03/18/15: Facebook joins the Madness with a brand breakdown; ESPN gets early gains for NCAA Women’s Tournament ; Pac-12 sets eyes on Latin America


Good morning. It’s Wednesday March 18, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With the NCAA Men’s Tournament officially underway, Facebook released its "Facebook Social Bracket," measuring the social conversation around the college basketball tournament. According to its tools, two No. 1 seeds are already at the top of the heap for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game with Kentucky besting Duke in feeds to "win" it all. Rounding out the final four are No. 10 seed Ohio State and Louisville, a No. 4 seed, according to a month’s worth of mentions (2/15  3/14) related to all 68 schools in this year’s event. The full bracket can be found here.

Facebook will also offer fans a custom, second-screen experience for following all of the action during the tournament, echoing this year’s Trending Super Bowl fan hub on the platform that will allow fans to see posts from your friends and people in their network, see real-time reactions from people around the world with Live Feed, view photos and videos from news outlets as well as people at the game as well as view live scores.

Teams that gained the most Likes to their Facebook Page since last year’s tournament:

1.  Kentucky
2.  Duke
3.  North Carolina
4.  Wisconsin
5.  Louisville
6.  Gonzaga
7.  Ohio State
8.  Arkansas
9.  Indiana
10. Arizona


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ESPN detailed its plans for this year’s NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Presented by Capital One with 63 teams looking to knock off the heavily favored Connecticut crew. All games will be shown in their entirety across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, WatchESPN and ESPN FULL COURT beginning with first-round action on Friday. ESPN2 serves as the home to all first-round games, including a full national window showcasing top-seeded UConn/St. Francis Brooklyn on Saturday at 9p. Regionalized coverage of the other top seeds includes South Carolina/Savannah State at 5 p.m. on Friday, followed by Notre Dame/Montana at 7p and Maryland/New Mexico State at 1p on Saturday. The final 15 games of the tournament, beginning with the Regional Semifinals, will have national telecast windows on ESPN or ESPN2. Anchor Kevin Negandhi joins analysts Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo in the studio for the early rounds and then on-site at Amalie Arena at the Final Four in Tampa Bay.

Meanwhile, ESPN reports that Monday’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Selection Special averaged 906,000 viewers, based on a 0.6 HH US rating to notch the most-viewed women’s selection show since 2011, according to Nielsen. This season’s special saw viewership and ratings increases of 39% and 20% respectively.

Pac-12 Networks continues to grow its international brand, locking in a multi-year agreement with Metta Sport to distribute Pac-12 Networks sports programming in Latin America. The international sports marketing and distribution agency will represent Pac-12 Networks in the distribution of live, near-live and VOD games across nearly 30 sports throughout Latin America, including Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The company has already inked agreements to distribute a selection of Pac-12 Networks events beginning in March through the Claro Sports network in several Latin American countries, and through Antel’s mobile platform in Uruguay.

ESPN’s Baseball Tonight hits Orlando for a week of live shows at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort next week. The 30-minute episodes will air each day at 6p on ESPN2 with an additional hour-long edition at 10p on March 26. Karl Ravech hosts with analyst Aaron Boone and ESPN MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian.

Congratulations to all of the finalists for the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards! We had an unprecedented amount of entries (again) and the work was truly amazing with the Olympics and World Cup only making our judges’ jobs harder. Join us on April 16 when we announcement the winners. Click here to buy tickets.

BTN offers the season finale of The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2015 tonight at 9p, with a look at the Big Ten Tournament with behind-the-scenes footage from the moment teams arrived in Chicago through Wisconsin cutting down the nets. In addition, the channel takes on March Madness with nightly airings of BTN Basketball & Beyond.

Orlando City Soccer Club unveiled a multi-year agreement with Fox Sports Florida/Sun Sports to provide the soccer team statewide broadcast coverage of regionally televised matches this season. In addition, all matches will be available in Spanish on Fox Sports Florida or Sun Sports via the SAP function. The deal kicks in with the club’s next home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday at 7:30p.


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Soccer United Marketing added 15 new licensees to its roster, with companies that include Junkfood Clothing Co., The Antigua Group, Inc., Concepts Sports, Homage, All Star Dogs, Fabric Traditions, Bleacher Creatures, Futbol Artist Network, Cirrus Fitness’, Victory Tailgate, Oyo Sports, CR Gibson, Coveroo, Global Tour Golf, and Society 43. New item offerings will range from vintage sports apparel and pet apparel to sleepwear and golf wear. Additionally, Major League Soccer plans to expand its merchandise collections at stadium shops with more officially licensed items such as sunglasses, plush player figures, electronic accessories, and more.

The New York Jets are launching a new Jets Shop fan experience starting April 1 that will be powered by Fanatics. Jetsshop.com will provide offer fans with “an enormous selection of Jets apparel and merchandise” that doubles the product assortment to more than 2,000 unique products. “Our partnership with Fanatics will enable us to deliver an outstanding merchandise experience to Jets fans, any time of day, every day of the year. Our new Jets Shop will allow Jets fans to show their Green and White loyalty in any setting" said Neil Glat, President of the New York Jets.


Major League Baseball is going all digital for its All-Star balloting, according to Bloomberg. The report states that the league will be dropping its paper ballots in favor of a purely online voting experience. The All-Star game is slated for July 14 in Cincinnati.

Global fantasy sports platform developer Mondogoal will launch a daily pay fantasy game for the 2015 Women’s World Cup this summer, marking the first-ever daily pay fantasy game for any women’s team sport, according to the company. Each day of the group stages, fans will be able to pick a team of 11 players from the four games on that day using the Mondogoal salary cap format and then watch players earn points for their fantasy teams with every contribution they make during the game.

ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight is launching a new weekly sports podcast dubbed Hot Takedown that will feature FiveThirtyEight editor Chad Matlin, espnW columnist Kate Fagan, and FiveThirtyEight sportswriter Neil Paine. Each week, the three will “pick timely hot takes in sports and support or debunk them with data.”


More First Four action with Robert Morris/North Florida at 6:40p and Dayton/Boise State at 9:10p on truTV.


Want to find out what shows are online and when?

Check out the Watcheroo Digital Programming Guide

Organized by show name, date, and platform, we have everything you’ll need to be caught up on digital premieres, ongoing programs, live-streamed events and integrated series.

ON THIS DAY in 1995: Michael Jordon ends his 17-month retirement from the NBA.

In The Know: Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller was previously a head coach for what other team currently in the tournament? (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 NCAA Tournament team is known as the Chanticleers? Answer: Coastal Carolina. Kudos: Lewis Blaustein-Lewis Brand Solutions, Inc./NY; Greg Conklin-Gray Television/NY; David Stern-BARD Entertainment/NY; Lou Monaco-Daily Racing Form/NY; Joe Guarnieri-ESPN/Bristol; Ken Nice-Yoh/Silver Spring; G. David Brown-FOX Sports/Charlotte; Randy Ingram-WBTW-TV/Myrtle Beach; David Baer-120 Sports/Chicago; Ryan Nolan-The Sportsman Channel/New Berlin; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica; Steve Hirsen-Director/Sherman Oaks; Doug Kelly-Foster Farms Bowl/South San Francisco; Robb Rothfarb-AdMore/Temecula.

Later — Chris
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