01/14/15: Ohio State delivers a cable record to ESPN, FOX Sports cued up for playoff record, The Whistle Sports Network cashes in


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, January 14, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship saw its debut game boost ESPN to the largest audience in cable history, according to Nielsen. Monday’s telecast averaged 33,395,000 viewers with an 18.2 US household rating, setting new records for both the largest audience and highest rating in cable television history. That marks a 31% spike in viewership over the 2014 BCS National Championship with the primary home markets of the two schools recording a 51.2 in Columbus and a 37.6 in Portland. Meanwhile, the simulcast of ESPN’s main telecast of the game on WatchESPN attracted 1,161,000 unique viewers, 82,000,000 minutes viewed and average minute audience of 366,000, according to the company.

"The inaugural College Football Playoff was a resounding success by all measures," said John Skipper, ESPN President.  "Fans responded in record numbers across television and digital platforms. It’s been a great first year and we look forward to the opportunity to build upon the excitement as we continue our long-term commitment to this tremendous event."


Speaking of football, FOX Sports reports that the NFL playoffs are tracking to be the most-watched ever for the company, according to Nielsen. With three games down, 2015 NFC Playoff games on FOX are averaging 39.3 million viewers, up 6% compared to a year ago with household ratings this season compared to last rising 3% to a 22.0/39. Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game posted a 17.2/29 household rating/share for the network with 31.0 million viewers and ranks as FOX’s highest-rated and most-watched prime time Saturday NFL Playoff game ever. It is also the network’s most-watched Saturday night broadcast in history, while Sunday’s Cowboys/Packers game notched a 24.9/48 household rating/share, with 44.4 million viewers and ranks as the NFL on FOX’s most-watched NFL Sunday Playoff Game in the early window ever. Overall, an average of 37.8 million viewers watched the four Divisional Playoff games last weekend, making it the most-watched NFL Divisional Weekend ever.

VH1 revealed its Super Bowl plans with a special concert salute to the armed forces at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale that will air on Jan. 30 at 9p on the network. This year will see VH1 and Papa John’s team up to offer Fall Our Boy and Charli XCX as part of the VH1 + Papa John’s Super Bowl Blitz: A Concert for the Troops, hosted by Nick Lachey.  The concert will also live stream on VH1.com as well as on the VH1 App.

SiriusXM is tapping the talents of NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson to host a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day show on SiriusXM NBA Radio. The hour-long program will be co-hosted by SiriusXM’s Jason Jackson and air Monday, January 19 at 1p leading into the day’s game broadcasts. The show will see Robertson share his experiences in the civil rights struggle and discuss what Dr. King’s legacy has meant to players of his era as well as those in today’s NBA.

Red Bull Global Rallycross locked in its 12-race schedule, its largest ever, for the 2015 season. Slated to run on the NBC family of networks for the 2015 season, 14.5 hours of original content are set to air, marking an increase of 4.5 hours over last season. The race calendar kicks off in Florida on May 31 and ends with a return to the bright lights of Las Vegas on November 5.

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TNT offers a NBA doubleheader on Thursday, pitting the Thunder/Rockets at 8p, followed by the Cavaliers/Lakers at 10:30p. Marv Albert will call the early game alongside analysts Chris Webber and reporter David Aldridge, while Kevin Harlan will provide play-by-play for the later matchup with analyst Reggie Miller and reporter Rachel Nichols.

AT&T U-verse TV customers are set to be the first US audiences to view the Latin American extreme and action sports network PX TV, distributed worldwide by Alterna’TV. Programming on the Spanish-language channel features live event coverage, original shows and packaged series. Action sports include skateboarding, BMX biking, motocross, snowboarding, drifting, surfing and paragliding and available now on Channel 3122 on the U200, U300 and U450 Latino packages.


The NBA tips off NBA Global Games London 2015 presented by Sportlobster between the New York Knicks and the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow. The game will air live on BT Sport in the UK, on NBA TV in the US, and reach fans in 215 countries and territories and will also be supported by the following marketing partners: adidas, BBVA, Capital Radio, Cisco, Foot Locker, Gatorade, SAP and Sprite. NBA Cares will also conduct a Unified Basketball Clinic presented by Coca-Cola today in partnership with Special Olympics Great Britain and local youth groups. 

