12/19/16: Six MLB teams hit with tax bills; Kentucky-UNC sets ratings mark; BAMTech teams with Riot Games


Good morning. It’s Monday December 19, 2016 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

A record six Major League Baseball teams have been sent luxury tax bills, among them the New York Yankees, who have exceeded the sport’s salary cap for 14 straight seasons. The Los Angeles Dodgers will have to pay $31.8 million and the Yankees got a $27.4 million bill for surpassing MLB’s payroll threshold of $189 million for the 2016 season. The Boston Red Sox ($4.5 million), Detroit Tigers ($4 million), San Francisco Giants ($3.4 million) and World Series champion Chicago Cubs ($2.96 million) also got bills from the commissioner’s office. The Yankees over the past 14 years have now been taxed a total of $325 million.


Kentucky’s thrilling 103-100 win over North Carolina on Saturday drew a 2.4 overnight rating, according to CBS Sports, the highest-rated college basketball game on any network in 2016. The game between two of the sport’s blueblood programs was up 50 percent over any other college hoops telecast.

MLB starting times will be moved up earlier than normal beginning in 2018 due to a provision in the new labor contract that takes effect when a team faces a flight longer than 2 ½ hours following a game, according to an ESPN report. As an example, ESPN cited the Los Angeles Angels playing a night game in New York this past June that started at about 7 p.m. ET and then playing a night game at home the next day. Under the new rules, their game in New York couldn’t start later than 4:37 p.m. ET. The new rules for getaway days also prohibit teams from scheduling an early-afternoon game the day after one of the participating teams played a night game in a different city.

FOX Sports Midwest will televise the Alumni Game at the NHL’s Winter Classic in St. Louis, where Wayne Gretzky will be among the Hall-of-Famers on the ice. The alumni game between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks is scheduled for Dec. 31 at Busch Stadium. The Blues’ roster includes Gretzky and fellow Hall of Fame players Bernie Federko, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Adam Oates, Chris Pronger and Peter Stastny. Darren Pang, an analyst for FOX Sports Midwest, will wear a microphone rinkside and also play in the game as a goaltender for the Blackhawks.

It’s awards season, and we are thrilled to offer our sixth annual Cynopsis Sports Media Awards on April 13 in NYC. New categories (VR, Instagram, Snapchat, eSports, etc.) and more chances for you to showcase your best work to the entire industry. Get those entries in before the holidays! Click here to enter.


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PepsiCo signed a 10-year extension to remain the official soft drink (Pepsi), tea (Lipton) and snack provider (Tostitos) for the Dallas Cowboys, extending a 20-year relationship. PepsiCo is working with the Cowboys on a first-of-its-kind digital tunnel cover at AT&T Stadium that will feature Lipton and Tostitos branding.

Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group The Roots will take center stage at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. The Roots, which serves as the official house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, will be featured prior to the introduction of the East and West All-Star squads on Feb. 19 at Smoothie King Center. Their performance will celebrated the “evolution and history of the game of basketball,” according to the NBA.

Freight company R+L Carriers re-upped as title sponsor of college football’s New Orleans Bowl through 2021. The game featured a pair of 6-6 teams this year, with Southern Mississippi beating Louisiana Lafayette 28-21 yesterday.

GNC will make its Super Bowl commercial debut this season, part of a rebranding strategy that comes after a year in which the stock price of the vitamin giant dropped by more than 50 percent. The spot will air during the first quarter and inform consumers about corporate changes that include a plan to reopen all stores under a new name: One New GNC.

Los Angeles Dodgers coach Dave Roberts said he’d welcome the chance to play an MLB game in the United Arab Emirates. Roberts’ comments came after the Dodgers partnered with its official airline partner, Emirates Airline, to sponsor Little League teams in Dubai.

The PGA Tour’s BMW Championship could have a new venue when the event returns to Chicago in 2021. The newly formed Chicago Parks Golf Alliance has teamed with Tiger Woods’s design company to restore and improve two existing golf courses (Jackson Park and South Shore) on the South side of Chicago. Completion of the project, which would also include a short course designed for families, is targeted for late 2020.

The NBA is building anticipation for its lineup of five Christmas Day games with a new commercial for the holiday season called, “The Most Dunktastic Time of the Year.” The spot features NBA stars including Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony harmonizing over highlights of rim-rattling dunks, deep 3-point shots and flashy behind-the-back passes.


Snapchat is seeking to secure new advertisers for Super Bowl packages at a price of $3 million, according to AdAge. Snapchat really only got involved in Super Bowl marketing last year, when Gatorade sponsored an animated lens that featured a virtual cooler dumping the sports drink on users’ selfies. During the season, Snapchat was offering football ad packages that cost up to $5 million, AdAge said, citing a leaked advertising sales deck from the company.

NBC said the Average Minute Audience for its Thursday night live stream between the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams on Twitter, NBC Sports Digital and NFL Digital was 321,000 viewers. The game averaged 14.6 million TV-only viewers on NBC and NFL Network.


BAMTech, a subsidiary of MLB Advanced Media, inked a deal with Riot Games in which it will pay a minimum of $300 million for the exclusive rights to stream and commercialize League of Legends competitions to the 2023 season. The agreement guarantees Riot Games an average of $50 million per year and the two sides will work together to “push the boundaries of the esports viewing experience” for LoL content, with BAMTech planning to release a mobile app that will stream matches.

Eight NFL teams will be holding “Madden 17” tournaments after the season to determine the best gamer among their fans. The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are all participating, with fans able to register online for head-to-head competition that will determine the top eight players representing each team. Those finalists will take part in live competitions in each market, in front of live audiences, that will be streamed on NFL team websites. Prizes totaling $10,000  including cash, player-autographed memorabilia and team merchandise  will be awarded at each venue.


Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins on ESPN at 8:30p.


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ON THIS DAY in 2010:
The “Miracle at the New Meadowlands” saw the Philadelphia Eagles score four touchdowns in the final 7 minutes against the New York Giants to erase a 21-point deficit, including a game-ending punt return by DeSean Jackson.

In The Know: In the Super Bowl era, who was the youngest player to lead the NFL in receiving yardage for a season? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Michael Jackson performed at a Super Bowl featuring which two teams? Answer: Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. Kudos: Ken Nice-TeamPeople/Washington D.C.; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; John Kukla-KDFW FOX 4/Dallas; David Westberg-SAG AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/Los Angeles; Cindy Haas-Golf Channel/Orlando; Jack Simmons-US Army Reserve; Jason Kleinhein-Coxreps; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston.

Later — Chris
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