09/11/14: ESPN sets New Year’s plans; FOX Sports had a big week; the NHL gets oral


Good morning. It’s Thursday, September 11, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

ESPN booked its New Year’s plans, announcing its programming schedule for the six bowl games slated to run on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day under the new College Football Playoff rotation system including the two Semifinals. The action begins Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 12:30p with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, followed by the Fiesta Bowl at 4p and Orange Bowl at 8p. New Year’s Day then opens with the Cotton Bowl at 12:30p, the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at 5p and the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl at 8:30p. Additional programming surrounding all the bowls will be announced at a later date.


Cynopsis Webinar
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Bruce Goerlich
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Brian Fuhrer
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Mainak Mazumdar,
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FOX Sports boasted record numbers this past week, bolstered by the return of the NFL, college football, September baseball and a UFC card, according to Nielsen. Week Two of FOX College Football handed the broadcast channel its highest-rated, most-watched regular-season broadcast ever with a 3.5/7 household rating/share and 6.0 million viewers tuning in to Oregon’s win over Michigan State. That number is up 75% with audiences growing 76% compared to last year’s comparable matchup. The 2014 NFL on FOX season kicked-off with America’s Game of the Week featuring the 49ers/Cowboys. The franchise posted a 15.7/31 household rating/share with 28.0 million viewers. Around the dial on FOX Sports 1, the network saw its college football games show audience averaging 568,000 viewers for a markup of 24% season to date compared to a year ago.

After NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on CBS and affirmed that the NFL had not seen or received a copy of the Ray Rice video that led to the player’s dismissal and suspension until this week, the AP writes that an NFL executive received the video five months ago. A law enforcement official shared a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 with the AP, questioning if the video arrived. A female voice then thanked the official and reportedly stated that: "You’re right. It’s terrible." The source then stated that he had no further communication with any NFL employee and can’t confirm anyone actually watched the video. USA Today asked the league about the voicemail Wednesday, with NFL officials repeating their assertion that no league official had seen the video before Monday.

Meanwhile, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem addressed the sport’s ratings this season, according to Golf Channel. “I would say that on the television standpoint, it was kind of a mixed bag this year,” he said. “Our ratings, if you just look at ratings – which we don’t ever like to just look at ratings, we look at [cumulative] audience – but if you look at ratings, they were off somewhat. And we attribute that somewhat to Tiger [Woods] not playing and somewhat to the fact that we had very few playoffs this year compared to the last two years. And playoffs really do help our ratings.” He then adds, ““But on the other side of the coin, our [cumulative] audience, the total number of people that tuned into our audience, was up 7 or 8% this year. And increasingly given the volume of hours we have on television, we look to [cumulative] audience as a key metric.

ESPN has added two Major League Baseball Postseason Impact Games to its schedule, scheduling Brewers/Cardinals on Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 8p. On Friday, Sept. 19, ESPN2 will feature the Tigers/Royals  at 8p.

The NHL officially announced that the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic pitting the Blackhawks/Capitals on Jan. 1 will be held at Nationals Park in DC. The annual event will be shown nationally on NBC stateside and on CBC and TVA in Canada at 1p. “The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic has made New Year’s Day a highlight of the season for NHL fans everywhere,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “Nationals Park provides an ideal setting for all the excitement, entertainment and fun as the Blackhawks and Capitals bring our outdoor tradition to historic Washington, D.C.” The 2015 event will feature a Spectator Plaza outside of Nationals Park that offers hockey-themed attractions, music and more.

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.

The University of Oklahoma Sooners and University of Houston Cougars will open the 2016 college football season with the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium in Houston. “The AdvoCare Texas Kickoff has quickly become a premier Labor Day weekend college football tradition,” said Jamey Rootes, President of the Houston Texans and Lone Star Sports & Entertainment. “We look forward to welcoming the Oklahoma Sooners and their fans to Houston for the 2016 edition of the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff as they open the college football season at NRG Stadium against our hometown Houston Cougars.”

Game 2 of the 2014 WNBA Finals 2014 scored a 0.6 overnight rating, which notches the highest overnight number for any WNBA postseason game on ESPN or ESPN2 since 2007. Top 5 metered markets for the game include: Phoenix (1.9); Atlanta (1.7); New Orleans & Las Vegas (1.4); and Hartford/New Haven (1.3).

