12/13/16: Campus Insiders tackles esports; NBC’s Cricket pitch; Toyota’s new Grand Prix


Good morning. It’s Tuesday December 13, 2016 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Campus Insiders is jumping into the esports game, announcing a deal with the Collegiate StarLeague that will make the digital sports platform its Official Media Partner for the 2016-2017 season. This partnership will also create and distribute written and video content supporting and highlighting CSL’s collegiate esports leagues and tournaments across the Campus Insiders network starting next month The content partnership will also allow Campus Insiders and CSL to collaborate on and create new live events within collegiate esports in a move to launch a unified portal for collegiate esports content coverage.
“It’s exciting to see esports at the collegiate level getting the recognition it deserves,” said Duran Parsi, CEO of Collegiate Starleague. “With competitive video gaming a becoming strong spectator-sport, students and alumni need a reliable outlet like Campus Insiders that allows them to track their favorite esports teams just like they do traditional sports teams.”


NBC Sports Group is bringing Cricket Australia stateside, locking in a media rights agreement for Big Bash League Cricket, beginning with the 2016-17 season. The deal sees NBCSN present coverage of 10 Big Bash League cricket matches, highlighted by the BBL Semifinals and Final. Coverage begins on Dec. 20 at 3:30a with Sydney Thunder/Sydney Sixers. “NBC Sports is excited to partner with Cricket Australia to showcase this world famous league and incredibly popular international sport,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “Cricket is one of the most-watched sports across the globe, and the Big Bash League features many of the world’s best players.”

Sunday Night Football drew its most-watched telecast this season with the Giants’ upset over the Cowboys, averaging a Total Audience Delivery of 26.7 million viewers for the game across NBC and NBC Sports Digital platforms, per Nielsen Fast Nationals and Adobe. The NBC-only telecast drew 26.5 million viewers, marking the best viewership for a Week 14 primetime NFL game since 1989.

ESPN added Julie Stewart-Binks to its roster as sideline reporter for Major League Soccer and U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team games. Stewart-Binks will make her ESPN debut in March 2017 during ESPN’s MLS season-opening telecast. She joins the company from FOX Sports where she served myriad roles including update anchor, studio host, sideline reporter for soccer and on-site reporter for other live events.

HBO announced that production has begun on its upcoming multi-part documentary about the life and career of Muhammad Ali from LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment and Antoine Fuqua’s Fuqua Films. The program will explore “Ali’s greatest triumphs and comebacks, painting an intimate portrait of a man who, against all odds, dreamed and achieved the impossible, over and over again.”

Speaking of documentaries, the next edition of MLB Network Presents will debut Cuba: Island of Baseball tonight at 9p, examining the history of Cuban baseball players leaving their country for the US to pursue an MLB career. The special is narrated by Cuban-American Emmy Award-winning actor Bobby Cannavale.

WWE’s 14th annual Tribute to the Troops s set to run tomorrow at 8p as part of WWE Holiday Week on USA Network. The annual programming staple takes place in DC and will feature footage from numerous 2016 WWE and USO activities.

Alliance MMA unveiled the acquisition of Ohio-based MMA promotion Iron Tiger Fight Series. This acquisition is the first since the Company completed its initial public offering (IPO) and listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange and marks the initial step in executing Company’s plan to expand its total number of MMA events to at least 125 per year.


The Leaderboard celebrates the organizations that utilized their social media platforms to promote product offerings to sports fans throughout 2016. Check out the full list of winners here.


Toyota signed on with the US Ski and Snowboard Association in a deal that makes the auto-maker the title sponsor of the US Grand Prix. The 2016-17 schedule includes this weekend’s halfpipe and big air snowboarding competitions from CO starting Dec. 14. "Toyota has long enjoyed a significant presence in winter sports," said Ed Laukes, Vice President, Integrated Marketing Operations, Toyota. "Adding the Grand Prix sponsorship to our portfolio is a tremendous opportunity for us to continue to grow our relationship with the fans that are so passionate about the sports of snowboarding and freeskiing."

