03/28/16: Turner’s Championship run; Finchem’s last round; Lake Placid’s Olympic partner


Good morning. It’s Monday March 28, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Sporting a run that includes the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship on TBS for the first time, the upcoming NBA Playoffs and the launch of ELeague over the next few months, along with an additional $100 million investment in Bleacher Report, Turner Sports is targeting passion to drive its sports platforms. The National Championship on April 4 serves as the first time that the network will host the high-profile battle, while the company offers team-specific Team Stream by Bleacher Report telecasts that will run on TNT and truTV. Meanwhile, eSports will take the stage on May 24 with the launch of ELeague, with broadcasts from a new complex at Turner Studios in Atlanta with live-streaming coverage on digital platforms such as Twitch.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels about the company’s upcoming telecasts, how the historic championship will be leveraged for its other properties and the problem with digital audiences.

Daniels on TBS hosting the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: We’ve talked about this internally the past couple of years and the intensity and passion that we bring to the Final Four is really the same thing we are going to bring to the Championship Game. We always try to take the next step, and this year we are going to bring Team Stream to the Championship Game which is something that CBS has not done, so that will be different. We are always trying to enhance those telecasts but what’s been on CBS the past couple of years is about as good as you are going to get. So we are looking to continue that perfection, keep it going and make it great. Hopefully, we’ll have a good matchup.

On the halo effect for other sports: There are very few top-tier properties like this – March Madness, the Super Bowl, things like that. With those events, you reach the casual fan and you are able to do a lot more with the programming in the way of reach, storytelling and the way to get people to sample and understand other things going on around your network. That’s a big piece of this. We also get the opportunity to showcase that TBS has the broad appeal that CBS would have and that’s something that is very unique and very cool. The Tournament’s doing great, ranking as the fourth-most viewed tournament in 23. Digital and social continue to grow. We are reaching all generations, different people and that just helps TBS.

On the rise of digital viewing: People are watching this tournament differently than they used to. We need to figure out how to capture and then measure those viewers across all platforms instead of looking at them independently. We’ve talked about this for years because a viewer is a viewer, no matter where they might be. Right now, we don’t really pay attention strictly to television, instead we are also looking at engagement so we know – going into the next game – what people are thinking and what they respond to.

On launching ELeague: We’ve been looking at eSports a lot differently. We believe that it is just an underexposed sport right now. Clearly, the younger men are watching it on Twitch and watching it digitally. But we believe that if you bring a piece of that to television, to a different platform such as TV, it will attract people who have not been exposed to it which are a meaningful audience. But at the end of the day, we don’t really want to beat people over the head with it. If you are interested, you’ll pay attention and you’ll watch it. If we can pull people from both directions to the TV platform, that’s cool, but we are not going to alienate digital and we’re going to continue to innovate on that side. What they can experience on Twitch, they are now going to get on TV and they can get a new experience on Twitch that they may not have seen before.

On the new investment in Bleacher Report: Bleacher Report is a rapidly growing business – guided through the vision of founder and CEO Dave Finocchio and President Rory Brown – with a lot of very talented people contributing to its industry-leading content creation, product development and distribution vehicles. B/R has been incredibly successful in driving high levels of engagement through its next generation content experiences, particularly across social platforms, and with a coveted millennial audience base. This investment will escalate its growth even further, primarily through the development of new premium video franchises, innovation surrounding short form content, additional enhancements to Team Stream and the hiring of the best, most creative minds in the industry.


PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem is mastering his long game, inking an extension with the organization through June 2017 despite his plans to leave at the end of this year. The deal would give him extra time to focus on projects to develop more structure to the worldwide nature of golf with deputy commissioner Jay Monahan expected to replace him. "For every organization there is a time,” said Finchem. "I could probably go on another five or six years. But I don’t think that is best for the organization. I don’t consider myself old. But I’m getting old.” He added, “The length of the contract really is just a placeholder in terms of giving me a little more time to do some of the projects I’m engaged in now and I want to bring those forward. I wouldn’t anticipate I’m going to stay that long.”

While LA may be a favorite to land the 2024 Summer Games, New York may also play a part two years later for the Winter Olympics. Multiple reports state that Quebec City, which is exploring a run for the 2026 Games, saw its Mayor reach out to Lake Placid to join him as a potential host for the festivities. In a statement, Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume reached out this week and asked if the village would like to be included in the consideration process. Labeaume is slated to meet with IOC officials next month and is also mulling partnerships with Vancouver and Calgary.

Univision Deportes’ UDN saw its first-ever MLB game over the weekend, as the network partnered with the league to deliver the Mexico City Series to stateside viewers. “We’re thrilled to partner with MLB during their return to Mexico City,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, President of Univision Deportes. “Univision Deportes is the destination of choice for Hispanic sports fans in the U.S. and this partnership is another way we are delivering robust sports content to our viewers.”

