10/23/19: Wade’s new home; XFL unveils inaugural slate; Plank’s big decision at Under Armour

Wednesday October 23, 2019
Dwyane Wade agreed to a multi-year agreement with WarnerMedia that will include a variety of projects across the media company’s entire portfolio spotlighting a number of areas including sports, lifestyle and entertainment. As part of his Turner Sports role, Wade will be a basketball commentator, making appearances at TNT’s tent pole NBA events and as a regular analyst for the network’s Tuesday night studio coverage, appearing alongside analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Candace Parker. Wade will also make studio appearances at the NCAA Final Four and National Championship, as part of Turner Sports and CBS Sports’ combined coverage of the event. He will also contribute as creative director on a number of special projects for Bleacher Report while Wade and his 59th & Prairie Entertainment production company reached a development deal with WarnerMedia and will be creating a number of projects over the length of the agreement.


The XFL unveiled its inaugural schedule, with 2020 set to serve up a 10-week regular season that starts Feb. 8 at 2p with the DC Defenders hosting the Seattle Dragons on ABC, followed by the Los Angeles Wildcats traveling to Houston for a game against the Roughnecks at 5p on FOX. The eight-team league is divided into two four-team divisions, East and West. The XFL East features the DC Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers. The Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons comprise the XFL West. Overall, ABC and ESPN will combine to televise 22 games during the 2020 XFL season, concluding with the inaugural XFL Championship on April 26.ABC will televise 14 games with most telecasts starting at 2p on Saturdays. ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to carry eight games, all on Sundays.
Meanwhile, FOX Sports’ 2020 XFL broadcast schedule will see a lead on-air team comprised of veteran studio and game broadcaster Curt Menefee providing play-by-play alongside Joel Klatt, who also serves as the network’s lead college football analyst. The XFL’s 10-week season of games will be showcased Saturdays at 5p on FOX for the first five weeks of the season. In addition, FOX will feature XFL games on Thursday nights in primetime at 8p for the final two weeks of the season.  The rest of the Sunday matchups can be seen on FS1 after Week 1, with one game airing on FS2 in Week 6.


With the World Series underway on FOX, FOX Sports’ coverage saw the network add 4D Replay to its production technology arsenal for the slate. The system incorporates 30-plus cameras arranged around home plate, offering the creation of an animation displaying batter swings, pitch location and plays at the plate.
On the ratings front, ESPN reports that its college football slate over the weekend saw ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Michigan/Penn State and ESPN’s primetime presentation of Tennessee/Alabama rank as the two most-watched college football games of week eight. The Big Ten battle between the Wolverines and Nittany Lions delivered an average audience of 6,658,000 viewers, with viewership up 6% from last season’s week 8 SNF contest while the SEC showdown earned 4,248,000 viewers,
ESPN also saw the Patriots’ win over the Jets average 10,902,000 viewers across ESPN and ESPN Deportes, for a 3% markup over ESPN’s Giants-Falcons Week 7 matchup in 2018, according to Nielsen. Through eight games, MNF’s average audience of 11,856,000 viewers is up 4% season-to-date.
The third season of CBS Sports’ Four Sides of the Story franchise continues with the second episode of the season, “Hook, Ladder and Liberty” on Saturday at 2:30p on CBS. Each episode is told through four unique points of view with “Hook, Ladder & Liberty” offering an inside look at one of the biggest upsets in college football history, when Boise State used every trick play in the book – including a Hook & Ladder on 4th down and a game-winning Statue of Liberty play in overtime – to beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2020 with a new, hourlong Saturday morning television edition and new daily segments on SportsCenter and other platforms as part of a revamping of the brand that begins later this year. Daily OTL segments will begin appearing on SportsCenter and other platforms on Jan. 20 with the weekday television program stopping production on Dec. 20. Jeremy Schaap will host the new Saturday morning edition of OTL starting Jan. 18 at 9a on ESPN.
ACC Network announced plans to add Kelly Gramlich and Monica McNutt to its women’s basketball on-air roster. Both Gramlich and McNutt will contribute to studio coverage with analysis of the conference’s season-long women’s basketball action.
FloSports and Caymax Sports announced a partnership to be the exclusive media partner for the 2019 Cayman Islands Classic. Th FloHoops.com platform will offer live and on-demand content and coverage for all 12 games happening from November 25-27. The three-day preseason tournament features eight men’s Division 1 college basketball teams competing over Thanksgiving Week.
Uninterrupted is once again teaming with DAZN to produce a docuseries spotlighting boxers Canelo Alverez and Sergey Kovalev, according to Deadline. The new installment in DAZN’s 40 Days franchise from the media company founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter showcases the fighters before their bout in Las Vegas.


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The Best Of The Best Awards salutes a year of content, campaigns and talent over a wide range of genres, from thought-provoking documentaries, to intrepid travel, to dynamic drama. While the Rising Stars represent the innovators and stand-out performers who are driving progress in marketing, research, content and more. Entries are due this evening (at 11:59PM).





