03.30.15 Good morning. It’s Monday March 30, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Last week’s announcement that Dew Tour would be forming a video content partnership with skate industry leader The Berrics marked that latest initiative to come out of the NBC Sports Ventures unit. The division now hosts a roster of properties that include NBC Sports Radio, Dew Tour, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the Red Bull Signature Series. Recent forays have also included a partnership for Reebok Spartan Race, taking a stake in fantasy-sports startup FanDuel, as well as adding the likes of Mike Florio to the radio lineup.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Rob Simmelkjaer, Senior Vice President, NBC Sports Ventures, about the growing role of the brand, its plans for radio as well as his on-air role on MSNBC’s Sports Matters.
Simmelkjaer on his position at NBC Sports: I am lucky to have a very unique role in this industry. It is something very different every day, running properties from the Dew Tour to our Red Bull relationship to our partnership with Spartan Race, as well as getting to oversee NBC Sports Radio, as well as doing a little on-air work. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a fun, varied career.
Of course, my role has evolved in large part because of what we’ve added since I’ve been here. When I came, we had Alli Sports, which at that time was dominated by the Dew Tour. We also had a motocross tour. Since I’ve been here we added Red Bull, which diversified the action sports portfolio. Then we added our radio network and that has been gratifying to watch grow into a national presence and a player in the radio space and this year we added Mike Florio to that. We then added another property last year in Spartan Race, which I believe has a lot of upside as a media property and as a business by bringing America into this world of obstacle racing and mud runs. In addition, there is my role now in the international side of the business, where our team has grown dramatically the NBC Sports footprint internationally. Our television distribution across all the programming that we own or license domestically has grown more than two-fold since I’ve been here.
On the role of action sports for the company: The role it plays for us is simple. It reaches an audience we want to reach and that aren’t always watching traditional sports. Younger audiences, non-traditional sports fans, people who are living their lives on their snowboards or skateboards and not necessarily watching football, basketball, etc. It keep us relevant with the population of teens and 20-somethings and it is a space we want to continue to be in. That said, it is also changing a lot. The things that are attracting people in that space are always changing. That space is all about progression and the next hot thing and we have to be very aggressive in trying to reinvent ourselves pretty frequently to stay relevant in that world.
On international trends: I’m seeing a much greater acceptance across borders of sports that were previously unfamiliar to an audience. When I am out in markets, I am typically selling American content, but I think when you look at the way that the Premier League has been received in the US, that is a shining example of borders coming down for sports. There was a time when Americans only cared about American sports, British only cared about British sports and so forth, but that has changed an things are becoming more relevant now on both sides of a border. Being a sports executive in 2015, you’ve got to be paying attention to tends across the world, whether it is in cricket or rugby or any other sport that are played in the United States.
On the future of NBC Sports Radio: First of all, Mike Florio has been a game changer for us in a very short amount of time. He’s raised the profile for the network, he is breaking news. Going forward, we want to increase distribution. We have 434 stations, which is the hot-off-the-presses number we are at right now. We want to be in more markets and more terrestrial stations around the country. We want to grow our digital footprint and are looking to do things such as introducing podcasting, as we have not been in that space yet. I think you can expect to see some podcasting product come out from us this year.
On his on-air gigs: Every Monday, I’ve been lucky enough for our friends at MSNBC to host a show as part of their new digital initiative called Shift. As part of that, every week I tape a show called Sports Matters, a sports interview and news show. We delve into issues of sports and society, tackling the big issues affecting the industry, such as sports and gambling. We’ve had some great guests, for example, I got Evander Holyfield coming on to start looking ahead to the Mayweather fight.
