04/17/15: Networks unleash NBA Playoff plans; Who walked away a winner at the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards?; Univision gets snappy


Good morning. It’s Friday April 17, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With the matchups locked in, ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV announced broadcast plans for first-round games of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. ABC/ESPN open the postseason with the first five games, featuring the team of Mike Breen, analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson and reporter Lisa Salters calling two ABC broadcasts in less than 24 hours starting Saturday with Warriors/Pelicans at 3:30p, before handling Cavaliers/Celtics on Sunday at 3p. ESPN will also televise an NBA Playoffs-opening triple-header on Saturday, beginning at 12:30p, and opening with Raptors/Wizards, followed at 7p by Bulls/Bucks and at 9:30p by Rockets/Mavericks. 

TNT then gets in the game with more than 40 NBA Playoff contests on deck overall starting Sunday featuring a tripleheader pitting Hawks/Nets at 5:30p, Grizzlies/Trail Blazers at 8p and Clippers/Spurs at 10:30p. Among the production goodies in store with year will be several state-of-the-art technological enhancements during the playoffs including super-slow-motion cameras that will provide viewers with “gripping replays at key moments of the games,” as well as the use of robotic cameras placed above each backboard and a "steady cam” that will capture compelling close-up shots, along with visuals from player warm-ups used in studio coverage. Additionally, studio coverage will feature a virtual graphics package to showcase key game. The channel’s four commentator teams will include Marv Albert/Chris Webber, Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller, Brian Anderson/Steve Smith and Kevin Calabro/Brent Barry.

Finally, NBA TV is locked in for up to nine first-round games, and joins the action on Tuesday with Raptors/Wizards at 8p. Ian Eagle, Grant Hill and Kevin Ray take microphone duties. Other action will include hawks/nets on April 22, and Bulls/Bucks on April 23.


A hearty thanks to everyone who judged, entered, attended and/or presented this year’s Cynopsis Sports Media Awards. We once again saw a packed room that delivered the best minds in the business. We also would like to thank and congratulate our luminaries this year, including CBS’ Sean McManus, the NHL’s Gary Bettman, Univision’s Juan Carlos Rodriguez and Gatorade’s Morgan Flatley. A complete list of winners can be found here, but Award highlights (to name but a few) included wins for NBC Sports for Live Coverage of a Sporting Event and Documentary Special; CBS Sports for Studio Show and New Sports Show; FOX Sports for RSN of the Year and Talk Show; ESPN for Digital Executive and Network Sports Branding Campaign; Turner Sports for Live Stream Presentation and Marketing Campaign; WWE for Use of Social Media and OTT Content Service; and Coca-Cola for Marketer. Congratulations!

Night one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBC Sports Group hit the ice as the second-best Opening Night of the NHL postseason (behind 2012), according to Nielsen. The company reports that the NBCSN/USA combo pulled a 0.41 for the night to mark a 14% rise versus the first night in 2014 on NBCSN/CNBC.

ESPN locked in its NFL Draft plans. The April 30-May 2 event will see the first two days run in primetime, with the first hour of Round 1 coverage once again airing with limited commercial interruption. Round 1 will see Chris Berman reclaim his seat and join Mel Kiper Jr., Jon Gruden, and Ray Lewis for the event, while NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter report from another set inside the theatre while Suzy Kolber conducts interviews on the gold carpet and inside the green room. On Friday, Trey Wingo steps in as host of Rounds 2 and 3 with Trent Dilfer, along with Kiper and Todd McShay. Mortensen, Schefter and Kolber will also contribute to the telecast. Saturday’s picks will see Wingo, Kiper, McShay join Bill Polian to cover Rounds 4-7. ESPN will also dispatch bureau reporters to a handful of NFL team sites, and to be with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

Two-time National League All-Star pitcher Dontrelle Willis is taking the mound at FOX Sports, where he will serve as a studio analyst for FOX Sports 1. “D-Train” makes his debut on FOX Sports Live on Monday at 11p. He will also contribute to MLB Whiparound and America’s Pregame.

ESPN will showcase this year’s Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015 with coverage that includes the three-hour live telecast of the Opening Ceremony and nightly studio programs from Los Angeles throughout the week-long event. Coverage will run primarily on ESPN, with some programs appearing on ABC or ESPN2. Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts will join ESPN’s Lindsey Czarniak and Kevin Negandhi for coverage of the Opening Ceremonies, while Czarniak and Neghandi will host nightly programs throughout. Programming will also see reporters Jeremy Schaap and Marty Smith contribute features and reporting throughout ESPN’s week-long coverage and ESPN’s Holly Rowe following the Special Olympics USA team throughout the day of the Opening Ceremony.