A judge ruled that ESPN was not malicious by reporting claims that a former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach who sexually abused two ball boys decades ago while his wife had a sexual relationship with one of them, according to the AP. US Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles threw out the lawsuit Friday after concluding that the person in question, Laurie Fine, was a public figure because she had “served as a radio personality, had easy access to the media and invited public attention to herself and her views about protecting at-risk youth.”

Tic toc, get your tables now! The Cynopsis Sports Awards honors the best in the business on April 21 in New York. Click here to claim your spot.

Cincinnati’s new pro soccer team, FC Cincinnati, locked in a deal with Sinclair to carry all 15 of its home games this year in the United Soccer League. Sinclair will broadcast the games on Greater Cincinnati TV stations Local 12, STAR 64 and the CW Cincinnati, according to Crain’s. Games will also be shown on the United Soccer League’s YouTube channel and ESPN 1530 through iHeartMedia.


April 21  | New York Athletic Club  | 8:15-10:30am | REGISTER NOW

CYNOPSIS SPORTS will honor 4 executives who changed the way their sports entities connected with fans around the country:

LEGACY AWARD — Eric Shanks, President, COO & EP – Fox Sports
VISION AWARD — Don Garber, Commissioner – MLS
NAVIGATOR AWARD – Rob McGlarry, President – MLB Network
GEM AWARD – Mike O’Brien, VP, Corp. & Prod. Planning – Hyundai


Following the passage of a controversial North Carolina law surrounding the ability of local governments to pass anti-discrimination measures and saw outrage from equal rights activists, the NBA stepped in to condemn the legislation, releasing a statement about the bill. "The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events. We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte.”

Electric vehicle company Faraday Future signed on to serve as the title sponsor for the upcoming Formula E race in Long Beach, which will now be known as the 2016 Farday Future Long Beach ePrix on April 2. As part of the deal, the electric vehicle manufacturer will display the FFZERO1 Concept in the eVillage Fan Zone.


NCAA.com, managed by Turner Sports and the NCAA, is releasing Final Four apps designed to offer comprehensive local event information for fans attending the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston and the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis. Both apps will offer detailed local information on the respective venues, attractions, restaurants, news, social features, etc. The Men’s Final Four app  NCAA Final Four Houston presented by AT&T will include Flash Seats, a feature that offers fans access to paperless tickets on their phone, enhanced navigation with Uber integration, a broader social experience, location-based alerts and local explore options for restaurants, attractions and more.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey unveiled what she believes to be the most comprehensive rules in the nation for daily fantasy sports. The regulations were issued Friday and set a minimum age of 21 for participating in the games and block games based on college or other amateur sports. In addition, players won’t be able to deposit more than $1,000 into their online accounts each month while operators will be mandated to offer contests designed for beginners. "We are pleased that Attorney General Healey has issued regulations that will provide important consumer protections and allow all businesses in our industry to thrive,” said the fantasy Sports Trade Association in a statement. “We have recently seen a great deal of positive momentum, and today’s outcome in Massachusetts provides a very strong framework that other states can follow to ensure millions of fans can continue to enjoy all the fantasy sports games they love.”


Digital game sales grew 10% in February in year-over-year numbers, according to research from SuperData, to hit $6.2 billion for the month. Top sellers in the various categories included:
Digital console
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
2. FIFA 16
3. Grand Theft Auto V
4. Madden NFL 16
5. Fallout 4
1. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
2. StarCraft II
3. Rise of the Tomb Raider
4. Fallout 4
5. Grand Theft Auto V
Free-to-play MMO
1. League of Legends
2. Crossfire
3. Dungeon Fighter Online
4. World of Tanks
5. DOTA 2
Pay-to-play MMO
1. World of WarCraft
2. Lineage I
3. TERA: Online
4. Star Wars: The Old Republic
5. Blade & Soul
1. Clash of Clans
2. Game of War: Fire Age
3. Candy Crush Saga
4. Monster Strike
5. Puzzle & Dragons
1. DoubleDown Casino
2. Slotomania
3. Candy Crush Saga
4. FarmVille 2
5. Candy Crush Soda Saga

Catalyst eSports Solutions and Neomancer LLC arel be partnering in a move to “develop a gateway for brands to safely and reliably engage with the eSports industry, bridging the gap between mainstream business and the rapidly expanding world of professional competitive gaming.”


Hawks/Bulls on NBA TV at 8p.


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ON THIS DAY in 2014: The Angels lock in Mike Trout with a $144.5 million, six-year deal.

In The Know: What was Joe Frazier’s nickname? (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 school has won the most NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championships? Answer: Michigan. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Chris Long-FloSports/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Allison Wright-Viacom Media Networks/Detroit; Andy Pittsman-TAMU/College Station; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; David Hauptman/Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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