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Volume 26 No. 45

Media

NBC drew a 4.7 overnight for the Bruins’ win over the Blues in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final last night, down slightly from a 4.8 for the last Game 6 -- Penguins-Predators in ’17. However, Bruins-Blues is up 27% from a 3.7 for Penguins-Sharks Game 6 in ’16. Last night’s game ranks fifth overall among all Stanley Cup Game 6s that have aired on NBC. St. Louis led all markets with a 33.0 local rating, which is the network’s best Blues figure on record. Boston was No. 2 with a 27.6 local rating, followed by Providence (21.7), Buffalo (10.8) and K.C. (8.2).

Bleacher Report is on a "path to make north" of $200M in revenue in '19, and CEO Howard Mittman said that total revenue for the WarnerMedia-owned publisher is up 49% year over year, according to Sahil Patel of DIGIDAY. Sources said that if BR "continues at its current growth trajectory of 49%, the publisher will surpass" $200M in annual revenue. Earlier this year, Mittman said that BR "makes four or five times the revenue the publisher made when it was acquired by Turner" in '12. Patel noted at a time when "other big digital publishers have had to cut back," BR is "expanding." The company plans to "continue to invest in more long-form video programming, commerce, events and other business areas." BR is "weaving in commerce with custom apparel and other merchandise that the company sells to fans both online and through its events." For the Women's World Cup, the publisher is "working with female artists to design nine unisex soccer jerseys, which people will be able to purchase on Bleacher Report's site." A BR spokesperson said that the company's commerce business is "still in its early stages, with revenue up 500% year over year." Mittman has said that one area BR "won't be expanding to is paid subscriptions -- beyond what's available through the B/R Live streaming service" (DIGIDAY.com, 6/10).

Sinclair Broadcast Group "expects a significant boost from legalized sports betting as it spreads" across the U.S., according to Lorraine Mirabella of the BALTIMORE SUN. Sinclair CEO & President Chris Ripley said, “Sports betting is going to be a major tailwind for the company.” During an annual meeting attended by about a dozen shareholders at Sinclair’s Maryland HQ last week, Ripley "outlined three key benefits for Sinclair as it beefs up sports programming" through the Disney RSN acquisition, which is "expected to close by the end of September." Betting on sports will "help enhance viewer engagement, add a new category of advertisers and potentially allow Sinclair to get into the business of handling the betting itself." Ripley: “Anytime you can add interactivity to your programming, and also skin in the game, where people have something at stake, the engagement levels go up." Long-term, Sinclair "expects betting to be integrated into the media itself." Ripley: "As of today, we are not a licensee. Whether we become a licensee down the road … is to be determined." For Sinclair, sports betting "likely represents a longer-term opportunity." Ripley said media companies "will generate incremental revenue from licensing and advertising, but I don’t think in the next three to five years it will move the needle" (BALTIMORE SUN, 6/7).

ACROSS THE LANDSCAPE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Benjamin Mullin noted when it comes to sports betting, "major sports broadcasters are grabbing a piece of the action" to varying degrees. ESPN during the NBA Finals is "devoting a significant amount of airtime to bettors with such details as points individual players scored and whether the favored team won by enough to beat the spread." And while the net has added gambling-themed content such as ESPNews' "Daily Wager," ESPN and Disney Exec VP/Affiliate Sales & Marketing Justin Connolly said that "taking bets and paying wagers are off the table for ESPN." Fox, however, is "looking to compete with apps including FanDuel and DraftKings directly by launching Fox Bet." Turner has a content partnership with Caesars, and Bleacher Report has become WarnerMedia's "primary outlet for sports-betting information" (WSJ.com, 6/10).

BYU has two separate contracts with ESPN, both of which expire after the '19 season
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Contract discussions between BYU and ESPN have "intensified the past few weeks, perhaps so BYU can make a news splash" about renewed deals at its June 18 football media day, according to Jay Drew of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. The school and the media outlet have "two separate contracts -- one for bowl placement and the other for the broadcasting of up to five BYU football home games per year" -- both of which will "expire at the conclusion" of the '19 season. BYU AD Tom Holmoe said that there are "no foreseeable snags or complications that could derail the deal" at this point. Holmoe said that despite the school's "recent downturn in football," ESPN has "never wavered in the current partnership." BYU officials have "stressed that the amount of money they get from ESPN is far less important to them than the exposure that the network provides." The original deal with ESPN was a "cornerstone of BYU's move to independence." However, one of the "drawbacks" is that ESPN "gets to choose the kickoff times" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/10).

ESPN is debuting two documentary series on its ESPN+ streaming service this week: one with USWNT F Alex Morgan and the other with basketball trainer Chris Brickley. The first two episodes of the five-part series, “The Equalizer,” were being posted today. The series, directed by Hannah Lux Davis, gives a behind-the-scenes look as Morgan prepares for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The other series, “Declared,” will debut Thursday. The seven-part series, produced by Matte Films and 7x Media, will look at how Brickley is training four clients as they prepare for the NBA Draft: Texas C Jaxson Hayes, USC G Kevin Porter Jr., Kentucky F P.J. Washington and Arizona State F Zylan Cheatham.