04/28/14: MLS Digital’s Chris Schlosser talks growth, Brazil and activation, NBA looks to deal with Sterling fallout, Universal Sports’ Boston Marathon coverage runs for a record


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Good morning. It’s Monday, April 28, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With two new teams in Atlanta and Miami, a fresh media deal on the way and, of course, the phenomenon known as the World Cup about to launch, Major League Soccer has grabbed plenty of headlines in recent weeks as the league continues to evolve its national presence during the 2014 season. In addition, MLS continues to beef up its digital presence with new initiatives designed to keep US Soccer front and center in the eyes of the fan.

Cynopsis Sports asked Chris Schlosser, Vice President, MLS Digital, about the future of the league, what makes digital engagement unique for the sport, and what to expect from the new media agreement.

On expansion: MLS is in a period of growth. It is an exciting time to be involved with the League and with the sport. New York City FC and Orlando City SC join next season, in 2015, and Atlanta, purchased last week by Arthur Blank, will join in 2017. David Beckham has exercised his option to own a club and has identified Miami as the market. He’s now working with local officials to land a stadium deal. We have announced that we plan to expand to 24 clubs by 2020.

On digital audiences: MLS has the youngest fans of any major U.S. League and significantly over-indexes in key digital metrics like smartphone usage, digital video usage and podcast interest. We want to grow MLS’ fan base through digital excellence and we strive to create products that enable our fans to stay close to their favorite players, clubs and national teams on any device. A majority of MLS content is now viewed on a mobile or tablet device. Across all of our digital products we have seen a large increase in audience and consumption and total average monthly users are up more than 50% vs. 2013 and the trend is accelerating.

On the World Cup: This World Cup will break all records for interest, viewership and social interaction. We are also very excited as the majority of the U.S. team will be made up of players from MLS – stars like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan. The League has also attracted key international players like Julio Cesar, Brazil’s starting keeper, and Jermain Defoe, a striker for England. With all of these players in our League we will have extensive coverage on MLSsoccer.com and KICKTV, including Jimmy’s Road Trip, where former MLS & USMNT defender Jimmy Conrad takes you to the best games throughout Brazil. Daily video posts on KICKTV will take fans inside the World Cup to provide Conrad’s perspective on the tournament and the fan experience across the country. There is also Brazil Daily where KICKTV & MLSsoccer experts will bring fans daily news and analysis from the KICKTV studio overlooking Rio’s Copacabana Beach. In addition to daily video programming, MLSsoccer will leverage our cutting edge digital match experience to provide in-depth live data and social curation for all 64 World Cup matches. MLSsoccer will also launch the Brazil Bracket Challenge allowing fans to compete and predict the results in this summer’s tournament.

On state of rights negotiations: We have had positive discussions with many potential partners and expect to finalize an agreement in the next couple of months. Since our current agreements do not expire until the end of the year, we have plenty of time. As with any broadcast rights agreements these days, digital is a significant part of the discussions.

On sponsorship activation: MLS Digital works closely with partners to customize digital activations that allow partners to connect directly with soccer fans across our products and content. A great example of this partnership is our work with Castrol around the World Cup. Castrol will be the presenting sponsor of Brazil Bound, which will allow fans to follow the U.S. team as they prepare for and travel to Brazil. It will feature former MLS & USMNT midfielder Jesse Marsch and MLSsoccer’s expert analysts. Our crew will be traveling with the U.S. team starting in May all the way through the World Cup in Brazil. We will integrate their brand directly into the show. We will also help drive awareness for Castrol’s World Cup activation as they sponsor both FIFA and MLS. The integration will be augmented with customized media running across the MLS Digital Properties network, including placements on Goal.com and USSoccer.com.


On to Sterling. With names from Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and LeBron James to President Obama slamming the Clippers owner for the racist comments he allegedly made (originally released by TMZ), the NBA addressed the headline frenzy by announcing that has launched a full investigation into his statements. Commissioner Adam Silver stated that the audio tape was "offensive and disturbing." "All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy, which is why I’m not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling," Silver said. "We will, however, move extraordinarily quickly in our investigation." (Just throwing this out there, but the Clippers were valued at $550 million by Forbes in January just in case anyone wants a major market NBA playoff team.)

The upcoming media deal for the Big Ten is expected to hand its schools with a cool $44.5 million during the 2017-18 school year, according to the Journal & Courier. The new TV deal is based on a new primary rights deal and other conference distribution for the conference, according to CBSSports.com, that will be in place after the 2016-17 season. The Big Ten’s bargaining position with network will be bolstered with more inventory with the addition of a ninth conference game in 2016 as well as the additions of Maryland and Rutgers.

As we head into the NFL Draft, league Commissioner Roger Goodell stated on Friday that more programming could be on the way. In an interview with NFL Media’s Jeff Darlington, Goodell said that the league may make the annual selection a four-day event instead of three, while keeping seven rounds. "We’re looking at a lot of options with respect to the draft to create even more excitement around the draft," Goodell stated. He also noted that the league isn’t sure whether to keep it in May or shift it back to April, with various dates and venues under consideration.

