MLS: LA Galaxy Unveil David Beckham Statue
Mar 2, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; MLS commissioner Don Garber speaks during David Beckham statue at Legends Plaza at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

March 19, 2019

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Major League Soccer said on Tuesday that Roar Digital LLC, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings PLC, would be its exclusive sports betting partner, the league’s first.

The multi-year deal also makes MGM the league’s first official gaming partner, though not an exclusive one. It also provides MGM and Roar access to league data for fans and sports bettors, according to a statement.

“Major League Soccer is proud to partner with MGM Resorts to bring existing and new fans close to our sport in innovative and immersive ways,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in the statement.

Marketing rights are also included, with the sportsbook operators allowed to post visible signs for more than 100 nationally broadcast MLS games.

The deal makes MGM a partner with yet another major sports league after it inked similar agreements with the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.

The National Football League named Caesars Entertainment Corp as its first casino partner in January, but that deal did not include sports betting.

The deals come in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 that allowed states to legalize, regulate and tax sports wagering.

Less than a year later, eight states now offer legal sports wagering, including Nevada, which was always allowed to offer such bets.

Bookmakers, casinos, leagues, teams, media companies, data providers and others are seeking to capitalize on the brand new U.S. sports betting market that is now evolving state by state.

Professional sports leagues, which previously fought legalization because of fears it could lead to match fixing, now hope that the spread of legal sports betting will help engage fans and drive up the value of their teams.

MLS’ partnership will also develop a free game that can help “drive adoption of sports betting” in states that have already legalized it and build a base of potential bettors in those that have yet to adopt it, the statement said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ, editing by G Crosse)

Source: OANN

San Antonio Commanders returner Greg Ward Jr. had a wild touchdown Sunday against the Atlanta Legends.

Ward appeared to be completely trapped by five defenders on a punt return during the 37-6 win for the Commanders.

Yet, he somehow managed to miraculously escape the pressure and rip off a massive punt return for a touchdown. How he slipped the defenders is honestly mind-boggling. (RELATED: San Diego Fleet Quarterback Mike Bercovici Suffers Brutal Hit During AAF Opener)

When Ward first caught the ball, it appeared like he was going absolutely nowhere. Moments later, he put six points on the board. Watch the electric play below.

Once again, the AAF is out here producing solid entertainment during the NFL offseason. It really does seem like the league is here to stay, and that’s a good thing for fans everywhere. (RELATED: Johnny Manziel Signs With The Memphis Express In The AAF)

If the football stays at a high level like the play above, then people will continue to watch. I can promise you that much.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Greg Ward, Jr. (@gwardjr_nwh17) on

If you haven’t seen any AAF games yet, then you’re not living life the right way. You have to give them a shot.

I promise that you won’t regret it. As for Ward, that was one hell of an awesome play. Major props to him.

Follow David Hookstead on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Members of the Los Angeles Valiant team play during the final day of Stage 3 title matches of the Overwatch League at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank
FILE PHOTO: Members of the Los Angeles Valiant team play during the final day of Stage 3 title matches of the Overwatch League at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California, U.S., May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

March 14, 2019

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Competitive video game advertising revenues in the United States are expected to surpass $200 million by 2020, according to a report released on Thursday.

Such esports ad revenue will grow 25 percent to $178 million this year and to more than $214 million in 2020, marketing research firm eMarketer said in its first ever U.S. esports and gaming forecast.

From beer brewers and computer companies to mortgage lenders and sports apparel makers, brands across the spectrum are trying to figure out how best to market to esports fans, who tend to be young, tech savvy and affluent, as the professional video gaming industry is expected to balloon in coming years.

A February study by gaming analytics firm Newzoo projected that global esports revenue would hit $1.1 billion this year, up 27 percent from last year, as money comes pouring in for advertising, sponsorship and media rights.

Marketers are hoping to reach the throngs of fans who like to tune in live as professional gamers battle each other in their favorite game, be it League of Legends, Overwatch or others.

In 2019, 30.3 million people in the United States will watch an esports event at least once a month, a more than 18 percent increase over last year, eMarketer said.

Viewership, which now mostly occurs on YouTube and Twitch, is likely to grow by more than 50 percent to 46.2 million through 2023, the firm said.

