04/15/15: The Manchester Derby scores a cable record; The puck drops on NHL Playoffs; Anheuser-Busch extends residency in US Soccer


Good morning. It’s Wednesday April 15, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The Premier League continues to hit new highs as NBCSN’s coverage of the Manchester Derby on Sunday ranked as the most-watched Premier League match in US cable television history. The Manchester United victory averaged 1.1 million viewers with the channel offering live on-site coverage from Old Trafford, according to Nielsen. In addition, NBCSN’s Premier League Live pre-match coverage ranked was the network’s most-watched Premier League studio show of extended length (more than 20 minutes), and second-most watched Premier League studio show overall. To date, NBC Sports Group’s Premier League viewership is averaging of 486,000 viewers and up 10% compared to this point last season, and up 19% among Adults 18-49. Top five markets included Washington, DC, followed by Sacramento, Columbus, Denver and Indianapolis.


The puck drops on the Stanley Cup Playoffs today with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:30p on NBCSN with NHL Live, followed by four Game 1 matchups across NBCSN, USA Network and NHL Network. On most nights of the first round, NBC Sports Group will produce two versions of NHL Live (one for NBCSN, one for USA Network/CNBC) from separate studios. The company also announced that its 24 Wednesday Night Rivalry matchups this season averaged 565k viewers, for a markup over last season’s 559,000 for the franchise. Excluding the league’s outdoor games, NBC & NBCSN averaged 448k viewers per game, up 4% vs last season. Top markets were led by Buffalo with a 1.17, followed by Pittsburgh, Boston, St. Louis and Chicago.

Speaking of hockey, the NHL Awards booked its Las Vegas plans (no, not for expansion) this summer, with the NHL Awards set to take place at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on June 24. This will mark the first year that the NHL Awards will be held at the MGM Grand. “The grandeur and excitement of the NHL Awards makes Las Vegas  and MGM Grand’s famed Garden Arena  the perfect backdrop to celebrate and reward the League’s best players,” said Keith Wachtel, NHL Executive Vice President, Global Partnerships. “We’re thrilled to be entering our seventh year with partner Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, who each year have helped us commemorate an unforgettable season in style. This year, the MGM Grand will set the bar high, delivering an amazing show from its renowned venue allowing more NHL fans to attend the event up close and personal.

NBA Digital already booked its plans for the NBA Playoffs, lining up more than 1500 hours of programming across NBA TV, NBA.com and NBA Mobile. The slate includes up to nine originally produced games on NBA TV. Heading into the postseason, the channel will debut a new episode of Open Court on Friday, April 17, at 10p, with Matt Winer hosting a discussion on some of the most famous clutch shots in playoff history. Earlier that Friday evening at 7p, NBA TV will offer One-on-One with Ahmad Rashad featuring interviews with Stephen Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In addition, NBA TV will also highlight all 16 playoff teams with its Eastern and Western Conference preview shows back-to-back on Thursday, April 16, starting at 7p.

The Cynopsis Sports Media Awards is sold out once again! Remember that the ceremonies take place tomorrow from 8-10:30a at the NYAC. Pose with the Stanley Cup, network with Award winners and get some grub, click here for more info.

With the NFL Draft just around the corner, CBS Sports is previewing the event on CBS and CBS Sports Network. The schedule will see CBS Sports offer a one-hour special on April 25 at 2p, while CBS Sports Network slated a series of eight shows. Programming includes the channel’s Inside College Football Draft Special: The Quarterback Show and That Other Pregame Show: Draft Special on April 29 at 6p and 8p respectively.

In other draft news, the WNBA Draft is set to take place tomorrow with ESPN2 launching coverage at 7p, followed by the second and third rounds on ESPN3 starting at 8p. WNBA Draft anchor Kevin Negandhi will be joined by analysts Rebecca Lobo and Carolyn Peck, and reporter Holly Rowe. Content will also be offered throughout the day across ESPN platforms, including SportsCenter and espnW.com.

The NBA continues to deepen its international ties, announcing that the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings will travel to Mexico for the first time to play the league’s third regular-season game in the country on Dec. 3 as part of NBA Global Games 2015. The initiative will also feature a variety of activities off the court, including NBA Cares community programs and interactive fan events and will be available to fans globally on television, digital, and social media.

