10/26/16: NBC locks in TNF voices; The CW is feeling dirty; NBA beefs up Snapchat ties


Good morning. It’s Wednesday October 26, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NBC is turning to multi-platinum recording artist Pentatonix to perform the show open for its new Thursday Night Football package, with Weekend Go, inspired by their original hit Sing. The show open “celebrates the start of the NFL weekend, with game highlights and player cameos” starting Nov. 3 with the Falcons/Bucs on NFL Network before NBC’s portion of the schedule begins on Nov. 17. “Pentatonix, with millions of young fans, are the perfect choice for our show open as we debut Thursday Night Football,” said Fred Gaudelli, Executive Producer of NBC’s Thursday Night Football and Sunday Night Football. “ ‘Weekend Go’ combines their mega-hit with spoken word for a fresh new approach to kicking off the weekend. We’re excited to get started on Thursday Night Football and look forward to premiering the show open.”


The CW Network is getting a little dirty through a new deal with Tough Mudder that will see the active lifestyle brand debut a new multi-platform, six-part series on CW Seed and The CW in 2017. The series will focus on a group who make up a team with the single purpose of coming together to accomplish completing a Tough Mudder. Episodes one through five will debut on CW Seed, The CW’s digital network.  The finale will feature the team tackling the course as they look to cross the finish line and will be broadcast on The CW Network.

Showtime Sports laid out plans for seven boxing matches pitting top-10 rated champions against fellow top-10 rated challengers over four consecutive months starting in December. The action opens with Jesus Cuellar/Abner Mares and Jermall Charlo/Julian Williams on Dec. 10. Other anchors include Bardou Jack/James DeGale on Jan. 14; Carl Frampton/Leo Santa Cruz and Dejan Zlaticanin/Mikey Garcia on Jan. 28; Adrien Broner/Adrian Granados on Feb. 11 and Danny Garcia/Keith Thurman on March 4.

NBCSN’s coverage of the NASCAR Chase on Sunday averaged 3.6 million viewers with a 2.2 household score, according to Nielsen. Viewership was up 4% over last week’s race on NBC. On the digital front, live streaming of Sunday’s race generated 4.4M live minutes, and 62K unique devices, up 40% & 29% respectively over the. 2015 event.

Golf Channel is turning to viewers to determine its Dec. programming schedule, opening a “Fan Favorite” voting period that runs through Nov. 6, where viewers can vote on their 10 favorite televised rounds in 2016 from a list of 20 potential selections. The 10 fan-generated favorite rounds will air across 10 consecutive nights Dec. 19-30 in primetime and in descending order based on rounds receiving the most votes.

On the local front, FOX Sports Southeast announced a new long-term television rights agreement with the Memphis Grizzlies that kicks in with the 2017-18 NBA season. The deal sees the RSN remain the exclusive regional television partner of the team, where they will produce all locally-available regular season games not exclusively selected by a national network. Additionally, the network will televise three preseason games annually and all non-exclusive first round playoff games.

In international waters, DIRECTV Sports locked in a rights package with the NBA that marks the company a league home throughout Latin America. The company will carry 120 games from the 2016-2017 season, in both SD and HD as well as on DirecTVSports.com, showcasing up to five games a week. DirecTV subscribers in the region will also be able to access the NBA League Pass package, according to SportsPro.

Meanwhile, ESPN is going deep into Africa, locking in a deal with Econet Media’s Kwese that will see the launch of an ESPN channel in 19 countries early next year. ESPN will also produce daily SportsCenter updates for Africa, bringing the iconic sports news and highlights brand to the channel. In addition, by mid-2017, ESPN and Kwese will together launch an African edition of the ESPN website and mobile app.

Meanwhile, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby flatly denied a Monday SBJ report that ESPN had bought out the pro rata clause re: expansion for $10 million, according to CBSSports.com. Asked if the report was premature, Bowlsby said, "You guys can draw your own conclusions."

Elsewhere in college news, the Colonial Athletic Association announced its men’s and women’s basketball broadcast package for the 2016-17 season, with 75 televised games set to be carried largely by the NBC Sports Regional Networks and the American Sports Network. Additional games will be added to the television schedule prior to the start of the regular season. NBC Sports Regional Networks will televise 15 men’s and women’s basketball games, including the quarterfinals and semifinals of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship and the semifinals and finals of the CAA Women’s Basketball Championship, while the American Sports Network will televise 16 men’s and women’s contests on affiliate stations throughout the nation. Meanwhile, the conference stated that it expects to announce an agreement soon with a major sports network to carry the title game of the CAA Men’s Basketball championship to a national audience.

The United Soccer League announced today the additions of the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC to its roster where they will join Reno 1868 FC as USL expansion sides for the 2017 season.

The LPGA is partnering with Alisports to own an LPGA tournament hosted annually in Mainland China for the next 10 years. The tournament will be a part of the LPGA’s fall Asian swing and take place in late September or early October. “We’re thrilled to establish this long-term partnership with such a well-renowned corporation as Alibaba Group and their sports division, Alisports,” said LPGA Chief Commercial Officer Jon Podany. “Securing the LPGA’s presence in China will facilitate the continued growth of the game’s popularity amongst the more than 1.3 billion people living here over the next decade and beyond. Alisports’ digital reach will allow our players and events to be broadcast to millions of new fans and help build the next generation of golf talent around the world.”



