04/22/15: NFL broadcasters trumpet their slate; FOX Sports loses a mainstay; Yahoo rethinks fantasy/MLS


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Good morning. It’s Wednesday, April 22, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The NFL and its broadcasters revealed dates and network assignments for its 2015 slate of games, all leading into Super Bowl 50 on CBS next year.

NBC Sports once again launches the season starting Sept. 10 with NFL Kickoff 2015 pitting the Pittsburgh/New England. That will be followed by the Sunday Night Football opener on September 13 featuring NY Giants/Dallas. Overall, the channel will showcase 19 primetime games including the first Thanksgiving game in Green Bay in 92 years featuring Chicago/Green Bay. Overall, every 2014 playoff team makes an appearance on SNF this year, with national games on deck three times each for  the Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Broncos, Cowboys, and Steelers.

CBS hits the season with a Sunday lineup of 104 regular season games that includes New England/Dallas on 10/11, Denver/Indianapolis on 11/8, New England/N.Y. Giants on 11/15, Pittsburgh/Seattle on 11/29, N.Y. Jets/N.Y. Giants on 12/6 and Denver/Pittsburgh on 12/20. The network will also feature a Carolina/Dallas matchup on Thanksgiving Day.

Meanwhile, the 16-game Thursday Night Football lineup of games kicks off on Sept. 17 with some nice matchups on CBS and NFL Network beginning with Denver/Kansas City. This season marks the second year CBS Sports and NFL Network are partnering and will see games from Weeks 2-8 and Week 13 broadcast shared between the two channel. The Thursday Night Football schedule in Weeks 9-11 and Weeks 14-16, including two Saturday games on December 19 and 26, will be carried only on NFL Network, and simulcast on over-the-air stations. The schedule includes: Baltimore/Pittsburgh (Week 4); Atlanta/New Orleans (Week 6), Seattle/San Francisco (Week 7), Buffalo/New York Jets (Week 10), as well as Green Bay/Detroit (Week 13).

Around the dial on FOX, coverage is scheduled to feature 101 regular-season games, including nine installments of America’s Game of the Week. The franchise kicks off in Week 2 with an NFC East battle between Dallas/Philadelphia Eagles, while other featured contests will include Green Bay/ San Francisco (Oct. 4); Dallas/NY Giants (Oct. 25); Seattle/Dallas (Nov. 1); San Francisco/Seattle (Nov. 22); Philadelphia/New England Patriots (Dec. 6); Dallas/Green Bay (Dec. 13); Green Bay/Arizona (Dec. 27); and Seattle/Arizona (Jan. 3). The season opens on Sept. 13 with Green Bay/Chicago at 1p. The channel’s Thanksgiving matchup on Nov. 26 will see Philadelphia/Detroit at 12:30p.

As for Monday Night Football, ESPN takes the helm on Sept. 14 with a season-opening doubleheader pitting Philadelphia/Atlanta and Minnesota/San Francisco. Overall, seven teams will see two appearances each on the franchise: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers. The slate also includes the 17th meeting between Washington/Dallas on Dec. 7, tying the record for most-played series in Monday night history. Overall, ESPN’s 17-game schedule will feature all 12 playoff teams from 2014, including both the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and NFC champion Seattle Seahawks.


Sad day at FOX Sports. Just days after honoring broadcaster Steve Byrnes for his battle against cancer at the April 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the longtime NASCAR television mainstay lost the fight. Byrnes had served as co-host of NASCAR Race Hub and play-by-play announcer for NASCAR races. “We lost a beloved member of the FOX Sports family today, and we extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the Byrnes family,” said Eric Shanks, President & COO, Executive Producer, FOX Sports. “It was an honor over the past year to learn just how much Steve was loved and respected throughout the NASCAR community, which was evident this weekend in Bristol.” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France added: “His level of professionalism was matched only by the warmth he showed everyone he met. He battled cancer with tenacity, and was a true inspiration to everyone in the NASCAR family. Simply stated, we’ll miss Steve dearly. Our thoughts are especially with his wife Karen and son Bryson during this difficult time.” RIP.

FOX Sports continues to book an all-star lineup for the USGA championship season, announcing new additions to its coverage team. Joining the crew will be none other than staple FOX Sports personalities Tim Brando, Charles Davis, Joel Klatt, Robert Lusetich and Curt Menefee. Brando will serve as announcer for each day’s featured group on the live-streaming, digital broadcast of the U.S. Open Championship. Davis takes on a role as a host and reporter for coverage of the U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Women’s Open. Klatt is set to host and announce for the “U.S. Open 360” channel on the digital platform. Lusetich will serve as a golf correspondent on FOX Sports 1 throughout the championship season and as an analyst for the U.S. Open 360 team. Finally, Menefee will become the studio host for the U.S. Open telecast.

With the countdown on toward the Kentucky Derby, NBC Sports Group is tapping the services of lead hockey analyst and veteran horse racing enthusiast Eddie Olczyk for this year’s event where he will serve as a handicapper. This marks his first-ever assignment as a commentator at the event, although he previously worked NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup and the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.” Overall, NBC will see wall-to-wall sports coverage on Derby Day, with programming starting at 12:30p with a second-round NHL Stanley Cup Playoff game before Kentucky Derby coverage kicks in at 4p, and then leading into primetime coverage of the PGA TOUR’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play at 7:30p.

Speaking of golf, Golf Channel lined up over 100 hours of coverage of the upcoming NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships and the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships, which it will air for the first time. The pair of events will span back-to-back weeks from May 22-June 3. Programming will include more than 25 combined hours of live tournament coverage as well as more than 50 hours of primarily primetime replays. In addition, Golf Central will feature nearly 25 hours of combined pre-and post-event news coverage produced on location, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online at GolfChannel.com.

