04/24/14: Broadcasters get their NFL playbooks, Buck & Norman hit the links, TNT’s high score for the NBA Playoffs


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Good morning. It’s Thursday, April 24, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NFL schedule is out with a new package and some tweaks in tow. The new Thursday Night Football package on CBS Sports and NFL Network will kick off on Sept. 11 with Steelers/Ravens. Games are also set to include Bucs/Falcons on Sept. 18; Giants/Redskins on Sept. 25; Vikings/Packers on Oct. 2; Colts/Texans on Oct. 9; Jets/Patriots on Oct. 16; Chargers/Broncos on Oct. 23 and wraps up the pairing on Dec. 20 with a doubleheader featuring Chargers/49ers and Eagles/Redskins. NFL Network goes solo starting Oct. 30 with Saints/Panthers.

Sunday Night Football on NBC will see 19 regular season games starting Sept. 3 with NFL Kickoff 2014 pitting the Packers/Seahawks. Sept. 7 will then feature Colts/Broncos in the opening SNF game, followed by Bears/49ers on Sept. 14. NBC’s annual Thanksgiving night game will see a Seahawks/49ers matchup on Nov. 27. Overall, the slate will include three games each for the Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers, Packers, Cowboys. In addition, the league will now be able to flex games to Sunday nights for NBC Sports as early as Week 5 for the first time, instead of starting at Week 11, with the option to flex a total of two games between Weeks 5 and 10.

Monday Night Football opens with a doubleheader on ESPN on Sept. 8 pitting the Giants/Lions at 7p and Chargers/Cardinals at 10:15p. Teams making multiple appearances include the Bears, Colts, Giants, Jets, Saints, Eagles, Steelers and Redskins. Week 2 will see the Eagles/Colts with the regular season concluding on Dec. 22 with Broncos/Bengals. 

In addition to the NBC game, Thanksgiving will also feature Bears/Lions at 12:30p on CBS while FOX features Eagles/Cowboys at 4:30p.

The opening week doubleheader begins on FOX this season, and will include the 49ers/Cowboys at 4:25p. In addition, in a move designed to create more balance the television schedule, the NFL has also approved select games to be flexed between CBS and FOX. In addition to the AFC package of games, for the first time ever, The NFL on CBS’s broadcast schedule features typically NFC-packaged games that include Thanksgiving’s Bears/Lions matchup as well as Redskins/49ers on Nov. 23 and Panthers/Ravens on Sept. 28.


FOX Sports made it official, announcing that Joe Buck and "The Shark," Greg Norman will pair up to anchor FOX Sports’ coverage of the USGA Championships next year in the 18th Green Tower. "If you remember when we first got the NFL, a lot of people were thinking that we were going to come in and do something completely different," said FOX Sports President, COO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks. There was talk about having Bart Simpson in the booth calling the games, and we went out and got John Madden and Pat Summerall. Greg [Norman], just like John [Madden], will really set the philosophy for what we do here, and there’s probably no person I have met that hasn’t been a part of FOX Sports that seems like he should be part of FOX Sports more than Greg.

TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs got a bump after tipoff, with the telecasts up 9% through seven games for an average of 3.7 million total viewers versus the comparable set of games in 2013. The network’s coverage of the Trail Blazers and Rockets on Sunday delivered 4.1 million total viewers to rank as the most-watched sports program across cable television for the week.

CBS Sports Network is jumping in the ring for the Floyd Mayweather/Marcos Maidana fight on Showtime PPV on Saturday, May 3, and will offer over 10 hours of coverage surrounding bout. Programming is set to include live coverage of the fight’s press conference on April 30 at 4p as well as the Mayweather and Maidana Official Weigh-In on Friday, May 2 at 6p. Following the May 3 pay-per-view event, CBS Sports Network will offer analysis of the action with host Brian Custer and analyst Steve Farhood, as well as live coverage of the post-fight press conference. Heading into the card, that channel will also air encore presentations of classic fights featuring the two fighters and encore showings of the Showtime’s All Access: Mayweather vs. Maidana.

MLB Network series Intentional Talk will once again hand over control of an episode to fans. This Friday at 5p will see Chris Rose and Kevin Millar host the hour-long live show on content based completely on the input from viewers. Until then, fans can tweet #ITFanShow on Twitter with ideas for what videos, music and questions should be discussed and shown during segments including and even decide what shirts Rose and Millar should wear on-camera on Friday.

ONE World Sports inked a multiyear, multiplatform agreement with Verizon that will make programming available to FiOS TV subscribers on their TVs, computers, laptops, tablets and mobile handsets. The channel will be available later this spring on channel 309 to customers who subscribe to the FiOS TV Extreme and FiOS TV Ultimate packages.
NBC Sports Group offers live coverage of all Team USA games next month from the 2014 IIHF World Championship with more than 40 hours of coverage on NBCSN. Programming launches on Friday, May 9 at 1:30p when Team USA plays Belarus in the first of seven preliminary-round matches. In addition, NBCSN will present coverage of the quarterfinals, semifinals, and the 2014 IIHF Championship game, which will air live on May 25 at 2p.

The NET10 Wireless Arena Football League and ESPN reportedly slated Ari Wolfe and JB Long to call play-by-play for the network’s broadcasts of the league this year, while Anthony Herron and Sherdrick Bonner are on deck as analysts. The league makes its season debut on ESPN2 this Sunday on ESPN2 with the Barnstormers/Soul at 7p.

ESPN Films’ next SEC Storied documentary will be Sarah & Suzanne, premiering on Wednesday, April 30, at 7p on ESPNU. The 60-minute film follows the paths of two Southeastern Conference gymnastics coaches who, "while simultaneously building their programs and experiencing great success, elevated the level of competition and created an extraordinary rivalry in college sports." The special will lead into the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship at 8p on the channel.


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Castrol extended its ties with the NFL, announcing a multi-year sponsorship renewal with the league that keeps Castrol EDGE as the official motor oil of the league through March 2017. As a sponsor, Castrol will activate via platforms that include game broadcasts, NFL Networks, NFL Mobile and NFL.com.

Meanwhile, NASCAR reached a multi-year agreement to renew its official partnership with Safety-Kleen, which will continue as the Official Environmental Services Supplier of NASCAR. The brand, an Official NASCAR Partner since 2004, offers onsite trackside support with its cleaning products and through its oil recycling and re-refining services at more than 200 NASCAR-sanctioned races a year.

ShopRite, the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, and General Mills are creating a limited edition, commemorative Wheaties box in celebration of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. This limited edition box will be sold exclusively in ShopRite stores and features Michael Reed, a Special Olympics New Jersey basketball player who is competing in the 2014 USA Games. The 2014 USA Games will be held June 14-21 in Mercer County, NJ.


NBC Sports reports that just over half of the viewers who watched the Sochi Olympics on NBC also utilized a computer, tablet or smartphone to get information about the Games while the TV was on, according to the AP. In addition, the company said 49% of viewers said they watched more Olympics action because there was more content available, with that number rising to nearly two-thirds among viewers between 18-34.


Thunder/Grizzlies on TNT at 8p.


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