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August 27, 2020

Fan Fact
According to Brightcove’s Global Video Index, views of sports content fell 26% globally in Q2.


Top Story

After Wednesday walkout, NBA players plan to complete playoffs

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the NBA players have decided to resume the playoffs following Wednesday's historic protest that triggered reaction across the sports world and beyond. Thursday's games will not be played, and it's unclear when games will resume.

What's the latest in the bubble?

After reports that the Lakers and Clippers planned to boycott the remainder of the playoffs Wednesday night, several key members of Lakers -- and some peers around league -- stayed up until early morning hours talking through issues in The Bubble. The players made the decision to complete the postseason during a midday Thursday meeting. Figures from all sorts of industries, from entertainment to sports, responded to the Milwaukee team’s demonstration. Emmy-nominated Watchmen and Candyman actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II also touted support for the athletes upon hearing the news. “We should protect these young men from the inevitable backlash/scrutiny they are (about) to receive,” he wrote. Among those also tweeting their support for the NBA Playoffs strike were Andrew Yang, singer Halsey, Roxane Gay, football star Kenny Stills, Levar Burton and Wendell Pierce.

How are networks responding?

The NBA’s media rights partners are obviously in a holding pattern. As of this writing, ESPN will expand its noon “SportsCenter” to three hours with no NBA games on Thursday. There will be other changes accordingly. ESPN executives will hold meetings early in the morning to set an overall approach for the day and evening. The usual shows — “Keyshawn,” “JWill & Zubin,” “Get Up” and “First Take” — will air on Thursday and obviously discuss the NBA in full. Says Dave Roberts, ESPN’s senior vice president, production: “Both ‘Get Up’ and ‘First Take’ will focus on the history-making events and our new morning radio show will feature guests including former NBA player Quentin Richardson and NFL Executive VP Troy Vincent discussing how this movement may affect the NFL. We’ll have a dozen different, diverse voices on ‘Get Up’ highlighting the impact across the entire sports landscape. Dr. Harry Edwards will be among the guests on ‘First Take.’”

The bottom line:

The NBA had reached a point where it just needed to stop. To think, to feel, to plan. Or maybe just to breathe. Now, we wait to see what further action comes from a historic stand taken by the players.

Read: ESPN, The Athletic, Deadline


RATINGS

Will the NFL's TV ratings be pandemic- and protest-proof?

Throughout the entire pandemic, sports fans, sports broadcasters and advertisers alike have repeated the same mantra: The NFL’s gotta come back. The NFL’s gotta come back. With so much emotional, spiritual and capital tied up in the NFL season, it’s no wonder everyone is looking to the league as a way to mitigate, in some small way, the financial and psychological effects of the coronavirus pandemic. With kickoff less than three weeks away, can the NFL shoulder that burden?

Expert opinions on all these questions vary, but there’s one consensus: Great games will produce monumental ratings, pandemic or no pandemic, fans or no fans at games. “There are so many cautionary clauses in this conversation,” says Jay Rosenstein, former vice president of programming at CBS Sports. “Will they play the whole season? Will COVID allow key players to play? Will there be a ‘Friday surprise’ [from testing results]?”

“I anticipate ratings will be higher, largely because a lot of people who are used to going to games will still want football,” says Dr. Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis. “You’ve got 60,000 to 70,000 people per city, per market, who won’t be able to go to the games.”

Read: Yahoo Sports


CHANGE

Disney wants to help brands reach its Black and brown audience more effectively

Back in April, ESPN CreativeWorks worked with agency Translation to create the most memorable ad around the insanely popular Michael Jordan doc The Last Dance. The impeccably timed creative manipulation of ’90s-era Sports Center footage was a slam dunk for State Farm. Now, ESPN parent Disney today announced a multiyear partnership with Translation to work with brand marketers across all the company’s media properties like ABC, Hulu, and National Geographic. President of Disney Advertising Sales Rita Ferro says that they had been working on new and more effective ways to engage with more diverse audiences for years. They have a dedicated team focusing on Spanish-language advertising work, but major marketers often would talk about the importance of the African American consumer or the Latino consumer as part of their overall strategy, asking for a solution that would justify the investment in those audiences.

