03/25/14: NBC Sports Group and Red Bull Media House are extending the Red Bull Signature Series


Good morning. It’s Tuesday, March 25, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NBC Sports Group and Red Bull Media House finalized an extension for the Red Bull Signature Series. The property, created in 2012, will run through at least 2016, with 20 hours of programming on NBC each year. The 2014 Red Bull Signature Series continues on NBC on April 12 at 2p with Red Bull Double Pipe presented by Dodge Dart. "The Signature Series will continue to fuel the evolution of action sports," said Sean Eggert, Head of Sports, Red Bull North America. "In 2014, we will deliver innovative new event concepts like Double Pipe, which will allow world-class athletes to realize their dreams and progress their respective sports."


Heading into the Sweet Sixteen, CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ coverage of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship is now scoring its highest viewership in 21 years, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals. Through its opening week, the event is averaging 9,227,000 total viewers, for a 4% markup over the same period last year. Through its first six days, the tournament is averaging a 5.9 household number, up 2% over its 2013 equal. The Regional Semifinals take place on Thursday and Friday at 7p with all games running on TBS and CBS.

NBC Olympics’ coverage of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games from Sochi hit the 5.4 million mark across both NBC and NBCSN. That marks a whopping spike of 286% over the 1.4 million who watched NBC Olympics’ Paralympic coverage of the 2012 Summer Games in London. Overall, NBC Olympics delivered 50 hours of coverage of the 2014 Paralympic Games across NBC and NBCSN compared to 5.5 hours total for London.

ESPN has recruited former Alabama quarterback and 2010 BCS National Champion Greg McElroy to serve as a college football analyst for SEC Network beginning August 14, 2014 in a multi-year deal. McElroy now joins analysts Jesse Palmer and Tim Tebow along as well as commentators Paul Finebaum, Brent Musburger and Joe Tessitore on the roster.
Speaking of ESPN, the company announced that the next edition of E:60 will explore perfect games in Major League Baseball on Thursday at 8p. The film examines the "psychological swings, phenomenal fielding plays and unknown details that led each perfect pitcher to a place in baseball history." Overall, 15 of the 17 living pitchers who have completed a perfect game were interviewed for the film: Jim Bunning, Roy Halladay, Tom Browning, Len Barker, David Wells, David Cone, Don Larsen, Mark Buehrle, Dallas Braden, Felix Hernandez, Philip Humber, Dennis Martinez, Randy Johnson, Mike Witt and Matt Cain.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to Mark Cuban’s comments about the league imploding in 10 years because of its TV deals by stating "We’ve taken a very incremental and thoughtful approach how we’ve taken more games to a national platform. And that’s in large part driven by our fans – our fans want those games," according to CBSSports.com. The Dallas Mavericks owner stated that the league is too saturated throughout the week with games.


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Major League Soccer is hitching a ride with Etihad Airways, according to the Wall Street Journal, locking in a deal for the company as its newest national sponsor. Other official MLS sponsors include Castrol, Pepsi, Red Bull and Continental Tire.

The Association of Volleyball Professionals announced a new two-year agreement with IMG to manage event operations and assist in sales efforts for the growing tour. AVP also officially announced its 2014 schedule, featuring seven tournaments across the country from May through September with stops in St. Petersburg, Fla.; Milwaukee; Salt Lake City; Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Cincinnati; Atlantic City, N.J.; and Huntington Beach, Calif. 

The PGA TOUR and the Tiger Woods Foundation entered a deal with Quicken Loans to become title sponsor of the Quicken Loans National beginning this year. The multi-year deal will also see Quicken Loans will join the PGA TOUR’s Official Marketing Partner program and receive the exclusive designation as "Official Mortgage Sponsor of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour." This year’s Quicken Loans National will be held starting Monday, June 23 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Quicken Loans replaces AT&T, which has sponsored the tournament since its inception in 2007.

The NFL named Bose as the official headphone and headset of the NFL, following a deal with the company. Bose will now design, engineer and manufacture new headsets for all NFL coaches to use in-game.

Kobe Bryant is buying into sports drink brand BodyArmour, signing on to become the number three investor, and will serve as a partner and board member in the beverage start-up and will be involved in all facets of the business, including product development, innovation, marketing, expansion markets and overall growth strategy for the company.

The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games announced that TD Bank and TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation will serve as the Presenting Partners of Entertainment at the 2014 USA Games. The 2014 USA Games are being held June 14-21 throughout Mercer County, New Jersey. The brands will sponsor entertainment throughout the Games with special performances at both Special Olympics Town and Corporate Park.


The NCAA Tournament dominated social media for the week of March 17-23, according to Nielsen SocialGuide, with the event taking up nine of the top ten sports events on Twitter. Leading the pack was the Mercer upset over Duke on March 21 on CBS, which drew a unique audience of 7,753,000 and generating 895,000 Tweets. Rounding out the top five were Kentucky/Wichita State, Dayton/Ohio State, Dayton/Syracuse and North Carolina/Iowa State.


NCAA March Madness Live, managed by Turner Sports, has now topped 51 million video streams over the first weekend of the tournament, already besting the then-record 49 million video streams for the entire event last year. That number is up 40% versus the tournament to date 2013. In addition, the company announced that NCAA March Madness Live has netted more than 10.5 million hours of live video consumed, up 6% over last year and on pace to rank as an all-time record. The five most-watched games watched on digital platforms were led by Dayton/Ohio State with 4,626,000, followed by Mercer/Duke, Harvard/Cincinnati, Kentucky/Wichita State and Stanford/New Mexico.

Major League Gaming is boosting distribution with the launch of the company’s first Xbox app – the MLG App for Xbox 360. The platform launched yesterday for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. The MLG App for Xbox One is currently in development and slated for release later this year. The app allows Xbox Live users to watch all of MLG.tv’s premium video content directly through their console and comes ahead of the Call of Duty $1 million Championship being broadcast exclusively via MLG.tv, the MLG app and the Xbox dashboard beginning Friday, March 28 at noon.

Fan engagement and data collection platform CheckinLine announced its continued expansion into the American college market, with The Aspire Group recommending to their 25 colleges to join the committed schools already on the platform. The platform allows fans to check in on a daily basis and participate in a virtual online competition to prove their affinity and improve their chances at getting tickets and special access to a wide range of events.


Manchester United/Manchester City face off on NBCSN at 3:45p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1972: UCLA wins its sixth consecutive NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

In The Know: Who is the Phillies all-time home run leader? (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: What athlete delivered a pep talk to Vince Vaughn in the movie Dodgeball? Answer: Lance Armstrong. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Michael Brown-PGA TOUR/NY; David Baer-CBS/Rachael Ray/NY; NY; Carl Schellenberger-VCA/NY; George Perry-Indiana Soccer Association/Indianapolis; David Schaefer-Golf Channel/Orlando; Lee B. Estroff-Bexel/Atlanta; Matthew Deprey-Discovery Communications/Silver Spring; John Kukla-KDFW/Dallas; Karl Duesterhaus-CTV Sales/Chicago; Will Allmendinger-Zoom Media/Chicago; Lucie Prann-The Richards Group/Dallas; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Bryan Geidt-Direct Avenue/Carlsbad; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City.


You don’t have to be a bracketologist for our March Madness Contest. Which school will win it all? Win a chance for a $50 Foot Locker gift card by answering our reader poll. The winner will be announced Tuesday, April 1st.

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