11/15/16: NBC lines up showstoppers for TNF push; ESPN opens college basketball season hot; AEG’s new scrum


Good morning. It’s Tuesday November 15, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NBC Sports is gearing up to launch Thursday Night Football via a “comprehensive marketing campaign that includes unprecedented customized content produced in conjunction with NBC Entertainment, as well as Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures.” With games set to hit the broadcast channel on Nov. 17, a slate of NBC Entertainment programs that include The Blacklist, Blindspot, Chicago Fire/Med/PD, Law & Order: SVU, Superstore, and The Voice, as well as the upcoming film Sing, have all created customized content spun from the “Start your weekend early” TNF campaign. For example, one spot sees the cast of Superstore neglect to help a customer because they are watching TNF on the store’s TVs while Blindspot will showcase the cast sooving a TNF tattoo mtsery.

“As the only network with two primetime NFL packages, we wanted to distinguish TNF with the proposition that millennials start their weekend early,” said Jenny Storms, CMO, NBC Sports Group. “And what better way to reach millennials than with the casts of their favorite shows watching Thursday Night Football within customized spots produced by the shows themselves. This customized consumer engagement plan demonstrates NBCUniversal’s extraordinary company-wide support for TNF.”


Speaking of football, both NBC and FOX scored lifts to Nielsen numbers on Sunday. NBC’s SNF scored a 14.3/23 overnight score for its Seahawks/Patriots contest to mark its best Week 10 SNF game in 5 years. Top markets: Seattle 48.2/70; Boston 34.9/54; Providence 26.6/40; Portland 24.0/37; Albuquerque 20.7/30.

Meanwhile FOX Sports saw the Steelers/Cowboys doozy score a 17.8 for the network to rank as the top game of the week. Overall the network nabbed a 14/2 average for its Sunday doubleheader.

With the NASCAR Chase down to one race before crowning a champion, NBC Sports announced that NBCSN will compliment NBC’s live coverage from Homestead-Miami Speedway with Hot Pass on Sunday at 2:30p. While NBC provides the primary broadcast of the event, NBCSN will now offer simultaneous live coverage dedicated to each of the Championship 4 drivers through multi-window displays and in-car cameras. Meanwhile, on-air graphics highlight the point differentials and field changes between the four drives while a pane of race facts and figures give viewers up to the minute statistics. Commentary will come from race announcer Leigh Diffey and NASCAR on NBC reporter Parker Kligerman.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports saw its pen-ultimate NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season from Phoenix rank as the most watched race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Chase with 4.03 million viewers. The company also announced that 2016 consumption of NASCAR content via /NBCSports.com and app generated 97 million minutes & 802K uniques for markups of 56% & 54% respectively over 2015.

In other ratings news, ESPN’s Armed Forces Classic doubleheader over the weekend saw Indiana’s OT win over Kansas score 1,592,000 viewers to rank as the most-watched game in the five-year history of the college basketball event.  The first game of the doubleheader pitting Arizona/Michigan State tallied 1,222,000 viewers to become the third-most watched.

CBS Sports locked in its SEC on CBS football game for Nov. 26, picking up the Iron Bowl for Nov. 26 at 3:30p. The Alabama/Auburn battle will see Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and reporter Allie LaForce call the contest from Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Make your mark in eSports! Learn how in our upcoming webinar, “eSports: How to Maximize and Monetize Competitive Gaming” on Nov. 17 with speakers from Turner Sports/ELeague, Quest Nutrition, eSports Ad Bureau and Frank N. Magid Associates. Don’t miss your shot to get in early by registering here now!

ESPN announced that its men’s and women’s college basketball coverage this season will feature the music of Atlantic Records recording artists for the fourth consecutive year, showcasing 14 different artists that range from Flo Rida to Fitz & The Tantrums to Saint Motel to Hunter Hayes to Ty Dolla $ign. 

Rounding or today’s ESPN news, the company announced that Tisha Thompson would be joining ESPN’s investigative unit and would serve as a report for Outside the Lines starting Jan. 2. .

