|Almost everything in sports is different this year. However, what is still part of the normal cadence of the business are the championships which despite all the restrictions put on leagues, continue to come, all packed with the amazing plays and athleticism that fans are used to every year. One of the best year-in and year-out at capturing those iconic championship moments is MLB, and on December 8 they will deliver fans the 2020 World Series film, narrated by Vin Scully. This year obviously presented its unique set of issues and opportunities with access, players and atmosphere. What was it like? We asked MLB’s Jed Tuminaro, who directed the film (and has done every World Series film since 2015) to take us through the experience.
Tuminaro on challenges: The biggest challenge we had was working around the virus and trying as best we could from a production standpoint to document the events unfolding while following all health and safety protocols. We still want to be in as many places as we can, often up close to the players and fans but of course had to navigate restrictions and guidelines that we never had to encounter.
On the integration of fan emotion into a film with few fans on site: Fortunately for the World Series there were some fans allowed into the ballpark and even though it was extremely limited as to what we’re used to, the fans that were there were as passionate and excited to be there as any other year and I think we were able to document that. We also were able to incorporate fan submitted videos of Dodgers fans watching the final out of the World Series. Those videos provided some great candid moments of joy and excitement and even from far away from the stadium you can feel just how much this meant to people.
On access to athletes during the pandemic: Access to the players was better than I expected. We certainly had a lot of limitations and restrictions to things we’d do in the past due to the health and safety protocols. But at the same time players on both teams were very generous with their time coming to our interview room, allowing us to have a camera in the press conference rooms as well as wearing mics. Overall, I found that once normal game routines took place the players were comfortable with our crews around. Despite us not being able to do some things we’d do in the past, in some ways we had an even more exclusive up close and personal feel than in the past because of how much less of a media presence was on site at the series.
On the biggest learning from a Pandemic production: From a production standpoint what I took most from this series in this particular year was how to adjust and allocate our resources. There are different ways to capture the events that are unfolding at the ballpark and different ways to document the storylines of the players and the series and while in some instances those methods were limited this year, it opens the door to new ideas.
On the value of Vin Scully narration: It was remarkable to have the iconic voice of the Dodgers for generations upon generations of fans narrate this film. Vin Scully has had a front row seat to this historic franchise going all the way back to Brooklyn. He’s seen all the great players, the memorable moments, and the championships. It was only fitting that his voice is the soundtrack for this World Series Film.
FOX saw its Big Noon Saturday matchup of Ohio State and Indiana take the day to rank as Saturday’s highest-rated event on any network and FOX’s highest-rated game this season among the metered markets. The game drew a 4.3 Nielsen metered market score, led by Columbus’ 35.3, and followed by Cleveland, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Detroit.
Meanwhile, Thursday Night Football delivered 14.8 million viewers for the Seahawks’ win over the Cardinals. That ranks as the second most-watched TNF outing this season, and the top-watched telecast of the day for FOX and NFL Network. Viewership was also up 18% over last week’ telecast.
The Toronto Raptors will reportedly begin the NBA season next month in Tampa due to travel restrictions from the Canadian government as a result of the pandemic. They will play home games at Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement Friday.
ESPN play-by-play commentator Ryan Ruocco joins analyst Rebecca Lobo and reporter Holly Rowe as the network’s lead women’s college basketball commentator team this season. Ruocco, Lobo and Rowe will call games together throughout the winter and spring on the road to the 2021 NCAA Women’s Final Four where they will crown the next national champion live on ESPN. “We are thrilled to have Ryan join Holly and Rebecca on ESPN’s coverage of women’s college basketball,” said Mike Shiffman, ESPN vice president of production. “These three already have such a natural chemistry from their work covering the WNBA and their passion for the women’s game is evident. Ryan is a tremendous addition to the team.”
