09/04/14: Xfinity goes nationwide for NASCAR; NFL Now, FOX Sports GO establish game plans before kickoff; The Whistle hits London


Good morning. It’s Thursday, September 4, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NASCAR and Comcast officially tied the knot; formally announcing a deal that will make Comcast’s XFINITY brand the title sponsor of what is currently the NASCAR Nationwide Series through 2024. The 10-year deal matches the longest single agreement around title sponsorship of any NASCAR national series in history, and is the longest entitlement sponsorship agreement in this series’ history. Beginning January 1, 2015, the property will be known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The agreement also makes XFINITY an Official NASCAR Partner in the multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) and broadband ISP categories.

"We’re proud to welcome XFINITY to the NASCAR community as title sponsor of the NASCAR XFINITY Series for the next decade," said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman & CEO. "NASCAR and XFINITY are each leader brands with much in common. Both are focused on innovation and have products built for speed. Together, we will work to take this series to new heights and elevate one of the most unique and powerful partnerships in all of sports."


Cynopsis Sports Webinar
Engaging with Teens and Millennials Across Platforms
Mark Stephens, Marketing Manager – Topps Company
Tim Reed, Senior Director, Events & Contents – ESPN X Games
Monisha Longacre, Chief Product Officer – NFHS Network
Jamie Mottram, Director of Content Development  – USA Today Sports Media Group

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 1:30 PM – 3PM


ESPN debuts a new look for its NFL studios this week on Sunday NFL Countdown, as it shifts to a 9,000 square foot studio. The first show in the new studio airs at 10a on Sunday.  The space will also serve as the new home for all other ESPN NFL studio programs  NFL Insiders, NFL Live, NFL PrimeTime and Monday Night Countdown, etc.  beginning Monday, Sept. 8. Other new features on Sunday NFL Countdown include features reporter Michelle Beisner, contributor Jim Trotter, reporter/host Wendi Nix and new Washington, D.C.-based bureau reporter Britt McHenry as well as new graphics and theme music this fall.

NBCSN had a good year with the 2014 Verizon Indycar Series, notching its second best viewership since 2009, according to Nielsen. The channel’s coverage of the series averaged 378,000 viewers this season, up 34% over last year. Overall, NBCSN’s coverage reached 4.356 million unique viewers, the best since 2011 with five of this year’s races (Barber, Texas, Houston 2, Iowa and Toronto 2) besting the the average viewership of the top race in 2013.

NBCSN also announced its plans for college basketball this season, with more than 45 games in the cards, including 32 regular-season matchups featuring Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association schools, the Barclays Center Classic featuring Virginia, Vanderbilt, La Salle and Rutgers, and coverage of the Atlantic 10 Championship and CAA conference tournament. The channel will air 25 A-10 regular season games featuring all 14 member schools. Coverage of the A-10 on NBCSN begins Dec. 13 at 7p with Northern Iowa/VCU.

Saturday will see NBC carry Michigan/Notre Dame at 7:30p. Dan Hicks calls Saturday’s game alongside analyst Mike Mayock and sideline reporter Kathryn Tappen.

Join Cynopsis Sports on Wednesday, September 17 for our newest webinar, covering the best practices in sports to learn how companies are attracting and engaging teens and millennials in the games they play, watch and consume with actionable strategies for SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. Information on the webinar can be found here.

FOX Sports South debuts DRIVEN  Brian Stann: All American on Friday at 11p following the Braves/Marlins game. DRIVEN follows Stann’s journey from the Naval Academy to the Marine Corps, and through his mixed martial arts career to his career in broadcast television. Stann is currently a UFC color commentator for FOX Sports and was previously a college football analyst with FOX Sports South.

World Fishing Network debuts Season Two of World Fishing Journal on Sunday at 11:30a with an all-star episode that includes the likes of NHL defenseman Willie Mitchell, UFC welterweight fighter Mike Quicks.


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The NHL announced plans for the 2015 NHL Fan Fair, the official fan festival of the 2015 NHL All-Star festivities in Columbus. The event takes place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, running Jan. 23-25 and offering family-friendly interactive games and attractions including: NHL memorabilia and trophy displays, including the iconic Stanley Cup; live TV and radio broadcasts; special appearances by current and former players as well as NHL Mascots; and music, food and dozens of other dynamic activities.

Carolina Panthers superfan Brooklyn Decker helped Visa announce Footballentine’s Day, a new “holiday” from the company designed to “give football fans the opportunity to thank their loved ones for putting up with their fandom all season long.” Footballentine’s Day is this Saturday, Sept. 6 and fans that enroll in Visa Checkout, a new online payment service, can send 18 free roses to loved ones.  Visa will announce more offers  including a giveaway of 1 million free Pizza Hut pizzas  throughout the season.

FedEx is launching its 12th annual FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week program for the 2014 season. Fans are encouraged to visit www.NFL.com/FedEx to cast their votes for their favorite nominated players each week. Voting begins after Monday Night Football and runs through 3p on Thursday. FedEx and the NFL will announce the one winning quarterback and running back every Thursday afternoon and donate $2,000 to their teams’ local area chapters of the American Red Cross to assist with disaster relief and preparedness.