NBC Sports Radio is coming to SiriusXM. The satcaster debuted the 24/7 sports talk network on Channels 213/Sirius and 202/XM this week to offer subscribers access to NBC Sports Radio content around the clock. SiriusXM now joins the 437 affiliated broadcast radio stations around the country.

Philly’s NBC10, Comcast SportsNet and the Philadelphia Eagles announced a comprehensive new broadcast partnership that makes NBC10 “The Official Television Station of the Philadelphia Eagles” and the station will carry all hour Eagles preseason games. The deal also expands Comcast SportsNet’s coverage of the team with new shows. Eagles programming on NBC10 and Comcast SportsNet includes pre and postgame shows, “Eagles Game Plan” and “Inside the Eagles.”

Fight Network locked in a programming deal with professional wrestling legend Tommy Dreamer’s promotion House of Hardcore. The channel will carry eight one-hour shows as part of the agreement, featuring highlights from all the House of Hardcore events to date, beginning May 12 at 9p. New episodes will then premiere on Tuesdays at 9p for eight consecutive weeks leading up to the debut House of Hardcore live event in Canada on July 18 in Toronto.


Cynopsis Sports Business Summit – A Whole New Playbook
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We’ve assembled the world’s foremost authorities on sports business, marketing, production, digital + advertising from around the industry, offering participants actionable insights & networking opportunities to monetize their sports content and deliver audiences. Join us + other major executives in the sports industry on Tuesday, June 16. More info to follow…

For sponsor information, please contact Mike Farina at 203.218-6480.


Horizon Media is set to serve as the agency of record of NBC Universal’s Telemundo and NBC Universo, following a review. Horizon Media retained the business and will handle strategic planning, activation and analytics responsibilities across all communications channels for the networks, which will include marketing top sports franchises for each. 


The NHL is inviting fans to submit unique videos to the NHL Social team using the official hashtag #MyPlayoffsMoment as they watch the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs and 2015 Stanley Cup Final. Fans also will have the chance to watch their favorite moments included in a match-up preview video broadcast nationally.   The #MyPlayoffsMoment presented by GoPro campaign encourages fans worldwide to share their fandom and how they are experiencing each game with a fan-driven compilation video created highlighting each upcoming series match-up using fan-submitted videos.

The NBA reports a record breaking year on social media, with 240 million new fans on board since the end of the 13-14 regular season to mark a 40% rise year-over-year. Overall, the NBA now has boasts than 811 million likes and followers combined across all league, team and player social platforms.


Univision Deportes locked in a deal with Snapchat to offer highlights of last night’s US/Mexico soccer game, marking the first time the platform has partnered with a broadcast network, according to Adweek. Snapchat executives noted that the deal was made due to a beefed up interest in the sport in recent years.

Gannett entered an agreement with Viewlift to explore development of a new digital sports video service. This new platform would look to offer “streaming unique sports-related content and select, relevant movies across multiple devices  smartphones, tablets, televisions, and PCs.” The deal will see Gannett use its affiliate television station groups complete with editorial and marketing solutions while ViewLift will provide platform services, proprietary technology, complementary content and operating expertise.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBC Sports Live Extra saw the Blackhawks/Predators game come in as the platform’s best first-round game, delivering 76,000 visits, 60,000 uniques and 3,336,000 minutes watched, up 5% in uniques and 19% in minutes watched versus the previous record setter.


Wizards/Raptors open the NBA postseason on ESPN on Saturday at 12:30p.


Honoring the Best in Kids Programming & Marketing

Entry Deadline: TWO WEEKS AWAY!  May, 1 2015
Late Deadline: May 8, 2015
Awards Event:
September 18, 2015 (NYC)

Visit our website for additional information on:
Who Should Enter, How to Enter, Eligibility Period, Categories, Deadlines, Sponsorship Opportunities, Contact Information & FAQs.

ON THIS DAY in 1997: New Jersey Devils’ Martin Brodeur becomes the second NHL goalie to score in a playoff game.

In The Know: Which ESPN personality was once “The Bachelor” on ABC? (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 NFL team drafted John Madden? Answer: The Eagles. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Don Gorski-Westwood One Sports/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Rich Dubroff-CSNBaltimore.com/Baltimore; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-Texas A&M University/College Station; Kevin Wicker-Chiefs Radio Network/Mission; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica; Warren Weideman-Producer/LA; Don Surath-KPIX-TV  KBCW-TV/San Francisco; Neal Stevens-Stevens & Associates/Beverly Hills.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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