12/20/16: NASCAR’s new Monster Energy series; Citi out as USOC sponsor; Mike Greenberg’s new contract


Good morning. It’s Tuesday December 20, 2016 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NASCAR has a new name for its top auto racing division in 2017 after bringing on Monster Energy as a title sponsor. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will replace the Sprint Cup beginning Jan. 1, with the first official points race set to be the 59th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26.

NASCAR earlier this month completed a multiyear deal with Monster in which the energy drink brand became just the third title sponsor for stock car racing’s top series, following Sprint (2004-16) and RJ Reynolds (1971-2003). NASCAR unveiled the new name on Monday along with a new brand identity to replace the bar mark used by the sanctioning body since 1976.


LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will host Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors at 2:30 pm ET on Christmas Day, one of five NBA games to air Dec. 25 on ABC and ESPN. The networks will combine to broadcast more than 13 consecutive hours of NBA action, highlighted by the highly-anticipated rematch of the most-watched NBA Finals in ABC’s history. Cleveland-Golden State is the first ABC game of the day and will be followed by Chicago-San Antonio at 5 p.m. ET. The New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls will play in ESPN’s first game, with a noon tip-off, and the network will have a prime-time doubleheader involving Oklahoma City-Minnesota and the Clippers versus the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Mike Greenberg is now one of the highest-paid personalities at ESPN, with a recently-signed contract that pays him more than $6.5 million a year, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Greenberg is co-host of the lucrative Mike & Mike program, which serves as daily content for hundreds of ESPN Radio affiliates around the country and also has a televised simulcast on ESPN2. The network has reportedly also been exploring the possibility of giving Greenberg his own morning show.

The memorial service for long-time Turner broadcaster Craig Sager will be available today on NBA TV and streamed via NBA.com beginning at 11 a.m. ET. A sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT for 26 seasons, Sager died on Dec. 15 following a more than two-year battle with cancer.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN that the league’s television ratings have shown an “encouraging rebound” since the U.S. presidential election. NFL games averaged 15.5 million viewers for the first nine weeks of the season, down 14% from a year ago. Following the Nov. 8 election, average viewership rose to 18.1 million viewers for Weeks 10-14.

Reflecting the ratings rise, the NFL on CBS saw its national window net a season-high 15.8 rating – the highest for any network this season – for Sunday’s games that included the New England Patriots against the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders against the San Diego Chargers.

Golf Channel will cap its 2016 programming schedule with a tribute to the life and legacy of Arnold Palmer, “A Very Feherty Christmas” and a celebration of Tiger Woods’s birthday on Dec. 30. The themed programming starts with a commemoration of Palmer on Dec. 24, including the four-part Arnie documentary. From Dec. 24-26, 24 episodes of David Feherty’s show will air, while Woods’s birthday will feature highlights from all 14 of his major championship victories.

The MLB Network will broadcast School of Rickey, an hour-long documentary on the career of stolen base king Rickey Henderson at 9 p.m. ET today. The documentary, which originally aired on FOX during the past MLB postseason, features interviews with Josh Donaldson, Dennis Eckersley, Jimmy Rollins, Tony La Russ and Dave Stewart.

Telemundo Deportes is rolling out a six-month multiplatform promotional campaign ahead of June’s Confederations Cup in Russia, the biggest global soccer event of 2017. The campaign includes a series of spots focusing on the FIFA confederations champions from around the world uniting with the host nation and current FIFA World Cup champion Germany.

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.


Turner Sports, Lagardère Sports & PGA of America
for your work on The American Captain presented by Mercedes-Benz
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.


Citi is ending its sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Committee after five years and three Olympic Games, including a campaign in Rio where it bought advertising exclusivity on NBC. Citi’s departure after the 2016 Rio Olympics leaves the banking category for Team USA open for the first time since 2011 and follows the exits of USOC sponsors AT&T, BMW and Hilton. AT&T was replaced by Comcast and Toyota succeeded BMW in a sponsorship category that is usually priced in the low seven figures annually.

Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has joined the same Hollywood talent agency that signed LeBron James two years ago, aligning with William Morris Endeavor (WME) for off-the-field work. WME partners Brad Slater and Josh Pyatt, who signed James in 2014 to develop film and entertainment projects, will lead the agency’s team representing Stanton.

