09/30/20: ESPN laid out plans for its coverage of the NBA Finals


Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday September 30, 2020

Tonight sees ESPN tip off the NBA Finals on ABC for the 18th consecutive season, at 9p with the Lakers and Heat squaring off. The NBA Finals are presented by YouTube TV and will air on ABC, ESPN Radio, in Spanish on ESPN Deportes and on several ESPN international platforms. Mike Breen will call his 15th consecutive NBA Finals for ABC with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson on deck as analysts. Rachel Nichols will join the team to serve as the sideline reporter for the first time. Nichols will also host the trophy presentation upon conclusion of the NBA Finals on ABC.

ESPN is set to offer fans multiple alternative viewing experiences for NBA Finals games, featuring unique camera angles and vantage points that are available to stream on the ESPN App including the Rail Cam; the Above the Rim cam; and the Layup Lines.


FOX Sports reports that it tallied 22,789,000 viewers for America’s Game of the Week featuring the Cowboys/Seahawks. That was up 1% over last year’s comparable window, according to Nielsen. Digital outlets, meanwhile, drew an average minute audience of 642,000 with 3.9 million unique streamers across FOX, NFL and Verizon streaming services.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football feature of the Chiefs/Ravens, meanwhile, drew 14 million viewers, up 36% from last year’s Week 3 MNF game. Through three weeks, ESPN’s 2020 MNF viewership is up 4% season-to-date from its 2019 viewership (four games each year). This season, MNF is averaging 12 million viewers per game.

CBS Sports’ Week 3 singleheader coverage of the 2020 NFL season on Sunday was up 8% in viewership, averaging 16.574 million viewers versus its comparable singleheader week last year. CBS All Access, featuring live streaming coverage of all NFL ON CBS games, delivered double-digit year-over-year growth in unique devices, streams and watch time, according to the company.

In addition, CBS Sports’ college football Saturday showcase at 3:30p between Mississippi State and LSU on Sept. 26 scored with an average of 4.442 million viewers, the most-watched college football game of the season on any network and up 23% in viewership versus last year’s comparable game.

SAP, the NBA’s data analytics partner, announced details surrounding the second season of its reality show – GM School Powered by SAP. The series debuts Thursday at 9p on NBA TV. In this three-episode series, contestants compete in a variety of high-pressure, analytics-focused challenges to determine a winner. The challenges mimic the every-day scenarios that a GM in the NBA has to face such as: demonstrating a knowledge of analytics and the CBA, understanding how to defend their decisions with the media in a press conference environment, identifying the best coaching fit for their team, building a roster through the Draft, and even working through trade scenarios.

Athletes Unlimited announced it will return to Parkway Bank Sports Complex in the Village of Rosemont, Illinois, for its second softball season in late August 2021 following its inaugural season there this year. Athletes Unlimited softball featured 57 of the best players in the world, including 19 Olympians from the US, Canada, Mexico and Italy. All 30 games were broadcast or streamed globally on CBS Sports Net (USA and Canada), ESPN (US and outside the U.S via its platforms in Spanish-speaking Latin America and in Canada via its partner TSN) and the Olympic Channel.

NBC Sports Group announced an agreement for exclusive U.S. distribution rights for World Chase Tag. World Chase Tag USA will now take place at The Roxy in Atlanta, Georgia and will be broadcast on NBCSN in an eight-episode series between Nov. 5-Dec. 18. Gray Television’s Tupelo Honey will serve as the production services company of the partnership.

HBO Sports and StreetSmartVideo are serving up documentary presentation Wild Card: The Downfall Of A Radio Loudmouth charting “the rise and fall of prominent New York sports radio personality Craig Carton.” Through a series of candid and intimate first-person interviews with Carton, the film will showcase how the radio host’s secret insatiable gambling addiction, financed by an illicit ticket-broking business, brought his career to a sudden halt when he was arrested by FBI agents and charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud.

DWCommunications, LLC announced that the national sports talk show From The Press Box To Press Row w/ Donal Ware will begin airing on ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM starting Friday and run on Fridays at 7p. “We are proud to bring From The Press Box To Press Row to ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM, which provides an even broader platform to promote what we do with HBCU sports,” said Donal Ware, BOXTOROW founder and host. “There are so many untold stories within the HBCU sports world and more known stories that need to be reemphasized and that’s what we plan to bring to the ESPNU Radio listening audience each week.

NBC Sports Chicago reports year-over-year audience increases for its White Sox game telecasts in both traditional television viewership and live streaming consumption, along with across-the-board increases for its White Sox digital/audio content offerings. NBC Sports Chicago’s 2020 White Sox television ratings finished with a 1.78 Chicago market Household (HH) average, which is the highest White Sox average on record and up 89% compared to last season’s final average.

