11/18/19: Yahoo’s Reiss discusses the platform’s moves into gambling


Monday November 18, 2019
Last week saw Yahoo enter the online sports betting market with the launch of the Yahoo Sportsbook platform in partnership with BetMGM, opening serve in New Jersey with eyes toward other parts of the country. As media entities continues to wade into the water of legalized gambling, Cynopsis asked Geoff Reiss, VP and General Manager of Yahoo! Sports, about the platform and what it means to Yahoo’s future.
Reiss on the partnership with MGM: We’ve been working on this idea between Yahoo Sports and BetMGM for more than two years. It springs from what we’ve always been great at, which is fantasy sports and connecting fans to their passions. At Verizon Media our core strategy is to build products and experiences that speak to our consumers’ passions and help drive the deepest value. We knew this was the next logical step for our fans, because we’re deeply aligning the consumer journey even more from content discovery to transaction. Another important piece for us was picking the right partner, and we think we’ve certainly done that with MGM Resorts International and Roar Digital, which have created a gamechanging platform with BetMGM.
On betting content: Really, it’s a natural fit with our immersive mobile experience including our best-in-class fantasy platform, original content, scores and stats, and live games. We’re always looking for ways to enhance and deepen the fan experience, and so this was an obvious evolution in our platform. Especially with the success of our expanded fantasy offerings that fans have really responded to, from daily fantasy to season-long fantasy football.
On pros and cons: I don’t think we saw any potential drawbacks, honestly. We were careful to try and create an integrated but unobtrusive experience that allows users who want to wager to be able to do so, but they also aren’t required to. And also, as a digital content partner of MGM Resorts International, we’ll now be able to take our content to a new level at their incredible properties and for major tentpole moments in sports.
On opening day: We debuted Yahoo Sportsbook powered by BetMGM on Thursday (November 14), in New Jersey to start, and we’re really pleased with how fans have been responding so far. We imagine we’ll have an even better picture of things after we’re able to assess this past weekend’s activity in total. But we love feedback and are keen to iterate based on how fans respond.
On the future: The launch of Yahoo Sportsbook was a first step into our future. For the moment, it’s available only to sports fans in New Jersey, but it will soon become available to fans of legal age in other states where sports betting is legal. For users not in the state of New Jersey, we also have a great amount of free and paid games on the Yahoo Fantasy platform that will hopefully tide you over.

Thursday Night Football saw the Brown’s win over the Steelers , along with the infamous fight, deliver an average of 16.1 million viewers across all platforms. Season to date, the package is averaging 15.6 million viewers, up 12% versus the comparable point last season. The game averaged a 9.2 HH rating and 15.4 million viewers on Nielsen-measured channels, up 6% and 7% versus last year’s 11-game FOX Thursday Night Football average.
Meanwhile, FOX Sports’ coverage of Michigan’s win over Michigan State handed the channel with a 2.5 metered market score on Saturday to take the noon window with its college football game.
MLB Network’s exclusive coverage of BBWAA Awards Week from Nov. 11-14 averaged a 16% increase in viewership over 2018, including MLB Network’s most-watched Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards telecast ever, with the Mets’ Pete Alonso and the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez winning the NL and AL, respectively. The Rookie of the Year Awards telecast peaked with 117,000 viewers, and topped the previous high in 2017 when Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger took home the award.
Around the dial, ESPN is reporting growth for the first 10 weeks of the 2019 NFL season for Monday Night Football and ESPN’s signature NFL studio shows Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown are all up double-digits compared to last season. MNF is averaging 12.5 million viewers, up 10% over 2018, while the package on ESPN Deportes has grown 33% to 100,000. ESPN’s weekly two-hour MNF pregame show, Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers, a 13% markup, while ESPN’s three-hour Sunday morning NFL pregame show, Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers, up 10%.
Speaking of which, ESPN Deportes will carry the National Football League’s regular-season MNF game in Mexico City on Nov. 18, pitting the Chiefs/Chargers from Estadio Azteca. Multiple ESPN Deportes studio shows will be live from Mexico City on Nov. 17-19 as part of the company’s extensive coverage, both in the United States and on ESPN networks in Spanish-speaking Latin America. Spanish-language coverage kicks off Sunday, Nov. 17 with a special edition of SportsCenter Fin de Semana 1p.
Facebook added The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series to its umbrella , striking a partnership with The IRONMAN Group to deliver live coverage of eight Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series events starting this past week with the 2019 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll® Las Vegas Marathon & ½ Marathon. In addition to the live race coverage, a 25-episode short-form weekly show will debut on Facebook Watch via the Run Rock ‘n’ Roll Now Facebook Page beginning in January, providing comprehensive and interactive coverage of the series. “We are excited to expand our partnership with Facebook and showcase the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series to a global audience,” said Matthieu van Veen, Chief Revenue Officer for The IRONMAN Group. “Facebook offers the unique ability to engage with the running community, to provide compelling content from our races and to tell inspiring stories of athletes and clubs while promoting an active and healthy lifestyle.”
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The ATP and Emirates announced a renewal of their partnership , with the airline signing on as Premier Partner and Official Airline of the ATP Tour for an additional five years, beginning in 2021. As Official Airline and Premier Partner, Emirates will continue to receive global marketing rights and exposure through iconic on-court net branding at 60 tournaments worldwide.
FOX Sports reportedly sold 80% of its ad inventory for the Super Bowl LIV telecast , at record prices, according to Bloomberg. Seth Winter, executive vice president for sports sales at Fox Sports, told the company that the network had sold 60 of the 77 available spots, “pacing well ahead” of where it thought it would be at this point in the process, with advertisers that buy two 30-second ads in the 2020 game paying $5.5 million each, which those that buy one 30-second ad paying $5.6 million.

