07.28.14 Good morning. It’s Monday, July 28, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
It’s been the summer of the Warrior, with NBC/Esquire Network’s sports entertainment franchise American Ninja Warrior continuing to cement itself as a summer staple from A. Smith & Co. The series recently got another renewal from NBC, and has been a stalwart on Monday nights as several athletes have gone viral with their mastery and failures on the course. Now, the company is looking to continue its success in sports entertainment, bringing back American Gladiators with a modernupdate. Meanwhile, American Ninja Warrior will present the Las Vegas Finals where competitors lay it all on the line for the $500,000 on Aug. 11 at 9p.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Kent Weed, President of A. Smith & Co. about the success of the show, digital extensions and the future of the series.
Weed on the success of the show: I think the difference between this format and other shows is the stories of the athletes. They are relatable to the audience because anybody could do this, whether they are male, female, athlete, non-athletes, you feel like you could do this. They love the opportunity of doing something that is both unique and challenging. That is something else that is different about our show, you could be the best athlete in the world, or you could be someone who has lost 200 pounds to try to do this. Audiences find that inspiring.
On digital strategy: Digital strategy is a new strategy. Up until recently, we’ve found it very difficult to make sense and to make money doing it. So, we’ve tried to strategize in a way that allows us to make money. In the last couple of years, it didn’t make sense. It was a new platform, kind of like cable 20 years ago when nobody was making any money. Our margins just weren’t big enough. But now, it is starting to trend towards less about making money initially and more about making money in the long term. What we are doing is looking at ways to do this as well so it makes sense of r the audience and they get to watch something that is valuable to them. So we are constantly trying to evaluate so it is value-added entertainment or whether it is special and unique.
On the future: I think what you can expect moving forward is for people to complete the course. This is the only show that doesn’t have a winner! Yet it is still engrossing, fantastic to watch. Audiences are looking for a winner. We are also always thinking about what we are going to do next. The network is going to challenge us as well to create that. Once someone completes the course, we will make the courses harder. We challenge ourselves to make sure that we make it more difficult. Once you achieve this, can you do this? What’s interesting that we found this year is that a lot of competitors have built their own courses in their backyards. There is a huge, grassroots following for this. We are getting constantly challenged to beat them at their own game. They are looking to figure it out. Anytime something is new, it is challenging to the competitors, but they learn fast.
On the athletes: They are getting stronger, they are more talented and they are smarter. The most interesting thing I think is that, as good as they are, when you compete, it is night and day compared to doing a course in your backyard. It is one thing to be really good in practice and anther to be good in the game.
On finding franchises: We love sports, and sports entertainment is where we are centering a lot of programming. We are getting ready to do another huge franchise in American Gladiators, which is a brand we have the rights to with MGM. We believe in it and we believe in sports. Sports does well, it is an event situation. Sports entertainment can follow that, and I think that’s why American Ninja Warrior does well.
FOX Sports announced over the weekend that, for the first time, The Ultimate Fighter will premiere in Spanish and will consist of fighters spanning Latin America. The debut season of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America hits FOX Deportes on Monday, Aug. 25 at 10p. Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum will serve as coaches, with 16 fighters from Mexico and Latin America competing in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. The series was filmed in Las Vegas in the spring.
While we are on the topic of the UFC, the MMA promotion announced that it will make its first trip to Phoenix in December this year for the final UFC on Fox event of 2014. Bouts will be announced in the coming months.
ESPN has told reporters that, following his controversial comments last week about provoking domestic violence, Stephen A. Smith will address the headline-making situation today on First Take. The company will also reportedly “have more to say” about the situation as well.
Speaking of Smith, the NY Daily News writes that he will depart ESPN-98.7 FM and head to SiriusXM. There, he will join Chris Russo’s Mad Dog Radio channel and host his own show, likely airing from 1-3p as a lead-in to Russo’s Mad Dog Unleashed.
The paper also writes that Showtime’s Inside the NFL is still looking for a host, with James Brown not returning to the series this season. Among the candidates to replace him, according to the report, are Greg Gumbel, Adam Schein, Curt Menefee, Kenny Albert and Ian Eagle. Another potential name would also be NFL Network’s Rich Eisen. This season, Inside the NFL will be taped and air Tuesday evenings on Showtime instead of Wednesdays.
