02/20/15: NFL Network goes deep at combine; Duke game marks a season high; DIRECTV opens a new door



CYNOPSISSPORTS
02.20.15

Good morning. It’s Friday February 20, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NFL Network has officially launched its 11th year of covering the combine. The network will utilize 17 cameras this year as part of its 45+ hours of live coverage. New this year will be the use of comparative analytics technology that will deliver “within seconds” analysis of who each prospect is like in terms of current NFL players as they wrap up the challenges. Audiences continue to grow for the annual event, with the channel topping 12 million viewers last year. Of course, the Combine will again conclude with Rich Eisen’s annual 40-yard dash in his trademark suit and Under Armour shoes for ‘Run Rich Run’ which will benefit the NFL PLAY 60 relationship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

ON THE AIR

Speaking of the NFL, the league might be looking to offer a two-fer in the near future, and is now looking to expand the playoffs (and its broadcast rights) in 2016, when rights to the Thursday Night Package are also in play. NBCSports.com writes that the league, which is now deemed unlikely to add playoff games for the 2015 season (per the Washington Post), will instead look bump plans back by a year to score a multi-year deal “to maximize the revenue to be generated by the games,” although it remains unclear if the two will be marketed as a package or simply simultaneously.

ESPN’s offering of a classic Duke win over North Carolina on Wednesday averaged 4,136,000 viewers for the channel, along with a 2.6 rating, according to Nielsen. That makes it the most-viewed and highest-rated college basketball game of the season across all cable and broadcast networks and now ranks as ESPN’s 11th most-viewed men’s college basketball game all-time. In addition, the rivalry game scored 10,100,000 minutes of live viewing and 246,000 unique viewers on WatchESPN, making it the platform’s top men’s college basketball game ever.

Boxing continued to take the spotlight as CBS Sports and Showtime Sports detailed a multi-year joint venture that will bring live bouts to CBS Television Network. Premier Boxing Champions on CBS will see eight live events this year, with the first slated for April 4 at 3p. The program will air in conjunction with high-profile Showtime Championship Boxing events as part of a partnership designed to cross-promote the live programs across multiple platforms with each event on both channels supported with short- and long-form shoulder programming and marketing support. The debut episode on CBS will see light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson defending his WBC title against former super middleweight champ Sakio Bika.
 
Amid stiff competition (aka SNL), Turner Sports’ coverage of this year’s NBA All-Star Game handed the company with a 4.3 household rating and an average of 7.2 million viewers, including an 7.2 local rating in NY, its highest ever in Turner’s history televising the event, according t Nielsen. Saturday’s presentation of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night on TNT generated an average of 6.1 million total viewers and a 3.4 score. NBA All-Star content also pushed growth across live video streams, including Turner’s TVE platforms, with nearly a 90% increase for State Farm All-Star Saturday Night and more than 50% improvement for the NBA All-Star Game.

HBO staple Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is adding a dose of comedy to the mix, announcing that periodically during the 2015 season, three-to-four minute segments will run featuring a different comedy star from the HBO family, “who will close each show with a personal, unfiltered take on some element of sports.” Bill Maher launches the segments on Feb. 24, with future talent set to include Lewis Black and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” co-star Susie Essman. Chris Rock, who has a rich history with HBO, is expected to appear later this year.

Spike TV locked in a pair for its upcoming Premier Boxing Champions series, adding five-time, world champion boxer Antonio Tarver and Bellator announcer Jimmy Smith to the crew to serve as color analysts for Spike TV’s inaugural season. The first event will take place on March 13 at 9p on the channel.

Yahoo is hitting the track, teaming with SWN Communications, the provider of the Inside Track radio program, to bring the program to its stable. The show, hosted by Charlie Ricks and Bernie Halprin, will now be available on Yahoo Sports Radio’s national network starting Saturday, Feb. 28 at 11a and offer in-depth discussions of the horse racing industry’s most relevant news and information.

BTN gears up for the inaugural season of Big Ten men’s and women’s lacrosse with 25 men’s and women’s games set for telecast. While approximately 30 additional games will run on BTN Plus. Men’s television coverage begins Sunday, March 29, when Maryland hosts Michigan.

Which programs are most easily monetized? What is the right mix of interactions, engagement and commerce you need to succeed? Find out at the Social Media & Sports: Engagement and Tune In Strategies on Tuesday, February 24. Leading the discussion will be Nick Freeman, VP of Sales Integration for Fox Sports Digital; Jeramie McPeek, VP of Digital for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns; Nitro Circus’ Cody Cheshier and OneUp Sports’ Founder and CEO Daren Trousdel. To register for this webinar, click here.

ESPN is teaming up current African-American sports stars team with living legends as part of its Black History Month programming with a special, dubbed Trailblazers  Past, Present and Future, which runs on Sunday at 7p on the channel. Tandems are set to include: Doug Williams, the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, with Cardale Jones, joined bySportsCenter anchor Jay Harris; Mo’ne Davis, the first girl to earn a win and to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history, and Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, with ESPN’s Jemele Hill; and P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens defenseman, the target of racist tweets after he scored the goal that eliminated the Boston Bruins from the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year, and Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player, who now runs the league’s diversity program, in conversation with Saunders.

