10/02/15: ESPN warms up MLB Postseason plans; NBC Sports/Universal crank up US Skating lineup; Microsoft cooks up Imagine Bowl


Good morning. It’s Friday October 2, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

ESPN is poised to make history with its coverage of the 2015 MLB Postseason, delivering fans the American League Wild Card Game telecast presented by Hankook Tires on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 8p. Jessica Mendoza will officially become the first female analyst to call a nationally televised MLB postseason game, joining John Kruk and Dan Shulman. ESPN MLB Insider Buster Olney will be reporting. Baseball Tonight will be on-site for pre-game telecasts, running live from the host team’s stadium from 5-6p and again from 7-8p. SportsCenter will also be on the road, with the 6p show, hosted by Lindsay Czarniak and airing from inside the stadium.


NBC Sports Group, Universal Sports Network and U.S. Figure Skating opened the curtains to its 2015-16 broadcast schedule for the upcoming season. NBC Sports Group carries more than 30 hours of coverage throughout the season, including 13 hours of the seven-event ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series, 11 hours of of the 2016 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships and same-weekend coverage of the 2016 World, Four Continents and European championships. The broadcast network kicks off its Grand Prix Series coverage from 2015 Skate America from 5-6p on Oct. 24, with an additional 90 minutes shown on NBCSN Oct. 25. Universal Sports Network serves up more than 54 hours of live and delayed coverage of the Grand Prix Series and ISU championship events, slotting more than 28 hours of the Grand Prix Series, six hours each of the European Championships and Four Continents Championships and 12 hours of the World Championships.

FOX saw its special episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs Team Faber on Sunday rack up 2.016 million viewers. That is up 15% over last year’s episode of the franchise that similarly aired on an NFL Sunday, according to Nielsen. FS1 is also seeing gains for the show four eps in, marking its largest audiences since its first season on the network featuring coach Ronda Rousey. Wednesday’s episode scored 538,000 viewers, up 88% from the fourth episode of the spring season (286,000), and 4% compared to last fall’s season average (515,000).

The Madison Square Garden Company has officially broken up with MSG Networks, with the spinoff company officially up and running, making MSG a separate, public company that trades on the NYSE as “MSG.”

Golf Channel scored its most-watched third quarter ever, with the network drawing 114,000 average viewers in Total Day Nielsen numbers to mark an increase of 8% over 2014. Viewership was boosted in part by a 15% spike in the Adults 25-54 demographic. Since joining NBC Sports Group in 2011, Golf Channel has increased its average viewership by 54%.

Meanwhile, Golf Channel released plans to once again celebrate Long Drive Month in October. Programming will be highlighted by back-to-back nights of the World Long Drive Championship on Oct. 20-21 for the 64-man match play bracket. Golf Channel’s Ryan Burr will offer play-by-play with Michael Breed on board as analyst while Angela Hamann handles interviews. Throughout the month, Golf Channel also will integrate the long drive theme into its instruction, news and digital programming to celebrate the long ball.

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 less than two months away!

After being dropped by Verizon, Outdoor Channel is touting audience frustration with the company, releasing quotes from the likes of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to showcase the frustration. Verizon also axed Outdoor Channel sister network Sportsman Channel in early September. “We have more than six and a half million members who make the outdoors an important part of their lives,” saidAFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We are disappointed that Verizon has chosen to take these actions against Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel. Working people can’t be silenced by big corporate interests, and will stand up to fight back against this unfair move by Verizon.”

NBA TV is set to carry 31 live preseason game telecasts leading into the new season, including the expected preseason debuts of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, and Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers and many of the league’s top stars. Programming tips off today with the Nuggets/Clippers at 10:30p. Additionally, NBA TV will televise live coverage of international preseason exhibition the NBA Global Games 2015 starting Oct. 6 at 2:30p.

Speaking of the NBA, SiriusXM will launch its second annual SiriusXM NBA Radio Training Camp Tour on October 5, visiting 11 NBA team pre-season training camps to give fans an in-depth preview of the season. Hosts will visit each training camp site to give fans a look at the teams and players with talent that includes Mike Dunleavy Sr., Eddie Johnson, Stacey King and Rick Mahorn, as well as Jared Greenberg, Jonathan Hood, Frank Isola, Jason Jackson, Joel Meyers and Justin Termine. First up, the Bulls on Oct. 5 at 7p.

E:60 is set to return for its fall season on Oct. 7 on ESPN at 8p. The primetime newsmagazine will feature exclusive profiles this season that include: J.J. Watt, Julian Edelman, Connor Barwin and Randall Cobb. The season will also include an inside look at eSports and stories about the events leading to the death of Jonathan Ferrell and a look at a deaf high-school football team in Northern California.



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NFL partner Microsoft is launching a promotion asking fans to submit ideas to improve the game as part of the ‘Imagine Bowl’. The company is asking fans to write an essay under 3000 words or a video under two minutes long detailing what they would do to improve the future of the sport. Winners have a shot at tickets to Super Bowl 50 or a $50,000 reward, suggesting audiences “think of ways technology can help players and coaches on the field, diehards in the stands, and fans at home or on the go.

Elsewhere at the NFL, prepare for a bevy of pink as the league, the NFL Players Association and the American Cancer Society partner for the seventh year to support October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The organizations will launch “A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives," campaign, reminding women about the importance of having a regular mammogram and taking control of their breast health. Pink merchandise will be available at retail and the NFL Auction website with 100% of proceeds from pink products auctioned on NFL Auction going directly to the American Cancer Society. In addition, NFL breast cancer awareness games will feature: game balls with pink ribbon decals used for every down and pink kicking tees; pink equipment for players including: cleats, wristbands, gloves, sideline caps, helmet decals, captains’ patches, chin straps, shoe laces, skull caps, sideline towels, eye shield decals and quarterback towels; pink Bose headsets for coaches and pink coins used for the coin toss.

