The Saudi General Sports Authority unveiled a slate of agreements last week for a roster of events that will take place in the country over the next year, including the World Boxing Super Series and Spain’s La Liga, as well as motor racing and chess. Meanwhile, the country is also laying out the welcome mat for a new sport, locking in a deal with The Drone Racing League for the 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship that will take place in Saudi Arabia next September, marking the professional drone race staged in the kingdom and mark the seventh and final event of the 2018 DRL Season. The final race will be broadcast in 87 countries on the best sports programs on the globe including, ESPN, OSN, Sky Sports, ProSiebenSat.1, FOX Sports Asia, and Disney XD.
Cynopsis caught up with DRL CEO/Founder, Nicholas Horbaczewski to talk about the deal as well as the growth of the sport and the challenges that needed to be overcome.
Horbaczewski on fans: We celebrated our second anniversary this summer, we’ve done two seasons of races and obviously we’ve grown tremendously. The real driver of that is the fans’ passion for the sport. If you look at the viewership we’ve got and the broadcast partners we have and the global reach we have – we are on TV in 75 countries now – you see people are really excited about the sport.
On lessons: We have certainly learned our lessons along the way and the biggest lesson we’ve learned is that the core of this is really about technology. We started out thinking of events and building a sports league and what we’ve discovered is that the magic to this is building technology that pushed the boundaries of what is possible with drones, especially in a professional racing setting. At our core, we are still a technology company and half our team are engineers focused on developing the technology that make all this possible. Some of the fun lessons we’ve learned, is that this is truly a global sport with fans all over the world. This is a sport that crosses language barriers; it crosses cultural barriers, ages and gender. That’s one of the reasons we have pushed so hard to by a global league and not just part of any one region.
On content: The heart of our sport, of course, is the telecast of our races. We are doing two-hours of broadcast of every race on premier sports networks around the world. One of our goals was to be in the top sports network in every market that we are in, and we are now on ESPN, Sky Sports, FOX Sports Asia, etc. and that is the primary way that people interact with the sport. That said, one of the things that makes this sport so great is that it also created incredible digital content and short-form content so people are consuming that content across a wide variety of mediums. We produce a wide variety of content that spans a wide variety of platforms because, frankly, that is how audiences consume content. Sometime you want a 30-second clip while walking down the street and sometimes you want to sit down for a two-hour race. This sport is incredibly amenable to that.
On educating advertisers: What has been the most interesting thing for advertisers to wrap their minds around this sport is that if you think about traditional sports sponsorship, I would think of examples like a patch on a jersey or the Tostitos brand spray-painted on a football field, but those aren’t really authentic forms of sponsorship integration. One of the things that DRL provides is an opportunity to truly integrate your brand into the sport. I think that is unique to this sport. Our courses are worlds that we build, they have themes, they have lighting, etc. and they are meant to feel like something out of a video game. We did a program with BMW this year where we went and flew a race inside the BMW museum in Munich. That was authentic integration and you couldn’t have a soccer match or football game there.
ON THE AIR
In the end, the MLB season comes down to the Dodgers and Astros, with FOX Sports and MLB detailing the programming lineup for the World Series. The matchup will mark the first time two 100-win teams will face each other in the Series since the Reds and Orioles in 1970. With all games airing on FOX at 8p, play begins tomorrow night at LA, and is slated to continue on Oct. 25, 27, 28, 29, 31 and Nov. 1, if necessary.
Speaking of FOX Sports, the Astros’ win over the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS on Saturday night scored more than 10.5 million viewers across FS1, FOX Deportes and FOX Sports Go, according to Nielsen. The game now ranks as the most-watched telecast in FS1 history, with an average of 9,924,000 viewers, and most-watched ALCS game in FOX Deportes history.