Skittles is returning to the Super Bowl, tapping the services of Adam&eveDDB to create a spot for the big game in February, according to Campaign US. The spot will mark the third consecutive Super Bowl showing for Skittles and continue the Taste the Rainbow campaign.


Sportradar unveiled Acceleradar – described as the industry’s first free data program to support early stage startups. Eligible participants will be granted free data access, up to one year, via Sportradar’s industry leading API. “The opportunity to interact with real-time sports data is extremely attractive to developers and entrepreneurs. Acceleradar provides a great way to expand the playing field and further spur innovation in sports. We are extremely excited to see where this leads,” said Tom Masterman, Chief Revenue Officer at Sportradar.


ESL locked in its long-term home in NY, agreeing to a deal with Barclays Center to host the league’s North American flagship event and the biggest esports tournament on the East Coast. The next date for the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event will be held at the Brooklyn venue for the next four years, with the next event slated to begin on Sept. 16. “There is no doubt that Barclays Center is the ideal venue to showcase ESL One,” said Chuck Steedman, Chief Operating Officer, AEG Facilities.  “Along with our strategic partners ESL, we believe that the state-of-the-art amenities, facilities and technology Barclays Center has become known for combined with the passionate and savvy fans who attend esports events in the region will create the most incredible atmosphere and experience this signature event has ever encountered.”

Twitch announced that esports teams Alliance and Evil Geniuses are transitioning to become independent player-owned organizations. Twitch had previously taken on the teams through its acquisition of GoodGame in 2014, although pundits had been vocal about the potential of preferential treatment for the teams, which Twitch has denied. Both teams will still be streaming on the Twitch platform, but each organization’s brands and player contracts will now be controlled by their respective players and player-selected management.

Gfinity is onboard as the event partner for Microsoft’s European and Latin/South American events for the Halo World Championship 2017. The announcement expands on Gfinity’s appointment by Microsoft to deliver events in London, Paris and Mexico City as part of the Gears of War eSports Pro Circuit in 2016/17. The EU Halo World Championship 2017 qualifier will begin on Jan. 21. Neville Upton, Chief Executive Officer of Gfinity, said: “As we continue to cement Gfinity’s reputation within the thriving eSports industry, Microsoft’s continued commitment to work with Gfinity is further testament to our team’s world-class capability to deliver the best experiences for title holders and fans.”


BTN has a pair of promotions, upping Michael Calderon to SVP, Digital Media & Programming and Quentin Carter to VP, Studio Production. Calderon will focus on the complete, strategic integration and monetization of BTN’s content across all digital platforms, in addition to continuing to program and schedule the network to achieve maximum fan engagement. Carter’s promotion comes after he helped spearhead the automation of the studio.


Blackhawks/Rangers on NBCSN at 7p.


Women in Digital – This one is for you!
We live in such an exciting time – women are rising in the ranks and excelling in the fields of digital content, marketing, advertising, social media, & online. With these trailblazers in mind, we are pleased to announce the call for entries of our third annual TOP WOMEN IN DIGITAL AWARDS, celebrating the unique, the uncommon & the bold.
The deadline to enter is Tuesday, January 10 so get ahead of the holiday season by starting your entry today!

ON THIS DAY in 1936: The Boston Redskins play their final NFL game before moving to DC.

In The Know: What country won the last Cricket Word Cup? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who was the only player to win the Heisman Trophy as a player for a losing team? Answer: Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung. Kudos: John Ferlazzo-Media Consultant/London; Andrew Feingold-Fox News/NY; Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Ken White/Charleston; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Brian Sikorski-BCS Marketing/Westport; Rick Hensley-WCYB/WEMT/Bristol; Jerehmy White-BusyBuddy Books/Glen Rock; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Jason Brist-Outdoor Sportsman Group/Chicago; J D Spangler-JDL Broadcasting/Marshall; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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