03/16/16: March Madness poised for another record haul; WNBA rings up big Verizon deal; A familiar face takes over tennis


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

The NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship is poised to set another record, according to Kantar Media, which announced that the tournament also produced a record-setting $1.19 billion of TV ad spending in 2015, according to its estimates. The 2015 numbers marked a 4.8% rise over the previous year and includes pre-game, game and post-game programming, as well as studio shows. During the past few years, annual spending growth has been pacing at 2 to 5 percent with about 90 marketers buying air time per year, according to the report. The average price of a :30 spot in last year’s championship game was $1.56 million, up 5%.


NBC Sports Group it putting its racing plans in perspective as its coverage gets ready to roar, detailing plans to offer nearly 1,800 hours of motorsports content across NBC, NBCSN and CNBC this year, as well as on NBC Sports Live Extra. Overall, the lineup features more than 800 hours of NASCAR content, nearly 100 hours of exclusive cable coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series on NBCSN, coverage of the 2016 Formula One season, which begins Sunday, at 12:30a. NBC Sports Group’s unprecedented motorsports coverage will also feature more than 500 hours of Mecum Auctions programming this year as well as season-long coverage of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, Red Bull Global RallyCross, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

Veteran personality Robert Flores is heading for double duty, locking in a deal with MLB Network and NHL Network to serve as a studio host and appear across both networks’ programming. Flores will debut on MLB Tonight on Monday at 7p and is slated to host NHL Tonight for the first time on March 23 at 7p. Flores will also have a key presence across digital media properties, including MLB.com and Sports On Earth. Flores most recently anchored SportsCenter, ABC’s College Football Studio Updates, and ESPN2’s Fantasy Football Now.

Univision Deportes saw an average of 2.9 million total viewers tune in for El Super Clasico on Sunday on UniMas. That marks the highest rated regular season club soccer match on any network, regardless of language since 2010. The telecast also grew 1% among Total Viewers 2+ and 5% among Adults 18-49 over the Clausura 2015 Súper Clásico on Univision Deportes.
Part two of the season premiere of Feherty on Golf Channel, featuring an interview with Jordan Spieth, drew 351,000 average. viewers on a Live+Same Day basis, and became the second most-watched Feherty premiere ever. Part II also ranked as the most-watched premiere of any Golf Channel Original production. The episode premiere earned a .36 HH Cvg rating, up 9% vs. last week’s season premiere.

ESPNU and SEC Network are producing the SEC Gymnastics Championship live on television for the first time, running Saturday, and are unveiling a new scoring interface adjusted for the quad-meet format, as well as new graphics and a real-time stream of each individual apparatus. The afternoon session (2p ESPNU) and the evening session (6p SEC Network) airings on March 19 will mark the first time the tournament is live in its entirety on national television. Bart Connors, Kathy Johnson Clarke and Courtney Kupets will provide commentary.

The NHL will place cameras on the blue lines for this year’s postseason games  to assist officials on offside calls. Executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell stated that the tweak should lead to more consistency and give officials another angle to review if an offside call is challenged following a goal, according to the AP.


2016 Cable Hall of Fame Celebration
Presented by The Cable Center
May 16, 2016 at the Westin Boston Waterfront, Boston, MA
2016 Honorees
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s Morning Joe
Pat Esser, President, Cox Communications, Inc.
John D. Evans, Chairman and CEO, Evans Telecommunications Co.
Tom Rogers, Chairman, TiVo Inc.
Robert J. Stanzione, Chairman and CEO, ARRIS
John O. "Dubby" Wynne, Retired President and CEO, Landmark Communications, Inc.

www.cablehalloffame.com, 720-502-7500


The WNBA locked in a deal with Verizon for a league-wide marquee partnership and makes the wireless brand the league’s most prominent marketing partner. Verizon branding will now be “prominently” displayed on the front of ten WNBA team jerseys, including the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Dallas Wings, Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm, and Washington Mystics and debut during WNBA Tip-Off 2016 presented by Verizon on May 14. In addition, Verizon will be incorporated into game telecasts through courtside signage and in-game advertisements, along with a variety of cross-channel marketing and promotional elements. In addition, Verizon will also bring fans WNBA Top 20 Moments presented by Verizon,” a digital program that will highlight some of the most memorable moments from throughout the league’s history. 

The Harlem Globetrotters are booking time with Delta Air Lines. The deal includes branded content that will play on Delta Studio, the in-flight entertainment platform, for all Delta flights starting in April. “Our new partnership with Delta Air Lines aligns two brands that are synonymous with globetrotting and it the natural result of two companies specializing in global travel coming together,” said Karl Mawhinney, VP, Global Corporate Partnerships for the Globetrotters.

