09/08/17: ESPN is seeing gains for this year’s US Open

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Good morning. It’s Thursday September 7, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

 
The US Open propelled ESPN’s coverage to gains this year, with audiences up 8% year-over-year and streaming viewers rising 45%. The total average audience through Tuesday, Sept. 5 hit an average of 874,000 viewers, compared to 809,000 for the first nine days of last year’s event. The television rating across ESPN and ESPN2 is a 0.6, up from a 0.5 at this stage of the 2016 tournament. Meanwhile, Wednesday night’s quarterfinal – Juan Martin del Potro ousting Roger Federer in four sets – earned a 1.6 overnight rating in the metered markets, 45% higher than 2016.
 
 
ON THE AIR

FOX Sports lined up programming plans for Big Ten basketball for the first time, starting Dec. 2 with Ohio State/Wisconsin at 5p on the broadcast network, immediately preceding FOX’s live coverage of the Big Ten Football Championship Game at 7p. Overall, FS1 televises 13 Monday or Friday games and more than 30 overall, while FOX carries seven contests.
 
Around the dial, BTN announced that its 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule will feature more than 75 conference matchups in addition to at least 49 non-conference battles. For the first time in history, BTN will be the exclusive cable home for the men’s Big Ten Tournament, featuring 10 tournament games from Madison Square Garden in New York City. Conference play on begins on Dec. 1 with an opening night doubleheader, including Purdue/Maryland and Illinois/Northwestern. The network’s season-long coverage will include Super Wednesday double headers, Tuesday and Thursday games presented by Quicken Loans and more than 20 games on Saturdays and Sundays.
 
In other college basketball news, PK80 presented by State Farm, which is comprised of two eight-team bracketed early season men’s college basketball events, will be played across ESPN networks beginning Nov. 23. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 will combine to air every matchup of the “Victory” bracket (Butler, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Portland State, Stanford and Texas), while games in the “Motion” bracket (Arkansas, DePaul, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Portland and UConn) are televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
 
Telemundo Deportes’ coverage of the “Rumbo al Mundial” World Cup Qualifier between Costa Rica and Mexico, broadcast on Telemundo and Universo last Tuesday, delivered 2.7 million total viewers and 1.6 million adults 18-49, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile, the Honduras/US match that aired on Universo delivered 275,000 total viewers and 142,000 adults 18-49.
 
NFL Network brings back Tackle My Ride on Sept. 15 at 8p, with former Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley and master car builder James Torrez back to give six NFL superfans with the ultimate car makeovers. Season 2 of the show features Woodley and Torrez teaming up with Steelers LB Ryan Shazier, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Bears guard Kyle Long, 49ers LBNaVarro Bowman, Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan and Falcons LB Vic Beasley for the transformation.
 
Feld Entertainment announced new changes for the Monster Energy Cup, which will be held on Oct. 14 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas for the seventh straight year. Racers will compete for the chance to win $1 million and this year’s Monster Energy Cup features a split starting gate with 44 feet of separation between the two ends, which will leave 11 racers on each side. Additionally, the starting gate will be elevated 12 feet in the air allowing for maximum speed heading into the first turn. Another unique change to this year’s track involves the Joker Lane, which racers must take once during each Main Event.
 
The Pac-12 Conference reports strong year-over-year growth in fan engagements across its television and digital properties, with 2016-17 ranking as its most-watched season ever for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball while the Pac-12’s digital platforms also set new audience records. The Pac-12 saw upticks of 74% in live TV Everywhere video plays on the Pac-12 Now app and Pac-12.com, 39% in social media video views, and 28% in social media engagements for the period July 2016 through June 2017. Meanwhile, the first week of the football season was the most-watched week ever on Pac-12 Networks, as well as on the Pac-12 Now app and Pac-12.com where fans consumed over 120,000 hours of video. 
 
