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Volume 24 No. 156

Friday 3:15pm ET....Latest News....Over The Hump Day

  • HBO Cancels Bill Simmons' "Any Given Wednesday" Talk Show
  • Crowds May Have Hit 5 Million Mark For Cubs Parade In Chicago
  • Nielsen Sticking By November Household Estimates For ESPN Networks
  • Blizzard Entertainment Announces Global "Overwatch" League

HBO Cancels Bill Simmons' "Any Given Wednesday" Talk Show

HBO cancelled Bill Simmons’ talk show, “Any Given Wednesday,” making the announcement in a Friday afternoon email. The show’s final episode will be this coming Wednesday. The network described the decision as “mutual.” In a prepared statement, Simmons blamed low viewership as the primary reason for ending the show, which bottomed out with 82,000 viewers on Oct. 26 and prompted Fox Sports’ Mike Mulvihill to tweet that it was “HBO’s 2nd least watched original primetime program this year.” Simmons: “We loved making that show, but unfortunately it never resonated with audiences like we hoped.”

Simmons, who still is under contract to HBO, said he plans to develop more TV and digital shows for the media company “over these next several years.” HBO Sports Exec VP Peter Nelson: “HBO is committed to Bill Simmons, and we are excited to bring his unique vision to bear on an array of new programming initiatives under the HBO Sports banner in 2017. Bill is an award-winning executive producer in the documentary arena, and we will work closely with him in developing new and engaging content for our subscribers.”

Crowds May Have Hit 5 Million Mark For Cubs Parade In Chicago

The city of Chicago estimated about 5 million people would be on hand for today's Cubs World Series parade and rally, meaning "nearly twice the city's population" planned to attend. Crowds "have been well-behaved and orderly as they jockey for spots" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 11/4). Fans "stood as much as a dozen deep along the 6-mile parade route, which traveled from Wrigley Field to Grant Park for a rally unlike anything North Siders have seen" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 11/4). Crowds "began jamming trains and buses and gathering around Grant Park well before dawn." Cubs P Jake Arrieta said, "The amount of people, it’s mind boggling" (SUNTIMES.com, 11/4). 

The parade was slated to start at 10:00am CT, but it got underway about 50 minutes late after players "reportedly had difficulty getting to the starting point due to the crowds" (DAILYHERALD.com, 11/4). The city "dyed the Chicago River a bright shade of blue to match the Cubs' colors" (AP, 11/4).

Former ESPN producer Gus Ramsey tweeted, "Victory parade crowd estimates are always dicey. How about we get the crowd to do a count off? You there, guy in the Cubs hat.. you start." Chicago-based agency rEvolution PR & Brand Development Supervisor Evan Vladem: "@AmericanAir is official sponsor @Cubs, went in strong today as presenting sponsor of the parade. VIPs are touting AA branded credentials." Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews: "Chicago knows how to throw a parade, no other city supports their teams like this one. Enjoy the moment."

Nielsen Sticking By November Household Estimates For ESPN Networks

Nielsen on Friday told ESPN that it will not revise data that showed ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU lost more than 600,000 homes from its distribution footprint last month. Nielsen originally released the subscriber numbers last week, but pulled them over the weekend after ESPN complained that the report represented “a dramatic, unexplainable variation over prior months’ reporting” and accused Nielsen of “demonstrated failures over the years to accurately provide subscriber data.”

With this afternoon’s news that Nielsen is standing behind its report, ESPN released a statement saying: “This most recent snapshot from Nielsen is a historic anomaly for the industry and inconsistent with much more moderated trends observed by other respected third party analysts. It also does not measure DMVPDs (Digital Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors, like SlingTV or Playstation Vue) and other new distributors and we hope to work with Nielsen to capture this growing market in future reports.”

Blizzard Entertainment Announces Global "Overwatch" League

Blizzard Entertainment unveiled plans Friday for a worldwide professional league in its five-month-old game “Overwatch,” which execs bill as the first major e-sports league crafted from the start to maximize marketing, ticketing, merchandise and media revenue. The “Overwatch” league's basic structure will closely mimic conventional U.S. sports leagues, with independently owned franchises that will be located and branded by city or region. All competitions will be played in person with live audiences, and teams will have permanent spots in the league, eschewing the promotion and relegation system in some e-sports that have given investors pause.

Blizzard Global Dir of Overwatch E-sports Nate Nanzer said the goal is to replicate the revenue picture of the NBA or MLB, where the teams control home-game ticketing, merchandise and local sponsorship sales, and as a group, outpace central league revenue. Currently, e-sports teams lack any geographic identity and play in tournaments hosted by third-party organizers on neutral sites. “We think by localizing e-sports in this way, we’re going to be able to unlock a lot of value,” Nanzer said. Teams will also share in league income, Nanzer added.

Read the full story.

