10/21/20: Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick is retiring

 

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday October 21, 2020

Normally we wouldn’t open with a story from Monday but the retirement of Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick is reason for exception. His 47-year career broadcasting pro hockey, including 15 as the lead play-by-play voice for NBC Sports’ NHL coverage, wraps up the end of an era, calling 22 Stanley Cup Finals, 45 Stanley Cup Playoffs/Final Game 7s, six Olympics, NHL Winter Classics and All-Star Games. In all, Emrick estimates he has called more than 3,750 professional and Olympic hockey games. Emrick will remain a member of the NBC Sports family by occasionally writing and narrating video essays for its NHL coverage in the future.

“It was 50 years ago this fall, with pen and pad in hand at old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, I got my first chance to cover the National Hockey League. Gordie Howe was a Red Wing, Bobby Hull was a Blackhawk, Bobby Orr was a Bruin,” said Emrick. “A time like this makes me recall that we have seen a lot together. The biggest crowd ever, 105,000 at Michigan Stadium. A gold medal game that required overtime between the two North American powers in Vancouver.

“Things change over 50 years, but much of what I love is unchanged from then to now and into the years ahead. I still get chills seeing the Stanley Cup. I especially love when the horn sounds, and one team has won and another team hasn’t, all hostility can dissolve into the timeless great display of sportsmanship – the handshake line. I leave you with sincere thanks.”

“Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick is a national treasure – simply put, he’s one of the best ever to put on a headset in the history of sports broadcasting,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President, Production, NBC and NBCSN. “Doc’s love of the game and his unmatched style produced true artistry, engaged new fans and quickly became the soundtrack of hockey. He lived at the rink on game days, spending countless hours at morning skates to find one more story to seamlessly weave into his frenetic, yet lyrical, call of a game. Doc always found the right words to meet the moment. It’s impossible to put into words the impact Doc has had not only on the game of hockey, but for anyone who has had the distinct pleasure to work with him.”

PROGRAMMING

Let’s open with ratings news. FOX Sports checked in, noting that the NLCS Game 7 drummed up 10 .2 million viewers across its platforms on average, with 9.7 million on FOX and FS1 alone. On the digital front, that ranks as the most streamed LCS game in FOX Sports history as well as the most-streamed MLB even of the 2020 season, with an average minute audience of 172,032.

In football, FOX saw America’s Game of the Week deliver 22,307,000 viewers, up 4% over last year’s equitable week 6 matchup. That ranks as the most-watched telecast of the week, and includes an average minute audience of 444,796 on FOX and NFL streaming services.

Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ primetime college football game on Saturday pitting Georgia and Alabama scored an average of 9.611 million viewers, up 3% in viewers from last year’s comparable game and making it the most-watched college football game of the season on any network.

CBS Sports also reports that its Week 6 singleheader coverage of the 2020 NFL season on Sunday, delivered the Network’s most-watched singleheader in October in four years. Viewership was up 2% in averaging 16.655 million viewers versus its comparable singleheader week last year.

Finally, ESPN’s Monday Night Football audience grew for the third consecutive week, as the 28-point victory by the Arizona Cardinals over the Dallas Cowboys generated 11,317,000 viewers. For the entire season, MNF is now averaging 11,255,000 viewers per game (seven games) based on Nielsen’s day-after reporting. Locally, Dallas was the highest-rated market, generating a combined 21.6 rating across ESPN and on affiliate WFAA. Phoenix was the second best market with a 17.6 rating, also combined across ESPN and on affiliate KSAZ.

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The Pac-12 Conference and its television partners ESPN and FOX Sports locked in network designations and potential kickoff times for all “special date” football games occurring on Fridays this coming season. The Conference previously announced its 2020 football schedule, featuring a seven-game Conference-only lineup commencing on Nov. 7. Programming opens Nov. 13 with Utah/UCLA on FS1 at 7:30p, followed by UCLA/Oregon on Nov. 20 on ESPN. Every football game through the first six weeks of the season will be televised nationally by a combination of ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FOX and FS1. FOX will televise the 2020 Pac-12 Football Championship Game on Dec. 18.

