09/16/16: NBC’s Lazarus doubles down; Litner is officially a YES man; Twitter adds TNF distribution


Good morning. It’s Friday September 16, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus is taking on a new role as NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke named him as the company’s Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports in a shakeup following the departure of Ted Harbert. Lazarus originally joined the company to oversee sports in 2011.

“Mark has had a major impact on NBC Sports and NBCUniversal since joining the company in 2011,” said Burke in announcing the changes, per the LA Times. “Mark and his team have a winning culture and the quality of NBC Sports’ coverage is unsurpassed, from the Olympics and Sunday Night Football to the Premier League, Golf, NHL and NASCAR.  Mark’s energy, intelligence and character will be great assets to NBC Broadcasting, as they have been at NBC Sports.”


Meanwhile, FOX Sports made its expected news official, naming Jon Litner as President of the YES Network. Litner most recently served as President of NBC Sports Group, overseeing the eight NBC Regional Sports Networks and Golf Channel. Litner will assume his position immediately. “Jon is an excellent choice for this crucial role,” said New York Yankees President Randy Levine. “He has been a real leader in the sports industry in general and in the regional sports network space in particular, and is a great fit for our YES partnership with FOX.”

The Sept. 11 edition of PBR on CBS scored 1.75 million total viewers on Sunday to rank as the most-watched PBR telecast so far this season and the highest sports number outside of the NFL that day, according to Nielsen. Overall, viewership levels through the twelve telecasts this year are up 6%.

ESPN detailed plans for its ninth annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon with 13 men’s and women’s college basketball games on deck starting Nov. 14, spanning both ESPN and ESPN2 with over 24 hours of game action. Sixteen conferences are represented including three appearances from the Big 12 and West Coast Conference, and two each from the Atlantic Coast, Big South, Metro Atlantic, Pac-12 and Southeastern. The action begins with UConn/Florida State at 6p on ESPN2 in women’s basketball action, while the first men’s game will see Princeton/BYU at 10p.

ESPN also announced that a slate of NFL legends will join Chris Berman on Monday Night Countdown this season beginning with Mike Ditka on Sept. 19. “Having these football greats in the studio sharing their stories, as well as insights on today’s games will be a dream-come-true for me, more importantly for our viewers,” said Berman. “They forgot more football than the rest of us remember. This will be nothing short of Christmas every Monday night.”
Long Drive Month is returning to Golf Channel in October with a month of dedicated programming anchored by back-to-back nights of the 2016 World Long Drive Championship starting Oct. 11 at 8p on the network. Throughout the month, Golf Channel also will integrate the long drive theme into its instruction, studio and digital platforms in celebration of the long ball. This year’s champ will receive a $125,000 first place prize and a new, custom-designed Championship belt built by Orange County Choppers.

The Pepsi World Cup of Hockey Premiere Party is set to hit television tonight ahead of the tournament. Hosted by actor Jay Baruchel, the 90-minute program will broadcast live from the Pepsi Live Main Stage at Scotiabank World Cup of Hockey Fan Village in downtown Toronto and run on ESPN2 as part of ESPN’s two-hour World Cup of Hockey 2016 Preview Show from 7-9p. 

Jason Knapp and 13-time paralympic medalist Chris Waddell have been tapped to host NBCSN’s coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony on Sunday at 10:30p. Carolyn Manno will open the telecast.

SiriusXM announced that it will be the exclusive national radio broadcaster of the 2016 Ryder Cup, which runs Sept. 20-Oct. 2. Subscribers will have access to 70 hours of on-site broadcasts throughout the tournament, including 30 hours of live play-by-play with coverage beginning a 8a on Friday and Saturday and noon on Sunday. Earl Forcey will be the lead host on the broadcast beside analyst Mark Carnevale. Fred Albers, Maureen Madill, John Maginnes and Dennis Paulson will serve as roving commentators, calling the action as it happens on the course.


Call for Entries:
3rd Annual Cynopsis Sports Leaderboard

Open to all individuals + teams worldwide including: all networks, MSOs, leagues, teams, universities, production companies, studios, producers, developers, marketing and PR firms, + ad agencies who have
 utilized social media platforms to promote a product to sports fans throughout 2016.

Deadline to Enter: October 21st
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NASCAR drivers competing in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup are set to showcase their personal Twitter handles on their respective car windshields during the first three-race round. The activation is part of an aggressive push by NASCAR to leverage Twitter, Vine and Periscope to elevate The Chase experience for fans @NASCAR also unveiled a new, racing-themed Twitter emoji as part of a new partnership which will also see the first Chase race feature the Twitter bird logo, @NASCAR and #TheChase displayed as giant stencils in the infield at Chicagoland Speedway.
The NFL celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with a slate of special events with this year’s theme being “Feel the Orgullo” (pride). Fans can visit www.NFL.com/HispanicHeritage for a look at the personal stories of Hispanic players, while @NFLEspanol on Twitter offers a user-generated photo. Meanwhile, NFL teams will enhance the celebration with local efforts throughout the month including in-stadium themed elements and local community outreach. 

