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Race coverage kicks off July 4th Weekend
and culminates with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship on November 22nd 20 Sprint Cup Races
19 XFINITY races
Exclusive rights to practice and qualifying sessions
Exclusive TV Everywhere rights
Original programming including NASCAR America
For more information, please contact Jeffrey.Clachko@nbcuni.com.
06.22.15 Good morning. It’s Monday June 22, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
NBC Sports is racing toward its first NASCAR bow under the 2013 agreement that brought the sport to its networks. With the deal handing the company rights to the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races (including the Chase), final 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series events and more, Daytona will once again serve as the centerpiece of the world of racing on 4th of July weekend as fans tune in to see NBC’s spin on the sport. NBC already announced talent that includes Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte, Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett, race announcer Rick Allen, and pre- and post-race host Krista Voda.
Racing action over the holiday includes the Subway Firecracker 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series Race on July 4 at 7p on NBCSN, followed the next day by the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at 7p on NBC. Cynopsis Sports spoke with both Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood to discuss the partnership and what fans can expect.
Flood on what NASCAR brings to NBC: NBC Sports has established a proud legacy of storytelling and NASCAR presents so many stories for us with 43 drivers and their teams competing against one another in what is truly an all-star game every week. Through our experiences in covering NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, and even outside of motorsports with Tour de France, The America’s Cup, Horseracing’s Triple Crown and Olympic Downhill and Track and Field events– we have learned how to capture and present the drama of racing. As the home of NASCAR’s championship run for the next 10 years, we’re looking forward to building on the momentum and passion that last year’s elimination-style playoff format introduced and explain to the fans at home why the stakes and tempers involved are now greater than ever.
On producing NASCAR: Covering NASCAR is like covering the Super Bowl every week. One lap around Daytona International Speedway measures 2.5 miles, which requires tons of cable and an enormous complement of cameras, microphones and related equipment– there’s nothing like it in all of sports. In football, the players don’t carry cameras on them like the drivers do in NASCAR. All of this allows us to bring viewers inside of these cars as they are running three-wide at 200 MPH into a turn and brushing against one another. Combine all of that with unparalleled access to the athletes, crew chiefs and personalities that drive this sport and there are remarkable opportunities for us from a production standpoint.
On challenges: During NBC’s previous partnership with NASCAR, which ran from 2001-2006, the sport was enjoying all-time highs in terms of ratings and viewership. Our biggest challenge as we begin this partnership is to recapture those fans that have strayed and get them re-engaged in the sport. In addition, a lot has changed in the media space since 2006, including the emergence of Twitter and other social platforms, so we’ll be looking to engage fans in new ways and incorporate social media elements into our coverage.
On NBC’s personal touch: We’ve always paid a great deal of care and effort in surrounding our broadcasts with the very best on-air talent in the business, and this NBC Sports NASCAR team is no exception. Our 12-person crew was hand-picked and will be bringing fresh viewpoints from behind the wheel and on top of the pit box with Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte. We’ve also got multi-generational perspectives and Hall of Fame credentials with Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett, and our team of reporters will have everything covered from pit road, to breaking news, to the history and culture surrounding these marvelous towns and tracks that we’ll be visiting week-to-week throughout the season and the playoffs.
Phelps on what NBC brings to NASCAR: It’s hard to pinpoint just one so I’ll give you three things we’re excited about with NBC. First, it’s how NBC makes big events bigger. Whether it’s The Kentucky Derby, The Stanley Cup, Sunday Night Football or the EPL, NBC has a way of turning a big event into must see TV. The far-reaching Comcast and NBC portfolio is leveraged against its biggest properties and we’re excited that NASCAR will be one of those "symphony" properties. Secondly, one of NBC’s greatest assets is their expertise and legacy in storytelling. Driver star power is a key initiative for NASCAR and we are certain that NBC will bring their Olympic style storytelling to NASCAR, making our sport more appealing to a wider audience. Lastly, NBC is one of the best networks in the world at marketing and advertising and we’re excited about NASCAR being a beneficiary of that work. How our sport is presented and marketed is important because we’re a global brand and we’re confident NBC will always do what is in our best interest while also pushing to grow and expand our brand.
