04/10/15: WTA shores up media offerings; Who is getting the national spotlight in the NFL preseason?; Cricket jumps for ESPN


Good morning. It’s Friday April 10, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The Women’s Tennis Association and Perform are teaming up for a new broadcast production and distribution media partnership, dubbed WTA Media. The venture will see John Learing serve as Managing Director with Bruno Rocha on-board as Executive Vice President. According to the organization, the launch of WTA Media will serve as the first step in the developing partnership between the two organizations and marks a “major strategic move” for the WTA, which sees, for the first time, all WTA tournaments being aggregated, centralized and delivered, under one media rights owner. WTA Media will increase news content by 40%, according to the announcement, and deliver magazine shows and additional off-court content to support its strategy. Distribution of the content to broadcasters, news providers and other digital outlets, will be handled directly by WTA Media, with support from Perform’s 41 offices around the world.
“From 2017, for the first time ever, fans around the globe will be able to access 2000 main draw singles matches and consistently follow their national heroes and favorite players all season, on and off court,” said WTA Chairman & CEO, Stacey Allaster. “This is game-changing for our sport and very exciting for our fans.”  Allaster added, “John has an amazing track record in developing quality broadcast and producing a compelling sports entertainment experience. Together with Bruno, they form an outstanding tandem to spearhead this new endeavor.”


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The NFL and its broadcast partners lined up preseason plans, with 65 games in the cards, including eight nationally televised games. The preseason kicks off, of course, on Aug. 9 at 8p on NBC with the Hall of Fame Game pitting the Steelers and Vikings. The channel’s second national game will feature Cardinals/Raiders on Aug. 30 at 8p. Meanwhile, CBS Sports, which plays host to Super Bowl 50, begins its season on Aug. 28 at 8p with the Lions/Jaguars on the network. The following night, CBS carries Seahawks/Chargers, also at 8p. ESPN lined up the Brown/Bills on Aug. 20 and Bengals/Bucs on Aug. 24 (both at 8p) for its preseason slate, announcing the Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will call the games with Lisa Salters ahead of its regular season bow on Sept. 14. ESPN Deportes will once again offer a Spanish-language production of MNF preseason and regular-season games in 2015. FOX’s portion of the schedule will begin with the Rams/Titans on Aug. 23 at 8p, followed by Texans/Saints on Aug. 30 at 4p.

NBC Sports Group delivered its plans for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In programming schedule with 18 races leading to the World Championships via 10 telecasts on NBC and NBCSN. Overall, six of the 10 series telecasts will be broadcast on NBC and four will be televised on NBCSN. The 2015 television series begins with qualifying races on Belmont Stakes Day, June 6. “Our 2015 season with NBC Sports Group continues a very successful expanded network partnership with the Challenge series designed to showcase the highest quality races from some of the nation’s premier racetracks” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “The broad exposure of the ‘Win and You’re In’ series combined with our digital marketing initiatives give us a great opportunity to provide fans with a clear path to the Championships and enhance the Breeders’ Cup brand.”

Next week will see FOX Sports 1 deliver the US Men’s National Team versus Mexico on April 15, beginning with a one-hour pregame show at 8p. John Strong and Alexi Lalas call the match (9:00PM ET) with Julie Stewart-Binks reporting. The contest marks one of five games on deck for the week that includes the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 14-15 at 2p.

Speaking of soccer, NBC UNIVERSO will debut three soccer pre-match shows over the next week. Premier League Match Pack will debut today at 10p and serve as a weekly 30-minute show in which pundits and experts “bring their wealth of historical and statistical knowledge to the table as they discuss the upcoming fixtures for the week. That will be followed by Premier League World, a magazine format that focuses on major storylines surrounding clubs and players throughout the League. Finally, Premier League Preview opens on Saturday, offering analysis of what the audience can expect before the first game kicks off.

Better hurry. Only 12 tickets left to the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards, set for Thursday, April 16 from 8-10:30a at the NYAC. Snatch ‘em up here before they are gone!

Tennis Channel hits Europe ahead of the French Open. The network announced plans to offer more than 700 total hours to European clay court events in April and May, with more than 240 live coverage hours across 12 men’s ATP and women’s WTA competitions. Tournaments are set to include include the Katowice Open; Monte Carlo Rolex Masters; Barcelona Open; BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy; Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and more.

How time flies! Pac-12 Networks will carry its 2000th event on Saturday, with the Stanford Spring Football Game slated to air at 1p PT. The game will be called by Jim Watson, alongside Glenn Parker and Jill Savage and mark the first of eight live events showcased that day, joining Spring Football: USC as well as track & field, baseball and softball that day. 

Yahoo! Sports Radio will deepen its Houston presence, adding News-Talker KJOZ 880AM to its network of affiliates who are utilizing YSR’s customized Sports Flash Updates. The one minute updates offer local content, imaging and locally-sold advertising insertion and is already provided in a custom format to more than 350 stations nationwide. Overnight and weekend Yahoo Sports Radio network programming will also air, beginning Monday.


The Arena Football League is shoring up its ad team. The league announced plans to add a pair to AFL Advertising Sales, LLC, reeling in Larry Fried, the former EVP of NFL sales for ABC/ESPN, and Bob Dahill, who worked in sales positions with major brands including AdWeek, Fuse, Sony, and Paramount Pictures. AFL Advertising Sales, LLC will serve as the exclusive national sales arm of the league and officially opens for business this month.


ESPN reports that the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup ranked as the most successful tournament in ESPNcricinfo history. Through 44 days of match play, ESPNcricinfo averaged 5.8 million daily unique visitors and logged a total of 4.2 billion minutes, with 2.3 billion page views, 506 million visits and 47 million video starts. Video saw a 345% spike in daily video views compared to during the ICC Twenty 20 World Cup just a year ago.
Saturday night will see the American Ultimate Disc League debut its 4th season with a game between two new franchises in the Raleigh Flyers and Atlanta Hustle. The game will air on ESPN3 at 7p.

The final episode of espnW’s three-part series, espnW Present: The Geno Auriemma Project is set to run tonight at 7:30p on ESPN2. “Method to the Madness” will feature UConn’s women coach Geno Auriemma winning a record-tying 10th National Championship.


More Masters action today at 3p on ESPN, with CBS joining the action tomorrow and Sunday beginning at 3p and 2p respectively.

ON THIS DAY in 1916: The PGA is founded in New York City.

In The Know: Which three holes comprise Amen Corner at Augusta National Golf Club? (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 legend holds the record as the oldest player to win The Masters? Answer: Jack Nicklaus. Kudos: Jeff Day-NHL/NY; Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Mike Donato-ABC/NY; Barbara Behrins-SkyBridge Capital/NY; Mark Darnell-Golf Services/Augusta; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Mark Condron-Golf Channel/Orlando; Wally Bruckner-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Joe Lyons-Back9 Productions/Dallas; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; David Hauptman/Denver; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills; Brian Sullivan-KHQ-TV/Spokane; Justine Gubar-ESPN/San Francisco.

Later — Chris
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