04/14/16: FOX Sports drives record USGA coverage; ESPN launches Drone wars; BTN plugs in to eSports play


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Good morning. It’s Thursday April 14, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

FOX Sports detailed its plans for the USGA’s 2016 championship season, lining up over 120 hours of coverage across eight championships, including more than 40 hours of coverage of the 116th US Open Championship. The company tees off with the US Amateur Four-Ball Championship from May 24-25 followed by the US Open in June, US Women’s Open in July and the U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Amateur in August. Making their debut on FS1 this year will be the US Girls’ Junior Championship in July as well as the US Mid-Amateur Championship in September.
The US Open Championship will see more than 36 hours of live golf action across FOX (22.5 hours) and FS1, in addition to continuous live-streaming available throughout the championship on FOX Sports GO. Fox Deportes, meanwhile, will carry six. FS1 also offers the US Open Sectional Qualifying Show on June 6 at 12:30a to preview the field immediately following the conclusion of that day’s national qualifying tournaments.


ESPN is getting into the drone business, announcing a partnership with the International Drone Racing Association for a multi-year, international media distribution deal. The first IDRA event with the company will be the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships from Aug. 5-7, streamed live on ESPN3 with a one-hour special on an ESPN Network. “We look forward to providing drone racing fans a larger platform to access this exciting world,” said Matthew Volk, ESPN Director, Programming & Acquisitions. “Drone racing is an opportunity to reach and connect with a growing and passionate audience.”

NBA Digital scored record-setting numbers during the league’s regular season, including NBA TV’s all-time most-viewed regular season for its live game coverage and its most-viewed primetime for a full regular season. In addition, NBA League pass, NBA.com, the NBA App and social media generated record-setting growth. NBA TV’s live game coverage averaged 345,000 total viewers for the season, up 19% over last year.
ONE World Sports
is teaming with the Professional Rugby Organization – a new U.S.-based professional rugby league  to become the official national broadcast partner with coverage launching Sunday at 7p. Overall, 11 matches will be carried. “ONE World Sports is always looking for new and exciting sports and leagues to showcase to our viewers and help grow the network,” said Joel Feld, Executive Vice President, Programming & Production, ONE World Sports. “With rubgy making its return to the Olympics this summer in Rio, it is the perfect time to highlight the sport’s growing popularity in the United States with the debut of PRO Rugby to our audience.”
NBC Sports Group takes on the 120th annual Boston Marathon on April 18 at 8:30a on NBCSN. For the first time, NBC Sports Live Extra will offer a dedicated camera at the finish line, allowing fans to see all runners cross the finish line on Boylston Street. Tom Hammond calls the action, joined by analysts Craig Masback, Tim Hutchings, and reporter Carolyn Manno.

One more week! The Cynopsis Sports Awards are on April 21 and we are almost at sold out status. Click here now to claim your spot before they are gone.

ESPN2’s coverage of the WNBA Draft takes place tonight beginning at 7p, followed by coverage of the second and third rounds on ESPNU starting at 8p. Ryan Ruocco hosts will be joined by analysts Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck, along with reporter Holly Rowe. In addition, current Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike will serve as ESPN’s War Room reporter, offering live news and interviews from the three onsite War Rooms for the Seattle Storm, San Antonio Stars and Connecticut Sun.

SiriusXM NBA Radio carries a special program in tribute to Kobe Bryant tonight at 8p. The show will be narrated by SiriusXM’s Justin Termine and feature commentary from Kobe’s coaches, teammates, competitors and others as they remember Kobe’s career and his legacy in the game, with the Lakers and with the fans in addition to audio of Bryant himself from his recent appearances on SiriusXM with Coach K and Rick Fox. 

MSG Networks is adding ESPN Radio’s program Hahn & Humpty to its weeknight summer programing lineup, running episodes every Monday through Thursday May 23 through Sept. 8. The one-hour highlight show will run from 7-8p.


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


MillerCoors and IndyCar are teaming up for a multiyear partnership agreement that will see the beverage brand become the official beer and cider of IndyCar. Coors Light will serve as the lead brand of the partnership, although other MillerCoors products will be integrated into the program. “We’re delighted to welcome MillerCoors back to INDYCAR and excited to add another commercial partner to the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The key to this partnership is MillerCoors’ plans to activate in many of our race markets, which we’re confident is an essential component in furthering the momentum of the Verizon IndyCar Series this season.”

