03/29/16: NBC’s pre-Olympics splash; WNBA’s color wheel; GoPro takes a dip with Missy


Good morning. It’s Tuesday March 29, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NBC storms toward the Olympics this year with 76 hours of coverage of the 2016 US Olympic Team Trials across NBC and NBCSN. That represents a high mark, with 60 hours set to air during primetime and nine sports on deck  swimming, track and field, gymnastics, diving, rowing, wrestling, water polo, field hockey, and volleyball. Trials coverage starts April 9 at 7p on NBCSN with wrestling from Iowa City, Iowa, and concludes on Monday, July 18, at 6:30p with field hockey from Lancaster, Pa. Other dates will see rowing on May 8 at 5p on NBCSN, diving on NBC and NBCSN starting June 18, gymnastics on the two networks starting June 23, and swimming beginning June 26.


As we hit the home stretch of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, Turner Sports and CBS Sports detailed coverage for the Final Four on Saturday with Oklahoma/Villanova tipping off at 6p, with North Carolina/Syracuse following. Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery will call the games with reporter Tracy Wolfson. Meanwhile, Ernie Johnson hosts studio coverage from the Final Four National Semifinals on Saturday, April 2, and the National Championship on Monday, April 4, from NRG Stadium in Houston with analysts Charles Barkley, Clark Kellogg and Kenny Smith. In addition, the Team Stream by Bleacher Report team-specific coverage will see the Sooners featured on TNT while Villanova runs on truTV. The second game will feature the North Carolina Team Stream on TNT, with the Syracuse Team Stream on truTV.

Golf Channel takes on Masters Week starting April 3 with live coverage of the 2015 Drive, Chip & Putt Championship National Finals, followed the next day with the start of the network’s Golf Central Live From the Masters signature coverage. Overall, Golf Channel offers 85+ hours of live news and themed Masters programming centered around Golf Central Live From the Masters news coverage, focusing on emerging storylines, analysis, features and guest interviews. Anchoring will be Rich Lerner and Steve Sands, alongside Brandel Chamblee, David Duval, Frank Nobilo, Notah Begay, Mark Rolfing, and John Feinstein.

Speaking of Golf Channel, the WGC Dell Match Play this past week saw preliminary time period and overnight ratings showing growth over 2015. The network’s first three days of live coverage grew 58% vs. last year with Sunday’s coverage of semifinals: generating a .86 overnight rating, up 41% vs. 2015. NBC also saw growth, with Sunday coverage capturing a 2.18 overnight rating, up 22% vs. 2015.

Don’t look for the NFL blackout rule to return this season. SBJ writes that the league will extend its suspension of the controversial rule in 2016, writing that owners voted last week to extend the suspension for another year.

ESPN is paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of Texas Western’s historic victory in the 1966 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament Championship Game with a special that will run tomorrow at 7:30p. Making History: The 1966 NCAA Championship – Texas Western vs. Kentucky will run as a 90-minute presentation featuring the audio call of Walt Sullivan and showcase every basket that took place on March 19, 1966.

The 2016 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will present Joan Lunden with the second annual Warrior Award on April 2. USA Network carries a one-hour special highlighting the festivities on April 7 at 10p, while the full event runs on WWE Network on Saturday starting at 8p. “It is truly humbling to be honored by WWE and receive this year’s Warrior Award at the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony,” said Joan Lunden. “After being diagnosed with cancer, my first thought was to survive, but soon after I changed my focus from my cancer to the fight against cancer, and my life took on a whole new purpose. WWE has welcomed me into their family, offering me warmth and support, as have so many of the WWE fans from around the world; it is truly a privilege to receive this honor.”


Social Good Awards Breakfast
Thursday, April 7, 2016- 8:15-10:30 a.m. | Yale Club NYC

We’ll be celebrating social responsibility in the TV & entertainment industry. Space is limited & tables are selling out quickly (only 2 left). Register your team today!



The WNBA marks its 20th season with a slate of new team uniform colors and commemorative items. The league joined with adidas to introduce the new slate of colors for 10 teams that will replace the traditional white home and color road uniforms. The season tips off on May 14 with five games, highlighted by an ESPN telecast of the Lynx/Mercury at 7:30p. All 12 WNBA teams will pay tribute to the 20th season with a special logo on the back neckline of their jerseys. In addition to the uniform changes, Spalding and adidas are launching commemorative items, including a new game ball embossed with the 20th season logo, an anniversary sneaker featuring a black, orange and white design inspired by the 20th season logo as well as apparel.

NCAA and Turner Live Events, as well as AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Capital One, unveiled more acts that will perform at the 2016 NCAA March Madness Music Festival in conjunction with the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four. Kendrick Lamar, along with multi-platinum duo Twenty One Pilots, will join Jason Derulo and Conrad Sewell at the Coca-Cola Music Mix on Saturday, April 2. They join the likes of Lukas Graham, Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco on Friday, April 1 at the AT&T Block Party. Maroon 5, Pitbull, Flo Rida, and newly announced Aloe Blacc hit the stage at the Capital One JamFest on April 3.

