11/25/19: The NBA is weighing significant schedule changes to both its regular-season and playoff formats

 

Monday November 25, 2019
Last week, cinema advertising firm Screenvision Media unveiled a new division taking aim at opportunities within the sports venue universe. The company, which serves 2,000 theaters across 15,000 screens around the country, caught up with Eric Krasnoo, senior vice president of business development, to discuss the game plan for Screenvision Sports. 
 
Krasnoo on the origins of Screenvision Sports:  We could have started with the New York Mets, Pittsburgh Steelers and the LA Kings. Three professional sports teams would have made for a nice story with cache. But there wouldn’t have been a lot of scale.  Instead, we pursued broader partnerships and have initial deals with the Mets at Citi Field, Minor League Baseball, the American Hockey League and at 22 NASCAR tracks. We also just signed with ECHL and the NBA G League. There is a projected audience of over 40 million during 2020.
 
On content and sponsorships: We’re going to work with the executives at the teams, leagues and properties in helping with their content creation initiatives. Many sell on-site sponsorship packages that don’t include advertising, as they don’t necessarily have the resources to call the agencies or clients. We’re going to work with them to generate incremental revenues. 
 
On the inventory load : Depending on the property, we’ll have four, six or eight minutes of inventory that will run in pre-game and halftime segments and between periods/quarters/innings. There also will be in-game units. The ads runs will run adjacent to content on the jumbotrons, on screens in the concourses above concession stands and in some cases screens outside the venues.
 
On cross-selling:  Some Screenvision clients have asked about opportunities with the leagues and in the sports venues. Teams have talked to us about airing some away games on theater screens. We’re in the very early innings here.
 
On prospects for success: There is a trust factor with Screenvision; advertisers know their ads will run. We have 250 national accounts, plus a roster of regional and local clients. We’re in the market every day. Many companies running schedules across traditional media are interested in bringing their messages to consumers/fans in a live environment for the first time. There are also many companies that have yet to participate with sports teams, leagues and properties at all: Screenvision Sports can be their entry point. We’re just getting into the market – it’s very exciting.
 
PROGRAMMING
 
The NBA is mulling major schedule revisions to both its regular and post-seasons. According to an ESPN report citing league sources, the NBA is looking to shave off a minimum four games from its current regular-season total of 82 contests, which would be partially replaced by a post-Thanksgiving, in-season tournament involving all 30 teams. A playoff, play-in format would involve the 7th through 10th seeds in each conference. The winner of the 7/8 matchup would earn the 7th spot. The 9/10 seeds would battle, with the winner facing the loser of the 7/8 matchup for the final playoff berth. There also would be a reseeding of the four semifinalists, meaning teams from the same conference could meet in The Finals. The changes might be implemented for the 2021-22 season, the league’s 75th, with the revisions needing approbation from the clubs, players association and network partners. The goal is to find a framework that works for all parties, before the April board of governors meeting.
 
The report of the potential schedule revamp comes as the NBA is off to a rough ratings start . Through Nov. 21, TNT and ESPN’s average game audience declined 18% to 1.45 million viewers from the equivalent stage last season. Delivery has fallen in the face of the knee-injury-induced absence of presumptive rookie of the year favorite Zion Williamson; Steph Curry’s broken hand, the final blow to the erstwhile Golden State dynasty; and load management issues that have sidelined key players from some national telecasts. Moreover, matchups against the World Series hurt ESPN, while FOX”s Thursday Night Football continues to tackle TNT’s doubleheaders that night.
 
Thursday Night Football’s ratings went south, relatively speaking, with the AFC South matchup on Nov 22. While TNF won the night across TV in terms of viewership and key demos, FOX/NFL Network’s simulcast coverage of Houston’s 20-17 win over Indianapolis averaged a 7.9 rating and 12.9 million viewers – the low-water marks for the property this season.
 
Meanwhile, FOX’s coverage of No. 2 Ohio State’s 28-17 win over No. 8 Penn State scored a 6.3 metered market rating on Nov. 23, its best of the college football season, and the top event on all of Saturday.
 
NFL Network revealed the top 12 running backs under its 100 All-Time special on Nov. 22. The dynamic dozen: Jim Brown, Lenny Moore, Emmitt Smith, Eric Dickerson, Gale Sayers, O.J. Simpson, Marion Motley, Earl “Dutch” Clark, Earl Campbell, Steve Van Buren, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders. Among the notable exclusions: NFL Network’s very own LaDainian Tomlinson. The six-part program, premiering Fridays at 8 p through Dec. 27, is hosted by NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth and the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick who with Paul Brown were the first two of the top 10 coaching selections. Next up on Nov. 29: the all-time defensive linemen and linebackers. 
 
Steph Curry’s Unanimous Media is teaming with John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. on the development of Signing Day, a film focused on the moral dilemmas encountered by a driven sports agent as she tries to work with a coveted baller.
STUCK: A PODCAST
 
If you’re a millennial or Gen Z and work in the media space, go listen to hear your stickiest workplace challenges discussed, dissected and solved.
 
