09/10/15: The Word Cup of Hockey makes a date; Williams battle is a smash; Under Armour scouts latest deal


Good morning. It’s Thursday September 10, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NHL locked in its dates for next year’s 2016 World Cup of Hockey, with the two-week tournament set to begin play on Sept. 17 and run through Oct. 1. Eight teams will play and be split into two Groups, Group A and Group B, for the Preliminary Round (Sept. 17-22), when each team will play its three Group opponents in a round-robin format. Group A will consist of Team Canada, Team Czech Republic and Team USA, plus Team Europe. Group B will see Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden and Team North America. The top two finishers in Group A and Group B will then advance to the Semifinals from Sept. 24-25, with the winners set for the Final, a best-of-three series on Sept. 27, Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. ESPN carries the tournament.


The all-Williams battle between sisters Serena and Venus at the US Open handed ESPN with a 4.8 rating for the quarterfinal match. The entire telecast (which includes a second match pitting Djokovic/Lopez) delivered a 2.7 from Nielsen’s metered markets, marking the second best numbers for tennis in ESPN history on any platform. Metered markets saw West Palm Beach lead the way with a 4.8 for the telecast, followed by New York (4.7), Atlanta (4.5), Richmond (4.1) and Washington DC (4.0). Eleven markets also set a new high for tennis on an ESPN network: New Orleans, Raleigh-Durham, Miami, Louisville, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Sacramento and Nashville.

Sunday night’s throwback NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Darlington on NBC became the most-watched Labor Day weekend race since 2007, averaging a 3.65 household score and nabbing peak viewership of nearly 6.3 million viewers. That marks the most-watched race of the 2015 season since the Coca-Cola 600 in May and is up 16% over ESPN’s equitable Labor Day weekend race a year ago.

More international play for the NFL. The BBC and the league inked a new two-year rights deal that will include live coverage of all three International Series games at Wembley in the UK, as well as the Super Bowl. The new deal also includes a weekly highlights show on BBC Two and online, The Road To The Super Bowl, which will run from the final Wembley game at the start of November until the end of the season. “NFL has a growing fan base in the UK and I’m delighted that the BBC can bring it free-to-air for our audience,” said Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport. “We look forward to delivering all the best action and drama of American Football for the next two years on BBC TV, Radio and Online at the BBC Sport website.”

NFL Kickoff is getting the full NBCUniversal blitz as the company looks to surround its coverage of NFL Kickoff 2015 with its ‘Big Event Strategy,’ including sports, news and entertainment properties. Ahead of tonight’s matchup between the Steelers/Patriots, festivities will include a pre-game concert featuring Ellie Goulding and Train as part of the NFL’s On The Fifty campaign dedicated to celebrating the Super Bowl’s anniversary. Properties in line to support NFL Kickoff include: Today which will be on-site at Gillette Stadium with live segments; The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; E! News; Access Hollywood; America’s Got Talent; NBCSN; Golf Channel; The Dan Patrick Show; NBC Sports Regional Networks and NBC Sports Radio.

Fresh off his short stint as an Eagle, Tim Tebow returns to the ESPN booth on Saturday, where he will serve as an SEC Network college football analyst and on the channel’s SEC Nation. The show will be live from Vanderbilt stating at 10a.

Mike Francesa and FOX Sports are no longer a couple. The radio host announced on his show yesterday that his simulcast on Fox Sports’ cable television networks will end after this week. "The blame is mine," Francesa said on the air, per Newsday. "I tried to do something that was a little different. I knew I was trying to put a square peg in a round hole when I did this." Francesa said he will soon start negotiations with other television outlets with MSG Network the presumed favorite.

Cynopsis Sports is pleased to host its second annual Leaderboard; a showcase of the best 2015 Social Media Campaigns in the Sports Industry. Enter the LEADERBOARD today and don’t miss this chance to have your team rank among the marketing elite as we recognize the best of the best from a historic year.

FS1 and NASCAR Productions are teaming up on a new documentary short film series dubbed Beyond the Wheel that will run during FS1’s NASCAR Race Hub. Premiering on Sept. 23 at 6p, the series runs Wednesdays and will consist of four themes: Chasing Davey following Robbie Allison, son of former NASCAR star Davey Allison; The Kiss, detailing the trophy girls and iconic Victory Lane kiss; The Last American Hero is Junior Johnson, Yes!, paying homage to the 1965 landmark Esquire article that introduced the country to stock car racing; and White Knight, exploring the story of Dick Trickle.

In other documentary news, ESPN Films’ announced that 30 for 30 Volume III will debut this fall, running Tuesdays starting Oct. 13. Film topics include the rise and fall of USC football under head coach Pete Carroll, a city and its mayor fighting against the odds to keep the Kings in Sacramento, the ultimately tragic story of the turbulent relationship between Olympic wrestling stars Mark and Dave Schultz and multimillionaire John du Pont, an exploration of Bill McCartney and his controversial approach running the University of Colorado football program on the way to a national championship, and Evander Holyfield’s years of waiting to fight the famed Mike Tyson and make history.

