09/27/17: The NFL and Facebook are partnering up for a global content distribution deal

Good morning. It’s Wednesday September 27, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The National Football League linked up with Facebook for a multiyear deal that will see the platform deliver official NFL video and other types of content to fans around the world. The league will publish NFL Game Recaps and official highlights from all 256 regular season games as well as the playoffs and Super Bowl and distribute uniquely packaged content from its award-winning production arm, NFL Films, on Facebook’s Watch platform. NFL Turning Point, Sound FX and NFL Game Recaps will be posted each week during the NFL season and available to people in the US on Watch.
“We have millions of fans on Facebook, and they continue to demonstrate an incredible appetite for NFL content,” said Hans Schroeder, Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media. “We’re excited to bring a compelling set of highlights and shows from the NFL and our Clubs to our fans on Facebook.”

ESPN named basketball commentator Doris Burke as a full-time ESPN NBA game analyst where she will work telecasts throughout the regular season and during the NBA Playoffs and begins her full-time role on Oct. 8. Burke will also continue her role as lead ESPN NBA sideline reporter for the company’s coverage of the most significant NBA games of the year, including the NBA Finals on ABC and the NBA Conference Finals. “Simply put, Doris Burke is one of the best commentators in sports. She’s incredibly accomplished, respected and admired, and for good reason. Her work-ethic and her passion for the NBA are second-to-none, she’s a great colleague and she makes our coverage better,” said Tim Corrigan, ESPN NBA senior coordinating producer. “Doris has spent a lifetime in basketball, and now, she’ll be able to share all of her knowledge, from the booth, with NBA fans on a regular basis.”
ESPN’s Monday Night Football game, which saw a Cowboys’ victory over the Cardinals, averaged 13.8 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, according to Nielsen, to mark a 71% spike year-over-year for week 3. On ESPN alone, the game averaged an 8.2 US household rating and 13,691,000 viewers. Through three weeks (four games), ESPN’s MNF viewership is averaging 11,887,000 viewers for a 10% markup over week 3 a year ago.
Azteca America, beIN SPORTS, ESPN, FOX, and FUSION TV and joining forces with UniMas and Univision Deportes Network in support of the victims of the recent natural disasters in Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas. Part of Univision Communications Inc.’s “Unidos por los Nuestros” campaign supporting the American Red Cross will see the sports broadcasters carry more than 10 hours of Liga MX soccer action as well as special programming, in English and Spanish, encouraging viewers to donate funds for disaster relief. Live coverage runs ends today. Personalities featured in the joint network roadblock includes Jorge Campos, Antonio Rosique and Carlos Guerrero from Azteca America; Ana Cobos, Jose Hernandez, Fernando Cevallos, Carmen Boquin from beIN SPORTS; Herculez Gomez, Sebastian Salazar and Jorge Perez Navarro from ESPN; Jose Ramon Fernandez, David Faitelson, Jorge Ramos, Hernán Pereyra, and Carolina de las Salas from ESPN Deportes; Andre Marín, Raul Orvananos and John Laguna from FOX Deportes and FOX Sports Mexico; Mark Rogondino and Mariano Trujillo from FS2; and the full Univision Deportes team.
Miami and LSU, originally slated to square off in college football next season on Sept. 1, will now be played on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 7:30p on ABC as part of ESPN networks five-day college football kickoff weekend showcase. The game, which will be played in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will mark the third consecutive year ABC has aired a prime time game on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.
NHL Network announced that Barry Melrose has joined its roster of on-air talent as a studio analyst. Melrose, who previously served as an NHL Network analyst from 2011-2015, will mark his return to NHL Network on NHL Tonight: Western Conference Preview on Oct. 1 at 4p. In addition to NHL Network, Melrose will continue his role as a hockey analyst at ESPN, where he has covered 21 Stanley Cup Finals since first joining the network in 1996 and has called games during the NHL regular season, Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
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Grim news from the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which filed charges against ten people in connection with fraud, corruption and bribery involving high school basketball athletes and NCAA college basketball programs. Among those arrested were: Lamont Evans, an associate coach of Oklahoma State University; Chuck Person, an associate coach of Auburn University; Emanuel “Book” Richardson, an assistant coach of the University of Arizona; and Tony Bland, an associate coach of the University of Southern California. Meanwhile, James Gatto, adidas’ director of global sports marketing for basketball, is now accused of getting $100,000 to an “All-American high school basketball player” in a move to drive the player to join a school that has an apparel contract with adidas. “The picture painted by the charges brought today is not a pretty one,” Joon H. Kim, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a Tuesday news conference. “Coaches at some of the nation’s top programs soliciting and accepting cash bribes. Managers and financial advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes. And employees of one of the world’s largest sportswear companies secretly funneling cash to the families of high school recruits.”