All 6 episodes of STUCK Season 3 is available wherever you listen to podcasts – go check it out!
 
SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
 
The Un-carrier is sponsoring the T-Mobile BTN Kickoff Concert, ahead of the Big Ten Football Championship. Customers of the official wireless partner of the Big Ten Conference, will receive early access to the Dec. 6 event, headlined by Fall Out Boy at The Pavilion at Pan Am in Indianapolis .
 
Bluegreen Vacations Corp.’s marketing itinerary now includes the title sponsorship of the 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500. Scheduled for Feb. 13, the pair of competitions that finalize the starting lineups for the 62nd running of America’s Race are now called the Bluegreen Vacation Duel at Daytona. In addition to titling the 150-mile runs, Bluegreen is the official vacation ownership provider of NASCAR. 
 
DIGITAL, DATA & TECH
 
Philadelphia Union investor Richie Graham , and former executives from U.S. Soccer, ESPN, Adidas and soccer-focused digital media company Copa90 have teamed on For Soccer Ventures, a $50 million investment fund focused on growing the beautiful game, before the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics come to the U.S. in 2026 and 2028. For Soccer Ventures will source, acquire and manage investments and businesses under the Soccer Collective, a new media house dedicated to collaboratively celebrating American soccer culture and fan experiences via storytelling, experiences and brand content development. The Soccer Alliance aims to expand Graham’s existing network of soccer properties with a focus on upgrading the on-field experience for youth clubs, leagues and tournaments.
Americans Carissa Moore, Lakey Peterson and Caroline Marks are vying for the world title and a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympics at the final stop on the World Surf League tour: The Lululemon Maui Pro event from Nov. 25 through Dec. 6. The competition will be broadcast live on WorldSurfLeague.com and the circuit’s free app. Fox Sports 2 will also provide some coverage.

ESPORTS
 
Misfits Gaming Group unveiled the newest company under the MGG umbrella, MSF.IO – a $10 million esports and gaming incubator and seed fund designed to support esports and gaming companies “looking to take their business or idea to the next level, backed by the organization behind pro gaming brands Misfits Gaming, Florida Mayhem, and Florida Mutineers.” The new division will also help creators in the space grow and develop by providing access to the resources, expertise, and contacts provided by the MGG operational and investor group. The company announced that applicants from around the globe are welcome to apply with successful applicants joining the inaugural class of 2020 with an optional incubation period in the MGG South Florida HQ.
Gillette has netted a global sponsorship deal for EA Sports FIFA Global Series . Sponsorship activation – which began this past weekend with the EA FUT Champions Cup Stage 2 in Bucharest, Romania, through Twitch and YouTube – features “Precision Play of the Day, presented by Gillette” embedded broadcast segments, on-stream commercials, live on-air promotions, and branded content.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES
 
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s compliance and review committee delivered a recommendation to the agency’s executive committee that could result in Russia being excluded from the 2020 Summer Olympics.  The recommendation  to the executive committee, which could agree to declare Russia’ anti-doping agency, Rusada, noncompliant on Dec. 9, marks the latest development in the scandal dating to before the 2014 Sochi Games, when Russian officials allowed their athletes to substitute urine samples taken after competitions with clean ones stored earlier. Russia could appeal any sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. However, the International Olympic Committee would have to abide by the decisions from WADA or the court.
 
Prior to its move to Soldier Field for the 2020 season, Major League Soccer’s Second City squad will now officially be known as the Chicago Fire Football Club. Chicago Fire FC will serve as the club moniker on first reference and on its new badge, built around a mirrored icon – with flames inverted to become a diadem, hence the Fire crown – tying to the story of the city and its residents’ rebirth following the Great Fire of 1871.
 
NBC Sports Regional Networks has named Chris Wayland  senior vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Boston, Wayland, who had been working as senior vice president and station manager of NBC10 / WBTS, Telemundo Boston / WNEU, and NECN, since February, will also continue to oversee the sales, finance, marketing, and digital departments for the stations and NECN.
 
THE MAIN EVENT
 
ESPN’s Monday Night Football: Ravens/Rams at 8p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1980
Roberto Duran says “no mas” in the 8th round as Sugar Ray Leonard regains the WBC welterweight crown in the Superdome.   

In the Know
Which legendary broadcast team started their long-standing run with coverage of Minnesota/Tampa Bay?  (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your company and city).
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Who is the only player to win MVP honors in the National and American Leagues? Answer: Frank Robinson. Kudos: Corey Angerthal-AMC Networks/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Rick Ramage-UTA/NY; Jon Miller-NBCUniversal/Stamford; Joseph Cassidy-Rowan University/Glassboro; Mike Seidel-CSI Sports/Jersey City; Matt Sautter-Wide Orbit/Harrisburg; Rick Hensley-WCYB/Tri-Cities; Mark Lehman-Braves/Atlanta; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Mike May-PHIT America,/Wellington; Christopher Kull-Nielsen/Oldsmar; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Rich Greene-Casa Del Verde Entertainment/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Brian Robin-Bear Titan Publications/San Bernardino; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Bob Ramsey/ Palm Springs

Later – Chris
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