A Kentucky squeaker over Notre Dame propelled TBS is deliver the highest-rated and most-viewed program in network history, according to Nielsen, notching an 8.4/16 U.S. HH rating/share and 14.7 million total viewers for the near-upset. Viewership peaked with 19.7 million in the 10:45-11p quarterhour as the game became the highest-rated and most-viewed college basketball game ever on cable television. Combined with the Wisconsin/Arizona game on CBS on Saturday, the tandem delivered the highest average viewership and rating for the Saturday Regional Finals in 10 years, averaging 11.7 million viewers for a 34% from 2014 numbers. Overall, through Saturday, CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ coverage of the NCAA Tournament is averaging 9.9 million total viewers, up 2% through the same period last year.
Speaking of which, CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ coverage of the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Final Four launches on Saturday, April 4 at 6p, beginning with Duke/Michigan State. Jim Nantz, Grant Hill and Bill Raftery will call the games with reporter Tracy Wolfson. TNT and truTV’s Team Stream Presented by Bleacher Report will see the Duke Team Stream featured on TNT with the Michigan State Team Stream running on truTV. The second game will feature the Kentucky Team Stream on TNT, with the Wisconsin Team Stream on truTV.
Showtime Sports announced its behind-the-scenes plans for boxing’s Holy Grail with the launch of four-part documentary series Inside Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. The debut episode premiers on April 18, and will follow Floyd Mayweather prepping for his battle with Manny. Network cameras have been entrenched in Mayweather’s camp ahead of the May battle, capturing the red carpet kickoff press conference in Los Angeles, training camp, the weigh-in and the dressing room after the final bell. “Showtime has set itself apart with its coverage of the biggest fights in boxing and our viewers have come to expect the unique access we provide,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Showtime Sports. “Inside Mayweather vs. Pacquiao will not only welcome viewers into Mayweather’s camp before the fight, but also give viewers a window into those dramatic and often poignant moments immediately before and after this historic fight.”
MSG made it official, announcing that the company filed an initial Form 10 Registration Statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to split its live sports and entertainment businesses from its media companies. Upon completion of the spin-off, MSG shareholders would own shares in both companies and have the ability to evaluate each company’s current business and future prospects in making investment decisions. The live sports and entertainment company would include sports franchises such as the Knicks and Rangers as well as venues including Madison Square Garden Arena and Radio City Music Hall. The media company would continue to distribute sports and entertainment content across multiple platforms, including MSG Network and MSG+. In connection with the separation, the companies expect to enter into long-term media rights agreements that will ensure MSG Network and MSG+ continue to serve as the exclusive local broadcast home of the Knicks and Rangers.
MLS is making a Brazilian play, partnering with Brazilian broadcaster Globosat. The Latin American pay-TV operator will now carry league matches live in Brazil in the four-year deal, marking the first time the Rio de Janeiro-based cable and satellite provider will have MLS broadcast rights. Globosat will televise at least two MLS regular-season matches per week, as well as the AT&T MLS All-Star Game, at least one Decision Day match, half of the MLS Cup Playoffs games and MLS Cup, in alternating years on Globosat networks SporTV 1, SporTV 2 and SporTV 3. In addition, Globosat will carry games, features and other content across its digital platforms.
Formula 1 is extending its stay in Malaysia, singing a new deal to remain at the track for another three years. The Malaysian Prime Minister broke the news following the conclusion of the 17th edition of the 2015 F1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit, according to multiple reports.
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April 16 | NYAC| 8-10:00am | BRANDING PARTNER: TROIKA
Cynopsis Sports will honor 4 executives who changed the way their sports entities connected with fans around the country: LEGACY AWARD — Sean McManus, Chairman – CBS Sports
VISION AWARD — Gary B. Bettman, Commissioner – NHL
NAVIGATOR AWARD Juan Carlos Rodriguez, President of Univision – Deportes Univision Communications Inc.
GEM AWARD Morgan Flatley, Chief Marketing Officer – Gatorade Register: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/sports-media-awards15/.
The Premier League is reportedly mulling the end to its title sponsorship deal with Barclays when it expires next year. Sky News writes that the Premier League is in talks with its shareholders, the 20 clubs, about moving to a ‘partnership model’ which would involve alliances with a handful of brands in different industries. One early potential replacement could be Diageo, according to the report.
