08/26/19: Yahoo Sports GM Geoff Reiss breaks down plans for the new season


Good morning. It’s Monday August 26, 2019 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

With football season underway, fans of both pro and collegiate teams once again undertake their annual rite of passage by migrating toward their favorite platforms, which are in turn sprucing up their capabilities, offerings and integrations to welcome the flocks. One platform in particular is bracing for a big year, as Yahoo Sports looks to deliver its “most immersive” experience ever for football fans on mobile after seeing upticks a year ago, and offering a full season of live games on the Yahoo Sports app. Cynopsis caught up with Yahoo Sports General Manager Geoff Reiss about expectations, coverage plans and strategy for the new football season.
Reiss on goals: At Yahoo Sports our focus is on shaping the future of sports and fandom on mobile, and we’re doing that by offering exceptional and differentiated experiences that give fans the opportunity to engage how and where they want. For football season we accomplish that a bunch of different ways – through our NFL Live games, our best in class fantasy football product, our original content and our live data. We know fans like what we’re offering, because we had more than 68% growth in mobile visitors year over year according to the ComScore data that just came out  And with kick-off right around the corner, we are continuing to build upon the strong suite of products and content that we offer to users, and we believe we’ve created one of the most immersive football experiences on any platform. We hope to continue to drive growth on September 5th.
On data: Our NFL Live game experience has helped drive significant traffic growth on our Yahoo Sports App. We’re seeing growth in both season-long fantasy and in daily fantasy. We’re not just reaching more fans; NFL Live on the Yahoo Sports app consistently broke engagement records throughout the season last year, and drew a new record number of streams in Week 15. More than half—close to 60%–of the livestream audience on the Yahoo Sports app last year were age 39 or younger, and we’re helping provide next gen fans with a way to watch their favorite teams no matter where they are.
On the new football season: Our approach is always to lead on mobile by providing the most immersive experience possible. We do that with live game streaming, original content, editorial leadership, and the best fantasy platform anywhere. We think we’ve built our solid reputation by providing such a complete experience every year, and we’re projecting that our audience will continue to grow again this season.
On new offerings: Yahoo Sports is going to provide an even more immersive experience this season, including some new original shows that we’ll be announcing shortly that will break some barriers. We’ll also be making some additions to our fantasy platform, including a new game called Best Ball, a simplified version of fantasy football that removes the week-to-week roster management for a streamlined experience, as well as our second season of college fantasy football, which was a big hit last year.
On evolving: We’re a brand built for sports fans on mobile, so we have to be constantly evolving—sometimes in real time. We’ll continue to listen and iterate to meet them where they are, and to give them what THEY want, not just serve up what we want to give them.

ESPN opened college football’s 150th anniversary season hot, as week zero saw the network deliver its highest-rated college football game in nearly three years for the Miami/Florida matchup at the Camping World Kickoff. The game drew a 4.1 overnight to rank as the best college football game on ESPN since November of 2016. Bookending the day, the documentary Football is US: The College Game, delivered a 1.5 overnight rating, while College Football Built by the Home Depot increased its overnight by 60% over last season’s one-hour week 0 preview show. The Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff between Samford/Youngstown State was up 50% from last season.
Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Walt Disney Company officially closed their $9.6 billion deal for Sinclair to purchase the 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks and Fox College Sports, according to multiple reports. The deal was announced in May and includes exclusive local rights to 42 professional teams consisting of 14 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, 16 National Basketball Association (NBA) teams, and 12 National Hockey League (NHL) teams. The RSN brands acquired by Sinclair are: Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Sun, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports Ohio, SportsTime Ohio, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Carolina, Fox Sports Tennessee, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports West, and Prime Ticket.
The Orioles lost the latest round in the long-running Mid-Atlantic Sports Network television rights dispute when a New York judge upheld a second arbitration ruling ordering the network to pay the Washington Nationals $296.8 million in rights fees for the 2012 to 2016 seasons, according to the Baltimore Sun. Judge Joel M. Cohen rejected the Orioles’s request to throw out the award based on questions about the impartiality of the Major League Baseball arbitration panel.
ESPN announced plans to launch a new flagship college football podcast featuring lead analysts Kirk Herbstreit and David Pollack as well as Kevin Negandhi. The ESPN College Football Podcast- Herbie & Pollack will run three times per week through the season with Negandhi hosting all episodes. Herbstreit will co-host on Mondays and Pollack will do so on Wednesdays and Fridays, with weekly segments devoted to the CFP Rankings, the ESPN CFB 150 initiative celebrating the 150th anniversary of college football, and predictions and analysis of the games to come each week.
We are at two weeks!! Join us for some golf, games, gear and gab and get your tickets to the Esports Business Summit, running Sept. 10-12 in Las Vegas, and plug in to the biggest names in the industry, from media and streaming to brands and technology. Don’t miss it and get your tickets now!
Speaking of podcasts, Tennis Channel is launching its own podcast network at TENNIS.com/Podcasts, with eight shows on the docket. The TENNIS.com Podcast sees managing editor Nina Pantic and WTA pro Irina Falconi give their perspectives of the sport and speak with some of the game’s top players and minds. Other shows include Tennis Channel’s US Open Preview with Steve Weissman; Tennis Channel Live Podcast; The Coffee Cast with Noah Rubin and Mike Cation; The Tennis Files with Mehrban Iranshad; The Mini-Break, Great Shot Podcast and Cracked Interviews.