SHOWTIME Sports released a trailer teasing its feature-length film dedicated to the NBA’s Allen Iverson. The documentary, entitled Iverson, will debut on May 16 at 9p on the network. The documentary comes from 214 Films and is produced and directed by Zatella Beatty, producers Ted Faye and Stephen P. Perry with executive producers Mike Tollin and Gary D. Moore.
Minor League Baseball will once again see CBS Sports Network play home for its games. The channel will carry a second season package that will offer 10 regular-season games from late May through early August. This season will see 18 teams, six leagues and 15 Major League Baseball affiliates featured on the Thursday night Minor League Baseball Game of the Week. The action begins with the El Paso Chihuahuas visiting the Round Rock Express in Pacific Coast League action on May 28 at 8p.

Mississippi’s MaxxSouth Broadband announced the launch of a “first-of-its-kind” regional sports network. MaxxSouth Sports will broadcast to MaxxSouth’s 44,600 cable customers and will feature high school and community college athletic events, as well as games from community sports leagues.


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The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have reportedly entered negotiations with “at least four apparel companies” to become the official jersey suppliers for next year’s World Cup of Hockey, according to TSN. Because it is an independent tournament, NHL partner Reebok does not have inherent rights to the event, but remains in discussions, joining Nike, Bauer and Under Armour. The deal could score an additional $6+ million to the league.

Wyndham Worldwide is going the distance with the PGA TOUR, announced that the company has inked a 10-year extension as title sponsor of the Wyndham Championship with the deal running through 2026. The agreement commences when the current four-year deal concludes with the 2016 tournament.

Meanwhile, Jaguar is revving up for Wimbledon, locking in a deal that makes the car brand the Official Car to the All England Lawn Tennis Club for The Championships, Wimbledon. Jaguar and Land Rover will supply 170 luxury and high performance vehicles to support tournament operations. The new Jaguar XE and XF, as well as successful XF Sportbrake and XJ models will be seen in London at this year’s Championships.


Bleacher Report
will offer fans a look behind-the-scenes at the 2015 NBA Playoffs, with LeBron James and Draymond Green offering videos and real-time reactions to the action. The content debuts on Uninterrupted via Bleacher Report and its Team Stream App featuring the title contenders posting regular video updates throughout their respective playoff runs. James has posted videos explaining his playoff mentality, bringing fans on his ride to “The Q” for his first playoff game back in Cleveland, and reacting to the Cavaliers’ Game One win over the Boston Celtics. Green has shared insights on his playoff approach and on the Warriors Game One win over the New Orleans Pelicans.


Last week’s NAB saw Fluendo and its LongoMatch video analysis software for sports earn the first annual “Best of SPROCKIT” award as a favorite startup at the 2015 Show. Fluendo was one of 30 SPROCKIT startups presenting their company’s products and solutions in a five minute pitch session, followed by a Q&A and voting. “We are thrilled to be recognized as an outstanding company with exceptional products by SPROCKIT and NAB Show attendees,” said Muriel Moscardini, CEO, Fluendo. “As a growing company introducing our new products, LongoMatch and Tagtics, along with our existing ONEPLAY multimedia suite, it is terrific to get positive feedback and validation from our industry peers. We want to thank Harry Glazer and his wonderful SPROCKIT team, together with the NAB for this award and the opportunity to participate alongside these game-changing entrepreneurs.”


Just seven weeks into the season, Yahoo pulled the plug on its MLS fantasy league in, stating that the company was instead committing its resources to their Fantasy Sports app. In response, MLS is launching the “Fashionably Late league” as an alternative for players, allowing users to compete against other fantasy managers who have signed up at the same time, ensuring a level playing field through the end of the season. Players can visit fantasy.mlssoccer.com to get started.

Athletics for the Better World is partnering with eSports organization the International e-Sports Federation to join the IAAF’s community investment program, in a relationship designed to “change the lives of young people through sport.” Powered by the IAAF, Athletics for a Better World  whose ambassadors include Olympians Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Paula Radcliffe and Wilson Kipketer  will look to develop training plans and fitness programs to help professional and recreational gamers alike perform at the highest levels.

Electronic Arts and the UFC announced that its EA Sports UFC game will be offered as a free download on the App StoreSM and Google play. Since launching two months ago, the game has now been downloaded over two million times with games playing for an average of 36 minutes a day. “We are really excited about the early fan feedback and support we’ve received, and now even more people around the world can experience the best in class visuals and immersive gameplay that set a new bar for mobile and tablet fighting games,” said Dean Richards, GM, EA Sports.

The PGA of America launched the “Road to the PGA Championship” game in partnership with the World Golf Tour, and serving as a four-month program of rotating online tournaments featuring four past, present and future PGA Championship venues. Game can be played at www.PGA.com and feature  courses from Valhalla, Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, Whistling Straits and Bethpage Black.


Mavericks/Rockets at 9:30p on TNT.

ON THIS DAY in 2004: NFL player and US Army Ranger Pat Tillman is killed in action.

In The Know: From which school did the Cardinals draft Pat Tillman? (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: Who is the only Australian to be selected with the very first pick of the NBA Draft? Answer: Andrew Bogut. Kudos: Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports Network /NY; Jon Sabal-Apartment Therapy Media/NY; Jon Clateman-Frozen Ropes/NY; G. David Brown-FOX Sports/Charlotte; J. Barry McMullin-WWE/Stamford; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Matt Marini-MLB Network/New Jersey; David F. Baer-120 Sports/Chicago; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Scott Sarra-Universal Sports Network/Denver; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills; Jeff C. Fellenzer-USC Annenberg/LA; Don Surath-KPIX-TV  KBCW-TV/San Francisco; Steve Hirsen-Director/Sherman Oaks

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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