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With the NBA season officially underway, the league laid out partner activations for start-of-season. Among the bevy of promotions will be 2KTV from 2K; American Express serving as the presenting partner of the Halftime Show on TNT and NBA TV; Anheuser-Busch InBev’s custom Budweiser and Bud Light team cans; AutoTrader on board as the presenting partner of the pregame show on TNT and NBA TV; Kia will debut a new Optima campaign on Nov. 1; Ruffles will host the Home Court Advantage Program where fans will have the chance to win the ultimate Fan Cave; State Farm will debut a new campaign featuring Damian Lillard, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul; and TISSOT shot clocks will officially debut in all 29 NBA arenas at tip-off.

Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment picked up the Colonial Athletic Association for a media and sponsorship rights partnership. As part of the multiyear agreement, VWSE Collegiate Services division will manage and market the multimedia rights associated with the Conference, as well as serve as exclusive sales representative for its growing corporate sponsorship program. VWSE and the CAA will collaborate to enhance in-venue experiences for sponsors, member schools, and a significant fan base employing VWSE’s expertise in sponsorship and advertising, ticket sales, and marketing activation.

DraftKings and FanDuel have reached a $12 million settlement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that will end remaining false advertising claims stemming from an enforcement action filed a year ago. The two companies will pay $6 million each for false advertising violations, according to Schneiderman.


More NBA as the league unveiled plans to hit up Snapchat. The league and social platform renewed a partnership to bring behind-the-scenes and in-game coverage to the app that could triple the amount of content that ran on the platform last season. The league will create more Live Stories as well as release a weekly Discover channel. The first Discover edition launched yesterday ahead of  the season opener.

FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated are offering Live @ the World Series for the World Series on Facebook. Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal host the pregame show, which will run before each game of the series on SI.com and FoxSports.com, as well as on the Facebook pages of both sites.

The Olympic Channel announced cooperation agreements with six International Sports Federations to collaborate on content for the Olympic Channel. Joining the roster will be the IFs for Cycling (UCI), Figure Skating/Speed Skating (ISU), Luge (FIL) and for new sports in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Baseball/Softball (WSBC), Karate (WKF) and Sport Climbing (IFSC). They now join the 27 other IFs who signed similar agreements with the Olympic Channel earlier this year.

FloSports locked in a five-year partnership with World Wrestling Network Live to make FloSlam.tv the exclusive worldwide streaming partner of all WWNLive properties, including EVOLVE, SHINE, Full Impact Pro and WWN Supershow. The deal kicks in on Nov. 4 with live coverage of SHINE 38. Overall, live coverage of approximately 60 events annually will run on FloSlam as part of this deal.


ELeague’s sponsor list got a little sweeter with the addition of Snickers as the official chocolate bar for the eSports league’s second season. Snickers will reach audiences through a number of branding elements across television and digital, including sponsorship of the ELeague pregame show and “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” Moments that will run post-game every week showcasing the biggest gaffes and bloopers from that week of gameplay. Additional ad spots will only air between breaks in the action alongside ELEAGUE’s “ad tracker,” a scrolling ticker highlighting stats and additional information about participating teams and players.

Former NBA point guard Stephon Marbury is looking to become the latest player to own an eSports team. The former Knick announced on his Weibo account (he is currently playing in China) that “I decided to march [into the] esports industry to build my own team and recruit players, from my fans, in no time” with more info coming soon.

Team eLevate is rebranding to Elevate. “In print and publication, our name will mostly be capitalized “Elevate,” and occasionally “ELEVATE,” but will not be accompanied with “Team,” “Esports,” “Gaming,” or any other title,” the team said in an online statement. “Simply put, most of our audience has used the shorthand “Elevate” to refer to us and we agree that the simplification of the brand represents who we are. While we may have hedged our identity on a single “team” or branded ourselves within one single title in the past, that is no longer the case. We are a multi-title, broadly-reaching organization that engages an audience both within esports and beyond.”


Whit Haskel has been promoted to FOX Sports Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing. He now assumed joint oversight of FOX Deportes’ marketing and promotional activity with a focus on the strategic alignment of properties airing on FOX Deportes and FOX Sports’ English-language channels.

Nashville Soccer Club hired Court Jeske from Major League Soccer to serve as the team’s first CEO. He previously served as VP of international business for Soccer United Marketing (SUM), the commercial arm of MLS. Nashville SC will begin play in the United Soccer League in 2018.


Cubs/Indians on FOX at 8p.




ESports is ushering in a full-blown shift in entertainment and culture, but how do you maximize and monetize this phenomenon? Get the answers during our webinar on November 17, from sponsors and marketers as they share their insights into connecting with eSports fans, laying out a blueprint for how brands can reach and connect with a generation of skeptical but affluent consumers.

ON THIS DAY in 1996: The Yankees win their 23rd World Series championship with a win over the Braves.

In The Know: What is the name of the trophy presented to the winner of the World Series? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: With which American League team did Gaylord Perry win a Cy Young? Answer: Cleveland. Kudos: Aymon DeMauro-Discovery Communications/NY; Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Matt Meachem-Gracenote/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Ken Nice-TeamPeople/DC; Willy Gibson-WTG Consulting/Columbus; Doug Wollenburg-SCAD/Savannah; Pamela Wise-The E.W. Scripps Company/Cincinnati; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Christoper Kalis-Law Offices of Christopher Kalis/Plano; Brad Brown-Nevco, Inc./St. Louis; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner & Triathlete magazine/Houston; Jack Neumann-University of Calgary Dinos 5th Quarter Alumni/Calgary; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Jason Kleinhein-CoxReps/LA.

Later — Chris
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