06.15.15 Good morning. It’s Monday June 15, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Fresh off of breaking records for its coverage of the Women’s World Cup, FOX Sports’ June boon continues as the company readies for its first-ever US Open telecast this week. Programming 38+ hours of live golf action from Chambers Bay, the company is set to unleash production tech that ranges from virtual reality to drones to a gyro-stabilized, 20-mph RC camera car, as well as tiny microphones in the bottom of every hole. Thursday and Friday will see the first eight hours of action carried on FOX Sports 1 from noon-8p, before moving to the local FOX stations for the 8-11p window, while Saturday and Sunday, sees FOX on the fairway from 2-10p on Saturday and 2-10:30p on Sunday. Joe Buck serves as the lead announcer for the live action and is joined by lead analyst Greg Norman in the 18th Tower throughout the week. Other analysts include former professionals Brad Faxon, Corey Pavin, Tom Weiskopf, Steve Flesch, Juli Inkster, Scott McCarron and Jay Delsing, in addition to course design expert Gil Hanse.
Cynopsis Sports chatted with Bill Wanger, Executive Vice President of Programming, Research & Content Strategy at FOX Sports, about the company’s tentpole strategy for June, taking advantage of FOX Labs and when we can expect later this week.
Wanger on June: It’s a great opportunity for FOX and FOX Sports 1, certainly we will be showing some of the greatest, marquee events that are out there. We started out with a bang with the Women’s World Cup, setting records for the group stage. It shows the growth of soccer for the United States. It’s a great girls story and it’s fun to watch and I think the country is going to continue to get behind this team as they go on. Now we have the opportunity to deliver the US Open.
On taking on the US Open and golf: Going in, we knew that we wanted to make this the most-covered US Open ever. That was our initial philosophy. We are going to have well over 150 hours just of US Open coverage from Thursday to Sunday across English language television, as well as FOX Deportes and our three distinct digital production feeds on FOX Sports GO and USGA.com. The other thing we wanted to do, because of the location, was to maximize the primetime hours so we can bring as many viewers as possible into the US Open. We are going to have 11 and a half hours of primetime programming on FOX, about double what it was in 2012, the last time it was on the west coast.
On tech: This will be the most technologically advanced coverage of the US Open in history and working with FOX Labs on this has been a few years in the making. We are excited to unveil some of the new technologies and make golf easier to view on television and that’s really in the end what we are trying to do. Hopefully people stay tuned longer than they normally would because it is an interesting broadcast.
On other golf programming: We really started back in November and have been running a number of shows about the sport. Then in July, we will be running a show about Tiger Woods and his six-pete. Most people don’t know this, but when he was a junior, he won three US Junior Championships in a row, and then won three more US Amateurs in a row. We are going to air that prior to the US Amateur. During the US Open, we are going to have two preview shows live from Chambers Bay, we’re going to have a Wednesday at the Open show, which will cover the activity at the driving range and the practice rounds. In addition, we are going to have a show from the USGA called The Spirit of the US Open.
On the course: This course will look amazing on television, particularly around 5 to 8p local time when the sun is getting a little bit low. We are going to have a drone out over the Puget Sound that gets some great shots. The golf course has a lot of hills which is different and you have got to know where to hit the greens because you can hit on ten feet from the pin and it can roll off.
Cleveland and Golden State continue to drive audiences, with ABC notching the most-watched and highest-rated NBA Finals ever on the channel through four games, according to Nielsen. The series is now averaging 18,896,000 viewers with an 11.0 U.S. household rating, up 24 and 28%, respectively over last year’s series. Game 4 alone averaged 19.8 million viewers, the largest audience for a Game 4 on ABC in more than a decade, with an 11.7 U.S. household rating. NBA Countdown subsequently averaged 6,002,000 viewers, up 20% from a year ago.
The US Women’s National Team’s 0-0 draw with Sweden on Friday broke multiple audience records, delivering 4.5 million viewers to FOX and now ranks as the most-watched FIFA Women’s World Cup Group Stage match ever. In fact, the contest is the most-watched soccer match ever on the network, displacing the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final. Through the first five match days for which national audience figures are available, plus the USA-Sweden match, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 is averaging 1.061 million viewers, up 56% over 2011’s comparable average of 678,000 on ESPN and ESPN2. Top 5 markets for USA-Sweden: Richmond (5.6); Las Vegas (5.1); Milwaukee (5.0); Columbus (4.5); St. Louis (4.3).
