11.14.16 Good morning. It’s Monday November 14, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
October proved historical for Monumental Sports, not only partnering with NBC Sports Group for a new multi-platform deal but also flipping the switch on the new OTT Monumental Sports Network. The new digital platform will look to redefine regional sports coverage, with the subscription service allowing fans to watch live games that will include the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, the Arena Football League’s Washington Valor, affiliate teams for the Wizards and Capitals as well as studio analysis. With NBC Sports now onboard as an equity partner in the new deal, Monumental Sports will Monumental Sports Network will offer more than 80 hours of original programs per year, including 15 new original shows such as an interview series hosted by Reggie Love and a reality series spotlighting DC-area basketball players.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Zach Leonsis, VP and GM of Monumental Sports Network in a two-part interview. Today’s portion will cover the developing strategy at Monumental Sports and the launch of the OTT service, while part two will run in Thursday’s eSports edition to discuss the company’s recent forays into the competitive gaming industry.
Leonsis on the scope of Monumental Sports: We have always believed that we were a unique enterprise. We are an expanding portfolio of branded teams from the NBA and WNBA to the NHL to the AFL to our recent investment in an eSports holding company which owns Team Liquid. We are now planning to continue to expand. At the same time we own a portfolio of venues including the Verizon Center here in DC; we operate EagleBank Arena, which is a 10,000-person venue and Kettler Capitals Iceplex and we are building a new practice facility for the Wizards that will have a standalone arena right next door that will be home to the Mystics and our D-League team. We started to see that we have this accordion-style ability to scale up audiences and scale down audiences depending on the type of content and venue. So we started to think that our media strategy needed to reflect that. We believe that our region is uniquely positioned in the new media world order to make this happen.
On the DC sports market: There are many reports out there that show that the population of the DC/Mid-Atlantic region could double in just the next decade or so with the biggest influx coming from Millennial and Gen-Z consumers. Those are the customers who are deciding not to subscribe to cable but may not be adverse to subscription services. That said, the cable industry is still pretty strong so as we move down with our deal with NBC Sports Group and CSN Mid-Atlantic, it became pretty apparent that to both parties that we should use this opportunity to create a really forward-thinking platform to use for smaller, but highly concentrated and strong niche audiences. Together we are now able to take a step back and think about programming throughout the entire region through multiple models.
On programming: We’ve opened ourselves up to serve as a bit of a petri dish for NBC with the OTT network. We are jointly creating close to 100 hours of original programming that will include live games with a goal of going over 300 live games given some of the deal we are pursuing. We are going to aggressively pursue other rights including high school games. We would also love to have college hoops or even football in the mix. That would mean that between CSN and our platform, we would have over 700 and come close to 1000 games showcased every year.
On the launch: This is really the first-regionalized approach to OTT featuring multiple home teams or teams with local touchpoints across multiple-league and multiple-calendar seasons. Our approach will be different, and while we will surely make some mistakes on the way, I believe that we are set to change how fans and sponsors can embrace sports.
ESPN is shifting ESPN2 centerpiece First Take to the flagship channel starting Jan. 3. The weekday morning studio debate show had seen some audience erosion since the departure of Skip Bayless to FOX earlier this year but “will continue to focus on the most compelling and entertaining topics of the day from the world of sports,” according to the company. Meanwhile, two hours of SportsCenter currently airing on ESPN at 10a will trade places and run on ESPN2.
FOX Sports locked in a new four-year deal with CONCACAF to nab rights to the Gold Cup. The deal sees the company nab English-language rights in the US for the 2017 and 2019 tournaments to continue its relationship with the organization. “As the Gold Cup continues to attract record-breaking interest in stadiums and across media platforms, we’re excited to extend our relationship with FOX, a strategic partner in the exceptional growth of this event,” said Philippe Moggio, CONCACAF General Secretary. “FOX’s world-class broadcasts will continue to deliver our fans all of the action of our biggest national teams competitions, starting with next summer’s Gold Cup.”
Speaking of FOX Sports, Sporting News reports that the company inked primary NFL analyst Troy Aikman to a three-year contract extension. The Hall of Famer will continue to work with play-play-announcer Joe Buck and sideline reporter Erin Andrews on Fox’s No. 1 NFL announce team, which will include calling Super Bowl LI from Houston.
ABC’s Saturday Night Football showcase pitting Michigan/Iowa drummed up a 4.0 Nielsen overnight on TV with streaming adding an additional average minute audience of 94,000 viewers to the mix for a total of 477,000 unique viewers watching 21,110,000 minutes. Other games in the ESPN family saw Mississippi State/Alabama score a 1.8 overnight; Ohio State/Maryland nabbing a 1.7 and Pittsburgh/Clemson snatching a 3.3.
Elsewhere at ESPN, next week will see the company televise the NFL’s first regular-season game in Mexico City in 11 years with the Texans/Raiders matchup from Estadio Azteca. Multiple ESPN studio shows will be produced live from Mexico City from Nov. 20-21 with on-site plans set to include 10 hours of studio coverage and the first regular-season road show for ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. Other ESPN shows originating from Mexico City include Sunday and Monday morning editions of Hannah Storm’s SportsCenter Face to Face, SportsCenter on the Road with Sage Steele, and Monday’s NFL Live.
Finally, ESPN announced that the Armed Forces Classic a series of Division I men’s college basketball games will continue to be televised from US military bases around Veterans Day for at least a few more years. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to extend our relationship with the Department of Defense,” said Clint Overby, VP, ESPN Events. “This premier event will continue its tradition of showcasing the beginning of each college basketball season, while honoring the service of the men and women stationed at military bases across the world.” Upcoming events will include next year’s at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Nov. 10; Fort Bliss in Texas in 2018 and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2019.
