08/19/19: McCarley’s TOUR take; ESPN goes global with NWSL; BMW gets another ride

CynopsisSports
Good morning. It’s Monday August 19, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

 

This week sees the FedExCup season come to a conclusion with the TOUR Championship crowning a king as the final top 30 players begin play on Thursday on GOLF Channel. Stroke play will be used to determine the champion of the PGA TOUR’s season-long points race, led by Justin Thomas starting at 10-under and $15 million in prize money for the winner. Cynopsis Sports asked Mike McCarley, President, Golf for NBC Sports Group, about this past season, the playoffs and the year ahead.
 
McCarley on measuring success for the Championship: The PGA TOUR’s playoff system is now 12 years old and the true success of the new schedule and format should be measured over the next decade or more. There will be ways to gauge early success, but these changes not only impact the sport’s competitive landscape, but also fans’ perception of these events and both will take years to take root. However, undoubtedly, avoiding direct football competition, even if it’s August, should be a positive step towards building a true finale to the season.
 
On approaching the Playoffs: We’ve expanded on our collaborations with SKY, in order to help us elevate the FedExCup Playoffs in the U.S. and U.K. — the world’s two largest golf markets. Our tournament and news teams on both sides of the Atlantic are happy to be talking much less about points and more about a player’s position, concepts sports fans regularly follow. Several years ago, we met with the TOUR, East Lake Golf Club that hosts The TOUR Championship and several sponsors: FedEx, Coke, and Southern Co. and discussed how to build this championship into what we all believed it could be. Out of that meeting, came our focus on expanding this week.
 
On golf’s schedule shift this fall: With all of the changes to the golf schedule this year designed to have the Playoffs culminate before football season, many events moved into football season. In a crowded landscape, it’s even more important to collaborate with our partners and find ways to make this all work. For golf, the fall becomes a showcase for the sport’s global nature with events worldwide with PGA TOUR and LPGA’s swings in Asia, as well as marquee team events with the U.S. women looking to defend the Solheim Cup in Scotland and the Tiger Woods captained U.S. team defending the Presidents Cup in Australia. Fold in niche aspects like the World Long Drive Championships and college golf’s East Lake Cup, and the fall features a wide-spectrum of events with GOLF Channel as the consistent home for golf fans.
 
On how the streaming/digital landscape for golf is going to evolve: We’ve innovated with PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold this year, blending linear and digital delivery and optimized our ability to market through our dedicated golf businesses to die-hard golf fans, who have an appetite for comprehensive coverage. As more platforms become more broadly accepted by consumers, we’re able to super-serve fans and better connect them to their sport. Remember in golf, most fans don’t just watch — they also play. That is part of the recipe behind our comprehensive digital membership, GOLFPASS, which provides benefits and perks for golfers who want to learn, travel, shop and ultimately play more golf.
 
On the 19-20 schedule and the Olympics: Golf is already a global sport, but what we saw in Rio and will see again in Tokyo is the effect the Olympics can have on the pockets of the world that don’t already follow the sport. Big picture, the Olympics broadens opportunities for golf to connect with fans no matter where they live and adds another pathway for kids to discover and dream about a new sport. From a domestic media perspective, Tokyo offers a time zone that benefits several sports, including golf. In the U.S., viewers will see golf in primetime. In the meantime, we’re keeping a close eye on the U.S. team as well. Every four years, Olympic viewers are mesmerized by these athletes who toil in a lifetime of sacrifice and obscurity for a chance at a brief moment of glory. But on occasion, true global superstars get a chance to compete in the Olympics — we saw it with the “Dream Team” in Barcelona and Atlanta — and we have the chance to see it with Tiger Woods in Tokyo. We’re following that story very closely and anticipate a massive impact on interest if it happens. You don’t get many chances to be an Olympian — let alone a gold medalist — and this is Tiger’s shot.
 
 
PROGRAMMING

 

ESPN is taking its ties with the National Women’s Soccer League even deeper, cementing an exclusive agreement for worldwide rights (excluding U.S.) to the league’s regular season and playoff matches. ESPN already held the rights to NWSL broadcasts in the US. “This is an important step for NWSL to strengthen the league’s reach through ESPN’s international network,” said NWSL President Amanda Duffy. “Our partnership with ESPN has already brought NWSL’s world-class competition into more homes and to more fans here in the United States. Expanding the network’s distribution internationally will continue to elevate the profile and visibility of NWSL around the world.”
 
Meanwhile, ESPN is reporting its most-watched Little League Baseball Regional Finals since 2011, per Nielsen. The six-game slate on August 10 averaged 902,000 viewers, up 39% over 649,000 in 2018. In addition, ESPN’s overall Little League Baseball regional coverage, which included 20 games, was up 14% from last year, averaging 609,000 viewers.
 
Washington State seems poised to partner with HBO on a rumored college football version that echoes the Hard Knocks series. The school confirmed the relationship on Saturday on Twitter, with HBO camera crews reportedly in Pullman filming the Cougars’ practices on Friday. Reports last week indicated that Arizona State, Alabama and Penn State were also involved in the show.
 
