10/13/17: The NBA is going full-season with its VR plans

Top 25 primetime college football showdowns tomorrow
ECU at #22 UCF 7:00 ET
Boise St. at #19 San Diego St. 10:30 ET
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Good morning. It’s Friday October 13, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

NBA Digital and NextVR are going long, with the Official League Pass VR Partner unveiling a schedule of 27 live games in virtual reality for the 2017-18 NBA season. The slate will feature all 30 NBA teams within NextVR’s signature immersive 3D VR experience, tipping off during a free preview on Oct. 21 pitting the Mavericks/Rockets. The season will also see the launch the NextVR Screening Room that will allow subscribers to watch any NBA League Pass game on a virtual movie theater-sized screen with the ability to select up to 13 NBA games to livestream on a virtual screen. NextVR will also debut new product features including live volumetric telestration, live infographics and dynamic stats inserted into the virtual scene, and user-selected point-of-view for the 27-game schedule.
“By committing to a schedule of VR games, we’ve been able to listen to fan feedback in real-time and deploy improvements on a weekly basis,” said Jeff MarsilioNBA Vice President, Global Media Distribution.  “The fan response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to seeing their reaction to this year’s new VR capabilities.”

The Yankees’ win over the Indians in the 2017 American League Division Series scored record-breaking viewership for FS1, which saw the content rank as the most-watched LDS in channel history with an average audience of 3,809,000 viewers over the seven Yankees-Indians and Red Sox-Astros games on the network, according to Nielsen, for a rise of 3% over last year’s NLDS on the channel. Game 5 between the Yankees/Indians posted 7,610,000 viewers across FS1 (7,261,000), FOX Deportes (207,000) and FOX Sports GO (142,000); to rank as the most-watched LDS game ever on each platform.
Elsewhere in Nielsen-land. Telemundo Deportes reports that the Rumbo al Mundial World Cup qualifier between Honduras/Mexico and running on Tuesday, ranked as the top sports event across broadcast and cable television of the day, regardless of language. The match window delivered 2.5 million total viewers and 1.4 million adults 18-49, according to Nielsen.
In talent news, FOX Sports announced that current 135-pound world champion Mikey Garcia and former multiple division world champion Robert Guerrero will join the broadcast team as analysts for Premier Boxing Champions: Santa Cruz vs. Avalos on FOX and FOX Deportes tomorrow at 7:30p. The pair team with blow-by-blow announcer Sean Grande to call the fights while Brian Kenny hosts the broadcast. On FOX Deportes, Jaime Motta joins blow-by-blow announcer Jesse Losada to call the action in Spanish.
Telemundo lined up the new biopic series, El Cesar, which follows the life of world boxing champion Julio Cesar Chávez that will air on Nov. 7 at 8p. Armando Hernandez portrays the boxing legend and is a production of Disney Media Distribution Latin America in conjunction with BTF Media.
Pac-12 Networks and the National Cable Television Cooperative, inked a renewal of the relationship between the Networks, NCTC and its members that own and operate cable systems. The affiliation agreement allows Pac-12 Networks, with its portfolio of one national and six regional channels, to continue to be available to over 800 NCTC member operators across the country.  
Filipino company TV5 Network Inc. is teaming up with ESPN for a long-term collaboration to introduce a new brand for the country’s sports fans – ESPN 5. The deal sees TV5’s “Sports 5” rebranded as “ESPN 5”, encompassing all sports coverage on TV5. In addition, ESPN will license to TV5 more than 2,500 hours of additional programming per year from its portfolio of sports rights, original programming and studio programs.
SiriusXM announced that Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski will host the premiere episode of season 13 of his weekly SiriusXM show, Basketball and Beyond with Coach K, on Oct. 19 at 6p. The series will then air weekly throughout college basketball season on ESPNU Radio.
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The Pac-12 locked in an extension of its partnership with New York Life that will see the insurance brand continue as the official presenting sponsor of the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, as well as an official sponsor of Pac-12 Olympic Championship events. As presenting sponsor of the two Pac-12 flagship basketball tournaments, New York Life will continue to receive on-court and in-arena branding as well as in-game promotional tie-ins, a full slate of media inventory, and digital assets and tune-in promotions throughout the tournaments on Pac-12 Networks, ESPN and FOX Sports 1. In addition, New York Life will continue to be the presenting sponsor of Pac-12 Networks’ Men’s Basketball Pregame Shows throughout the season.
Speaking of the Pac-12, Conference Commissioner Larry Scott announced the formation of a Pac-12 Task Force designed to propose reforms to protect student-athletes and address “certain systemic issues” threatening college athletics. The announcement comes on the heels of the NCAA’s formation of a Commission on College Basketball and is designed to both support that national effort as well as to explore more broadly related issues and how they could be impacting other sports. The Pac-12 Task Force will be composed of experts from both within and outside the conference, including coaches, athletic administrators, current and former student-athletes, and members of commercial entities involved in recruitment of student-athletes, among other stakeholder groups.
Buffalo Wild Wings is tackling the college football season with a lineup of 20 colleges and universities that will be part of the launch of the B-Dubs Collegiate Collection. The 4-pack pint glass set features the college logo on the front, and Buffalo Wild Wings on the back with participating schools that include: Indiana University, Oregon State University, Rutgers University, Texas A&M University, University of Alabama, University of California Los Angeles, University of Connecticut, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Illinois, University of Kansas, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, University of North Carolina, University of Oklahoma, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin.

The NBC Sports Scores app has now integrated player cards powered by Rotoworld into its schedule and live game features, giving fantasy team owners information in one centralized location. The new player cards are centered around Rotoworld Player news, giving users quick access to the latest up-to-date news and injury status for their players. Player cards also include biographical data and statistics broken down by game, season, and career. In addition, when accessing the “team” page on the app, fans will now receive Rotoworld-based depth charts and player injury status.
Sportradar US, LLC announced that it has acquired MOCAP Analytics, Inc. The acquisition combines Sportradar’s leadership in sports data with MOCAP’s expertise in AI-powered data storytelling. Together they will pursue new opportunities to develop player-tracking data products to engage NBA, NFL and other sports fans.
Sports Illustrated has teamed up with Minute Media, parent company of digital publishing brands 90min, 12up and DBLTAP, for a new content collaboration to enhance SI’s global coverage of soccer on its digital platforms. Under the deal, 90min, the world’s largest and fastest-growing digital football (soccer) platform, will supply Sports Illustrated’s soccer channel, Planet Futbol, with global soccer content developed by 90min’s editorial staff and fan contributors.

Hi-Rez announced plans for a Paladins Console Series that will offer $250,000 in prizes. The Paladins Console Series will be entirely streamed on the Paladins Mixer channel every weekend, with 12 monthly tournaments taking place on both Xbox One and PS4 from through Oct. 2018. Each monthly tournament will feature three weeks of open bracket play, rewarding teams with “Crystals” before the top eight teams in each region qualify.
Millennial Esports Corporation announced that sports executive Bob Reif and his Audible Group will be working with Millennial Esports. “We are extremely excited to have a seasoned executive with the direct sports sector experience of Bob Reif joining our team,” said Igelman. “I’m confident that Bob’s experience as an innovator with leading sports and lifestyle brands will translate well to what we are doing at Millennial.”

The NBA named retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, the first woman to lead the United States Air Force Academy, has been named Senior Vice President and Head of Referee Operations. She will begin on Oct. 16 and report to President, League Operations Byron Spruell.

Yankees/Astros open play tonight on FS1 at 8p.

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