You Can Play and Major League Lacrosse are entering a strategic partnership in an move to promote equality, promote inclusion and eliminate homophobia in sports. “Partnering with You Can Play is an important way to showcase the League’s commitment to lift up absolutely everyone in the lacrosse community,” said Kevin Murphy, Brand and Marketing Manager at Major League Lacrosse. “Major League Lacrosse has been and always will be an all-inclusive environment that prioritizes solidarity, loyalty, and support for all. We encourage everyone to share in and enjoy lacrosse culture and community. We are committed to fairness on and off the field and recognize our LGBT fans and allies as an important part of our family.”


Wrestling staple Paul Heyman is getting into the ring with Yahoo Sports via an exclusive distribution agreement for his "Heyman Hustle" website and his Manhattan-based Looking4Larry marketing agency. Starting March 28, Heyman will produce exclusive "Hustle" content on Yahoo’s Turnstile blog, including brand new videos from his YouTube series. Yahoo Studios will also produce A Day in the Life of The Advocate, which showcases how Heyman balances his revolutionary marketing campaigns at his agency along with preparing for WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, where Heyman will perform as "Advocate" for Brock Lesnar.

Sports Illustrated is launching a free $25 Million College Basketball Bracket Challenge powered by Kizzang dangling the largest prize payout in the industry. Players can win a cool $25 million by correctly predicting all 63 games in the tournament for a “flawless bracket.” The challenge can be played via the Kizzang app. “Sports Illustrated is thrilled to partner with Kizzang on this amazing bracket challenge bringing even more excitement to one of the most dynamic times in the sporting year,” said Jon Tuck, Sports Illustrated, VP Advertising Sales.


PlayStation topper Andrew House announced that the PlayStation VR headset will launch in October for a suggested retail price of USD $399. That date is later than earlier projections, with House noting that “PlayStation VR represents a transformative experience in gaming, and we wanted to take the time needed to launch with a broad variety of content and a sufficient supply of hardware. We are beyond excited to deliver to consumers the amazing experience that PS VR offers.” Overall, more than 230 developers are building content for PlayStation VR.

Developer Studio Wildcard is eyeballing eSports with Ark: Survival of the Fittest, a spinoff based on the online game Ark: Survival Evolved. The game is out on Steam and features a multiplayer online survival arena. “Originally, Survival of the Fittest was a ‘total conversion’ mod within the open-world survival adventure Ark: Survival Evolved,” the company said in a statement. “The game rapidly grew in popularity amongst those wanting a competitive ‘Battle Royale/Last Man Standing’ experience. This standalone game brings all the features of the mod, with upgrades, and newly integrates dedicated eSports ranking, matchmaking, reward, and tournament features to make it readily accessible to all players.”

Electronic Arts announced that EA Sports: UFC 2 is now available in retail stores and as a digital download on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The game features the largest roster ever for an official UFC game, boasting more than 250 athletes.


Stacey Allaster is getting back into the tennis game. The former WTA Chairman and CEO will now serve in the newly created role of Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, with the USTA. She will be charged with setting the strategic vision for the USTA’s pro tennis division, with oversight that includes the US Open, the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the Western & Southern Open, among others. Allaster will begin her new role in April, splitting time between the USTA’s national headquarters in White Plains, N.Y., and the new USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla.

The Anti-Defamation League is set to honor Ken Solomon, President of Tennis Channel, at the 2016 Entertainment Industry Dinner on April 14. The ADL Entertainment Industry Dinner honors individuals in the entertainment industry annually for their vision, leadership, accomplishments and contributions to the community. "As a respected leader in the sports and entertainment industries, Ken Solomon regularly uses his platform to spread messages of inclusion and speak out against bias and prejudice," said ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind.

Entertainment brand consultancy and marketing innovations agency Troika inked its sixth Creative Director, Kasumi Mihori. She joins Troika from Turner Studios.


Michigan/Tulsa on truTV at 9:10p.



Join CYNOPSIS and your peers on THURSDAY, APRIL 7 in New York City at our 2nd Annual SOCIAL GOOD AWARDS BREAKFAST as we honor everything from sustainability partnerships and PSA’s, to diversity campaigns, environmental initiatives, and more. Last year’s event sold out, so book your company’s table today!

ON THIS DAY in 1996: Mike Tyson TKOs Frank Bruno.

In The Know: Which of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament schools also won the Men’s Tennis Championship in 2015? (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: Which of this year NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament teams was once the lowest seed to ever make the Sweet Sixteen? Answer: Florida Gulf Coast. Kudos: Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Lewis Blaustein-GreenSportsBlogger/NY; Kevin Doyle-IMG Original Content/NY; Seth Goldberg-Syracuse University/NY; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Matt Marini-MLB Network/NJ; Brian Anderson-WOIO/Cleveland; Tony Ferranti-MMSI/Warwick; Rick Selah-Westwood One/Dallas; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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