On innovation: NASCAR is one of the most technological sports in the world and we believe that, in partnership with our broadcast partners, we can continue to innovate and evolve the product and how it is consumed both in the stands and at home. NBC, as you’ve seen from their broadcast of other sports, is continually innovating and we’re very excited about that leadership quality. NASCAR is quite possibly the greatest live product in the world and in partnership with FOX and NBC we believe we can become the greatest TV product as well. I look forward to seeing what new and fresh ideas come from NBC over the course of the next decade.
On lessons learned from the Chase: Last year’s Chase was a roaring success. Increased excitement, improved racing, higher ratings, better attendance and maybe most importantly, overwhelmingly positive fan feedback about this new elimination format. With that said we still have some work to do on educating the casual fan about this new format, the elimination component and the winner-take-all aspect that has made the final race in Miami a must attend event. We believe broad understanding and recognition of what our playoffs have become is step one so look for our marketing and communications efforts to reflect that accordingly in year two.
We also learned that the excitement and success of the Chase can carry over into a new year and a new season. After finishing up in ratings during the 10-week Chase stretch last year, NASCAR got off to another hot start in 2015. While viewership for the year is relatively unchanged, viewership on FOX is up +9% this year. On FS1, our 2015 events rank as the 4th (Martinsville), 5th (Dover), and 8th (Pocono) most-viewed events since the launch of the network in August 2013. That momentum to start the season was in part fueled by a fantastic Chase last year and we believe the run up to this year’s playoffs will be tremendously popular events across TV, digital and social platforms.
On sponsors: Sponsors are benefitting from the move to NBC in several ways. One, being part of the NBC Sports family means NASCAR, and the sponsors in the sport, are surrounded by other top-tier sports properties like the NFL, EPL, Olympics and NHL. NBC, currently in more than 116 million homes, will broadcast a large portion of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup including the Championship race from Homestead Miami Speedway. Our partners are also benefitting from this move because the sport is being integrated across the entire Comcast and NBC portfolio on platforms such as TODAY, Jimmy Fallon, E! and a host of powerful regional sports networks. Lastly, our partners are very excited that NASCAR has two broadcast partners committed to growing the sport. FOX and NBC have made major commitments for the next decade and have each made NASCAR a core tenet of their strategy. That type of positioning is good for the sanctioning body but it’s also great news for all of our stakeholders including our valued partners and sponsors.
FOX Sports reports that Saturday’s third-round action of the US Open saw local FOX stations score a 2.8 rating and an average audience of 4.2 million viewers. The broadcast saw its primetime portion of the coverage reel in 4.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen, peaking with 5 million viewers from 10-10:30p. Numbers are up over last year’s non-primetime coverage but dipped from 2012 numbers, the last time the tournament was played on the west coast and offered a primetime window. Overall, the first three rounds of the tournament averaged a combined 2.6 million viewers each day. Top five markets for Saturday’s third-round coverage on local FOX stations: Seattle (8.1), followed by Portland (5.7), Louisville (5.4), Columbus (4.9) and Austin (4.8).
Meanwhile, the latest edition of PBC on NBC on Saturday saw overnights average a 1.86 for the broadcast channel, increasing every half hour before peaking at a 2.56 from 10:30-11p for the final rounds of Broner/Porter. Top markets: Cincinnati (4.1); Oklahoma City (3.4); New Orleans (3.2); Tulsa (3.0); and Greenville (2.9). Again, numbers are up from its previous installment (in the afternoon on June 6) but slightly off from its last primetime outing on April 11.
