02/23/15: MP & Silva set sights on US market; HBO, Showtime unite to plot record PPV; NHL details data plan


Good morning. It’s Monday February 23, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

After rising as one of the fastest-growing media rights agencies in the world in the span of a decade, MP & Silva is now shining the spotlight on the US market. Boasting an annual turnover of $650 million, the group now counts over 10,000 hours of programming to more than 200 broadcasters in 215 countries on its resume with events that span from Europe’s top soccer leagues and FIFA World Cup qualifiers to Grand Slam tennis and motor racing. With an eye toward expanding its presence stateside, the company recently tapped the services of Daniel Cohen as Senior Vice President, Americas where he will oversee business development in the Americas.

Cynopsis Sports recently spoke with Cohen and agency CEO Marco Auletta about their plans for the US market, how the agency has evolved and what we can expect from their recent moves.

Auletta on the company mantra: Our expertise is in media rights and we are now doing this worldwide with every kind of sports property. We want to continue in this direction as our expertise allows us to achieve terrific results. At the same time, we have a small division that is in charge of sponsorship and production and we can activate this team when we sit with the client with those needs as well. We don’t offer this service in general so it depends on the situation. We only want to offer our clients things that we know that we do well. Our model is not structured to be like IMG, as our big focus will be on media rights.

Cohen on globalization: The globalization of sports, whether it be basketball, baseball, hockey, etc., has become such an integral revenue stream for leagues. Look at the NBA growing to a 150 person staff in China, the NFL saw a Chelsea game draw three times the amount of global viewership of the Super Bowl that weekend and the league looked at that number and saw that they still have a ways to go. So when you speak with the rights holders here, everyone that is US-based is looking to grow this international revenue stream and there are very few companies that are positioned to help those rights holders in these markets. We look at ourselves as more of a niche agency that offers a custom-tailored solution for our clients. In the Americas, there is a ton of opportunity on the consultancy side, especially in Latin and South America and where these leagues and federations are really starting to grow their own businesses. The concept of monetizing digital rights in Chile did not exist until two years ago. So, the idea that we can come and help them develop a revenue stream around these areas is a strength we intend to use.

Auletta on beating the competition: Most of the time we are able to renew rights because we are able to develop a true partnership with our clients. We become friends, we look to understand their needs and we make sure to achieve the targets and results they are looking for. We are very transparent so we created a direct relationship with the client and we do the same with broadcasters.

Cohen on opportunities in the US: We are in the process of evaluating every single rights opportunity so it really is an equal opportunity for us. There is nothing too big or too small that we aren’t going to look at. Everything from the marathons and lifestyle sports that certainly are in a growth stage right now or are a startup entity all the way up to the big four. We aren’t just limiting ourselves just to the US market and we are going to play in the space.

On challenges of the American market: There are three key challenges, all of which we are going to be able to overcome and success. One is our brand identity, we’re taking steps right now to staff up on our marketing and communications side. We have a world renowned company when it comes to Asia and Europe. In the US, the leagues and most of the rights holders know who we are. But the goal to develop a brand that people on the street will recognize. Number two is going to be the fact that there is a lot more saturation in the US market, especially on the digital side. So we see ourselves succeeding by brings the best practices from the US to Europe, Asia, South America, etc. where these concepts are still underdeveloped. We’ve grown our digital staff by 100%. The third challenge is going to be the overall acquisition of rights domestically. Something we have done really well is the acquisition of domestic rights, be it in Belgium or Singapore. We are well aware that we are not going to outbid CBS or Turner for domestic rights but we are going to be getting other opportunities.


Friday saw arch-rivals Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao (along with Showtime and HBO) announce plans for what will likely become the biggest PPV boxing event of all time, with the bout slated for May 2 in Las Vegas. Combining their resources, both HBO and Showtime will contribute to the production and marketing of the event, with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum telling 8CountNews that the host will be CBS’ James Brown, with Jim Lampley calling blow-by-blow, Showtime’s Al Bernstein offering color, Roy Jones serving as the boxing expert and Showtime’s Jim Grey and HBO’s Max Kellerman reporting from the locker room. No word yet on plans for HBO’s traditional 24/7 franchise or Showtime’s All-Access platform. “The Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis joint pay-per-view fight was a great roadmap for this fight,” said HBO Sports President Ken Hershman in a call with reporters. “It showed that this can be done successfully. There’s a lot of mechanics that go into this when two networks are working together, and those mechanics carry forward in terms of how things operate behind the scenes.” “One of the main reasons why this deal got done, as opposed to deals in the past, was because Leslie Moonves [President and CEO, CBS Corporation] was a part of the process,” said Stephen Espinoza, EVP and General Manager of Showtime Sports. “He was deeply committed to making this deal and was someone that all parties in this negotiation really respect. He was really the catalyst for seeing this through and refused to take no for an answer from any side.”

