10/01/15: NCAA gets a mixed judgement; Nike goes another round with the NWSL; Craig Barry levels up


Good morning. It’s Thursday October 1, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Provoking headlines that ranged from “Court Strikes Down Payments to College Athletes” to “Appeals Court Rules NCAA in Violation of Antitrust Laws,” the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday delivered a mixed bag to the NCAA in the Ed O’Bannon case. The ruling upheld a lower court decision that the organization broke antitrust laws, but struck down a plan to pay student-athletes as much as $5,000 a year. In a split decision, the three-judge panel issued a 73-page opinion, noting "The difference between offering student-athletes education-related compensation and offering them cash sums untethered to educational expenses is not minor; it is a quantum leap," Judge Jay Bybee wrote. "Once that line is crossed, we see no basis for returning to a rule of amateurism and no defined stopping point."

However, the judgement agreed with the lower court that NCAA rules violate federal antitrust laws, stating "The NCAA is not above the antitrust laws, and courts cannot and must not shy away from requiring the NCAA to play by the Sherman Act’s rules. In this case, the NCAA’s rules have been more restrictive than necessary to maintain its tradition of amateurism in support of the college sports market.”

“We have not completely reviewed the court’s 73-page decision, but we agree with the court that the injunction ‘allowing students to be paid cash compensation of up to $5,000 per year was erroneous.’” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “Since Aug. 1, the NCAA has allowed member schools to provide up to full cost of attendance; however, we disagree that it should be mandated by the courts.”


The racing world reacted to Tony Stewart’s retirement announcement, with the driver/owner opting to end his racing career after the 2016 season. Once he steps aside, Clint Bowyer will take the wheel of the No. 14 machine starting in 2017 with primary partners that include Bass Pro Shops, Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers, Code 3 Associates, Coca-Cola, Jimmy Johns and Haas Automation. Stewart will join partner Gene Haas as a fulltime owner in 2017. “When I think of Tony Stewart, unmatched passion and a pure love of the sport come to mind. He has won championships and millions of fans,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. “But he has given back so much more, and that’s what I admire most. Today’s news was bittersweet for all, but we know Tony will continue to be a big part of our sport in his roles as a team and track owner. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Tony for his many years of excellence and competitiveness, and wish him nothing but the best in his final season as a driver in the Sprint Cup Series.”

NBC Sports Group detailed plans to offer nearly 60 hours of live news, analysis and tournament coverage for the 2015 Presidents Cup, which spans Oct. 5-11. Programming will include over 25 hours of live tournament coverage on Golf Channel kicking off each night in primetime with live primetime tournament coverage anchored by Dan Hicks and Terry Gannon, with Johnny Miller and Frank Nobilo handling lead analyst duties. Matches begin on Oct. 7 at 10p on the network.

On to ratings. NBCSN reports that the addition of NASCAR to its ranks helped propel the channel to Total Day and primetime viewership records for the third quarter and the month of September, according to live plus same day data released by Nielsen. NBCSN averaged 193,000 Total Day viewers in the third quarter, which spans June 29-Sept. 27) for a spike of 130% over last year’s equitable timeframe. The channel also saw third-quarter primetime viewership snag 307,000 average viewers to rank as its best ever for the quarter, and up 148% from last year.

ESPN saw three of the four most-watched college football games of week 4. ABC’s split coverage of Western Michigan/Ohio State and Virginia Tech/East Carolina at 3p averaged 3,721,000 viewers for a 42% markup over 2014’s comparable window. ESPN’s most-watched, most-streamed game was LSU/Syracuse at noon, generating 3,204,000 television viewers and, on WatchESPN, an average minute audience of 72,000 people and 359,000 unique viewers.

Univision Deportes scored the most-viewed club soccer match of the season across all networks regardless of language with El Super Clasico on Saturday night. The contest was carried on Univision Network with a simulcast on UDN and averaged 2.0 million Total Viewers 2+ and 1.1 million Adults 18-49. Liga MX coverage on Univision is averaging 840,000 Persons 2+ and 434,000 Adults 18-49 per game this season.

Famed Spanish broadcaster Fernando Fiore is set to make his English-language debut next month as part of FOX Sports’ coverage of the CONCACAF Cup. The bi-lingual Fiore makes his English-language television debut on Oct. 10 as a contributor to FS1’s special 90-minute pregame show kicking off at 8p. In addition to his role on FS1, Fiore pulls double-duty, contributing to FOX Deportes’ news magazine show FOX Deportes en Vivo at 7:30p.

The countdown is on. Enter the Cynopsis Sports Leaderboard with your social media campaigns and reign supreme. Enter the LEADERBOARD now 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. We are just days away from wrapping up nominations and our Sports Engagement Summit is only two months away!

Showtime announced plans to spotlight “I am Giant: Victor Cruz” on Oct. 20 at 9p. The feature-length film chronicles the Giants receiver’s “rise to football stardom, demoralizing injury, and his dramatic attempt at a comeback.” The film is directed by Gotham Chopra who serves as executive producer alongside producing partners Chris Uettwiller and Martin Desmond Roe. Elaina Watley also serves as executive producer under the Kennedy Blvd. banner, as will NBA star LeBron James and Maverick Carter, CEO of SpringHill Entertainment.

