02/16/16: Nielsen reflects on 2015 numbers; NBA All-Star finishes pumped; NASCAR’s Snapchat flirtation


Good morning. It’s Tuesday February 16, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Following a year of sports that saw new partnerships, viewership milestones, and an influx of new technology and data, Nielsen released its State of the Media: 2015 Year in Sports Media Report as the newest chapter dissecting the evolution of the industry. The year saw over 127,000 hours of sports programming available on broadcast and cable TV with American audiences spending 31+ billion hours viewing sports.

The report offers up nuggets such as a comparison of programming versus conversation on Twitter, the top advertisers for each of the sports, the continued power of audio, and a breakdown for each of the leagues. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Stephen Master, Senior VP of Sports at Nielsen, about this year’s findings, what trends are changing the sports and where there is cause of concern. The report itself can be accessed here.

Master on 2015: If you think about all the fragmentation of the media over the last ten years, with Netflix, DVRs and social, sports has remained a tent pole for viewers. Looking at the stats, in 2005, the top 100 programs watched live plus same day, saw only 14% of them in the sports category. Ten years later in 2015, with all the media fragmentation, 93% of the programs in the top 100 were sports. Sports continues to grow in importance as a genre of content as there are 127,000 hours of sports available on broadcast and cable now, which is up 160% from what is was ten years ago. It’s a great vehicle for advertisers.

On the dangers of digital metrics: There’s a lot of news in the marketplace that sees people talking about digital metrics. After a football game or any other sporting event, they’ll say they had 6 million uniques on their sites, the problem is that they are putting out reach numbers and that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. Initially, when Yahoo came out with their report about their NFL streaming numbers, they said they had 15.2 million viewers. So you’d think that that was pretty good and aligns very well with other NFL games and their TV audience. But the NFL games are using an average minute audience, so over the course of a three-hour game, the average NFL telecast gets around 18 million viewers watching at any given minute. But in Yahoo’s numbers, if someone watched for only 10 seconds, they were counted. When we recalculate the numbers so it is an apples-to-apples comparison, it was really closer to 1.6 million that Yahoo got over the course of the three hours, which would make it the lowest-rated NFL game of all time. So while everyone is talking about how people are streaming and watching games on their phones in 2016, if they are going to throw out big numbers, they’ve got to be apples-to-apples. That’s something that has to become clear in the marketplace.

On out-of-home viewing: We’ve known that out-of-home viewing has been happening for a while now, but we’ve never really quantified it. People have been gathering at bars and restaurants, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, to get together and watch sports. We never really measured that up until 2015. So if you look at the World Series on FOX, it’s pretty astounding the lift that the audience sees when you add them on top of the traditional ratings that are reported in the media. Not surprisingly, it is really big for person 18-34, and there is a lot of discussion about how people don’t watch television, but when it comes to big sports events, they are still watching, they just aren’t watching at home.

On the Women’s World Cup: This was such a huge story. When you think about it, it was the same matchup as four years ago with US/Japan and US/Japan. So for that to increase 67% in four years is remarkable. That team captured the imagination of the American public, and drew 23.6 million viewers across the English and Spanish broadcasts, which is a huge number and makes it one of the top 100 programs watched in the US last year. It wasn’t like you could say it was just because the US was in it. It wasn’t even like the matchup was more intriguing because they were facing the same team. The really interesting piece was the young women and they huge increase they had. Women 12-17 and 18-34 were up 48% and 43% respectively. They really engaged with the Women’s World Cup and the reach really spiked.

On which league is on a hot streak: The NBA was really hot again last year and they are continuing that momentum again this year. The Finals was the highest-rated Finals they’ve had since the Michael Jordon era and you can’t just attribute it to LeBron, because he’s been in the Finals for the past five years. They’ve done a really good job using social media and getting fans engaged and they also had great storylines heading in. Everyone’s really engaged and they get a lot of casual viewers to tune in.