The Salvation Army saw a lot of $21 donations after Ezekiel Elliott jumped into a giant red kettle to celebrate a touchdown in the Dallas Cowboys’ Sunday night win over Tampa Bay. The Cowboys were penalized for Elliott’s celebration, but the NFL announced there would be no fine. ESPN reported that the Salvation Army, a Cowboys partner, took in $182,000 in online donations in the first 12 hours following the touchdown, a 61% increase over the same time the previous week. The most popular increments were $21, matching Elliott’s jersey number.

Target is cutting back on the number of 2017 Nascar races it will serve as the primary sponsor for Chip Ganassi’s No. 42 Chevy that Kyle Larson drives in the Sprint Cup Series. Target has been examining all of its marketing platforms since Brian Cornell took over as chairman and said in July that it would leave IndyCar racing at the end of this season following 27 years with Ganassi’s racing team. Target’s Nascar sponsorship runs through the 2017 season and it will still be Larson’s major sponsor for a majority of races.

For WWE fans who want to pay tribute to stars like John Cena, AJ Styles or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Clutch Chairz is partnering with WWE to produce licensed chair designs of select superstars and legends. Pre-orders for the first run of WWE licensed chairs start in January.


ESPN will have alternate viewing experiences for its NBA Christmas Day games on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. For the three ESPN telecasts, ESPN3 will air games utilizing NBA Surround DataCenter, which will include graphic displays of in-game data, stats and information. For the ABC doubleheader, ESPN3 will implement unique and alternative camera angles. The network’s Christmas coverage will also include select players wearing microphones.

The NHL will kick off 2017 by launching NHL.com/100, an online hub to celebrate the league’s Centennial with news, content, videos and images. The microsite will be rolled out on Jan. 1 and house daily editorial coverage, photo collections and video content, including original vignettes for the 100 Greatest NHL Players.

The International Ski Federation has unveiled its new FIS App that offers the skiing and snowboarding family a new way to follow competitions and related content and news. The FIS mobile platform will bring together the organization’s official results, data and live timing to complement the website’s editorial coverage. It will also have behind-the-scenes video to give fans an inside look at the World Cup series and the participating athletes.


2GGaming has created a new 12-tournament championship series for 2017 that features a $100,000 prize pool. The year-long Super Smash Bros. for Wii U series will include 12 “Sagas,” beginning with the Genesis Saga on January 14 at the eSports Arena in Santa Ana, California. The winners of each tournament will automatically qualify for the 2GG Championship in December.


Florida Panthers owner and chairman Vincent Viola was nominated as Secretary of the Army by President-elect Donald Trump. Viola, a former infantry officer and Ranger School graduate, became a billionaire after founding an electronic trading firm. The Panthers congratulated Viola and said in a statement that day-to-day operations of the club won’t be affected by the development.

Kevin Driscoll has been hired as the new Social Media Director for Sports Illustrated Group Digital, a role in which he’ll set the brand’s U.S. strategy across all platforms. Driscoll joins SI from the Daily Mail, where he was Deputy Social Media Editor and took the lead in increasing the outlet’s social video presence. Driscoll will report to SI Group Digital Editor Mark McClusky and start his new role on Jan. 3.

Dorth Raphaely, the former General Manager of Bleacher Report, was introduced as Senior Vice President of Content for Fandom powered by Wikia (previously Wikia). Raphaely will help Fandom continue its evolution from a traditional platform company to a media brand, developing and overseeing global content strategy.


San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets on NBA Network at 8p.


CYNOPSIS SPORTS has launched the call for entries for the highly anticipated…
Honoring the best and brightest work from around the spectrum of sports business, with categories that include VR, eSports, live coverage of a sporting event, social media excellence, marketing campaign, apps and more!

For more information & to enter, visit the awards webpage:

ON THIS DAY in 1991: NHL grants permanent membership to Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators.

In The Know: Which NFL team won 11 games during the 2008 season but missed the playoffs?  (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In the Super Bowl era, who is the youngest player to lead the NFL in receiving yardage for a season? Answer: Josh Gordon, who was 22 in 2013. Kudos: Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/Los Angeles; Eben Novy Williams-Bloomberg/New York.

Later — Chris
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