11/25/20: The PFL confirmed more international broadcast deals

 

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday November 25, 2020

Professional Fighters League continues to spread its wings, this time locking in key international broadcast partners in a move to expand coverage of the league for the upcoming 2021 season and the moves make the org distributed to more than 160 countries worldwide. As part of these partnership agreements, new carriers include Titan Channel, Sky New Zealand, and Digi Communications N.V. who will continue to broadcast live PFL Regular Season, Playoffs and Championship events in their territories. The PFL’s 2021 season begins on April 23.

“MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, with more than 450 million fans who want to consume more premium MMA content,” said Peter Murray, CEO of the PFL. “Expanded partnerships with Titan Channel, Sky New Zealand, Digi Communications N.V. and others are reflective of the incredible demand for MMA and the PFL, and will only continue to grow the sport. Our season format, international fighter roster of top talent from around the world, and differentiated product appeals to a global audience, and we look forward to going deeper with our storytelling in key markets outside the United States.”

PROGRAMMING

Lots of football news, led by the Chiefs/Raiders Sunday Night Football matchup this week, scoring an average Total Audience Delivery of 20.2 million viewers across NBC TV, NBC Sports Digital and NFL Digital Platforms and ranking as television’s most-watched primetime show since the NFL Kickoff Game on Sept. 10, according to official data released today by Nielsen, and digital data from Adobe Analytics. That average is also the best for an NBC SNF Week 11 game since 2017, and topped by 17% last year’s Week 11 SNF game.

Speaking of NBC, Mike Tirico will take on play-by-play for both of NBC’s holiday week NFL games, featuring the Steelers, hosting the Ravens at 8p this Thursday on Thanksgiving night. Three nights later, he takes on the Bears/Packers game on Sunday Night Football. Tirico joins Cris Collinsworth in the booth at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night, and will be alongside Tony Dungy at Lambeau Field in Green Bay this Sunday night. Al Michaels has the week off. Milo Ventimiglia of NBC’s drama “This is Us” stars in the special show open for NBC’s Thanksgiving night NFL game.

In other ratings news, FOX Sports reports that America’s Game of the Week, pitting the Packers and Colts, drew 23.911 million viewers to ranks as the second most-watched NFL telecast of the season on any network. FOX’s doubleheader averaged 18,424 million viewers for a rise of 8% over last year’s comparable singleheader.

On CBS, The NFL on CBS saw week 11 deliver 14,686 million viewers, up 8% over last year’s numbers. Regional coverage was highlighted by the Ravens/Titans matchup.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football offering between the Rams and Bucs delivered an audience of 12,612,000 viewers, the weekly franchise’s highest audience since Week 3 of this season. Tampa Bay was the highest-rated market, delivering a 20.3 local rating across ESPN and local affiliate WMOR.

On the college football front, FOX Sports saw the Ohio State/Indiana matchup rank as the network’s most-watched game of the season, drawing an average of 6.356 million viewers.

As the season prepares to wind down, ESPN announced that the 30th edition of The Home Depot College Football Awards will air on Jan. 7, at 7p on ESPN in a virtual format. The annual awards show recognizes the accomplishments of some of the nation’s top college football student-athletes and will be hosted by Chris Fowler with reporter Holly Rowe. “The Home Depot College Football Awards will continue to be what they have always been, and that is a celebration of elite performances in college football,” said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of college sport programming and events. “While the award show will look different this year due to COVID-19, the spirit of the show remains the same. We look forward to honoring the stellar performances produced by these student-athletes this season.”

Meanwhile, ESPN and ABC’s college football regular season will culminate with five conference championship games on December 18-19, including the ACC, American, Big 12, MAC and Sun Belt. The MAC Championship Game kicks off the weekend Dec. 18 at 7:30p on ESPN. That Saturday then sees the four-game conference championship slate beginning at noon with the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game on ABC. The Sun Belt Championship Game will be played at noon or 3:30 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2 from a campus site to be determined. The ACC Championship Game kicks off at 4p on ABC, followed by the American Athletic Conference Championship Game in primetime at 8p on ABC. Changes are also in line for the postseason, with ESPN Events announcing that “Due to current state guidelines in New Mexico regarding intercollegiate athletics and travel, the 2020 New Mexico Bowl will be staged in Frisco, Texas, at Toyota Stadium, on Thursday, Dec. 24, at 3:30 p.m. ET.”

