04/27/15: NFL Network bulks up for Draft Day; Commissioners plot expansion; Mayweather/Pacquiao breaks another record



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CYNOPSISSPORTS
04.27.15

Good morning. It’s Monday April 27, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Amid the sweet smorgasbord of premiere sporting events this week, ranging from playoffs to boxing to the Kentucky Derby, the NFL is on the clock as the 2015 Draft looks to offer another generation of athletes the chance to launch their careers as potential superstars. Amid a move to Chicago, NFL Network is beefing up its own coverage of the event, which spans April 30- May 2, launching 50 remote locations outside of the Windy City, including 16 war room cameras and 17 reporters stationed in NFL cities and locations around the country. On the digital front, all of the NFL Network coverage can be viewed digitally on mobile through NFL Mobile from Verizon and on tablets, PCs and Xbox One and 360 is available through Watch NFL Network. Meanwhile, the platform will offer NFL Draft LIVE Presented by Courtyard, which will serve as the only way to watch each and every pick of the draft live from Rounds 1-7.

Overall, the channel will offer a record-high 53 hours of live coverage of the three-day event, as well as 79 hours of Draft Week coverage starting today at 6a with NFL AM. Just ahead of the 8p start on Thursday, the network offers NFL Draft Gold Carpet (marking the season-long 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl), with Melissa Stark and Kevin Frazier interviewing prospects when they arrive. As the picks begin, the inside deck will see Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock, Steve Mariucci, and Stanford head coach David Shaw on microphone duties. Sponsorship elements will see TD Ameritrade sponsor the Path to the Draft, Lexus signing on for NFL Draft Kickoff, Verizon on-board for the NFL Draft, Bridgestone partnering for NFL TA Post Draft, and Pizza Hut supporting Mayock Mock Draft. Meanwhile, NFL.com’s coverage of the 2015 NFL Draft is presented by Verizon, McDonald’s and New Era.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with NFL Network Executive Producer Eric Weinberger about the event.

Weinberger on takeaways from the 2014 Draft: We learned the value of the college coaches that we use on our coverage. The past few years, we have used college coaches exclusively on day 3. We are now using one every day, beginning with David Shaw from Stanford on Thursday night. We’ve really liked the perspective that they have brought to this coverage, which is bringing all of football together. Another thing we are leveraging is our consistent growth at the team sites. So between the War Room coverage, and then the Thursday Night Draft parties at the team sites, we continue to learn how much this show affects 32 nations simultaneously. We are deploying so many people and cameras to capture that.

On Chicago: We are excited about it. There are really two set locations: an indoor one, which will have some of our talent, and then outside in Grant Park where the city of Chicago is hoping for a Lollapalooza-type atmosphere that we will be showcasing as well. The location of this theater is really allowing us to activate with so many fan experiences to continue to grow this great fan celebratory atmosphere that this great event seems to keep building. To change a venue like this always adds a new element and intrigue to the atmosphere.

On NFL Network coverage vs. ESPN’s: I can only go with what I know they’ve done in the past, but I know that we have taken an approach that is much more outside the city than what they are focusing on. They tend to focus on the kids who are in the building on Thursday night. We have made it a priority for our production to show what is going on at the 32 venues where the fan interaction is going on and the front office is working on building these teams.

On balancing the linear/digital strategy: I wouldn’t use the word “balance.” We really try to flood the fan with as much content as we can. At these events, we have to take a look at how many fans are interacting with this event on whatever platform they are choosing. Many times, they are choosing multiple platforms at once. We just got out of a 90-minute draft meeting that is fully integrating all of our social/digital/television heads and pulling all that content together so that the fan has all the same content on whatever platform they want to see it on. We don’t look at these different platforms as competing at all. Instead, we look at it as enhancing the way the fan is consuming this content.

ON THE AIR

As the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs comes to a close, the NHL announced updated start times and broadcast information, with Game 6 between the Lightening/Red Wings set for 7p on CNBC tonight, while Game 7 between the Caps/Islanders is set to begin at 7:30p on NBCSN.

