02/11/16: A new architect for the WNBA; Costas’ Rio role; FOX Sports drafts the Simpsons for Daytona


Good morning. It’s Thursday February 11, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The WNBA has a new chief with the league tapping the services of Lisa Borders as its new President. Borders most recently served as Chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation and Vice President, Global Community Affairs at The Coca-Cola Company and, starting March 21, will oversee the league as it heads into its 20th season on May 14. 

“As a proven executive with a passion for the WNBA and the game of basketball, Lisa is the right leader at a pivotal time in the league’s history,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “She will be responsible for spearheading our efforts to strengthen the WNBA and accelerate its growth.”


Bob Costas is back as primetime host for NBC’s Olympic coverage this summer, marking his 11th time in the role. Costas has served as primetime host for every Olympics on NBC since 1992, including the 2012 London Games. “For a quarter-century, Bob has been NBC’s pilot of primetime at the Olympics, and over that span, the scope of our coverage has constantly evolved, with Rio set to become the most live event in U.S. television history. Given his vast experience and uncanny expertise, simply put there is no one better than Bob to tell the stories of the athletes, take our viewers inside the world’s biggest sports event, and introduce them to one of the most spectacular cities on the planet,” said Jim Bell, Executive Producer, NBC Olympics.

It’s all over for the Third Round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The organization is returning to its roots and will once again refer to the round of 64 as the First Round of the tournament, according to ESPN. In recent years, the First Round had been used to label the First Four games of eight teams that took place earlier in the week. "The Thursday-Friday games will be known as first and second rounds, so there’s no more, quote-unquote, third round," said NCAA spokesman David Warlock in the story. "So Thursday and Friday is the Round of 64, Saturday and Sunday is the Round of 32, and then obviously the Sweet 16 and Final Four hasn’t been changed."

A TKO for Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson pushed FS1’s UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thopson on Saturday to new heights. The upset handed the network with its most-watched dedicated UFC postfight show (not part of FOX SPORTS LIVE) with 535,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. The prelims generated 1,093,000 viewers for the channel, making it the second-most watched in channel history, with the main card generating 1,317,000 viewers, making it the fifth most-watched UFC Fight Night on FS1.

espnW locked in writer and commentator Kate Fagan to a new multiyear agreement that will see her continue in her role as a featured reporter and columnist for espnW across multiple ESPN platforms including espnW.com, ESPN TV while adding two new national ESPN Radio shows to the books. Fagan will host the new ESPN Radio show, Will & Kate, with ESPN contributor Will Cain starting Sunday while also cohosting espnW’s The Trifecta with Spain, Jane and Kate on ESPN Radio, which debuted in January.

Beta Research Corp unveiled the results from its annual Cable Operator Evaluation Study and Local Ad Sales Executive Study, with ESPN once again able to boast of “the greatest value to distributors,” ranking tops in most average perceived value and most important network. ESPN2 ranked second in average perceived value. The study also proclaimed ESPN as the top network “with the most valuable programming to help create local ad sales revenue.” The Beta Local Ad Sales Executive study was conducted between October and November 2015 among local ad sales executives from local cable systems to determine their perceptions of basic cable network organizations.

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GolTV inked exclusive broadcast rights with Venezuela’s first division soccer league, Liga Venezolana, to claim exclusive US broadcast rights to the top match of the week, as well as a weekly highlights program featuring all of the league’s teams and match results. All matches will be selected by GolTV and broadcast in both English and Spanish.

SportsCenter brings back SC Featured on Sunday at 10a with ESPN showcasing “The Meaning of Miyah,” a story of the friendship between 6 year-old Miyah, who lost her battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Washington Wizards star John Wall. The Feb. 21 SC Featured segment will tell the story of Chubbtown, Ga., the home of University of Georgia running back Nick Chubb, while other editions will examine adult dodgeball championships, the Gotham Knights and the Bingham Cup, as well as an exploration of the urban legend of a monkey believed to have lived for years in the old Boston Garden, narrated by comedian Lenny Clarke.
Showtime announced Julian “J-Rock” Williams/Marcello Matano for March 5 to anchor Showtime Boxing: Special Edition at 10p. In the co-feature, Antoine Douglas will take on former world champion Sam Soliman in a 10-round middleweight bout. 

