10/03/16: FOX hits postseason with bases loaded; Clemson win fuels ESPN’s weekend; Gaga on deck for Super Bowl show


Good morning. It’s Monday October 3, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With the MLB postseason upon us and heavyweight markets/clubs in the mix for the World Series, FOX Sports geared up for its NL run and World Series run last week with the announcements that Alex Rodriguez would return to the studio as an analyst, and would be making his first appearance of the postseason this Friday for the start of the NLDS. Cynopsis Sports spoke with John Entz, President of Production & Executive Producer, FOX Sports about the company’s postseason plans, Rodriquez and pairing Joe Buck and John Smoltz.

On lessons learned from MLB 2016: We are reassured that this game is still strong.  The game has so many great stories to tell, and many young stars to help continue that momentum into the years ahead. Overall, as far as consuming the game, a large majority are still watching on television but with that said, our non-linear distribution channels, like FOX Sports GO, are seeing growth. We see streaming as additive to what we do on the linear side and are delivering live content for people when they cannot get to a TV set.

On the Buck/Smoltz combo: We love the quick chemistry that Joe and John developed this season and like what we have moving forward. And yes, they will be our lead team next year.
On bringing back Rodriquez: I can’t say enough good things about Alex. We always knew he would be great on TV but what we were surprised by last year was just how quickly he picked it up. His on-the-field accomplishments alone would lift anyone’s coverage but add to that how comfortable he is in front of the camera and how well he gets along with the other guys on set  we’re lucky to have him.

On other postseason plans: We have a few really interesting baseball-themed original programs that Jamie (Horowitz) & Charlie’s (Dixon) teams have been working on. One is a film I want to highlight is on the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s called "Brothers Forever and is produced and directed by Pittsburgh native and award-winning filmmaker Antoine Fuqua. The story documents the ’71 Pirates, who fielded MLB’s first all-minority starting lineup on their way to winning the World Series that year. The film illustrates how baseball has historically been a thread of American fabric that has helped to break racial barriers and bigotry.


A Louisville/Clemson showdown drove ABC to a massive 6.0 rating on Saturday, with ESPN’s family of networks scoring the top three overnights of college football’s week 5. The Tigers win marked the highest overnight for a Saturday college football game of the season and up 25% over last season’s equitable matchup. Meanwhile, Wisconsin/Michigan on Saturday afternoon delivered a 4.5 overnight, while Friday’s Stanford/Washington battle on ESPN delivered a 2.4 overnight rating, marking the best regular season Friday night game on ESPN since 2012.

Meanwhile, last week’s TNF game on NFL Network and NFL Digital platforms delivered a 4.76 household number with an average of 8 million viewers tuning in, not including over-the-air stations in Miami and Cincinnati. Thursday Night Football continues next week on CBS, NFL Network, Twitter, NFL Digital, and CBS Interactive with the Cardinals/49ers.

Lady Gaga is officially on deck to headline the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl Halftime Show on FOX on Feb. 5. Leading up to the game, fans can visit Pepsi.com for behind-the-scenes looks into Lady Gaga’s journey to the show and a shot to win sideline passes to see her perform live at NRG Stadium in Houston.

In other celebrity news, UFC announced an influx of stars who have invested in the company with new owners that include Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, Adam Levine, Anthony Kiedis, Ben Affleck, Calvin Harris, Cam Newton, Conan O’Brien, Flea, Guy Fieri, Jimmy Kimmel, Li Na, LL COOL J, Maria Sharapova, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay, Rob Dyrdek, Robert Kraft, Serena Williams, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Brady, Trey Parker, Tyler Perry and Venus Williams. “Expanding our ownership group to include this caliber of talent and entrepreneurs is a strong indicator of UFC’s fast-growing global presence,” UFC President Dana White said. “Our new investors bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to help us continue to elevate this brand and capitalize on its entertainment and sports crossover appeal.”
WWE is returning to the Alamodome in San Antonio as host of the 2017 WWE Royal Rumble on Jan. 29, marking the return of event to the Alamodome for the first time since 1997.

SiriusXM lined up a two-hour tribute special dedicated to the career of Vin Scully that runs today at 5p, hosted by Mike Ferrin on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel. Listeners will hear a new one-on-one interview with Scully, along with comments from Clayton Kershaw, Don Newcombe, Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra; as well as broadcasters Bob Uecker, Dick Enberg, Jon Miller, Al Michaels, Bob Costas, Verne Lundquist, Brent Musburger, Marv Albert, Charley Steiner, Joe Buck, Marty Brennaman, Ross Porter, Mike Krukow, Joe Davis and Jaime Jarrin.