Univision reports that Sunday night’s Tigres vs. Toluca Liga MX match on TUDN delivered 543,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 324,000 Adults 18-49. That ranks as the top-rated LMX match on TUDN since the 2019 Apertura quarterfinals.

The Big Ten Network today announced its 2020 non-conference television schedule for Big Ten men’s basketball, featuring over 40 games throughout the next three weeks. The schedule opens today at noon with six consecutive games, 12 hours of action and four teams ranked inside the AP Top 25. Bringing the sights and sounds of Big Ten Basketball to life will be the veteran play-by-play voices of Kevin Kugler, Brandon Gaudin, Dave Revsine, Lisa Byington, Mike Hall, Jeff Levering and Chris Vosters. Analysts include John Beilein, Robbie Hummel, Stephen Bardo, Mike DeCourcy, Andy Katz, Len Elmore, Shon Morris, Christy Winters-Scott and others.

Around the dial, SEC Network unveiled its full women’s television slate and non-conference men’s schedule for the 2020-21 campaign. The SECN men’s schedule tips off with a doubleheader today with Kentucky hosting Morehead State at 6p. On the women’s side, non-conference action begins on Nov. 29 at 4p with Kentucky hosting Belmont.

Finally, Pac-12 Network is launching Pac-12 Tipoff Week, presented by Tums today, and the first week of play will see its networks feature seven conference programs. Announcers returning to headline Pac-12 Networks broadcasts this season, including Bill Walton, Ted Robinson, Roxy Bernstein and Don MacLean, as well as studio host Ashley Adamson. The roster of contributors will include Ben Braun, Rich Burk, Kevin Danna, Dan Dickau, Ros Gold-Onwude, Aaron Goldsmith, Guy Haberman, Todd Harris, Greg Heister, Eddie House, Casey Jacobsen, Wyking Jones, JB Long, Mike Montgomery, Matt Muehlebach, Eldridge Recasner, Drew Schiller, Daron Sutton, Earl Watson, Rich Waltz and Brian Webber.

Thrill One Sports & Entertainment unveiled the Thrill One Network. Distributed in partnership with XUMO, the free, ad-supported streaming service reaches 24 million unique users each month. Thrill One Network serves as a new on-demand AVOD channel showcasing high-adrenaline content produced by Nitro Circus and Street League Skateboarding and features over 100 hours of programming including past competitions, episodic series, and feature-length films.

FITE announced the exclusive streaming debut of The Count, a new streaming series with three initial episodes and described as a modern retelling of the classic “The Count of Monte Cristo” set against the backdrop of Las Vegas, Macau, South America, and a global gaming empire. The original series debuts on the FITE platform on Friday and is the very first scripted series to ever appear on FITE.

SportsGrid Radio and SiriusXM are teaming up to launch the SportsGrid Radio Channel on SiriusXM on January 7, 2021. SiriusXM subscribers nationwide will have access to SportsGrid’s real-time sports news, statistics, odds, and lines, along with live expert analysis via channel 204. SportsGrid Radio will be replacing the VSiN channel, which will air on SiriusXM until December 31. SportsGrid Radio will feature a team of on-air personalities including Scott Ferrall, Gabe Morency, Ariel Epstein, and Jared Smith along with expert contributors and guest analysts.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Hyperice locked in a new multi-year sponsorship with the NFL that designates Hyperice as an Official Recovery Technology Partner of the league. The multi-year sponsorship kicks off Week 12 of the 2020 season on Thanksgiving Day. The partnership brings Hyperice’s next-generation products and technologies to NFL facilities and environments –to optimize player performance, improve mobility, and speed up recovery post-game. “For years, Hyperice has worked closely with NFL players, and team performance and athletic training experts to enhance athlete recovery,” said Jim Huether, CEO of Hyperice. “This progressive partnership with the NFL represents our collective commitment to prioritize player recovery and optimize performance, league wide. As partners, we will work together to deliver cutting-edge recovery solutions for years to come.”