Finally, EPIX announced that its newest one-hour documentary, Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports, which examines the history of anti-doping policies in professional sports, will premiere Sept. 30 at 8p. The documentary features “the inspiring first-hand accounts of athletes who claim their professional careers have been unfairly impacted by ineffective drug testing or intrusive testing protocols” including Tori Bowie, Philippe DeRosier, Paulie Malignaggi and Adam Nelson.

Cable viewers will get some free tastings ahead of Saturday’s Mayweather/Berto battle on PPV, with programming available on Free On Demand offering fight prep strategies, training info, histories, interviews with trainers and analysts, workouts, the weigh-in, press conferences and behind-the-scenes content including Showtime’s ALL ACCESS. In addition, eight complete recent matches featuring each champion in the main event as well as the undercards are airing on cable for free

Gracenote is launching its On Entertainment "DVR Extend" feature for cable and satellite operators to deal with overtime issues to prevent viewers from missing the winning shot. The new DVR Extend feature blends predictive analytics based on live game stats, historical sports data, TV schedules and human editors to automatically adjust the recording of a live sports game in the event that it goes past the scheduled broadcast time with predictive updates delivered in real-time to cable and satellite customers to help them make the necessary adjustments to TV schedules and DVR recordings.

On the local front, the Mets on SNY scored their highest-rated house hold game of the season, delivering a 4.56 household rating to the channel, to mark the highest house hold ratings and highest total viewers (428,012) since 2010. The channel also notched its highest Mets Post Game rating (2.80 house hold and 265,559 total viewers) since 2009.

Comcast SportsNet, The Comcast Network and CSNPhilly.com unveiled programming plans for Eagles coverage this season, serving up six former players including Barrett Brooks, Brian Westbrook, Seth Joyner, Jeremiah Trotter, Ike Reese and Brian Baldinger to its roster to provide insights and analysis. New programming this year will include Breakfast on Broad with Westbrook, Joyner and Trotter in studio during the football season along with hosts Rob Ellis, Jillian Mele, Barrett Brooks and Sarah Baicker.


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The NFL and Under Armour locked in a multi-year extension of their NFL Scouting Combine deal that will see the brand maintain exclusive rights as the NFL Scouting Combine’s official apparel outfitter. In addition, Under Armour will have expanded rights to produce officially-licensed NFL team-specific Combine performance apparel, gloves and accessories for fans. "We are excited to build on our long-standing partnership with the NFL and to further strengthen our presence as the official outfitter of the NFL Scouting Combine," said Adam Peake, Under Armour’s Executive Vice President of Global Marketing. "The NFL Scouting Combine is the biggest moment of these young athletes’ lives, and it aligns with Under Armour’s mission to break new barriers in performance and innovation. We also have the ability to connect all fans to the Combine and to be an authentic partner in training through our new team-specific gear offerings."

The Sunday Night Football bus is back, with NBC Sports Group announcing that the promotional vehicle will visit the host cities of all 17 SNF games this season. In addition, fans will be able to get a closer look at behind-the-scenes action of SNF broadcasts on the bus, which will feature a special video commemorating Sunday Night Football’s 10th season, a replica of the Football Night in America desk, GIF photo booth, life-size “Photo Bomb” wall, and more. The tour begins this week in Dallas leading up to the SNF opener, pitting the Giants/Cowboys. The bus will arrive in each city two to three days prior to the game, making stops at local landmarks and events before heading to the game site.

NBC Sports Group is turning to Rutledge Wood to explain NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff system in a new NBC Sports promo that debuts this week. Developed by NBC Sports Agency, the multi-platform marketing promotion helps educate fans on NASCAR’s playoff system with The Chase set to begin on Sept. 20 on NBCSN. “We were looking to create something both entertaining and educational that speaks to long-time NASCAR fans, as well as newcomers to the sport,” said Bill Bergofin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, NBC Sports Group. “Rutledge visually breaks down the playoff system in a humorous way, speckled with cultural mentions.”

Professional Bull Riders will hit Louisville on Oct. 9-10 amid festivities that will include, for the next four weeks, promotion such as PBR BDVT announcer Matt West and barrel man entertainer Matt Merritt giving fans scoop each Wednesday morning on 94.3 The Wolf (WULF-FM); food and beverage specials at Fourth Street Live!; community events such as parades, go-kart racing and PBR star appearances; as well as pre- and post-event concerts on the KFC Yum! Center Plaza and Fourth Street Live! stage.

