Samsung announced a slamdunk for owners of smart TVs running the free ad-supported streaming Samsung TV Plus app by adding the just announced Players TV network, which is dedicated to sports lifestyle and culture entertainment.

The new PlayersTV service was created by the Players Media Group – a sports-centric new media entertainment company. The network will feature elite professional athletes including sports legends Carmelo Anthony, Vernon Davis, CJ McCollum and Chris Paul, who along with others — including Anthem Sports & Entertainment, owner of AXS TV, and Impact Wrestling–are partners in the Players Media Group venture.

Anthem Sports is a strategic partner that is providing advertising and sponsorship sales support for PlayersTV. It had previously acquired a majority interest of AXS TV in 2019 when it partnered with remaining shareholders Mark Cuban and AEG. Steve Harvey Global is an investor in Anthem.

PlayersTV will launch in March 2020 on Samsung TV Plus, the company said. Samsung is one of six distribution partners for the network, with three additional distributors slated to launch PlayersTV before Q3 2020.

PlayersTV will debut exclusively on Samsung TV Plus, which is Samsung’s ad-supported Smart TV video service, delivering free TV and instant access to over 100 channels spanning news, sports, entertainment, lifestyle, gaming, children’s programming and more. Pre-installed on all 2016-2020 Samsung Smart TVs, the Samsung TV Plus section already has a massive installed viewer base, and is one of the most prominently featured apps on the Samsung smart TV platform.

Users can instantly watch Samsung TV Plus for free with just an internet connection — no download, additional devices, or credit card needed.

“Samsung TV Plus is committed to providing consumers with a destination to discover free premium content on their Samsung Smart TVs,” said Sang Kim, VP of Product at Samsung Electronics. “PlayersTV is a perfect addition to the Samsung TV Plus lineup for passionate sports fans to experience content created and produced by world class athletes. We look forward to the debut of Players TV exclusively on Samsung TV Plus next month.”

“In today’s world, the desire to not only connect directly with athletes but also learn about their lives off the field of play continues to grow exponentially. But it hasn’t always been easy getting great athlete content into the hands of fans,” stated Players Media Group co-founder Deron Guidrey. “Through PlayersTV, we’ve created a distribution ecosystem that brings fans and athletes together in one place, making it easier for fans to access the content they desire, and easier for athletes to reach their fans and also better monetize their content. I’m excited to have world-class athletes join us as shareholders, investors and partners on this journey.”

Players Media Group is the newest venture of Collin Castellaw and Deron Guidrey, the sport entertainment and marketing visionaries behind Pregame Media, the digital agency that helped sports influencers to brand, monetize and scale their brands. Players Media Group has attracted a team of media industry experts with a combined 70+ years of digital, broadcast and streaming experience.

“We’ve assembled a world-class team of industry professionals who have proven track records of success in developing, launching and operating both linear and OTT channels,” said Players Media Group co-founder Collin Castellaw. “With this executive team at the helm, and with the support from athletes, strategic partners and our advisory board of industry luminaries, we believe we can make an immediate impact and help athletes to fully benefit from their content.”

On the content side, PlayersTV will work with production partners including CloseUp360, the multimedia platform that takes an immersive look into the lives of NBA players off the court.

“We launched CloseUp360 with the goal of becoming the best and most in-depth storytelling platform for all players and fans in one of the world’s fastest growing sports,” CloseUp360 founder Jared Zwerling said. “They align perfectly with our player-first focus and lifestyle vision, and we’re looking forward to working with their notable players and leadership team.”

At the helm of the Players Media Group is television industry veteran Nancy Pingitore who will serve as CEO and is leading the launch of PlayersTV into the video viewing marketplace.

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Pingitore has 30 years of experience in cable television and broadcast, including senior positions at the Tennis Channel, Incanta, MOR Music TV and the ’92 Olympics ‘Triplecast’ PPV Coverage where she has led sales, strategy, business development operations.

In addition to Pingitore, the executive team will include veteran sports and entertainment attorney Matt Allinson, and Showtime and Disney programming alum Bruce Rider as Chief Content Officer.

According to the statement announcing the Players Media Group launch, the executive team is supported by a team of advisors and industry veterans from the sports, entertainment and marketing industries, most notably including:
• Randy Brown, Anthem executive and TV veteran (ESPN, Tennis Channel, Outdoor Channel)
• Adam Cheyer, Vice President of R&D for Samsung Mobile; Siri Co-Founder; founder member of
• Jene Elzie, Sports, Media, Content & Distribution Executive (Tennis Channel, Fox Sports, NBA International Marketing)
• Ed Horowitz, SVP Viacom Media, Oversaw HBO, MTV, VH1 and Paramount, Board Member of Citi & Encompass
• Patty Hubbard, BrandForward Co-Founder, Founding Partner of MKTG, former president OnBoard Experiential Marketing
• Stephanie Martin, Sports, Communications & Marketing Executive (Super Bowl 50, 34th America’s Cup, BrandForward)
• John Ward, In Demand CTO, EVP at DirecTV, Fox Sports, 12-time Emmy Award Winner

NBA All Star and co-found of Creative 7, Carmelo Anthony, said “PlayersTV is becoming a new option to address the challenges of distribution that many producers are facing today. The opportunity to leverage a platform that can be home for sports content by athletes, for athletes, and about athletes is powerful.”

Vernon Davis NFL veteran, PlayersTV Investor and founder of Reel 85 Productions, said “I’ve been in the content space for a while, so I’ve seen the need for better ways for athletes to monetize their content. I believe PlayersTV can fill that real need and that’s why I wanted to get involved.”

CJ McCollum: NBA Player, Players TV Investor and journalis, said: “Being part of the Players TV family is an exciting opportunity to work in collaboration with other athletes to create a space where we can tell the stories that matter to us. To be able provide fans with a one-of-a-kind platform, through which they can readily gain access to content created by the athletes that they support every day, is an honor. I am looking forward to all the great content that will be showcased on Players TV and the opportunities that it will bring to all the future athlete storytellers looking for the best place to bring their own stories to life.”

Katelyn Ohashi: Gymnast and founder of Behind the Madness, added: “Women are only receive 4% of sports media coverage, so to have a platform like PlayersTV where we can come together as a community to push out great content and support one another is incredible.”

Chris Paul, NBA Player and investor said “In sport, they focus on the competition between players. That’s why PlayersTV is so exciting, it gives us the opportunity to come together and unite, as athletes and creators. It will be one hub where all of our content can live and then together, we can grow opportunities. This is just the beginning.”

Garrett Temple: NBA player and investor said: “The biggest issue facing athletes with their content is how to distribute it. We might have great content but don’t always have the opportunities to get that content in front of fans. PlayersTV is going to solve the distribution problem for athletes.”

Anthony Tolliver, NBA Player and investor said, “We created PlayersTV to give athletes access to a dedicated platform where they could showcase their other skill sets. I believe it’s just the beginning for the type of premium content that athletes want to produce. Through PlayersTV, we can give all athletes the freedom to create and share their passions.”

By Greg Tarr

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