Around the dial, TBS wrapped up its coverage of the 2017 MLB Postseason with significant audience growth across all Turner platforms for its NL coverage. This year’s National League Championship Series averaged 6.2 million viewers, up 88% over TBS’s 2016 LCS coverage and scored 110% growth among People 18-49 and increases of 106% in People 18-34, 100% in People 25-54 and 98% in Men 18-49. Overall, its 2017 MLB Postseason coverage on TBS averaged 4.6 million viewers for a markup of 44% increase over last year’s comparable LCS telecasts airing on the network.
In other ratings news, ABC saw its Saturday Night Football matchup between Michigan/Penn State draw a 4.2 in Nielsen overnight numbers to rank as the top-rated college football game of the day. Columbus was the top local market for the Wolverines/Nittany Lions game, earning a 17.6 overnight, followed by Detroit with a 16.3. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State/Texas on the network earned a 2.9 overnight, tying as the second best overnight of the week across all networks and up 59% from last season’s comparable window on the channel. ESPN’s coverage of Louisville/Florida State garnered a 2.0 overnight.
Wrapping up our ratings roundup, Thursday Night Football across CBS, NFL and Amazon platforms was seen on an average minute audience basis by 14.9 million viewers, according to the league. The Kansas City/Oakland game was seen by an average of 14.378 million television viewers on CBS and NFL Network, up over last year’s comparable game, according to Nielsen live plus same day national ratings. The average digital audience for last night’s THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL game across Amazon Prime Video, NFL Mobile from Verizon, Watch NFL Network, the NFL app on Microsoft, NFL Game Pass (International) and on CBS digital platforms was 492,000.
ESPN laid out plans for its women’s college basketball slate for the 2017-2018 regular season and laid claim to 140 matchups across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Longhorn Network and SEC Network with additional coverage on ESPN3, SEC Network + and ACC Network. Stanford and UConn tip off ESPN’s season coverage on Nov. 12 at 1:30p on ESPN followed by Louisville/Ohio State at 4p on ESPNU. Programming highlights include ESPN’s coverage to showcase nine teams in seven matchups, while ESPN2 serves as the home for Big Monday matchups with 35 games on deck and ESPNU spotlights a total of 23 matchups.
Speaking of ESPN, Jemele Hill is set to return to the SportsCenter desk today after a two-week suspension the violated company rules for social media posts. The anchor told TMZ that she “put ESPN in a bad spot” after sending a series of tweets about Cowboys advertisers after team owner Jerry Jones said he would bench any player that knelt during the anthem.
|A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
in Cynopsis’ latest webinar
Join us on Monday, November 13 at 12:30 PM as George Ivie, CEO and Executive Director of the Media Rating Council and Bill Tucker, EVP of the Association of National Advertisers share goals for having a holistic media measurement ecosystem that gives every medium equitable value. You’ll learn the key standards that will impact your client campaigns, all angles on cross media measurement, the latest in view ability standards and more.
Verizon will not return as entitlement sponsor following the 2018 IndyCar Series season. IndyCar CEO Mark Miles announced Friday that the series will seek a new title sponsor beginning in 2019, noting that “Verizon has been terrific,” he told IndyStar. “It’s a great company. The people are professional and committed to the agreement. I think they brought a lot of technology, both to IMS, where there’s all kinds of connectivity we wouldn’t have had without them, and to the series, generally…. I think they really, at an important time, provided a platform for the progress we’ve made over the past few years.”
The San Francisco 49ers and IDEMIA locked in a new multi-year partnership to promote and implement identity and security services from IDEMIA’S IdentoGO solution. In addition, IDEMIA will equip the stadium with biometric-based technology to assist in fan experience and security in the near future. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to enhance security at Levi’s Stadium and IDEMIA’S IdentoGO technology complements our efforts as we strive to provide expedited entry for pre-approved customers,” said Jim Mercurio, 49ers vice president of stadium operations and Levi’s Stadium general manager. “We look forward to working with IDEMIA to jointly deploy the first-ever Trusted Fan Program which we plan on implementing in stages. We are excited about the possibilities they bring toward enhancing the fan experience at Levi’s Stadium.”