SiriusXM is hitting The Arena, a new show about sports politics featuring ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and ESPN Senior Correspondent Andy Katz and discussing how sports-related topics can drive the agenda in D.C. The one-hour weekly series will begin its 6-show run on Oct. 2 on SiriusXM’s non-partisan political channel, P.O.T.U.S. (124).

AXS TV unveiled plans to showcase all of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s ‘Wrestle Kingdom 9’ across five consecutive weeks starting Oct. 9 at 9p. The special edition will feature all 10 matches from the celebrated annual event, including an entire episode dedicated to the headlining rematch between IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi and rival Kazuchika Okada.

Upcoming NBC fitness series Strong has found its face, tapping professional volleyball player (among other endeavors) Gabrielle Reece as the host of the network’s transformation competition series. The series comes from executive producers Dave Broome (“The Biggest Loser”), Sylvester Stallone and Holly Wofford with 10-episodes on deck featuring “everyday women with the world’s most elite trainers to conquer obstacles that were once unfathomable.”


CYNOPSIS is accepting entries for the Social Good Awards

We know the Cynopsis community is a vibrant group of engaged professionals who work hard, committed to evolving the media industry to be first and best at serving the consumer. But this is not all you and your organization are dedicated to. You’re also a collection of civic-minded citizens who want to give back to the public through their profession.



The National Women’s Soccer League is extending with Nike, locking in a new deal through the 2019 season. The agreement “solidifies Nike’s role as the league’s official club kit, apparel and equipment, supplier of the league ball, and provider for all nine NWSL teams, as well as any future teams.” "Nike has been an outstanding partner and shares our long-term vision for progress, innovation, and player development,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said. “We have enjoyed a tremendous start to our journey together, and we continue to look for ways to elevate soccer in this country to new heights. This partnership is integral to that journey.”

Prudential Center, the New Jersey Devils and Goya Foods are entering a new partnership that will give the food brand a “multi-platform presence and new culinary experience” for consumers at the Newark arena. The alliance will see Goya donate 100 tickets to the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark for the New Jersey Devils’ 2015-16 season opener. Goya will serve as the presenting sponsor of Prudential Center’s Latin concession locations, including the Ironbound on the upper concourse and the Goya Street Taco Stand on the main concourse. Goya will also be the presenting partner of Prudential Center’s new “Latin Concert Series presented by Goya.”


ESPN Digital Media saw 79.1 million unique US visitors in August, topping in the sports category for the 18th straight month, according to the company. Fans spent 74 minutes per user with ESPN content across platforms, with ESPN.com snatching 61.2 million total unique visitors in August. 46.9 million people visited the site via smartphones and tablets, and 64% of ESPN.com users exclusively accessing the site on a mobile device.

FOX Sports reports that Ep 3 of this season’s Garbage Time with Katie Nolan, which debuted on Sept. 23, drew more than more than 467,000 views from clips on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, FOXSports.com, FOX Sports GO and the Garbage Time podcast, marking the show’s second-highest online total ever. Additionally, more than 750,000 viewers watched all or part of the episode on television.


Turner Sports named Craig Barry as Executive Vice President of Production and Chief Content Officer for the company. The expanded role will see Barry will add oversight of all Turner Sports business interests surrounding the recently announced eSports, overseeing brand image, multiplatform marketing initiatives, long-term business opportunities and ad sales and sponsorship efforts on behalf of the new endeavor. He will continue to be responsible for Turner Sports’ remote and studio productions, operations, technology and talent services for sports content airing on TNT, TBS and truTV. 

UFC appointed James Elliott as Vice President and General Manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa for the company. Elliott will lead UFC’s European business and oversee the continued growth of the company across the region by expanding the number of live events and securing key broadcast partnerships.


Ravens/Steelers on CBS/NFL Network at 8:25p.


At a time when consumers trust word-of-mouth over direct brand messaging, aligning with trusted social media influencers is key to getting yourself heard. The latest Cynopsis webinar, The New Influencer Marketing: How to Target the Twitter Tastemakers, on Thursday, October 22, will show you how to identify and reach influencers who can share your content and boost your brand.

Save your spot today!.

ON THIS DAY in 1989: Dallas Cowboy Ed "Too Tall" Jones gets his 1,000th NFL tackle.

In The Know: The only WLAF/NFL Europe team to survive the entire run of the league was the Galaxy. In what city were they based? (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: What club was the last to lose the World Series twice in a row? Answer: Texas Rangers in 2010,2011. Kudos: Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Joe Brucia-NBC Universal/NY; Molly Tow-MSG Networks/NY; Greg Conner-Tennis Channel/NY; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Rich Dubroff-CSNmidatlantic.com/Baltimore; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Jerehmy White-BusyBuddy Books/Glen Rock; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/Dallas; Greg Finch-Time Warner Cable Media/ Dallas; Suzy Shoup-Moroch/Dallas; Lucie Prann-The Richards Group/Dallas; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Joey Olsen/Manhattan Beach; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Chris Loprete-ABC/Hollywood.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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