FOX Sports 1’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League semifinals hit a short-lived viewership record on Tuesday, with Wednesday’s programming performing even better. Wednesday’s first leg match between Real Madrid and defending European champions Bayern Munich delivered 511,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, for a new record on the channel and marking the highest audience for a UEFA Champions League semifinal on any FOX channel in two years. Tuesday’s 0-0 draw between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid scored 450,000 viewers.

Around the dial, FOX Deportes’ coverage of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the tournament ranked as the top program for Spanish-language sports on Wednesday, delivering 514,000 total viewers and 342k P18-49.

Retired IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti is reportedly heading to television where he will join the broadcast team for the new Formula E race series, which launches in September. He will, according to Autosport.com, join a broadcast team that includes Jack Nicholls, Nicki Shields and Robert Llewellyn with races set to be broadcast on FoxSports 1.

YES Network reports that its average Total Viewers for the channel’s 2014 Yankees telecasts through Thursday’s games are up 38% year-over-year in the New York DMA, according to Nielsen. Demos have also seen spikes, including Males 25-54 (up 43%), Persons 25-54 (up 34%) and Males 18-49 (45%). Thursday’s game against the Red Sox averaged a 4.75 TV HH rating to rank as the second-highest-rated Yankees game of the season on YES.

Outdoor Channel announced that Theresa Vail, a 2013 Miss Kansas winner, will host a new series Limitless with Theresa Vail. Launching in July 2015, the series will feature the Sergeant in the Kansas Army National Guard and bowhunter as host of the half-hour TV series.

Sports broadcaster Fight Sports nabbed live international rights to the upcoming Mayweather/Maidana bout in over a dozen countries in multiple languages throughout Asia and Europe. The contest will take place on May 3.


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Anchored by the Winter Olympics and the World Cup, Magna Global lifted its projections for ad spending this year to 6% growth in total volume, according to Adweek. The two events, combined with "an improved economic outlook" in the country spiked those projected numbers from 5.5% last December. The report also states that spending in digital media will expand 14.4% this year.

The NBA officially opened the very first NBA Cafe in the world over the weekend, located in Manila, Philippines, at the SM Aura at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. The location is managed and operated locally by Haute Couture F&B Concepts, Inc. and offers NBA displays, unique memorabilia, and basketball-themed accents and fixtures. "Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines and it makes sense that the first NBA Cafe anywhere in the world would open for our passionate fans in Manila," said Carlo Singson, NBA Country Manager, Philippines. "NBA Cafe Manila is a unique one-stop destination for casual and avid sports fans alike and is another great way for them to experience the NBA first-hand."


Universal Sports Network struck gold with the Boston Marathon last week, as the channel’s (and the Boston Athletic Association’s) live video streams drew more than 604,000 live video starts with an average length of 32 minutes. That accounts for nearly 19.5 million minutes of live streaming from 484,026 unique visitors. "Heightened interest in this year’s Boston Marathon along with early start time and dramatic men’s and women’s races led to record numbers for live streaming and the highest single traffic day in UniversalSports.com history," said Universal Sports Network President Scott Brown.


The NFL is bringing aboard Perkins Miller, formerly of the WWE and NBCUniversal, to reportedly serve as its Chief Digital Officer for the league. At WWE, Miller was Executive VP of Global Digital Media, where he spearheaded the development and launch of the WWE Network. Meanwhile, the NFL will launch NFL Now this summer.


Mavericks/Spurs at 9:30p on TNT.


June Cleaver? Clair Huxtable? Carol Brady? Marie Barone?

Cynopsis wants to know – Who is your favorite TV mom of all time?
You’ll have a chance to win a $25 FTD.com gift card by answering our poll.
The winner will be announced on MAY 7.


ON THIS DAY in 1956: Rocky Marciano retired as boxing’s World Heavyweight Champion.

In The Know: Bob Uecker was honored with a statue by the Brewers last week, placed in the last row, as an homage to his line "I must be in the front row!" in a commercial for what brand? (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: From what school did the Nets draft Kenyon Martin? Answer: Cincinnati. Kudos: Keith Bielory-PMG Sports/NY; Josh Duboff-TSBX Networks/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports Network/NY; Joe Giovengo-Game Show Network/NY; Tony Ferranti-MMSI/Warwick; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Chuck Gordon-Clear Channel Media/Mobile; Joe Lyons-Back Nine Productions, Inc./Dallas; Frank Forgey-Missouri Broadcasters Association/Jefferson City; David Hauptman/Denver; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; Miguel Velasco-FOX Sports/LA; Larry Hutchings/Pacific Palisades; Damon Parry-MediaVest/LA; Neal Stevens-Stevens & Associates/Beverly Hills.

Later — Chris
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