Comcast and Univision Communications locked in a distribution agreement the will see Comcast now offer Univision Deportes Network. Customers of Comcast’s Xfinity cable TV service who subscribe to either the Digital Preferred or Xfinity Latino plans will receive the channel starting next month.

World Fishing Network locked in a deal with Armstrong to carry the channel in standard and high-definition starting in Youngstown, Ohio. The channel will soon be available to Armstrong customers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland as part of a progressive rollout coinciding with the company’s Digital transition project.

Minor League Baseball is reporting that a total of 42,411,194 fans attended games this season, marking spikes in both total number of fans (857,413) and percentage of fans (2.1%) over 2013. The 2014 attendance figures mark the best since 2008. The Charlotte Knights led all MiLB teams in attendance, as 687,715 fans visited the newly-constructed BB&T Ballpark this season.


The NHL locked in a partnership with Procter and Gamble Co. that will partner its Oral Care division with the NHL in Canada. The Official Partner of the NHL signed NHL player Martin St. Louis as the official spokesperson for its newest product, Crest Sensi-Relief and he and his wife, Heather will be featured in a national print ad campaign this fall. P&G Canada will introduce its starting line-up of leadership brands Crest, Oral-B, Scope, and Fixodent to the 2014-15 NHL season via a co-branded broadcast spot, digital vignettes, and on-site activations at NHL events.

Ditech Mortgage Corp partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing in a multiyear deal. The company will serve as an associate sponsor of Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team beginning with the Sept. 12-14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced the Tiger Woods Foundation as a recipient of the 2014 Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy this year. The foundation will be honored at the RWJF ceremony in Princeton on Sept. 18. The Tiger Woods Foundation was recognized as the 2014 Individual Athletes and Professional Coaches category winner.

The ACC Network is activating a promotion with Tire Pros, an Official Sponsor and the Official Tire Retailer of ACC Football. The pair have launched the 2014 Tire Pros Ride in Style Sweepstakes that will run throughout the college football regular season and bring the grand prize winner a V.I.P. trip for two to the 2014 Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game on Dec. 6 in Charlotte, N.C. as well as a set of new Continental tires and a set of Monster alloy wheels.


The Southern Conference introduced the SoCon Digital Network, a collaborative platform of the athletic departments of the 10 member institutions, designed to provide live and on demand video-streamed events for viewers. In its inaugural year, the SoCon Digital Network will showcase over 400 live events, as well as highlights, interviews and student-athlete profiles.


Back9Network hired Taylor Massey to serve as as Director of Golf Creative. Massey joins the channel from Golf Punk, an alternative golf magazine based in London, England, where he served as Managing Editor and U.S. licensor of the publication. The network will launch on DIRECTV, channel 262, on Monday, September 29. Massey will oversee brand messaging across TV and digital platforms.

Discovery Networks International announced the appointment of Omar Garcia as Director, Eurosport U.S. Advertising Sales. There, he will be charged with “tapping into Discovery’s unique business platform, representing and selling Eurosport’s broadcast and digital assets to U.S.-based advertisers, and acting as the U.S. liaison for Eurosport’s sales teams based in London and Paris.”


TNF kicks off on CBS/NFL Network at 8p with Steelers/Ravens.

ON THIS DAY in 2002: Johnny Unitas dies of a heart attack at 69.

In The Know: Which university had the most players on the NFL’s opening day rosters this season? (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 Golden Egg is presented to the winner of what college football rivalry game? Answer: Ole Miss and Mississippi St. Kudos: Joe Lyons-Back Nine Productions, Inc./Amsterdam; Rick Rosenfelt-ESPN New York/NY; Tina Ofori-Discovery Communications/NY; Lewis Blaustein-Lewis Brand Solutions, Inc./NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Jeff Miller-CW 69/Atlanta; Michael Goodman-Radio One/Atlanta; Jennifer Rocha-Golf Channel/Orlando; Michael G. Hawkins-Francis Marion University/Florence; Meg Glenn-Comcast Spotlight/Jackson; Tom Cooper-Magnolia Digital/Forest; Suzy Shoup-Moroch/Dallas; Greg Alm-Intersport/Chicago; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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