Home share startup Airbnb is now playing for the Olympics, signing a deal with the IOC to become the official "alternative accommodations" sponsor of the 2016 Summer Games. Official Olympic websites will now link to Airbnb’s site and encourage fans visiting Rio de Janeiro for the games to use the service to find space in private homes and apartments.
The Professional Bowlers Association and Professional Women’s Bowling Association announced a new strategic partnership designed to provide new events, exposure and services for women’s bowling. The deal will include seven new PWBA regional events to complement the PWBA Tour, player services transportation and mobile pro shop for the PWBA Tour, exclusive live coverage of the PWBA Tour through the Xtra Frame, eligibility for PWBA members to bowl in all PBA events and an expanded points program for women bowling in PBA regionals.
WWE and Facebook teamed up to launch exclusive content before, during and after yesterday’s WrestleMania 31, offering fans WWE Superstar ring entrances, match clips, interviews, locker room commentary and training videos. The “Facebook Trending Experience” for WrestleMania also allowed users to see comments and posts about WrestleMania 31 from celebrities, WWE Superstars and Divas, news outlets, influencers and friends. This marked the first time that WWE and Facebook have teamed up on WrestleMania to deliver fans near real-time event highlights, collaborate on in-venue activations, and drive fans to a social experience during a live event telecast.
Just in time for the 2015 IndyCar season, NBC Sports launched an IndyCar-focused twitter account, @IndyCaronNBC. The account offers up-to-the-minute IndyCar news and highlights, including video and articles from MotorSportsTalk on NBCSports.com.
ESPN3 offers TSN’s coverage of the World Men’s Curling Championship this week. Coverage kicked off on Saturday and will continue through the tiebreaker game (if necessary) on Friday, April 3.
When it comes to the best content to reach people on their mobile devices, "It’s no longer a question of ‘what’s compelling on mobile’ but simply, ‘what’s compelling?’” says Facebook’s Jim Underwood, Global Head of Entertainment Strategy. "Video consumption is exploding on mobile. In fact, on Facebook alone, over 3B video views occur every day. 65% of those views happen on mobile devices. If your most compelling marketing asset is a video, that same asset resonates on mobile.” To hear more from Cynopsis Digital Business Summit Keynoter Jim Underwood, join us on April 23rd at NYC’s Astor Center. Register here.
MLBAM officially announced plans for R.B.I. Baseball 15, featuring Chicago Cubs All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo as its first-ever cover athlete. The game will be available on next generation consoles beginning tomorrow with all-new features, including multiplayer mode, regular roster updates based on Major League transactions and more.
Rockets/Raptors on NBA TV at 7:30p.
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JUST ANNOUNCED: 2015 Top Women in Digital
Join Cynopsis Media in applauding the honorees for its inaugural awards program Top Women in Digital celebrating the exceptional, the creative and the bold in the digital media industry. This must-attend event will recognize contributions in digital content, marketing, advertising, social media & online. APRIL 23, 2015 @ The Astor Center | 5:00 6:30 PM | Register Now
Thank you to our 2015 Sponsor: TubeMogul Don’t forget to register for the Digital Biz Summit taking place earlier that day!.
ON THIS DAY in 1991: Northern Michigan wins its first NCAA hockey title.
In The Know:Who sold the Dallas Cowboys to Jerry Jones? (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: Since the 1976 NBA/ABA merger, which team claims the record for most consecutive playoff appearances? Answer: Portland with 21. (Most popular answers: Lakers and Spurs). Kudos: Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Jon Clateman-Frozen Ropes/Syosset; Rich Packer-American Basketball Enterprises/Tampa; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.
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You don’t have to be a bracketologist to enter our March Madness Contest. Which school will win it all? You could score a $50 Foot Locker gift card by answering our reader poll. Winner announced Tuesday, April 7th.
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine
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