09/16/20: Major League Baseball cemented its postseason map, and will enter bubbles in CA and TX

 

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday September 16, 2020

Major League Baseball cemented its postseason plans, not only detailing how it would work in a COVID-marred setting, but also locking in a big new sponsor. Camping World Holdings and MLB unveiled a new element to the organizations’ multi-year partnership that designates Camping World as the presenting partner of the 2020 National League Championship Series on FOX and FS1. With the new extension to this multi-faceted partnership, Camping World will “further expand its brand awareness with an integrated marketing program that reaches millions of MLB fans through broadcast, digital, social and mobile platforms.”

As for operations, Major League Baseball confirmed the first neutral-site World Series in league history, where it will join the Division Series and League Championship Series at neutral-site locations. The best-of-three Wild Card Series, best-of-five Division Series and best-of-seven League Championship Series will each take place without any off-days in between games. The 116th World Series is slated to start with Game 1 on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Beginning with the Division Series, all teams will shift to neutral-site locations in Southern California and Texas for the duration of the Postseason due to health, safety and competitive considerations.

PROGRAMMING

FOX Sports opened its 27th season of NFL coverage Sunday with an average of more than 25 million viewers for America’s Game of the Week, combining with FOX’s best Week 1 regional performance in four years to score the network’s most-watched opening week since 2016. According to Nielsen Media Research, saw the Buccaneers/Saints deliver an average audience of 25,848,000, up 7% over last year’s Week 1 performance. FOX’s regional games posted their best Week 1 performance since 2016, scoring an average viewership of 13,530,000, up 6% over last year’s 12,723,000 viewers between the Giants and the Cowboys. On the streaming side, Week 1 accounted for FOX’s most-streamed NFL regular-season Sunday ever — an 84% increase over last year’s opening Sunday with an average minute audience (AMA) of 592,144 across regional and national windows. AGOTW drew an AMA of 647,000 and 3.5 million unique streamers, leading to the network’s most-streamed NFL regular-season window ever. FOX also set a record for its regional windows, with an AMA of 537,000 and 3.8 million unique streamers.

Meanwhile, the first game of ESPN’s signature NFL Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader – Steelers/Giants — delivered cable’s third-highest audience for a sporting event in 2020 and ranked as cable’s best in the category since January, as the game averaged 10,760,000 viewers, down slightly from last year’s equivalent. Pittsburgh ranked as the top market, drawing a 36.1 local rating across both WTAE (25.9) and ESPN (10.2). New York, the No. 3 market, finished with a 10.5 rating across WPIX (4.1) and ESPN (6.4). ESPN’s second game of the doubleheader featuring the Titans/Broncos delivered an audience of 7,697,000.

Speaking of which, ESPN entered into a season-long music collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer DJ Khaled for Monday Night Football to work with ESPN throughout the season to choose tracks that reflect the “energy, intensity, and storylines of select Monday Night Football match-ups on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.” Curated music will run in Monday Night Football promotional spots, live telecasts and pre-game shows for five games this season, starting with the Chiefs/Ravens on Sept. 28. DJ Khaled will also select a song specifically celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month for the Chargers-Saints game on Monday, Oct. 12.

The USGA tees off on the 120th edition of the U.S. Open this week, with NBCUniversal on deck to offer nearly 45 hours of live primary coverage of the championship exclusively across NBC, GOLF Channel and Peacock. In addition to primary live coverage of the championship (Thursday-Sunday), fans will be able to access alternate, complementary feeds via DIRECTV (channels 901-905), Peacock, USOpen.com and USGA.org. Dedicated feeds include:
· Featured Groups: Will include two (daily) featured morning groups, and two featured afternoon groups.
· Featured Holes (also available in 4K through Comcast Xfinity X1 and DIRECTV channel 105): Focusing on those in the field as they play the (par-4) 6th, (par-3) 10th, and (par-4) 17th holes on Winged Foot’s West Course.
· U.S. Open 360: Showcasing players as they warm up for their round from Winged Foot’s practice areas, as well as post-round interview sessions with on-site media.

Nitro Circus, in partnership with the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and Brisbane City Council through Brisbane Economic Development Agency, revealed that Nitro World Games will make its Australian debut next year, hitting Suncorp Stadium on October 23 – 24, 2021,

UNINTERRUPTED and SiriusXM are launching season two of the weekly football podcast series 17 Weeks, which this year will feature three Pro Bowl-level stars – Seahawks safety Jamal Adams, Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Steelers tight end Eric Ebron. The series will again be narrated by former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, with new episodes made available on the SiriusXM and Pandora apps starting September 17.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The NBA announced that AT&T will leverage 5G technology to bring TNT’s NBA studio team and ESPN’s NBA COUNTDOWN onto the NBA campus at Walt Disney World in Orlando through unique holo interviews during the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Finals. The holo interviews will allow viewers at home to see an analyst appear interviewing a player as if they are in the same room. But in fact, the analysts will be captured in WarnerMedia Studios in Atlanta, home to TNT’s studio shows including Inside the NBA, and in Los Angeles, home to ESPN’s NBA COUNTDOWN. “Since the start of our partnership last year, AT&T has continually brought an innovative mindset to enhance the fan experience,” said Kerry Tatlock, Senior Vice President, Head of Marketing Partnerships, NBA. “AT&T creating a next-gen experience by bringing popular ESPN and Turner NBA pregame shows to the restart through holographic interviews with players is the latest example of this commitment, which directly benefits the fan.”