With The Match III set to run on TNT on Friday, presenting sponsor Michelob ULTRA announced plans to make golf more accessible for all via social challenges during play. Initiatives and activations include: each time a player loses their ball during the match, Michelob ULTRA will be giving away a year’s worth of golf balls and if any player scores a hole in one the brand will give away free beer for a year to celebrate the victory.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

The WTA named Stats Perform its Official WTA Data Supplier. The partnership will deliver multiple feeds to customers – an exclusive umpire-derived data feed for an expanded number of WTA matches, as well as an ultrafast data feed collected by Stats Perform’s Opta analysts. The data collected by Stats Perform’s Opta analysts will include detailed match statistics down to rally and shot level.

ESPORTS

Riot Games opened the doors to the VALORANT Champions Tour, a season-long competition tour set to take place throughout 2021 with competitions in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The series will then crown a single global Champion at the end of the year. It will feature three levels of competition: Challengers, Masters, and Champions with the final stage set to feature the top sixteen teams in the world before crowning a single global champion. “The Champions Tour is our next step to grow VALORANT into a global esport worthy of the passion of our fans,” said Whalen Rozelle, Senior Director of Esports at Riot Games. “We’ve spent a couple of years now talking to players, teams, fans, prospective partners, and other stakeholders, and we’re extremely excited to launch our first official season. Our focus will be on elevating and showcasing the creative and talented players who are shaping this game across the globe. Fans and players both wanted high stakes competition, and that’s what the VALORANT Champions Tour is designed to do.”

The Overwatch League tipped its hand on new plans for the 2021 season, with OWL VP Jon Spector releasing a video to update fans. Competition will now being in Spring instead of January or February to give OWL officials and teams “a little bit more of an opportunity to deal with all of the logistics and be ready to hit 2021 running when the season begins.” In addition, the 2021 OWL season will be built around a tournament format, likely in a dual-region format.

PUBG Corporation laid out its 2021 PUBG MOBILE esports slate, with a total prize pool of $14 million. Competition will see seven new PUBG MOBILE Pro League regions in CIS, Turkey, Western Europe, Arabia, North America, Latin America, and Brazil with the year split into two seasons that will conclude with the PUBG MOBILE Global Championship at the end of 2021.

On the college scene, the esports programs at the University of California, Irvine, UCLA and UC Berkeley are partnering to pilot a UC Esports Initiative that will kick off with a holiday tournament for all nine UC undergraduate campuses. Organizers planned the inaugural competition as a way to elevate esports across the UC system and boost student engagement at a time when instruction is mostly remote, running Dec. 19-22 and encompass League of Legends, Overwatch, Valorant and community events. Xfinity will serve as the title sponsor of the initiative, while CORSAIR will be the official peripheral partner, and MSI will be the official PC.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association is teaming with CSL Esports and The Yard: HBCU Esports Alliance to offer competitive gaming and educational opportunities for its member institutions. Through HEA, CSL Esports will serve as the conference’s esports provider for Madden, NBA 2K, and other select gaming titles and will begin offering exclusive competitive gaming opportunities to CIAA students in spring 2021.

The Electronic Gaming Federation announced that three of their partner schools, St. John’s University, DePaul University, and Niagara University will expand their esports engagement with The “Vincentian Cup,” an annual esports event for the three Vincentian Universities in the United States that play Division I athletics. The inaugural tournament will be held Dec. 9-12 featuring competition in multiple esports, including SSBU, Rocket League, and Overwatch.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

GoooGreen, Inc. subsidiary VegasWINNERS Inc. named fifteen-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Hellmuth to the company’s advisory board. Wayne Allyn Root, CEO of VegasWINNERS stated, “Phil remains the gold standard in the world of high-stakes poker and gambling and continues to be at the top of his game. As the all-time WSOP bracelet winner, he brings that competitive spirit to VegasWinners.”

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