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Conference USA tied up Under Armour as an official partner in a multi-year deal. The brand will now provide support for the C-USA Football Championship and select other conference championships throughout the year. Additionally, BSN SPORTS will service the partnership. “We are thrilled with the service Under Armour and BSN SPORTS will provide for our membership at C-USA championships,” C-USA Deputy Commissioner Brian Mackin said. “We are excited to partner with a cutting edge apparel company focused on student-athlete performance.”

Gaming audio and accessory brand Turtle Beach announced partnerships with Melvin Ingram and Isaac Rochell of the Los Angeles Chargers. The two NFL players join a growing list of pro athlete gamers, including 2019 NBA first-round draft picks PJ Washington and Kevin Porter Jr. and NBA star Josh Hart of the New Orleans Pelicans. “We are excited for Melvin and Isaac to join team Turtle Beach as their personalities and passion for gaming are a perfect match for creating and delivering engaging and authentic content to our fans,” said Juergen Stark, CEO, Turtle Beach. “The competitive instincts that define the style of both players are exactly what we look for in our athlete partners as we continue to expand our influential roster of gamers who are built to win on and off the field.”

ESPN Digital reports that it reeled in 86.8 million unique visitors (up +25% YOY) in July. The ESPN app was once again ranked as the top sports app in the U.S., clocking 19.0 million unique and 1.5 billion minutes, up +26% and +44%, respectively YOY. ESPN Digital was tops in total minutes with 4.2 billion.

Offering a record $34 million in prizing, Valve officials announced that The International 2020 would take place in Stockholm, to mark the first European TI since the first International that was held in Cologne. This year’s event saw Team OG walk away the winners with over $15 million in winnings and marking the first time that The International has been won back to back.
The Washington Post reports that some partners of the Echo Fox franchise lost their bid for a temporary restraining order against Rick Fox in a Los Angeles courtroom on Friday with the court filing claiming that Fox had gone against the wishes of his partners in the actions he took with the esports organization. The Washington Post said eight partners sent a letter to Fox on Thursday night and accused him of “willful, wanton, and intentionally destructive efforts towards the Partnership” and said Fox was responsible for the organization’s fall from a so-called valuation of $150 million 10 months ago to $31 million today. “These are all lies, and this is collusion on the part of [business partners] Amit and Stratton to create the narrative they need to remove me from the control of the company that we started,” Fox said in a phone interview with the Post on Thursday evening.

Austin’s upcoming Major League Soccer team added new investors that include actor Matthew McConaughey. The Austin F.C. is now co-owned by McConaughey and along with investors Marius Haas, Bryan Sheffield, and Eddie Margain. “This is about legacy for me,” McConaughey said at the press conference. “I’m at a time in my life where I don’t want to spend time and money on things that I don’t look forward to doing on Monday morning.”

Evening sessions at the US Open will get underway on ESPN2 at 7p with Serena Williams/Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer/Sumit Nagal in Arthur Ashe Stadium.



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ON THIS DAY in 1971: Bobby Orr signs the first million-dollar contract in NHL history.
In the Know: Rotten Tomatoes has this movie as the best-received sports movie of all-time, starring Mickey Rourke as “Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson.” What is the name of the movie? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your company and city).
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which MLB manager holds the record for most career ejections? Answer: Bobby Cox (most popular answer: Earl Weaver.) Kudos: Cory Angerthal-AMC Networks/NY; Michael Ritz-Northwestern Mutual/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Rich Wolfe-Lone Wolfe Press/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Anne Wettig-FOX/FOX Sports S&P/LA

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