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Octagon debuted a new brand identity “focused on the endless potential that exists for the agency’s global family of talent, brands, and employees.” “Our new branding is a reflection of who we are today, and where we’re headed in the future. Simply put, where others see complexity, we see possibility.” said Octagon Chairman and CEO Rick Dudley. “We are a team of 800 strong across the globe, using our unique blend of brains and creativity to predict, produce and perform for our talent and brand clients.” New elements from the company include a new site, new tools including studies, and more.

SCANA Energy was named a founding partner of Mercedes Benz Stadium, marking the tenth founding partner of the venue. As the exclusive natural gas provider, SCANA Energy will provide natural gas service for the stadium and all Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United facilities.
Australian fitness pro Emily Skye is joining team Reebok as its newest fitness ambassador. The deal will see her partner with the brand “to engage and motivate women around the world on body positivity and unlocking their potential through fitness” and spearhead a slate of Reebok collaborations and initiatives to stimulate conversations on body positivity, while collaborating on a special footwear creation in 2017.

Hyundai announced plans to engage NFL fans through a new digital and social promotion called Put Your Profile On The Line, allowing fans to bet each other on the outcome of games using Facebook profile pictures as currency. Friends put their Facebook profile picture “on the line” with stakes that will range from opposing team overlays to entertaining GIFs and other challenges.

Just before the NHL season, NBC Sports Group is seeing a rise of 5% in ad sales, according to B&C. Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s executive VP, global partnerships, stated that he will unveil new U.S.-only NHL partners before to the start of the season on Oct. 12.


Major League Baseball is boasting the digital fingerprints of its partnership with the NHL, and will roll out a new app titled Arena for the hockey league that will echo MLB’s own Ballpark app. Crain’s Chicago Business writes that features could allow fans to purchase and manage tickets, upgrade seats and buy food and beverages although it may not be used by all NHL teams at first.


Twitch is boosting its eSports engagement with the introduction of its own in-game digital currency, dubbed Stream+ that would debut with the launch of Amazon’s new brawler game Breakaway and “integrate directly” within the Twitch platform. The company announced its plans at TwitchCon, noting that the currency would act as a “a loyalty points system where players can earn points by watching streams” that could later be spent on “polls and wagering.”

Meanwhile, TwitchCon also saw announcements that included: Twitch Prime, a new set of Amazon Prime benefits created for gamers; clips on mobile; Transcodes; Curse Voice and Twitch integration and more.

Music producer/DJ/Dim Mak Records founder Steve Aoki is buying in to the eSports scene, announcing at TwitchCon that he has invested in Overwatch and Counter-Strike team Rogue. "As many of my fans know, I’ve been a gamer all my life and have been getting more and more involved in eSports,” he said, per ESPN. “I can finally take my love for gaming to the next level as an owner of Rogue, the professional eSports team. As an avid player of Overwatch, their dominance caught my eye and after getting to know them, I realized that we shared the same goals and interests in team building and competition.”

It would appear that German sports league, the DFL is planning to go all in on gaming, filing a slate of trademarks surrounding eSports. German lawyer Michael Scheyhing told Gameslaw that marks included "DFL Esport Bundesliga", "DFL Virtuelle Bundesliga" and "eBundesliga."

NRG is getting into the Rocket League, bringing Kings of Urban into the family to compete. “Welcome @Fireburner_ @Sadjuni0r and @RL_Jacob to the family as the new NRG Rocket League team! #NRGRL,” NRG posted on Twitter.


FOX Sports added a pair of key execs to the team, naming Neal Scarbrough to the newly created position of Executive Editor and Gabe Spitzer to the role of Executive Producer, Original Programming and Branded Content. Scarbrough joins from NESN and now oversees FS1’s studio programming and news updates during the day while directing breaking news topics for discussion on FS1 studio programs. Spitzer will take on current original programming as well as the development, acquisition and execution of short and long form documentary content.

Philippe Le Floc’h was appointed as the new FIFA Chief Commercial Officer where he will oversee all commercial activities, heading up both the Marketing and TV sub-divisions and helping drive the organization’s commercial performance.


Giants/Vikings on ESPN at 8:30p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1974: Pele retires from soccer before returning the next year for the Cosmos.

In The Know: Which coach has the most all-time NFL victories? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In the movie Trouble with the Curve, Clint Eastwood plays a scout for which MLB club? Answer: The Braves. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; David Stern-BARD Entertainment/NY; George L. Sauli-US International Media/NY; Scott Borst-Showtime Networks/Atlanta; Jonny Codalata-JMI/Zionsville; Melissa Pattillo-Turner Sports/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Joe Lyons-SOS Global/Dallas; Jay Goslee-FOX17/MYTV30/CW58/Nashville; Brad Brown- Nevco, Inc./St. Louis; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA; Neal Stevens-Stevens & Associates/Beverly Hills.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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