02/25/15: FIFA planning summer break; Olbermann yanked; LG reenrolls in the NCAA


Good morning. It’s Wednesday February 25, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

FIFA confirmed long-held suspicions that the organization was on the cusp of a major change for the 2022 World Cup, with a task force formally targeting November/ December as the most viable period for the worldwide tournament in a move to dodge the summer heat in Qatar. The proposed event dates have the full support of all six Confederations, according to the organization, and the shift will be discussed at the next meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee, scheduled to take place from March 19-20. The recommendation comes after various proposals for alternative dates to June/July for the 2022 FIFA World Cup were discussed.

According to the release, “Given that the two bidding cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics – Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Beijing (China PR) – pledged recently to host the winter games from 4 to 20 February 2022; that the month of Ramadan begins on 2 April in 2022; and that consistently hot conditions prevail from May to September in Qatar, the only remaining effective option is the November/December window. For legal reasons, the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup must be played within the calendar year 2022.”


ESPN suspended Keith Olbermann for the rest of the week after his Twitter battle with Penn State supporters. Olbermann got testy with school fans looking to raise awareness about an annual fundraiser at the school to fight pediatric cancer. He later apologized for his behavior. “We are aware of the exchange Keith Olbermann had on Twitter last night regarding Penn State. It was completely inappropriate and does not reflect the views of ESPN,” the company said in a statement to reporters. “We have discussed it with Keith, who recognizes he was wrong. ESPN and Keith have agreed that he will not host his show for the remainder of this week and will return on Monday.”

Major League Soccer is reportedly making in-roads in the UK and will soon be shown live on television throughout the country on a weekly basis on Sky Sports. ESPN’s Taylor Twellman writes that the company will showcase two games per week and will join the likes of the Premier League, Champions League, English Football League, Scottish football, etc. on the platform.

NBC Sports Group continues to shore up talent for its PBC coverage on NBC and NBCSN, adding the likes of Laila Ali, B.J. Flores, Kenny Rice and Chris Mannix to its talent roster for the shows. Ali and Flores will serve as corner analysts for PBC on NBC telecasts. Mannix and Rice will report ringside, and Rice will conduct interviews. Rice will also serve as the blow-by-blow announcer on select NBCSN shows. “We are excited to add punching power to our PBC on NBC team,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “With Laila’s and B.J.’s experience in the ring, and the boxing commentary Kenny and Chris have done on NBCSN, we will have every corner covered.”

Beta Research Corp’s annual Cable Operator Evaluation Study found that ESPN and ESPN2 scored the top two sports in its annual survey of the most average perceived value in networks. ESPN was also ranked as the most important network in their cable systems for the 11th straight year  and 14 of the past 15 years  with 91% of operators describing the network as “very important” for subscriber retention and acquisition. ESPN2 ranked second in average perceived value for the 10th consecutive year.

The YES Network will carry 20 New York City FC matches during their historic inaugural 2015 Major League Soccer season, beginning March 21 at 4p with the club’s game against Colorado. YES slated a special season-opening pre-game show set to run at 3:30p. All New York City FC matches televised by YES will be streamed live via the FOX Sports GO app to authenticated YES viewers whose operators have streaming deals with YES.

Pac-12 Networks detailed plans for its coverage of the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, beginning March 5 at 11:30a. Overall, 10 live games, along with postgame shows are in the cards with Anne Marie Anderson and Tammy Blackburn, plus Krista Blunk and Mary Murphy rotating broadcasting duties. In addition to Pac-12 Tournament coverage, the channels will carry the Pac-12 Sports Report: Women’s Basketball Selection Special on March 16 at 6p.


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!


Industry Partner: The Cable Center


LG Electronics USA extended the brand’s official Corporate Partnership with the NCAA in a multi-year deal that runs through August 2018. The new deal, negotiated with CBS Sports and Turner Sports, will see the electronics company continue as an official NCAA Corporate Partner with exclusive category marketing and promotional rights for consumer electronics, mobile phones and home appliances related to all 89 NCAA championship events across 23 different sports, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship and NCAA football championships. Working with the broadcast partners, LG will leverage its partnership to promote its major U.S. business units and has launched www.LGGameDayHub.com to serve as a central location for a variety of NCAA-related content, such as a sweepstakes.

MLS announced plans for season three of Jersey Week. This year, 16 MLS clubs will unveil new jerseys in the week leading up to the 2015 regular season beginning with the Montreal Impact on Feb. 28 and running through March 7 with Toronto FC. Overall, each MLS team will hit the 2015 season with at least one new shirt.

eSports leader Major League Gaming is tapping the services of OpenX to serve as the exclusive provider of ad serving and monetization for MLG’s digital media advertising. The deal will see MLG leverage OpenX’s full stack platform to optimize its digital advertising inventory while OpenX’s integrated solution will manage MLG’s ad serving and programmatic monetization.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association – in partnership with the American College of Sports Medicine and sponsored by PHIT America – formalized plans for the 16th Annual National Health Through Fitness Day. This year’s event will bring in five Olympic gold medalists, two Super Bowl champions, one Heisman Trophy winner as well as other athletes and more than 100 leaders from organizations in the sports and fitness industries on March 4th to meet with the U.S. Congress and request support for federal legislation in an effort to combat the ‘Inactivity Pandemic.’


Streaming platform KlowdTV is beefing up its soccer presence via a partnership with beIN SPORTS is the US. With the deal, the company now offers the likes of Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, Ligue 1 and other leagues without a cable subscription. KlowdTV is available for only $7.48 a month in SD and $8.48 a month in HD as part of its Sports Package.


Hershend Family Entertainment, the parent company of the Harlem Globetrotters, named Karl Mawhinney as Vice President, Global Partnership Marketing. He will now look to build strategic alliances, partnerships and sponsorships for the Harlem Globetrotters brand. Mawhinney previously served as Director of Sales for Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment.


Penguins/Capitals on NBCSN at 8p.


Webinar: Social Media & Sports: Engagement and Tune In Strategies

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

In case you missed it… Buy It On-Demand.

ON THIS DAY in 1964: Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) TKOs Sonny Liston in 7 for his first world heavyweight championship title.

In The Know: What was the first American city to win what is now known as the Stanley Cup? (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: Which city has held the most Final Fours in men’s basketball? Answer: Kansas City. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Frank Costa-CBS Sports/NY; Andy Pittman-Texas A&M University/College Station; Kevin Wicker-Chiefs Football Network/Mission; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Doug Kelly-Foster Farms Bowl/South San Francisco.

Later — Chris
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