04.17.14 Good morning. It’s Thursday, April 17, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Nike is doubling down on USA Track & Field, announcing an expansion of their partnership from 2017 through 2040 that will "significantly" increase support of USATF programs, athletes and competitive groups. The new deal will see Nike keep its status as exclusive sponsor and supplier of products for the team, and exclusive athletic footwear and apparel licensee within its running and route tracking/management app and social network category. The agreement will also enable USATF to support Paralympic and masters track and field teams and keep Nike as sponsor of the organization’s Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
"This new deal is a game-changer for the sport and what USATF will be able to offer all of our constituents," said USATF CEO Max Siegel.
With the countdown on to the Premier League’s May 11 season finale, NBCUniversal unveiled its Championship Sunday programming plans with all 10 matches set to be presented live simultaneously on 10 different NBCUniversal television networks at 10a. In addition, Spanish-language networks Telemundo and mun2 will each carry one match. Channel assignments for the matches will be determined in early May but networks will include NBC, NBCSN, USA, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, Bravo, Syfy, Esquire Network, E!, Oxygen and mun2. Coverage kicks off at 9a with Premier League Live on CNBC featuring Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Mustoe, and Robbie Earle.
After seeing rises for the women’s college basketball tournament, ESPN can now boast that the Frozen Four is also on the move. The network’s presentation of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Frozen Four, which saw two semifinals on Thursday, April 10 on ESPN2 and the championship game on Saturday, April 12 on ESPN, average 471,000 viewers, up 56% over 2013 numbers. The Championship Game averaged 717,000 viewers, for a 33% markup over year-ago scores. The three telecasts of the 2014 Frozen Four combined to reach 6.6 million viewers. WatchESPN’s simulcast of the three telecasts was also up, with 2.24 million minutes watched and an 85 percent increase over 2013.
Speaking of women’s basketball, Monday’s 2014 WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm averaged 413,000 viewers on ESPN2, making it the most-watched WNBA Draft ever on the channel. Viewership was up 9% over 2013 and marked the second-most viewed WNBA Draft ever for the ESPN family, dating back to 2001.
Last week was a good one for MLB Network, which recorded its most-watched regular season week ever. On Thursday, April 10, the channel saw its second-highest prime time audience ever with 487,000 average viewers on a night that included Bob Costas and John Smoltz’s call of the Red Sox/Yankees game. The Rundown saw its largest audience since 2011 with 164,000 viewers on April 9, while Quick Pitch saw its largest audience on April 11 in its normal 1a time slot with 227,000 viewers. Rounding it out, MLB Tonight delivered its second-largest audience ever on a Sunday on April 13 with an average of 210,000 viewers after the 1p Rays/Reds game.
ESPN finalized its telecast schedule for five neutral site college football matchups that will launch the 2014 season. Programming will see ESPN and ABC combine to televise both Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matchups beginning with Boise State/Ole Miss on Thursday, Aug. 28, at 8p on ESPN and West Virginia/Alabama on Aug. 30, at 3:30p on ABC and ESPN2. That day will also see the weekly Saturday Night Football series on ABC will open the season with Florida State/Oklahoma State from Cowboys Classic from Arlington at 8p. Other matchups will include Wisconsin/LSU in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff from Houston on Aug. 30, at 9p on ESPN while ESPN2 carries Penn State/Central Florida in the Croke Park Classic from Dublin, Ireland at 8:30p.
FOX Sports is upgrading coverage of the first group NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session on a restrictor-plate track. Next month’s "knockout qualifying" event at Talladega Superspeedway will now be shown on FOX, running from 1-2:30p on May 3, instead of FOX Sports 2. "This move is a direct result of the double-digit ratings gains NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying format is delivering every weekend," said Bill Wanger, EVP of Programming, Research & Content Strategy. "We are thrilled to be able to highlight this new format on FOX, and what more exciting place to do that than Talladega Superspeedway."
While we are on the subject, NASCAR announced the broadcast schedule for the remainder of the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours Championship events on FOX Sports 1 with 28 races in play from NASCAR’s touring series. Most dates will be televised a week or so after the event, starting with the April 25 K&N East race from Richmond, which will be carried on May 2 at 4:30p.
HBO Sports offers a special edition of World Championship Boxing on Saturday with a replay of the Bradley/Pacquiao rematch at 11p. After the replay, the boxing studio program The Fight Game with Jim Lampley makes its season premiere at 12:15a, followed by the debut of Road to Marquez/Alvarado at 12:45a.
BTN’s Big Ten spring championships plans are in place for May, with programming that will include baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, rowing, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field. In all, BTN will offer more than 50 hours of coverage. Broadcast coverage of Big Ten spring championships begins with the Big Ten Women’s Golf Championships at 7p on May 7.
ROOT SPORTS saw its NHL coverage notching a 7.55 average household rating for the 2013-2014 Pittsburgh Penguins regular season in the city’s DMA with over 235,000 viewers tuning in per game. That marks the fifth straight season that saw Penguins ratings on the channel lead all U.S.-based NHL teams in rankings.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
8:00-10:00am | Yale Club, NYC | Sponsored by Electric Sheep Aside from a terrific group of finalists, the following Sports Luminaries
will also be honored at the event: Brian France [CEO & Chairman of NASCAR]
Christina Miller [NBA Digital’s SVP & GM for Turner Sports]
Mark Lazarus [Chairman of the NBC Sports Group] Preview the list of finalists for this SOLD OUT event.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association entered a deal with Liberty Mutual Insurance that will make the company the official insurance partner of the USSA and its U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing programs through the 2014-15 season. The partnership will see USSA help advance the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program, an online community that encourages responsible youth sport coaching and parenting.
The New York Rangers and Schick Hydro are rolling out a Get Your Beard On! campaign for the playoffs. Today starting at 2p at the Rangerstown Hockey House, blueshirt fans can joins Rangers legends Rod Gilbert, Adam Graves and Stephane Matteau for one last shave and help raise money for the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
NBC Sports saw Sunday’s Liverpool/Manchester City match strike gold with metrics that saw 44,000 uniques, 51,000 visits, 109,000 live starts and 2.5 million minutes watched to rank in the top five overall for Premier League matches in visits and live starts.
Kings/Sharks on NBCSN in NHL Playoff action at 10:30p.
ON THIS DAY in 1976: Mike Schmidt hits four consecutive homers for the Phillies.
In The Know:In 1987, Nike was sued by members of the Beatles over the use of what song in a legendary spot? (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: Other than the Yankees, name a MLB team that doesn’t feature player names on their home jerseys? Answer: Red Sox, Giants. Kudos: Jeremy Martin-Disney Channels/London; LaMuJim Seifert-Sao Paulo/Brazil; Conor Kennedy-mindshare/NY; Tom Buffolano-LTN Global/NY; Margaret ra-Dara-The CW Network/NY; Keith Allo-Golf Channel/NBC Sports/Orlando; Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick; Jerehmy White-BusyBuddy Books/Glen Rock; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Allison Wright-Viacom Media Networks/Detroit; Michael Bell-NCC Media/Dallas; Gretchen Brady-KDAF-TV/Dallas; Pam Tierney-Lily Productions/Chicago; Owen Truesdell-Tunheim/Minneapolis; Lance Brothers-Nielsen/Chicago; Ravi Kapur, KAXT/WRJK/Diya TV/San Francisco; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Adam Deverell-Cox Reps/LA; Marci Polzin-CTG/Studio City.
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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