05/14/14: ESPN makes its case to media buyers


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, May 14, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

ESPN had its turn in the spotlight yesterday, touting metrics, its new studio, the World Cup and the SEC Network to media buyers at its annual upfront presentation. (By the way, don’t miss the Cynopsis Sports Upfront special on Friday). With competition increasing for rights and ad dollars, ESPN President John Skipper told the crowd that ESPN remained on top of the situation and had launched 80 different programs and products in recent years. Highlighting the presentation was the company’s upcoming coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will see ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC carry all 64 matches live with more than 290 hours of original programming. Execs noted that 88% of Americans consider themselves to be sports fans, with 31% dubbing themselves as "avid" fans, and that 96% of all ESPN programming is watched live.

The company also announced that a redesigned, 10,000 sq. ft. SportsCenter studio would debut at the end of June, and that Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser have each signed "multi year extensions" to continue co-hosting Pardon the Interruption. ESPN also announced yesterday that veteran NFL reporter Jim Trotter was joining the company where he will appear on Sunday NFL Countdown, NFL Insiders, SportsCenter and other programs, as well as writing for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.


Univision’s upfront presentation pushed the company’s influence on Hispanic audiences. Executives noted that its sports offerings saw Univision Deportes Network become the top Spanish-language sports network in the U.S in its two-years on the air, and would own Spanish-language rights for the next 8 years to every U.S. National Men’s Soccer Team match in the US as well as the Spanish-language rights to MLS and the exclusive rights to the first-ever, special edition Copa America Centenario in 2016 and the Gold Cup 2015. The network will also host the Premios Univision Deportes, an awards show honoring Hispanic athletes across multiple sports.

Telemundo’s message at its upfront presentation was "reach," touting NBCUniversal’s reach of more than 90% of all U.S. Hispanics across both languages and all platforms. Executives discussed Telemundo and mun2 serving as the home (starting in 2015) of the most watched sporting events in the world with the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics as well as the World Cup, offering up 550+ hours across all its platforms, with events that include the Men’s Under 20 and the Women’s World Cup. This fall, Telemundo Sports and NBC Sports will team up to launch a new Spanish-language sports digital experience that features live matches, results, interviews and analysis on www.deportestelemundo.com.

With NBC Sports Group’s 2013-14 Premier League season over, the company announced that a record 31.5 million Americans tuned in to coverage, more than doubling the 13.3 million who tuned in the previous season, according to Nielsen. NBC and NBCSN combined to average 438,000 viewers  up 99%, with NBCSN averaging 395,000 viewers. On the digital front, with all 380 Premier League matches streamed live on NBC Sports Live Extra, viewers consumed a total of 259.2 million minutes of live Premier League action via NBC Sports Live Extra during the 2013-14 season.

ESPNU and ESPN2 are set to carry 10 hours of live 2014 NBA Draft Combine coverage tomorrow and Friday with three hours on deck from 10a-1p on ESPNU while ESPN2 offers coverage from 1-3p. Ryen Russillo hosts with Jay Williams, Tom Penn, Fran Fraschilla, Chad Ford and Andy Katz with coverage that includes interviews with players, coaches, scouts and team executives and a Bottom Line scroll of statistical measurements, virtual graphics, on-court demonstrations and flashbacks to notable performers at past combines. Highlights will also be included in various SportsCenter segments.
Get used to a four-team college football playoff for a while. USA Today writes that any expansion of the brackets won’t take place until the conclusion of the 12-year contractual agreement between the College Football Playoff and ESPN. "We wanted there to be stability in the system," College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said. "We wanted people to grow to love it and understand it. And we did 12 years on purpose. In our group of commissioners, I don’t sense anybody wanting to go to eight  or our board, the presidents. They’re delighted with where we are."

Speaking of college football, ESPN Regional Television officials announced that the Las Vegas Bowl will be played on Saturday, Dec. 20 at 12:30p. ABC will carry the game this year, pitting a Mountain West Conference team against the sixth-place finisher in the Pac-12.

