05/13/15: ESPN beefs up morning, late-night shifts; NBC Deportes is in play ; Mayweather/Pacquiao punches through $500 million


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Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 13, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

ESPN’s upfront presentation saw the company shore up its morning and late-night dayparts, among other news. In addition to shifting Mike & Mike to New York and tweaking its format, the company also announced plans for SportsCenter AM, which will run from 7-9a. The new show is “designed for viewers who are on the move and don’t have much time early in the morning, the new live show will take the popular “SportsCenter Top 10” franchise and turn it into a program with the previous night’s top plays, storylines, quotes, blunders and more.” “You’re going to leave SportsCenter AM knowing the top things that have happened through the course of the evening and what you need from the sports world to start your day,” said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, SportsCenter and News. “We realize people are busy at that time of the day so this show will be produced in a way that viewers can watch by listening.

Meanwhile, the company announced that Scott Van Pelt inked a new multi-year deal and will now become solo anchor for SportsCenter’s weekday, midnight edition starting in late summer. Popular elements of his radio show, like “One Big Thing,” will be incorporated into the hour-long telecast. Van Pelt will continue to host ESPN golf coverage in addition to other assignments but will no longer do his radio show once the midnight show begins.

Other news to come out of the ESPN upfront presentation included word that ESPN’s NFL Wild Card playoff game will now be simulcast for the first time on ABC, as well as ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown pre-game show. The decision to simulcast the Wild Card game was made in conjunction with the NFL to maximize the audience across the two networks. “Our first Wild Card playoff game was one of ESPN’s highest-rated and most-watched events ever,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “By leveraging the broadcast platform we have on ABC, the upcoming Wild Card will rank among the most-watched programs of the year and we will reach even more fans during the NFL postseason.”

ESPN will also double down on the final week of the 2015 MLB regular season, announcing plans to carry up to seven Postseason Impact Games, three of which are new this year. All games will feature matchups with direct postseason implications leading up into ESPN’s exclusive presentation of the American League Wild Card Game.


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NBCUniversal Hispanic Group is diving deeper into sports, announcing the launch of NBC Deportes at its upfront presentation. The dedicated Hispanic sports production unit will touch Telemundo and NBC Universo as well as its digital platforms, offering up content from the FIFA World Cup, Olympics, the NFL, NASCAR, certain Team USA and Mexican National Team World Cup and Olympic Qualifiers and the Premier League. New programming on NBC Universo will include Escena Deportiva, a new Spanish-language signature sports show the will cover results, news and highlights. In addition, the channel will carry six NFL games this season as well as LIGA MX, with exclusive coverage of all home games for Leon and Pachuca on Saturdays.

As expected, Mayweather/Pacquiao broke revenue records, but also shattered expectations. Showtime and HBO report that initial reports from distributors indicate that the event generated more than 4.4 million U.S. buys and more than $400 million in domestic pay-per-view revenue alone. Adding in additional revenue from the live gate, international television distribution, sponsorships, closed circuit and merchandise sales, the event is now expected to top $500 million in gross worldwide receipts, according to the companies. Those numbers double the previous record of 2.48 million buys generated by the Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather boxing event in 2007 and nearly tripled the record $150 million in U.S. pay-per-view revenue generated by Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez in 2013. 

Speaking of boxing, HBO’s presentation of Canelo Alvarez in his first appearance as a headliner on the HBO WCB platform delivered an average viewership of 2,146,000 viewers for the live, first-time airing on HBO. That marks the best performing bout on HBO’s flagship boxing platform since the Tarver-Hopkins light heavyweight title battle delivered 2,460,000 viewers in 2006.

NBC Sports Group reports that, for the fourth consecutive television season, NBC’s Sunday Night Football will finish as television’s top primetime show in household rating and viewership when the 2014-15 TV season concludes next Wednesday, based on live plus same day data from The Nielsen Company. In addition, SNF will rank No. 1 in primetime in the Adult 18-49 demographic and across all key male demos. The season saw the franchise average a 12.5 household score, with an audience of 21.3 million viewers.