Once an under-the-radar activity, esports is now a “multimillion-dollar business in the U.S., with implications for game developers, players, leagues, teams, live venues, streaming platforms, TV networks, audiences and marketers,” eMarketer principal analyst Paul Verna said in a statement.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Additional reporting by Sheila Dang; editing by Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An Electronic Arts (EA) video game logo is seen at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: An Electronic Arts (EA) video game logo is seen at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

March 13, 2019

By Arjun Panchadar

BENGALURU (Reuters) – What are a few hours playing videogames and a handful of tweets worth? $1 million if you are Tyler Blevins, known to millions as “Ninja,” the world’s most-followed computer gamer.

Blevins was one of a few select professionals with huge followings pulled in by videogame giant Electronic Arts Inc to play and promote its latest title, “Apex Legends,” in the first hours of the launch last month, generating a buzz that notched 10 million signups in the first three days.

The 27-year-old, famous for his hair color changes – currently a bright, turquoise hue – tweeted about the free-to-play game early on Feb. 5 and streamed the action to his more than 13 million followers on game-streaming site Twitch. For this he was paid around $1 million, a source told Reuters.

The amount underlines the increasingly cut-throat fight for dominance of the free-to-play battle royale genre that, through Epic Games’ global smash hit “Fortnite”, has pushed major publishers like Electronic Arts to change how they do business.

Representatives for EA and Ninja declined to comment on how much he had been paid, but the amount named by the source is more than twice media reports of Ninja’s monthly earnings from streaming his regular appearances on Fortnite and way above what was speculated on a number of internet discussion boards.

EA also paid popular Polish-Canadian streamer “Shroud,” who has nearly six million Twitch followers, to play Apex Legends but declined to disclose the terms of the deal.

“They did a fairly comprehensive job at pulling together all of the relevant game influencers in this genre,” said Kevin Knocke, a vice president at esports infrastructure firm ReKTGlobal.

“This was a really well coordinated poaching of the top influencers the likes of which has not been seen so far in esports,” he said, suggesting that EA had also roped in streamers better-known for playing other blockbusters like “Call of Duty” or “PUBG”.

The Ninja deal also points to the growing possibilities for teenagers who grow up hooked in their bedrooms on the industry’s big titles, as well as a shift in promotional strategy, with the use of popular gamers replacing expensive TV ad campaigns.

EA’s stock price and market value rose 16 percent, or $4 billion, in the three days after Apex Legends launched and a month later the game has 50 million users, a quarter of Fortnite’s 200 million.

“We really wanted to create a day where you couldn’t escape Apex if you cared about games and we wanted it to feel like an event was happening everywhere around the globe on that day,” Drew McCoy, lead producer at the EA studio that created Apex Legends, said in an interview.

“We had streamers from all over Europe, LatAm, North America, Korea, Japan so that we could get our message out there and people would see the game,” he said.

Joost van Dreunen, co-founder of Nielsen-owned gaming research firm SuperData, estimated that in 2018 Fortnite raked in $2.4 billion in revenue, more than any other single title.

If each user registered so far bought the most basic Apex Coin package, with which kids and teenagers can buy character skins and other upgrades, EA would take in $500 million. Analysts’ estimates hover around that figure in revenue annually.

Ninja, who reportedly plays Fortnite for 12 hours a day from his basement studio outside Chicago, has been one of many to benefit from its massive success.

He has streamed himself playing alongside major celebrities like rappers Drake and Travis Scott, has sponsorship deals with Red Bull and Uber Eats, and often appears on Instagram and Twitter alongside soccer players Neymar Jr and Harry Kane.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru and additional reporting by Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Feb 28, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane speaks to the media during the 2019 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports – 12253066

March 9, 2019

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane will not bring wide receiver Antonio Brown to Western New York.

“We inquired about Antonio Brown on Tuesday, and kept talks open with the Steelers,” Beane said Friday in an announcement meant to put to rest reports of an imminent deal between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Bills.

“We had positive discussions. But ultimately it didn’t make sense for either side. As great a player as Antonio Brown is, we have moved on and our focus is on free agency.”

