08/27/15: SNF hits the Sky; Pizza Hut cooks up ESPN Fantasy play; YouTube Gaming plugs in


Good morning. It’s Thursday August 27, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Another big international deal is in the books for the NFL. Sky Sports announced that it acquired the rights to the league’s Sunday Night Football package for the next two years, pumping the company’s overall slate of games to over 100. The SNF schedule, combined with MNF and Thursday and Sunday contests join playoffs matchups as well as the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl on its platforms. “We’re excited to add Sunday Night Football to our extensive NFL coverage this season,” said Jonathan Licht, Director of Sky Sports strategy. “Viewers can now enjoy over 100 games a season on Sky Sports, which added to our digital and On Demand offering, makes it our most comprehensive line-up of NFL ever. NFL fans in the UK and Ireland are going to be in for a fantastic season.”


Other deals yesterday saw Elite Rodeo Athletes lock in an agreement with FOX Sports that will bring the entire ERA season and World Championship event to its networks in 2016. Overall, FOX Sports 1 and 2 will serve up more than 42 hours of programming and consist of 15 regular-season events culminating with a 5-day World Championship event in Dallas that will be carried by FOX Sports 1 & FOX Sports 2. "We are thrilled to work with Elite Rodeo Athletes to televise these exciting and action packed rodeos," says Patrick Crakes, FOX Sports SVP of Programming, Research & Content Strategy. "The ERA fits nicely with our ever expanding portfolio of live event programming and we’re confident our audience will be just as excited as we are when we launch the series in 2016."

ONE World Sports extended its multi-year licensing agreement with Arsenal FC TV for multiplatform use in the US and Canada. Arsenal FC TV is the soccer club’s official television channel that covers the club on and off the pitch. The deal, with international media rights agency MP & Silva, will see the channel offer Arsenal’s games throughout the 10-month season, including those within the English Premier League (EPL), Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Championship and Football Association (FA) Cup. “The renewal of our partnership with Arsenal enables ONE World Sports to offer premium soccer content with full access to one of the most popular global sports brands to our North American audience,” said Joel Feld, Executive Vice President, Programming & Production, ONE World Sports. “What sets our coverage apart from other networks is the intense match day action combined with the opportunity to get up close and personal with the Arsenal club that fans in the United States and Canada can’t find anywhere else.”

ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU unveiled coverage plans for the third annual Big 12/SEC Challenge Presented by Sonic, which will be held for the first time on a common bye date on Jan. 30, 2016. Eight of the 10 games will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 with two games over on ESPNU. The action gets underway with Vanderbilt/Texas at noon.

NBA TV will premiere its first-ever Shaq Week next Monday featuring a full week of programming dedicated to Shaquille O’Neal. Programming highlights include some of O’Neal’s top games throughout his career, as selected by the 15-time NBA All-Star, along with Shaqtin’ A Fool and Open Court episodes. NBA TV’s Hardwood Classics will showcase more than 20 of O’Neal’s top performances, with his personal favorites airing nightly at 9 and 11p. Additional programming includes Open Court nightly at 6p, NBA Home Video at 7p and Shaqtin’ A Fool at 8 and 8:30p.

Saturday will see Dillon Welch, son of FOX NASCAR reporter/host Vince Welch, join the Motor Racing Network (MRN) team as a turn announcer for the network’s live race broadcast, according to FOX Sports. The younger Welch has previously more than 50 national sprint, midget and silver crown events per year for United States Auto Club (USAC) during the past 18 months. “Earlier this year, I put together a highlight package of some of my better calls and sent that to David Hyatt in hopes he would offer me some feedback to grow as a broadcaster,” Dillon said. “I sent him a couple of videos and after the second or third one, MRN invited me to try out. He and everyone at MRN have been incredibly helpful.”

YES Network reports that its Yankee game telecasts have grown 31% in the New York DMA since the All-Star Break. Over the same period, viewer delivery in key demos have increased by more than 35% and are on pace for the best season delivery in three years. Since the break, viewership of the contests is now hitting 310,000 average viewers, while primetime Yankees telecasts have ranked #1 in the New York DMA in at least one of the key male demos in 14 of 17 game nights, according to Nielsen.
Pac-12 Networks locked in its on-air broadcasting assignments for its college football game telecasts for the first three weeks of season, which will see the Networks carry 17 games. In addition, cable providers will offer a ‘free preview’ of Pac-12 Networks from Sept. 1-20, available to DISH Network and Time Warner Cable subscribers nationwide, plus Cox customers in Southern California and Las Vegas markets, as well as Comcast customers across California. Veteran broadcasters on the call include: Ted Robinson, Kevin Calabro, Roxy Bernstein, JB Long, Jim Watson, Guy Haberman and Josh Lewin. Meanwhile, Glenn Parker, Yogi Roth, Jeremy Bloom and Mike Pawlawski return as game analysts with Lincoln Kennedy and Evan Moore making their debut in the booth this season. Jill Savage, Lewis Johnson, Ashley Adamson and Drea Avent return to provide reports from the sidelines.

