12/09/20: MLS hit a season high as its prepares for the MLS Cup


Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday December 9, 2020

A memorable clash between Sporting KC and Minnesota United delivered 851,000 viewers last Thursday on FOX, according to Nielsen. That ranks as the most-watched MLS telecast of any kind this year as well as the second most-watch playoff match for the league in the last 2 season, not counting the MLS Cup. Postseason matches have now led up to Saturday’s MLS Cup pitting the Columbus Crew and the Seattle Sounders at 8:30p.

Meanwhile, MLS Commissioner Don Garber delivered his State of the League address on Tuesday and noted that the league was focused on a March start for the 2021 season. “Although we have one game left to play, the preparations for the 2021 MLS season are ongoing,” Garber told media during his virtual address. “While some uncertainty remains as the pandemic continues, we are reviewing different models and timeframes for the start of the season. As of today, we continue to target early-to-mid March to open the season.”


In other viewership news, ESPN’s Monday Night Football delivered 14,174,000 viewers for the matchup between Buffalo/San Francisco to mark the franchise’s highest viewership since Sept. 21.

NBC Sports saw viewership gains and milestones for the second straight year for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2020, reporting a 21% increase in viewership for 19 race telecasts across NBC, and NBCSN, despite the season being significantly affected by COVID-19. NBC Sports’ 2020 IMSA WeatherTech Championship coverage across NBC and NBCSN averaged 242,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.

Liga MX semifinal matches running on Univision are pacing up 17% among Total Viewers 2+ and +22% with Adults 18-49 over the 2019 Apertura. Saturday’s Leon-Chivas semifinal averaged 1.9 million Total Viewers 2+ and 1 million Adults 18-49, making it the top-rated Liga MX semifinal round match on any network since A2018. Sunday’s UNAM-Cruz Azul match, meanwhile, averaged 1.8 million Total Viewers 2+ and 947,000 Adults 18-49.

ESPN and the American Kennel Club cemented a new multiyear deal that will see ESPN televise and stream a series of AKC-sanctioned dog competitions, including the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin, over the next three years. The agreement includes digital rights for selected events to stream live on the ESPN App. The deal kicks in with the AKC Fastest Dog USA event streaming live on the ESPN App on Friday from 2-4p and then televised on a delayed basis in a two-hour program on ESPN2 at 6p on Sunday.

Flosports landed a deal with Union Cycliste Internationale for North American streaming rights to multiple world class cycling competitions. The four-year partnership was brokered by IMG, and brings up to 100 hours of highly-anticipated cycling competition programming to FloBikes. “UCI’s global-spanning series of events represent some of the most elite and thrilling competitions in the sport of cycling,” says Ryan Fenton, Director, Global Rights Acquisition, FloSports. “We are honored to partner with the innovative and forward-thinking team at UCI and look forward to elevating North American coverage of the world’s best riders across all cycling disciplines on our FloBikes platform.”

CBS Sports Network unveils three new episodes of its Four Sides Of The Story franchise this month with the specials highlighting seminal sports moments through four unique points of view with each segment narrated from a different perspective and this time dedicating its fourth season of the documentary series to greatness in women’s sports. The run starts Dec. 15 at 10p with “Annika at Colonial.”

Due to challenges resulting from the ongoing pandemic, NASCAR will adjust two race weekends immediately following the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 14. All three NASCAR national series will now remain in Daytona to run a tripleheader at the road course Feb. 19-21 before the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series head down to Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 27-28.

EDGEsport entered deals in new genres of sports with Amaury Sport Organisation and GAME Sports Management. Included in the programming is live and recorded action from the FIM X-Trial World Championships and the Vendée Globe, the single-handed non-stop around-the-world yacht race, which began in France earlier this month.

A few quick hits on the content side:
· Combate Americas will roll out its competition reality television series content on its YouTube channel, beginning on Saturday, publishing a new installment from the 10-episode series and each episode of the series will, for the first time, feature English language sub-titles.
· The National Lacrosse League launched a new weekly digital show: The Warm- Up with host Devan Keany that debuts today across all NLL platforms,
· For Soccer Ventures announced the official launch of “Orange Slices,” a new podcast hosted by former US Men’s National Team player Heath Pearce and twenty one year old emerging U.S. international Mark McKenzie of the Philadelphia Union.
· SiriusXM announced former NFL tight end-turned-broadcaster George Wrighster as the newest host on the 24/7 all-sports Mad Dog Sports Radio channel, as daily host of Night Cap, airing weeknights at 10p.

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UCLA Athletics is going with NIKE, Inc. to make Jordan Brand and Nike the Bruins’ official athletic footwear, apparel and equipment provider beginning July 1. Under the six-year agreement in principle, Nike will supply uniforms, footwear, apparel and equipment to 22 of UCLA’s 25 varsity athletic teams, while Jordan Brand will outfit the football and men’s and women’s basketball programs with “Jumpman” product. With this agreement, UCLA becomes the only school to wear the Jumpman in the Pac-12 Conference.

