08/26/15: Showtime Scheins while CBS upgrades for the NFL; Reese’s appoints ambassadors; Madden hits shelves


Good morning. It’s Wednesday August 26, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Showtime’s Inside the NFL is getting a new face. The network announced on Tuesday that it was reeling in Adam Schein as the new host of the long-running program. The series returns for its eighth season on the channel and 37th year overall on Sept. 8 at 9p, with Schein replacing Greg Gumbel and joining Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, and Brandon Marshall on the show with Michael Irvin making occasional appearances. The show is produced by CBS Sports and NFL Films and runs every Tuesday during the NFL season through Feb. 9, 2016. NFL Network will once again re-air the show on Wednesdays at 9p during that span.

“Inside the NFL continues to evolve and, even after 35-plus years on the air, it remains one of the most ground-breaking shows on television,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Showtime Sports. “Our unique blend of talent, incisive analysis, and one-of-a-kind highlights from NFL Films give INSIDE THE NFL an edge that viewers simply cannot get with any other NFL news program.”


Elsewhere at CBS Sports’ annual NFL Media Day, the company prepared for its run to Super Bowl 50 by unveiling its announce teams for the upcoming season. Leading the crew will be Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson, who will also call the championship broadcast. Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts take the No. 2 slot and will call the network’s top game on Sundays when Nantz and Simms do not call a game. Other crews will include Greg Gumbel/Trent Green, Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon,Spero Dedes/Solomon Wilcots, Andrew Catalon/Steve Tasker/Steve Beuerlein, Tom McCarthy/Adam Archuleta and Brian Anderson/Chris Simms.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports pregame show The NFL Today is getting a makeover, and will hit the new season with a redesigned set and a new tempo, with the show’s traditional format shifting to “a faster-paced, high energy, rapid fire format with quick-hitting news updates.” Anchor James Brown joins analysts Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Tony Gonzalez and Bart Scott with the show featuring a rapid-style opening segment from a studio that offers a newly designed, floor-to-ceiling, high-tech video wall, a living room setting, as well as the traditional desk. In addition to the wall, the new set design offers a touch screen, monitors set on tracks for easier and more accessible mobility, the latest LED lighting and a brand new desk with a 50% larger curved LED monitor in the front.

NBC Sports Group announced coverage plans to offer nearly 100 hours of live tournament and news programming surrounding the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs, with programming starting Thursday with The Barclays. Golf Channel will offer live coverage of the opening two rounds, and weekend lead-in coverage at each of the four events, while Golf Channel on NBC will broadcast third and final round coverage of the final three events: the Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship, and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller will anchor NBC’s weekend coverage of the final three events, and will be joined by tower analysts Gary Koch and Peter Jacobsen; on-course reporters Roger Maltbie, and Notah Begay, and interviewer Steve Sands.

Following last week’s two-year anniversary for FOX Sports 1, UFC is touting its continued growth on the channel. According to the promotion, the past year has seen UFC account for 30% of all primetime hours on FS1 through Aug. 17 and 37% YTD in 2016. To date, both UFC PPV prelims and Fight Night events are averaging 600k viewers in the adult 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen and, over the past year, average viewership of UFC PPV prelims has swelled 51% among viewers 18-34 and 36% with people ages 18-49. Since the channel’s launch, UFC programming has seen the median age of UFC viewers average between 8.3-11.4 years younger than non-UFC programming on the network, according to the company.

NBCSN deals viewers with the television debut of The Super High Roller Bowl poker tournament from the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on Friday at 8p in a three-hour show. The event is produced by Poker Central. “The Super High Roller Bowl will make its television debut to a passionate base of poker players, enthusiasts and television viewers who love high stakes poker,” said Clint Stinchcomb, CEO of Poker Central. “This new, annual tournament is one of the most captivating and popular tournaments in poker history.”

It was one up, one down for ESPN’s baseball coverage in a 24-hour span. The network made history during Monday night’s game between the Cardinals/Diamondbacks when Jessica Mendoza became the first female to serve as in in-game analyst during an MLB game broadcast by the channel. Mendoza took on microphone duties with Dave O’Brien and Dallas Braden while Aaron Boone handled the Little League World Series.

On the downside, MLB analyst Curt Schilling was dropped from LLWS duties after tweeting comments comparing Muslims and Nazis. ESPN responded by stating: “Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective. We made that point very strongly to Curt and have removed him from his current Little League assignment pending further consideration.”

