07/16/14: ESPN, SEC launch a digital blitz; NASCAR tags its contenders; June is ESPN Digital’s hottest month


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, July 16, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

A month before the launch of SEC Network, ESPN and the SEC are now rolling-out digital elements of the channel with the unveiling of a revamped SECsports.com and SECNetwork.com. The two organizations also revealed plans for SEC Network +, which offers live and on-demand coverage of more than 550 digital exclusive sporting events. The platform will also be accessible via SECNetwork.com or the WatchESPN app and offer replays of events first aired live on the SEC Network television or the SECNetwork.com live stream. Meanwhile, the new SECSports.com officially launched with video and news from SEC Football Media Days.


With changes in the Chase coming up this season, NASCAR announced tinkering with the cars in contention as well. This year, in a move designed to help viewers identify the cars still in the running, the 16 drivers will display a special black and yellow paint scheme on various parts of the car. As drivers are eliminated, the colors will be removed.  Cars will feature the driver’s name across the top of the windshield, yellow numbers on the roof, a yellow splitter/fascia and a decal below the driver’s side window.

TiVo released its Top Five Moments from the Home Run Derby on ESPN, which was marred by a rain delay that lasted nearly an hour.
1.  9:54pm  Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins hits a monster home run 422 feet into the upper, upper-deck of Target Field.
2.  9:29pm  The Blue Jays José Bautista hits his tenth and final home run of Round 1.
3.  10:10pm  Justin Morneau, current Rockie and local favorite after ten successful seasons with the Twins, finishes Round 1 with a towering home run to right.
4.  10:16pm  Yoenis Césepedes, the A’s eventual Home Run Derby winner, hits one of his three homers in Round 1.
5.  10:01pm  The A’s Josh Donaldson ends Round 1 with a pop out and 3 home runs.

Halfway through the 2014 Tour de France, NBCSN’s nightly Tour Primetime series is averaging 243,000 viewers to mark its best start since Lance Armstrong’s comeback in 2009. That number is up 40% over 2013. Meanwhile, NBCSN’s live Tour de France coverage is averaging 284,000 viewers, also up year-to-year with a 13% uptick.

ESPN and CrossFit, Inc. locked in a multi-year extension to keep the network as the exclusive rights holder for the CrossFit Games. Starting with this year’s 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games, the agreement will see ESPN networks carry more live action starting Friday, July 25, at 9p on ESPN. In addition, ESPN3 will deliver at least 46 hours beginning with the Masters events spanning July 22-24 with at least six hours of coverage each day. The platform will then continue with individual and team events on July 25 at noon and wrap up July 27 at noon with at least seven-and-a-half hours of the key events and

CBS CEO Les Moonves said that the network will probably not bid on rights to the upcoming NBA television package (or for MLB rights) since the economics wouldn’t work for the network. He went on to note, however, that its deals for the NFL, college basketball and football as well as golf were all profitable for his company. "This year, we’re beginning a new ten-year deal with the NFL where we’re paying over $1 billion per season for sports rights," said Moonves, according to THR. "and we’re still going to make a profit because the NFL is still the gold standard for live TV. There’s nothing that competes with it. This year, we luckily added Thursday night football to that."

Speaking of which, the WSJ writes that the NBA is looking to double its TV rights fees from both Turner and Disney for the upcoming renewal talks. That would put the potential deal at nearly $2 billion a year (it is currently worth $930 million annually). In addition, the report states that the league may give Turner some of the games from the NBA Finals, “so that the championship round games would air on channels belonging to both, the people familiar with the matter said. That could take various forms: The networks could alternate Finals coverage each year, or carve up the Finalsplayed as the best-of-sevenin a given year.”

It’s finally here! Join us on Aug. 19-20 for the Cynopsis Sports Business Summit, taking place at the NY Athletic Club. Another can’t-miss panel on our Women of Action track will include “On the Air, On the Line,” a look at how networks are developing talent and the roles women are playing in front of the cameras. Panelists will include stars such as CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson, ESPN’s Sara Walsh and CNN/Turner Sports’ Rachel Nichols as well as executives Laurie Orlando from ESPN and Tara August from Turner Sports. Moderated by CBS’ Dana Jacobson, don’t miss this look at the future of sports media. For more information, click here.

HRTV is adding Del Mar to its line-up. Del Mar’s debut on HRTV launches tomorrow will begin on Thursday, July 17, while enhanced coverage of the Saratoga Race Course will kick off its 40-day meeting on Friday. HRTV’s daily coverage of both Del Mar and Saratoga will include full post parades, up-to-date odds, and expert race analysis from the network’s informative stable of analysts/hosts.