Meanwhile, Spartan Race announced its own activations for the 2015 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship on Oct. 3-4 at Lake Tahoe. The Championship weekend will include brand presentations by Reebok and interactive experiences, with competitions that include: the Reebok Spartan Race World Championship Beast (13+ miles/ 30+ obstacles); a Spartan Sprint (3+ miles/ 20+ obstacles), a Spartan Beast, Ultra Beast (26+ miles/ 60+ obstacles), and Charity Challenge (3+ miles/ 20+ obstacles). Spartan Kids races will also take place on both Saturday and Sunday

Mississippi State University Athletics and GameDay Traditions announced a brand-new game day tradition for football fans. Dubbed, The 1878 Club, the experience will serve as “the first-of-its-kind” in the Southeastern Conference and feature a neighborhood collection of custom-made, premier suites that are specially designed for tailgate entertaining, complete with a rocking chair front porch, a temperature-controlled interior suite with a private restroom and an outdoor shaded entertainment area as well as as hardwood floors, a vaulted ceiling, stainless steel appliances, four HD televisions, a refrigerator and television with exterior access from the covered entertainment area. The deal  was secured by Bulldog Sports Properties, which is a property of Learfield Sports and the exclusive multimedia rights partner for Mississippi State Athletics.


FOX Sports GO announced plans to live stream 104 NFL games this season, including 101 regular-season games, an NFC Wild Card Game, an NFC Divisional Playoff Game, and the NFC Championship Game. Subscribers of participating pay-TV providers will be able to live stream the NFL on FOX games televised in their market on tablets via the FOX Sports GO app and online at FOXSportsGO.com. Due to league restrictions, NFL games are not available through FOX Sports GO on mobile phones.

Bleacher Report is set to debut a slate of new video franchises ahead of the NFL season. Among the highlights will see the site and its Team Stream app expand the The Simms & Lefkoe Podcast to include video for the first time. The podcast will be available on a weekly basis throughout the season.  In addition, Bleacher Report will introduce new NFL Draft and College Football Recruiting shows produced weekly. The new NFL Draft show will be hosted by Stephen Nelson with Matt Miller and Michael Felder and is set to debut later this month. October will see the new College Football recruiting show will be hosted by Nelson with Felder. In addition, Bleacher Report has hired Matt Camp as its lead Fantasy Football video analyst and featured columnist. Bleacher Report’s video team will now create more than 75 new pieces of original content dedicated to the NFL and college football each week throughout the season. 
The Sports Jeopardy! Championship is now available to viewers via a two-episode event that spotlights the top players from the show’s first season testing their sports knowledge. The episodes are now available on Crackle and will conclude on Sept. 16. Dan Patrick, who recently announced his return for Season 2 of the weekly live game show series, will see the winner will take home the grand prize of $50,000, while the second-place finisher wins $25,000 and third place claims $10,000. The second season of Sports Jeopardy! will begin streaming all-new episodes on September 23.


World Series of Fighting lined up a trio of heavyweights for its Board of Directors. Joining the Board, effective immediately, are Mark Ford (Executive Vice President, Global Advertising for Time Inc.), Mike Stevens (Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer, New York Football Giants, Inc.) and John Weiser (President, U.S. Distribution for Sony Pictures Television). “We are thrilled to add the diverse sports, media, and brand building expertise that Mark, Mike, and John bring to our Board as we look to continue to grow as a premier destination for MMA fans and sponsors alike,” said CEO, Carlos Silva.

The International Surfing Association launched its first Athletes’ Commission to ensure that surfers are properly represented within the International Federation and the wider sporting movement. Athlete Casper Steinfath was named Chairperson of the commission, which will also include Nao Omura, Nic Von Rupp, Tia Blanco, Jamie Mitchell, Leilani McGonagle and Greg Long.


The NFL season officially gets underway with NFL Kickoff pitting Steelers/Patriots on NBC at 8:30p.


The results are in for the
Cynopsis Rising Star Awards
Thursday, October 15 I New York City I 6:30-7:30pm

Join us as we honor our 2015 Rising Stars, execs with the smarts, maturity, and innovative spirit to lead the next generation. They may be 30 years old or younger, but they bring amazing energy and creativity to their work. Cynopsis is proud to shine a spotlight on them!

Questions? Please contact Sarah Martinez on 646.295.1094

ON THIS DAY in 1988: Steffi Graf wins tennis’ Grand Slam by taking the U.S. Open women’s title.

In The Know: Between being known as the Boston Patriots and the New England Patriots, the NFL franchise briefly went by what name? (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: Name two football movies starring Dennis Quaid. Answer: The Express, Everybody’s All-American, Any Given Sunday. Kudos: Jay Goldstein-Admore/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports Network/NY; David Kalan-NHL.com/NY; Joseph Lombardi-Silver Chalice Ventures/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Michael Goodman-Radio One/Atlanta; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Glen Ross/Harrisonburg; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Steve Hirsen/Sherman Oaks; Nick Monroe- Monroe Photography/San Diego; Joey Olson/Manhattan Beach; Adam Deverell-Cox Reps/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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