Meanwhile, the weekend also handed the Golf Channel brand with its own record for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, reeling in 388,000 viewers per minute, with a markup of 80% vs. Round One of 2014 LPGA Championship. Round three on NBC scored a .59 rating in Nielsen’s metered market overnights, up 136% vs 2014 coverage of LPGA Championship on Golf Channel.
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CBS has its next lineup for Premier Boxing Champions on July 18, announcing that undefeated Carl Frampton (20-0, 14 KOs) will make his U.S. professional debut against Alejandro “Cobrita” Gonzalez Jr. (25-1-2, 15 KOs) from El Paso at 4p. The card will also see Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola (36-4, 31 KOs) returning to the ring for the first time since March.
Around the dial at Showtime, the network will offer coverage of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (48-2-1, 32 KOs) facing Marcos Reyes (33-2, 24 KOs) on Showtime Championship Boxing that same evening (and from the same venue) at 10p. The evening’s co-main event will also see McJoe Arroyo (16-0, 8 KOs) square off against Arthur Villanueva (27-0, 14 KOs) of the Philippines for the IBF Bantamweight World Championship.
Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics unveiled a list of 26 sports that applied for inclusion in the games. “We have three criteria in deciding which sports will be chosen,” said Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, according to the AP. “They must be popular with young people, give momentum to Tokyo 2020 and meet IOC standards.” The contenders list includes, according to local publications: Air sports, American football, baseball-softball, bowls, bowling, bridge, chess, dance sport, floorball, flying disc, karate, korfball, netball, orienteering, polo, racquetball, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, sumo, surfing, tug-of-war, underwater, waterski and wakeboard, and wushu. Tokyo will announce a shortlist of candidates on June 22.
NBC Sports Group released its programming schedule for the 2015 season of The National Pro Grid League. Coverage beings July 14 at 6:30p on NBCSN with the channel, along with NBC, delivering more than 24 hours of coverage featuring all eight NPGL teams. In addition, NBCSN will present the 2015 NPGL Championship on October 6 at 9p with an encore presentation of the NPGL Championship running January 3 at 1p on NBC.
The Dallas Stars found their replacement for longtime announcer Ralph Strangis, naming NBC Sports’ Dave Strader as the newest member of its broadcast team. Strader will remain part of the NBC umbrella, however, and continue to be used on broadcasts when able.
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While Porsche may have taken Le Mans, Ford announced on Friday that it will make its return to the race in 2016 with the Ford GT competing in LM GTE Pro class, marking the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1966 overall victory. The new Ford GT race car will run the full 2016 schedules of the FIA World Endurance Championship and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, making its competition debut in January 2016 in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Florida.
Patron Spirits is unleashing a series of “clutter-busting custom integration units” into late-night editions of ESPN’s SportsCenter, according to Ad Age. The tequila brand is utilizing 15-second transitional spots at the top of ESPN’s flagship show, targeting broadcasts airing immediately after the NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup Final, per the report, designed to showcase Patron’s new tagline "It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense to Be Perfect", with the spots giving viewing “wry commentary” on that night’s big game.
Jason Whitlock will now be the face of ESPN’s upcoming Undefeated site after all. The company announced Friday that Whitlock will instead remain at the company as a writer, radio and TV personality. “We are fully committed to hosting a site that is home to deeper conversation about race and sports,” the company said in a statement. “Ultimately, we collectively determined that having Jason focus his time and energy solely on creating thought-provoking content his hallmark across various ESPN platforms will make our overall content even better. Additionally, Leon brings great perspective and experience to the site in his role. This is the best possible approach to present the strongest perspectives on these important topics.” Leon Carter will serve as the interim head of the site.
Can the Blackhawks win the Cup? NBC at 8p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1980: Jack Nicklaus wins his fourth US Open title.
In The Know:Who was the last MLB player to win the All Star Game MVP Award twice? (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: In 2012, Dusty Rhodes inducted a quartet of long-time rivals into the WWE Hall of Fame. Who were they? Answer: The Four Horsemen. Kudos: Scott Jenkins-Gracenote/NY; Zach Linder-Glow Interactive/NY; Greg Conner-Tennis Channel/NY; Jon Sabal-Apartment Therapy/NYC; Chris Faulds-Bell Media Digital/Toronto; Chris Conrad-Golf Channel/Orlando; Jeremy Bowman-ESPN/Chicago; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Jacob Ullman-FOX Sports/LA; Greg Dudsic/Venice; Steve Morrow-Eclipse TV/Mill Valley; Doug Kelly-Foster Farms Bowl/South San Francisco.
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