10/10/14: NBA stays plugged in to Cisco; FOX Sports 1 plans a first for the NLCS; NBCSN has a hot start for hockey


Good morning. It’s Friday, October 10, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NBA is ordering up another tech cocktail, signing a multiyear extension with Cisco that will see the brand continue its role as the Official Technology Partner of the NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association, NBA Development League and USA Basketball. Currently, Cisco’s infrastructure allows the league to bring data and video from the court to fans around the world in real time. However, the deal will also see a committee of executives from both companies who will focus on employing principles of the Internet of Everything to enhance courtside connectivity within NBA venues. Cisco will expand its partnership to Brazil, beginning with NBA Global Games Rio 2014.
“Today’s partnership extension reflects our mutual and ongoing commitment to bringing innovation to the NBA and the game of basketball through the Internet of Everything,” said Blair Christie, Cisco SVP and Chief Marketing Officer.  “Together we are enabling new fan experiences and, with our new research and development initiative, will see the amazing things that can happen when we connect the unconnected.  We also look forward to extending our relationship into Brazil and impacting that country in new ways by bringing their sport and fan experiences to a new level.”


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FOX Sports 1 announced plans to offer a Game 1 side-by-side telecast of the NLCS with FOX on Sat. at 8p that will serve up advanced stats and sabermetrics for the contest. This will mark the first time FOX Sports has offered a multichannel experience for the MLB Playoffs. NLCS on FOX Sports 1 Powered by JABO – featuring the Giants/Cardinals – will be hosted by Kevin Burkhardt, who will join FOX Sports 1 analysts and JABO contributors Gabe Kapler and CJ Nitkowski, FOXSports.com Senior Baseball Editor Rob Neyer, and San Diego Padres Manager Bud Black. In addition to the telecast, FOX Sports will host a live interactive chat on social media using the handle @MLBONFOX.

With hockey season underway, the NHL handed NBCSN with record viewership and notched that best NHL opening night doubleheader on record, according to Nielsen. The Flyers/Bruins matchup handed the channel with an average of 956,000 viewers as well as a 0.57 household rating, making it the most-watched opening night game on cable on record and the highest-rated NHL regular-season game ever on NBCSN. The game also set live streaming records for uniques and minutes consumed. Meanwhile, the Sharks/Kings game averaged 446,000 viewers, to mark the most ever on NBCSN for an NHL regular-season “late” game (puck drop after 9 p.m. ET), excluding last season’s outdoor game at Dodger Stadium.

Speaking of ratings, the NFL reports that the league scored the top three spots in viewershsip among all TV programs last week, with the CBS national Sunday telecast (mostly Chiefs/49ers) topping the charts as the most watched TV program with 19.7 million average viewers. That was followed by Bengals/Patriots on NBC’s Sunday Night Football with 19.4 million viewers and the FOX Single telecast (mostly Cardinals/Broncos and Falcons/Giants) generating 19.3 million.
HBO Sports is dedicating a special to NBA MVP Kevin Durant. The program, appropriately called The Offseason: Kevin Durant, will debut on Nov. 4 at 10p on HBO. The channel describes the series as “a first-person account of the life of the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar forward, from the moment his NBA basketball season ended on May 31, until he reported to training camp for the upcoming season in late September.” 

Tennis Channel announced programming plans in the lead up to the men’s (ATP) and women’s (WTA) season finals. The network will offer more than 250 total hours of comprehensive coverage in Asia and Europe as the season ends with the men’s and women’s championships. Tournaments covered on Tennis Channel as the season winds down will include theShanghai Rolex Masters (Shanghai – ATP); Generali Ladies Linz (Linz, Austria – WTA); Japan Women’s Open Tennis (Osaka, Japan – WTA); Tianjin Open (Tianjin, China – WTA); Kremlin Cup by Bank of Moscow (Moscow – ATP/WTA) and more.

ESPN Films revealed that Maria Shriver will executive produce a 30 for 30 Short film with ESPN Films on the life of her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who was the founder of the Special Olympics. “These 30 for 30 films look at defining figures in sports and my mother was one of them,” said Maria Shriver. “I’m so excited to be partnering with ESPN to produce this film on my mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. I love ESPN’s 30 for 30 franchise because I think the films have tremendous impact.”
Golf Channel unveiled programming plans ahead of the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship on Tuesday, Nov. 4, from Las Vegas. The return of Long Drive Month will include three hour-long specials in October  premiering at 10p on consecutive Tuesdays beginning Oct. 14 to offer the qualifying, elimination rounds, semifinals and finals of the event. The network also will integrate the long drive theme into other programming throughout the month. Instructional programs like The Golf Fix and School of Golf will feature long-driving tips in each episode aired during the month, as well as dedicating an entire episode to hitting it farther.

BTN has plans to telecast Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer on Oct. 18 at 10:30p. The original will focus on the story of the University of Nebraska quarterback who faced a tragic death two days before the NFL Draft. The hour-long documentary, presented by Physicians Mutual, and features “rare, archival footage of Berringer on camera, highlights of some key Nebraska games leading up to the National Championship and interviews with Frazier, Osborne, and Brook’s mother, Jan Berringer, who shares some of the thousands of letters she received in the wake of his passing.”

NESN will continue its 30th Anniversary celebration with a one-hour documentary on the history of the network that will run on Oct. 14 at 8p on the channel. Anniversary Special presented by the New England Honda Dealers will “look back at the network’s launch in March of 1984 as a fledgling start-up with only a few viewers, to today as the highest rated cable network in New England. Hosted by Tom Caron, the documentary examines the network’s birth and growth from the perspective of the likes of long-time NESN employees, current and former NESN, Red Sox and Bruins executives, and Red Sox and Bruins legends such as Roger Clemens, Ray Bourque and Cam Neely.


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Longtime World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola is seeking transparency into the controversial votes that decided host countries for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, according to Bloomberg. Last month, former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia last month urged FIFA to publish his report into the award of World Cups to Russia and Qatar. “Anytime with the FIFA World Cup, or FIFA, there is any tainting of the event, we’re concerned about it,” Amber Steele, Director of Football Management at Coca-Cola, said of the report.

The Women’s Sports Foundation is teaming with espnW to launch a Sports 4 Life grant initiative, which will look to boost the participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls, ages 11-18, in developmental youth sports programs. Through education, public awareness and grants to organizations nationwide, Sports 4 Life seeks to effect sustainable improvement to the overall health and development of girls in these communities.


RED Games, a division of RED Interactive Agency, is partnering up with the PBR to produce PBR: Raging Bulls, the official mobile game of the Professional Bull Riders. The game allows players to attempt to ride 13 popular PBR and fantasy bulls, including Asteroid, Smackdown, Mississippi Hippy and Bushwacker. In the game, players start their career on a mechanical bull, and are challenged work their way through PBR’s Touring Pro Division to Las Vegas for the PBR World Finals by mastering the toughest rides.


Auburn/Mississippi State on CBS at 3:30p.

ON THIS DAY in 1981: Pete Rose nabs career hit 3,631, breaking Stan Musial’s NL hit record.

In The Know: In a commercial for what brand did Charles Barkley declare that he was not a role model? (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: From 1880 to 1999, two MLB players have led the sport in hits for an entire decade but are not in the Hall of Fame. One is Pete Rose. Who is the other? Answer: Mark Grace, who tallied 1,754 hits in the 90s. Kudos: Anthony Dattolo-ZenithMedia/NY; Craig Dunn-The Logan Daily News/Logan; Randy Ingram-WBTW-TV/Myrtle Beach; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Richard Levine-AT&T Operations, Inc./LA.

Later — Chris
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