On the local front, both the Diamondbacks and FOX Sports Arizona went three-for-three against Dodgers, as the sweep pushed the RSN to record the most-watched three-game series for the D-backs on FOX Sports Arizona since 2011. The average for the three games series on Sept. 4-6 was a 5.4 household rating with each game either establishing or tying a new season-high rating for FSAZ with Wednesday night’s game generating the highest peak rating of the season for a D-backs telecast on the channel at a 6.7 HH rating.
 
Georgia Bulldogs Sports Marketing, a joint venture between IMG College and JMI Sports, and Cox Media Group today announced a 10-year extension of the radio agreement that makes WSB-AM 750 the flagship station of Georgia Bulldogs Athletics. Georgia Bulldogs Sports Marketing also announced extensions with WNGC 106.1 FM and WRFC-AM 960 in Athens, Georgia and WXKT 103.7 FM in Gainesville, Georgia, both Cox affiliates.
 
MSG Networks named Ed Cohen as the Knicks’ new radio play-by-play announcer. Cohen will team with radio analyst Brendan Brown to call all the action for the 2017-18 Knicks season on ESPN Radio (ESPN98.7).
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
50+ media organizations
77 impressive Rising Star Honorees
Unlimited networking opportunities
AND
a one-of-a-kind awards reception!
Cynopsis Rising Star Awards | September 15 | NYC
Kick off the weekend with a networking and cocktail reception filled with promising, young innovators in media and the brands they represent. Click here for event information and a full list of this year’s Rising Stars.
 

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Bud Light is taking touchdown celebrations to the next level, handing out more than 65,000 Patriots-themed Bud Light Touchdown Glasses to fans at last night’s game. The glasses light-up blue for every Patriots scoring play during the game, as well as the moment that the Super Bowl LI banner is unveiled in the stadium for the first time. In addition, the brand is making 28,300 Patriots-themed Bud Light Touchdown Glasses available for purchase at BudLight.com/touchdown. Synced through a mobile app, the glasses will light-up after every Patriots touchdown throughout the season.
 
Samsung launched a new ad spot during last night’s NFL game between the Patriots/Chiefs picking up from last year and reheating up the rivalry between Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. In addition the ad campaign, the ad spot will also be supported digitally with Josh Norman + Dez Bryant talking smack across their social channels to each other.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

Lottsa tech/streaming news with the launch of the new NFL season. Live streaming TV service fuboTV announced plans to add more NFL programming in time for the new season, locking in a new carriage agreement with NFL Media, NFL Network and NFL RedZone to become available to subscribers of fuboTV’s sports-first offerings. NFL Network joins the “Fubo Premier” base package. Additionally, fuboTV announced the re-launch of its “Sports Plus” package, available to Fubo Premier subscribers for an additional $8.99 per month, featuring NFL RedZone and 14 other sports channels. “The NFL is constantly looking for more ways to offer NFL content on platforms where fans are spending increasing amounts of time,” said Hans Schroeder, Chief Operating Officer of Media and Business for the NFL. “We’re excited to offer NFL Network and NFL RedZone through fuboTV, a service focused on serving sports fans on digital platforms that will provide yet another option for keeping up with NFL Network’s 24/7 NFL coverage and catching RedZone’s action-packed Sunday afternoon experience.”
 
Zebra Technologies announced analytics enhancements that will see – in collaboration with Wilson Sporting Goods – Zebra engineer and deploy RFID tagged footballs for every game during the 2017 NFL season, allowing the collection of real-time location, speed, and rotation data for the footballs. As part of “Next Gen Stats”, data from the instrumented Wilson footballs has the potential to be leveraged on media platforms, such as NFL.com and in-game telecasts, to enhance the fan experience.
 