The merger of technology and sports will continue to have a profound impact on media, leagues, athletes, sponsors and, of course, fans. Are you prepared? Do NOT miss our pair of sessions at the Cynopsis Sports Summit on June 16 about the marriage between the two industries, beginning with a Q&A with Peko Hosoi, MIT Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the founder and director of STE@M (Sports Technology and Education @ MIT). The in-depth Q&A will be moderated by CSE President Adam Zimmerman. Then, hear from industry leaders about “How Technology is Launching yet Another Evolution of Sports” with panelists Brad Allen, Executive Chairman of NEXTVR; Joie Chitwood III, President of Daytona International Speedway; Matt Higgins, Co-Founder and CEO of RSE Ventures; Russell Silvers, SVP, Partnership Activation at AEG Global Partnerships; and Bryce Townsend, CEO, NA at Group M ESP. The discussion will be moderated by OneTwoSee CEO Chris Reynolds. Register here today!

The penultimate weekend of the 2014-15 Premier League season will see NBCSN offer fans a special Relegation Breakaway on Saturday at 10a featuring “RedZone-like live look-ins on the best action from relegation-threatened 16th-place Sunderland v. 15th-place Leicester City, Tottenham v. 18th-place Hull City and Queens Park Rangers v. 17th-place Newcastle.” In addition, all matches in the 10a window will be available in their entirety via live stream on NBC Sports Live Extra and on Premier League Extra Time, a bonus television package available to MVPDs at no extra cost for customers who receive NBCSN. Premier League Breakaway will also be available on NBC Sports Live Extra.

ESPN Events added another another entry to its resume, acquiring the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, which is set to take place on Dec. 24 this year and pit schools Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference. “We are excited to be adding the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl to our portfolio of events,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president, ESPN Events. “The inaugural game was a tremendous success, and we hope to build on that by bringing a one-of-a-kind bowl experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. The level of support from the entire country of the Bahamas makes this event truly unique  making this game a true destination event that fans across the country will want to attend and support.”

CBS, in partnership with the PGA of America, offers an hour-long network special, “PGA REACH: Impacting Lives Through Golf” on Saturday at 2p. The program details how PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA, made a difference for people across the country and follows several individuals, who under the guidance of PGA Professionals have been welcomed into the game through the initiative, spotlighting individuals who have utilized golf to cope with serious illnesses and injuries.

ESPN lined up its plans for the 2015 NCAA Division I Softball Championship with up to 84 games on deck. Coverage tips off with Regional round coverage (May 15-17), continuing the Super Regionals (May 21-24) and concluding with the Women’s College World Series (May 28  June 3) in Oklahoma City. The 84 games from 12 campus sites marks the most sites ESPN has ever originated from with games running across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ESPN3 and SEC Network +.  Regional Round coverage will be supplemented by Bases Loaded for the first time, offering look-ins to multiple live games throughout the day while also recapping the entire tournament up to that moment. Matt Schick and Brendan Fitzgerald will host and Garland Cooper will provide the analysis.

TVG continues coverage of Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah’s Triple Crown quest, launching on-site coverage of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes from Pimlico Race course on Thursday. Todd Schrupp, Paul LoDuca and Dave Weaver will be on-track for daily, all-inclusive full-card coverage. In addition, TVG and HRTV offer results of the Preakness Stakes post-position draw today at 6p.

United Fight Alliance announced that its series United Fight Alliance and Jay’s Brawl Call will now run on Cox Sports Television on Saturdays at 9p. The new partnership boosts the United Fight Alliance’s total television reach to over 115 million homes.