After a successful lawsuit challenging the NHL’s out-of-market TV package, and the NBA quickly announcing its own change in the package, a class action suit has now been filed challenging DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket, according to NBC Sports. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in California against the NFL, DirecTV, and related defendants, accusing them of violating federal antitrust laws by requiring consumers to purchase all Sunday afternoon out-of-market games, even if the customer wants to see the out-of-market games for one team only.
ESPN announced that the 2015 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff pitting Arizona State/Texas A&M will be played on Saturday, Sept. 5, at 7p at NRG Stadium in Houston, and carried nationally on ESPN. The game marks the first match-up in the schools’ histories.
Bellator MMA revealed that, for the first time ever in the US, it will feature both a Bellator cage and a Glory kickboxing ring for its Sept. 19 card at the SAP Center in San Jose. The main event will see Tito Ortiz/Liam McGeary and feature a four-man, one-night light heavyweight tournament to determine the No. 1 contender in the division. The event will also feature Glory Kickboxing bouts that include Joe Schilling and Paul “Semtex” Daley.
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The Association of Volleyball Professionals and smart USA locked in a title sponsorship deal for last weekend’s FIVB smart St. Pete Grand Slam presented by the AVP. “We are truly grateful to be able to extend our partnership with smart to bring this global event to St. Pete,” said Donald Sun, the AVP’s Managing Partner. “As a long-time supporter of beach volleyball, smart has helped spur the growth of the sport. We see the brand as a true partner in our endeavors and as the perfect fit for an event like this that brings such worldwide appeal.” In addition, smart sponsors the European championships in Klagenfurt, Austria and supports 12 men’s and women’s professional beach volleyball teams worldwide.
Little League Baseball and Softball unveiled a $4 million plan to help local Little League programs “grow the game in their communities by providing financial assistance to these programs to ensure that all children have the opportunity to have a meaningful Little League experience.” The new initiative is dubbed Grow the Game, and comes as the result of Little League’s new television contract, with all the funds spent on programs for kids, including grants to fix up fields; support for urban programs to attract minorities to baseball and softball; and education programs to train volunteers, including coaches and umpires.
FIFA reports that its YouTube channel has seen the Women’s World Cup boost the portal to its best-ever month so far for traffic. Online, the FIFA YouTube channel registered more than 7.5 million views with 15 million minutes of content from the competition enjoyed so far. The US accounts for 35% of those views, with Canada (12%) and Japan (4%) also delivering a chunk of the traffic.
The Yahoo Sports NBC Sports Digital alliance saw the NHL, Premier League, and Triple Crown boost the tandem to the No. 2 ranking among all sports digital sites in May, with 58.4 million uniques, up 4% over the prior year, according to multiplatform data released by comScore. NBC Sports Group’s digital properties delivered 35 million uniques, up 23% versus the prior year.
WWE is tapping Periscope for its new WWE Tough Enough series on USA Network, offering fans a peek through the eyes of the competitors. The @WWEToughEnough account on Periscope will also include guest appearances from Chris Jericho, Hulk Hogan, Daniel Bryan and Paige, as well as various other WWE Superstars and Divas. The series launches June 23 at 8p on the channel.
Digital consulting firm Omnigon announced that Sporting News, CONCACAF and FOX Broadcasting will serve as three of the first brands to utilize Omnigon’s new bracket building software platform, BracketPro. The white label product allows organizations “to create, a user-friendly, social bracket that is sold to sponsors on a one-time, monthly or annual basis” offering 8, 16 or 32 moments. Sporting News will use the product for its ‘Greatest NBA Draft Ever’ bracket; CONCACAF launches its bracket to determine the best 32 goals in Gold Cup history; while FOX will use it for So You Think You Can Dance.
FOX Deportes named Mark Simmons as Vice President, On-Air-Promotions for the company, while Sandra Rojas will become Marketing Director and Jose Luis Ortega the Digital Director. Mark Simmons most recently helped build FOX Sports Australia for the company.
US/Colombia on FOX Sports 1 at 7p.
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