The commissioners of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS each updated reporters on expansion/relocation plans for teams in the respective leagues at a meeting of AP Sports Editors last week. Items of note:

  • Major League Soccer states that with 24 teams now locked to kick off play by the end of the decade, the league will now formulate plans to go up and beyond some time in the next six months. “In the next six months, we’ve got to come together and develop a plan with our ownership to determine when we go further, because we will,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, according to Sporting News. “We will expand beyond 24 teams. It’s not an ‘if.’ but a ‘when.’” The league stated that cities expressing interest included Austin, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, El Paso, Indianapolis, and Las Vegas.
  • Speaking of Las Vegas, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the AP meeting that while the league had nothing to report on the immediate expansion front, potential new teams would probably have to pay a $500 million expansion fee if it so happens that a team is approved. That would be a significant markup over the $80 million price tag Nashville, Atlanta, Columbus and Minnesota each paid the last time the NHL expanded in the 1990s. Officially, the fee would be determined by the league’s Board of Governors.
  • Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated that the league is looking at a period of two or three years before considering expansion. “My sense right now is that, from a competitive standpoint, we have a 30-team league that can be competitive,” he said, as reported by the Seattle Times. “But the talent is such that it shouldn’t necessarily be the case that we should be adding additional roster slots.”
  • Finally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his seal of approval to two stadium projects in the LA area. The AP writes that Goodell stated that both stadium plans in Inglewood and Carson are "viable" and have a "great deal of potential to be successful." "We had presentations earlier this week that are very exciting," Goodell told the AP. "Not just for a return but to continue being successful going forward."

Cynopsis Sports is pleased to welcome MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to our June 16 Cynopsis Sports Summit. Commissioner Manfred will keynote the annual gathering, which will include some of the world’s most influential executives breaking down the future of sports, media, sponsorship and fans. Stay tuned this week as we announce more speakers for this terrific event in NY!

FOX Sports announced plans for a US Open Media Special previewing the 115th U.S. Open Championship. The program runs today at 9:30p on FOX Sports 1 and is hosted by Holly Sonders and Joe Buck, with insights and special features from analysts Greg Norman and Brad Faxon. “We are excited to present the first ever U.S. Open Media Day show,” said Bill Richards, SVP of FOX Sports production. “Chambers Bay is one of the most unique courses in the country, and we look to capture those iconic images for viewers and bring a one of a kind behind-the-scenes look at the preparation for golf’s greatest championship event.”

Meanwhile, FOX Sports continues to tout growth for Garbage Time with Katie Nolan, announcing that the April 19 show drew its highest viewership to-date with total linear and digital viewership over 1.6 million. With a delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race serving as a lead-in, the episode’s Sunday’s premiere drew over 1.1 million total viewers, for a 160% increase over the average television reach of the show’s prior episodes.

HBO Sports laid out programming plans for Mayweather/Pacquiao fight week, offering content via television, digital and social platforms for the blockbuster welterweight unification title showdown on Saturday. New programming will include the “Weigh-In Live: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao” special on Friday at 6p and the Countdown Live: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao special on Saturday at 8p. Today will see Mayweather/Pacquiao: The Legends Speak at 10:45p, Tuesday’s Mayweather/Pacquiao: At Last at 8p, the final press conference streamed on Wednesday at 4p and more. Boxing fans can also view Manny Pacquiao classic fights from the past with “Pacquiao vs. Bradley II 2014;” “Pacquiao vs. Cotto 2009;” and “Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya 2008” on HBO On Demand, HBO GO and HBO NOW.

ESPN2’s His & Hers show is going retro ahead of the Mayweather/Pacquiao bout, recreating the barbershop scene from the film “Coming to America.” The segment goes shot-for-shot from the movie, with updated dialogue to reflect the fight. Michael Smith and Jemele Hill both play multiple roles, along with Reese Waters and Robert Flores rounding out the cast.