Joe Buck is slated to host a new interview show for DIRECTV, which ordered Undeniable with Joe Buck for its Audience Network, according to Variety. The series is produced by Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Productions and will offer viewers discussions with the likes of Michael Phelps, Derek Jeter, Troy Aikman, Kelly Slater, Jerry Jones, Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Johnson and others.

Don Orsillo will not return as the play-by-play voice for NESN’s Red Sox telecasts, according to local reports. With his deal ending at the end of this season, he is expected to be replaced by Dave O’Brien.

Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza will hit the floor on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. The announcement was made on ESPN’s SportsNation yesterday.


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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is turning to College GameDay Built by the Home Depot hosts Rece Davis and Kirk Herbstreit to serve as brand ambassadors for the candy brand during the 2015-2016 college football season. Davis and Herbstreit will be showcased in a slate of television, video and social content for Reese’s, along with consumer-facing and retail initiatives including in-store displays and point of sale. Saturday’s will see Davis and Herbstreit highlight the greatest College Football traditions as part of Reese’s “GameDay Greatness” video features.

IMG locked in a deal with wearable technology company VERT to serve as title sponsor of what will now be known as the VERT Challenge, a women’s volleyball showcase involving IMG partner schools the University of Texas, University of Florida, University of Nebraska, and University of Oregon. The inaugural event is scheduled for September 4-5 at the Gregory Gym in Austin, TX and will be broadcast on The Longhorn Network. As part of the agreement, VERT will provide wearable technology demonstrations and on-site promotions for fans in attendance. 


espnW’s branding heavyweight, the espnW: Women + Sports Summit, revealed more speakers for its sixth year, which takes place from Oct. 14-16 at Dana Point. New speakers on the docket are now set to include: U.S. Women’s National Team members Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd; Under Armour CEO and founder Kevin Plank; Michele Roberts, the first woman to serve as president of the NBA Players’ Association; former college football player Katie Hnida;  women’s Olympic hockey player Hilary Knight; WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings; and youth football phenom Sam Gordon.

The Atlantic 10 Conference re-launched Atlantic10.com yesterday as part of an expanded multiyear partnership with NeuLion. The overhaul will now offer visitors to Atlantic10.com as well as Twitter users access to in-game highlights from selected men’s and women’s basketball games and conference championship events. NeuLion will produce the highlight packages for near-real time distribution via the A-10 website, mobile apps and social media accounts. Atlantic10.com serves as the hub for the A-10 Network, which will distribute more than 1,000 events this year across all league-sponsored sports. 


Electronic Arts officially launched Madden NFL 16, offering players new tools for QBs, receivers and defenders as well as returning features modes like Connected Franchise and Madden Ultimate Team. "We think Madden NFL 16 delivers an incredible experience for our players," said Roy Harvey, Executive Producer of Madden NFL 16. "Draft Champions provides a new way to play, bringing the fun of a fantasy football draft to Madden, and providing a strategic challenge both on and off the field. On top of that, the new gameplay elements we’ve introduced this year allow you to achieve some really exciting moments that you’ll want to watch over and over again in replay. It’s a great year to be a playmaker."

Speaking of EA, players can now bring Bruce Lee into the octagon as part of the EA Sports UFC Mobile roster. All game users will be able to play as the martial arts legend for free from Aug. 25-Sept. 3, and can select to play as The Dragon in either the Flyweight or Lightweight division using his base character.


Cubs/Giants on ESPN at 10:15p.




ON THIS DAY in 1955: NBC carries the first color telecast of a tennis match.

In The Know: Which university has a mascot named Benny? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In the original Karate Kid movie, what is the name of the group looking to take down Ralph Macchio in the tournament? Answer: Cobra Kai. Kudos: Mitch Burg-Impact Communications/Israel; RJ Simoni-ESPN/NY; Michael Neuman-Scout Sports and Entertainment/NY; David Weinberg-The Paley Center For Media/NY; Joe Giovengo-Game Show Network/NY; Kim Hoey-CBS Sports Network/Ann Arbor; Chris Schwartz-International Speedway Corporation/Charlotte; Juan P. Delgado-Delgado Mediaworks/Coconut Grove; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Jesse Demastrie-GMMB/DC; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Carly Dasso-SAATCHI & SAATCHI CHICAGO/Oakbrook Terrace; Joe Lyons-Back Nine Productions/Dallas; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Judie Henninger -Valentine Productions/Santa Monica.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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