06/19/14: Bellator shakeup: Who is in? Who is out?; Gillette steps to the plate for an iconic event; The Whistle lands another league


Good morning. It’s Thursday, June 19, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Yesterday saw a big turnover at Bellator MMA with the departures of Bjorn Rebney, Founder, Chairman and CEO, and Tim Danaher, President and COO. Majority owner Viacom later announced the addition of sports promoter Scott Coker to the organization, where he will serve as President, Bellator MMA, effective immediately. “It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I am leaving the company I founded. I have great pride in having turned my vision into reality, a thriving business with television distribution to over 140 countries around the world, a partnership with one of the world’s largest entertainment giants and wide array of sponsors, partners and strategic allies all over the globe,” said Rebney. Coker served as Founder and former CEO of Strikeforce, which began in 1985 as a kickboxing league and developed into an MMA league in 2006.


A terrific Brazil/Mexico game at the 2014 World Cup continued to propel Univision Deportes to new peaks. The game ranked as the most-viewed group stage match in Univision Deportes history, with an average of 6.8 million Total Viewers and 3.5 million Adults 18-49. So far this year, the company’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup is pacing ahead of its 2010 counterpart by 54% among Total Viewers and 41% among Adults 18-49 through 17 matches.

The NHL laid out plans for its upcoming 2014 NHL Awards, which will be hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos on Tuesday, June 24 at 7p on NBCSN. The talent lineup will include current and former NHLers PK Subban, Chris Pronger, Rich Peverley, Danny DeKeyser, Michael Peca and Luc Robitaille who will present alongside the likes of David Boreanaz (Bones), Cuba Gooding Jr. (The Butler), Retta (Parks and Recreation), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) and David Walton (About a Boy). Other stars will include Michael J. Fox, Susan Sarandon, James Lipton, Kevin Connolly and Whoopi Goldberg, who will be shown during the broadcast in pre-taped segments. NBC’s Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk whowill announce the winner of the EA SPORTS’ NHL 15 Cover Vote.

Coverage of the 2014 NBA Finals on ESPN Deportes finished up for the year, besting last year’s numbers to rank as the highest-rated and most-watched NBA Finals in Spanish-language television. Telecasts drew 2,165,000 during the five games, for a 7% climb over the 2013 seven-game championship series, according to Nielsen. The five-game series also averaged a 0.7 Hispanic Household coverage rating for a 40% spike

Dana White is in. Are you? The 2014 Cynopsis Sports Summit is set for NY on Aug. 19-20 this year. Don’t miss out on some of the industry’s most dynamic and influential speakers breaking down the most important issues of the industry. The agenda/list of speakers for the Summit and this year’s Women of Action will be announced in mere days.

ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 is hitting syndication with the company striking a deal with MSG Network to license select titles from the series for the network’s summer programming schedule. The first documentary, 30 for 30: No Mas, debuts Sunday at 10p. Other titles on the docket include The House of Steinbrenner and Bernie and Ernie. This arrangement is part of a larger multi-year licensing deal with ESPN that will grant MSG Network access to series and documentaries from the global sports network.
SiriusXM is launching a new weekly show featuring golf talk, analysis and instruction on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. The series will feature pros based out of the renowned Sea Island Golf Club and entitled Sea Island Golf Radio, running every Wednesday from 7-8p. The program will be hosted each week by Brian Bateman, who will be joined by a rotating group of co-hosts.

NBCSN offers Fight Night on Saturday at 8p, featuring the IBF Eliminator between Anatoliy “The Gladiator” Dudchenko/Nadjib Mohammedi for the #1 position in the IBF light heavyweight ratings. Kenny Rice handles play-by-play with analyst B.J. Flores and reporter Chris Mannix. At 10p, the channel spotlights World Series of Fighting. Play-by-play announcer Todd Harris will be joined by analysts Bas Rutten and Joey Varner to call the action.

WORLD CUP TRENDS: CSE’s Social Branding at the World Cup

June 18 Recap
After the scoreless, yet thrilling Brazil/Mexico match ended on Tuesday night, Twitter experienced over 202,000 user tweets per minute (according to @TwitterData). Although this match was more highly anticipated than the Brazil/Croatia match, brands were less active on Twitter, tweeting only 6,939 times. Was the decrease in brand engagement deliberate based on the matchup, or a miss by their social media teams? Are marketers placing more restrictions on their teams or was the Delta tweet after the USA game an isolated incident, which will result in no change to real-time marketing as we move towards the midway point of pool play?  
While monitoring the following games, CSE examines how those same brands leveraged match interest levels in their Twitter marketing.

Australia vs. Netherlands
Australia’s attempt to defeat the Dutch shocked the twitter universe. Brands were able to utilize the game as leverage for engaging posts. Throughout the tournament, Budweiser, Adidas Football and Volkswagen have been consistent in their World Cup specific posts. This match was no different.
Adidas’ use of match players in their tweets has proven to resonate well with viewers-they remain the top active brand of the tournament, followed by Coca-Cola and Budweiser. Other beverage brands, El Jimador and Carlsberg, tweets began surfacing but compared in no way to Budweiser’s engagement.  Volkswagen’s customized car featuring the flag of the scoring team is tweeted seconds after each goal is scored – epitomizing real-time marketing.