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ESPN launched audience data and analytics agreement with Cablevision Systems Corporation that looks to leverage the companies’ first-party, census-level audience tuning data to break down consumers’ viewing habits and preferences. The deal also applies to the broader Walt Disney Company, which will have the ability to utilize the data to inform ad sales for other networks in the Disney Media Networks Group. The partnership provides “more granular, robust and actionable intelligence based on viewer tuning activity, allowing ESPN to identify new audience segments in order to provide its clients with in-depth campaign analysis that will measure and improve advertising effectiveness.”

The Associated Press renewed its agreement with DSA Media Group to serve as its sports marketing agency. DSA will look to lock in strategic partners and sponsorships for AP’s Top 25 rankings for college football and men’s and women’s basketball and for the AP National Champions, AP All-American Team, AP Player of the Year and Coach of the Year. “We are thrilled and honored to be awarded strategic, creative and media responsibilities for The Associated Press’ collegiate sports assets," said Dante Simpson, president and CEO of DSA Media Group. "We look forward to working with AP to help build upon the timeless tradition of their sports brand and connect with their fans in new ways.”

Etihad Airways inked a legacy partnership agreement with Monumental Sports & Entertainment to serve as the exclusive airline partner of the Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Mystics (WNBA) and Verizon Center. Etihad Airways will now receive a variety of branding opportunities, be featured in numerous multimedia programming and work collaboratively with MSE on several community initiatives to promote and celebrate the international nature of sport in Washington, D.C., and Abu Dhabi.


NCAA.com is offering 300+ hours of live video for Spring Champships. Managed by Turner Sports, the site will provide live streaming of more than 150 events with coverage presented by Buick and Northwestern Mutual beginning today with the NCAA Division II Men’s & Women’s Tennis Finals. A total of 28 championships will stream live exclusively highlighted by live coverage from Division I, II and III men’s and women’s sports including baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, golf, track and field and rowing.


The Basketball Tournament announced that DraftKings signed on as a promotional partner for the 2015 event. The deal marks the first-ever daily fantasy sports partnership for TBT, and will involve one team earning an official team sponsorship from DraftKings during their run in the tournament.

The upcoming Fantasy Sports Combine announced a deal with T-Mobile USA, Inc. to serve as the official wireless sponsor of the conference. The event takes place at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore July 17-18, 2015.


ESPN upped stalwarts Ed Erhardt and Justin Connolly to new positions within ESPN and Disney Media Networks, respectively. Erhardt, now President, Global Sales & Marketing, will now broaden his role to include oversight of consumer marketing, research and advertising sales business operations. Connolly has been promoted to EVP, Disney & ESPN Affiliate Sales and Marketing where he will oversee all aspects of domestic distribution and affiliate marketing including affiliate-related business operations for Disney and ESPN Media Networks including ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Fusion, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, etc. as well as related Watch, HDTV, video-on-demand, interactive television and retransmission consent agreements for The Walt Disney Company’s eight-owned ABC stations. 

New York Road Runners President/CEO Mary Wittenberg is ending her run at the organization, signing a deal to launch Virgin Sport as Global CEO. The new lifestyle company will look to launch participatory fitness events and programs. Meanwhile, NYRR will see Michael Capiraso and Peter Ciaccia, take over leadership of the organization.


Whoops, got ahead of myself yesterday. Caps/Rangers Game 7 on NBCSN at 7:30p.

ON THIS DAY in 1983: Reggie Jackson becomes the first MLB player to strike out 2,000 times.

In The Know: In what movie was Reggie Jackson programmed to be an assassin? (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which two “players” from the movie Angels in the Outfield would go on to win Oscars for Best Actor? Answer: Matthew McConaughey and Adrien Brody. Kudos: Michael Dittelman/NY; Joe Tafuri-Haversack Consulting/NY; David Kalan-NHL.com/NY; Michael Carafa-MEC Global/NY; John Miller-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Jamie Palatini-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Pam Tierney-Lily Barks Productions/Chicago; Steve Hebel-Katz Television Group/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA.

Later — Chris
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