01.12.15 Good morning. It’s Monday, January 12, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
As Golf Channel prepares to hit 20 years on Jan. 17, the network is hitting 2015 on a four-year ratings run, and has drawn the most-affluent audience in all of television for both total day and primetime in 2014, according to Nielsen. Now, as the networks prepares for its third decade, Cynopsis Sports spoke with Mike McCarley, President of Golf Channel and about network’s momentum and the coming year for golf.
McCarley on the biggest lesson learned in 2014: Hard work pays off. In a year when the biggest ratings draw in the sport was sidelined with an injury, the investments in new programming and emerging platforms paid off, both in ratings and digital traffic. While there is no doubt that Tiger is a huge draw, it’s reassuring that Golf Channel’s focus on quality is being noticed, reflected by a record number of Emmy nominations this year and attracting the most-affluent audience in television. Our relationship with our loyal audience extends well beyond the traditional viewing experience, they are engaging with both our media and lifestyle brands in record numbers.
On 2015 challenges: Continuing the momentum. At our best, we showcase the world’s best competing anywhere around the globe and our lifestyle brands strive to enhance the experience of golfers whenever and wherever they play. Over the past few years, we have built viewership momentum with a focus on quality, unprecedented live tournament coverage and daily news and analysis, as well as a primetime lineup featuring award-winning original and instructional programming. We will continue to do more of what is working for us.
On the year ahead: While we’ll celebrate the network’s 20th anniversary this year, as a business we’re focused on the next 20 years. Our foundation will continue to be the best players in the world playing on the biggest stages in the game and this year Golf Channel will be covering some new events and moving onto some new platforms. But we also are showcasing the younger side of the game with our coverage of both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Championships as Monday-Wednesday live events and highlighting the kids that reach the Drive, Chip and Putt Championships at Augusta National to kick off Masters Week. In the years ahead, we look to expand on this youth movement as these kids will be the stars of tomorrow. That future focus will also see us continue to innovate within established programming like deploying more technology in tournament programming aimed at attracting more casual fans to the sport, infusing more social media into our news and instruction programming, as well as a new installment to the award-winning Arnie, which will feature heartfelt user-generated content from the overwhelming fan feedback the series received.
On optimism: Isn’t everyone optimistic at this time of the year? There is a crop of young stars that are beginning to break out on the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour. The NBC Sports Group is working well and is uniquely positioned to showcase these young stars as they develop in the years ahead. And Golf Channel’s increasing ability to encourage more golfers to play more golf by utilizing technology like GolfNow, which helps golf courses improve the experience they provide and golfers better enjoy the game.
On Super Bowl plans: This will not be a normal Super Bowl week for me because of some fortunate scheduling with the PGA TOUR in Phoenix the same week. So with the Super Bowl on NBC and golf’s best in town, it provides NBC Sports the opportunity to showcase golf and its stars in unique ways. Golf Channel will be doing daily shows from a specially built stage in the grandstands overlooking the 16th Hole at TPC Scottsdale, known as the "Coliseum" where 15,000 particularly boisterous fans a day will surround one golf hole and it will be especially raucous this year with Tiger in the tournament. Additionally, we have two Feherty Live primetime shows from the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix that week featuring Emmy nominated David Feherty and guests from sports and pop culture. And if you know Feherty, you know that anything can happen.
Lots of headlines over the weekend with the news that Lenny Kravitz would be joining Katy Perry when she headlines the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show on NBC on Feb. 1. The news came following Perry’s interview during NBC’s broadcast of the AFC Divisional Playoff game with the full interview with NBC’s Willie Geist slated to run this morning on Today.
Speaking of which, NBC Sports the Patriots win over the Ravens on Saturday average 34.0 million viewers to rank as the third-most watched Saturday AFC Divisional game on record, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals. The full-game average bested last year’s game by 7%, which was played in primetime. Overall, the telecast earned a 19.6 rating/37 share, tied for the second-highest for a Saturday AFC Divisional game since 1994. Top markets: Boston at a 45.7/75, followed by Baltimore, Providence, Charlotte and Buffalo.
The NFL announced that NBC staple Seth Meyers will host NFL Honors this year. Meyers takes over for Alec Baldwin at the event, in which the league introduces the new Pro Football Hall of Fame class and hands out awards for the 2014 season, including The Associated Press MVP. NFL Honors will be held at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix on Jan. 31, a night before the Super Bowl kicks off in nearby Glendale.
iN DEMAND locked in a multi-year renewal with Zuffa LLC, the owner of UFC, to deliver UFC PPV events to more than 50 million digital subscribers throughout the US. In addition, affiliates can offer the UFC’s digital streaming service UFC Fight Pass to video subscribers on a fully authenticated basis.
Universal Sports Network unveiled three new distribution partners for the network’s exclusive Olympic, endurance and action sports programming with end of year launches on Atlantic Broadband, Buckeye CableSystem and Consolidated Communications. All three distributors have opted into the network’s agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC). “Welcoming these new distribution partners to our family is a great way to start the New Year,” said Scott Brown, President of Universal Sports. “We are pleased they see the high value of our content, and look forward to serving their subscribers with a wide variety of sports and world-class events not available on other networks.”