Fox Networks Group inked Verizon and Volkswagen as sponsors for FOX Sports’ broadcast of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. As part of multi-platform deals, Verizon will sponsor the halftime shows, one for each of the 64 matches airing across FOX Sports, while Volkswagen will sponsor the post-game shows, which will air after every match. More than a dozen advertisers have already boarded FOX Sports record-breaking 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia coverage. Additionally, FOX Sports is in advanced discussions with FIFA partners including adidas and Coca-Cola to also come aboard.

Callaway Golf Company extended its relationship with Phil Mickelson, inking a renewal that will see Mickelson continue to play a full complement of Callaway Golf equipment throughout his professional career. “Phil has meant so much to Callaway and to the game of golf,” said Callaway Golf President and CEO, Chip Brewer. “He is a dynamic athlete and an iconic ambassador. We are excited to continue our relationship with him for years to come.”

The PGA TOUR renewed its agreement with Twitter to serve as the exclusive global platform to distribute, on a free basis, more than 70 hours of live competition from PGA TOUR LIVE across 31 tournaments during the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season. Twitter will begin live streaming at the CareerBuilder Challenge on Jan. 18 and conclude its service at the season-ending TOUR Championship in September. “We have seen tremendous growth of PGA TOUR LIVE during our streaming partnership with Twitter,” said Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer of the PGA TOUR. “The positive feedback from our fans was resounding following the initial year of streaming PGA TOUR LIVE to Twitter’s global audience. We look forward to continuing the relationship to reach new audiences and driving new value for our advertisers.”
Meanwhile, Tough Mudder is partnering with Facebook to deliver original, live event sports and fitness programming on Watch. Facebook will now be the exclusive video platform for the new $50,000 Tougher Mudder Championship race series and Weekly Tough Mudder Bootcamp fitness studio classes. Viewers will also be able to get in shape with weekly, live fitness classes streamed from Tough Mudder’s new fitness studio offering, Tough Mudder Bootcamp.
DraftKings named Fanxchange as its official live event ticketing partner. Through the partnership, Fanxchange will provide DraftKings customers with access to live sporting events through exclusive promotional assets across DraftKings’ web, mobile, DK Live and DKTV platforms. “We know that 60% of our customers watch more live sports since they started playing fantasy contests on our platform,” said Jeremy Elbaum, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, DraftKings. “This partnership lets us tap into our customers’ unrivaled passion and bring it to life.”
Univision Communications and Sportsrocket announced today that UCI Live, UCI’s in-house experiential marketing unit, has tapped Sportsrocket to exclusively live stream the inaugural Prospects Cup, a landmark boys U12 soccer event taking place in December 2017.  In addition, Sportsrocket’s proprietary digital platform will also provide extensive media distribution, including tournament highlights and social video creation.
fuboTV announced a multi-year agreement with MSG Networks and will become the first live streaming OTT service to launch the company’s regional sports networks MSG and MSG+.  fuboTV will make the networks available to subscribers of Fubo Premier in the coming days and  carry the MSG Networks throughout their regional footprint.
SendtoNews reports that the August US comScore rankings saw that company draw a record 9,190,000 unique views, up 21% month over month. Other stats saw the company reach 3.7 million unique females and 5.4 million unique males viewers.

Lagardere Sports added another jewel to its esports crown, signing Splyce to the client list where the agency will oversee the team’s sales and help deliver new sponsors and developing individual marketing campaigns for the team. The agreement will focus on Europe and Asia as well as global opportunities. “Our partnership with Splyce enables us to demonstrate our activities and strengths beyond the borders of Europe, within the Asian market. We very much look forward to this collaboration and to increasing the number of games titles in our portfolio, for instance Starcraft 2 and Rocket League”, added Moritz Altmann, Senior Director of esports at Lagardère Sports.
Ligue 1 staple Paris Saint-Germain is going all in on Rocket League, announcing a three-person team that will compete professionally for the esports title. Making up the team will be Dan ‘Bluey’ Bluett, Thibault ‘Chausette45’ Grzesiak, and Victor ‘Ferra’ Francal.

Cubs/Cardinals at 7p on ESPN.
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