The Athletic reports that ESPN is giving an overhaul to its NBA Countdown crew with plans to replace Michelle Beadle as the host of the show with Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols, who would split hosting duties.
 
The UFC is coming back to FX, at least for a night with the announcement that the channel would play host to preliminary fights for UFC 242 on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi. The move comes as a result of college football being played on ESPN and ESPN2. Prelims will run from noon-2p.
 
Today sees MLB Network launch “Young Stars Week,” profiling top players in Major League Baseball who are under 25 years-old throughout its studio programming. The schedule features Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez (August 19), Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr (August 20), San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. (August 21), Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (August 22) and Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto (August 23).
 
The NFL Films documentary A Lifetime of Sundays, which profiles the matriarchs of four American football families, will make its television debut on ESPN and ABC as part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary and “to champion the women who have played an integral role in its history.” The 90-minute film offers a look at the history of the NFL through the eyes of four female owners: Virginia Halas McCaskey (Chicago Bears), Martha Ford (Detroit Lions), Patricia Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Norma Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs), running on Aug. 25 at 1p on ESPN and Sept. 1 on ABC.
 
RIP to legendary sportscaster Jack Whitaker, who died Sunday morning of natural causes at the age of 95. Whitaker served as a CBS Sports and ABC Sports announcer, calling events that included Super Bowl I and the 1973 Triple Crown Race with Secretariat as the winner. “There will never be another Jack Whitaker in sports broadcasting,” said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus in a statement. “His amazing writing ability, on-air presence and humanity are unmatched. His unique perspective on sports ranging from horse racing to golf to NFL football was extraordinary. My father and Jack shared an incredible respect for each other and had the warmest of friendships that lasted for decades. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jack’s family.”

 

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
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Our survey is short and won’t take more than 4mins:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CTM2CXN
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

 

The PGA TOUR, BMW of North America and Western Golf Association revealed that BMW has extended its title sponsorship of the BMW Championship. BMW has sponsored the penultimate FedExCup Playoffs event since 2007. All net proceeds from the BMW Championship, conducted by the WGA, benefit the Evans Scholars Foundation. Since 2007, the tournament has raised more than $30 million for college scholarships for deserving caddies. The 2020 BMW Championship will be held at Olympia Fields Country Club outside of Chicago.
 
Kellogg’s Cheez-It brand inked a multiyear deal to serve as an official sponsor of the College Football Playoff series, according to Ad Age. Cheez-It joins a rooster of 14 other CFP partners. The deal was brokered by rights holder ESPN.
 
Metal band Slayer’s sponsorship of JJ Yeley’s for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway got unplugged. “Today, reportedly due to reactionary concerns from other long-time participating sponsors, Slayer has been pulled as the primary sponsor,” the band said in a release.
 
The World Surf League is aligning with ‘Glowing Glowing Gone’, a global campaign advocating for greater funding and action for coral reef conservation by highlighting the global danger signaled by fluorescing corals. The collaboration featured a complete takeover of the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o presented by Hurley event branding to incorporate the exact colors of fluorescing corals.
 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

 

Nitro Circus is reportedly launching a new OTT channel, titled Epic Makes Misses & Mayhem. The platform is built with Unreel.me and be available across iOS, Android, Apple TV and Roku. “This is a great opportunity for Nitro Circus to expand our reach and offer our short form quick-hit content in a dynamic way while retaining control,” said Nitro Circus global head of business development Nick Crooks. “We are excited to be doing so alongside Unreel and the great team therein.”
 
 
ESPORTS

 

The NBA 2K League announced the league’s first-ever development camp for elite female NBA 2K players. The NBA 2K League Development Camp: Women in Gaming will be held Aug. 20-23 at the NBA 2K League Studio in NYC, with AT&T serving as an official partner, bringing together 15 of the top female NBA 2K players to compete alongside and learn from NBA 2K League players and coaches, former WNBA player Taj McWilliams-Franklin, professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Theia, and more.
 
 
INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

 

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov officially agreed to sell his remaining stake in the Brooklyn Nets, along with full ownership of Barclays Center, to Joe Tsai. Tsai paid $1 billion for a 49% share of the Nets in 2018, is paying an additional $1.35 billion for the remaining 51% share, according to ESPN, with nearly $1 billion in a separate deal for Barclays Center.
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

 

Brewers/Cardinals on MLB Network at 7:30p.

 

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ON THIS DAY in 1957: Baseball’s NY Giants vote to move their franchise to San Francisco.
 
In the Know: Who is the career HR leader for MLB’s Giants franchise? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your company and city).
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which athlete has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated the most times? Answer: Michael Jordan. Kudos: Greg Maltzman-Up Down Digital/NY; Michael Ritz-Northwestern Mutual/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Lisa Fikeys-Zimmerman/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Rich Wolfe-Lone Wolfe Press/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Rich Greene-Casa Del Verde Entertainment/LA; Brian McAloon-Fox Sports/LA

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