Want to win a two-night stay at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas? Then come to the Cynopsis Kids Business Summit on Sept. 8 in NYC and enter; we’ll choose the lucky winner at the event. Register here.

DoSomething.org and Be a STAR, an anti-bullying initiative co-founded in 2011 by The Creative Coalition and WWE, are teaming up for a new initiative dubbed The Bully Text: Superstar Edition, a campaign that uses an SMS text message game to get young people to take action around bullying. Each scenario is designed to make young people think about what they would do in the face of bullying alongside some of their favorite WWE Superstars. WWE’s Sheamus has joined forces to record a PSA to encourage participation in the initiative.

EPIX joins UCLA to honor former Bruins stars Kenny Washington and Woody Strode on September 6 and 9 in Los Angeles. On Sept. 6, the families of the two deceased former UCLA and NFL stars (Kalai Strode, son of Woody Strode, and Karin Washington Cohen, daughter of Kenny Washington) will take part in the pre-game coin toss and serve as two of the honorary captains for Memphis/UCLA at 7p. On Sept. 9, UCLA will host the premiere of EPIX’ Forgotten Four, the new documentary telling the story of Washington, Strode, Marion Motley and Bill Willis.


Just ahead of tonight’s kickoff to the NFL season, the league announced that its next-gen video service, NFL Now, is now live on five new platforms: NFL Mobile phone and tablet applications, Amazon Kindle Fire, Fire Phone and Fire TV, and Yahoo! Screen. In addition, the league unveiled two new original unscripted series from NFL Media, Finding Giants, and Undrafted will be made available on the platform. Finding Giants goes behind-the-scenes with the New York Giants Scouting Department to explore how the team approaches scouting, drafting and teambuilding in four thirty-minute episodes. Undrafted goes inside the lives of various athletes as they prepare for the NFL’s Super Regional Combines.

FOX Sports GO announced plans to live stream 97 regular-season NFL on FOX games, along with four NFC playoff games this season. Subscribers of participating video providers will be able to live stream the NFL games televised in their market and – due to league restrictions – NFL games are not available through FOX Sports GO on mobile phones.

Bleacher Report is updating its Team Stream app, introducing an “enhanced home screen stream and improved customization features providing more direct access to real-time text and video updates” from Bleacher Report’s roster of lead writers and top contributors. The update also includes expanded video content and new features for fantasy football participants. Features include a redesigned home screen with top news for each fan’s customized streams; curated player news; an updated “My NFL Players Stream” feed; and play-by-play auto-notifications for top game moments.

espnW unveiled its lineup for its Fifth Annual Women + Sports Summit, set for October 8-10 in Dana Point, CA. This year’s theme is Making an Impact, and focuses on the influence athletes and business leaders have on the women’s sports landscape. Featured speakers this year will include IOC Committee member Anita DeFrantz, Equinox President Sarah Robb O’Hagan, WTA CEO Stacey Allaster, LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan, Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, WNBA stars Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne, Little League World Series sensation Mo’ne Davis, fitness expert Gabrielle Reece and U.S. Paralympian Amy Purdy. ESPN President John Skipper, ESPN Executive Vice President and CFO Christine Driessen and espnW Vice President Laura Gentile will also have featured roles.

The NFHS Network is launching a newly enhanced, multi-platform site designed to enable and improve watching high school games. During the 2014-2015 school year, the platform will deliver live broadcasts of more than 40,000 high school games and other events to fans via the redesigned NFHS Network site, a joint venture between the NFHS, its member state associations and PlayOn! Sports. Members of the network will now be able to clip and share highlights from on demand events using WeVideo’s video editor, customize the home page, and more.


Big news for The Whistle Sports Network, which is opening its first international office in London. The company announced that Jeff Nathenson will join to lead the new office from YouTube starting Sept. 1 as SVP, Content Partnerships and Distribution, EMEA. He previously served as Head of Football at YouTube, developing their global football strategy, implementing plans that elevated their programming from user-uploaded views to official content offerings.


The NFL season begins with Packers/Seahawks on NBC at 8:30p.

ON THIS DAY in 1972: US swimmer Mark Spitz wins his seventh gold medal at the Summer Games in Munich.

In The Know: Two teams have won the MLS Cup four times. Who are they? (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: From which city did the New Jersey Devils relocate? Answer: Denver. Kudos: Jim Seifert/Sao Paulo; Mitch Burg-Impact Communications/NY; Jorge Briones-Warner Bros./NY; Bill Hirsh-Learfield Sports/NY; Daniel Weber-MLB Network/NY; Rick Haan-CommuniConcepts/Morristown; Mike Antolini-Tiger Woods Foundation/Boston; Christopher Doyle-Twitter Canada/Toronto; Chris Faulds-Bell Media Digital/Toronto; Kevin Wicker-Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network/Mission; David Hauptman/Denver; Chris Kuhrt-DISH Network/Englewood; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Brian Sullivan-KHQ-TV/Spokane.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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