10/21/16: NBA Digital’s weekly VR date; Turner plots CES sequel; MP & Silva’s new CEO


Good morning. It’s Friday October 21, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 


NBA Digital locked in a deal with NextVR to offer fans a live stream of at least one NBA League Pass game per week in VR during the 2016-17 season to mark the first regular schedule of live games delivered in VR by a professional sports league.  The deal also sees NextVR become the “Official LEAGUE PASS VR Partner of the NBA.” The first VR game will be available for free on Oct. 27 with the Spurs/Kings at the Golden 1 Center. Other weekly games will then be available as part of the NBA League Pass full season package. Meanwhile, VR broadcasts will be fully produced with dedicated announcers, multiple unmanned camera angles and optimized graphics. Game breaks will be filled with in-venue entertainment, behind-the-scenes footage from the arena and VR-specific commentary.


Turner Sports will once again tackle CES, detailing its plans for its Sports Business Innovation showcase at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. Jan. 5 will see a full-day schedule that will see a slate of panels that include NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NCAA President Mark Emmert joining Grant Hill and WNBA star Sue Bird on a panel moderated by Ernie Johnson. Other panels will include a collection of athletes examining unique tech-driven partnerships and business ventures; Bleacher Report CEO Dave Finocchio and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott among panelists sharing perspective on the evolution of consumer engagement and ELeague host Richard Lewis moderating a panel with GM Christina Alejandre and additional experts focusing on the rapid growth and rise of eSports. That will be followed by an ELeague Major featuring Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) competitive video game. In addition, TNT’s Inside the NBA will be shown live from the convention at 4p. The event will be hosted is in partnership with CTA and Foxrock Partners, along with sponsors including Ford and NextVR.

NBC Sports announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will join the company’s broadcast team for the next two races at Talladega and Martinsville. Junior will reunite with former crew chief Steve Letarte and work with race announcer Rick Allen and fellow analyst Jeff Burton on Sunday at 2p on NBCSN. Meanwhile, NBC’s coverage of the Chase from Kansas on Sunday averaged 3.4 million viewers and a 2.1 household score, up 7% over last year’s equivalent.

The NBA Development League and the Sacramento Kings announced that the franchise has picked up a controlling interest in the Reno Bighorns. With the purchase, the Kings become the 15th NBA team to own and operate its NBA D-League affiliate.

The Liga MX heads back to ESPN Deportes on Saturday with a Necaxa/Veracruz contest at 9:30p. During the Apertura and Clausura seasons, the network will carry a live match every weekend on TV and WatchESPN via an agreement with Univision Deportes.

SEC Network will expand its series SEC Inside to the men’s basketball regular season beginning with a 7-week series that launched on Jan. 23. New episodes will then run back-to-back at 9p and 9:30p every Monday night.

SiriusXM hits the NBA season with live play-by-play of every game through the NBA Finals starting Tuesday with a tripleheader starting with the Knicks/Cavaliers at 8p. SiriusXM NBA Radio offers fans the most extensive and in-depth NBA coverage available on radio. Meanwhile, Bucks guard Jason Terry returns on Nov. 3 to host a weekly show on the channel throughout the season running Thursdays at 7p.

RIP to former KHOU 11 Sports Director Bob Allen who passed away at 70 after a battle with cancer. The city staple covered Houston sports for over four decades.


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The Golden State Warriors and United Airlines locked in a new multi-year partnership, naming the carrier as the official airline for the Warriors and a Founding Partner for Chase Center, the venue to be built in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. United will begin its partnership with the Warriors for the 201617 season at Oracle Arena and continue as a Founding Partner of Chase Center. The new partnership includes additional sales and marketing elements such as radio, social media, online and in-arena messaging.

The NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association announced the launch of the NHL/NHLPA Core Development Program to help NHL Players become better professionals both on and off of the ice. The initiative will look to: (1) to provide Players with an opportunity to develop a path to success off the ice; and (2), to provide Players with a customized strategy to enhance their overall performance during their playing career. “We are extremely excited to be in a position to offer programs to Players, beginning early in their careers. Recognizing the importance of these programs throughout professional sports, we believe this will help Players reach their full potential on and off the ice,” said Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director.

The Women’s Sports Foundation hosted its 37th Annual Salute to Women in Sports awards gala. Awards were presented by a host of big names including Laila Ali (boxing), Tamika Catchings (basketball), Meryl Davis (ice dancing), Aimee Mullins (track & field) and Sanya Richards-Ross (track & field), among others. Meanwhile, the Billie Jean King Contribution Award, paying tribute an individual or organization who has made a significant contribution to the development and advancement of women’s sports, was awarded to Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman.


Conference USA and Campus Insiders announced a slate of 10 regular-season men’s basketball games that will be produced and streamed on the Campus Insiders Network. Fans will also be able to watch the first round of the C-USA Men’s Basketball Championship, along with the first round and quarterfinal games from the C-USA Women’s Basketball Championship, on Campus Insiders.


Research firm Newzoo is going deeper into eSports, announcing a partnership program for eSports teams, which will now be actively be involved in the further development of Newzoo’s Esports Audience and Revenue Model and the quarterly Global Esports Market Report. The first five teams to sign up for the partnership program are: Immortals, Fnatic, G2, Na’Vi, and LGD Gaming from China.

Nintendo gave fans its first look at the Nintendo Switch, the new gaming console formerly known as Nintendo NX. The device will serve as a console for both at home gaming as well as on the road, with the machine transforming when not being used in its original docking station. In the launch video, the company seemed to imply that the device would play a big role in the company’s upcoming eSports plans, showcasing sets of players preparing to faceoff in an arena.

Fuse is launching Gamer Gods: Team Liquid, a half-hour special following the heavyweight eSports franchise. The series will premiere at 10p on Nov. 14.

ESL will integrate ESL competitive gaming systems and technology into the new Tournaments feature on PlayStation 4. The maneuver allows millions of PS4 owners to find and participate in league competitions, beginning with NBA 2K17 ahead of the new NBA season with Mortal Kombat X, Project Cars*1 and more coming down the road. , will be joining the ranks in the future. The integration is global, supporting 15 different languages to enhance competitive gaming on the over 40 million PS4 systems sold worldwide


MP & Silva named Jochen Losch as its new CEO. Jochen spent four years as Managing Director for Sportfive Americas, before becoming Sportfive’s Vice President TV Rights in 2005. Most recently he was President of International Business at Traffic Sports Marketing.
NBC Sports Group named Princell Hair SVP and General Manager of CSN New England. Hair was SVP of News and Talent for NBC Sports Group since 2012, and has more than two decades of national and local programming experience.  

SiriusXM announced that Jeff Cooper has joined the company as Vice President, Advertising Sales Sports where he will run adverting sales for SiriusXM Sports and its array of channels. Cooper joins SiriusXM from ESPN, where he served as Publisher of ESPN The Magazine and where he led advertising efforts for major brands including FiveThirtyEight.com, Grantland, and additional content-driven digital platforms.


Texas A&M/Alabama on CBS on Saturday at 3:30p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1992: The first World Series game played outside of the US sees Toronto beat Atlanta.

In The Know: Before moving to Sacramento, the Kings were based in what city? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: With Cleveland now playing World Series #6, which of MLB’s other original 16 teams has played in fewer? Answer: The Chicago White Sox with 5. Kudos: Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
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