Last night’s sendoff to Kobe Bryant was tributes from the league and various marketing partners. Homages included the NBA, which ran full-page celebratory ads in USA Today and The Los Angeles Times and saw Manhattan’s NBA store light up the storefront’s oversized (32-foot) net in Lakers colors. American Express featured footage from a recent private event featuring Bryant that was broadcast on TNT, on NBA.com and on NBA/AmEx social media channels.

Meanwhile, Nike offered respect to Bryant by debuting an official retirement film, The Conductor, across its platforms, while Nike athletes paid homage to Kobe this week through both a tribute film and product salute. The brand also offered a Mamba Day Generator to allow fans upload photos and overlay farewell messages to share via social. Nike is also launching a “Black Mamba Pack” eBay auction featuring a full set of 13 signed pairs of Kobe shoes with proceeds benefitting The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.

TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal stepped up to help navigate fans through traffic, serving as the celebrity voice for Waze during the 2016 NBA Playoffs. Waze users will be able to hear Shaq’s voice guide them through traffic, bypass accidents and other roadblocks with lines like “Don’t cause a Shaq-cident” and “BBQ Chicken Alert.”


SlingTV announced plans for a new streaming pack that will include live and on-demand content from Fox Networks Group brands and the ability to stream on up to three devices simultaneously in or outside the home. Included in the $20/month service will be Fox and the FOX Sports channels, as well as access to the company’s regional sports networks such as YES and their local NBA and MLB telecasts.

CBSSports.com launched a brand-new, mobile-focused fantasy golf game, Pick 4 Fantasy Golf. The initiative begins with this week’s RBC Heritage Tournament and allows players to pick a foursome and compete for weekly and year-end cash prizes. Weekly prizes of $1,000 will be awarded for 20 tournaments, and a Grand Prize of $10,000 will be awarded after The Barclays on August 28.  Players who finish in the top 10% each week will be entered into the weekly prize drawing, and will earn an entry into the Grand Prize drawing.


BTN is getting into the eSports space, announcing with Riot Games the BTN Invitational: A University League of Legends Event. The competition will see two Big Ten schools battle head-to-head League of Legends, with Ohio State facing Michigan State in front of a live audience at PAX East in Boston on April 22. The matchup will be streamed via BTN2Go and LoLeSports.com and carried on BTN on April 25 at 7p. “The Big Ten has some of the premier eSports teams in the country,” said Michael Calderon, Vice President of Programming and Digital Media at Big Ten. “The fast-paced, high-level competition of League of Legends is a great fit for BTN’s audience, and we’re excited to be the first conference-owned network to bring the intensity of collegiate eSports to a television audience.”

Speaking of PAX East, ESL announced its plans for the show, which spans April 22-24. At ESL Arena, sponsored by Plantronics and Skype, the league will offer a major eSports event each day of the show beginning with the Season 1 Finals of Rainbow Six Pro League, followed on Saturday by the Season 2 Finals of Gars of War Pro League and wrapping up on Sunday with the Halo Championship Series.

2K announced its own tribute to Kobe Bryant, slating the retiring Laker to grace the cover of the NBA 2K17 Legend Edition. The special edition of the video game will highlight Bryant’s career with special Kobe-themed memorabilia and digital content extending his legacy for fans beyond his final NBA game. Gamers that pre-order the NBA 2K17 Legend Edition will receive special Kobe memorabilia and in-game digital content, including a limited-edition Kobe poster, two Kobe Panini trading cards and a Black Mamba game controller skin as well as digital content such as 30,000 in Virtual Currency and a Kobe #8 Mitchell and Ness jersey.


Flyers/Capitals on NBCSN at 7p.

ON THIS DAY in 1996: The Detroit Red Wings set an NHL record with their 62nd win of the season.

In The Know: In what show could you find a team named the Myrtle Beach Mermen? (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: Against which NBA team did Kobe Bryant have the worst winning percentage? Answer: The Spurs. Kudos: Marissa Sunio-Columbia University/NY; Rinaudo Briggins-Tennis Channel/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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