11/06/15: “Paid patriotism” gets flagged; ESPN kicks into Glory; adidas challenges native advertising


Good morning. It’s Friday November 6, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Paid patriotism” made headlines yesterday following a government oversight report released by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake detailing how the Department of Defense paid professional sports teams/leagues a total of $6.8 million to serve up patriotic displays honoring American soldiers. NASCAR was the biggest recipient of the funds, receiving $1,560,000 during fiscal year 2015, with payments also made to 18 NFL teams, 10 MLB teams, eight NBA teams, six NHL teams, and eight soccer teams.

“Over the course of the effort, we discovered the startling fact that DOD cannot accurately account for how many contracts it has awarded or how much has been spent; its official response to our request only accounted for 62 percent of its 122 contracts with the major league teams that we were able to uncover and 70 percent of the more than $10 million it actually spent on these contracts,” the report states. “And, although DOD has indicated the purpose of these contracts is to support recruiting, the Department doesn’t uniformly measure how and whether the activities under contract are actually contributing to recruiting.”

The NFL has since responded that that the league will conduct an audit of all of its contracts with military branches and National Guard units and that any teams found to have been paid by a branch of the military for promotional purposes would have to return the money.


Kickboxing pillar GLORY locked in a deal with ESPN to carry its events live on ESPN networks, beginning with tonight’s GLORY 25 Milan on ESPN3 at 4p, with a replay on ESPN 2 at 1:30a. This year, the promotion has also locked in broadcast deals with Kombat Sport in France, Fight Channel in Eastern Europe, Combat Channel in Russia, ATV in Suriname, KBS N in South Korea, Digi Sport in Romania and Hungary, StarTimes in Sub-Saharan Africa, Eurosport in European, KIX in Southeast Asia, RING.BG in Bulgaria, SKY in New Zealand, Sport TV in Portugal, and most recently Spike in the Netherlands. "We couldn’t be happier to be on multiple platforms of the most watched, most talked about sports network in the world," said GLORY CEO Jon Franklin. "This Friday will be the first time our stacked card will be available live on both coasts  joining live international broadcasts already scheduled in more than 100 countries, with almost 80 more on delay  and we’re excited to be working with ESPN."

The NHL is reportedly once again delaying its decision on expansion. The Las Vegas Review-Journal writes that NHL Deputy Commissioner stated that the expected December vote will not happen on potential franchises in Las Vegas and Quebec City. Vegas backer Bill Foley noted that after the Dec. 7 and 8 meetings, the next opportunity to meet and possibly vote on expansion would be in late January when the NHL has its All-Star Weekend in Nashville. "We knew it was a possibility, and we’ve been in communication indirectly with the NHL," Foley told the paper. "We know we continue to make progress, and nobody has told us no at this point. So it’s still moving forward.”

FOX Sports saw FS1 score its most-watched month ever in October, anchored by Major League Baseball American League Division and League Championship Series coverage. According to Nielsen, the month (spanning 9/28-10/25) saw 47.8 million people watch at least six minutes of FS1 programming, surpassing October 2014 (47.6 million) as the channel’s most-viewed month on record. The period also saw FS1 record its two most-watched shows in October, while college football on FS1 is recording its best season ever, averaging 628,000 viewers, +3% from a year ago.

Want to plug into eSports and get in early on an exploding arena? Make sure to attend our killer panel “Powerpacks: Boosting Your Game with eSports” at the Cynopsis Sports Engagement Summit on Dec. 2 in NY and learn how to leverage your brand inside this powerful industry. The all-star lineup includes MLG’s Donald Reilley, Turner Sports’ Craig Barry, ESL’s Craig Levine, GMR Marketing’s Matt Hill and Whistle Sports’ Elizabeth Lodge. Endemol Beyond USA’s Jenn Mancini will moderate. Click here now to get your tickets while they last!

Meanwhile, through eight weeks of the 2015 NFL regular-season, The NFL on CBS is averaging 18.5 million viewers for a 5% markup over last year’s 17.6 million viewers. This year’s 18.5 million viewers is the highest number of average viewers for the first eight weeks of the season for the AFC television package in 29 years.

ESPNU and SEC Network have recruited six new analysts and four new play-by-play commentators for the upcoming men’s college basketball season. ESPNU is adding Antwan Jamison, Jason Capel, and Chris Spatola as analysts while Ted Emrich, Alex Faust, Kevin Fitzgerald and Jenn Hildreth will add play-by-play experience to the ESPNU booth. SEC Network is bringing in Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Andrew DeClercq and John Pelphrey.

ESPN also announced its roster of talent for women’s college basketball this season, with a record-high 137 games slated for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, SEC Network and Longhorn Network. Host Kevin Negandhi will join analysts Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo for a slew of top regular-season games from ESPN’s studios, while Beth Mowins will pair with Stephanie White for several marquee games, in addition to ESPN’s Big Monday series, beginning in January 18. Other pairings include Carolyn Peck and Pam Ward.

