12/14/16: BAMTech seeks CEO; MLS Cup overfloweth; FIFA deepens ties with Olympics


Good morning. It’s Wednesday December 14, 2016 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

BAMTech is in need of a new CEO. Longtime topper Bob Bowman is pulling back on his oversight of the MLBAM spinoff company in order to return full time to his role as president of business and media at Major League Baseball, where he oversees MLBAM, MLB Network, and the league’s sponsorship and consumer product businesses. The story was broken by Bloomberg, which noted that Bowman will remain on the BAMTech board.


The 2016 MLS Cup officially made history, notching a new record for television viewership, postseason attendance, digital audience and social media engagement as the league wrapped up its 21st season on Saturday. Overall, more than 3.5 million viewers in the United States and Canada tuned in. On FOX, the network broadcast scored 1,411,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, to rank as the most-watched MLS Cup since 2001 stateside. The game posted a viewership increase of 111% over last year’s game (668,000), which was televised by ESPN, while 601,000 viewed the game on UniMas. In Canada, an audience of 1,430,000 watched on TSN, while 92,000 viewed in French on RDS.

Monday Night Football on ESPN took the night among all networks (broadcast or cable) in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54), according to Nielsen. The Ravens/Patriots matchup delivered a total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 13,273,000 average viewer, with 13,020,000 on TV. In Baltimore, the game delivered an 11.5 rating on ESPN and a 22.7 on WBAL-NBC, for a combined 34.2 rating in the market. In Boston, the game delivered a 9.3 rating on ESPN, a 22.9 on WCVB-ABC (MA), and a 2.5 on WMUR-ABC (NH), for a combined 34.7 rating in the market.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter locked in his next career stop, signing on to join FOX Sports as a FS1 NFL analyst. “Cris is one of sports media’s most-respected NFL analysts with a track record of offering thought-provoking commentary on television for nearly 15 years,” said Whit Albohm, Vice President, Daily Studio Production for FS1. “His incredibly successful playing career and years of broadcast experience make him uniquely well-positioned to provide insight on the NFL that viewers would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.”
Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio State and UCLA are all in on the CBS Sports Classic as the company announced a three year renewal of the annual college basketball event. The 2017 event will be held on Dec. 23 at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center. Dates and locations for the 2018 and 2019 doubleheaders will be announced at a later date. The 2016 edition will be held on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The NFL locked in the quartet of games that will take place in London next season, marking the first time the league will play four games in the city. Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 will see matchups of Ravens/jaguars and Saints/Dolphins at Wembley Stadium, while Oct. 22 and 29 will see Vikings/Browns and Cardinals/Rams at Twickenham. At the conclusion of the 2017 season, 26 teams will have played in London since the inception of the London Games Series in 2007. 

Speaking of the NFL, the league unveiled the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, pitting AFC and NFC All-Stars against each other in unique competitions, will air during Pro Bowl Week on Jan. 26 at 7p on ESPN. The Skills Showdown will help anchor a re-imagined Pro Bowl Week, with competitions set to include: Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball; Power Relay Challenge; Precision Passing and Best Hands.

The LPGA Tour announced the first-ever Senior LPGA Championship, set to take place from July 10-12, 2017 at The Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort in Indiana. The Tour locked in a multi-year deal to both host the tournament and have it televised live on Golf Channel. The field of 81 players will showcase past greats in the women’s game including LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame members, current LPGA members and major champions over the age of 45 with a total purse of $600,000.

Speaking of golf, Golf Channel exits 2016 by offering viewers a look back at the most memorable moments from the year with special programming running through Dec. 30. Overall, more than 300 hours of encore 2016 tournament programming will air between today and Friday, Dec. 30. For the first time, Golf Channel will air an encore of every 2016 PGA TOUR final round airing in succession, Dec. 13-18 while the top-10 “Fan Favorite” rounds from 2016 as voted by viewers will air in primetime Dec. 19-23 and Dec. 26-30. Other highlights include the Olympics, women’s majors, NCAA golf and PGA TOUR Champions.