Speaking of football, Stanford University becomes the latest stop for Eckrich in the brand’s new Road to the National Championship $1 Million Challenge. Signature Sports Group leads all promotional and on-site mobile tour elements on behalf of the Official Smoked Sausage and Deli Meat sponsor, along with Learfield and on-campus personnel. “Eckrich and Signature Sports Group have put together a dynamic, multi-faceted campaign for passionate college football fans all the way to the National Championship in January, and it’s been a pleasure to work with them at four of our university partners,” said Roy Seinfeld, Learfield EVP of National Sales.

Kaulig Racing announced that LeafFilter Gutter Protection will return as the primary sponsor for Blake Koch’s No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro in 2017 for all 33 NXS races. The 2017 NXS season will mark the fourth year that LeafFilter will adorn Koch’s ride.


TNF has its first syndicated deal, as Twitter and Time Inc. locked in a deal to allow NFL fans to watch the Twitter live stream on SI.com, as well as Time.com and eventually on TheMMQB.com and Fansided.com with the experience set to include the live Twitter video as well as a related timeline of tweets during the game.

ONE World Sports announced a partnership with Whistle Sports to live stream Ivy League football games during the 2016-2017 season on Whistle Sports Facebook pages. Games begin with tomorrow’s Colgate/Yale matchup. Bill Spaulding and Ken Dunek call the action. “When seeking additional content partners to showcase our coverage of the prestigious Ivy League, it became abundantly apparent that Whistle Sports is the perfect partner to showcase these storied football rivalries across new platforms,” said Todd Myers, Vice President Programming, Acquisitions & Development, ONE World Sports.

AwesomenessTV and Major League Baseball announced that their new scripted series Out of My League will debut on Sept. 19. The series stars Lauren Elizabeth Luthringshausen (3M fans) and Brian Redmon (654K fans) with Caeli Santa Olalla (16.9M fans) and Ryan Abe (857K fans). "We produce premium content that engages our Gen Z audience, and partnering with MLB gave us the opportunity to make stories with the themes this audience cares about in the iconic setting of America’s pastime, "said Paul Kelly, Chief Partnerships Officer at AwesomenessTV. Episodes will then run every Monday through the finale on Oct. 24.

Kevin Durant is investing in Acorns, a micro-investing app, joining PayPal, Greycroft Partners, e.ventures and others. With Durant’s investment, Acorns will also partner with the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation for future initiatives and programming.


Tespa is deepening its collegiate roots, announcing a partnership with Blizzard to host college tournaments for Overwatch, Hearthstone, as well as Heroes of the Storm for the upcoming season. The Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm fall seasons will both serve as Training Grounds tournaments, open to any eligible college players and schools with scholarship prize pools of $50,000 and $100,000. Overwatch’s fall season serves as a Collegiate Series tournament, which only allows one team per school. Meanwhile, the spring season will see the titles swap formats. Competition starts for all three games on Oct. 1.

The Vainglory World Championship is ready to rumble, with a dozen champion teams from around the world hitting Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre from Dec. 2-4. The new tournament will be overseen by Twitch and Super Evil Megacorp. In addition, the publisher is partnering with the Collegiate Starleague for an official Vainglory collegiate league that launches in Oct. with scholarship money on the line. 

Bud Light released the fourth entry of its five part series that explores the lives of five eSports athletes, known as the Bud Light All-Stars. Produced by Machinima, the next episode spotlights Jason “Amaz” Chan, who talks about his rise within the competitive Hearthstone scene, his decision between continuing his competitive gaming career and becoming a full-time Twitch streamer, and more. The ep can be found on Machinima’s YouTube Channel.

With 16 teams competing for $300,000 in the Overwatch Open, FaceIt and ELeague locked in casters and on-screen talent to cover the tournament with names set to include the likes of Anders, Semmler, Mr. X and Goldenboy. The finals take place on Sept. 30 in Atlanta at Turner Studios.


The New York Red Bulls added Andrew Vazzano as Senior Manager, Digital & Social Media for the team where he will be charged with planning and execution of the organization’s digital communications platforms, including social media for the New York Red Bulls, New York Red Bulls II and Red Bull Arena. 
Vazanno joins the Red Bulls from SportsNet New York.


Florida State/Louisville on Saturday at noon on ABC.


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ON THIS DAY in 1957: The Los Angeles City Council approves a 300-acre site in Chavez Ravine to build a stadium for the Dodgers.

In The Know: Former pro basketball franchise the Buffalo Braves are now known by what team name in the NBA? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What school was Marshall Faulk drafted from? Answer: San Diego State. Kudos: Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Tom Schwarting-TYT Network/NY; Darren C. Carew-NBC Sports & Olympics/NY; Deborah Kapetanakis-Universal McCann/NY; Chris Schwartz-International Speedway Corporation/Charlotte; Michael G. Hawkins-Francis Marion University/Florence; Howie Schwab-Sports Jeopardy/ West Hartford; Tony Ferranti-MMSI/Warwick; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Brad Brown- Nevco/St. Louis; Lance Davis- Good Karma Brands/Milwaukee; Chris Hartweg-Huddle Pro/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Daniel Hanson/Vail; Scott Sarra-NBC Sports Group/Denver ; Michael Jaquet-US Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Scott Brofman-ITV/LA.

Later — Chris
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