Netflix announced that the upcoming series based on The Punisher will also see a new Monster Jam truck themed around the Marvel superhero. Monster Jam Driver Tony Ochs served as the driver of the limited-edition Monster Jam truck bearing the name of the show and competing in Houston over the weekend.
DIGITAL & STREAMING
TuneIn revealed its lineup of NBA programming for 2017-18 season. In addition to live home and away play-by-play feeds from all 30 NBA teams all season long, the platform features an NBA TV station with programming such as game replays, and popular shows and podcasts such as NBA GameTime, NBA Inside Stuff, Inside the NBA, The Starters, NBA Hangtime, NBA Soundsystem and 10 Before Tip. TuneIn features three dedicated team profiles, with full programming from the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trailblazers.
NFL Media and Electronic Arts announced plans for a second season of competitive gaming content centered around the Madden NFL video game franchise. Saturday saw the return of Madden NFL America returns to NFL.com and NFL Network with new episodes streaming first on NFL.com every Friday night before airing on Saturdays at 4p on the linear channel. The Madden Classic opens this season’s Madden NFL Championship Series, made up of four Majors that culminate in April and feature the best Madden NFL players competing for over $1 million in prize money and the title of 2018 Madden NFL Champion. All tournaments within the Madden NFL Championship Series will air live on the Madden NFL 18 website and social channels.
The last slot for the League of Legends NA LCS will reportedly go to the NBA’s Houston Rockets. TheScore writes that Riot Games accepted the Rockets’ bid, which would round out the ten teams slated to compete in the series. They would now join the Cavaliers, the Warriors’ Joe Lacob, Cloud9, CLG, Team Liquid, FlyQuest, Echo Fox, Team SoloMid and OpTic Gaming with franchises in the league.
Pringles locked in a sponsorship play with ESL ahead of ESL One Hamburg. The deal sees the brand activate at the Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg where eight Dota teams will square off and see Pringles engage via an interactive area, among other activations.
Twitch is opening the doors to new featured, revealing plans at TwitchCon for the near future. Developments include: a stream summary; premieres; easier raids; rooms and rituals, which makes it easier for a streamer to celebrate special moments that bring their community together. Say a viewer is checking out a new channel for the first time. In addition, Twitch is opening the doors for achievements – built to give streamers a fun roadmap to achieving greater success on Twitch – as well as subscription gifting.
Riot Games announced that voting for the 2017 League of Legends All-Star event will start on Nov. 6 and run through Nov. 10. Fans will be able to cast a vote for one player per position and up to two players per team who have played in the most recent splits. Fans will only be able to vote for players in their own regions.
MP & Silva named Seamus O’Brien as President and Group CEO effective Jan. 1. O’Brien has over 30 years’ experience in leading executive positions in the international sports industry across the world and was appointed in 2014 as Deputy Chairman of the Executive Committee of Lagardere’s Sports and Entertainment division.
THE MAIN EVENT
Redskins/Eagles on ESPN at 8p.
|A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Entries are NOW open for the Cynopsis TV and Buyers & Planners Awards
The Cynopsis TV Awards salute excellence in national TV programming, from writing and directing to casting and hosting. In addition, we recognize outstanding achievement across teams, platforms, and overall merit. The Buyers & Planners Awards honors the most creative and dynamic media buyers and planners working in linear and digital content.
Enter by November 10!
ON THIS DAY in 1994: NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt wins his seventh Winston Cup season championship.
In the Know: What is the name of University of Michigan’s fight song? (Email Chris-Sports@Cynopsis.com
with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who ranks at the Packers’ all-time leading receiver (in career yards)? Answer: Donald Driver. Kudos: Aymon DeMauro-Discovery Communications/NY; Nate Hammond-NY/JCC; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Joshua Duboff-Reuters News Agency/Boston; Rich Dubroff-PressBoxonline.com/Baltimore; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Alicia Smits-Potawatomi Hotel & Casino/Milwaukee; Jordan Barton-True Media/STL; Lance Davis-ESPN Milwaukee/Milwaukee; Ryan Brunlieb-Intersport/Chicago; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; John Raven-Amgen/LA
Later — Chris
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