The NFL is reportedly partnering with screenwriting lab The Black List in an effort to deepen its ties to filmdom. The Wrap writes that the lab will conduct a global search for great scripts, and recommend a list of 10 writers whose submissions were the best. Charlie Ebersol and Mike Lanigan’s organization The Company would then review the entries with the NFL and select two screenwriters to write a script with the NFL as a centerpiece. "We are excited to work with some of the best in entertainment to bring to life new stories that give our fans more ways to connect to the game they love," Tracy Perlman, the NFL’s Vice President of Entertainment Marketing and Promotions, said in a statement.

NBC Sports Group locked in international rugby plans for Nov. 1 at 4p on NBC, pitting the USA Eagles and the New Zealand All Blacks from Soldier Field. In addition to live coverage of the match, Universal Sports will air pre-game coverage starting at 3:30p. In addition, NBC Sports Group will carry seven hours of collegiate Rugby Sevens action from the Collegiate Rugby Sevens Championships in Philadelphia on May 31-June 1.

Monday night’s Mets/Yankees game on YES ranked as the network’s most-viewed Yankees telecast this season. The contest averaged nearly half a million viewers to become the highest-rated and most-viewed Subway Series telecast on a New York regional sports network since July 3, 2011. The game averaged 494,000 Total Viewers and generated a 4.54 average household rating.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford is changing up broadcast plans for the ACC basketball tournament. Beginning in 2015, the tournament will now start on Tuesday with the championship set to be played on Saturday night.


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Northwestern Mutual went public with its new deal to sponsor the Rose Bowl. The financial services organization, according to USA Today, is said to last through 2020 and makes Northwestern Mutual the game’s presenting sponsor. Northwestern Mutual now becomes the second company to sign a sponsorship agreement with the six "contract" and "host" bowls that will make up the rotating semifinal games.

ESPN and ABC are launching a new advertiser sponsored initiative called "Fan for Life," looking to celebrate parents and their support for their kids participating in sports. The campaign launches next Mother’s Day and runs through Father’s Day 2015 and will see stories of parents and kids told to ABC’s Good Morning America, ESPN’s SportsCenter and espnW.

The NBA announced that the 2014 Basketball without Borders schedule this year will feature first-time camps in Taipei, Taiwan and Rome, Italy, and will return to Johannesburg, South Africa, BWB Europe will tip off the summer schedule from June 2 – 5 in Rome while BWB Asia takes place from June 13 – 16 and BWB Africa runs August 5 – 8.

Samsung released its latest video for the fantasy-inspired Galaxy 11 global marketing campaign featuring some of the world’s top soccer players taking on aliens. Dubbed Galaxy 11: Training Video, the four-minute peek offers fans a look into the training that the Galaxy 11 team is taking to save Earth. Team members include Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Landon Donovan and Oscar dos Santos.
NASCAR is paying homage to fathers with "NASCAR with DAD," a Father’s Day platform built around memorable moments from the sport. As part of the platform, NASCAR, Goodyear, 3M and Ford have teamed up to create the #NASCARwithDAD Sweepstakes to give fans a chance to win a Goodyear Blimp Ride for two high above Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Fans can enter by going to nascar.com/NASCARwithDad until Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15 and are encouraged to share their most memorable NASCAR moments with Dad on social media using the hashtag #NASCARwithDAD.


The NBA promoted Amy Brooks to Executive Vice President, Team Marketing and Business Operations and Emilio Collins to Executive Vice President, Global Marketing Partnerships. Brooks is responsible for growing NBA, WNBA, and NBA Development League team profitability through strategic consulting on all aspects of business operations, including marketing and digital, ticket sales, sponsorship development, suite sales and customer retention. Collins oversees the marketing partnerships business for the NBA, WNBA, NBA Development League and USA Basketball, including partner management, business development, media, and marketing solutions.


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