Speaking of football, ESPN Radio debuts a new fall weekend lineup with a focus on the 2015 college and NFL seasons.  The schedule will feature two new shows, Operation Football and NFL Nation, along with the likes of College GameDay, Fantasy Focus and more. Weekends kick off with Weekend Blitz with Monday Night Football on Fridays at 7p. College football programming beings with Dari & Mel on Saturdays at 7am followed by a three-hour simulcast of ESPN’s College GameDay at 10a and ESPN Radio’s College GameDay at noon. Sundays will see Operation Football at 3p, with NFL Nation t 7p.

In other radio news, SiriusXM welcomes Lou Holtz to the talent roster where he will host shows dedicated to college football and golf. Friday will see Coach Holtz host twice a week on SiriusXM College Sports Nation via The Playbook every Friday at 1p and SiriusXM College Football Tailgate Show at 9a. In addition, Holtz will debut a new show on Sept. 1 at 1p on the SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio channel, dubbed Holtz in One.

NESN confirmed that Dave O’Brien will become the network’s play-by-play voice for Red Sox baseball beginning in 2016. O’Brien has been a familiar play-by-play voice of Red Sox baseball for the last nine years on WEEI 93.7 FM. O’Brien will replace Don Orsillo who began his career on NESN back in 2001.


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Pizza Hut inked a deal to become the official pizza sponsor of ESPN Fantasy Football and will serve up special offers and opportunities to win prizes all season long, culminating in the chance to win a ring worth an estimated value of $10,000. Each week, Pizza Hut will recognize one commissioner with the Pizza Hut Commissioner of the Week Award, which includes a commemorative football, free Pizza Hut pizza for the remainder of the fantasy football season, a $200 ESPN shop gift card,$15 Pizza Hut gift cards for each member of the commissioner’s league, a one-year ESPN Insider subscription and one other unique weekly prize. At the end of the season, Pizza Hut will name the Fantasy Football "Commissioner of the Year," who gets a custom ruby and diamond-encrusted ring valued at $10,000, made by renowned championship ring creator Jostens.

Social commerce platform Teespring added the NFL to its umbrella, and will now allow fans to “discover and buy unique and hyper-targeted apparel featuring officially licensed logos and marks from their favorite football teams.” Teespring will feature thousands of unique designs that combine team logos and marks with locations, family affinities, professions, hobbies and other interests. “We’re empowering sports fans through social commerce and innovating with one of the biggest and most respected sports leagues in the country,” said Walker Williams, Teespring CEO and co-founder. “Officially licensed sports apparel is a great addition to Teespring and demonstrates how we enable people to express their fandom in new and creative ways.”

IMG today announced that Wescom Credit Union is partnering with its UCLA and Rose Bowl Properties. The deal makes Wescom “The Official Financial Institution of UCLA Athletics” and “The Official Financial Institution of the Rose Bowl Stadium.” Financial terms of the five-year agreement, brokered by IMG, were not disclosed, but will include Wescom developing and managing Financial Literacy programs for UCLA student-athletes. And feature the institution as the presenting sponsor at UCLA home football games and various men’s basketball games.

AdLarge Media added Touchdown Radio’s NCAA college football games to its roster in a sports radio ad sales representation deal. Touchdown Radio’s NCAA 2014 season games were carried on over 200 radio stations across the country.


MLBAM announced that as part of MLB.TV’s 13th anniversary, the OTT product will be holding a special. The deal will run through tonight at 11:59p and offer fans an MLB.TV Premium subscription, which includes the MLB.com At Bat premium features free, for the sale price of $9.99. In 13 years, MLB.TV has streamed nearly 40,000 live MLB games in its history, while MLB.com At Bat surpassed 10 million downloads on Monday.


YouTube Gaming is up and running, offering dedicated gaming fans blending gaming videos and live streams. The Twitch-challenger provides viewers with personalized gaming recommendations based on the games and channels they collect. The platform offers over 25,000 game pages and even more gaming channels.

DraftKings announced the opening of company-branded fantasy sports lounges at AT&T Stadium, home of the Cowboys; Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots; and Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs, which will all open at the start of the football season. In addition, DraftKings locked in exclusive multi-year partnerships with each of the teams. AT&T Stadium will see The DraftKings Fantasy Sports Lounge located at the field-level in AT&T Stadium and serve as the gateway to the field for opposing teams’ players as they leave the locker room. Gillette Stadium’s will be located on the main concourse in the south end zone as The Fantasy Sports Zone. The Chiefs’ venue will see The DraftKings Fantasy Sports Penthouse located on the press level of the stadium, which is shared with media, coaches and the visiting owner’s suite.


Orioles/Royals on MLB Network at 2p.



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ON THIS DAY in 2007: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick pleads guilty to a federal dogfighting charge.

In The Know: What famed trophy is named after the coach who led Georgia Tech to a 222-0 win over Cumberland College? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which university has a mascot named Benny? Answer: Benny the Beaver resides at Oregon State. Kudos: Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Chris Long-FloSports/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Bob Chasse-Professional Bull Riders/Pueblo; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Davidi Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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