07.17.15 Good morning. It’s Friday July 17, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
ESPN is going to have another hole to fill after announcing that Colin Cowherd was exiting his run with the company. Cowherd hosts ESPN Radio’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd from 10a-1p from Monday-Friday (simulcast on ESPNU) in addition to hosting Colin’s New Football Show on ESPN2. With multiple reports, broken by The Big Lead, suggesting that a move to FOX was imminent, Cowherd’s departure marks the third big name to leave the company in recent months, along with Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann. “We’ve enjoyed a mutually beneficial run with Colin for over a decade,” said ESPN President John Skipper in a statement. “He came to national prominence on ESPN with his unique perspective on sports and society. Endings also bring new beginnings, for ESPN and Colin, and we thank him and wish him the best.”
A shift to broadcast paid off big for The ESPYS. Marking its first year running on ABC, the annual awards show more than doubled its viewership over last year’s run on ESPN, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals. The show snared 7.7 million viewers, for a 250% jump over 2.2 million a year ago. Caitlyn Jenner’s speech while accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award ranked as the most-watched hour of the event, hitting 8.5 million during the final hour. Of course, the show now ranks as the most-watched and highest-rated ESPYS ever.
TiVo ranked the top moments from the ESPY telecast, based on second-by-second audience measurement data.
January will now see ESPN on ABC launch a new, weekly prime-time NBA series with the debut of Saturday Night NBA on ABC. Boasting an eight-game schedule that launches January 23, 2016 with weekly game telecasts at 8:30p and proceeded by NBA Countdown at 8p. As a result of the new series, ABC and ESPN will now combine to televise NBA games four days per week (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday) from January-April.
Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky is stepping down from the position he held for nearly 13 years. He will now serve as the Executive Director of the College Football Playoff Foundation and further his work with a number of other nonprofit organizations. “My time with Conference USA has been an experience of a lifetime,” Banowsky said. “It has been an honor to serve these member institutions and this great conference, which is very well positioned for the future. The landscape has settled and these universities are all on the rise. They work very well together and the conference has tremendous leadership on each campus and within the conference office.”
The CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal matches will see the US/Cuba square off on Saturday at 4:30p on FOX. Meanwhile, the nightcap will see Haiti/Jamaica battle for a semifinal spot at 8p on FOX Sports 2. Sunday’s quarterfinal doubleheader will then see Trinidad & Tobago/Panama at 4:30p, followed by Mexico/Costa Rica at 7:30p on FOX Sports 1. John Strong calls the USA match on Saturday alongside analyst Brad Friedel and sideline reporter Julie Stewart-Binks.
ESPN detailed plans for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games starting July 24, at 7p on ESPN. For the first time, ESPN networks will televise team events live, in addition to its coverage of individual events. In addition to the live TV coverage, ESPN3 is set to offer at least 50 hours beginning with the Masters and newly added Teenager events on Tuesday, July 21Thursday, July 23, with at least eight hours of coverage each day.
SNY is feeling the love thanks to the Mets. The channel reports that it has scored its highest rating for live game telecasts in both Households (2.24) and average Total Viewers (199,578) since 2012. In addition, the network experienced its strongest rating in the key Adults 25-54 demo (0.90) since 2010. Meanwhile, Pepsi Pre-Game Live is now besting last season’s household viewership by 35% (0.39), marking its strongest rating since 2010 while W.B. Mason Post Game Live has surged 65% (0.86) over 2014.
Media darling Rob Gronkowski will sit down with E! host/actress Maria Menounos will get together for the newest edition of SiriusXM’s exclusive Town Hall series today at 6p on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio. Menounos will interview Gronkowski about his life and career on and off the field, and his new book, “It’s Good to be Gronk,” which was released this week.
Tennis Channel offers exclusive coverage of the 2015 International Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday at 7p. This year’s inductees include former Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo, wheelchair champion David Hall and tennis industry leader Nancy Jeffett. Brett Haber and Donald Dell will serve as analysts for the Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremony and Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.
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Independence Bowl Foundation officials, as expected, announced that Camping World has signed on as title sponsor of the Independence Bowl. The 2015 bowl game is slated for Saturday, December 26 at 4:45p and will now be known as the Camping World Independence Bowl. “We are excited to begin our partnership of the Independence Bowl and this is a great event to kick off our yearlong celebration honoring the 50th anniversary of our businesses,” said Marcus Lemonis, CEO & Chairman of Camping World and Good Sam, and host of CNBC’s The Profit. “Our customers enjoy the thrill of competitive sports along with the bonding that comes from tailgating. As a company, we have a great appreciation for the tradition of college football and look forward to the fan experience.” The deal was brokered by Impression Sports & Entertainment.
The Western & Southern Open locked in a deal with Western & Southern Financial Group to keep the Cincinnati-based company as title sponsor of the city’s professional tennis tournament through 2017. As title sponsor, the company receives benefits that include tournament naming-rights, court signage and television broadcast elements.
Learfield Sports reeled in another school, announcing a deal with Saint Louis University for a multimedia rights partnership through 2020. The agreement marks the first time in school history that SLU is outsourcing its comprehensive athletics rights and includes the establishment of Billiken Sports Properties, which is led by General Manager John Sartorius.
Major League Lacrosse pillar and MVP Casey Powell announced the launch of the Casey Powell World Lacrosse Foundation, at www.worldlacrosse.org. The flagship fundraiser of the organization will be the World Lacrosse Beach Festival slated for Sept. 19th and 20th 2015.
IPTV technology provider Exterity announced that its products will again be used at The Open to deliver live TV and video from July 16-19. The latest installation extended the reach of the Exterity system to all the hospitality and media suites at St Andrews, so that golf fans can “witness new records and watch close-ups of the action regardless of their location within the hospitality village.” The system is also used by on-site broadcasters to monitor their channels as delivered from both satellite and Freeview services.
United Entertainment Group announced the promotion of Mary Scott to President, Sports & Brand Experiences, and Robby Wells to Chief Strategy officer. UEG has also announced four new hires: creative producer and promotions expert Gabe Banner as SVP, Brand Experiences; Sports, Consumer Products and entertainment marketer Nicole Bradley as VP Communications; music industry veteran Dave Santaniello as SVP, Rights & Partnerships; and brand marketing specialist Melanie Washington as VP, Brand Experiences.
Can Spieth keep up the momentum? The Open on ESPN at 4a today.
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ON THIS DAY in 2009: Greg Maddux has his No. 31 retired by the Atlanta Braves.
In The Know:Who served as Conference USA Commissioner before Britton Banowsky? (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who has the all-time homerun record as a Dodger? Answer: Duke Snider. Kudos: Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Jon Clateman-Frozen Ropes/NY; Jon Latzer-CBS Digital Media/NY; Barry Solomon-Retailability Inc./NY; Rich Dubroff-CSNBaltimore.com/Baltimore; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/.Scottsdale; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA; Adam Deverell-Cox Reps/LA.
Later — Chris
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