The Mid-American Conference locked in a 10-year marketing rights agreement with JMI Sports that will run through the 2029-30 academic year. This alliance begins on July 1, 2020 with JMI Sports also assisting in strengthening the MAC brand and expanding its fan base across the nation. “After a deliberate and through review of the opportunities presented to us, I am pleased to announce the Mid-American Conference has selected JMI Sports to manage the Conference’s marketing rights,” said Mid-American Conference commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with the JMI Sports team led by Erik Judson and Tom Stultz, and was gratified by their strong interest in partnering with the Mid-American Conference. I look forward to working collaboratively with JMI Sports to advance the interests of the Conference.”
With the NBA season here, New Balance dropped a new video entitled “Reign over LA” featuring Kawhi Leonard, to celebrate his official basketball homecoming and signifying the official OMN1S basketball shoe launch. “Kawhi’s independent spirit has taken him on a journey where he clearly wanted to go home. He first became the face of New Balance Basketball, won a championship in Toronto and now found his way back to Los Angeles. Reign Over LA celebrates an athlete who carved their own their path to individual success,” said Patrick Cassidy, New Balance Global Director of Consumer Marketing. New Balance Basketball is a co-authored story with athletes like Kawhi Leonard and Darius Bazley – supporting athletes who are setting trends, not following them.
Feld Motor Sports inked a deal with cbdMD, which comes aboard as the exclusive CBD partner for both Monster Energy Supercross and the Monster Energy Cup. The multi-year agreement officially began at the annual all-star event this past weekend and will extend into the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season.


The NHL is adding a Spanish-language website to NHL.com, marking the ninth native language NHL website available to hockey fans. The new site, NHL.com/es, sees native Spanish-speaking hockey reporters provide fans with original hockey stories and videos, offer a unique perspective on daily hockey news coverage, share player profile pieces, and report from behind-the-scenes at League events. “We continue to see a strong appetite from NHL fans across North America and around the world for native-language hockey content,” said Steve McArdle, NHL Executive Vice President of Digital Media & Strategic Planning. “Our Spanish-language website will provide original, authentic NHL content. Stories will not simply be translated from English to Spanish but will be covered by experienced reporters and told in their own voices based on their unique perspectives.”
Digital streaming combat sports platform FITE released its inaugural State of the Industry Report, which includes exclusive data on viewership, geographic breakdown of fans who typically stream pay-per-view sporting events, how they are tuning in, a ranking of popular streaming devices and preferred combat sporting events – from boxing and MMA to pro wrestling and bare-knuckle fighting. The report findings include information like:
  • Female viewership is on the rise: 87% of combat sports viewers are male, but female viewership accounts for 13% of total viewers, with two-thirds of users being between the ages of 25-44 years old
  • Casting to TV streaming devices such as Chromecast from mobile apps increased viewing time by over 40%
  • While North America prefers to stream PPV via TV platforms, Europe and South America prefer to tune in via mobile and computer: TV platforms in North America capture 50% of the digital viewing time, followed by Europe/Australia (30-35%) and South America (24%)
  • Boxing is the most popular PPV sport to watch: Nearly 55% of PPV combat sports buyers are interested in boxing, with 40% interested in pro wrestling and nearly 40% interested in MMA.


Competitive gaming platform nicecactus.gg (formerly Esport-Management.com) announced the closing of its $ 5.5 million Series A round and the launch of a new product, the Nicecactus Grassroots Esports Fund, to pursue its next chapter of growth. The round was raised by a group of private investors and will be put towards building and refining the platform’s product offering, attracting top talent and scaling the business.
Misfits Gaming appointed Matt Bailey to Senior Director, Sponsorship Sales and Services where he joins a team responsible for the organization’s global sales and partner relations. The appointment marks Misfits Gaming’s first senior commercial team hire in Europe – home of Misfits Gaming’s League of Legends team, competing in the League of Legends European Championship (LEC). Bailey joins Misfits Gaming from InCrowd Sports.
Virtuix, developer of the Omni Arena virtual reality esports attraction, is offering a prize pool of $100,000 for the 2020 Omni Arena esports series, doubling the current prize pool of $50,000 and making the Omni Arena esports series the largest VR esports competition in the world. “Our 2019 esports contests exceeded all expectations,” said Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix. “More than 1,000 players in over a dozen countries participated. Given the success of the series, we are thrilled to double our prize pool for 2020.”


A big shock in the sports world with the news that Under Armour CEO and founder Kevin Plank would be departing his position, after recent company struggles, and would be replaced by current COO Patrik Frisk starting Jan. 1. Plank will shift to become executive chairman and brand chief, according to the company, after serving as CEO since Under Armour’s inception in 1996. In a release Tuesday morning, Plank called Frisk the “right person” to take charge of the company.

“As my partner during the most transformative chapter in our history, he has been exceptional in his ability to translate our brand’s vision into world-class execution by focusing on our long-term strategy and re-engineering our ecosystem through a strategic, operational and cultural transformation,” Plank said.
The National Women’s Soccer League named Louisville as the league’s fourth expansion team, where it will begin play in the 2021 season at Lynn Family Stadium. The expansion marks the first time the city of Louisville has had a top-tier pro sports team since the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association ceased operations in 1976. “We are incredibly honored to be joining NWSL, the greatest women’s soccer league in the world,” said Louisville City Football Club President Brad Estes. “We can’t wait to welcome these incredible athletes with open arms and support them in their mission to win championships. This market is hungry for more pro soccer, and we know our NWSL team will be a shining star in this league and in our community.”
College Football Playoff named Brett Daniels as Senior Director of Communications and Branding. Daniels previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for the 2018 CFP National Championship Game in Atlanta, leading all aspects of Host Committee operations with Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the game.


World Series Game 2: Nationals/Astros at 8p on FOX.

Wednesday Wisdom From a 2019 Digital “It List” Honoree:

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ON THIS DAY in 1921
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Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
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