With this new partnership, Translation CEO Steve Stoute says that the cultural shift around the Black Lives Matter movement has forced more brands to reckon with their approach, and moved effective communication with diverse audiences from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have. “As an African-American leader of a mainstream agency for the last 15 years, this was a watershed moment for me, as I’ve been fighting the headwinds of trying to get a seat at the table, to make work for major companies and not be segmented to just the African American audience,” says Stoute. “Now, they’re leaning in, understanding that ethnic insights are the insights of popular culture. Diversity is a way to connect to youth.”

Read: Fast Company


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LEAGUES

Athletes Unlimited kicks off with an 'innovative new model' for professional softball

Athletes Unlimited looked like a bit of a novelty when it launched the first week of March with a self-professed desire to "disrupt professional team sports." The new professional softball league's season would span just six weeks at the end of the summer. All four of its teams would share not only a city but also a venue at the Chicago-area Ballpark at Rosemont. As opening day approaches on Saturday, all of that looks downright prescient. A bubble before its time.

With total immediate compensation of more than $1 million for its 56 players and a profit-sharing mechanism that allows players a share of any profits up to 20 years beyond their playing career, as well as contributions to charities designated by players, Athletes Unlimited represents a new approach off the field. With a scoring system built around players and designed to crown an individual champion, it also promises a new approach on the field. Now it just needs to prove there is an audience for what it is creating.

Read: ESPN


ESPORTS

Dignitas launches initiative for female esports players

Dignitas, the esports organization that the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team owns, is launching an initiative for championing opportunities and education for females in gaming. Dubbed _FE, the initiative means that Dignitas will support female esports players with educational, social, and competitive resources, whether they are in beginner, amateur, or professional roles. _FE is a reference to the term used for females in esports. It’s announcing the effort on Women’s Equality Day. Dignitas already has its female team, established in 2003, for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and that team is also playing Riot Games’ Valorant.

“The building blocks have been in place since Dignitas recruited the women’s team (which then completed as “Dignitas FE”) since early 2017,” Garozzo told GamesBeat. “Our women’s team, our female streamers, and our female front office executives at Dignitas have been passionate about serving as pioneers for aspiring female gamers. All of our women have volunteered their time at universities and attended panels to share their insight with the many women looking for role models in gaming. This year, we knew it was time to spread our knowledge and provide our resources to the broader gaming community.”

Read: VentureBeat


What Else Is Trending?
  • STREAMING: Peacock will air two hours of live coverage each day of the US Open as the platform looks to bulk up its sports offerings.
  • PODCASTS: Dan Patrick is launching a podcast network with iHeartMedia featuring three sports and entertainment shows.
  • BRANDS: Projected top NBA draft choice LaMelo Ball will reportedly sign a shoe deal with Puma, adding to the brand's nucleus of young talent.
  • PEOPLE: Nielsen has tapped Scott Brown to fill a new cross-media role as the company looks to find ways to best measure audiences in the streaming world.
  • RATINGS: One of the few sports to push on during the pandemic, UFC has seen its audience grow this year to over 1 million average PPV buyers.

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DEAL OF THE DAY

Subaru of America and Philadelphia Union Showcase Adoptable Shelter Dogs at Subaru Park

The Details

Subaru of America, Inc. and the Philadelphia Union today announced that Subaru Park, home of the Union, will provide stadium seating to the likenesses of local adoptable dogs at home games in the 2020 season. These cardboard cutouts of dogs available for adoptions will temporarily fill in for real-life spectators at the Union's home opener and very first game played at Subaru Park.


Careers

Producer, Sports Betting 
WAVE.tv - 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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