Brown has six consecutive 100-catch seasons but fell out of favor in Pittsburgh at the end of last season. He was inactive following reports of a walkthrough confrontation with teammate Ben Roethlisberger. The quarterback denied any incident took place. Brown claimed coach Mike Tomlin sent him home because of a sore knee.

–The Philadelphia Eagles were finalizing a trade that would send defensive end Michael Bennett to New England, according to multiple reports.

The Patriots were expected to send a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Eagles in exchange for Bennett and a seventh-round pick in 2020, according to Jeff McLane of Philly.com. ESPN’s Josina Anderson posted on social media that Bennett, 33, confirmed the trade to her.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection with Seattle, Bennett registered nine sacks and 34 tackles during his first season with Philadelphia in 2018.

–Three-time Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea was released by the Arizona Cardinals, who also announced that backup quarterback Mike Glennon was released.

Bethea, 34, had a team-leading 121 tackles in 2018 during the second season of a three-year, $12.75 million contract. The Cardinals will reportedly save $4.75 million in cap space.

–Safety Eric Weddle and the Los Angeles Rams have agreed to a two-year contract, the team announced.

The news came after Weddle visited the Rams’ headquarters in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The team did not disclose contract terms, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the deal has a $10.5 million base salary but could be worth as much at $12.5 million.

–Veteran wide receiver Danny Amendola was released by the Miami Dolphins, according to multiple reports.

The Dolphins signed Amendola, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, to a two-year, $12 million contract a year ago. By releasing him, the Dolphins will free up $6 million in salary cap money.

–The New York Giants traded pass rusher Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns for right guard Kevin Zeitler, according to multiple reports.

The two teams also are swapping mid-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, with the Giants sending a fourth-round selection (132nd overall) to the Browns for a fifth-rounder (155th), per NFL Network.

–The Detroit Lions released Pro Bowl guard and team captain T.J. Lang, who had one year left on a three-year contract signed in March 2017.

By cutting the suburban Detroit native, the Lions save $8.8 million in cap space and avoid paying him a $750,000 roster bonus that would have been due next week, according to ESPN.

–The Dallas Cowboys picked up the options on wide receiver Allen Hurns, center Joe Looney and linebacker Joe Thomas, and also signed defensive tackle Daniel Ross to a one-year deal, according to multiple reports.

Hurns, 27, played all 16 games (seven starts) in his first season with the Cowboys, catching 20 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He suffered a gruesome leg injury in a wild-card game against the Seattle Seahawks, suffering a dislocated ankle and fractured knee. He previously has said he expects to be ready for the start of the 2019 season.

Looney, 28, started all 16 games at center in 2018 with All-Pro Travis Frederick missing the entire season due to Guillain-Barre syndrome.

–The Jacksonville Jaguars announced the release of five veterans, including Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson, to clear about $30 million in salary cap space.

Reports emerged last week that the Jaguars were trying to trade Jackson and running Carlos Hyde, who also was released. The Jaguars also cut safety Tashaun Gipson, offensive tackle Jermey Parnell and long snapper Carson Tinker.

The Jaguars presumably are trying to free enough cap room to sign free agent quarterback Nick Foles when the league year begins Wednesday.

–Pittsburgh right tackle Marcus Gilbert indicated that he would not be with the Steelers next season, posting the message “Next chapter” on Twitter.

That chapter apparently will be written in Arizona. ESPN’s Adam Schefter later reported that the 31-year-old veteran had been traded to the Cardinals for a sixth-round 2019 draft pick.

–Brad Childress is reportedly returning to the NFL as an assistant with the Chicago Bears, two months after resigning as head coach of the Alliance of American Football’s Atlanta Legends.

The 62-year-old former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings worked with Bears coach Matt Nagy on the Kansas City Chiefs’ staff from 2013-17.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

Stan Lee, the legendary co-creator of Marvel Comics, has died, according to TMZ. TMZ reports an ambulance brought Lee from his Hollywood Hills home to a hospital Monday morning. Lee founded Marvel in 1961 alongside Jack Kirby and is credited with creating The Avengers and and other Marvel heroes. Mr. Lee YOU WILL BE MISSED!!

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