09/08/14: The NFL kicks off on a high note; Nationwide doubles down on NASCAR ride; Big East goes big with digital network



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Good morning. It’s Monday, September 8, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The return of the NFL regular season blew up ratings as NBC saw 26.9 million viewers tune in for NFL Kickoff on Thursday. Viewership was up 7% from last year’s open game and marked the third-most watched NFL Kickoff game in the 13-year history of the event, according to fast national data from Nielsen. The matchup drew a national household rating of 15.5/26, making it the third-highest rated NFL Kickoff game behind 2010 (16.5/28) and 2011 (16.0/26), and up 4% from last year’s opener. On the digital front, NBC Sports Live Extra’s live stream of the event scored record-setting digital numbers with fans consuming more than 25 million minutes and making it the highest-trafficked non-Olympic, non-Super Bowl live stream in NBC Sports Digital history.


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Meanwhile, Saturday’s Pac-12 battle between USC/Stanford was a hit for ABC, nabbing a 4.6 overnight rating to rank as the day’s highest CFB game on TV as well as ABC’s best numbers for a college football game at the 3:30p slot in two years. Top markets included Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Columbus, LA, Austin and Birmingham.

At the US Open, Roger Federer’s comeback served ESPN with a 1.6 overnight rating, notching the third-highest US Open tennis rating in the company’s six years of televising the Open. It also marked the best number since 2009. Top markets included New York, DC, Ft. Myers, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and Louisville.

FOX Sports is revving up Multimatch 90 for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, according to the NYT, and will slate up to eight games at a time while they are being played simultaneously throughout Europe across 12 days. The Red Zone-ish platform will begin on Sept. 16 and run through Dec. 10, offering the best moments from the 32-team tournament, “live and on replay, as rapidly as possible” on Fox Soccer Plus. John Strong will be among the hosts of the channel.

Speaking of FOX, FOX Sports 1 revealed that over 13.8 million viewers watched FOX Sports 1 programming for the week ending Aug. 31, marking the channel’s largest weekly audience since March 10-16, according to Nielsen. The period was bolstered by the return of college football with the four games on the channel averaging 542,000 viewers, for a 10% rise over the 493,000 viewers that five games averaged in Week 1 of last season. Baylor’s 45-0 rout of SMU posted 762,000 viewers, making it FOX Sports 1’s most-watched telecast of the week, up 30% compared to the average Big 12 games recorded on FOX Sports 1 last season.
ESPN2’s Highly Questionable and ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show will come from new studio homes in Miami Beach’s Clevelander Hotel starting today. Highly Questionable will now feature “a colorful new set and different look while still retaining a Miami flavor including a window behind the panelists that will offer a South Beach view of palm trees, sand and surf. "We are going to conga line from our colorful 1950s kitchen to something South Beach cooler. It’ll feel fun and colorful and like a party — like an ESPN Miami, next to a pool serving drinks," said Dan Le Batard.

Join us on Sept. 17 for our newest webinar, “Engaging with Teens and Millennials Across Platforms.” The session will break down how sports are tapping the power of broadcast, digital, and the second (third, and fourth) screens to cultivate and empower young consumers, showcasing best practices to learn how they’re attracting and engaging teens and millennials in the games they play, watch and consume. Click here for more info.

Newsmagazine E:60 is set to chronicle the story of a Ferguson, Mo., high school football team for ESPN amid the headline-grabbing events that took place in the city. The episode will air Tuesday at 8p. Jeffri Chadiha reports on the journey of the McCluer South-Berkeley Bulldogs.

Anthem Media Group laid out its new fall programming line-up for FNTSY Sports Network. On Sunday mornings from 7-10a, the channel will showcase RotoExperts Live! Sunday Edition, hosted by Tony Cincotta, Mike Blewitt and Nando Di Fino. That will be followed until noon by FNTSY Sports Today Live from Remm Las Vegas and then FNTSY Sports Today Live from Toronto at 1p, hosted by Laura Diakun and Pat Mayo. In addition, FNTSY Sports Today Live from Las Vegas hosted by Farra and Fortenbaugh will offer new episodes on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7p, while Rob Silver Show will run Thursdays at 4:30p. 


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After departing the NASCAR’s Nationwide Series next season, Nationwide will now put Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the spotlight. Hendrick Motorsports revealed Friday that the drive will be sponsored by Nationwide Insurance for 21 races in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The United Nations World Food Program and the International Rugby Board are making a push for funds to raise awareness for their Tackle Hunger partnership at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. The drive will launch a Million Mea Challenge ahead of the event, which starts on September 18, to raise funds for WFP to provide meals to school children in developing countries.


The Big East Conference is launching a digital network in partnership with FOX Sports. The Big East Digital Network will serve as a conference-specific, year-round HD digital channel offering free live streaming of 80-100 sporting events annually, in addition to the authenticated live streaming of conference events on FOX Sports networks. The platform launches on Sept. 25 with a branded channel within FOX Sports GO and marks the first collegiate conference to be hosted on the network’s mobile platform.


MNF doubleheader on ESPN starting with Giants/Lions at 7p and Chargers/Cardinals at 10:20p.

ON THIS DAY in 1998: Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire hits his 62nd HR of the season, breaking Roger Maris’ record.

In The Know: Super Bowl-winning coach Jimmy Johnson served as a head coach at which two universities? (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: Which NFL player led the league in sacks last season? Answer: The Colts’ Robert Mathis. Kudos: David Stern-BARD Entertainment/NY; Denis Barry-CBS Television Stations/NY; Mark Darnell-Golf Services/Augusta; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Jerehmy White-BusyBuddy Books/Glen Rock; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA.

Later — Chris
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