Spain vs. Chile
Before match play began, Chilean fans couldn’t wait any longer for kick-off and broke into the stadium. Puma took advantage of the story and posted a Vine video of the break-in.  By the second half, Puma had already surpassed Adidas and Budweiser in top World Cup brand activity for the match. Additional Puma branded tweets and the vine video contributed to the spike in activity. Puma ‘s twitter activity showed their best day ever during this game, most likely as a result of Chile winning and wearing recognizable Puma .footwear.

Striker of the Day
Which leads us to today’s award…
Puma, Chile’s apparel provider, saw their total World Cup activity more than quadruple in today’s Spain vs. Chile match, as compared to the rest of the tournament. Chile’s win and knock-out of one the tournament favorites, clearly resulted in Puma’s spike. Although Adidas is the official FIFA apparel partner, they unknowingly took a back seat to Puma’s activity, who earned Striker of the Day designation.


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Gillette locked in a deal with Major League Baseball Properties to become the title sponsor of the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby. The event is slated to be held Monday, July 14 at Target Field in Minneapolis and televised live on ESPN beginning at 8p.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled six federal trademark registrations for the NFL’s Washington Redskins, ruling that the term "Redskins" was disparaging to "a substantial composite" of American Indians when the marks were granted between 1967 and 1990, according to the AP. The team’s attorneys have stated that the franchise will appeal and will be able retain its federal trademark rights pending appeal.

The NBA launches its largest mobile basketball experience, NBA Nation presented by Sprint, on Saturday at the Washington D.C. Safeway Barbecue Battle. The event offers 20,000 square feet of basketball action, including a full Center Court home to free interactive basketball activities, contests and clinics, and the opportunity to meet current NBA and WNBA players and legends. This year will see over 1 million fans visit, as the tour travels more than 8,000 miles with stops in eight cities  Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Indianapolis and Detroit. 

Digital currency Bitcoin will sponsor a college bowl game, taking over as title sponsor of the Beef O’Brady game in a three-year deal, according to multiple reports. This year’s game, now known as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, will take place on Dec. 26.


Facebook reports that more than 33 million people had over 68 million Facebook interactions worldwide (posts, likes, comments) that were related to the Brazil/Mexico World Cup game, led by the countries of Brazil, the US, Mexico, Indonesia and England. Top 5 Social Moments:
1. The final whistle blows, and the match ends in a 0-0 draw (full time)
2. Ochoa makes an incredible save on a Thiago Silva header from close range (85th minute)
3. The highly anticipated clash between Brazil and Mexico kicks off (1st minute)
4. Ochoa stops a Neymar header to keep the match scoreless (25th minute)
5. Yet another fantastic Ochoa save, again denying Neymar (70th minute)


The Association of Volleyball Professionals became the latest league to enter a deal with The Whistle Sports Network, the “first sports-focused cross-platform network and community for today’s generation of fans.” The deal will see The Whistle Network will distribute AVP highlights, interviews and original content on YouTube and other digital platforms, including Xbox. “We recognize the importance of reaching our fans and supporters on each and every screen and platform they’re already using,” said AVP Managing Partner Donald Sun. “Partnering with The Whistle Network gives our growing audience unfettered access to interviews with our professional athletes, highlights from tournaments and other content using the devices and channels they prefer.”

The Pac-12 Conference announced plans for “the next step in a long-term fan engagement” in a move to better understand the needs of their fan bases and deliver solutions inside and outside the stadium. The conference has partnered with Sporting Innovations to test and build customized fan engagement solutions for the league. “A key role our staff can play is to benchmark and share best practices, and to promote and pilot innovation across all 12 schools,” said Pac-12 Conference Chief Marketing Officer Danette Leighton. “Sporting Innovations will help us develop a technology and data management strategy that can be shared with all our universities to better interact with their respective fan bases.” In the coming months, the Pac-12 will announce new partners and details of its fan engagement initiative.


Uruguay/England at 3p on ESPN.


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In The Know: What was the name of Tom Cruise’ character in Days of Thunder? (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: Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Pele starred together in what soccer-themed movie? Answer: Victory aka Escape to Victory. Kudos: Kyle Helm-CBS Sports Network/NY; Rob Maffei-Obsession Media/NY; Michael Dittelman-SportsOnEarth.com/NY; Matt Collins-Microsoft/NY; Graham Ramsay-Ramsay Soccer/Chestertown; Shannon Malone-Red Rock Films/Chevy Chase; Joe Guarnieri-ESPN/Bristol; Keith Allo-Golf Channel/NBC Sports/Orlando; Kevin Van Housen-Comcast Spotlight/Indianapolis; Todd Galloway-Raycom Media/Montgomery; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; John Kukla-KDFW/Dallas; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Carl E. Ossipoff-ESPN/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA.

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