ONE World Sports beefed up its talent roster, inking deals with JP Dellacamera and Shep Messing to call 2015 NY Cosmos games. In addition, Dellacamera also signed a multi-year agreement with the network. Meanwhile, Ed Cohen signed on in a multiyear agreement to call games from the Chinese Basketball Association, Yomiuri Giants baseball, and KHL and CHL hockey.

HBO Boxing opens the Road to Kovalev-Pascal on Saturday, with the special set to debut at 12:15a on the channel. The special spotlights the upcoming light heavyweight championship bout between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Jean Pascal that takes place on March 14. .

MLB’s Diamondbacks have reportedly locked in a deal to remain with FOX Sports Arizona in a deal that local reports are valuing at more than $1 billion. Terms of the agreement were not reported.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


2015 Upfronts: Behind the Scenes with Cynopsis
Everyday at 6 PM, we’ll bring you up close & personal coverage of the 2015 Upfront with a new additional edition.

-Get the low down on where was the event held and who was there.
-Find out fun facts about each network and their programs.
-Learn everything from programming & marketing strategies, to the state of the business and future plans.
-Hear a roundup of Q&A’s from execs at each event!

Advertising space is limited, please contact: Mike Farina at 203-218-6480


SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Sport performance brand ASICS launched its 2015 global advertising campaign, dubbed ‘It’s a big world. Go run it’ with creative designed to “inspire sportspeople and fitness enthusiasts around the world to explore new territories and discover the huge variety of ways and reasons to run.” The slogan is accompanied by spots as well as print, outdoor, online and in-store executions, and activations at marathons around the globe. Shot in New Zealand, the TVC features a host of ASICS sponsored athletes, including world champion triathlete Gwen Jorgensen (U.S.), 100m & 400m Olympic hurdler and sprinter Queen Harrison (U.S.), 800m runner Ryan Martin (U.S.), elite training and fitness athlete Rosario Rios-Aguilar (U.S.) and elite trail runners Sissi Cussot (France) and Genis Zapater (Spain), alongside real running enthusiasts, who will take part in fifteen short films that will also be released throughout the year.

NASCAR unveiled its lineup of 2015 NASCAR Contingency Program sponsors for all three national series. The MOOG Steering and Suspension brand, a Contingency Sponsor of NASCAR for nearly 50 years, will now extend its reach to consumers by becoming a NASCAR Official Partner. New to the field of Contingency Sponsors this year will be Ingersoll Rand, the Official Power Tools of NASCAR, while Edlebrock will continue to provide Contingency Sponsorship for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series through 2019.

DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY

DIRECTV announced that WatchESPN, along with WATCH ABC, WATCH ABC Family, WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney Junior, and WATCH Disney XD, is now available for customers. Live events and programming from ESPN networks  including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, Longhorn Network, SEC Network and SEC Network +  will all be accessible. ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater will also be available when those channels are in season.

Yahoo is bring MLS into the fantasy fold, adding the league to its Fantasy Soccer game. The Yahoo Sports Fantasy Soccer game also includes the likes of English Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga and Campionato Italiano (Serie A).

NFL Players Inc. is teaming with Entrepreneur.com in a content partnership that will see articles posted weekly by active and former players. Players will share their own success stories, helpful tips and entrepreneurial do’s and don’ts through online postings every Wednesday at the site wth the initial list of player contributors including former players Hunter Hillenmeyer, Terrence Holt, Torry Holt, Israel Idonije, Matt Light and Ryan Nece, along with active players quarterback Mike Kafka and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Brad Smith.

Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. is partnering with fan experience technology company Experience, to boost game day for fans during the Globetrotters’ 2015 World Tour. As part of the partnership, select fans will have the opportunity to participate in experiences that include an honorary tip off to start the game, seat upgrades and an official game ball.

Gaming platform Daily Payoff announced that it will officially launch the week of March 2. The site will be housed and powered by SportsBlog and will look to feature verticals that will include the casino business, fantasy sports, horse racing, e-gaming, games of skill, the lottery and others.

Boosted by coverage of Super Bowl XLIX, NHL and the Premier League, NBC Sports’ Facebook page topped the 1 million mark. The page has seen a spike of 445% growth in likes for 2014 and a 3471% increase in public engagement in 2014 including likes, comments, and shares.

THE MAIN EVENT

The Daytona 500 revs up on FOX o Sunday at 1p.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


Social Good Awards Breakfast
Celebrating social responsibility in the TV & entertainment industry.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015- 8:00-10:00 a.m. | Yale Club NYC

Space is very limited and tables are selling out quickly. Register yourself and your team today!

VIEW FINALISTS & REGISTER NOW!

Industry Partner: The Cable Center



ON THIS DAY in 1998: Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest Olympic figure skater to win the gold medal.

In The Know: In what movie does wrestling star Rowdy Roddy Piper discover that aliens have secretly taken over Earth? (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: Who holds the 72-hole scoring record at the PGA Championship? Answer: David Toms. Kudos: Marc Wollis-NBC Sports Group/NY; Robert Dudelson-Cross MediaWorks/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine
02.20.15

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