11/11/20: The NBA and its Players Association approved new plans for the 2020-21 season

 

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday November 11, 2020

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association reached an agreement in principle on the start of the 2020-21 season and yesterday saw the Board of Governors approve the plan, which includes adjustments to certain provisions of the current collective bargaining agreement impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement will mean that the 2020-21 season will tip off on Dec. 22 with the 2020-21 season featuring each team playing a 72-game schedule.

As part of the deal, a new system will be used to “ensure the parties’ agreed-upon split of basketball-related income (BRI).” Free agent negotiations will begin on November 20 at 6p with signings starting at 12:01p on Nov. 22. The NBA Draft will run Nov. 18 at 7p on ESPN.

PROGRAMMING

CBS Sports revealed its Masters plan, as the famed but delayed tournament hits CBS for the 65th year. CBS Sports offers week-long, multi-platform coverage, highlighted by its traditional 18-hole broadcast coverage beginning with the third round on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1p and final-round on Sunday at 10a. Additionally, highlights of early-round play runs on CBS on Thursday and Friday at 11:35p. Jim Nantz serves as host with Sir Nick Faldo as the lead analyst in the 18th tower. They will be joined by analysts Ian Baker-Finch, Dottie Pepper, 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman and Frank Nobilo, along with Amanda Balionis, contributing with interviews. Veteran announcers Verne Lundquist and Bill Macatee round out CBS Sports’ 2020 Masters announce team. Masters Live will offer three channels of golf action, offering nearly 100 additional hours of live video along with in-progress highlights.

ESPN and ESPN+ entered into a new six-year agreement with the Southern Conference that runs through the 2025-26 academic year and will serve up more conference games across ESPN networks, as well as an increased presence across ESPN Digital platforms. As part of the new pact, there is an increase in SoCon men’s basketball regular-season home telecasts that will air on an ESPN network each year, as well as an expanded men’s basketball tournament broadcast schedule that will include both the semifinals and championship game over the six years.

In ratings news, The NFL on CBS notched its fifth straight week of viewership gains, reporting that this past week drew 22.711 million viewers for the Steelers and Cowboys. The average viewership for the five-week span is 17.838 million viewers, up 9% over last year.

With NASCAR season in the books, NBC Sports announced that the 2020 NASCAR Awards Show will be broadcast on Nov. 18 at 8p on NBCSN. The 90-minute broadcast special will celebrate and feature appearances from NASCAR’s 2020 champions in the NASCAR Cup Series – Chase Elliott, NASCAR Xfinity Series – Austin Cindric and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series – Sheldon Creed. NBC Sports’ Kelli Stavast and Marty Snider will co-host the presentation.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports saw its 2020 coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series match its viewership numbers from the 2019 campaign, with 3% viewership upticks for races airing on the NBC broadcast network. Its portion of the season saw 19 races across NBC and NBCSN that produced a Total Audience Delivery of 2.597 million viewers, according to Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics, matching viewership for the comparable 19 races on NBC and NBCSN in 2019. The 2020 Cup Series also delivered NBC Sports’ most-streamed NASCAR season record, producing an Average Minute Audience of 27,300 viewers, up 29% vs. 2019 (21,100 viewers).

CBS Sports announced its college football Saturday showcase for Nov. 21 at 3:30p will feature the SEC on CBS matchup between Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson and reporter Jamie Erdahl will call the action from Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

NBC Sports’ presentation of the 2020-21 FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup season begins with the women’s slalom from Levi, Finland, on Nov. 21, at 6:45a on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app. In addition to alpine skiing, NBC Sports will televise six additional skiing and snowboarding sports this season — cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, Nordic combined, ski jumping and biathlon.

The Big Ten Network revealed its schedule for the first half of the 2020 Big Ten Hockey season, complete with 12 games starting on Sunday. Action begins this Sunday, as No. 15 Arizona State visits No. 12 Michigan at 7p. In the coming weeks, additional games will be assigned to Big Ten Network+, a subscription service for non-televised live events.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports’ eighth season of Notre Dame hockey coverage begins with the 2020-21 season opener on Friday when the No. 20 Fighting Irish host the Wisconsin Badgers at 7p on NBCSN. The matchup marks the first of eight pre-winter break games to be presented live across NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Tony Simeone (play-by-play) and Kendall Coyne Schofield (analyst) will call Friday night’s season opener from Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Ind.

