04/18/14: ESPN, TNT tip off NBA Playoffs plans, NHL Playoffs Open Hot, ESPN talks tech




FOX Sports congratulates its Cynopsis Sports Media Awards winners, including FOX Sports 1’s flagship news, highlights and analysis program FOX SPORTS LIVE for Best New Sports Show!

Best New Sports Show: FOX SPORTS LIVE
Best Studio Show: FOX NFL SUNDAY
Digital Executive of the Year: Pete Vlastelica
Best Documentary Series: BEING: MARIANO RIVERA (FOX Sports & MLB Productions)
Best Marketing Initiative: BTN2Go Mini-Mascots (BTN)
Best On-Air Technical Innovation: YES View (YES Network)


Good morning. It’s Friday, April 18, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NBA postseason is upon us, with ESPN and TNT announcing first round programming starting tomorrow. ESPN tips off the playoffs on Saturday at 12:30p with Nets/Raptors, along with a primetime doubleheader beginning at 7p with Hawks/Pacers, followed by Grizzlies/Thunder at 9:30p. On ABC, the network carries Warriors/Clippers at 3:30p with Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Lisa Salters calling the action before the trio fly to Miami to handle the Bobcats/Heat game less than 24 hours later at 3:30p on Sunday. The company also announced that Pitbull will star in ESPN’s new NBA Playoffs broadcast open and joined by NBA players that include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chris Paul, Joakim Noah and Stephen Curry.

Around the dial, TNT, in its 30th consecutive year of NBA coverage, begins its broadcasts of more than 40 NBA Playoff games on Sunday with a tripleheader featuring Mavericks/Spurs at 1p, Wizards/Bulls at 7p and Trail Blazers/Rockets at 9:30p. Overall, there will be four commentator teams during the first round: Marv Albert/Steve Kerr; Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller; Brian Anderson/Greg Anthony; and Joel Meyers/Chris Webber. The network also announced that it will feature the state-of-the-art technological enhancements during the playoffs including a super-slow-motion camera during each first round telecast and two each in the second.


Speaking of the postseason, Day 1 of NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs averaged 472,000 viewers across the trio of games that ran on NBCSN/CNBC for a 53% spike over opening night in 2013. NBCSN’s two games averaged 486,000 viewers (up 22%) while CNBC posted its best audience ever for a playoff opening night with 450,000 average viewers.

Congratulations to all the winners of yesterday’s Cynopsis Sports Media Awards, with multiple winners that included (but were not limited to) NBC Sports, Turner Sports, ESPN, FOX Sports, NFL Media, the NBA, NASCAR and Coca-Cola. Thanks to our co-host Bonnie Bernstein, our luminaries, presenters, judges and everyone who came. See you next year!

Golf Channel’s three-night, primetime documentary Arnie is now officially the most-watched original production in network history, according to Nielsen. Running from Sunday through Tuesday, 1.75 million unique viewers tuned into all or part of the specials about the life and legacy of Arnold Palmer. Each installment became Golf Channel’s most-watched program of the day and each bested its previous year’s timeslot by no less than 100% and up to 295%.

CBS Sports Network detailed plans for its ninth season of Mountain West football coverage this season with 22 games in the lineup, including 13 Conference match-ups and nine non-conference games. The slate begins Saturday, Aug. 30 at 8p with Washington/Hawaii, which leads off a season of 18 Saturday games this year. CBS Sports Network also features a package of four Friday night games, beginning Friday, Sept. 12 at 10p with Northern Illinois/UNLV.

Showtime has turned the cameras on Kobe, announcing an original documentary film about the famed Laker with an “in-depth look into the life, inspirations and challenges facing one of the most successful and complex figures in professional sports.” The film will air this fall on the pay channel. Kobe Bryant’s Muse is executive produced by Kobe Bryant and Gotham Chopra in association with Mamba Media.

The next edition of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is set to debut on Tuesday at 10p with segments that look at the NBA on TNT, a look at the fight of transgender MMA athlete Fallon Fox, and the questionable breeding tactics for dog shows.

