08/18/15: PGA Championship numbers continue to inflate; MLB calls postseason plans; Adidas targets NHL


Good morning. It’s Tuesday August 18, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The PGA Championship’s shift away from primetime made a slice in the ratings with the tournament’s coverage on CBS hitting to a 5.1/12, according to Nielsen, down from last year’s 6.0/13, when it ran until 9p instead of 7:30p. That said, the event peaked with a 7.8/16 from 7-7:30p, and comparing the tournament to equitable timeframes from 2013 and 2012 saw higher numbers, with markups of 16% and 31% respectively. Overall, the 5.1/12 score ranked as the second highest-rated PGA Championship final round rating in the metered markets in 6 years.

Over on TNT, Turner Sports reports that the 2015 PGA Championship across all four days of coverage averaged 1,637,000 total viewers and a 1.2 U.S. HH rating, up 28% and 20% over last year’s telecast windows, nabbing the network’s most-viewed PGA Championship coverage since 2010. Sunday’s final round action on the channel averaged 1,794,000 total viewers and a 1.3 U.S. HH rating, up 53% and 41% over 2014 and the network’s highest-rated and most-viewed Sunday coverage since 2010. Overall, the company reports 11.4 million exposures via the network and PGA.com and other platforms for a rise of 35% over 2014. 


MLB released its 2015 postseason plans, launching playoff action on Oct. 6 with the AL Wild card Game on ESPN, followed the next day by the NL Wild Card matchup on TBS. the Division Series will then begin on Oct 8 with both ALDS series on FOX, FS1 or MLB Network, while TBS kicks in with the NLDS the next day on Oct. 9. The League championship Series will then take the mound on Oct. 16 with the ALCS on FOX or FS1, while the NLCS launched on Oct. 17 on TBS. Finally, the World Series will begin at the AL park on Oct. 27 on FOX.

The National Labor Relations Board overturned a ruling that allowed Northwestern University football players the opportunity to create the nation’s first college athletes’ union, stating that a combo of both union and non-union teams could upset the competitive balance in college football. In an unanimous ruling, the five-member board stated that different standards at different schools and states that a unionized football squad would hurt uniformity and stability between workers and management.

On the talent front, ESPN locked in John Saunders to a multi-year extension. Saunders initially joined ESPN in 1986 and will continue to appear on college football studio coverage, including anchoring regular-season Saturdays on ABC alongside Mack Brown and Mark May, and a hosting role on the College Football Playoff on ESPN. He will also call play-by-play on select college basketball games and will remain host of The Sports Reporters.

Meanwhile, longtime MLB coach and player Tim Flannery is now officially part of MLB Network’s roster, signing on as a studio analyst. Flannery will now appear across MLB Network’s studio programming beginning tomorrow, August 18 on MLB Central and MLB Tonight. Flannery will continue his role as an analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Jon Stewart is coming back to the small screen. The recently-departed host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart will host WWE’s SummerSlam on Sunday, August 23 at 7p on WWE Network. Stewart appeared earlier this year in WWE storylines in an on-going feud with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. This year SummerSlam has been extended to a four-hour broadcast plus a one-hour pre-show beginning at 6p on the platform.

ESPN locked in three new matchups for Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell in September. On Sept. 6, the Cardinals host the Pirates. Sept.13 will see Royals/Orioles and Sept. 20 will pit Yankees/Mets. The season finale of Sunday Night Baseball on Sept. 27, will be selected in the coming weeks.
Speaking of Sunday Night Baseball, ESPN saw the Aug. 16 Royals victory in extra innings strike the best rating ever for a regular-season Major League Baseball telecast on the network in the Kansas City market. According to Nielsen, the telecast delivered a 19.8 rating, which also makes it the highest-rated, regular-season pro sports or college sports game telecast on ESPN in the Kansas City market.

The UEFA Champions League heads back to FOX Sports as part of the network’s Summer of Soccer with playoff round matches kicking off today and running through Aug. 26. Coverage will include 20 playoff round matches, while Spanish-language network FOX Deportes carries 10 playoff round matches. FOX Sports’ UEFA Champions League coverage begins each day with a 30-minute pregame show with Ross Dyer hosting pregame, halftime and postgame coverage alongside analysts Eric Wynalda, Warren Barton and Alexi Lalas.

Universal Sports Network and NBC present more than 48 hours, including 42 hours live, of track & field action from the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing from Saturday through August 30. Universal Sports kicks off live coverage on Friday at 7:30p with heats for the men’s 800m, women’s 1500m, and men’s 3000m steeplechase, heptathlon events and the men’s marathon. NBC begins weekend coverage on Saturday at 3p with the heats for the men’s 100M and 400m hurdles, and the finals for the women’s shot put and men’s 10,000m. Ato Boldon, Tom Hammond, Todd Harris, Lewis Johnson and Craig Masback take microphone duties and will call all evening sessions from Beijing for both NBC and Universal Sports.

