Caesars Entertainment is "teaming up with Turner Sports to develop gaming content" in a new deal, the "first between a national television network and a major casino operator," according to Todd Prince of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Caesars as part of the deal will "open a Bleacher Report-branded studio this spring inside the sportsbook at Caesars Palace" in Las Vegas, and Turner will "hire talent to create video content at the new Caesars studio for distribution on Bleacher Report." Caesars' name will be "featured on the video content," which will help the company "build brand awareness among sports fans nationwide just as wagering spreads to more states" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 2/8). Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels said, “This will give an authentic, real feeling toward the content that will be created. This leaves open the door to do a lot of things.” The B/R studio will be up and running in the next few months, Daniels said. Programming that comes from the Vegas-based studio will be distributed through Bleacher Report, the B/R app and other Turner Sports platforms. Daniels said Turner does not have specific plans about the type of gambling content it will produce from the studio. He added that the current crop of gambling-related content lacks a storytelling component that he thinks is necessary for it to become popular. "We’re trying to figure out how to combine storytelling with numbers," he said. "We want engagement. Engagement drives viewership" (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP:BLOOMBERG NEWS' Novy-Williams & Soshnick noted the Turner partnership is an "opportunity for Caesars to attract younger customers to its rewards program, which has more than 55 million members." Turner President David Levy said that every month, Bleacher Report "reaches more than a third of the country's sports fans aged 18 to 34." This deal also "presents an opportunity for Caesars to promote its offerings to more casual sports fans." Levy said that the company will "have some room to showcase its own bets or odds within the content itself." The partnership does not include "affiliate fees -- meaning Turner won't receive payment for each bettor it refers to the Caesars sports book." However, that could be a "reality in the near future when Turner gets a better handle on the regulation and legal restrictions." Levy: "There are things that we're going to move into as things change" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 2/7).
Mike Tirico will call the Feb. 20 Blackhawks-Red Wings game on NBCSN, marking the first time in his career that he will call an NHL game. Tirico since joining NBC in ’16 has been a part of several NHL events, including the ’19 NHL All-Star Game, the ’19 Winter Classic in South Bend and Game One of the Capitals-Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final last season. Eddie Olczyk will join Tirico in the booth for the game, while Brian Boucher will provide inside-the-glass analysis (Ian Thomas, THE DAILY). Tirico said that he has "received some pointers" from fellow announcers Mike Emrick and Kenny Albert (AP, 2/7). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal wrote, "The obvious question is how has this not happened before?" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/7).
WOODSON LEAVING ESPN: In Detroit, Kirkland Crawford notes Charles Woodson posted on Instagram Thursday that his tenure at ESPN has "come to a close" after three seasons. Woodson had been a co-host of the net's "Sunday NFL Countdown" pregame show (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/8). In N.Y., Andrew Marchand, who broke the news, writes Woodson "never really took off on the show" (NYPOST.com, 2/7). In Boston, Chad Finn adds Woodson "never made much of an impact" on the show. The program "would be better off if it doesn’t fill Woodson’s spot" and gives analyst Randy Moss "more room to roam" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/8).
HEADED TO COURT? In Indianapolis, Jim Ayello notes racing analyst and former F1 driver Derek Daly filed a $25M defamation lawsuit Thursday against Indy-based WISH-TV, "claiming the station inaccurately reported his connection to the use of a racial slur." WISH last August fired Daly after it had "determined he was the source of the racial slur that led to the retirement" of long-time Colts radio broadcaster Bob Lamey. Daly is "seeking punitive damages on top" of the $25M after WISH made “statements which they knew, or should have known, were false and defamatory” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/8).
AMERICAN EAGLE: On Long Island, Neil Best notes Ian Eagle "will be honored by the YES Network and Nets" during the Feb. 21 matchup against the Trail Blazers for 25 years of calling the team's games. Eagle said, "I turn 50 on Saturday (Feb. 9), so literally half my life has been spent doing this job. That’s very difficult for me to wrap my brain around, when you start thinking of it in those terms" (NEWSDAY, 2/8).
In Houston, Chris Brantner noted AT&T SportsNet Southwest, the official broadcast home of the Rockets and Astros, is "coming to sports-focused streaming service fuboTV." The service is "compatible with most major streaming devices and mobile devices, and can be watched over a web browser." With fuboTV carrying AT&T SportsNet Southwest, Astros and Rockets fans have a way to "cut the cable and still watch their team" (HOUSTONCHRONICLE.com, 2/7).
I'M SAILING AWAY: NBC Sports and U.S. Sailing will collaborate on televising the Hempel World Cup Series this coming season ahead of the '20 Tokyo Games. The linear Olympic Channel will air a series of one-hour showcases beginning with the series’ Miami stop on Sunday. “This partnership represents a key step forward, as U.S. Sailing is committed to attracting new fans and building sport participation,” said U.S. Sailing CMO Peter Glass. Digital coverage will be on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app (Ben Fischer, THE DAILY).
NOTES: A total of 21 Yankees games will air on either WTIC-Fox or WCCT-CW this season in the Hartford/New Haven market. While most games air on YES Network or national broadcasters Fox and ESPN, a block is "typically reserved for local TV stations." WTIC's first game will be April 12; YES will "still produce the game" (HARTFORD COURANT, 2/8)....Orlando City SC signed a multiyear partnership with both WOFL-Fox and WRBW-MYT, which will serve as the flagship station for locally-televised games ahead of the '19 MLS season (Orlando City)....The AAF's San Diego Fleet has "reached terms with iHeartMedia" to put seven games on KLSD-AM and three on KOGO-AM. Jon Schaeffer and Rich Ohrnberger will call the games (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/8).