Stephen Curry and Rakuten serve up A Gift of Joy, a four-part mini-series by the three-time NBA champion that “surprises deserving individuals across the country who have been impacted by the pandemic. These individuals support local organizations, dedicating their time and resources to help their communities.” The series runs exclusively on Curry’s YouTube channel.
|SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
Credit One Bank cemented a new, wide-ranging multi-year partnership with WWE that will include a themed credit card featuring benefits tailored for WWE fans. In addition, WWE and Credit One Bank will collaborate on upcoming benefits and customer experiences for current and future Credit One Bank card members. “We are proud to partner with Credit One Bank on this multi-faceted partnership which will provide exciting opportunities for WWE fans and Credit One card members,” said Stephanie McMahon, WWE Chief Brand Officer. “We are confident the WWE Universe will enjoy the offerings we are creating as part of this integrated campaign.”
The Drone Racing League revealed new first-time partnerships with sports drink BODYARMOR, apparel brand Champion Athleticwear and gaming furniture brand RESPAWN. The partners will be integrated into the 2020 DRL Allianz World Championship Season. “DRL continues to attract incredible partners, including BODYARMOR, Champion, and RESPAWN,” said DRL President Rachel Jacobson. “Our sport delivers the next generation of fans that are difficult to reach through traditional channels. We are scaling professional drone racing together with bold, forward-thinking partners that embrace the new playing field of sports.”
The LA Clippers and technology company Honey announced a deal that will see Honey prominently featured on Clippers jerseys moving forward. Honey’s relationship with the Clippers launched in 2019 and has grown to include the jersey patch and other team assets that prioritize engaging with passionate Clippers fans. The partnership is part of the NBA’s International Team Marketing Program, and allows Honey to market internationally and share team content on digital and social media sites worldwide to reach the Clippers’ diverse fan base.
The ATP and Lacoste entered into a multi-year extension of their partnership and will see Lacoste transition into an Official Supplier of the ATP Tour, through 2023, following a long-standing partnership with the Nitto ATP Finals, the ATP’s season-ending finale. The new agreement will see Lacoste become the Official Outfitter and Official Footwear of the ATP Tour, granting the ‘Crocodile’ brand marketing rights and exposure on ATP Tour digital platforms.
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH
Speaking of the ATP, the org and Infosys, a next-generation digital services and consulting company, renewed their partnership for another three years. The agreement will see Infosys continue as Global Technology Services Partner and Digital Innovation Partner of the ATP, through 2023.
Esports entertainment company BLAST announced funding of over $2.6 million from Edge Investments. BLAST will leverage the funding and Edge’s broad network to accelerate its international expansion and optimize production capabilities. “To have Edge Investments’ backing is testament to the impressive work BLAST has achieved so far this year and highlights the upward trajectory the esports industry is on right now despite a turbulent year for everyone,” said Robbie Douek, CEO for BLAST. “We chose Edge for access to their specialist knowledge and network in content distribution, media promotion and production, and we are delighted to have them on board as we enter what looks to be a pivotal year for us.”
PUBG Corporation announced the PUBG Global Invitational.s (PGI.S), an eight-week PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds esports festival that will take place in South Korea next spring. The event will span Feb. 2-March 28 and will include quarantines designed to protect players and attendees from infection. PGI.S will feature a $3.5 million prize pool with 32 global teams competing from across Korea, North America, Europe, Latin America, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, and Chinese Taipei.
WePlay Esports named Oleh Humeniuk as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer. Humeniuk previously served as WePlay Esports’ General Manager of its European office.
Twitch co-founder and former COO Kevin Lin announced his departure from the company after nearly 13 years. Lin served as COO from April 2008 to January 2018, according to his Linkedin page, and since then has worked as the company’s chief revenue office. “I’ve spent nearly a third of my life bleeding purple — even before we were purple — and I am so proud of everything we’ve achieved in these twelve and a half years. After many months of contemplation, I’ve decided it’s time to journey into my next adventure,” he wrote.
INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are forming the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, an organization that will lead the NBA family’s collective efforts to advance equality and social justice. The Coalition will focus on action and change in several areas, including voting access and criminal justice system reform at the national, state and local level and be led by a group of five team governors, five players and two coaches. Additionally, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum and NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts will serve on the Coalition’s board.
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|On this Day
1988: Wayne Gretzky scores his 600th goal.
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