Facebook and FOX Sports are partnering to bring Premier Boxing Champions content to Venues for Oculus Quest and Facebook Watch. The agreement calls for FOX Sports to deliver three live events in virtual reality in Venues for Oculus Quest, beginning with the Vidal-Ortiz bout on Saturday. Fans who tune in via Venues can interact with other fans as avatars in virtual attendance or even “spar” with fellow viewers when they bump fists with each other.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Muffet McGraw is joining ACC Network as a women’s basketball studio analyst contributing to coverage on All ACC and Nothing But Net throughout the college basketball season. McGraw will make her ACCN debut as part the network’s ACC Women’s Basketball Tipoff and Operation Baasketball programming today and Thursday beginning at 5p.

Audible Inc. announced a first-look worldwide deal with three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP Stephen Curry’s production company, Unanimous Media. The multi-project slate, focusing on stories of family, sports and faith, kicks off with two original titles, “The Greatest Sports Story Never Told” and “Fifteen Minutes from Home.”

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Golf Saudi announced that Aramco, the world’s largest integrated energy company, signed on as the title sponsor of the first female golf tournament to take place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Aramco Saudi Ladies International runs Nov. 12-15 at the Royal Greens Golf and the Country Club, King Abdullah Economic City, near Jeddah.

World Chase Tag USA locked in a partnership with Zaxby’s to become a sponsor of the 2020 U.S. Championship as the Official Clock Sponsor of the World Chase Tag series. The partnership was secured by Equity Sports Partners. The first episode will air tomorrow at 11p on NBCSN. “We are extremely excited to launch the first season of World Chase Tag on NBC Sports Network with Zaxby’s as such a meaningful sponsor,” said Christian Devaux, CEO of World Chase Tag. “November 12th will be a milestone moment for the game. The World Chase Tag U.S. Championship is a tremendous event and Tupelo Honey has turned that into compelling television. With the distribution of NBC Sports Network and the support of brands such as Zaxby’s, the popularity of World Chase Tag will continue to grow.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

The Professional Fighters League is tapping Flagship Solutions Group’s capabilities to deliver IBM’s suite of advanced cloud and AI products to enhance the league’s delivery of next-gen SmartCage data and analytics, both live in-broadcast and via the league’s OTT platform, Fight Central. “Every day we strive to push the sport of MMA forward and drive deeper engagement with fans by being at the forefront of technology and innovation, and this infusion of IBM’s solutions into our product through the support of Flagship Solutions Group helps take our efforts to the next level,” said Peter Murray, CEO of the Professional Fighters League. “With the implementation of IBM’s cutting-edge technology, we look forward to creating transformative experiences for fans before, during, and after PFL events across platforms, further strengthening our position as the most innovative MMA organization in the world.”

With more than 80% of its 400-card run issued since it began in March, Topps “Project 2020,” is shifting into a new phase to allow baseball enthusiasts and fine art collectors the opportunity to own limited edition prints of their favorite cards. “While ‘Project 2020’ has been a huge success, we have had feedback from collectors that they see these cards as works of fine art,” said Jeff Heckman, Global Director of Ecommerce. “This program will allow them to showcase their favorites in the series, many of which ‘pop’ even bolder as full-sized, 16×20 prints in an attractive frame.

Bleacher Report and Mitchell & Ness teamed up once again to launch the next installment of the NBA Remix Apparel Collection. Spotlighting the crossover between music and sports, the collaboration features top hip-hop artists reimagining their hometown NBA team’s Hardwood Classic logos for a line of fashion jerseys, T-shirts, hoodies, shorts, and hats. The NBA Remix Collection launched on BleacherReportShop.com and MitchellandNess.com.

ESPORTS

ESL announced that December’s Intel Extreme Masters: Global Challenge will now become a global online tournament. The original plans would have seen teams battle it out in person at ESL’s Cologne studio. The IEM event will now run Dec. 15-20 with the best eight North American and European teams competing online to compete for $500,000. ESL will support all eight teams in finding suitable facilities within Europe whereby each team’s players and coaches can safely compete in one global division to provide one overall IEM: Global Challenge champion.