Samsung was named the Official Mobile, TV and Display partner of Hollywood Park. Samsung’s outdoor LED products were exclusively used to build SoFi Stadium’s 70,000 square-foot dual-sided, center-hung videoboard. “Samsung is a company built on foundation of excellence, which is also a cornerstone of the Hollywood Park experience. Our display technology in SoFi Stadium and throughout the entire space will offer fans a truly immersive and state-of-the-art experience,” said Harry Patz, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Display Division, Samsung Electronics America. “Los Angeles is a vibrant city with a rich history, filled with passionate fans. It is a great honor to be a part of creating the city’s next landmark.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

ESPN entered into two separate multi-year agreements with Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings. Both deals include co-exclusive link integrations across ESPN digital platforms connecting fans to sportsbooks from Caesars Entertainment’s sports betting partner, William Hill, and DraftKings. As part of the new agreements, ESPN expands its relationships with both Caesars, as the exclusive odds provider and co-exclusive sportsbook link-out provider, and DraftKings, as the exclusive daily fantasy sports provider and co-exclusive sportsbook link-out provider. As part of the new Caesars agreement, Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill will also become a sponsor of ESPN’s Fantasy products, deepening its relationship as ESPN’s exclusive odds provider. Under the new DraftKings deal, DraftKings will also become ESPN’s exclusive daily fantasy sports and co-exclusive sportsbook link-out provider. Additionally, DraftKings will power integrations across all ESPN content, beginning with daily fantasy sports segments on ESPN’s premier studio shows.

Simplebet revealed its first major product with FanDuel and will offer a free-to-play (FTP) game available in both FanDuel’s Sportsbook and Daily Fantasy Sports apps. “We are thrilled to be working with FanDuel on this free-to-play product. In an age where fans seek engaging at-home experiences and community more than ever, our FTP product is expected to increase fan engagement and drive longer watch times,” said Chris Bevilacqua, Co-Founder and CEO of Simplebet. “As a prediction product, our machine learning pricing and real-time technology capabilities are unique for operators and fans alike and we look forward to showcasing the excitement that comes with Micro-Market betting.”

ESPORTS

Team Liquid partnered with Dell Technologies to open the franchise’s new Alienware Training Facility in Utrecht in the Netherlands. The facility will act as Team Liquid’s European headquarters and regional capital for the organization’s pro teams, talent and staff. According to the announcement, the 1,060m2 state-of-the-art facility was designed from the ground up to provide a healthy and sustainable environment for esports training, performance and overall wellness. Among other highlights, the building features multiple dedicated areas for players, staff and the community.

Astralis Group is reportedly merging all of its activities and teams into a singular brand, with the Origen LEC brands and the Future FC FIFA roster shifting under the Astralis umbrella. The company also detailed the new “Astralis universe” that will incorporate a new social media structure, merchandise, media initiatives, and “fan-related products.”

The Gen.G Foundation officially opened its application process for students to apply to be a part of the inaugural Gen 10 class – a group of 10 students from all over the country that will receive a $10K scholarship to be awarded in December. “The gaming industry has only scratched the surface of developing talented young gamers who can lead the industry’s next generation,” said Chris Park, CEO of Gen.G. “This and future classes of the ‘Gen 10’ will strengthen the diversity and representation that gaming needs to reach its full potential.”

Elsewhere, PlayVS announced the largest ever scholarship pool in high school esports history giving students across the country access to over $600K in scholarships. Esports scholarship programs have helped propel the industry and cement its place into mainstream culture alongside the likes of traditional sports. “Esports is experiencing a massive cultural moment. With the ongoing pandemic, more students and schools are participating than ever before and PlayVS saw an opportunity to reinvest in this community and their futures in an impactful way,” said PlayVS Founder and CEO Delane Parnell. “With our commitment to awarding these scholarships, we’re taking an important leap forward in accelerating the futures of students who might not otherwise have the opportunities awarded to them towards receiving a higher education.”

Bayes announced the closing of a $6 million funding round, which included participation from the Pohlad Family investment group, Fertitta Capital, Sony Innovation Fund, and other sports and media investors. The funding will be used to further expand the data and content offering on its platform and to develop new platform features that benefit both data suppliers and consumers.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Steve Cohen reached an agreement Monday to purchase the majority ownership of the New York Mets from the Wilpon and Katz families, according to ESPN. The sale is subject to the approval of the Major League Baseball club owners.

Excel Sports Management announced that Tuck Burch will be joining the agency as a its Head of Brand Marketing. Tuck will spearhead the agency’s brand marketing and advisory services, including overseeing service functions, client management and business development and joins after 17 years at Octagon, where he most recently served as Executive Vice President.

CYNOPSIS TOP WOMEN IN MEDIA AWARDS: DISTINGUISHED COMPANIES

 

In addition to celebrating individual Top Women in Media, Cynopsis is recognizing two distinguished companies who champion women in media the week of October 13.

We can’t wait to highlight:

 

Ampersand + Starz

 

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On this Day
2012: NHL lockout begins.

IN THE KNOW
Who was the first NFL player to rush for 1000 yards in a season? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Which NBA player was known as “The Hick from French Lick”? Answer: Larry Bird. Kudos: Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Tom Buffolano-LTN Global/NY; Daniel Laub-Premion/NY; Paul Brennan-Sony Pictures Television/NY; Willy Gibson-WTG Sports/Columbus; John Hayden-WSVN/Miami; Robert Tombs-Effectv/Bloomfield; Larry Kahn-GOLF Channel/Orlando; Robert Twilley-The Production Hive/Knoxville; Jason Brist-Outdoor Sportsman Group/Chicago; John Corthinos-Inverted Esports/Chicago; Randy Artcher-Home Team Sports/Dallas; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Jack Neumann-University of Calgary Dinos 5th Quarter/Calgary; Bob Ramsey/Palm Springs; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; Eric Burak-Famous Group/Culver City

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