Delta is hitting DC via a new five-year sponsorship to become the Official Airline and Official Private Jet Carrier of the Washington Nationals. The deal will see the airline fly the team to and from every away game while Delta’s presence at the park will also include sponsorship of the Delta Sky360 Club and permanent signage on the outfield wall, as well as home-plate, baseline rotational, out-of-town scoreboard and LED signage.

The Collegiate Licensing Company locked in an eight-year extension of its global partnership with Auburn University to continue managing the school’s trademark licensing program. Officially-licensed Auburn product is now sold by more than 6,645 retailers across the country.

GuardLab named MLB All-Star Jose Bautista as a brand ambassador and the newest member of the custom mouthguard company’s elite athlete advisory board. GuardLab is a custom mouthguard company using 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies, engineered with a proprietary Alignment Repositioning Cushion.


GoPro deepened its Olympic ties, adding champion swimmer Missy Franklin to its roster of athletes. Franklin becomes the first swimmer to join the GoPro team and will be featured in a GoPro original series dubbed "Finding Missy.” The two-part series, debuts April 11, and “will take viewers on Missy’s journey from Hawaii for mental conditioning to Berkeley, California for a glimpse at her college life, and finally to Colorado for elite training.” "We are stoked to welcome Missy to the GoPro family," said Todd Ballard, Vice President, Global Sports Entertainment Marketing at GoPro. "In addition to being one of the world’s most amazing athletes, Missy’s spirit is infectious. We know that Missy’s fans are a huge part of her journey, and we are excited to be able to give her a platform where she can connect with her fans on a new level from a perspective that is entirely her own."

ESPN’s The Undefeated added ten journalists to its roster, including Marc Spears (Yahoo! Sports) and Jill Hudson (National Geographic). Other new members include two senior editors  Winston-Salem Journal Managing Editor John X. Miller and Bleacher Report special projects editor, Vincent Thomas.


ESL announced details for an eSports Hall of Fame that will debut this summer. The league is opening up the nomination and voting procedure to include a panel of “writers, analysts, commentators, coaches, and other experts” in the field, according to Yahoo, with the first class selected at ESL One: Cologne in July to represent the Counter-Strike slate series of games. “The Esports Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving the rich history of competitive video games,” ESL said in a statement. “Our goal is to honor the legacy and to tell the stories of the players and people who have made great contributions to esports.”

Just ahead of its upcoming MLG CS:GO Major this week, Mike Sepso, SVP at Activision Blizzard, detailed the growth of its events to Fortune, including an all-new alternative feed of the event that will debut on MLG.tv/CSMajor and offering fans a data enhanced version of the stream for “fans who are not as knowledgeable about the game.” The MLG CS:GO Major begins April 1, with teams vying for $1 million in prize money.


WWE named Pamela J. Murrin as Senior Vice President, Data Strategy. Murrin joins WWE from Time Warner Cable, where she was Group Vice President of Marketing Analytics and Insights and will now be charged with leading an adaptive and innovative data analytics practice focused on actionable insights and strategies to drive revenue growth across all of WWE’s lines of business.

Playbook, Inc. hired former ESPN talent executive Gerry Matalon to serve as EVP, Talent Development for the company in a move to further “the agency’s commitment to redefining the scope of full service representation.” Matalon will oversee the development, media training and coaching for the agency and work  closely with EVP, Client Services, Kristin LaFemina on individualized representation.

Nitro Circus tapped Cassie Dombrowki to serve as Director of Global Licensing where she will oversee the brand’s licensing efforts globally. She will spearhead activities in North America as well as manage the network of licensing agencies that Nitro Circus has built around the world.


Rockets/Cavaliers on TNT at 8p.


5th Annual Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast
Thursday, April 21 | 8:15-10:30am | NY Athletic Club

Don’t miss the event, it’s sure to impress!

Finalists | Luminary Honorees | Event Details + Registration.

ON THIS DAY in 1972: Hank Aaron becomes the first player to make $200,000 a year in the MLB.

In The Know: Which school was the last, other than UConn, to win the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship? (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: What was Joe Frazier’s nickname? Answer: Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Kudos: Emmett Loughran-Metropolitan Opera/NY; Rick Rosenfelt-WFAN Radio/NY; Mitch Askenas- nathanCore/NY; Barbara Eskin-Time Warner Cable/NY; Jon Miller-NBC Sports/NY; Ken Nice-TeamPeople/Falls Church; Ronny Zeigler/North Brunswick; Jay Rossi-Dick’s Sporting Goods/Pittsburgh; Joe Lyons/Dallas; Steve McNair-KUBE TV/Houston; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; David Hauptman/Denver; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Dave Sikula-Toovia.com/Sunnyvale; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; Don Surath-KPIX-TV  KBCW-TV/San Francisco.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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