Braves, Dickey Broadcasting Extend Radio Rights By 10 Years

Dickey Broadcasting has "locked up a long-term extension" with the Braves to remain the team's flagship radio station for the "next decade." The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, runs through the '26 season. Braves games will be simulcast on Dickey-owned stations WCNN-AM, WCNN-FM and WYAY-FM (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/4). Dickey will "relocate its studios and offices to a loft-style building under construction" in The Battery Atlanta mixed-use development near SunTrust Park (AJC.com, 11/4).

NBC's Tirico Makes Foray Into Horse Racing With Breeders' Cup Show

NBC Sports' Breeders' Cup coverage from Santa Anita this weekend will include an hour-long show hosted by Mike Tirico "broken off from the NBCSN coverage Friday and Saturday" to air from 8:00-9:00pm ET. Tirico will "stick to the script when in Southern California trying to find his bearings on a sport he has never been involved with covering," but he "feels comfortable enough." Tom Hammond, a "more versed horseman," will continue his host role for the NBCSN coverage starting at 5:00pm ET Friday (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/4).

Meanwhile, Michael Wrona will be calling his first Breeders' Cup as Santa Anita's at-track announcer. The Australian-born Wrona, who joined the track earlier this year, said, "To succeed Trevor Denman, who blazed the trail for other foreign announcers in this country, is particularly meaningful. ... It will be the biggest event of my career." Wrona has worked Breeders' Cup post-parades and winners circles, but this will be his "first play-by-play stint" at the event (BLOODHORSE.com, 11/1).

Sunday's Rams Home Game Will Not Air In St. Louis Market

The Rams this weekend "will be off" St. Louis-area TV after having been "shown five times" in the market this season. Sunday's Panthers-Rams game will be "televised regionally" by Fox, but St. Louis affiliate KTVI will show Lions-Vikings. Three of the five Rams games shown in St. Louis were on Sunday afternoons, and were "seen in an average" of 8% of TV homes in the market (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/4).

Speed Reads....

The Orioles have introduced a commemorative logo in honor of the 25th anniversary season of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which will be featured on the right sleeve of all Orioles game jerseys throughout the '17 season (Orioles).

The Hula Bowl, a postseason college football game traditionally played in Hawaii, is "coming to Raleigh" in January '18. The bowl was "stalled during the recession" in '08 (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/4).

Long Island-based appliance retailer P.C. Richard & Son announced that it will be an official partner of the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum (TWITTER.com, 11/4).

Are you or someone you know in the sports business industry running in Sunday's TCS N.Y. Marathon? If so, contact Alex Silverman at asilverman@sportsbusinessdaily.com on Monday with your time, a photo and a quick note about the experience to share with our readers.

Quick Hits....

"We always want to make sure we are fanning the flames for keeping people in the sport, to enjoy running, not just for marathons but everyday fitness" – Asics Americas CEO Gene McCarthy, on this Sunday's TCS N.Y. Marathon being its last as the official footwear and apparel sponsor (FINANCE.YAHOO.com, 11/4).

"It only gets crazier before it gets more tame. Dwyane Wade is painting his nails. Russell Westbrook is wearing a shirt with huge holes in it. Things will only get more outlandish" – GQ Style Guy Mark Anthony Green, on NBA players' fashion choices (ROLLINGSTONE.com, 11/4).

"We have been more aggressive in ­trying to get younger and more diverse ­audiences. ... We are really looking to work with the music industry and there are a lot of ­opportunities -- and it’s often artists you would not expect at a NASCAR event" – NASCAR Managing Dir of Entertainment Marketing & Music Phil Metz (BILLBOARD, 11/12 issue).

"You just got a round of applause for the business team, so thank you" – Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, to Cubs announcer Len Kasper after being introduced at the team’s World Series rally (Mult., 11/4).

"How the hell do you play NFL football if you're stoned?" – ESPN’s Bob Ley, introducing a panel discussing marijuana in the NFL (“OTL,” ESPN, 11/4).

Twitter Me This....

In Other News....

Amid "strong-as-ever ratings, Fox has renewed 'The Simpsons' for an unprecedented 29th and 30th seasons." The renewal "takes the long-running hit animated series to 669 episodes, the largest number of episodes for any scripted television series ever, and breaks the record previously set by Gunsmoke (635 episodes)" (DEADLINE.com, 11/4).

The Starting Five....

The most-read stories today on SportsBusinessDaily.com:

1) NFL Agent Sues Former Protege, Roc Nation Sports Over Handling Of Miller, Ingram
2) Winner Winner: Fox Gets Biggest MLB Game Audience Since '91, Best World Series Since '04
3) NASCAR Driver Reed Sorenson Sporting Donald Trump Paint Scheme Sunday In Texas
4) Cubs' Postgame World Series Merchandise Sales Shattering Records For MLB
5) NFL Viewership Remains Down Across All Nets As End Of Presidential Election Is In Sight

Daily Download

The cast of the Chicago production of "Hamilton" closes a show by honoring the World Series champs with a rendition of "Go Cubs Go."

Weekend Channel Surf....

FRIDAY

Showtime's "One & Done" documentary on 76ers F Ben Simmons, which examines both his agent-selection process and sneaker-endorsement pitches, premieres at 9:00pm ET.