02/27/15: Daytona surges over 2014; ESPN prepares to kick off MLS season; Nevada opens the books on Olympic wagering


Good morning. It’s Friday February 27, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The Daytona 500 bounced back from a stormy 2014 this year, scoring 13.4 million viewers for FOX’s 2015 coverage of the race, according to Nielsen. That marks a 44% rise over last year’s weather-delayed broadcast with a total of 23.5 million viewers watched all or part of Sunday’s telecast. Additionally, 11 days of Speedweeks programming on FOX Sports 1 rose 14% in average viewership to hit 293,000 average viewers. Meanwhile, the first 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series race under the new television deal reeled in delivered 2,944,000 viewers for the channel on Saturday, up 8% increase over last year’s race on ESPN.


ESPN is upping the ante for its 20th season of Major League Soccer as the company further unveiled its coverage plans for the new season. This year will see a new consistent MLS Soccer Sunday match window that runs at 5p with 28 of ESPN’s 34 regular-season matches running in this timeframe, mainly on ESPN2. ESPN will provide both English and Spanish-language coverage this year, with Adrian Healey handling play-by-play for the English telecast, alongside analyst Taylor Twellman and reporter Monica Gonzalez. ESPN FC on TV will dedicate time to the league with previews and feature extensive highlights, news and analysis. The network kicks off its season on March 8 at 4:30p with Orlando City SC/NYC FC.

After a battle with leukemia, Craig Sager is once again taking on microphone duties. Sager’s son tweeted on Wednesday that his dad will once again hit the sidelines for TNT’s NBA coverage starting March 5. Turner Sports has not yet announced the assignment.

The Grantland Basketball Hour welcomes Kobe Bryant on Saturday at 2p on ABC. Bryant joins Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose to discuss topics that include Bryant’s future in the NBA, the evolution of the NBA game throughout Bryant’s career, and his upcoming Showtime documentary Kobe Bryant’s Muse.

NBC Sports Group detailed plans for the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix this weekend, with coverage starting Saturday at 2:30p on NBCSN and continuing Sunday at Noon on NBC. NBCSN’s coverage opens with the halfpipe skiing finals while NBC spotlights the slopestyle finals in skiing and snowboarding.

Don’t forget to RSVP you and your team for Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast on Thursday, April 16, 2015 at the NYAC. Register your team here.

NASCAR Productions and SPIKE TV are teaming up for a documentary about The Intimidator. The special, dubbed I am Dale Earnhardt, will premier March 2 at 10p, interviewing the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon, Richard Childress, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The special marks the latest in the channel’s I Am documentary series with previous subjects that include Bruce Lee, Steve McQueen and Evel Knievel.

Casinos in Nevada can open the books on Olympic events with the Nevada Gaming Commission approving a measure to alter regulatory language that blocks wagers on amateur sports, which previously included the Olympics. The new rules now allow betting on sporting events sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee. Early lines have the US as a favorite in the overall gold medal tally over China by 6.5 medals.


April 16  | NYAC| 8-10:00am
Cynopsis Sports will honor 4 executives who changed the way their sports entities connected with fans around the country:

LEGACY AWARDSean McManus, Chairman – CBS Sports
VISION AWARDGary B. Bettman, Commissioner – NHL
NAVIGATOR AWARD Juan Carlos Rodriguez, President of Univision – Deportes Univision Communications Inc.
GEM AWARD Morgan Flatley, Chief Marketing Officer – Gatorade
Register: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/sports-media-awards15/.


Former Anheuser-Busch executive Mike Sundet has joined brand experience and sponsorship marketing agency Momentum Worldwide where he will serve as SVP, Director of Sports and Entertainment. Starting March 16, he now leads Momentum’s newly aligned sports and entertainment disciplines for a client roster that includes American Express, Coca-Cola, United Airlines, U.S. Army, Mondelez International, and more.

Univision Communications unveiled upfront plans for its platforms that include Univision Deportes Network. Upfront presentations for advertisers will at place on May 12 at 11a in NY at the Lyric Theater, while the 2016 event will be held on May 17, 2016.

WWE is launching Superstars for Hope, a fundraising campaign to benefit Special Olympics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford in honor of Connor’s Cure. The campaign will launch on Indiegogo with WWE and the San Francisco 49ers Foundation donating $25,000. Supporters are about to receive unique WWE merchandise, autographs, and unique experiences and more.

Japanese tire manufacturer Yokohama ponied up to become the new jersey sponsor of Chelsea in a deal estimated to be worth more than $300 million, according to the AP. Branding will appear on Chelsea’s kit at the start of this season, replacing Samsung.


The Yahoo Sports  NBC Sports Network digital alliance saw 69 million uniques in January to rank as the No. 2 sports digital site in January, according to comScore. Highlights for the month include NBCSports.com’s best month ever for the third consecutive month, as well as spikes of Golf Channel’s digital sites and Rotoworld.com.

Bellator is prepping for its first 2015 tentpole event with Friday’s "The British Invasion." To promote the event, the promotion’s digital team is bringing back the #5Rounds question and answer piece for Paul Daley and King Mo. In addition, the company is producing Foundations, a series highlighting a signature moment for Liam McGeary, Emanuel Newton and Chieck Kongo and launching #InFocus, a short form, original digital series that features a Bellator fighter as they prepare to step into the cage. "Because of this strong British Invasion tentpole card, we had the opportunity to dive in and create strong original content surrounding some of our many amazing personalities," said Eric Burak, Bellator’s Vice President, Digital. "These original pieces live across all of Bellator’s digital platforms to provide fans with anin-depth look into these athletes, while driving home TV tune-in forFriday’s event."


CBS offers up Arkansas/Kentucky on Saturday at 4p.


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 1988: Bonnie Blair wins the gold in Olympic 500m speed skating.

In The Know: As seen in the movie Rudy, Notre Dame’s Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger recorded his only sack against what team? (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: From what school was John Stockton drafted? Answer: Gonzaga. Kudos: Mitch Burg-Impact Communications/Israel; B. David Ridpath-Ohio University/Bayreuth; Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Dan Schaefer-Time Warner Cable Media/NY; Pete Gautieri-A&E Networks/NY; Jon Clateman-Frozen Ropes/NY; Howie Schwab-Sports Jeopardy/West Hartford; Jonathan Norman-Bespoke Sports & Entertainment/Charlotte; Mark Darnell-Golf Services/Augusta; Max Himelhoch-MSBC/Ann Arbor; Marta Davies-Smarta Media/Coconut Creek; Andy Pittman-Texas A&M University/College Station; Bob Ramsey-Weigel Broadcasting/Chicago; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Brian Sullivan-KHQ-TV/Spokane; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; John Mazur-KCET/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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