04/15/14: NBC Sports lays out plans for NHL Playoffs


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Good morning. It’s Tuesday, April 15, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

And so it begins. NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs opens with a trio of games on Wednesday night and sets the stage for two months of programming that spans NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and NHL Network. First-round games on cable are subject to local blackouts. Opening games will include a doubleheader on NBCSN at 7:30p with Jackets/Penguins. Mike "Doc" Emrick and Pierre McGuire will have the call. At 10p, the channel offers Stars/Ducks with John Walton and Butch Goring handle broadcast duties. Wednesday will also see the Canadiens/Lightening at 7p on CNBC. Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson, Glenn Healy and David Amber will call the series. On Thursday, CNBC carries Flyers/Rangers at 7p and Wild/Avalanche at 9:30p. NBCSN handles Blackhawks/Blues at 8p and Kings/Sharks at 10:30p.


The Masters wrapped up its broadcast on CBS on Sunday with a 7.8 rating, according to Nielsen preliminary numbers, to slide from last year’s 10.2 score for the final round. That marks the lowest score since 2004. Third round numbers on Saturday delivered a 4.4 score, also off-pace from 2013’s 6.3.

However, Golf Channel felt the post-Masters love on Sunday with its documentary Arnie, about the life and legacy of Arnold Palmer. The first entry drew 471,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals, to rank as the most-watched original film in channel history. That number is up 95% over Golf Channel’s previous record holder in the category. The final installment of the trio of films runs tonight at 10p.

ESPN named its hosts this summer’s World Cup, tapping Mike Tirico and Bob Ley to once again take the post. They will join UK-based Lynsey Hipgrave of BT Sport as hosts for the channel’s English-language studio coverage of the tournament from June 12-July 13, anchoring ESPN studio shows, SportsCenter, World Cup Tonight, pre-match, halftime and post-match shows, and other FIFA World Cup-related news and information programs.

Michael Phelps made a splash (ok, that was unintentional) with his announcement that he would come out of retirement to vie for the Summer Games in Rio. Universal Sports stands to capitalize on that announcement as Phelps will take part in next week’s Arena Grand Prix at Mesa, slated for April 24-26. The channel will televise live coverage on Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26 at 8p and offer a live webcast of the entire meet.

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.

Longtime Turner Entertainment Networks executive Steven Koonin is turning his attention to sports full-time. Koonin, President of Entertainment for the company, is departing to serve as CEO of the Atlanta Hawks. In addition, Koonin will become a minority owner of the team.

ESPN Deportes and ESPN are set to present the 2014 Copa del Rey final between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid tomorrow at 3p. ESPN Deportes will have nearly 15 hours of news and information programming around the match starting today. ESPN Deportes will see Fernando Palomo, Jose "Tato" Noriega and Martin Ainstein handle microphone duties while ESPN offers Ian Darke, and Steve McManaman.

Pac-12 Networks debuts Under Center with Rick Neuheisel tomorrow at 8p. The resident coach will look into the game preparation and personalities of conference quarterbacks via five, 30-minute episodes featuring Neuheisel mentoring the likes of Oregon State’s Sean Mannion (episode 1), Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly (episode 2) and Brett Hundley of UCLA (episode 3).

SiriusXM announced plans for a new lacrosse-themed show that will air on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. The weekly series, dubbed The Lacrosse Show with Paul Rabil and Paul Carcaterra debuts today at 7p and will air Tuesdays throughout the year. Rabil, one of the world’s best players, and Carcaterra, a former Syracuse star turned broadcaster, will take calls from lacrosse fans around the country and discuss the game’s headline stories, training, recruiting news, equipment and more.


NFL Players Inc. is beefing up its digital opportunities via a new online marketplace. The platform, called Activate, was designed to serve as "professional sports’ first online microendorsement marketplace, that will provide brands large and small the opportunity to build robust digital endorsement campaigns with NFL players." The marketplace is powered by opendorse and allows brand owners to look through a list of registered NFL players, connect directly with their marketing representatives, and build targeted digital endorsement campaigns.

Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day today, with all players and on-field personnel wearing that famed number 42 to commemorate the 67th anniversary of Robinson breaking Baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Festivities include on-field, pre-game ceremonies in ballparks throughout the League, including a special celebration featuring the families of Jackie Robinson and Nelson Mandela at Yankee Stadium. In addition, one Number 42 jersey from each Club will be signed and auctioned-off on MLB.com, with the proceeds benefitting the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Gene Haas’s new F1 team will be sponsored, at least initially, by none other than Haas Automation. In a press conference, Hass stated that "the goal here is to improve the branding of Haas Automation throughout the world. That is my primary goal. I don’t want to dilute that at the moment. But as time goes on, we’ll see how that works."


Nielsen Social’s top five sports events for the week of April 7-13 finds one last push from the NCAA Tournament. The Kentucky/Connecticut game in the men’s championship on CBS drew a unique audience of 9,952,000 with 2,613,000 Tweets in the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings on April 7. Rounding out the top five were the Final Round of the 2014 Masters Tournament on April 13, the Nets/Heat game on April 8, the First Round of the Masters on April 10 and the Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship on April 8.


ESPN FC launched Ultimate XI: Brazil 2014, a week-long, worldwide vote in English and Spanish language asking fans about the best manager and position players competing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup within the popular 4-3-3 formation.  Fans can cast their votes now at ESPNFC.com/UltimateXI or ESPNFC.com/ElMejor11, where they’ll also be able to access a side-by-side comparison of managers’ and players’ bios and stats. ESPN FC will also devote daily segments about the contenders via telecasts where available and video clips directly within the ESPNFC.com vote page.

Meanwhile, ESPN Audio debuted today a new podcast series, entitled ESPN Perspectives, that will offer three original shows to give an insider perspective on sports issues: Capital Games hosted by ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz and ABC News political director Rick Klein, Inside Out with ESPN commentator Prim Siripipat, and SportsBiz with ESPN Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell. In its premiere, all three podcasts are dedicated to the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.


Knicks/Nets on TNT at 8p.


Cancun? Panama Beach? Punta Cana? Daytona Beach?

Cynopsis wants to know – what’s your favorite spring break vacation spot?
You’ll have a chance to win a $25 Groupon gift card by answering our poll.
The winner will be announced on April 23.

DEADLINE: Tuesday, April 22 ||| CLICK HERE TO ENTER.

ON THIS DAY in 1958 – 1st baseball game in California, SF Giants beat LA Dodgers, 8-0.

In The Know: At what university did Jackie Robinson become the school’s first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports? (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 NBA team made the Finals as an eight seed? Answer: The Knicks in 1999. Kudos: Ivette Herrera-WestwoodOne/NY; Jordan Bick-CineSport, LLC/NY; Luis Vazquez-Zenith/NY; Todd Kalmanson-Nielsen Social/NY; David Galimidi-ACM/NY; Rich Dubroff-CSNBaltimore.com/Baltimore; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Jack Valente-InStadium/Detroit; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA.

Later — Chris
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