The 2017 NFL regular season saw Intel announce the expansion of Intel freeD technology to the home stadiums of eight new NFL teams, bringing immersive 360-degree highlights and player perspectives to 11 total teams in the NFL, including the Cardinals/Panthers, Browns, Colts, Chiefs, Vikings, Patriots and Redskins. The technology uses 38, 5K ultra-high definition cameras strategically placed around each stadium to capture volumetric data and create unique 360-degree and 3D game action highlights. Throughout the regular season, fans can access and share the highlights via NFL.com, the NFL Mobile app, the NFL’s YouTube channel and other NFL digital channels. Fans will also experience the enhanced replays in-stadium and during select games on NFL broadcast networks for closer views of the action on the field.
 
In fantasy news, FanDuel announced the launch of “Scout,” a new app designed to keep sports fans up-to-date on all the latest news tied to their fantasy roster. Fueled by numberFire, Scout offers users personalized player news feeds based on their fantasy lineups ensuring a new level of real-time roster management and allows users to approach decision-making and roster building from the matchup perspective rather than just from the individual player.
 
Comcast locked in a new partnership with CBS Sports Digital designed to put fantasy football scores and stats on the same screen as the games themselves for Xfinity X1 customers. The integrated experience provides viewers with access to detailed stats and analysis on their fantasy team’s standing, information on how key players are performing, game trends, and real-time updates on that week’s head-to-head matchup.
 
CBS Sports Digital also announced that Danny Kanell will join its team covering all sports, including college and NFL football, across digital platforms, including CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app. Beginning Sept. 9 with SEC Live coverage, he will contribute to all facets of content, including video programming, podcasts and written content. “Danny brings a wealth of experience and insider knowledge to our team, and we’re excited to have him on board,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, Senior Vice President and General Manager, CBS Sports Digital. “His versatility as an analyst and host will bolster our coverage of football and all sports as we create more content for sports fans on any device.”
 
The NY Jets are launching My JetLife, an in-depth series that will tell “the unique stories” of the team’s players (both current and Legends). Eps will run locally in JetLife on CBS2 on Saturdays at 11:35p as well as on a special micro-site on newyorkjets.com throughout the season. Stories will spotlight: Robby Anderson, Darron Lee, Bilal Powell, Leonard Williams, and Joe Klecko. 
 
Yahoo Finance launched a new podcast, Sportsbook: Business of Football, hosted by Daniel Roberts.  Each week, he will examine one part of the NFL’s $14 billion business operation with the premiere episode offering an in-depth interview with Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini.
 
Speaking of podcasts, sports reporters Mitch Albom and Mike Lupica have announced a relaunch of their long-running show The Sports Reporter, which was recently cancelled by ESPN after nearly 30 years on the air. The pair are partnering with Cadence13 to relaunch the show as a podcast. The bi-weekly show will feature a rotating cast of the sports writers, including Bob Ryan (Boston Globe), Christine Brennan (USA Today), Manish Mehta (NY Daily News), William Rhoden (ESPN) and Lesley Visser (CBS Sports), who will form a trio with Mitch and Mike every Monday and Friday.
 
The Olympic Channel locked in cooperation agreements with the international governing bodies for handball, roller sports and skateboarding as well as boules sport to collaborate on content for the one-year old destination. The agreements with the International Handball Federation (IHF), Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS) and World Confederation of Boules Sports (CMSB) bring the number of partners who have announced similar agreements with the Olympic Channel to 57.
 
 
ESPORTS
 
The upcoming ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017 will see an influx of new tech designed to improve the viewing experience. Among the tech injections will be the addition of biometrics, the use of VR and the use of advanced analytics. With the action slated to start today at 10p on TBS, ELEAGUE will partner with Dell Gaming, to bring eye-tracking technology developed by Tobii to the competition for the first time.  This biometric data is analyzed on Alienware PCs and used to create an immediate gaze overlay highlighting precisely where the player is looking throughout their play. On the VR side, the company is partnering with SLIVER.tv, where audiences will be able to access live coverage of Premier matches in 360-degree cinematic virtual reality stream and supported across web, iPhone, Android, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Daydream and Google Cardboard platforms. Finally, leveraging Dojo Madness’ Shadow.GG platform, ELEAGUE will offer viewers advanced data visuals including heatmaps, smokemaps and pathmaps, along with tactical and statistical replay views. Shadow.GG will provide ELEAGUE’s analysts and viewers with a data-based method to identify teams’ strategic tendencies, strengths and weaknesses.
 