Esquire Network reports big numbers for its Friday Night Tykes docu-series, with season two wrapping up to set record highs for that channel and ranking as the third fastest growing series in all cable. Overall, season two grew 58% from season one in live +7 in the A18-49 demo and 71% among M18-49. The season reached a combined total audience of 7.3 million viewers for the entire season, with over 6.3 million total viewers according to Nielsen and an additional 950K VOD transactions according to Rentrak.

The Big 12 has announced that the title matches of the 2015 Big 12 Tennis Championship will hit national television for the first time, airing live on FOX Sports 2. Title matches will be played April 26, beginning at Noon CT. The broadcast will feature FOX News correspondent Kevin Corke on play-by-play, with tennis instructor Mark Bey providing color commentary.

Jordan Spieth’s next tournament will at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Golf Channel has the coverage starting tomorrow starting at 3p. The network will also air Spieth’s news conference from Harbour Town today at noon. Brian Hammons handles play-by-play.


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Anheuser-Busch extended its ties to Soccer United Marketing, agreeing to continue as an official partner and the official beer of U.S. Soccer and the Mexican National Team’s games in the United States. The deal includes the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams and give the brand the opportunity to support the U.S. National Teams through the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and more.

FOX-owned sales entity Home Team Sports, which represents every regional sports network in the country, signed both Volvo and KFC to NHL and NBA playoff sponsorships. Volvo will be the "Presenting Sponsor" across all first-round NHL playoff games airing on U.S. RSNs that Home Team Sports counts as clients.  In addition, KFC extended its regular season NBA sponsorship with Home Team Sports to include NBA playoffs, marking a first for the QSR.  The deals include media, in-game enhancements, in-arena assets, and video highlights on HTS Rewind.

ESPN is partnering with Harley-Davidson via a multi-year agreement to serve as one of the official sponsors of X Games Austin 2015. For the first time ever, Harley-Davidson Flat-Track Racing will make its debut at X Games Austin and feature athletes racing high-performance motorcycles in close proximity around an oval track at speeds up to 130 mph. ESPN and ABC will televise a combined 20 hours of live X Games Austin competition.

The NFL revealed a slate of community events spanning Chicago ahead of the Draft. The free events will span from hospitals to schools, with activities that include flag football and family Heads Up Football clinics as well as the Sweetness Simulator, a wind tunnel skydive simulator; “Run Like the Wind;” “Selection Square,” and “Greetings from Draft-Town.”


The Los Angeles Dodgers and R/GA are launching a new accelerator program that targets companies “with innovative products and services at the intersection of sports, technology, and entertainment.” That announcement states that the initiative will leverage the full resources of the Dodgers, their ownership and partner organizations to provide 10 chosen startups with access to industry partnerships and distribution channels. These companies will be a mix of early-stage startups that are developing new technologies, products, and services, as well as later-stage companies that have achieved initial product-market fit and are looking to accelerate their growth in the industry.

SportsBlog saw its latest comScore numbers swell, and reports that it is now averaging 40 million page views a month, with 1 out of 10 males (between the ages of 18-34) in the US visiting daily. Sites that have now joined the platform include:  sports technology site gaming and gambling news site The Daily Payoff, sports media site SportsTechie, Digital Sports Desk, China Sports Connection, sports gossip news site Terez Owens, African American-athlete focused The Shadow League, NHL Trade Rumors, MyMLBDraft, Sports City, as well as leading team targeted sites like Dodgers Nation, Lakers Nation, and more.


Blackhawks/Predators on NBCSN at 8:30p.


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The list includes digital premieres, ongoing shows, live-streamed events and linear TV digital integrated series.

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ON THIS DAY in 2013: Two bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing multiple people.

In The Know: Toughie. Since the 1914-15 season, there have been two times in which the Stanley Cup has not been awarded. One was in 2005 due to the lockout, the other was in 1919 for what reason? (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: Which is the only NBA team to retire #50? Answer: The Spurs retired the number for David Robinson. Kudos: Mitch Burg-Impact Communications/Israel; Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Todd Parker-WME|IMG/NY; Robert Dudelson-Cross MediaWorks/NY; Jon Sabal-Apartment Therapy Media/NY; Jon Show-Show Sports Media/Charlotte; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Russell Burton-Bespoke Sports & Entertainment/Charlotte; J. Barry McMullin-WWE/Stamford; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Mike Stallcup-KCBD NewsChannel 11/Lubbock; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Lawrence Fan-San Jose State University/San Jose; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; Paul Barrere-Home Team Sports/Playa Vista; Anne Wettig-Fox Cable Networks/LA.

Later — Chris
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