We’ll also be seeing pink in the ring. WWE and Susan G. Komen will tackle National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with WWE Superstars and Divas wearing co-branded Susan G. Komen and WWE apparel. In addition, WWE platforms “going pink” in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As part of this year’s “Rise Above Cancer” campaign, WWE will donate 20% of the retail sales price of all co-branded merchandise sold on WWEShop.com and at WWE live events. WWE will utilize all its assets including WWE Network and TV broadcasts, live events, PSAs, digital and social media to generate awareness and encourage fans to get involved. Throughout the month, the WWE announcer table, entrance ramp and ring skirts will be co-branded and the middle ring rope turned pink to promote the fight against breast cancer. Fans will also have the option to turn their Facebook and Twitter profiles pink to show their support.

WWE also announced a deal with PEZ Candy to introduce a collectible Giftset that will include Superstars The Rock, John Cena and The Undertaker. Each set will also include one six pack of PEZ Candy. “This new partnership between WWE and Pez brings together two brands that have been part of American pop culture for decades,” said Casey Collins, WWE Executive Vice President, Consumer Products. “We look forward to partnering with an iconic brand like Pez and bringing WWE’s larger than life Superstars to our fans in new ways.”

ESPN will dedicate itself to National Bullying Prevention Month in October, joining Disney ABC Television Group to encourage viewers to “choose kindness” in an effort to help end bullying. A public-service announcement will air throughout October on ABC, ESPNU, Longhorn Network, SEC Network and feature talent that includes Tisha Campbell Martin, Erica Christensen, Dave Foley, Ken Jeong, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly McCreary, Randall Park, Alfonso Ribeiro, Caterina Scorsone, Jeremy Sisto, Jonathan Slavin, Ming-Na Wen, Ed Westwick and Constance Wu from ABC; and Cari Champion, Antonietta “Toni” Collins, Will Reeve and Stephen A. Smith from ESPN.

Auburn is extending with Under Armour through the 2025 season. According to multiple reports, the new deal will span nine years and is worth $78.1 million with apparel for all of Auburn’s athletic teams. AL.com reports that Auburn will also get $4.5 million in royalties and $675,000 in marketing.

The Los Angeles Kings are reteaming with Lucky Brand, locking in an extension of their partnership to strengthen youth hockey and student athletes’ education in Southern California. Lucky Brand will support several youth hockey development programs, including the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, the Lil’ Kings Learn to Play Hockey program, and the recently opened Education Center at the Toyota Sports Center. “We believe that the harder people work, the luckier they get. Over the years we have proudly championed our local communities so that we might all grow stronger together. Our partnership with the Los Angeles Kings will continue to support a happy, healthy and successful SoCal youth community by introducing youth to the sport of hockey. The Education Center will also give the Jr. Kings a safe and supportive place to study and socialize between practices,” said Carlos Alberini, CEO of Lucky Brand.


Rotoworld has emerged as a winner with the start of the 2015 NFL season, notching its best month, week, and day ever with the return of the sport. The site delivered 7.8 million unique users for the month, up 17% over September 2014 and up 14% over the previous record, The sire also saw a record 2.7 million unique users for the week of September 7-13, and a record 690,000 unique users on September 13.

CSNmidatlantic.com kicked off the Fall on a high note, announcing all-time CSN Mid-Atlantic digital media records for most unique users in a single month and single day in September. The website reeled in 5.9 million unique users during the 30-day period for a new high and registered the top single day in CSN Mid-Atlantic history last month with 735k unique users on Sept. 21. CSNmidatlantic.com launched Aug. 19 to replace CSNwashington.com and CSNbaltimore.com.

ThePostGame and the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future are partnering up to launch “the first-ever behavioral study of sports fans to include the full impact of Generation Z, measuring current and planned spending, media preferences, attendance, the use of digital platforms, and other activities. Results will be released in early 2016. "Sports fans are the most intense and engaged consumer fan group and drive billions of dollars in commerce each year, yet insights into how their behavior is shifting as a community do not yet exist," said Jeffrey Cole, Founder and Director of the Center. "As the options available to them change dramatically, this is the perfect time to take the pulse of permanent changes occurring now as well as to gauge concrete plans this group is making for the future."


beIN SPORTS is shoring up its ranks, adding John Duff as Director of Business Development and Strategy; Peter Hering as East Coast Sales Manager; Alex Almirall as Senior Account Executive of Sales and Valerie Boldrin as Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager. “Given the rapid growth and success of beIN SPORTS, we are thrilled to be strengthening our marketing and ad sales teams with the addition of these talented executives," said Antonio Briceño, Deputy Managing Director of beIN SPORTS. "It is our duty as the leading international sports network to provide our advertisers and viewers with the commitment to quality and professionalism that has proven to be vital to our success. I am confident that each of the new team members will play a key role as we pursue new avenues for growth.”


Notre Dame/Clemson on ABC on Saturday at 8p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1961: Yankee Roger Maris becomes the first MLB player to hit more than 60 home runs in a single season.

In The Know: From what city did the Atlanta Hawks relocate in 1968? (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: The only WLAF/NFL Europe team to survive the entire run of the league was the Galaxy. In what city were they based? Answer: Frankfurt, Germany. Kudos: Rob Thompson-North American Sports Group/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports Network/NY; David Kalan-NHL.com/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Michael G. Hawkins-Francis Marion University/Florence; Michael Goodman-Radio-One/Atlanta; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Steve Tahsler-Frontier League/St. Louis; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Patrick Sturgeon-Sports Media Consultant/Chicago; Nello Pesci-Prosper/Salt Lake City; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; Greg Dudsic/Venice; Jacob Ullman-FOX Sports/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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