Turner’s coverage of the 2016 NBA All-Star Game presented by Kia on TNT and TBS handed the company with 7.6 million total viewers, for a markup of 6% over the 2015 game, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals. Ranking as the most-viewed program of the night in primetime across all of cable television, based on metered market numbers, content also delivered 162 million impressions across NBA on TNT and NBA TV Facebook and Twitter channels. Additionally, Turner’s TV Everywhere platforms handed the company with triple-digit growth as uniques swelled 295%, while minutes consumed grew by 135% and live streams were up 112% over 2015. Overall, social media content published across Turner’s NBA on TNT & NBA TV accounts via Facebook and Twitter (Friday-Sunday) generated more than 390 million social impressions. Overall, the league’s social media platforms netted a record 326 million video views for NBA All-Star 2016. Meanwhile, TNT’s presentation of the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night averaged 5.6 million total viewers, combining with the NBA All-Star Game to deliver the top two sports programs of the week across all of television.
Meanwhile, while meeting with the media during the All-Star festivities, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated that a European city would likely host the All-Star Game, although the move would be at least half a decade away, noting that the extra distance and time it would take to travel to Asia would make a trip across the Atlantic more likely. "It’s something we would love to do one day," he said, according to multiple reports. "It’s not going to happen in the next two, three, four years but it’s something that down the road could be really exciting for the NBA.

Andy Grammer, The Fray, actress/singer Amber Riley and The United States Air Force Marching Band have been tapped to lead the entertainment for the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series outdoor game on Feb. 27 from Coors Field in Denver, The game will broadcast live at 8p on NBC. The slate will see Grammer open the game with a performance of his songs, with Riley set to perform “Star Spangled Banner,” immediately followed by a flyover of two Air Force F-16s. The Fray will be on deck for the first intermission, while the second intermission will see The United States Air Force Marching Band lead a special tribute to Colorado and Denver’s first responders with a performance of “America the Beautiful.” The game day performances and audience experience are being produced by e2k Events x Entertainment, under the direction of Steve Mayer, NHL Executive Vice President and Executive Producer of Programming & Creative Development.

Do you have what it takes to judge? We nabbed a record number of entries for the Cynopsis Sports Awards and, due to the overwhelming amount contenders for this year’s program, we’re looking to add a few more experts to our judges board. Judging has its benefits. Apply here to join our exceptional Sports Award judging panel.

Former All-Star Tracy McGrady is joining team ESPN where he will serve as an analyst, according to the AP. McGrady will also have a role on the company’s new afternoon series “The Jump," which debuts Thursday. McGrady will also contribute analysis the likes of SportsCenter.

ESPN also saw veteran basketball analyst Jay Bilas named a recipient of the 2016 Curt Gowdy Media Award for his contributions to the sport as a member of the electronic media. The award will be presented during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement events in September. Bilas will join David Aldridge (print media), for the honor.


Join Cynopsis Sports on February 24 for the interactive webinar
Virtual Reality: How to Get in the Game

With VR technology now affordable, thanks to recent moves from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Facebook and Google, sports continues to blaze the trail in enticing audiences to adopt and engage with this platform. Join the webinar and learn how to leverage your content into this transformative technology.

Sign up here.


NASCAR unveiled a new, integrated marketing campaign designed to showcase the new season, dubbed Ready. Set. Race. Promotion will include an invitation to fans during the Daytona 500 on February 21, via the first-ever Hashtag 500 on Twitter, offering a shot to win memorabilia from this race with prized that include a driver firesuit, helmet, steering wheel and set of Goodyear tires, among other race-used items. Fans will receive a custom hashtag for each of 10 pieces of memorabilia and the 500th person to tweet the hashtag in conjunction with #DAYTONA500 will win that race and receive the prize. Meanwhile, “practice races” will also run through the end of the week for a shot at other items from drivers.