Seven members of Congress led by Rep. Tony Cardenas are turning toward the FCC to end a standoff between Time Warner Cable and distributors over SportsNet LA, the new Dodgers channel, according to the LA Times. Launched this year, SportsNet LA is still not available in the majority of pay-TV homes in the LA market.
Heading into the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend, NFL Network is slating Heads Up Across America, a five-part, multi-city series showcasing “the impact and reach of USA Football’s Heads Up Football program.” The series debuts today and will see Melissa Stark interacting with players and parents, taking part in demonstrations, and interviewing special guests at various Heads Up Football locations and events. Editions will air throughout the week of July 28 on NFL Network programs that include NFL Total Access, NFL AM and Inside Training Camp Live.
It’s finally here! Join us on Aug. 19-20 for the Cynopsis Sports Business Summit, taking place at the NY Athletic Club. Highlights of our Summit include the session, “Leveraging the Power of the Local Fan,” with panelists that include Learfield Sports’ Andy Rawlings, Daytona International Speedway’s Joie Chitwood III, CBS Radio’s Chris Oliviero, Home Team Sports’ Craig Sloan and AEG’s Scott Carliss. espnW’s Laura Gentile will moderate. Don’t miss this event! For more information and a full schedule, click here.
Despite FIFA’s commitment to keeping the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has continued to call for the tournament to be moved following the loss of 298 lives when the plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17. Clegg told a British newspaper that threatening Russia by withdrawing the World Cup would be "a very potent political and symbolic sanction." Meanwhile, politicians in Germany and the Netherlands also have called for a new host country for the event.
Formula 1 is making some changed globally, announcing the additions of Mexico and Azerbaijan to its upcoming calendars. The addition of Mexico in 2015 brings F1 back to the country after a 23-year absence. Live events company CIE inked a five-year deal to host the race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. In 2016, Azerbaijan joins the mix with the race reportedly set to be run on a new street circuit being constructed and will replace Valencia, which dropped off the calendar last year.
Did you miss anything from last week’s media news? Go to In Case You Missed It and you’ll be up to date in no time.
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AUG. 14 | NYAC| Early Bird Ends: Aug. 5th! A sampling of the powerful line-up of speakers:
Ken Hershman, President - HBO Sports
Bill Hancock, Executive Director - College Football Playoff (CFP)
Sean McManus, Chairman – CBS Sports
Bryce Townsend, CEO, North America - Group M View the complete list of speakers & register:
The NCAA and Electronic Arts Inc. were given a judge’s preliminary approval of $60 million in settlements to be paid as a result of athletes’ claims that their images were used in video games without their permission. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken announced that she would give a provisional green light to a $40 million settlement for Electronic Arts and a $20 million settlement with the NCAA.
Carnival Cruise Lines entered a marketing deal with the Dallas Cowboys that will expand the company’s brand at the team’s stadium. The cruise operator stated that the multiyear deal will include giveaways for fans on game days as well as sponsorship of the team’s training camp show on a regional sports network, according to the AP.
EverBank locked in a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville to continue as the naming rights sponsor of the team’s home stadium, EverBank Field, for another 10 years. The agreement will kick after the upcoming 2014 season.
Viaccess-Orca reports that as many as 20 million people viewed the World Cup on illegal websites. The company said its Eye on Piracy software monitored every match during the World Cup to collect data about the illegal streams, as well as the sources of those streams. Other findings also saw the number of viewers on illegal streaming websites rising during afternoon matches. Overall, Viaccess-Orca delivered over 3,200 takedown notices to owners of the pirate sites.
Blue Jays/Red Sox on ESPN at 7p.
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August 19 | 1-6:30 PM | New York Athletic Club
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ON THIS DAY in 1991: Expo Dennis Martinez pitches a perfect game.
In The Know:Name a professional athlete that has hosted Saturday Night Live more than once. (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: The Fremont Cannon is presented to the winner of what college football rivalry game? Answer: The Battle for Nevada, pitting UNLV and Nevada. Kudos: Bobby Coyle-Clear Channel Media + Entertainment/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Will Allmendinger-Zoom Media/Chicago; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Joe Pedri-KLAS/Las Vegas.
Later — Chris
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