11/21/16: Sports’ fantasy marriage; TNF’s NBC kickoff; NBA makes math addition


Good morning. It’s Monday November 21, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

It is officially a marriage for fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel, which announced a merger agreement expected to close in 2017. The new entity will look to offer "daily, weekly and season-long sports fantasy contests, will bring together two fantasy sports innovators to better serve consumers." Benefits are expected to include operational efficiencies and cost savings that will look to drive a greater focus on developing new products and features, including more variety in contest formats, loyalty programs, enhanced social functionality and ancillary sports-oriented content and experiences. The company will be co-headquartered in both New York and Boston with DraftKings CEO Jason Robins becoming CEO of the newly combined company while FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles will become Chairman of the Board.

"We have always been passionate about providing the best possible experience for our customers and this merger will help advance our goal of building a transformational global sports entertainment platform," said Robins. "Joining forces will allow us to truly realize the potential of our vision, and as a combined company we will be able to accelerate the pace of innovation and bring a richer experience to our customers than we ever could have done separately."

"Being able to combine DraftKings and FanDuel presents a tremendous opportunity for us to further innovate and disrupt the sports industry," said Eccles. "While both companies have accomplished much already, this transaction will create a business that can offer a greater variety of offerings, appealing to new users, including the tens of millions of season-long fantasy players that haven’t yet tried our products."


Thursday Night Football’s shift to NBC last week saw the Panthers’ win over the Saints generate a Total Audience Delivery of 13.6 million viewers across all platforms — NBC, NFL Network, Twitter, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital, according to Nielsen Fast National and Adobe data. For TV-only, the matchup averaged 13.3 million TV-only viewers — ranking as the network’s most-watched Thursday night show in November since 2006, excluding Thanksgiving nights, according to NBC.

In college football, ESPN had a big week beginning with Thursday’s Louisville/Houston matchup, which scored a total live audience of 2,509,000 viewers and marking the most-watched Thursday night college football telecast this season across all networks. Meanwhile, Saturday saw Ohio State/Michigan State become ESPN’s top overnight and streaming audience for a Saturday game airing on the network this season. The Big Ten battle hit a 4.2 overnight for a 180% markup over the comparable 2015 game window. Meanwhile, Indiana/Michigan hit a 3.2 in overnight numbers to rank as ESPN’s second best Saturday overnight of the season.

Before crowning a championship on Sunday, NASCAR Chairman Brian France spoke with reporters about the state of the sport, dismissing dips in ratings. "We are still very pleased with our position in sports," he said. "The audience isn’t going away at all. It’s sliding to different places, consuming in different ways. I would tell you some other leagues that have 30% dropoffs. They didn’t lose (that) from one moment to the next. That audience is just sliding and consuming in some different ways. Our digital consumption is off the charts."


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The NFL is partnering with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee in a move to invite local business owners to take part in the launch of the Super Bowl LII Business Connect Program. The program looks to seek out local state business to compete for Super Bowl contracts. The launch event will be held on Dec. 2 at the University of St. Thomas’s downtown campus. "Minnesota has a strong local, diverse business community, and Super Bowl LII presents the perfect opportunity to showcase the unique products and talents our market has to offer," said Alex Tittle, Vice President of Business Connect and Corporate Affairs for the MNSBHC. "We’re looking forward to working with our business community, especially those who joined us today, toward making Super Bowl LII a successful event for our visitors, our community, and our local economy."

Speaking of the NFL, Johnson Controls International locked in naming rights for the $600 million Hall of Fame Village at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The deal will see Johnson Controls become the "Official Smart City Partner" of the area, which will see a $120 million VR Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Experience that will open in 2019. The deal spans 18 years, according to reports and includes naming rights to the Hall of Fame’s annual Enshrinement Week, including branding for Concert for Legends, Enshrinement Festival and Hall of Fame Game.


The NBA is partnering with Discovery Education to launch a multi-year partnership that will look to deepen middle and high school students’ engagement in mathematics nationwide "by combining the passion for professional basketball with key math concepts." The alliance includes interactive math problems derived from NBA and WNBA game footage and statistics such as points, rebounds and assists, which have been integrated into Discovery Education’s  Math Techbook, a digital textbook. More than 3 million students across all 50 states and several Canadian provinces have access to the Discovery Education Techbook series.


Anchor streaming platform Twitch is adding a new dynamic to its partnerships with team. The company announced a deal with esports organizations Cloud9 and Team SoloMid designed to help the outfits reach new sponsors. "Our goal is to help introduce more sponsors into the space through broad reach that includes media and now sponsorships," Twitch COO Kevin Lin said in a statement. Twitch already serves as a sponsor and exclusive streaming service of both organizations.

A new esports study by research company Leger found that 25% of US Adults have someone in the household who has watched an esports tournament. Data also showed a boost in viewership over the past six months, with the level of adults who watched an eSports event increased from 15% to 18% between May and October, while overall household viewership grew from 22% to 25%. While the overall household viewership for esports is 18%, viewership surges to 41% among households with children.

The door is officially open for esports here in Las Vegas with UK online bookmaker William Hill announcing that the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee gave the company approval to accept bets starting from last weekend’s IEM Oakland eSports event. The company partnered with the Downtown Grand Las Vegas casino to become the first provider in the United States to offer eSports betting. "It has been an honor and a privilege to work closely with Chairman Burnett and the Governor’s Gaming Policy Committee to gain collective support for wagering on esports,"’ said Seth Schorr, Chairman of the Downtown Grand Casino. "This has been an excellent example of a public/private partnership working together to create a new innovative way of gambling which will have a positive impact on State revenues."


Texans/Raiders from Mexico City on ESPN at 8:30p.




Entry Deadline: December 8, 2016
Late Submissions: December 15, 2016
Awards Event: Spring 2017 (NYC)
Who Should Enter, How to Enter, Eligibility Period, Categories, Deadlines, Sponsorship Opportunities, Contact Information and more.

ON THIS DAY in 1934. The New York Yankees purchase rights to outfielder Joe DiMaggio from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League for $50,000.

In The Know: 2011 saw a spot dubbed "The Force" capture hearts during the Super Bowl. What brand was that commercial for? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What was Bo Schembechler’s actual first name? Answer: Glenn. Kudos: Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Willy Gibson-WTG Consulting/Columbus; Tom Lopez-UPS/Atlanta; Allison Wright-SSE/Detroit; Ted Andrusz-Home Team Sports/Detroit; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Joe Lyons-SOS Global/Dallas; Scott Humphrey-Talentfoot Executive Search/Chicago; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Howie Schwab-Sports Jeopardy, Culver City; Judie Henninger-Valentine

Later — Chris
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