A calendar shift in the NFL Combine paid dividends for NFL Network, which scored rating and viewership records as the event slid to a Friday-Monday schedule. Saturday’s coverage hit a .35 household rating and 529,000 viewers for markups of 83% and 91% respectively over 2014 numbers. On the digital front, NFL Digital Media drew 8.8 million minutes watched across all of the company’s platforms, while video views more than doubled year-over-year.

Count Danica Patrick among the slate of drivers who will take on broadcast duties this NASCAR season. FOX Sports added the driver to its all-star roster, where she will serve as a full-race analyst during FOX Sports 1’s coverage of the NASCAR XFINITY series from Michigan on June 13. According to the network, it is believed that she will become the first woman to serve in this capacity during a NASCAR race broadcast. Other drivers who will take the chair this year include Keven Harvick, Jeff Gordon, and Brad Keselowski.

Speaking of FOX and racing, FOX Sports unveiled the re-branding of SPEED International, its motor sports and automotive network in Canada and the Caribbean. The channel will now be known as FOX Sports Racing. “We’ve put the power and influence of the FOX Sports brand behind our commitment to motor sports,” said Eric Shanks, President & COO/Executive Producer of FOX Sports. “With highly anticipated NASCAR and MotoGP seasons about to get underway, and several other popular series up and running, FOX Sports Racing is now the hub for a vast and diverse community of passionate race fans.”

Universal Sports Network got a nice pickup, announcing that the network had inked a deal to carry the Baku 2015 European Games, which span June 12-28. The channel will now broadcast daily coverage of the European Games from Azerbaijan, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, on its linear channel as well as online. In addition, Universal Sports Network also scored broadcast rights to distribute the European Games in Canada. With this agreement, the Baku 2015 European Games has now announced deals to broadcast the Games in 50 countries around the world.

Tomorrow!! 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.

The Valentine’s Day broadcast of UFC Fight Night pushed FOX Sports 1 to an average of 836,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, to lift the channel as the most-watched ad-supported cable sports net in prime time on that evening. The prelims alone drew 775,000 viewers, up 44% from the average for prelims on the channel to date while the main event averaged 913,000 viewers. In addition, programming from Daytona Speedweeks saw a NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice from Daytona International Speedway reel in 698,000 viewers, up 27% from the equivalent practice last year while Saturday afternoon’s ARCA Race was the most-watched program of the day with 919,000 viewers.

The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders surprised pundits with the announcement that the pair of teams were planning a joint-owned stadium near LA in the event neither franchise is able to garner support for new stadiums in their current locations. The $1.7 billion venue would be located in Carson, CA. The Chargers, in a statement, said the teams would continue to look for solutions in their home towns. “We remain committed to continuing to work in our home markets throughout 2015 to try to find publicly acceptable solutions to the long-term stadium issue,” and adding that the teams “both understand and respect the NFL’s relocation process, and we intend to adhere strictly to the relocation procedures that the League has set forth for Los Angeles.”

Golf Channel and Golf Channel on NBC swing into a six week blanket of exclusive PGA TOUR events starting this week with 23 live hours of The Honda Classic beginning Wednesday at 5p. Holding fort for Golf Channel on NBC’s weekend coverage will be Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller, who will begin year 16 as play-by-play announcer and lead analyst, which sets a record in golf for the longest-tenured 18thhole broadcasting tandem for any network. In addition, Golf Channel’s Spotlight Coverage debuts this year with live action of players navigating “The Bear Trap,” encompassing Nos. 15-17. Calling the action will be Bob Papa, Curt Byrum, Tom Abbott and Jerry Foltz.

This week’s NBA TV Fan Night will feature the Pacers/Thunder thanks to fan voting. The game airs tomorrow night at 8p with the AutoTrader.com Pregame Show running at 7:30p.

Fusion and ESPN Radio have an agreement in principle in place that will see Fusion present a live simulcast of ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show this spring. The three-hour broadcast will run on weekday afternoons from 4-7p. 

While we are discussing talent, ESPN and Red Zebra Broadcasting announced that national sports columnist Jason Reid will team up with Chris Paul to form a new morning drive program on ESPN 980 in Washington DC. Reid will also join ESPN.com as an NFL columnist.


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NASCAR and FOX revealed their creative ahead of the Daytona 500, offering variations of nine spots across two national series for the season launch campaign, including three pieces showcasing the NASCAR XFINITY Series. NASCAR partners Ogilvy & Mather New York created the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign while Pereira O’Dell New York, FOX’s agency partner, worked on the NASCAR XFINITY Series spots. “What If” launched during the race on Sunday, looking to connect fans with the “extraordinary nature of NASCAR, developed over time from a grassroots beginning to a modern era dominated by intense racing competition and driver rivalries.” “Ice Cream” looked to launch NASCAR Acceleration Nation, the sport’s new national youth platform, while the remaining spots  “Thank You” and “Fantasy Owner”  highlight the NASCAR digital experience and suite of apps including Raceview and Fantasy Live. The XFINITY spots, meanwhile, looked to drive home the narrative that “Names Are Made Here” and feature popular, up-and-coming drivers.

