Danni Santana

Pro Leagues Reach New Fans on TV Through Esports

  • NASCAR finds 1.7 million new fans through Pro Invitational Series on Fox. About 75% of eMLS Tournament Special viewers had not watched a real MLS game in 2020.
  • With esports verticals established, pro leagues also relied on star power to draw eyeballs.

Updated with additional NBA2K League viewership metrics. A recurring response to the absence of live sports by leagues during the coronavirus pandemic has seen organizations team up with media partners to put esports on television. While early discussions for the likes of NASCAR, MLS, and the NBA centered around how to fill programming holes with established esports verticals, what ensued was a crossover effect: esports leagues and professional sports themselves were introduced to new audiences quarantined at home. The eNASCAR […]

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Live Sports Return to Turner With Star-Studded Charity Golf Event

  • Turner Sports says it is ‘completely sold out of sponsorships’ for the Champions for Charity exhibition May 24.
  • Program follows NBC golf telecast last weekend, which drew 2.3 million viewers.

NBC Sports took the first shot at broadcasting live golf during the coronavirus pandemic with the TaylorMade Driving Relief charity event on May 17. The event drew 2.3 million viewers across the network’s linear and digital channels, including PGA Tour Live on NBC Sports Gold.  Now, it’s Turner Sports’ turn. The WarnerMedia subsidiary will air The Match: Champions for Charity – featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady – on May 24, live from Medalist Golf Club […]

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FOS Exclusive

MLB Clubs Exploring Ad Tarps for Empty Seats

  • Ad inventory would help make up a percentage of revenue lost from game ticket sales.
  • Nielsen said to be working with multiple teams and leagues on generating extra ad revenue from 'new concepts.'

The likelihood of playing a shortened 2020 MLB season without fans in attendance is prompting Major League clubs to explore the sale of tarp advertising on empty seats, according to industry sources.  The move would help make up a percentage of the millions of dollars in ticket and in-stadium revenue to be lost this season. MLB owners say they’ll lose an average of $640,000 per game in 2020 assuming players earn prorated salaries, USA Today reported. In 2019, 11% of […]

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Univision Celebrates Return of Live Sports With Bundesliga Weekend

  • Spanish-language network ramps up digital programming before and after games ahead of the league’s return.
  • Bundesliga’s comeback has landed the network three new sponsors.

Germany’s Bundesliga season returns on May 16, bringing live professional sports back to U.S. network partners Fox and Univision for the first time in two months. Univision is marking the league’s comeback by ramping up pre and-post-game programming and digital coverage for its Hispanic audience, according to Eric Conrad, Univision’s executive vice president of sports programming and acquisitions. In addition to studio shows, Univision this week will air both executive and player interviews featuring Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and RB […]

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‘ELEAGUE Super Punch’ Finds Early Success Building Core Gaming Audience

  • TBS’s May 8 episode of “Super Punch” reached a new high in average household viewership.
  • Turner Sports, however, still faces legacy media stigma with some viewers

Twitch and Turner Sports aired the first episodes of the studio show “ELEAGUE Super Punch” in February, about one month before the shut down of local economies due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Approximately three months into Super Punch’s existence, which focuses on big moments in the gaming industry and streaming culture, the show has seen steady growth in viewership and engagement on TBS and Twitch. According to Nielsen Media Research data cited by ELEAGUE, Turner Sports’ esports vertical, Super Punch […]

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UFC Pairs Return of Live Action With Revamped Fight Pass Service

  • UFC Fight Pass features a redesign and rollout of new original series and classic fights. UFC 249 sold separately.
  • The service introduced six new shows to subscribers in April with plans to launch more in May.

Strategic changes made to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s OTT service at the end of 2019 have been put to the test without its usual catalog of live combat sports. So far, UFC Fight Pass has answered the bell, according to Crowley Sullivan, general manager and vice president of the direct-to-consumer streaming service. And now, combat sports are slowly coming back. Countless UFC fans are expected to tune in on May 9 to watch UFC 249 on ESPN+. Fight Pass will […]

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ESPN Ad Sales Lag Without Live Sports As ESPN+ Subscribers Grow

  • Network ad revenue declined 8% in the second quarter, with Q3 numbers showing similar trends.
  • Parent Walt Disney Co. reported a 37% decline in net income due to shuttered theme parks.

ESPN+ witnessed strong subscriber gains amid the coronavirus pandemic, which impacted the OTT service for only a couple of weeks in Walt Disney’s fiscal second quarter.   As of March 28, the streaming service had 7.9 million subscribers, nearly four times as many as last year. ESPN+ launched in April 2018. The figure also represents a 4% increase in users from ESPN+’s previous peak, reported by Disney in February. The average monthly revenue per paid subscriber for ESPN+, however, decreased 17% […]

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theScore’s Esports Menu Expands With Live Shows

  • The company tested its live content strategy with a charity esports event May 1.
  • theScore has set new records for Youtube views in two straight months, headlined by 28 million views in April.

Toronto-based theScore is best known for its sports news and betting apps. But it has quickly developed a strong following on YouTube for esports – surpassing 1 million subscribers last November.  Now, the company is adding to its esports repertoire by introducing live-streamed shows and community events to gaming fans.  theScore’s esports vertical, launched in 2015, has undergone multiple iterations, according to Aubrey Levy, who oversees esports strategy as the company’s vice president of content. What began as just providing […]

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Call of Duty Teams Embrace Online Play Until Return to Live Audiences

  • Without ticket or merch sales, teams relying on sponsorship “make goods” and content creation.
  • Viewership for the Call of Duty League down early on YouTube Gaming for remote home series.

This story has been updated to reflect that Activision Blizzard has added dedicated servers to help Call of Duty League players connect from home. A shift from live events to solely online play by Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty League has led to a unique set of problems and creative solutions for franchises, players, and sponsors. While players are accustomed to practicing online in the lead-up to competitions, changes forced by the coronavirus pandemic have impacted operations in the league’s […]

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Q&A: Call of Duty League Commissioner Johanna Faries on Debut Season Lessons

  • The CDL resumed its inaugural season without live audiences on April 10 due to the coronavirus.
  • League remains focused on YouTube productions in lieu of pursuing a linear broadcast deal.

Activision Blizzard appointed Johanna Faries as commissioner of Call of Duty Esports in the summer of 2019 – one year after she joined the company. That was preceded by more than a decade with the NFL, where she held multiple executive roles in marketing and business development. Call of Duty’s current inaugural esports season hasn’t exactly gone according to plan due to the coronavirus pandemic, culminating in the suspension of league play in mid-March before resuming completely online on April […]

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