Elsewhere on the talent front, Clipper Paul Pierce joins ESPN’s NBA Countdown charged by Dew tonight as a guest analyst at 7:30p. Pierce will join host Sage Steele and analysts Doug Collins and Jalen Rose on the set.

Meanwhile, FS1’s coverage of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs will see Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena joins the studio coverage on Sunday. In the first matchup of the night, the Seattle Sounders face FC Dallas at 7:30p, while the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers kick off at 10p. FOX Deportes covers all the action in Spanish beginning at 6:30p.


Shine a light on your team’s work in the
CYNOPSIS Social Good Awards

Media professionals’ commitment to community is honored in the Cynopsis Social Good Awards, recognizing individuals and organizations who give back to the public through innovative linear TV, digital and marketing campaigns. We’ll be celebrating promotions for diversity, environmental initiatives, anti-bullying and much more.



adidas launched an initiative Thursday designed to help high schools around the country looking to drop Native American mascots. The brand stated that it would offer free design resources to schools that were opting to drop Native American mascots, nicknames, imagery or symbolism from the athletics programs and offered financial support to keep costs low. The company also announced an initiative in conjunction with the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions locked in a multiyear partnership with the Big Ten Conference surrounding ticket sales for championship events. The Big Ten becomes is the first conference to partner with IMGLTS, a joint venture between IMG College and Learfield, which represents 35 collegiate partners. The deal will see IMGLTS sell Big Ten Football Championship Game and Hockey Tournament tickets. Starting in 2017, IMGLTS will also assist with ticket sales for the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Turner Sports released the third in a series of on-air spots for its new NBA marketing campaign, “The Quest.” The newest spot debuted last night and features the Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Dwight Howard along with comedian D.L. Hughley. 

Daytona International Speedway unveiled the complete roster of new hospitality options available as part of its new motorsports stadium. Beginning in January 2016, DIS will now offer more than 60 luxury suites including Mezzanine Level Suites that can accommodate anywhere from 50 to 500 people; Rolex 24 at Daytona Lounge Suites featuring a relaxing seating area with flat-screen televisions at every angle while the outdoor area offers a patio and stadium seats; Sky Level Suites; and France Level Suites, the most upscale option offering gourmet food options. Premium hospitality options will include Harley J’s, Loge Boxes and the Rolex 24 at Daytona Lounge.


Just ahead of the Cricket All-Stars series, famed cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne are tapping Facebook to promote awareness of three upcoming matches taking place in New York, Houston and Los Angeles. Warne streamed Thursday’s hour-long team draw ‘live’ on his Facebook Page via Facebook Mentions. Earlier in the week, the two cricket stars appeared together for a ‘live’ Q&A on Tendulkar’s Page, which received more than one million combined views, shares and "Likes."


Disney and ESPN Media Networks and Sony Network Entertainment International locked in a deal to bring the company’s media networks to PlayStation Vue. The cloud-based live TV service will now carry ESPN, along with ABC-owned local stations, Disney Channel, ABC Family, and more networks on the service. Sports channels will include ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN College Extra, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, Longhorn Network and SEC Network.

Following a redesign, NBCSports.com saw its best September and October ever this year. Last month saw 29 million unique users for a 20% markup over 2014, and referred 3.2 million live video starts since the overhaul, more than doubling the same period a year ago.


Online eSports services, such as Twitch, will swell to over 310 million viewers in 2020, topping the likes of the NFL and Formula 1, according to new data from Juniper Research. That is up from 133 million this year, bringing in almost $1 billion in revenues from subscriptions alone. The study, Digital Games: eSports 2015-2020, projects that advertisers will benefit, with revenues forecast to increase by almost 250% from 2015 to 2020.


LSU/Alabama square off on CBS at 8p on Saturday.




ON THIS DAY in 1995: Cleveland Browns’ owner Art Modell announces that the team was moving to Baltimore.

In The Know: Which athlete is the only player to both attend Baylor and be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who portrayed “All The Way” Mae Mordabito in the movie “A League of Their Own”? Answer: Madonna. Kudos: Mitch Burg-Impact Communications/Israel; Jason Newman-Univision Deportes/NY; Karen Van Vleet-Insight Strategy Group/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Deborah Kapetanakis-Universal McCann/NY; Chris Schwieterman-Gray Television Group/Tallahassee; Brianne Maciejowski-Miles/Sarasota; Rob Biertempfel-Pittsburgh Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh; Barbara Linebarger-Turner/Atlanta; Lucie Prann-The Richards Group/Dallas; Jack Hodgson-Oklahoma State.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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