Stadium re-signed Shams Charania to an exclusive multi-year extension. “The Sinclair Broadcast Group regional sports networks and Stadium couldn’t be more thrilled to keep Shams Charania as a part of our family and broadcasting community. Throughout our work together, we’ve watched Shams quickly excel as one of the premier journalists in our industry,” said Sinclair Broadcast Group President of Local Sports Steve Rosenberg. “We have big plans for Shams across our sports portfolio and we’re excited to start that process immediately.”

Showtime Sports Documentary Films announced Bad Hombres, a new film chronicling the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos, the world’s only binational professional baseball team. The program premieres on Showtime on Oct. 16 at 9p and will also be available via the Showtime streaming service and Showtime Anytime.

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With the postseason underway, Major League Baseball debuted a new postseason marketing campaign featuring DJ Khaled in October: The Remix, which also features animation from Emmy Award-winning artist Mike Perry with the goal to spotlight the league’s young stars, with players featured this year including 21-year-old San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and 22-year-old Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette, among others. The postseason promotional campaign will run prominently across both traditional and social media over the next month.

The National Women’s Hockey League entered an agreement with Bladetech Hockey to serve as the official blade of the league with the brand set to provide high-tech skate blades to all of the players in the NWHL. “Bladetech Hockey has established itself as an industry leader, and their commitment to our players and belief in the NWHL says a lot about their support of the women’s professional hockey in the US and Canada,” said NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan Kearney.

Austin FC entered into a new partnership with Anheuser-Busch that sees the Michelob Ultra brand to become Austin FC’s official Domestic Beer Partner. Brown Distributing, based in Austin, also becomes a Partner of Austin FC through its official distribution agreements with Anheuser-Busch. “Anheuser-Busch and Michelob Ultra are iconic brands with a rich heritage, and we are pleased to welcome Anheuser-Busch and Brown Distributing into the growing portfolio of distinguished Austin FC partners,” commented Andy Loughnane, President of Austin FC. “Anheuser-Busch and Austin’s Brown Distributing share our vision to bring people together and strengthen our community, and we look forward to working closely with our newest partners to fulfill those important objectives.”


The Solid Verbal podcast is entering a new, integrated relationship with Learfield IMG College. In addition to increasing The Solid Verbal’s production offerings, Hildenbrandt and Rubenstein will launch new programming and podcast products under The Solid Verbal banner. “We’re ecstatic to be working with the team at Learfield IMG College to grow The Solid Verbal and reach more college football fans than ever before,” said Hildenbrandt. “This is great news for our avid community of Verballers, and it gives us the opportunity to introduce entirely new podcasts to our lineup and present multiple avenues for new growth.”

FOX Sports is collaborating with orthopedist Dr. Matt Provencher and his company Proven Performance Technology to deliver data-driven injury insights to football fans. In this “first-of-a-kind” role as Athlete Injury and Performance Analyst for the network’s digital platforms, Provencher provides important predictive player performance and recovery information about post-injury performance, the impact of weather, field conditions and more.

EA is extending its run with Bundesliga and will retain the exclusive license rights for match simulation. “In a relationship spanning more than 20 years, we have seen the rise and rise of EA SPORTS FIFA, to it becoming one of the most recognizable brands in the world,” said Robert Klein, CEO of Bundesliga International, a subsidiary of DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga. “Through EA SPORTS FIFA, fans across the globe are connected to the Bundesliga, its world-class players and unique clubs. We look forward to working with EA on multiple projects, this season and into the future.” Another key aspect of the cooperation will be the development of the Virtual Bundesliga (VBL).

The Tennessee Titans announced that BetMGM, the joint venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings, will serve as the team’s first Official Sports Betting Partner. As an official sports betting partner, BetMGM will receive brand visibility across multiple Titans digital assets and key in-game moments, such as field goal attempts, video board replays, and more. BetMGM will become the exclusive naming rights partner of the Titans’ television studio at Saint Thomas Sports Park, and will be home to Titans All Access, the Coach Mike Vrabel Show and additional content aired throughout Tennessee.


EA announced its new FIFA 21 Global Series, blending international football fandom and competitive gaming with the goal of expanding into entertainment to appeal to a broader, more mainstream audience by delivering new forms of media that “fuse esports, traditional sports, and pop culture” to engage a wide variety of passionate and global fanbases. FGS21 will feature a diverse lineup of hybridized content, including: Twitch Rivals Preseason Invitational; The FIFA 21 Challenge; YouTube Gaming Creators Cup:; as well as tournaments from EA SPORTS’ Official Football League Partners, including the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, MLS as well as UEFA Champions League and CONMEBOL Libertadores.

