Disney to Animate NHL Coverage to Get Kids Into Hockey

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According to Adobe Analytics, the digital feed of the Super Bowl averaged a record 7 million streams, an 18% increase over last year (6 million) and more than double Fox’s last Super Bowl in 2020 (3.4 million).

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Disney will animate NHL coverage for Disney Channel to get kids into hockey

Disney is passing the puck to an unlikely player in a bid to pair some of its younger viewers with live sports TV.

What's the deal?

On March 14 at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN will make available a live telecast of a match between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers on the Disney Channel and Disney XD cable outlets as well as the Disney+ streaming service — and kids might just see it as another fun program. That’s because the game, the “NHL Big City Greens Classic,” will be animated and feature a few characters from the popular cartoon series “Big City Greens.” A more traditional version of the game will be available on ESPN and ESPN+.

“Big City Greens” characters will be seen skating alongside animated versions of the actual NHL players. And while the whole scene might look like a cartoon, the action will follow that of the live contest, thanks to the use of the NHL’s own technology that maps the movements of players and the game puck.

The bottom line:

The NHL expects to learn from the event. In an era when fans have dozens of different ways to watch their favorite sport, “do we just take a game as it is and stick that there, or does it need to look different than it is?” asks Lehanski.

Read: Variety


NBC Sports hopes to bring back the NBA

NBCUniversal is preparing to make a bid to win back National Basketball Association broadcast rights more than 20 years after the company lost them to Disney. NBCUniversal executives have informed the NBA of their potential interest, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. NBC Sports wants a package that would include playoff games to air on NBC’s broadcast network.

Apple and Amazon have also expressed interest to the NBA in buying carved-out streaming packages, said people familiar with the matter. Amazon currently has a deal with the NBA allowing it to stream games in Brazil. No formal discussions can take place with non-incumbent bidders unless Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns Turner Sports, and Disney agree to waive their exclusive negotiation windows, which end in April 2024.

Read: CNBC


TikTokker, podcaster Theo Ash is part of the next generation of sports analysts

Theo Ash was an aspiring sports journalist at Arizona State who thought he was above TikTok. “I put off joining it for a long time because I figured it was just an app for little kids,” Ash said. “My sisters were always on it since it was Musical.ly and I thought they looked dumb doing lip-syncs to dances. I was like, ‘This is not for me.’ Ash only reconsidered when sportswriter Jeff Pearlman was a guest speaker for one of his classes and told the students that they needed to display their work across every platform in order to achieve the broadest reach.

Taking Pearlman’s advice to heart and going against his own instincts, Ash joined TikTok in fall 2020 and found instant success that launched him into a career as an NFL analyst and podcaster. His TikTok account, with 215,000 TikTok followers, features videos that are a mix of instant reactions to high-profile games, in-depth analysis using advanced analytics, and film breakdown of players’ strengths and weaknesses. Due in part to his success on the social media app — the videos cumulatively have garnered 26 million views — the 22-year-old was signed by Blue Wire.

Read: LA Times



Hashtag Sports Awards entries close February 17

Entries for the 5th annual Hashtag Sports Awards, honoring the most engaging content, creators, and campaigns across 50+ categories, will close next week.

Hashtag Sports is proud to benchmark effective engagement and showcase the ROI of investing in the fan experience. The awards are a great opportunity to be recognized by the brightest minds in sports content and marketing. Check out just a few of our recent winners above, and reach out for 1-on-1 help or a free consultation.


Premier League closes in on £500m deal with video games maker EA Sports

The Premier League is closing in on a commercial deal with Electronic Arts (EA), the video game maker, that would be worth close to £500m. The 20 Premier League clubs were briefed at a meeting on Friday on a new six-year partnership. One club executive said it would deliver more than £80m annually and would consist of EA remaining as the league's lead partner as well as retaining its exclusive electronic game license.

The series of games bearing the FIFA name, and which feature teams and players from the world's top leagues, including in England, is to be rebranded under the EA name, according to reports last summer. The Premier League and EA have had commercial ties dating back to 1998.

Read: Sky Sports


The real Super Bowl winner? The company behind the Kelce brothers’ podcast

Since New Heights launched in September, it has quickly amassed a large following. The show is Spotify’s most popular podcast in the sports category and the third most popular overall. On Apple, the show is regularly among the top five most-popular podcasts, with roughly 500,000 downloads per episode. Its YouTube channel clocks more than 522,000 subscribers.

Wave Sports + Entertainment, which was founded in 2017 and has positioned itself as a SportsCenter for Gen Z, has leaned heavily into creating social video and audio channels, devoted to nearly every athletic interest, to reach its target audience of Gen Z and millennials. When WSE decided to create original studio content, it chose to create video content instead of just developing an audio-only podcast that lives on platforms such as Spotify and Apple.

Read: Fast Company

What Else Is Trending?
  • CULTURE: LeBron James’ business partner Rich Paul unveils new sportswear brand with New Balance.
  • CONVERGENCE: Ryan Reynolds' plan to write a Hollywood ending for Wrexham is working as celebrities like Will Ferrell and fans flock to visit.
  • PUBLISHERS: DAZN has completed its takeover of Team Whistle and Eleven Group which softens the blow of failing to capture BT Sport.
  • MEDIA: Diamond Sports Group, a division of Sinclair that operates RSNs, has failed to meet interest payment deadlines, creating dramatic implications for the future of local sports broadcasting.
  • TECH: Gym Class VR has secured a licensing deal with the NBA that will allow users to play on team-branded courts and apparel.



23XI Racing, Bubba Wallace announce GoLiveBetter campaign with Walmart

23XI Racing and driver Bubba Wallace announced on Tuesday a partnership with Walmart to help promote and amplify the GoLiveBetter campaign, an initiative aimed at addressing healthcare disparities in the African American community. The GoLiveBetter campaign will see a number of activations take place at local Walmart parking lots in race markets throughout the first half of the 2023 NASCAR season, with Wallace making appearances at each event. The activations will feature a wellness clinic, including access to basic health care, blood pressure and diabetes testing, vaccinations and vision screenings, and more. The events will also focus on mental health awareness, something close to Wallace’s heart.


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