WWE’s SmackDown Live will air its landmark 900th episode today at 8p on USA Network. To mark the occasion, the ep will feature special appearances by The Undertaker and WWE Hall of Famer Edge. At 900 episodes, SmackDown is the second longest-running weekly episodic program in U.S. television history, only behind Monday Night Raw which has run 1,225 episodes.

AEG announced the formation of AEG Rugby at the World Rugby Congress and Exhibition in London. The division will look to develop strategic partnership opportunities and programing for the sport that activate its global network of stadiums and venues.  Veteran international rugby player and former Executive Vice President for United World Sports, Dan Lyle, will serve as the division’s Director.


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The ATP inked a three-year deal with Lacoste, renewing a deal that will see the lifestyle fashion brand continue to dress the line judges, ball kids, and mascots, at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals through 2018. In addition to on court brand exposure at this year’s event, Lacoste will also organize an Under-14 invitational tournament for a second consecutive year.

NASCAR is on track to surpass 10 million competition miles on Sunoco Green E15, the biofuel blended with 15% American-made ethanol by the end of the 2016 season. The achievement was celebrated during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway over the weekend with the 10 million miles accumulated across practice, qualifying and racing laps since the biofuel was adopted by the sport.


NeuLion announced an expanded partnership with Coliseum Sports Media during the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in London where the company will now deliver live and on-demand rugby action throughout Asia on RugbyPass, an OTT service now powered by the NeuLion Digital Platform. “The inclusion of rugby at the Olympics, after a gap of 92 years, is testament to how far the sport has come in the past three decades,” said Roy Reichbach, NeuLion’s President and CEO.  “Rugby in Asia has a fantastic fan base.  We are excited about our growing partnership with Coliseum Sports Media, its access to rugby content rights and the strength of our digital technology platform for delivering OTT services.  This is a great partnership for NeuLion as we begin our growth in Asia.”

Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced the acquisition of an AFL team that play at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena starting in the spring of 2017. The soon-to-be-named franchise now joins the Washington Valor as the newest teams in the AFL. Games are expected to be showcased on the company’s OTT service, Monumental Sports Network.

The Topps Company announced that its on-demand platform TOPPS NOW surpassed 500,000 cards sold in the first year, exceeding the expectations of the program. Topps produced 665 different MLB cards during the initial season of TOPPSNOW.


EA Sports’ flipped the on switch for its new partnership with Vivendi and CANAL Group for the upcoming EA Sports FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Series Qualifier France. Serving as one of the official competitions in season of competitive gaming in EA Sports FIFA., the competition will be open to everyone and playable on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The competition will be shown on Dailymotion with the final part of the closing evening set to be broadcast live on CANAL+, rebroadcast on CSTAR and on the CANAL Group’s digital platforms.

Rick Fox’s eSports franchise Echo Fox unlocked a new deal with eNgage for a sponsorship agreement. Activation will include a contest that will offer fans a chance to win a one-on-one, one-hour play and coaching session with an Echo Fox athlete. “A good product requires strong partnerships,” said Sasha Resch, founder of eNgage. “We at eNgage are confident that we did find a strong partner in Echo Fox. We have been monitoring the scene for quite a while now, and the professional attitude alongside the impressive continued presence on top of the performance chain is imperative and aligns well with the idea of our all natural drinks eNgage and diseNgage. We do hope that with the support of our products Echo Fox can achieve even more in the upcoming months.”


90min announced the company’s commercial expansion to Brazil with the opening of the Sao Paulo office, naming Fabio Sa as Country Manager. Sa will be responsible for growing the company’s engagements with brands and agencies and broader business development and strategy in the market. 


Duke/Kansas at 9:30p on ESPN.


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ON THIS DAY in 1946: Ted Williams is selected as the AL MVP.

In The Know: Phi Slama Jama was a reference to which college basketball team? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which NFL franchise has the highest all-time win percentage? Answer: Apparently, that was a more complicated question that it appeared. The Bears have the best all-time regular season win percentage while the Packers had best win percentage overall (including playoffs) at the start of this season but Dallas seems to have now surpassed them. Phew! So I’ll take any of the three. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Scott Leslie-UPS/Atlanta; Christian Matthews-Washington Redskins/DC; Ken White/Charleston; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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