BLAST Premier entered into a partnership with Stimorol that will see the chewing gum brand sponsor the tournament organizer’s Fall Final competition in December. BLAST and Stimorol will be creating campaigns, activations and activities to engage, reward and excite fans tuning in around the world, with a focus on Denmark. Stimirol’s branding will feature across BLAST’s world class CS:GO event at the end of the year, including branded content opportunities, a number of giveaways on offer and the creation of a bespoke playable CS:GO map.

Team Liquid announced the addition of a new YouTube personality to its growing talent roster. Amanda the Jedi will get started right away as host of Liquid Pop, an original series produced by 1UP Studios. The premiere episode of Liquid Pop will drop on Thursday, November 12 via Team Liquid’s YouTube channel.

XP Sports, a gaming energy supplement brand, partnered with Barstool Sports for their first ever College Gaming Championship. The seven-week tournament features top collegiate gamers from 64 universities who will compete to win The Barstool College Championship Belt. Games will take place on the Barstool Sports Twitch channel every Wednesday from 7-10p (with Thanksgiving week off) until the first ever Barstool Sports College Gaming Champion is crowned on Dec. 16. “There are few companies that have captivated both the gaming and collegiate communities like Barstool Sports and we believe XP Sports is a perfect partner for their first ever College Gaming Championship,” said Iovate Health Sciences Chief Marketing Officer Jarrod Jordan, the maker of the XP Sports brand. “This multipronged integrated partnership allows us to generate exposure, target new consumers and offer gaming solutions in a competitive marketplace.”

The Farming Simulator League will return with GIANTS Software announcing the third season of its esports activities starting this month. Competition will be supported by dedicated sponsors such as Intel, Corteva Agriscience and Nitrado.

CLG and goodr entered into a marketing partnership that names goodr an Official Partner for all CLG teams. The partnership includes a joint venture between CLG & goodr to create CLG branded sunglasses, available early 2021, as part of the GAME goodr sunglass collection. “CLG is proud to partner with organizations that align with our innovative, creative mentality and we believe our new partnership with goodr fits this objective perfectly,” said Dan Fleeter, COO, CLG. “We are beyond excited to collaborate with goodr and create CLG-branded glasses that our fans will love, and we are excited to work together on additional unique initiatives throughout this partnership.”

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

ESPN announced a slew of executive moves, including the departures of Jodi Markley and Connor Schell from the company, effective April 2 and January 8. Schell, ESPN’s Executive Vice President, Content, who has been with ESPN since 2004, has decided to leave in order to form an independent production company where ESPN will be its first client. Markley, Executive Vice President, Content Operations & Creative Services, has chosen to retire after 32 years. Among the announcements will see:
· Chara-Lynn Aguiar, Vice President, Strategy and Office of the Chairman, will continue to focus on ESPN’s strategic development and serve as an advisor to the Chairman
· Stephanie Druley, Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production, will co-lead ESPN’s production area
· Laura Gentile, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Social Media, will be responsible for the creative marketing for the ESPN brand
· Thomas Hennessy, Senior Vice President, Finance, will manage ESPN’s financial matters and budgets
· Rob King, Senior Vice President, Editor-At-Large, will be responsible for the company’s overall journalistic direction
· Chris LaPlaca, Senior Vice President, Communications, will lead internal and external communications efforts.
· Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming and Original Content, will oversee programming acquisition and scheduling
· Kevin Merida, Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, The Undefeated, will lead this expanding platform and also partner closely with the Disney General Entertainment and Hulu teams to expand this groundbreaking property.
· Diane Morse, Chief Counsel, will guide ESPN on all legal matters and governmental affairs
· Paul Richardson, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, will oversee the wide-ranging HR functions
· Tina Thornton, Senior Vice President, Content Operations will now lead ESPN’s remote operations and events, Creative Works and Creative Services, ESPN Synergy, and the ESPN Next program, among other responsibilities.
· Mark Walker, Senior Vice President, Content Business Development and Innovation, will be responsible for identifying and developing collaborative relationships to drive ESPN’s content initiatives forward.
· Norby Williamson, Executive Vice President and Executive Editor, will co-lead ESPN’s production area, including its flagship SportsCenter, Get Up and First Take studio shows and event production

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