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August 26, 2020

Fan Fact
According to SportBusiness, MLB has seen 1.3 million total unique users for its MLB.TV out-of-market streaming package, 11% more than the comparable period in 2019.

Top Story

Advertisers scramble for backup plans ahead of NFL season kickoff

With just two weeks to go before the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans kick off the National Football League’s 2020 season, advertisers and sponsors are preparing for the worst in case the coronavirus pandemic disrupts or even outright cancels the season.

What are brands doing to prepare?

While all signs point to a Sept. 10 kickoff, according to the NFL, advertising agencies are moving ahead with backup planning. Possible plan B’s include shifting some of their clients’ marketing budgets into online video platforms like YouTube, Hulu or Roku that have racked up audiences during the pandemic as viewers have been trapped at home, Doug Rozen, chief media officer at ad agency 360i, said. Advertisers are also considering moving money into digital ad formats that are focused on ecommerce and pushing sales, which has become more important during the pandemic, he added.

Brands and teams are working together to get creative and reach fans on digital or social media, such as hosting virtual autograph signing events for players, said Molly Arbogast, chief executive at POV Sports Marketing. Sponsors are preparing for all possibilities because it would be “naive to think that football will be immune to what happened in baseball,” she said, referring to the recent virus outbreaks in Major League Baseball, which has led to nearly 40 games being postponed after the season started due to positive COVID-19 cases.

The bottom line:

“There is no replacing the NFL,” Tom McGovern, president of Optimum Sports, said. “Without college football, you have less (ad) supply, and the NFL was the contingency plan for that.”

Read: Reuters


WNBA using growing brand appeal to aid sponsorship push

As the WNBA planned out its opening weekend, its primary broadcast partner, ESPN, reached out with a broad social media campaign to create excitement online and draw attention to the athletes on the floor. The network distributed the league’s signature orange logo hoodie to stars ranging from Naomi Osaka to LeBron James, and through posts on these athletes’ widely followed accounts, the #OrangeHoodie campaign was born. By the end of a weekend that featured incredible ratings and a major on-court demonstration for social justice, the hoodies were sold out, and momentum had built for a much-hyped 2020 season from a “clean site” at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., thanks to the combined might of ESPN and the WNBA.

By the end of the weekend, ESPN and ABC had already ponied up for an additional 13 nationally televised contests. Twitter also renewed its partnership with the league, and will show 10 regular-season games on the social media platform. It was, by any metric, an incredible start to the year — hopeful evidence that the WNBA can keep growing while also doing things its own way. “We’re focused on younger fans, we’re focused on more diverse fans, and we’re focused on highlighting our values,” WNBA COO Christy Hedgpeth said. “It all works together for us, but there aren’t a lot of substitutes for national TV exposure, and we’re just thrilled we have this unprecedented level.”

Read: Front Office Sports


NBA alums launch media platform to connect players and celebrate success

The National Basketball Retired Players Association has announced the launch of Legends Media & Entertainment (LME), a multimedia storytelling platform for NBA and WNBA players that will aim to tell stories about the history of both leagues and the lives of players both on and off the court. One of the organization’s many goals is to change the narrative around retired NBA players, NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle said. “There’s no shortage of stories about former players having troubles and difficulties, but the reality is that most players have success very quietly,” Rochelle said. “I want to change that. I want the players to look at this as a place to put all of their successes and goodwill.”

With more than 1,000 members in the NBRPA, the organization has the tools to reach players both young and old. Former Detroit Pistons forward and Hall of Famer Grant Hill serves as a board director. “We think it’s important to tell these stories, especially in the WNBA. They’ve been leaders with using their platform, speaking truth to power and understanding the power in their voices,” said Hill. “I think I’m looking forward to the stewardship or the responsibility for highlighting incredible human beings.” The content that the LME will produce will consist of print stories, short and long form video, spoken word, podcasts and more. Videos and podcasts produced through LME can be streamed through Twitter, Facebook, Twitch and Soundcloud, but the NBRPA is also currently looking for ways to amplify its reach.

Read: Sportico

Partner Content

Behind the Mask: Fostering Community and Transparency to Build Brand Loyalty
Thursday August 27th, 12pm ET

2020 is the year of brand safety. But it’s also the year of the consumer. Individuals have taken hold, re-evaluated their loyalty and become more vocal than ever about the brands they support and the ones that fall short.

