07/30/14: NBC Sports Group scores one for Tim Howard; ESPN drops a punishment on Stephen A. Smith; Hall of Fame a dinger for MLB Network


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, July 30, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

World Cup star Tim Howard has another gig in the works. NBC Sports Group announced that the goalkeeper for the U.S. Men’s National Team will become a long-term part of the company’s Premier League on-air team via a multi-year agreement. The deal will see Howard work up to 10 Premier League games this season, where he will serve as game analyst in the booth or in an on-site studio for the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows. His assignments will be scheduled around his Everton matches and will focus on top-tier games.


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Stephen A. Smith has been yanked for his comments about provoking domestic abuse, ESPN announced. He will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week, according to the AP and will return to ESPN next Wednesday. The move came after Smith appeared on his ESPN2 series First Take and apologized earlier this week.

Sunday’s 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony proved to be a boon for MLB Network, and ranked as the most-watched in the six years the channel has carried the event. The telecast averaged 516,000 viewers, for a boost of 411% over the 2013 ceremony (where no living inductees were honored). In addition, it pulled a 177% increase over the audience for the 2012 enshrinement.

Speaking of baseball, THR writes that in its quest for “fair market value” in the range of $100 to $120 million from MASN, the Washington Nationals appear to be heading to court. The Nationals were victorious in an MLB arbitration hearing that pitted them against the Baltimore Orioles, who have a majority share of the channel. The Nationals, however, claim that they still haven’t received the revised rights fees, which were due to rise following an agreement put in place when the team initially landed in DC. According to the article, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig wrote both clubs warning them that if they sue over this, they could suffer from “the most severe sanctions.” Sanctions, according to the report, could result in the “suspension or removal of any owner, officer or employee” of a club.

In better news, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and the Longhorn Network will offer 82 regional games of the 2014 Little League World Series starting Friday. The regional games will lead into ESPN’s multiplatform coverage of the Little League World Series presented by Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes from Williamsport, Pa., between Thursday, Aug. 14, and Sunday, Aug. 24. Overall, ESPN’s total Little League World Series commitment is 133 games, including 32 from Williamsport and eight World Series championship games across several divisions. Baseball Tonight commentators Karl Ravech, Chris Singleton and Aaron Boone return for regional commentary this year.

NBC Sports Group formally announced plans for a new reality series, Mecum Dealmakers, that will debut tomorrow at 10p on NBCSN. The show will examine “the high-intensity world of Mecum Auctions, as collector cars change hands with the smack of an auction gavel.” The 11-episode program follows President and Founder Dana Mecum and his son Frank Mecum as they work together to manage the auction floor.

We are less than a month away; get your tickets now before it once again sells out! Join us on Aug. 19-20 for the Cynopsis Sports Business Summit, taking place at the NY Athletic Club. Another can’t miss session will be “Making the Big Data Play (and Pay)” featuring speakers that include NBC Sports Group’s Rick Cordella, Omnigon’s Mike Grushin, the NBA’s Steve Hellmuth, FOX Sports’ Pete Vlastelica and Neulion’s Chris Wagner. The panel will be moderated by Bloomberg Sports President Bill Squadron. For more info and to register, click here.

The Oakland Raiders may be heading south. Team owner Mark Davis met with several San Antonio officials to discuss the potential of moving the team to San Antonio, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The Raiders’ stadium lease with the city expires after the 2014-15 season.

The Sacramento Kings officially announced its renewed TV deal with Comcast SportsNet. The agreement will see Comcast SportsNet California showcase more than 500 hours of team coverage per season, with televised games rising from 70 to 80. “I believe the terms of our new long-term agreement reflect a 21st-century media deal,” said Kings’ President Chris Granger, according to the Sacramento Bee. "NBC Universal and Comcast SportsNet are best positioned to help the Sacramento Kings provide fans with an unparalleled viewing experience.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler reportedly sent a letter to Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Rob Marcus that criticized the company for its “inability to reach agreements with other area pay-TV distributors for SportsNet LA,” according to the LA Times. "I am writing to express my strong concern about how your actions appear to have created the inability of consumers in the Los Angeles area to watch televised games of the Los Angeles Dodgers," Wheeler wrote. "The FCC will continue to monitor this dispute closely and will intervene as appropriately necessary to bring relief to consumers."

The LPGA will open its 2015 season with the inaugural Coates Golf Championship presented by R+L Carriers in Ocala from Jan. 28-31. This marks the second consecutive year that the LPGA Tour season will launch in January. The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic will immediately follow on the slate, running Feb. 5-8. “We are excited to partner with Coates Golf to have the 2015 LPGA season begin in Florida,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “Playing back-to-back events in Florida and The Bahamas in the East Coast time zone will be a great way for our fans to watch our first two events of the year live on Golf Channel.”


Cynopsis Sports Business Summit
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, ChairmanCBS Sports
Bryce Townsend, CEO, North America – Group M

View the complete list of speakers & register:


MLS WORKS, ESPN and Special Olympics are teaming up to host a Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star soccer match between Special Olympics North America and Special Olympics Germany that will coincide with the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Stars taking on German Bundesliga club, FC Bayern Munich. The game will start immediately following the AT&T MLS All-Star open training session with free admission to the public.

Fight Network signed on to sponsor the BoxRun charity initiative, that will see former 11-time Canadian amateur boxing champion Mike Strange run 90 marathons in 90 days to raise money for children’s cancer research. All proceeds from the 2014 BoxRun will be donated to the McMaster University Stem Cell & Cancer Research Institute and Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada.


In tandem with espnW’s and ESPN Films’ Nine for IX Shorts, espnW has launched the Nine for IX Knowledge Center, a resource center designed for college administrators, professors and student-athletes that “examines the powerful lessons in each of the Nine for IX series films released last summer.” The site will offer discussion guides, posters and community forums for each of the films, as well as free copies of the Nine for IX box set.


Angeles/Orioles on ESPN at 7p.


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