Nashville Superspeedway launched its brand identity, delivering fans with an introductory video and a newly designed website in preparation for NASCAR’s return to Middle Tennessee in 2021. “This is the next step in our rebirth here in Nashville,” said Erik Moses, Nashville Superspeedway’s track president. “We appreciate the input, vision and assistance of NASCAR and our partners in the creation of our new website and brand. NashvilleSuperSpeedway.com will be the go-to place for fans to plan their trips to Middle Tennessee and learn about all of our on- and off-track events.”

The National Lacrosse League is extending its 2020 partnership with Wilson Sporting Goods naming Wilson and their protective equipment and apparel brand EvoShield as an official supplier of performance driven sports protective gear for the 2021 season. “The National Lacrosse League is proud to continue our partnership with Wilson for a second season. Our goal is to work with best in class brands and help them grow in the sport of lacrosse,” said Kevin Morgan, EVP, CRO for the NLL. “With EvoShield, our elite athletes have the opportunity to use the most advanced technology in protective equipment and continue to perform at the highest levels, so the impact this will continue to have for health and wellness of our box players is important to the expansion of the game for all.”


Twitter rolled out its Year on Twitter, which included top drivers from the sports scene. Top sports teams were led by the Los Angeles Lakers, with Manchester United, FC Barcelona, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Real Madrid CF rounding out the top five. Among individual contests that sparked the most conversation, this year’s Super Bowl was number one, followed by the UEFA Champions League Final (PSG/Bayern Munich), the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final (barcelona/Bayern Munich), NBA Finals Game 6 and the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final (Atalanta/PSG). Top male athlete was Kobe Bryant while Naomi Osaka was top female athlete.

The Georgia Tech Athletic Association and Legends announced a first-of-its-kind partnership to combine opportunities across multimedia rights, premium seating, ticketing, annual fundraising, corporate hospitality, data analytics, business intelligence, and e-commerce into one integrated relationship. With the accord, Legends will introduce a technology, data, and analytics platform to support all revenue streams with the intelligence platform providing Georgia Tech athletics with greater insights into Yellow Jacket fans.


ESL designated the U.S. Air Force as the first official Armed Forces Partner of the ESL CS:GO Pro Tour in North America. The partnership will now include DreamHack Masters, DreamHack Showdown, ESL Pro League Season 13, DreamHack Open Online, ESL Pro League Season 14, Intel Extreme Masters North America, ESEA and CSGO HUB in the United States. In addition, the partnership includes the Aim High broadcast integration as well as the introduction of ‘Wingman Wednesday’ tournaments on ESEA, while the U.S. Air Force will also be the Report Card partner on the new CSGO HUB.

ESPAT TV continues to rev up new deals, this time announcing the launch of its “Creative Collective”, a New York based group built designed to create “disruptive, culturally driven, gaming and esports-centric premium produced content.” Joining the collective is the Ridley Scott Creative Group, creating live TV, advertising, branded entertainment and more for the gaming ecosystem. In addition to the RSCG, the ESPAT TV collaborative will be complimented by the innovation experts of PRG and the Esports Locker. “It is rare to have a creative group that consistently produces top-tier work while at the same time achieving such strong performance,” said ESPAT TV co-founder and CEO Dante Simpson. “The Ridley Scott Creative Group has proven itself capable of delivering against a range of production needs, and their diverse assortment of skills and collaborative culture will benefit the clients we are now adding.”

FaZe Clan is launching a “first-of-its-kind” program designed to develop all potential new members via the FaZe Academy. The first recruits for the FaZe Academy have already been selected and will undergo a training program and those who pass through the FaZe Academy will be recruited and make their official debut as the first-ever FaZe Clan Freshman Class in January 2021. “FaZe Academy is seeking the best in the world – from the undiscovered charismatic vlogger to the elite multi-hyphenate global content creator who is already making waves,” said Jaci Hays, COO of FaZe Clan. “It is designed to help them achieve their goals, and better understand how far they can take their entrepreneurial spirit and unmatched talent. We want to support their personal brands, help them navigate superstardom while also achieving our larger vision for FaZe Clan.”

Ford Models announced the signing of pro Fortnite player and gaming influencer for Misfits Gaming, Griffin “Sceptic” Spikoski to its Esports and Gaming division. “It is an honor to bring such a talented and focused individual to our division,” said Justin M. Jacobson, Manager for the Ford Esports and Gaming talent division. “Sceptic has already achieved so much in his young career and we are excited about the opportunity to help him continue to grow and flourish.”


Legends named Jane Normansell to a new position within the Legends Global Partnership division as Vice President of the West, based in Los Angeles. In her new role, she will help lead the partnership business in the west, as well as lead new property acquisitions.

NBC Sports Washington announced that Jackie Bradford, who is currently the President and General Manager for NBC4 Washington / WRC and Telemundo Washington / WZDC, has been named General Manager of the network. In this expanded role, Bradford will oversee day-to-day operations of the network and will work closely with Monumental Sports and Entertainment.

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