The University of Michigan Athletic Department and IMG College announced that College and NFL Hall of Fame player and broadcaster Dan Dierdorf will be joining Jim Brandstatter in the radio booth for Wolverines football broadcasts on the Michigan IMG Radio Network this fall. Brandstatter, who has served as the team’s color commentator for the past 34 years, will now handle play-by-play duties while Dierdorf will provide color commentary.


Thank You! 

To everyone who entered, judged, attended and presented at the third annual Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast on Thursday, April 17 at the Yale Club NYC. 

Congrats to our 2014 Sports Luminaries:
Brian France[CEO & Chairman of NASCAR]
Christina Miller[NBA Digital’s SVP & GM for Turner Sports]
Mark Lazarus[Chairman of the NBC Sports Group] 

Here is list of winners & honorable mentions  |Sponsored byElectric Sheep


The organizing committee for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo selected Dentsu Inc. to serve as its marketing agency. The company will serve as marketing partner and offer assistance with the formulation of marketing plans, sponsorship sales and other services.

Bud Light is still “Up For Whatever.” The latest installment in the brand’s video series surprised two fans with an NBA weekend that included playing video games against Alonzo Mourning, receiving a special delivery from “The Mailman,” playing a predictably brief game of H.O.R.S.E. against Clyde Drexler and going suit shopping with Darryl Dawkins. The video can be found here.

The Phoenix Coyotes entered a multi-year agreement with Fanatics Retail Group to manage the team’s retail store at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes team store at the venue will undergo an overhaul during the off-season and will reopen in the fall to offer fans more merchandise choices, improved customer service, state-of-the-art technology and a quicker checkout process.

For the second consecutive year, Minor League Baseball has partnered with D. F. Stauffer Biscuit Company, makers of the original Animal Crackers, on a season-long national sponsorship that will see today celebrated as National Animal Cracker Day. As part of the partnership, participating MiLB clubs playing a home game will distribute more than 1,000 product samples to fans as they exit their ballparks.


ESPN’s investor event yesterday saw company executives state that consumers engage with ESPN radio and the company’s websites spend triple the amount of time with the company as those who just watch the TV network. Bloomberg reports that officials said that digital engagement continues to drive loyalty to the brand, as fans who take part in ESPN.com’s fantasy football or use the Watch ESPN app are with the company 17 hours a month on average, compared to five hours for people who only watch TV.

MAZ is partnering with USA TODAY Sports Weekly to create apps across all mobile and tablet devices. The first digital edition of USA TODAY Sports Weekly produced by the MAZ publishing platform made its debut yesterday and includes previews, analysis, commentary, and fantasy information from the USA TODAY Sports staff, USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties platforms, and more than 100 Gannett properties around the country. The app will also feature Stream, a social feature that offers a live, crowd-sourced feed of new USA TODAY Sports Weekly content as curated by the community.


Nets/Raptors tip off the NBA post-season on ESPN on Saturday at 12:30p.



What’s your favorite vacation spot?

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ON THIS DAY in 1995: Quarterback Joe Montana announces retirement from football.

In The Know:What NFL player starred on the TV show Webster?(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: In 1987, Nike was sued by members of the Beatles over the use of what song in a legendary spot? Answer: Revolution. Kudos: Anthony Sedita-Dish Media Sales/NY; Michael Brown-PGA TOUR/NY; Joe Santamaria-NBC/NY; Rich Brisotti-Univision Communications/NY; Michael Lee-BPN/NY; Jon Show-Show Sports Media/Charlotte; April Carty-Sipp-WPVI-TV/Philadelphia; James Stuart-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Mike Wexler-Moroch/Atlanta; John Kukla-KDFW/Dallas; Chuck Gordon-Clear Channel Media/Mobile; Karl Duesterhaus-CTV Sales/Chicago; Jim McDonough-RMG Networks/Chicago; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports LA; Dennis Treleven-Fox Networks Group/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; Kevin Fay-DIRECTavenue/Carlsbad.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Editorial Director @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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