Fight Sports added original series MMA:30 to its lineup, acquiring exclusive worldwide rights to the series as well as the format rights to produce new episodes in 2017. Fighters profiled in the series include Ronda Rousey, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Phil Davis, Rashad Evans, and more.
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ESPORTS: HOW TO MAXIMIZE &
MONETIZE COMPETITIVE GAMING
ESports is ushering in a full-blown shift in entertainment and culture, but how do you maximize and monetize this phenomenon? Get the answers during our webinar on November 17, from sponsors and marketers as they share their insights into connecting with eSports fans, laying out a blueprint for how brands can reach and connect with a generation of skeptical but affluent consumers.
The Pac-12 Conference and Alibaba Group Holding Limited unveiled a two-year extension to their partnership to support the annual Pac-12 China Game in Shanghai. In addition to being the presenting sponsor of the Pac-12 China Game, Alibaba Group hosts the two participating teams at its headquarters in Hangzhou for high-level meetings with company leadership and an academic symposium on Chinese culture, business, and the future of ecommerce in a move to have student-athletes engage directly with young people and senior executives in China. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 announced that UCLA and Georgia Tech will face off in the 2017 Pac-12 China Game presented by Alibaba Group.
Motorsport.com reports that Monster Energy has emerged as a contender to replace Sprint as NASCAR’s Premier Series title sponsor next year. Other companies rumored to be in the mix according to various reports, have included PayPal, Subway and Samsung.
The United States Tennis Association locked in a multi-year agreement with PepsiCo that makes the food and beverage company an Official Sponsor of the USTA National Campus in Orlando. As a partner of the USTA National Campus PepsiCo beverages including soft drinks, water and isotonic drinks will be integrated into the on-site food and beverage experience. As part of the partnership, Gatorade will be the Official Sports Drink of the USTA National Campus.
NBC Sports Regional Networks and its NHL team partners opened the door to live, local streaming of games, as well as NHL pre- and postgame coverage. The new streaming offering is now available without any additional costs to subscribers of NBC Sports Group’s CSN regional sports networks. RSNs will now offer live coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals with additional info announced separately from CSN Chicago, CSN Philadelphia, CSN California and CSN Mid-Atlantic. “Our introduction of live, local NHL streaming marks another important step toward making all of our live content available to CSN subscribers, wherever they are and on any device,” said David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks, and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy. “Digital consumption of our live, local NBA games continues to grow year over year, and we are confident that NHL fans in our markets will find great value in this offering as well.”
Sports Illustrated and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment will see this year’s annual Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year awards move to Barclays Center on Dec. 12. For the first time ever, SI will open the event to fans on a limited basis. The affair will honor the 2016 SI Sportsperson of the Year winner, along with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award recipient, the SI Kids SportsKid of the Year selection and other top names and moments from the year in sports and include a special awards dinner and ceremony Sports Illustrated is set to live stream coverage from the event on its digital platforms.
DGital Media and Sports Illustrated Group announced the latest addition to their partnership with the launch of The Seth Davis Podcast. The program will debut tomorrow and be made available via iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and others. The show will kick off with an in-depth conversation with Bob Stoops, head football coach at the University of Oklahoma with new episodes set to run weekly thereafter. "I am extremely excited about this new venture with DGital Media and SI. This is not going to be a college basketball podcast, though I will certainly cover that sport at times,” said Davis. “Rather, it is going to be a chance for me to interview smart, interesting people from all over the world of sports, and maybe even outside the world of sports. I’m hoping to bring my listeners stories and insights from my guests, and I intend to get them to open up on how they go about the creative process and perfect their crafts. I am a big podcast listener, and I am psyched to finally be a host."
Red Bull TV announced the release of a five-part docuseries, Driving Dirty: The Road to the Baja 1000, following five “wildly diverse desert race teams who risk money, machine and personal safety as they prepare for and race the toughest off-road event in North America.” The series launches on demand worldwide for free on Red Bull TV today.
With Intel Extreme Masters Oakland set to kick off this weekend, ESL is beefing up coverage touchpoints. The league will partner with SLIVER.tv to launch the first-ever live-stream of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends using augmented live stats integrated into the Virtual Reality stream. The deal sees real-time stats implemented including player KDAs (Kill-deaths-assists), event timeline with bomb plants, defuses, kills with various weapons and “key moment” stats such as 2k, 3k and multi-kill streaks by player in round. "SLIVER.tv is helping us raise the bar for VR live streaming with VRLiveStats,” said Stuart Ewen, Product Manager ESL. “Having a real-time in depth look at everything that happens in a CS:GO match is something unique to a VR broadcast. Now, viewers not only have a bird’s eye view of all the action and a first person feed, but also all of the statistics to put together a high level view of how a round or match unfolds. All of this is only possible in a VR environment.”
Nielsen released its newest eSports research, with unveiling data that shows that fans of the gaming genre are highly engaged, spending four hours a week watching or participating in contests. Overall, eSports fans skew 77% male, with 61% between 18-34. Meanwhile, research found that a company getting involved with eSports will see opinion of that brand grow by 12% compared to traditional sports.
Bengals/Giants on ESPN at 8:30p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1993: Don Shula coached his way to the most wins in NFL history.
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Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who was Tony Stewart’s primary NASCAR sponsor while with Joe Gibbs Racing? Answer: Home Depot. Kudos: Michael Brown-Lagardere Sports/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Michael Dittelman-Dedicated Sports Marketing/NY; Tamara DeLaMora-NBCUniversal/NY; Joe Ferreira-CSN Mid-Atlantic/Washington, DC; Richard Sanders-Visit Panama City Beach/Panama City Beach; Bob Scanlon-Velocity/Silver Spring; Chris Schwartz-International Speedway Corporation/Charlotte; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/Dallas; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.
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