IMG continues to bolster its content since merging with WME, announcing The Gleason Project (working title), a feature-length documentary spotlighting former NFL defensive back and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) activist Steve Gleason. IMG came on board as Executive Producer to help finance the film and develop marketing initiatives with brands and media companies that will increase awareness for the documentary, Gleason’s activism, and ALS itself.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM THE CABLE CENTER


2015 Cable Hall of Fame Celebration
Presented by The Cable Center
May 5, 2015 at the Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
2015 Honorees
Chris Berman, Sportscaster, ESPN
William H. Roedy, Global Health Ambassador & former Chairman/CEO of MTV Networks
Steve Simmons, Chairman, Patriot Media and Communications
JC Sparkman, Retired COO, TCI
Tony Werner, EVP and CTO, Comcast Cable
Eleanor Winter, SVP, NCTA
www.cablehalloffame.com, 720-502-7500

SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

Speaking of the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, the bout is shattering more records. Todd duBoef, President of Top Rank, told ESPN.com that deals with five title sponsors have generated $13.2 million for the mega-event to set a new record, reeling in a a $5.6 million sponsorship from Tecate, the official beer of the fight. Others include Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions to promote two movies: "Terminator Genisys" and "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. The Weinstein Company is also on board to plug the film Southpaw. Trailers for the new films will be seen between fights on the pay-per-view telecast. Also sponsoring the fight are the Mexican Tourism Board and Smart Communications.

ESPN announced ESPN The Fellowship, a “recruiting initiative designed to be pro-active in the hiring and retaining of diverse candidates, and to stay in front of sports’ ever-changing multi-cultural marketplace and fan base.” The program is designed for college graduates with less than five years of experience, and features individualized training offering training in writing, interviewing, anchoring and production. The expectation is to fill two 24-month fellowship positions, each with six-month opportunities in Digital Media, Radio, International/Deportes and Studio Production.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Spartan Race is launching a new #WhyIRace campaign for the extreme obstacle racing leader. The organization is asking its followers ‘Why They Race” in “the hopes that their answers will inspire others to lead healthier, more active lives.” This year Spartan Race will register over 1,000,000 runners, eager to crawl through mud, jump over fire, scale walls, throw spears and shimmy under barbed wire.

DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY

Apple Watch will see some new apps courtesy of Turner Sports. The company’s Bleacher Report announced that its TeamStream App is now available for the platform. The app was designed and optimized specifically for Apple Watch, offering real-time text and video push notifications, instant alerts, live score updates and live play-by-play.

The company also revealed that the NBA Game Time app is also available for Apple Watch, allowing fans to stay connected with all of the latest 2015 NBA Playoffs from their wrist. The app includes game-by-game details, real-time scores and scheduling information through Glance. In addition, certain NBA teams are also launching team-specific apps ranging from the Hawks and Cavaliers to the Lakers and Spurs.

The 80th annual NFL Draft will see 120 Sports shore up its programming via in-studio production and through a series of behind-the-scenes draft related events throughout the city. Content launched Sunday, and will see video that include 120 Sports welcoming a group of NFL draft prospects to its studio for a day of tours and live interviews, social media segments, and “confessional” interviews on Wednesday, while Thursday’s episode of 120 Sports Football Fix will see Campus Insiders’ host Bonnie Bernstein with special NFL guests in addition to all the latest news surrounding the Draft. Other content includes Stars and Strikes Celebrity Bowling Classic and NFL Prospect “Dress for Success” w/La’el Collins on Tuesday, and the NFLPA Rookie Debut Party at RPM Steak on Wednesday. Draft Day will feature interviews with NFL draft attendees on the Gold Carpet and backstage inside the theater.

THE MAIN EVENT

Game 7 between the Islanders/Capitals on NBCSN at 7:30p.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


*SAVE THE DATE // JUNE 16*
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.



ON THIS DAY in 1983: Nolan Ryan surpasses Walter Johnson to become the all-time leader in strikeouts.

In The Know: Who is the MLB’s current active leader in stolen bases? (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: While Jerry Rice nabbed the most receiving yards of any receiver during the 90’s, who was second? Answer: Michael Irvin. Kudos: Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine
04.27.15

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