The Dollar General Bowl is no more, and will now be known as the LendingTree Bowl, courtesy of a new deal. The LendingTree Bowl will kick off Jan. 6, 2020 at 6:30p at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, pitting teams from the MAC and Sun Belt Conference.

The Caddie Network announced new sponsors in addition to a new round of private investment funding. TCN will soon launch its first major sponsor campaign with Kingmade Jerky, Medterra and OnCore Golf joining TCN’s family of sponsors and all three serving as presenting sponsors of TCN’s upcoming national holiday consumer promotion. 
The NLL’s San Diego Seals inked a deal with Mountain Lion Aviation to become the team’s first jersey patch partner. The Seals will debut the co-branded jerseys in the home-opener on Dec. 14 at Pechanga Arena.

The XFL named Champion Data its official statistics partner , with the company set to develop, build, and maintain proprietary technology for the XFL to “deliver a comprehensive data solution” and “provide the league with in-depth statistical collection and reporting, advanced research and analysis, and editorial services.” Beyond the day-to-day relationship, the XFL and Champion Data will also explore new business opportunities together and across sports data and technology
The Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena partnered with Intel Sports to offer fans with immersive media experiences in-arena, on-air on FOX Sports Southeast and via digital/social media channels. The Intel True View platform will offer “unique perspectives that regular cameras cannot capture” including an array of 5K HD cameras installed and mounted throughout the arena, which capture unique views and angles. Once the video is processed, the system produces 360-degree highlights, freeze frames and exceptional views of the action, including from a player’s perspective, that are distributed to broadcast, digital and mobile platforms. Intel True View will complement and provide immersive media experiences for State Farm Arena’s scoreboard, the first continuous 360-degree video screen in the NBA, and corresponding corner video boards, each of which are HD-quality with 6mm LED video display technology.

AT&T announced that North America’s first-ever 5G-enabled esports event live coverage took place at DreamHack Atlanta over the weekend, with fans watching the DreamHack CS Twitch channel live stream of the tournament saw content delivered by AT&T using a deployable dedicated 5G network provided by Ericsson at the Georgia World Congress Center. What really matters with 5G is what you do with it, and that’s why we’re putting it in people’s hands and working with industry leaders like DreamHack and ESL to create first-of-their-kind experiences that thrill fans even more,” says Shiz Suzuki, assistant vice president, Sponsorships & Experiential Marketing for AT&T Communications. “Through our relationships across the gaming and esports ecosystem, we’re able to show how 5G will eventually enable content creators to capture higher-quality live-streaming video at a faster rate, get it to the end user more quickly and create new fan and event experiences.”
The Atlanta Sports Council launched the Atlanta Esports Alliance , a new division dedicated to increasing “new opportunities for teams, tournaments, venues and esports service providers and partners” to the region. The Atlanta Esports Alliance is a collaborative effort of ASC, MAC, Georgia Game Developers Association, Skillshot Media, and state and local economic development officials. Along with representatives from ASC and MAC, industry leaders across metro Atlanta representing professional team ownership, hardware manufacturers, game developers, media partners, high education and consultants will round out the Alliance’s board.

The American Platform Tennis Association hired its first Chief Executive Officer, Amin Khadduri, who will start on January 1. The APTA sanctions more than 180 annual tournaments, including 45 National Championships, regulates standards for equipment; provides national rankings and personal ratings for all members; live streams significant national tournaments; maintains the official rules and etiquette of the sport; and maintains many media outlets for the sport.
RIP to Rob Tobias , former ESPN Communications VP, who passed away after a fight with brain cancer. Tobias served with the company for 32 years and was a staple of the Bristol campus before retiring in 2015. ESPN Front Row pays tribute here .

Chiefs/Chargers on ESPN at 8p.
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