucioball Showdown, Mystery Heroes, Widowmaker 1v1, Talent Takedown, Presented by T-Mobile and Lockout Elimination. The All-Star game itself then takes place on Aug. 26 over a total of five maps.
The Golden State Warriors NBA 2K League team, Warriors Gaming Squad, locked in its first sponsor courtesy of a deal with NETGEAR’s Nighthawk Pro Gaming brand. The agreement will now see Nighthawk Pro Gaming’s branding shown on the team’s in-game home court, as well as part of the team’s digital content.

Mets/Yankees on ESPN at 7p.
Tuesday, October 2 | Las Vegas
Presented by Cynopsis, Chief Marketer and Event Marketer
The Tempest Awards celebrate the brands, teams, leagues, players and business leaders driving the competitive gaming industry. Join us as winners will be celebrated live on-stage at the Esports Arena at the Luxor in Las Vegas during day 2 of the Esports Business Summit .
Finalists to be announced in late-August

ON THIS DAY in 2004: The 28th Olympic Games open in Athens.
In the Know: The first NBA/BBA game, played in 1946, featured a contest between the Toronto Huskies and which other team? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Name four of the five teams that the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. Answer: Packers, Vikings, Redskins, Buccaneers, Eagles. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Bob Dudelson-Leverage Agency/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports/NY; Ralph Sorrentino/NY; Matt Marini-New Jersey; Jon Miller-NBC Sports/Stamford; Willy Gibson-WTG Sports/Columbus; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Anthony Antonelli-Rogers Communications/Toronto; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; John Kukla-KDFW/KDFI/Dallas-Fort Worth; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Matthew Shapiro-AT&T SportsNet/Denver; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente
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