TVG Network and the New York Racing Association announced a multiyear extension of their agreement for TVG to televise, stream and accept wagers on live horse races from The New York Racing Association’s Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Racecourse on a daily basis. The deal will see TVG increase the exposure for High Definition telecasts of races and simulcast regularly on regional sports networks throughout the US including the Fox family of regional sports networks.
NBC Sports Group hits 25 years of coverage this week for celebrity golf tournament the American Century Championship. NBCSN offers the opening round on Friday from 4-7p with weekend coverage on NBC, airing 3-6p on both days. Golf Channel will re-air the three rounds of action Saturday-Monday. Bob Papa hosts with analyst Roger Maltbie and will be joined by tower reporter Gary Koch and course reporters Mark Rolfing and Notah Begay.


Cynopsis Sports Women of Action
August 19 | 1-6:30 PM | New York Athletic Club

Join us for a stimulating afternoon with a dynamic group of women in senior sports positions talking candidly about the challenges that women still face in landing shot-calling, game-changing positions in the sports world, as well as the opportunities those same challenges present.
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A year after Major League Baseball launched an anti-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation, Commissioner Bud Selig named Billy Bean as the league’s first ambassador for inclusion. Bean will offer guidance and training related to efforts to support those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community throughout Major League Baseball. Bean also will develop educational training initiatives against sexism, homophobia and prejudice, and he will be present at annual industry events, including the Winter Meetings and the MLB-MLBPA Rookie Career Development Program.

ESPN announced that The V Foundation for Cancer Research and Stand Up To Cancer will team up on grants for research scholars working within an emerging scientific field known as convergence, “a new model of research meant to spur innovation in new ways of combating cancer.” At today’s ESPY Day, there will be the special announcement of the collaboration during The 2014 ESPYS by Robin Roberts. This marks the first time The V Foundation and Stand Up To Cancer have worked together.  SU2C is investing $4 million in the grants program. 

The PGA TOUR and Tempur-Pedic locked in an agreement through 2016 that makes the bedding brand an official sponsor of the PGA TOUR. The deal will see Tempur-Pedic receive designations as the TOUR’s official mattress, bedding and pillow sponsor and marks the first national sports sponsorship for the company.


Bolstered by coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, NBA Finals, NBA Draft, U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and MLB’s regular season, ESPN saw a record-setting June in the digital sports category, reaching 80.7 million unique users across computers, smartphones and tablets. That marks the largest total for a single month in category history, and a rise if 56% from a year ago. In addition, fans spent 7.4 billion minutes using ESPN digital properties, a category record for the month of June.

Golf Channel Digital is relaunching its mobile app this week, which has been redesigned with new features. The app currently has topped 2.5 million downloads, and will now see a new home screen with an easy-to-navigate lead story carousel, an improved photo gallery with larger photos, and more videos featuring news, instruction and original material. Content features include leaderboards, fantasy golf; equipment news and information; photo galleries; and original video, including instructional tips.

2K is teaming with Pharrell Williams to create the soundtrack compilation for popular videogame NBA 2K15. Pharrell’s soundtrack selections will be revealed later this summer.


Universal Sports Network named Mike Severino as Vice President of Distribution Strategy where he is charged with expanding the network’s national footprint by securing new affiliate agreements designed to retain and grow the network’s subscriber base. He will also work closely with the affiliate marketing team on TV Everywhere and promotional campaign strategies with existing partners. Prior to joining Universal Sports, Severino served as Vice President, Affiliate Sales for the Sony, Lionsgate and Comcast joint venture FEARNET.


The 2014 ESPYS on ESPN at 9p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1956: The Detroit Tigers and Briggs Stadium sold for a then-record $5.5 million.

In The Know: Which Pro Football Hall of Famer went to Virginia Tech? (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: Name three MLB players who had the #5 retired in their honor. Answers: Brooks Robinson, Lou Boudreau, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Hank Greenberg, Joe DiMaggio, Jeff Bagwell. Kudos: Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Michael Dittelman-SportsOnEarth.com/NY; Daniel Weber-MLB Network/NY; Andrew Bogdan-Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment/NY; Juan Delgado-Telemundo/Hialeah; Jim DeLash-GlaxoSmithKline/Philadelphia; Jerehmy White-BusyBuddy Books/Glen Rock; Steve McNair-KUBE 57/Houston; David Hauptman/Denver; Charles Kundrat-The Band Inc./Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Brian Robin-Brener Zwikel & Associates. Inc./Reseda.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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