Blizzard Entertainment is unlocking Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, described as “a cutting-edge live-event destination for pro players, esports fans, and everyone else who loves premier competition.” The venue will be based in the legendary Burbank Studios, with the studio at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles custom-tailored and set to open on Oct. 7, featuring multiple sound stages, control rooms, and practice facilities. Early events at the facility will include: the Overwatch Contenders Season One Playoffs on Oct. 7-8; the Hearthstone Championship Tour’s Summer Championship on Oct. 13; and the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship (HGC) Finals and World of Warcraft Arena Championship will be held at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles in late October.
 
Skillz unveiled the world’s first eSports streaming ticker building on the recently announced Skillz video broadcast patents, delivering automated play-by-play commentary including stats, facts and real-time matchup information. The ticker is a scrolling text bar inside a video broadcast that offers dynamic facts about the tournament, competitors, streamer and Skillz system trends.
 
Engagement and analytics platform Maestro announced the close of a $3 million Series A financing. The round is led by Hersh Interactive Group with additional investors Rubicon Venture Capital and the Stanford-StartX Fund. This brings the total capital raised by the company to  $5.8M when added to the previous $2.8M Seed funding. The Maestro platform enables a new category of live experiences that facilitates two-way interactions between streamers and their audiences with polls, commerce, contests, share prompts, and giveaways triggered in real-time, which significantly increase watch time while capturing a robust set of user data to understand audiences and data-drive decisions.
 
Elsewhere, esports startup Taunt closed a $1.75 million seed financing round, led by Foundry Group. Taunt is the fifth spinout of Pioneer Square Labs with Ben Gilbert serving as the interim CEO of the new venture. As part of the financing, Brad Feld of Foundry Group will be joining Galgon and Gilbert on the board. The company plans to continue growth in the esports and gaming landscape while expanding into new verticals as “enterprises worldwide seek to create engaging, authentic experiences driven by data.”
 
 
THE MAIN EVENT

Giants/Cowboys on NBC at 8p on Sunday Night Football.

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Friday, September 15 | Barclays Center | BKLYN
 
Nielsen  is launching a new unit focused on esports, offering global research and consulting services for the exploding industry – in 2017, revenue is projected to increase 41% to $696 million, with a 50% growth in global audience, to 191 million. To learn more about how to get in the game, register for the information-packed event with experts in the esports space AND a VIP/behind-the-scenes tour of ESL One.
 
 

ON THIS DAY in 1973: Billy Martin is named manager of the Texas Rangers.
 
In the Know: Who is the NFL’s current active career rushing leader? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which NFL team has the longest active winning streak on Opening Day? Answer: It seems this was interpreted two ways. Was looking for the Pittsburgh Steelers who won six opening days in a row, but for the readers who interpreted the question “as of Opening Day,” the answer would the Patriots. I’ll take either. Kudos: Nate Hammond/NY; Scott Leslie-UPS/Atlanta; Ken White-KW tv/Charlotte; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner & Triathlete magazine/Houston; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station
 
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 JOB OPENING: PROMO WRITER/PRODUCER: Seeking innovative promo producer for nationally syndicated talk show in New York. Candidate must be experienced in a fast-paced environment, demonstrate articulate client interaction and direct high profile talent. Apply at studiocity.com/careers (9/15)

JOB OPENING: ASSOCIATE WEB PRODUCER/Crown Media Family Networks/LA: Support Sr. Producer with content updates for consumer web initiatives. Experience using Content Management skills and tools. Cable or Digital Web experience. BA/BS req & Min 2 yrs exp. Apply HERE (9/15)

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