In this webinar, you’ll learn how to increase brand loyalty while fostering community and transparency through values. Alison Walsh, Head of Global PR and Digital Media at Stoli Group and Noori Lee, Digital Marketing Senior Manager at Sodexo will walk through how brands can showcase safe practices and values while leaning into the human element of their marketing and communications. You’ll learn how to:

  • Build brand loyalty through community and transparency
  • Navigate pandemic messaging and visuals by leaning into the human stories
  • Stay true to your brand values, even when it’s most difficult


NHL looks to suit up its second class of NHL Power Players

The National Hockey League is accepting applications through Sept. 25 for its NHL Power Players initiative, which brings together fans between the ages of 13 and 17 to bring the perspective of their age group to the league. The league will choose 20 applications from the U.S. and Canada, up from 15 last year, based on creative ideas their share related to their local communities and the sport as a whole, as well as social media and fan-driven content. They will go through a three-part interview process.

The league said the NHL Power Players group will participate in remote meetings throughout the year to discuss topics including marketing the game, community engagement, rules of play, events and social content. NHL senior executive vice president and chief marketing officer Heidi Browning said in a statement, “With last year’s success of NHL Power Players, we’re thrilled to open up applications for the second year with a goal of attracting young hockey fans to the NHL. NHL Power Players is a unique and engaging way for the league to immerse the next generation of hockey fans into our sport while utilizing their feedback to create thoughtful change in marketing our game.”

Read: Adweek


FC Barcelona enters esports-focused agreement with Tencent

Spanish football club FC Barcelona has established a strategic cooperation agreement with Chinese multinational conglomerate Tencent. FC Barcelona competes in Psyonix’s Rocket League and Konami’s eFootball PES, two football titles. According to a release, FC Barcelona will “engage in deep communication” with Tencent regarding its efforts in esports. This includes “esports competitions, esports education and industry exchange in the future with a view to exploring the many possibilities of collaboration between sports and esports.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that the football club was looking to enter Chinese League of Legends. An alliance with Tencent could be a good start to make that a reality, considering it co-owns TJ Sports – the company that operates the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) with Riot Games. Tencent’s stake in major players in esports is worth noting, it owns 100 percent of League of Legends developer Riot Games, 84.3 percent of Clash Royale developer Supercell, 40 percent of Fortnite developer Epic Games, 11.5 percent of PUBG developer Bluehole, five percent of Rainbow Six Siege developer Ubisoft, and five percent of Call of Duty and Overwatch developer Activision Blizzard.

Read: Esports Insider

What Else Is Trending?
  • RIGHTS: DAZN's new deal with the Japanese soccer league features lower guarantees and more incentives in what could be a model for future rights deals.
  • ESPORTS: Sixer star Ben Simmons has become the latest big-name athlete to invest in FaZe Clan.
  • LEAGUES: After a successful bubble return, NWSL is returning in a pod system with games each week on CBS after strong ratings during the league's initial restart.
  • PEOPLE: Greg Olson's new podcast series TE1 on Blue Wire officially launched with interviews featuring several of the greatest tight ends of all time.
  • INJUSTICE: An analysis has revealed racial bias in how the NFL has paid out claims for long-term dementia from concussions.

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ESPN and Caesars Entertainment Debut New State-of-the-Art Studio

The Details

ESPN and Caesars Entertainment, Inc. today announced that its new studio at The LINQ Hotel + Experience in Las Vegas. With the new studio, ESPN will expand its content with Caesars to bring more robust, Vegas-exclusive sports betting and entertainment news to fans around the world. This includes moving ESPN's Daily Wager to the new LINQ studio beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8 and launching a sports betting-themed digital show this fall.


Producer, Sports Betting - Santa Monica, CA

Marketing Communications, Esports
Riot Games - Los Angeles, CA

Manager, PR & Partnership Marketing
Roc Nation - New York, NY

Social Content Editor
NFL – Culver City, CA

AP/LA Jordan Brand Director
Nike – Beaverton, OR

Strategy & Planning Manager
William Hill – Gibraltar, UK

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