The PBR in on the move, locking in a multi-year agreement that makes the upcoming Las Vegas Arena the long-term home of the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals. The new state-of-the-art, 20,000-seat, $375 million indoor arena will host the World Finals beginning in November 2016. “The new Las Vegas Arena is a state-of-the-art facility with world-class amenities.” PBR CEO Sean Gleason said. “We will remember our history-making years at Thomas & Mack fondly, but we owe it to our fans and bull riders to create the next chapter in a venue that will enhance the PBR World Finals experience for everyone. We are excited to bring the ultimate event of the fastest-growing sport in America to the newest venue in Las Vegas.”

NASCAR is teaming up with Mexican star Eugenio Derbez on an original, full-length comedy film. Benjamin Odell, partner with Derbez’s production company, 3Pas Studios, will serve as producer of the project along with Derbez. Zane Stoddard, VP of NASCAR’s entertainment, marketing and content development division, will serve as executive producer. “I’m really excited about doing a movie with NASCAR,” said Derbez. “They have built an amazing organization with an undeniable fan base. I’m humbled that they want to work with me and think we can do something very special together.”





The NHL is turning to Adidas for its team jerseys. Confirming a TSN report, the brand locked in a long-term deal to replace sister company Reebok for the league, starting with the 2017-18 season. TSN writes that the deal will at least double the $35 million Reebok paid in the last go-around and new jerseys could open the door for sponsors added to the outfits.

Tomorrow will see ESPN host the Fan Hall of Fame induction ceremony, hosted by Kevin Negandhi and taking on ESPN’s Main Campus in Bristol at noon. Inductees will be honored with their names engraved above three stadium chairs on the lawn of ESPN’s campus and will include: the “caped-crusader of Buckeye Nation,” John Chubb; Red Sox fan Mary Mollerberg; and the “Crazy Colonel,” Army fan Daniel Ragsdale.

AXE Hair is taking to the mound, bringing in MLB player Matt Harvey for its new Hair Prime campaign. "I wear a baseball cap every day, so my hair goes through a lot. When I am off the field, I like to make sure I’m treating my hair right," says Harvey. "With the help of AXE Hair, I am able to have healthy, full hair that makes me look and feel great."

A matchup of #88s will bring together NASCAR’s #88 driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Carolina Panthers #88 tight end Greg Olsen to raise money for the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. The fundraising event, called “Weekend with the 88s,” will offer one winner and their guest an unprecedented experience in sports spectating. The weekend kicks off Oct. 31 and includes a behind-the-scenes tour of JR Motorsports and $200 to spend at the JR Nation retail store, a roundtrip helicopter ride to Martinsville Speedway to experience the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race and MNF where the winner and their guest will watch live as the Carolina Panthers take on the Indianapolis Colts.


Major League Baseball and Fox are reportedly exploring a deal to allow local live streams of games in 15 markets, according to SBJ. Fox would air the games on RSN websites, the FoxSports Go app, as well as apps and websites of cable and satellite providers as part of the agreement. Fox would still be required to use MLBAM as the “vendor to manage live streams,” which in addition to a rights fee, will cost the RSNs up to high seven figures for each team.

NBC Sports is expected to play a role in the newly-revealed Watchable platform from Comcast. The video outlet, designed as a rival to YouTube and Facebook will also partner with the Comcast-backed Vox, as well as the likes of BuzzFeed, AwesomenessTV, Vice and The Onion. Content will initially be available to Xfinity X1 box owners, and eventually on iOS and Android devices.


DraftKings has been granted a license to operate in the United Kingdom and will now open its third office in London by the end of the year. DraftKings is projecting to be operational in the UK in the fourth quarter, with launches in additional markets, including Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, planned for 2016. DraftKings’ worldwide expansion will be led by newly appointed Chief International Officer Jeffrey Haas. “Our expansion into the United Kingdom marks a milestone moment in the growth of DraftKings as we introduce our world-class product to new audiences,” said DraftKings Chief Executive Officer Jason Robins. “We will add new sports and games to our burgeoning roster of offerings and further connect fans to their favorite teams and players. We also welcome the opportunity to forge new partnerships with leagues, teams and media outlets internationally as we have done with exceptional success in the United States.”

Daily fantasy sports operator Draft Ops inked a 4-year sponsorship deal with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, according to Forbes. The deal makes Draft Ops as the exclusive sponsor of the franchise for the team’s fantasy-related category and includes the branding of an outdoor bar area and includes assets such as dasher boards, giveaway night promotions, social media obligations, fan experiences and LED promotions on the Ducks’ jumbotron at the Honda Center in Anaheim.


Giants/Cardinals on MLB Network at 8:15p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1987: Houston Oiler Earl Campbell retires from NFL.

In The Know: What was the last team of any of the major professional sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS) to win three championships in a row? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Andy Roddick lost four other Grand Slam finals to the same person. Who was he? Answer: Roger Federer. Kudos: Brendan Bryant-Bedrock Media/NY; Greg Conner-Tennis Channel/NY; Charlie Shea-FerenComm/NY; Joanne Johnson-Mediavest/NY; Mike Wexler-Moroch/Atlanta; Artie Kempner-FOX Sports/Philadelphia; Pamela Wise-The E.W. Scripps Company/Cincinnati; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Steve McNair-KUBE TV/Houston; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Bob Chasse-Professional Bull Riders/Pueblo; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Linh Le-FOX Sports/LA; Peter Steckelman-The Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Dani Beaulieu-FanServ/LA; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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