05/19/15: ESPN, Tennis Channel serve up French Open; Broadcasters prepare NBA Conference Finals blueprints; NASCAR honors the fallen


Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 19, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

ESPN serves up the 2015 French Open starting Sunday on ESPN2 with 50 hours on television and nearly 300 more via ESPN3’s presentation of up to seven courts on the days ESPN2 is on the air. Coverage begins at 5a on most days on weekdays through Thursday, June 4, culminating with the women’s semifinals. Talent is set to include the likes of Darren Cahill, Chrissie Evert, Mary Joe Fernandez, Chris Fowler, Brad Gilbert, and Patrick McEnroe. For the eighth consecutive year, ESPN2 is working with Tennis Channel to bring viewers an almost around-the-clock tournament experience, with each channel cross-promoting the other’s schedule.

Meanwhile, Tennis Channel is launching two new preview shows for the French Open in Racquet Bracket: French Open and Tennis Channel Live at the French Open startin Friday at 8p and Saturday at noon respectively. Then, starting on Opening Day on May 24 and running through the men’s semifinals on June 5, Tennis Channel offers viewers 12 days of live coverage followed by same-day encore matches during the championship weekend. During the two-week event, the network will deliver more than 260 total hours of day-to-night coverage of the tournament, with more than 85 hours of live or first-run matches, nearly 45 hours of encore replays, and 122 hours of French Open Tonight. Talent includes Tracy Austin, Mark Knowles and Steve Weissman, along with Lindsay Davenport, Justin Gimelstob, Brett Haber and Jon Wertheim will host the network’s new Tennis Channel Live at the French Open show. Other names behind the microphone will include Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport and Jim Courier.


Game 7 between the Rockets and Clippers for their NBA Western Conference Semifinals series proved potent for ABC, as the game delivered a 5.8 overnight rating, marking the highest-rated first or second round NBA playoff game on any ESPN network since May 2012, according to Nielsen. Game 7 scored a 25.1 rating in the Houston market, making it the highest-rated NBA playoff game ever in the market, as far as records go back (2003). In Los Angeles, the game did a 9.5.

Moving forward, ESPN carries the 2015 NBA Western Conference Finals starting today at 9p. Mike Breen offers commentary with analyst and former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, analyst Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Doris Burke. Kia NBA Countdown will hit the road for one-hour, on-site pre-game shows throughout the Western Conference Finals as host Sage Steele is joined by analysts Doug Collins and Jalen Rose at 8p. Before the game, ESPN carries the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery at 8:30 p.m., from New York, N.Y. Mark Jones will host Lottery coverage.

Around the dial, TNT hosts the 2015 NBA Eastern Conference Finals starting with Game 1 on Wednesday, at 8:30p. Marv Albert has the call with analysts Reggie Miller and Chris Webber and reporters David Aldridge and Rachel Nichols. Coverage will open with a 30-minute NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader pre-game show at 8p with host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith on site throughout the series. The network will feature several state-of-the-art technological enhancements during the playoffs including super-slow-motion cameras that will provide viewers with replays at key moments of the games. Coverage will also include the use of robotic cameras placed above each backboard to provide looks at the action and a "steady cam” that will capture close-up shots, along with visuals from player warm-ups used in studio coverage.

Universal Sports Network takes on the gold industry in the newest episode of Beyond the Medals  The Business of Sport. Premiering on Wednesday at 7:30p, host Rick Horrow joins in-studio guests USOC President Scott Blackmun and Steve Loy, President of Lagardère Unlimited Golf. Episode highlights include interviews include Jordan Spieth and fellow professional golfers Keegan Bradley and Aaron Baddeley, a look at MVPindex, and PGA Tour Chief Marketing Officer and International Golf Federation Vice President Ty Votaw.

WWE will host the Entourage crew on May 25 for Monday Night Raw at 8p. The show will see Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon and Jerry Ferrara reunite ahead of the upcoming movie.

In other guest news, Pro Football Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly joins this week’s episode of We Need to Talk tonight at 10p on CBS Sports Network. Kelly is joined on the show by his wife, Jill and daughter, Erin, to discuss his battle with cancer, new Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan and more, with panelists Andrea Kremer, Summer Sanders, Swin Cash and Katrina Adams. Tuesday’s show also features Part Two of Lesley Visser’s sit down interview with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.





NASCAR hits Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway by honoring United States Armed Forces members who have fallen in service to their country. All 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will participate in “600 Miles of Remembrance” on Memorial Day Weekend to honor military service members with names of service members displayed on the race cars. Partners will also activate to honor the military with brands that include Goodyear, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Mars Chocolate North America and 3M participating in activities.

Crowne Plaza Hotel and Resorts is launching the Always On Charity Challenge at the 2015 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. The Challenge serves as a new social media promotion that offers fans with the opportunity to show support for their favorite pro golfer during the tournament while simultaneously benefitting charity. The initiative will invite fans from across the country to vote via Facebook and Twitter from May 18-24, 2015 for their favorite golfer, from a list of nine, featuring golfers Hunter Mahan, Boo Weekley, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Ryan Palmer, J.J. Henry, Erik Compton, Jimmy Walker, and Graham DeLaet and will feature a planned $90,000 donation- to the local Fort Worth Birdies for Charity program."


Famed wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin will host Stone Cold Podcast, Live! on WWE Network starting June 1. The monthly interview series debuts at 11p with special guest Paul Heyman. The hour-long series joins the slate of brand new original programming recently announced by WWE Network including, Too Hot For TV Presented by Jerry Springer, Swerved and WWE The List.

Callaway Golf Company launched a new content marketing initiative with a 25-minute talk show broadcast live from the company’s global headquarters in Southern California. Called Callaway Live, the weekly series will feature unscripted conversations with public figures from the sports, arts, entertainment, media and business worlds who share a passion for golf and can be viewed at CallawayGolf.com/CallawayLive.


Rockets/Warriors tip off their series on ESPN at 9p.

ON THIS DAY in 1973: Secretariat wins the Preakness Stakes on the way to the Triple Crown.

In The Know: Who portrayed US Hockey Team head coach Herb Brooks in the film Miracle? (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: Which NBA player was known as “The Human Highlight Film”? Answer: Dominique Wilkins. Kudos: Dave Ridpath-University of Bayreuth/Ohio University/Germany; Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Yussuf Khan-The Shadow League/NY; Matthew Luisi-NBCU/NY; Matt Meachem-Gracenote/NY; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Bob Rathbun-Atlanta Hawks TV Play-by-Play/Atlanta; Tony Smythe-Bright House Networks/Orlando; Tim Buckman-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Gretchen Brady-KDAF/Dallas; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Dan Hanson/Vail; David Hauptman/Denver; Scott Sarra-Universal Sports/ Denver; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; Damon Parry-MediaVest/El Segundo; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA.

Later — Chris
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