11/09/16: Big Ten makes a Friday push; UK questions LIberty’s Formula; Ronaldo is Nike for life


Good morning. It’s Wednesday November 9, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The Big Ten officially unveiled its new Friday primetime college football lineup for 2017 with games that will be carried on ESPN and FOX. The slate begins on Sept. 1 with Washington/Rutgers and Utah State/Wisconsin and continues Set. 8 with Ohio/Purdue; Sept. 29 with Nebraska/Illinois, Oct. 13 with Northwestern/Maryland and Oct. 27 with Michigan State/Northwestern. The conference noted that it “appreciates the significance of high school football within the region and has worked to minimize the impact of this initiative by limiting the number of Friday night games,” which represent approximately 6% of Big Ten home games annually.


ESPN is touting that – through the first 10 weeks of the college football season – fans have watched 71,673,189,000 minutes of college football action on ESPN’s Nielsen-rated television networks, which equates to over 2.5 times as much. ABC’s Saturday Night Football pitting Nebraska/Ohio State at 8p ranked as the second most-watched game of week 10 despite the Buckeyes’ 59-point victory, while ESPN’s coverage of Maryland/Michigan drew a total live audience of 2,387,000 viewers, up 24% from last season’s similar window, while Washington/Cal drummed up a total live audience of 2,062,000, up 32%.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority announced that the org was mulling an investigation into the Liberty Media’s purchase of Formula One, citing potential anti-competition issues. On Monday the CMA requested that any interested parties concerned about the acquisition submit information before November 21. "The CMA is considering whether it is or may be the case that this transaction has resulted in the creation of a relevant merger situation under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 and, if, so, whether the creation of that situation has resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition within any market or markets in the United Kingdom for goods or services," the CMA stated on its website.

It would seem that Pyeongchang’s 2018 Winter Olympics contracts are “clean and not contaminated by outside factors,” according to the Games’ organizing chief per a Reuters report on Tuesday. A scandal surfaced involving Choi Soon-sil, a friend of President Park Geun-hye, who has been charged with abuse of power and fraud with allegations that include facilities for Olympic and Asian Games. According to the report, local media have also linked Choi to companies that were awarded contracts for the 2018 Games. However, POCOG President Lee Hee-beom, however, told the organization that he carried out an internal probe and had found no evidence of any external influence on the contract process.

FOX Sports will hit NY for UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor to cover the promotion’s first-ever card in the Empire State. Programming will see FS1 bring studio shows to the Big Apple to be shot in front of live audiences, starting this evening at 8p with UFC Tonight at The Pennsy, followed by TUF Talk. On Thursday and Friday, Skip and Sjannon: Undisputed will originate live from the venue. In addition, FOX Sports Digital’s @TheBuzzer steams live on Facebook from New York City Wednesday through Saturday, featuring interviews from open workouts, weigh-ins, and pre/post-fight.

Charles Barkley will serve as analyst for this week’s NBA on TNT doubleheader on Thursday, where he will join marv Albert and Kevin McHale to call the Bulls/Heat matchup at 8p. The later game will see Lakers/Kings Kevin Harlan joined by analystsReggie Miller and Brent Barry.

Tennis Channel detailed plans to offer around 55 hours of live play for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals from London starting Sunday. The network’s coverage gets underway most mornings at 7a with back-to-back doubles and singles matches, followed by a second block of doubles and singles competition at 1p. Live analysis at 5p leads into encore coverage of the day’s four matches, which run throughout the night.

Speaking of which, the ATP World Tour Finals locked in a new deal with the BBC to showcase the end-of-season tournament for the next three years, running through 2018. The BBC shares live TV rights in the UK with Sky Sports, with each showing one live singles match a day.


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Nike went big with Cristiano Ronaldo, inking the global superstar to a long-term deal the will likely span the rest of his playing career. Ronaldo first signed with the brand in 2003 and some reports have valued the new deal at over $1 billion. 

Las Vegas’ new NHL franchise finally has a naming day. Majority owner Bill Foley announced that the name and logo will finally be revealed on Nov. 22 as a press conference taking place outside T-Mobile Arena.


WWE dropped the mic with its take on the trending Mannequin Challenge, offering fans a look inside the WWE Performance Center in Orlando in a new promotional video. The tour, seen here, features NXT Superstars and recruits captured in time.


Ultimate Media Ventures announced details for the next round of its Pro-Am eSports tournament series in Nov., this time featuring Super Smash Bros. 4 and Street Fighter V. The finals will be held at SLS Las Vegas, with pro and amateur teams able to sign up at BattleOnTheStrip.com on Nov. 11. UMV will host regional qualifiers at the Press Start Gaming Center and at the UNLV “8-bit eSports” Lab. “Building on the successful inaugural October event, we’re thrilled to deliver even more exciting programming and special appearances to the eSports community with our November installment of Battle on the Strip,” said UMV CEO, Jon Bukosky. “This time around, we’re focusing on three amazing competitive titles, showcasing our fresh approach to creating a unique esports lifestyle experience, with something new and different every month.”

Spain is shoring up its eSports oversight, with the Spanish Institute of Youth and the National Association for the Promotion of Digital set to launch the Spanish Federation of Video Games and eSports according to Spanish news platform Marca.


ONE Championship announced the appointment of Japanese executive Yoshiaki Ito as President of ONE Championship (Japan) in a move to broaden the MMA promotion’s reach into the country and other Asian nations. Ito is the Founder of X-TANK Consulting, former CEO of Haier Asia Group, and a former Senior Vice President at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Speaking of Asia, ESPN announced that Joyee Biswas has joined the company as the new Head of Southeast Asia. Additionally, Kelly Cooke will take on the expanded role of General Manager, ESPN North Asia.


Blackhawks/Blues on NBCSN at 8p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1953: The Supreme Court rules that MLB is exempt from antitrust laws.

In The Know: John Wall just became the Wizards’ all-time leader in career assists. Whose record did he break? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What former NBA player still holds the record for most blocked shots in their rookie season?  Answer: Manute Bol. Kudos: Andrew Feingold-Fox News/NY; Aymon DeMauro-Discovery Communications/NY; Troy Perlowitz-ESPN/Charlotte; Jonathan Norman-Bespoke Sports & Entertainment/Charlotte; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Greg Alm-Intersport/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Neal Stevens-Stevens & Associates/Beverly Hills.

Later — Chris
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