Jeep is continuing its partnership with the X Games, signing on as the exclusive automobile sponsor of the ESPN event in a 12-year deal. The brand is debuting new 30-second television commercial, “Polar Vortex,” in conjunction with ESPN’s X Games Aspen 2015, with the campaign also offering print, digital, social and experiential extensions. “We wanted to mark the Jeep brand’s 12th year as the X Games Aspen official automobile sponsor by putting our own unique ‘spin’ on this year’s event by celebrating the joy of the athletes who perform in extreme weather conditions and the vehicles that take them there," said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer, FCA  Global. “Whatever the cause behind the Polar Vortex, fans attending this year’s games will have the opportunity to come out on top of it, too, experiencing the event like never-before, from sharing their experiences on our social channels to on-site activations including a Jeep Wrangler X snow sculpture and autograph sessions with athletes, to Jeep branded vehicles shuttling them to and from the mountain."

Danica Patrick has a new sponsor, with TaxACT partnering with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to sponsor the No. 10 team and driver Danica Patrick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. TaxACT will serve as the co-primary sponsor with GoDaddy during the Feb. 14 Sprint Unlimited exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway. In addition, TaxACT will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 10 team and Patrick during the March 27-29 race weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

The men’s and women’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) entered a promotional partnership with Minnesota Hockey Magazine.com for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. The partnership will look to “elevate and promote” the women’s Final Face Off and the men’s Final Five. Minnesota Hockey Magazine.com, the state’s leading Digital Hockey Publication, will highlight the on- and off-ice accomplishments of the WCHA’s member teams, student-athletes and coaches, while also providing ticket specials to the league’s championship weekends.


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The College Football Playoff National Championship scored big on social media channels. Facebook reports that 7 million people had more than 21 million Facebook interactions (posts, comments and likes) related to the game. Ohio saw Facebook conversation boom loudest, while Oregon was only fifth on the list of states that had the highest volume of conversation.

Top 5 Demos

  • Men 25-34
  • Men 34-44
  • Women 25-34
  • Men 18-24
  • Women 35-44

Top 5 States

  • Ohio
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • California
  • Oregon

Meanwhile, Twitter named its top five most mentioned players on Twitter during the Divisional playoff weekend (Saturday, Jan. 10 to Sunday, Jan. 11):

  • Dez Bryant (@DezBryant)
  • Tom Brady
  • Peyton Manning
  • Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12)
  • Kameron Chancellor (@Kam_Chancellor)

The most-tweeted games during and around live telecasts from Divisional playoff weekend based on number of Tweets, as measured by Nielsen Social (@NielsenSocial).

  • @dallascowboys vs. @Packers (FOX)
  • @Ravens vs. @Patriots (NBC)
  • @Colts vs. @Broncos (CBS)
  • @Panthers vs. @Seahawks (FOX)


The Whistle Sports Network locked in a Series B round for the amount of $28 million, according to reports. The funding was led by Emil Capital Partners and includes new investor Liberty Global Ventures. Existing investors Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning came back for the Series B round, which also includes a $7 million investment made by British Sky Broadcasting last October.

Bleacher Report hit a new record with more than 8.8 million unique visitors on Monday, Jan. 12, according to Google Analytics, largely thanks to the College Football Playoff Championship Game. It also scored over 12.7 million total visits, its second highest number ever, with over 30% of those visits coming from social media platforms.

Yesterday’s issue should have read Omnigon in the Digital & Technology section, not Omnicom. We regret the error.


The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association named Brooke McAffee as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer McAffee comes to the Olympic sports organization after spending nearly a decade with the Sundance Institute, most recently as its CFO and will now be responsible for financial planning and management for the organization.

InStadium, Inc. hired Sandy Khaund to the newly created role of Chief Technology Officer. Khaund will lead InStadium’s live audience platform and new product development and previously served as Senior Director of Turner Broadcasting’s Emerging Technologies.

Eric Welch was named the Senior Manager of Communications and Social Media at Atlanta-based FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Carolinas, FOX Sports Tennessee and SportSouth. Welch will be responsible for managing the network’s day-to-day public relations and social media efforts. Welch joins from Turner Sports.


Wizards/Bulls on ESPN at 8p.


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