04/09/14: NCAA March Madness Live Officially Smashes Streaming Records


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Good morning. It’s Wednesday, April 9, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

While we wait for adjusted Nielsen numbers for Monday’s NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game on CBS, (preliminary, unadjusted estimates saw it reel in 17.8 million viewers), Turner Sports saw its NCAA March Madness Live platform officially set a new record for video consumption during the Tournament, drawing 69.7 million live video streams collectively across all platforms. That represents a 42% uptick over last year’s tournament, and easily bests the total of 49 million live video streams for the entire tournament in 2013. Overall, it netted 15 million hours of live video consumed during this year’s tournament, up 7% over 2013 numbers.  The championship game itself generated two million live video streams, up 30% when compared with th3 2013 game.


Of course, the game coverage also saw longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Digger Phelps announce his retirement from ESPN during Monday night’s "College GameDay." Phelps first joined the network in 1993. "I spent 20 years at Notre Dame as a coach and now 20 years here at ESPN doing a great job with all you people. And now it’s time for me to move forward, and this will be my last time on TV," he said. "We wish Digger the very best as he explores his next chapter," ESPN said in a statement.

Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, told the AP that urgent action was needed in Brazil to overcome severe delays leading up to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. "It’s getting very serious," he said. "We have an organizing committee with good people but without the leverage to cope with the problem. … We are scared. This is not a country like China where you can ask people to work by night. In Brazil, this could not happen. The government has to change speed."

HBO will carry Weigh-In Live: Pacquiao/Bradley 2 on Friday at 6p. The half-hour special will hosted by Jim Lampley, and offer live interviews with special guests from the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The channel will then offer a replay of Face Off With Max Kellerman: Pacquiao/Bradley 2 at 6:30p. The fight will be distributed on HBO Pay-Per-View on Saturday, April 12 at 9p.

Speaking of fights, NUVOtv debuts its boxing competition series, Knockout, tonight at 10p. The series features rookie boxers hitting Las Vegas to train with legends of the ring including Ruben Guerrero, Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Yoel Judah. 

FOX Sports 1 will debut First Turn today at noon. The new series showcases three-to-five-minute features that count down to reveal 10 of the strongest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookies on NASCAR RACE HUB on FOX Sports 1, and continues each Wednesday through June 11. The stories are produced by NASCAR Productions and include drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman.

Sold out!!! Tickets to the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards are now gone. See you next week as I co-host with Campus Insiders’ Bonnie Bernstein to honor the year’s best and brightest work from across the sports industry. Special awards will be presented to NASCAR’s Brian France, NBC Sports Group’s Mark Lazarus and Turner Sports’ Christina Miller. Presenters will include some of the hottest names in sports as well as some of the most powerful people driving the business today. Click here for more info.

MSG Networks reached an agreement with Major League Lacrosse to telecast 18 high definition regular season games on MSG+ starting Saturday, April 26. Telecasts will include eight New York Lizards matchups. Commentators are set to include Joe Beninati, Eamon McAnaney, Tom Werme, Dave LaMont, John Meterparel, Steve Warzala, Mike Evans and Todd Bell. "We are thrilled to have MSG+ carry our games again this year," said Major League Lacrosse Commissioner David Gross. "Together with our other regional broadcast partners it will ensure that every game of the 2014 season is available to our fans."
Comcast SportsNet Northwest entered a deal with the NWSL Portland Thorns FC to broadcast four Thorns FC matches during the 2014 season. The first Thorns FC kick-off takes place Saturday at 10p versus the Houston Dash. The channel also announced a new original, monthly soccer show, Soccer City PDX, which covers both Thorns FC and the Portland Timbers. Soccer City PDX premieres Monday, April 28 at 7p.


TiVo revealed the most engaging commercials from the Final Four, with analysis using aggregated, anonymous, second-by-second audience measurement data from a sample of around 350,000 anonymous households. Topping the list was the Gary Busey spot for Amazon Fire TV that ran during the Kentucky/Wisconsin game on Saturday. Brands that rounded out the top five are Acura RLX, the Godzilla trailer, Bud Light’s "The Perfect Beer for Whatever" and AT&T’s "Building you a better network."

The Professional Bull Riders are extending ties with Monster Energy Drink, expanding their two-year partnership to now include entitlement of the PBR’s premier Brazilian circuit. The Monster Energy PBR will consist of 30 elite events throughout Brazil and kicks off at ExpoLondrina on April 11


Twitter reports that there were over 2 million Tweets around the world relating to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game on Monday. The most mentioned players included Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels for UConn and James Young, Julius Randle, Aaron Harrison for Kentucky.

NBC Sports is lining up a number of social media and digital initiatives ahead of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which start a week from today. The campaign will include Making Stanley Cup Movie Magic with Magisto, in which the company partners with Magisto to allow hockey fans to create their own edited movies, with music and effects, from their desktop or mobile device. Other tactics include Twitter handle takeovers, a #CelebrateStanley Photo Campaign for the Fans and the NHL on NBC All-Access Social Media Hub.


Univision has a new deal with Red Bull Media House, announcing an alliance for its digital content studio La Fabrica UCI. The partnership will see Red Bull Media House deliver original content to English and Spanish-speaking audiences across its digital platforms. The initial offering from the collaboration, First Descent: Michoacan, debuted online yesterday. The five-part original video series focuses on six professional athletes who "find the holy grail of adventure kayaking" in Michoacan, Mexico. (Side note: those are some sweet waters.) Athletes include Dane Jackson, Rafa Ortiz, Joel Kowalski, Seth Ashworth, Juan Antonio de Ugarte and Ciaran Heurteau.

ESPN reports that it ranked second in the digital sports category for unique visitors (56.5 million), total minutes of usage (4.2 billion) and average minute audience (103,993) during February, and landed in first in total visits, with 438.4 million, according to comScore. That said, ESPN’s 56.5 million unique visitors in February was up 26% from a year ago, while ESPN’s 4.2 billion minutes of usage was up 11%.


Thunders/Clippers on ESPN at 10:30p.


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