Professional Fighters League is returning in 2021, after cancelling its lineup of fights in 2020, as the 2021 PFL Season kicks off April 23 on ESPN2 out of Las Vegas. The remaining Regular Season events will take place on April 29, May 6, June 10, June 17, and June 25. “We’re thrilled to announce an early start date for the 2021 PFL Season and we look forward to building on the positive momentum experienced in a historic first season on ESPN,” said PFL CEO, Peter Murray. “In 2021, the PFL will deliver an elevated, immersive, and interactive fan viewing experience incorporating expanded, real-time fighter data and analytics from our proprietary SmartCage technology, behind-the-scenes access, the return of ref cam, and more. Our champions return looking to earn another title, while a fresh crop of exciting new fighters will challenge for the top spot in MMA. Additional contenders will be unveiled in the leadup to what we believe will be the biggest season in PFL history.”

Major League Baseball and Star Sports India unveiled a new multi-year broadcast agreement to air every game of the 2020 and 2021 World Series live across India. “Star Sports is a sports broadcasting leader not only in India but throughout Asia,” said Dominick Balsamo, MLB Senior Vice President, Global Media. “As we continue to develop the sport and work to grow MLB fandom in India, there is no better partner than Star Sports to showcase the athleticism, intensity and drama that will be on display at the World Series.”

Athletes Unlimited revealed its third pro sports league, tapping into the talents of women’s lacrosse. The new league will be played from July 19 – August 22 following the 2021 World Cup at a site to be determined. Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse will play a short form, fast paced format consisting of eight-minute quarters, 9v9 gameplay and a 60-second shot clock all housed on an 80yd x 50yd playing field. Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse will be comprised of 56 players that will roster four teams of 14 players each.

NBC carries a special two-hour “All-American Bowl: Declaration Day” on Saturday, Jan. 2, celebrating each of this year’s 100 All-Americans as NBC Sports Group announced that the 2021 All-American Bowl will not be played due to health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “All-American Bowl: Declaration Day” will include unique features and analysis, as well as college declarations by select players. The special will be hosted by NBC Sports’ Paul Burmeister, alongside analyst and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, and reporter, former Notre Dame wide receiver and 2013 All-American Bowl alumnus Corey Robinson. Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports, will provide highlights and expert analysis throughout the two-hour special.

Turner Sports rolled out plans for Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Change, a premier golf event with the World Golf Hall of Famer and crossover legends competing – Phil Mickelson, Charles Barkley, Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning. TNT will exclusively televise the event, to be held Nov. 27, at 3p at Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley, Ariz. Bleacher Report will also provide exclusive live content leading up to and during the event on the B/R app. The event will contribute toward and highlight diversity, equality and inclusion through donations to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), while raising awareness and spotlighting opportunities for diversity and equality in sports.

CBS Sports and Entercom agreed to a multi-year extension for the simulcast of WFAN 101.9 FM/660 AM (WFAN-AM/FM) morning show “Boomer & Gio.” The show, hosted by Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, is live Monday-Friday from 6-10a and simulcast on CBS Sports Network.

Mike Krzyzewski, the Hall of Fame head coach of the Duke University Blue Devils, will host the premiere episode of the 16th season of his weekly SiriusXM show, Basketball and Beyond with Coach K, this Thursday at 6p. On Thursday’s debut, Krzyzewski is scheduled to be joined by Frank Vogel, head coach of the NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, and Jon Cooper, who coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup Championship last month.