NBCSN carries daily highlight coverage of the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer starting Saturday at 12:30a with coverage of the Opening Ceremony. Overall, the channel serves up 10 consecutive days of coverage with hour-long programs that feature the best highlights of each day’s events. Carolyn Manno, Jimmy Roberts, Liam McHugh, and Dave Briggs will host.


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FOX staple The Simpsons is anchoring the newest promo blitz for FOX Sports. The company released Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie racing fellow Springfield residents on the way to Daytona International Speedway as marketing support for the channel’s upcoming coverage of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 21. “Being able to tap into such a recognizable, iconic part of pop culture is an extremely strong asset to be able to draw on,” said Robert Gottlieb, FOX Sports EVP of Marketing. “The SIMPSONS have been a part of the American zeitgeist for decades, crossing nearly all desirable demographics … and, candidly, it’s simply a lot of fun to be able to include them in our ongoing efforts to amplify Daytona Day.” The promo can be found at https://youtu.be/vyeEg3RRm2k.

Minor League Baseball locked in a strategic partnership with John Deere, which will become the “Preferred Sports Turf Equipment Supplier” of Minor League Baseball. Teams will be incentivized to use John Deere equipment in ballparks throughout the country. “We are very pleased to form a relationship with John Deere, a company whose principles and core values align with those of Minor League Baseball,” said Minor League Baseball Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer David Wright. “Both organizations are incredibly active in local communities and share a genuine desire to give back.”

Full Swing Golf announced a multi-year partnership with three-time Major Champion, Padraig Harrington. Harrington will be supporting the brand through various marketing initiatives and accompanies Full Swing Golf’s all-star roster of professional sports clients from the NFL, NBA and MLB. He joins fellow global golf ambassadors for the brand that include Tiger Woods, Mark Wilson, Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas and Jordan Spieth.


FOX Sports announced that it delivered 6 million Facebook video views on Super Bowl Sunday, for a spike of 54% over last year, and bolstered by nine live video chats with Tony Romo before, during, and after the game that generated 2.2 million video views. According to Shareablee, FOX Sports topped all sports broadcasters in engagement around Super Bowl-related videos posted to Facebook this past Sunday. FOXSports.com also saw growth on Super Bowl Sunday, for a rise of 64% over last year and up 45% vs. average Sundays during NFL season, according to Adobe Analytics. Social media drove 1.4 million visits to the site on Sunday, up 166% year-over-year and accounting for 48% of the visits.


ESPN is breaking up with DraftKings, ending its exclusive advertising relationship with the daily fantasy sports company DraftKings, according to Sporting News and Yahoo Finance. ESPN unveiled the deal with DraftKings last June. As part of the ESPN deal, the company reportedly had to commit around $200 million per year in ad spend on the network.

Endemol Beyond USA announced a second season for eSports series Legends of Gaming on its SMASHER Network, with a new host on board. YouTube gaming celeb Syndicate, aka Tom Cassell, replaces Toby Turner  as the face of the show. Pizza Hut is once again confirmed as lead sponsor for the program, which will debut this Spring with 24 all new episodes. The second season will include four teams of gamers competing for the “Legends of Gaming” trophy.


IRG Sports + Entertainment, parent company to the International Hot Rod Association, named Mike Dunn as President of the IHRA organization in advance of the complete reorganization of the company and its various operations. Dunn joins the IHRA after spending the last 14 years as the face of major league professional drag racing for ESPN.

The Players’ Tribune named Raphael Poplock as Executive Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development. The former VP of partnerships for ESPN will now spearhead partnerships, audience development, product technology, and distribution for The Players’ Tribune.


Iowa/Indiana on ESPN at 9p.

ON THIS DAY in 1957: The NHL Players Association is formed.

In The Know: Other than Carmelo Anthony, name two of the three other Syracuse players who have played in the NBA All-Star Game. (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: On which show did Marv Albert traditionally present the Albert Achievement Awards? Answer: Late Show/Late Night with David Letterman. Kudos: Keith Marder-Halstead Property/NY; Jon Clateman-Martin De Porres HS/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Samuel Joseph-Jamestown Community College/NY; Peter Lasser-Lasser Productions/Atlanta; Jerry A. Kapner-Kapner Group/Montclair; Michael G. Hawkins-Francis Marion University/Florence; Chris Pugh-Civitas Media/Mansfield; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas;Tim Rank-blueprint314/St. Louis; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills; Joey Olson/Manhattan Beach; Rich Greene-FOX/LA; John Sutton-Charter Digital Media/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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