AXS TV premieres New Japan Pro Wrestling’s top show Wrestle Kingdom 11 on Jan,. 13, the week after it takes place at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. AXS TV also renewed the popular weekly wrestling series for over 50 episodes in 2017 and it will premiere an hour earlier at 8p.

USA Badminton is shifting its national headquarters and training center to Anaheim, joining USA Volleyball and USA Water Polo in the city. Sports Anaheim announced partnership agreements with the three national governing bodies.


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.


The NHL detailed plans for its Centennial festivities, which begin on Jan. 1 in Toronto with the Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic. The event will also feature the first phase in the announcement of the 100 Greatest NHL Players, as well as the launch of the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, a traveling fan experience that will visit all NHL markets across North America in 2017. The NHL Centennial Fan Arena will be anchored by a 53-foot museum truck featuring more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, historical memorabilia, and unique photo moments. Other elements include a video truck, a pop-up hockey rink, the Clear the Ice Zamboni Experience, the Stanley Cup and more.

The NFL’s traditional pink October league-wide activation supporting breast cancer research is no more. Instead, NFL teams can now be able to choose their own cancer charity to support, according to TheMMQB.com, which will fall under the league-wide umbrella called “A Crucial Catch.” The move is designed to make the campaign more personal.

Frito-Lay is out of the Super Bowl. ABC News reports that the company will no longer run ads for Doritos as the annual game, noting that commercials for its products in next year’s Super Bowl "did not fit” with marketing plans.


The Olympic Channel locked in a deal with FIFA that will cover news access and content licences to promote football within the Olympic Movement. FIFA now joins a roster of 36 International Sports Federations and IOC Recognized Sports Federations who have signed similar agreements with the Olympic Channel. “Football is one the most popular sports on the planet, and we are excited to work together with FIFA to amplify the excitement of football at the Olympic Games as well as emphasise the deeply-rooted cultural aspects of ‘the beautiful game’ through the Olympic Channel,” said Mark Parkman, General Manager of the Olympic Channel.

Extreme Networks inked a deal with the NFL to become the Official Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Analytics provider of Super Bowl LI. Since Extreme announced its partnership with the NFL in 2014, it has deployed its end-to-end software-driven ExtremeWirelessT networking solution throughout 10 NFL stadiums to support the league’s increased focus on advanced wireless standards.


ELeague launched its ELeague Major Qualifier on Thursday at 10a, with live coverage via Twitch. Multi-angle production of select matches will also be available via ELeague’s Game Command player at live.eleague.com. Richard Lewis returns to anchor the desk, joined by analysts Jason ‘Moses’ O’Toole and Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage. Three pairs of casters Anders Blume & Auguste ‘Semmler’ Massonat; James Bardolph & Daniel ‘DDK’ Kapadia; and Henry Greer & Matthew ‘Sadokist’ Trivett – will take viewers through each Counter-Strike: Global Offensive play in real-time. Host Sue ‘Smix’ Lee will provide player interviews and reports on site.

Electronic Arts locked in a new partnership between Real Racing 3 and the FIA Formula E Championship, in a move to bring the season-opening Hong Kong ePrix to life in the game. The deal sees Real Racing 3 adding the Formula E street circuit in Hong Kong’s Central District as a new track in the game, in addition to an in-game version of an official Formula E car, and exclusive behind-the-scenes videos from the real-world event, which took place this October 9, 2016.

Team SoloMid announced a new partnership with fragrance brand Axe. The team noted that “We’re excited to bring Axe into the world of Esports and welcome them to the TSM family.”


Lagardere Sports named Matt Baldwin as its Vice President  Coaching where he will lead the coach and sports executive practices in the agency’s Team Sports Division.


Celtics/Spurs on ESPN at 9:30p.


Shine a light on your team’s work in the
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ON THIS DAY in 1991: Desmond Howard wins the Heisman Trophy.

In The Know: Which team drafted Desmond Howard? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What country won the last Cricket Word Cup? Answer: Australia. Kudos: Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Russell Sargeant-NBC Sports/NY; Christopher Hall-Comcast Spotlight/Miramar; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
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