The Clippers made ties with American Airlines, announcing a multi-year deal that makes the brand the Official Airline of the NBA team. American’s logo will appear on the court apron during home games in the space that covers the out-of-bounds area on the sideline between the baselines and the coaches’ box along with a branding presence on the video board and LED Courtside signage, in-arena activations and digital and broadcast features. American will also become the presenting sponsor of the Clippers Weekly 30-minute magazine show.


The NHL unveiled its stat overhaul over the weekend, including a multi-year North American partnership with SAP SE which will serve as the official cloud software provider of the league. The data party will allow fans, broadcasters and media to analyze official League, team and player statistics via “a more comprehensive, interactive and personalized interface that includes advanced search features and new filters for team and player comparisons” with insights that will help avid fans go deeper and help casual fans understand the game better. Phase one of the NHL.com/Stats redesign includes the League’s presentation of enhanced statistics – shot attempts (SAT), unblocked shot attempts (USAT) and shooting plus save percentage (SPSV%) and more. Phase two launches ahead of the playoffs, offering analysis for every Stanley Cup Playoffs game and series based on an algorithm that incorporates 37 variables. Phase three will incorporate additional new features that could include new metrics, innovative visualizations, active player comparison tools, player performance prediction tools, NHL pre-season rankings and NHL team power indexes while phase four will feature the entire official statistical history of the NHL.

Atlanta-based agency CSE is teaming with STE@M, the Sports Technology and Education division at MIT. The partnership will see the agency work with the MIT faculty, students, industry partners, and athletes “who are passionate about tackling the challenges that lie at the intersection of engineering and sports.” CSE will also get a unique look at the technologies under development in the MIT labs and collaborate on how these technologies can translate into creative and innovative marketing solutions. “We are proud to be the first marketing and communications agency to partner with such a prestigious organization,” says Adam Zimmerman, President of CSE. “We always strive to find new and innovative ways to create solutions for our clients by trying to stay in front of it as much as possible and partner with people leading that effort in sports technology.”

Daytona International Speedway announced the launch of the new Daytona Technology Platform Powered by CDW as part of the $400 million DAYTONA Rising redevelopment project. Six companies now form the inaugural group of technology partners with CDW serving as the Presenting Partner of the platform. Other companies include: Belden; CommScope, Inc., which will deploy a new communications infrastructure at DIS; and The Integration Factory, which will provide a multi-faceted A/V system that will enhance communications throughout the property. In addition, Peerless-AV will supply its Xtreme Outdoor Displays, UV2 Outdoor Displays, and mounts throughout the speedway in the Grandstands and Garage/Pit Areas and Schneider Electric will offer a single view into all critical infrastructure systems through its EcoStruxure solution. In addition, Florida Power & Light Company and Daytona International Speedway announced plans to install commercial-scale distributed solar power at the “World Center of Racing.”


Panasonic is buying in to TS Sports, acquiring the Dallas-based electronic video board systems integrator. According to the company, Panasonic will benefit from TS Sports’ industry expertise while integrating the company’s in-house LED video display fabrication facilities and network of regionally-based technicians into the audio-visual business operations of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company.

NBC Sports is looking to upgrade boxing coverage, telling Yahoo that the company will utilize “a 360-degree camera dubbed "Round-a-Bout" that will give a broader view of punches and fighter movement than has ever been done previously” for its coverage of Premier Boxing Champions. The system will comprise 32-remote controlled cameras mounted above the ring that will allow viewers to see what happens from every side and angle.

The International Olympic Committee apparently has “no plans for 4K TV broadcasting,” in the near future. THR writes that the broadcast division of the IOC will now be utilized for the 2016 Games, instead the unit is delving into virtual reality technologies with an eye toward trials at the 2016 Games.


Red Wings/Ducks on NHL Network at 10p.


Webinar: Social Media & Sports: Engagement and Tune In Strategies
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 – 1:30PM to 3:00PM

Featured Panelists:
Nick Freeman,
VP of Sales Integration for Fox Sports Digital
Jeramie McPeek, VP of Digital for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns
Daren Trousdell, Founder and CEO for OneUp Sports

Register your team today!.

ON THIS DAY in 1968: Wilt Chamberlain becomes the first NBA player to score 25,000 points.

In The Know: Only three movies about competitive sports have won an Oscar for Best Picture. Name two. (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: In what movie does wrestling star Rowdy Roddy Piper discover that aliens have secretly taken over Earth? Answer: They Live. Kudos: Bob Simon-ESPN/NY; Tom Buffolano-LTN Global/NY; Lon Samuelson-Hospital for Special Surgery/NY; Michael Klein-Getty Images/NY; Jon May-WGRZ TV/Buffalo; Tim Gagnon-Jeff Wyler Automotive Family/Cincinatti; Jerehmy White-BusyBuddy Books/Glen Rock; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; John Sutton-Charter Digital Media/LA.

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