Continuing the NASCAR theme, Credit One Bank locked in a multi-year partnership with NASCAR as well as Chip Ganassi Racing. The agreement makes Credit One Bank the "Official Credit Card of NASCAR," and the company will now offer fans officially licensed NASCAR-themed credit cards. Credit One Bank will also be the primary sponsor of the No. 1 Chevrolet, piloted by Jamie McMurray for three races, as well as an associate partner throughout the season.

With the 2016 game in the books, the NBA unveiled the logo for NBA All-Star 2017 in Charlotte. The logo was inspired by Queen Charlotte, for whom the city was named, and includes a crown reminiscent of the city’s famed statue. Team colors, purple and teal, are also incorporated into the design.


NASCAR also announced plans with Snapchat to allow fans to share race-day experiences with users across the world as part of a new Live Story partnership. The deal will see Snapchat double its coverage of the sport’s races beginning with its first NASCAR Live Story at the Daytona 500 as Snapchatters offer their race-day perspectives submitted to one collective Live Story, capturing the real NASCAR story that will be curated and packaged by Snapchat into a video stream. Each NASCAR Live Story will be available to view on Snapchat for 24 hours. “Snapchat’s Live Story coverage of NASCAR events will make its users near and far feel like they’re at the racetrack,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president, marketing and industry services. “With Snapchat, NASCAR fans can share their stories from our iconic race events with a massive, global audience, which elevates the social experience for our fans.”
The NBA became the first professional sports league to top one billion social media likes and followers, counting all league, team and player accounts combined across social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram along with Tencent and Sina in China. The league’s social media following now includes 28.5 million likes on its Facebook page, as well as 19.5 million @NBA followers on Twitter, and 12.7 million @NBA followers on Instagram. LeBron James leads the list of all NBA players on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, while the Lakers now rank as the most followed NBA team on social media. 

Instagram reports that, over NBA All-Star weekend, video from the league’s account NBA notched more than 60 million views on the platform. The most popular video was Aaron Gordon’s dunk with over 1.3 million views.


The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit franchise is taking its readers to VR waters, with content now viewable on the new SI Swimsuit App and its new digital destination on SI.com/swimsuit. VR media includes former cover models Nina Agdal, Hannah Davis and Irina Shayk shot for the 2016 SI Swimsuit issue on location in the Dominican Republic and offers access to a one-on-one with a single model and the beach environs to transporting viewers on to the set of a cover-style shoot as a member of the crew. Premium newsstand versions of the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue will be available for $9.99 and include a flat-pack VR viewing headset and access code to unlock the Swimsuit content. Time Inc. partnered with VR firm Wevr to produce the content.

The PBR is launching the new PBR LIVE app, offering every ride from every event each weekend during the PBR’s 2016 Built Ford Tough Series season. Highlights and livestreams of the 2016 PBR BlueDEF Tour will also be streamed. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to bring compelling content to PBR fans,” said PBR CEO Sean Gleason. “Adding to the tremendous coverage of the sport through our partnership with CBS and CBS Sports Network, the PBR Live! App is the place we can deliver deeper stories about our bull and human athletes, event coverage of non-televised performances and rich content that just isn’t available elsewhere.”
The Westminster Kennel Club has teamed with Omnigon once again to design the app for the 140th Annual Westminster Dog Show. New features to the 2016 app include live agility results, a live video feed from the Obedience Ring as well as photos and descriptions of all 199 breeds and varieties.


Stars/Blues on NBCSN at 8p.

ON THIS DAY in 1984: Bill Johnson becomes the first American to win Olympic alpine skiing gold.

In The Know: Which club did Alan Shephard use to hit golf balls on the moon? (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: The Pistons retired #10 in honor of which player? Answer: Dennis Rodman. Kudos: Keith Marder-Halstead Property/NY; Mark McDonald-ESPN/NY; Marcus Zaprowski-JCC/NY; David Stern-BARD Entertainment/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Joe Guarnieri-ESPN/Bristol; Chris Schwartz-International Speedway Corporation/Charlotte; Allison Wright-SSE/Viacom Media Networks/Detroit; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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