Lawmakers Call on ESPN to Cut Ties with TikTok

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US Congress members are calling on ESPN to end TikTok’s sponsorship

U.S. lawmakers are demanding ESPN cut ties with TikTok, the Chinese social media platform that sponsored halftime shows during college football bowl games.

What's the deal?

Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois, reportedly wrote to the network highlighting TikTok as a national security threat and said the sponsorships raise “serious questions about ESPN corporate decision-making.”

“We’re disappointed that Reps. Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi decided to send this letter—which has many inaccuracies in it—without having had a briefing on our comprehensive plans to address their national security concerns,” Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokesperson. “We would welcome the opportunity to share how we are addressing their concerns and familiarize them with the basics of our corporate structure and our policies.”

The bottom line:

The potential threat of TikTok to U.S. security has received bipartisan attention in recent months. In November, FBI director Christopher Wray told Congress the app could potentially share U.S. users’ data with the Chinese government and manipulate users through its algorithms, though TikTok repeatedly denied sharing data.

Read: Observer


HBO Max set to debut first live sports event Jan. 17 featuring U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports announced that its eight-year coverage of U.S. Soccer will kick off Jan. 17 with HBO Max’s first-ever domestic live sports coverage featuring the U.S. Women’s National Team traveling to face the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-host New Zealand at 10 p.m. EST. Max will also stream the follow-up match between Team USA and New Zealand live from Auckland on Jan. 20, at 10 p.m. EST. The matches will also be broadcast on TNT.

WBD Sports’ soccer analysts on Max and TNT will feature three National Soccer Hall of Famers — Julie Foudy, DaMarcus Beasley, and Shannon Boxx — along with former U.S. Men’s National Team player Kyle Martino.

Read: Media Play News


In conversation with Jung von Matt SPORTS, winner of Best in Overall Engagement at The Hashtag Sports Awards in 2022

Robert Zitzmann is the chief executive and managing partner of Jung von Matt SPORTS, Europe’s most-awarded creative agency in sports and the winner of the top honor at The Hashtag Sports Awards, Outstanding Achievement in Overall Engagement for an Organization in 2020 and 2022. Born in Germany, Robert is a true globetrotter having received elementary education and master degrees in Ireland, the USA, and Spain before starting his career as a creative sports marketeer in 2010. After joining the industry as an intern at SPORTFIVE, Robert gradually developed his vision of a brand-first approach to sports.

Chatting with Hashtag Sports below, Robert shares his team's creative process, why endurance is important in creativity, and how his team produces consistently award-worthy work year after year.

Read: Engage

GameOn receives $35 million in Series B funding as chat platforms become hot in sports

Chat platform developer GameOn has raised $35 million in Series B funding. Mirae Asset Venture Investment, Mighty Capital, and B3 Capital led this latest round, bringing their total funding up to $54 million. GameOn develops a product called ChatOS that responds intelligently to user inquiries. Sports and esports teams leverage the program often to create their own branded chat and drive fans to team-related content. Statistically, folks who interact with ChatOS click through 50% of the time, with commerce-related content seeing that jump to 65%.

“Chat has always been used as a defensive tool, but there are over 3 billion people chatting every day. GameOn has unlocked the chat experience and turned it into an offensive, revenue-generating machine for a wide variety of teams and industries to develop a deeper and more substantial relationship with their consumers.”

Read: VentureBeat



PhotoShelter AI: The Future of Digital Asset Management

In a world where we all consume content faster than ever before, getting the most out of every creative asset is crucial to staying relevant, nurturing and growing a brand audience, raising awareness for key issues, and celebrating exciting achievements.

Dive deeper to understand who PhotoShelter AI is for and uncover the ways it’s already been a game-changer for some of the most impressive universities, sports teams, and organizations.


Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ after Year 1: What to make of the ratings

Amazon Prime Video’s $13.2 billion NFL live-game streaming experiment got off to a solid start in 2022, but questions remain about how ultimately successful it’ll be for all involved amid the uncertainty of the television and streaming industry.

As that entertainment delivery ecosystem continues to be reshuffled as consumer habits change, a lot of attention is being paid to the Amazon-NFL relationship and what it could mean for the future of live sports consumption — which currently does yeoman’s work propping up the pay-TV bundle. Now we have our first full-season data set.

Read: The Athletic


Podcasters first wanted your ears, now they want your eyes too

Roger Bennett, one half of the popular soccer duo “Men in Blazers,” skipped onto Manhattan’s Terminal 5 stage in November as his co-host Michael Davies trailed behind, smartphone in hand, recording the reactions of nearly 1,000 live audience members. “Men in Blazers” has come a long way since their first live show in 2013 sold out at New York’s Joe’s Pub. But even then, it was clear to Bennett that they had tapped into some aspect of the podcast medium that could propel them from niche media members to rock stars recognizable to soccer fans around the world.

The Terminal 5 show, which aired live on Inc.’s Twitch, included conversations with comedian (and Liverpool fan) John Oliver and U.S. women’s national team player Kelley O’Hara. On-site sponsors included ESPN+, Hublot and Jägermeister, among others. This is the new era of podcasting, in which the once audio-only format has evolved toward a hybrid model of distribution that often prioritizes video — specifically YouTube and live paid events. Video has allowed fans to know not only what their favorite podcasters sound like, but also what they look like and who they are on a much more personal level.

Read: Morning Consult

What Else Is Trending?
  • MEDIA: Rob Gronkowski will attempt a field goal during the Super Bowl as part of a live ad for FanDuel.
  • STREAMING: MLS is finalizing its talent for MLS Season Pass broadcasts on Apple TV with reports Taylor Twellman will join.
  • PUBLISHERS: GQ announced the launch of its first consumer event, the Sports Style Hall of Fame which it is eyeing as its Met Gala moment.
  • CAMPAIGNS: Sports Clips employed ASMR in streaming ads to immerse listeners in its multi-sensory haircut, driving a 15% jump in brand awareness.
  • AGENCIES: NBA Entertainment has hired Horizon Sports & Experiences to grow its global footprint and advise on the metaverse.



Discover and the NHL reveal a multiyear extension of U.S. partnership

The Details

Discover, an NHL supporter since 2010, will remain as title partner of the NHL Winter Classic® broadcast on TNT in the United States for the duration of the partnership. Discover will also activate at NHL Stadium Series™ and NHL® All-Star Weekend, including sponsoring one skill during the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills™ in Sunrise, Florida on Friday, Feb. 3. Discover will continue creating compelling and engaging integrated programs and content that will be supported across multiple channels, including new Digitally Enhanced Dashboards, the League's advanced approach to dynamic dasherboard advertising, and virtual slot in-ice ads, that will appear during each nationally broadcasted game in the United States throughout the regular season and Stanley Cup® Playoffs.


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