“A well-rounded group of industry-leading presenters and a variety of sessions that were informative and in some cases – eye-opening!” – Paul K.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

ESPN Events named Union Home Mortgage as the new title sponsor for the Gasparilla Bowl, the annual college football postseason game played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Beginning with this year’s game, the bowl will now be known as the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl. “We are excited to begin this journey with Union Home Mortgage as our two organizations have a very similar approach to how we operate,” said Scott Glaser, Executive Director of the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl. “Leadership at Union Home Mortgage made it very clear that they always strive to create a culture that demonstrates mutual respect for everyone along with a deep desire to be world-class. This is no different than how we attack every day at our bowl. I can’t wait to get started!”

The PGA TOUR locked in Vivint Smart Home as title sponsor of the Houston Open for 2020 in support of tournament host and beneficiary, the Astros Golf Foundation. The Vivint Houston Open will be played November 5-8 and returns to Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston for the first time since 1963.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association partnered with sporting goods and outdoor retailer Academy Sports + Outdoors in a multi-year partnership will focus on “establishing meaningful community initiatives across established markets within the CIAA footprint.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Upper Deck unveiled Artifacts Golf, a premium trading card product that will offer collectors m array of autograph and memorabilia cards from the game’s icons and rising stars, and hitting store shelves in spring of 2021. Upper Deck’s first golf release since 2014 will include Tiger Woods, World Golf Hall of Fame members Arnold Palmer and Annika Sorenstam, as well as up-and-coming players Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Matthew Wolff, Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson. Artifacts Golf will be available at hobby shops nationwide, as well as on Upper Deck e-Pack.

ESPORTS

Complexity Gaming entered into an expanded partnership with Miller Lite to create live content for fans as well as enhanced partnership branding across social channels and livestream initiatives. The partnership will see of-age Complexity players participate in a variety of livestream activities to engage audiences and develop a deeper connection to fans. During Squad Streams. Additionally, Complexity and Miller Lite have together refreshed branding across its livestream, social media, and partnership assets.

VENN, the 24/7 gaming and esports streaming network, locked in a series A funding round that has brought in $26 million to the company. The round was co-led by Seed round investor BITKRAFT and new investor Nexstar Media Group, Inc. Eldridge, WISE Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group, and the majority of the existing Series Seed investor group also participated in the round. Under the terms of its investment, Nexstar secured content and sales category exclusivity for local television broadcasting and has the right to appoint a member to VENN’s Board of Directors. In addition to the Series A, VENN is bolstering its leadership team with the addition of Jeff Jacobs as EVP & General Manager.

Verizon, in collaboration with Apple, Riot Games and Twitch Rivals, is hosting a preview event for ‘Wild Rift,” taking place on Oct. 22. The celebrity tournament will be played on the new 5G enabled iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro from 9:30-11p on Twitch and simulcast on Twitter. ‘League of Legends: Wild Rift’ is expected to be available in the U.S. in Spring 2021

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

Octagon Sports & Entertainment Network named Cristina Ackas as Vice President, Inclusive Diversity. In the role, Ackas will design diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) programming across the agency network; and oversee key internal and external DE&I initiatives for Octagon, R&CPMK, and OSEN’s formidable family of agencies specializing in marketing, talent management, communications, and production.

PointsBet announced the appointment of sports media veteran Len Mead as Vice President of Content. Mead most recently served as Vice President of Broadcasting & Media Partnerships for the XFL, where he was responsible for the first-year football league’s innovative telecasts.

Rawlings Sporting Goods and Easton Diamond Sports entered into a definitive agreement for Rawlings to acquire Easton. “Over the years, Rawlings and Easton have shared a dedication to being best in class, which is the one constant that ultimately inspired our coming together and what will create the best baseball and softball company in the world,” said Mike Zlaket, President and CEO of Rawlings. “Whether it’s our products, innovation and technology, relationships with our customers, players and consumers, or our service to the game, Rawlings has never compromised. That will be especially true moving forward with the many opportunities and advantages our new integrated operation will provide everyone who loves baseball and softball.”

The Drone Racing League named and 11x NBA All-Star Chris Bosh as the Dean of DRL Academy, a STEM program designed to inspire the next generation of scientists and digital athletes through the tech-powered sport of high-speed drone racing.

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