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Actor William Levy will work with NASCAR and its broadcast arm, NASCAR Productions, to produce a reality TV series about Hispanic racers looking to make it in the sport. “Our goal is to produce original TV, film and digital projects that highlight some of the most compelling stories in NASCAR,” said Zane Stoddard, NASCAR’s VP of Entertainment Marketing and Content Development. The series will e pitched to networks next month, according to NASCAR.com.
Tomorrow’s NBA TV Fan Night presented by Sprint telecast will pit the Spurs/Wizards on the network at 7p. The game selection was based on fan voting via NBA.com, the NBA.com mobile web, NBA Game Time App, and via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The PBA announced that TV viewership for the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI’s four animal pattern championships are spiking. Nielsen ratings for the Sunday, Jan. 4 telecast of the PBA Scorpion Championship averaged 923,000 viewers while numbers for the 2014 WSOB’s four animal pattern shows (Cheetah, Viper, Chameleon and Scorpion Championships) were up 18% over the previous year’s telecasts.
Univision Deportes saw a potent 2014, scoring double-digit growth in key metrics within its sports content across its media platforms, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile, the company states that UDN finished the year as both the No. 1 Spanish-language sports network and the fastest-growing sports network in both Total Day and primetime in 2014.
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The NHL and Reebok unveiled the new uniform system for the League’s All-Stars during 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend from Jan. 23-25. The jerseys feature a lightweight and emblematic chrome NHL shield and two stars on the crest that represent the two participating teams in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game with each All-Star team jersey featuring chrome and elite green accents with the designated home team wearing black and opposing team in white. “We are proud to again partner with Reebok, and the design of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game jerseys was a truly collaborative effort,” said Brian Jennings, NHL Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President. “Not only are the jerseys modern and cutting-edge, but it marks a shift from the more traditional colors typically seen in past NHL All-Star Game jerseys. We’re confident the jerseys will be popular among the players for its performance innovation and among fans for its unique colors and style.”
Bloomingdale’s announced plans to celebrate the NBA’s 64th All-Star Game with 16 basketball-inspired shops filled with “NBA team and All-Star merchandise, one-on-one style videos with star shooting guard James Harden, a unique partnership with GQ, and an auction benefiting Mentoring USA to win the ultimate All-Star Game weekend in New York City.” Debuting this month, pop-up shops at select Bloomingdale’s locations, and on bloomingdales.com/nba, will see retro-era jerseys, vintage graphic tees and luxe accessories.
U.S. oil filter brand FRAM is partnering with Joe Gibbs Racing, Motocross, a North Carolina-based professional supercross and motocross team, and will sponsor riders Justin Barcia and Weston Peick during the 2015 AMA Motocross and Supercross seasons.
Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and The Morrison Brothers Band collaborated to produce an original song, Ice on Fire, and music video that will be featured in the network’s coverage of the Washington Capitals. The Morrison Brothers Band’s performance of the new song will serve as the opening theme for Comcast SportsNet’s live-game coverage of the Capitals on Saturday nights for the remainder of the season.
Sony’s F55 4K cameras were utilized in two recent proof-of-concept tests of 4K broadcasting, conducted by Time Warner Cable Sports and Time Warner Cable late last month. The closed tests used a range of professional 4K production equipment to “simulate aspects of a typical live broadcast: production, transport to the studio, processing and final distribution to the home” with two live sports events were used for the tests: the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) high school football Division I Championship game and an NBA regular season game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors on December 23. Each event was produced using four Sony F55 cameras with Canon lenses (2- 95X100, 1 -17X120 Cine-Servo and 50X1000 PL mount lens).
Broadcast Pix unveiled a new partnership with Sportzcast to deliver real-time scoreboard data to Broadcast Pix integrated production switchers with the optional Rapid CG 3 graphics software for dynamic graphics during live sporting events. Sportzcast retrieves clock and score data, sends it to the cloud, and provides it in a standardized format to licensed users during productions. According to the company, LiveXML software creates a dynamic .XML file in a standardized format, so data can be easily incorporated into graphics without manual data entry.
Clippit, a free tool that allows audiences to clip any live TV moment with their smartphone and instantly share it to social networks, launched the #ClippitBowl where fans have the chance to win $1000 for participating in the #ClippitBowl during the national championship game between Ohio St. and Oregon tonight. Any fan that clips and shares the video segment on twitter with #ClippitBowl will be automatically entered to win $1000.
Ohio State/Oregon for all the marbles at 8:30p on ESPN (and ESPN2, ESPNEWS, etc.)
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ON THIS DAY in 1958: The NCAA adds the two-point conversion to football.
In The Know:Which (now retired) NFL player hold the record for most consecutive seasons with an interception? (Hint: he had 19.) (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: At what school did coaching great Dean Smith play college basketball? Answer: Kansas. Kudos: Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Jon Latzer-CBS Digital Media/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Ken Nice-Yoh/Silver Spring; Jonathan Norman-Bespoke Sports and Entertainment/Charlotte; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Wayne "World B." Otto-Pro-Am Sports/Boone; Suzy Shoup-Moroch/Dallas; Jeremy Bowman-ESPN/Chicago; Kevin Wicker-Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network/Mission; Chuck Gordon-WVTM-TV/Birmingham; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente.
Later — Chris
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