Learfield IMG College and Mainline, its esports tournament operator provider, are launching the “Mid-American Madden Challenge” designed for 10 members of the Mid-American Conference. Presented by the U.S. Marines and prize sponsor Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, the challenge will begin on October 12 and culminate with a championship format broadcast on Twitch. “We see tremendous value in esports, and we’re excited about the Mid-American Challenge presented by the U.S. Marines running next month,” said Learfield IMG College’s EVP/Managing Director – Media and Partnerships Group Rick Barakat. “Mainline’s white-labeled tournament software allows sponsors to have unique esports brand visibility while aligning with universities where they already have an affinity.”


Jesse Collins has been tapped to become executive producer for the NFL’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, set for February 7, 2021, in Tampa, Florida. Collins previously worked on numerous projects such as the Grammy Awards, BET Awards, and the CBS special John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero. “Jesse Collins is innovative, creative and one of the only executive producers that speak fluent ‘artist vision.’ He’s a true artist,” commented Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter. “Jesse’s insight and understanding create both extraordinary shows and true cultural moments. After working with Jesse for so many years, I look forward to all there is to come.”

Dedication To Community announced the addition Donnie Shell to the foundation as Executive Advisor to their growing sports division. Shell will join National Director, Sports Division, Lamonte Winston in the proactive efforts to grow relationships between teams, athletes, law enforcement and community.

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Save the date for our virtual awards event on Dec. 1st to see who wins!

On this Day
1981: The IOC votes to award Seoul, South Korea as host of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games.

How many NBA titles have the Lakers won as a franchise? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Which NBA team (that has actually played in the NBA Finals) currently has the longest drought of returning to play in the series? Answer: The Sacramento Kings. Kudos: John Ferlazzo/London; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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JUMA ENTERTAINMENT/Remote: Looking for creative and highly motivated individual to access and clear videos for network prime time clip series. Must possess a love of TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and be able to navigate platforms. Full info HERE (10/9)

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS/STAMFORD, CT: Resp for accessing and leveraging internal/external data, as well as building models to support Charter’s various business grps (Programming Acquisition, Original Content, Spectrum Nets, Mktg, Product, etc.) on critical initiatives and decisions. Min 5 yrs exp in data modeling and analytics. Full info HERE (10/9)

Public media leader seeks VP to promote APT brands, impact, marketing strategies, diverse content & engage audiences. Min 10 yrs experience. APT is EOE. Full info HERE. (10/9)

Counter Logic Gaming/Madison Square Garden Sports/LA, CA: Counter Logic Gaming is looking for someone to lead the digital mktg team, with a focus on digital content and social media. Resp for creating/executing all CLG digital/content strat across all social/streaming platforms. Min 5 yrs of digital/mktg exp. Full info HERE (10/9)

Nickelodeon/NYC, NY: Ideal candidate will lead a team of mktg and campaign mngrs in all aspects of marketing across all platforms in support of Nickelodeon series and content. Min 8 yrs exp in marketing, media or a consumer strategy position. Full info HERE (10/8)

Clear Channel Outdoor/NY, NY: Resp for dev mktg strategies, content and compelling programs for clients/agencies to increase awareness and build a value proposition for Clear Channel Outdoor’s products and data solutions. Min 5yrs Mktg exp in a media sales org, focusing on integrated solutions, creating innovating sales tools and building revenue-generating opps. Full info HERE (10/8)

VIACOMCBS/REMOTE: 6 mon, temp maternity cover position starting in mid-Dec 2020. Must have exp in mktg/brand tracking data, market and product research. 10yrs of research exp with background in quantitative/qualitative methodologies. Knowledge of consumer insights within the US TV streaming landscape (part AVOD). Full info HERE (10/8)

Newsmax Media/NYC: Responsible for designing and building prime time show, managing show hosts and production team, identifying and integrating guests, overseeing and executing the production of key video & graphic elements. 3+ yrs EP exp or political news & talk programming. Full info HERE (10/7)

Newsmax Media/NYC:
Responsible for designing and building shows, managing show hosts and production team, identifying and integrating guests, overseeing and executing the production of key video & graphic elements. 3+ yrs EP exp or political news & talk programming. Full info HERE (10/7)

Newsmax Media/NYC:
Write for fast paced news and opinion show. You are an exceptional storyteller with a command of political news and cultural trends. At least 3 years of national or large market local news experience. Full info HERE (10/7)

Newsmax Media/NYC:
Responsible for the production and execution of live political news programming, and recorded video segments for television, and digital platforms. 3+ yrs experience line producing. Full info HERE (10/7)

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Responsible for the production of live news & talk show, and recorded video segments for television, and digital platforms. 3+ yrs in TV news and/or talk production. Full info HERE (10/7)

Newsmax Media/Washington D.C.: Seeking proven on-air reporter, in possession of an already-developed contact list, including many “who’s who” leaders in Congress, and related government agencies. Min 3yrs exp with outstanding writing/production skills. Full info HERE (10/7)


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