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Russillo joined ESPN radio in 2009 and hosted SVP & Russillo, The Russillo Show and ESPN Radio’s College GameDay.
Kanell joined ESPN in 2010 as a college football analyst. Prior to stints at WQAM Miami and CBS4 Miami, Kanell was a four-year QB for Florida State and played for the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, and Denver Broncos.
10.12.15 Good morning. It’s Monday October 12, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Coming off a down season, the Arizona Coyotes experienced a summer that offered a blurred future when the Glendale City Council voted to terminate the city’s 15-year lease. Flash forward to the fall, and the team opened a two-year deal with the city through 2017 by capturing its home opener against the Penguins in front of a full house on Saturday night.
The team approached the unusual challenge by rallying the community around the franchise, with an eye toward capturing a new generation of fans as Coyotes CMO John Pierce launched a campaign “that celebrates and underlines the unique DNA of hockey in Arizona,” with a call to action through a slate of online and offline activities that includes a long-form brand film and video content as well as in-venue experiences such as the ability to download a pair of “Coyote eyes.” Now that the season is officially underway, Cynopsis Sports spoke with Pierce about the initiatives, how to turn a bad situation into a positive and whether or not the campaign is working.
Pierce on the offseason: At first glance, the situation with Glendale looked to be a negative, but our enormous fan base turned it into a positive. We had already been talking to fans since last January, along with new and longtime employees, sponsors and the entire family about how they wanted people to talk about this club moving forward. We already had the sense that we were outsiders, we were different and that hockey is different here. Those themes were already emerging over the spring and when the Glendale situation happened, we looked at our campaign that we were developing and we looked at what was happening and determined that there was nothing we needed to change about what we were preparing to say about ourselves. The notion that we were outsiders and that we were different was perfect for the situation we found ourselves in.
On team fans being “different”: I would argue that Coyotes fans are the most loyal and ardent fans in professional sports. I would say that because if you look at our history on and off the ice, these fans have been put through a lot and yet if you come to one of our games, they are here early, they howl loud and proud and they stay late.
On the new campaign: We’ve got two main opportunities. The first is to feed our existing avid fan base by giving them the tools and messaging so they can take our message forward. So the brand film that we did was for them. The social media tools, such as the headers, let them be loud and proud. The second is that Arizona is a market made up of many transplants and adults who brought their professional sports team allegiances with them. So we recognize that they have their own favorite teams to pull for, but their kids are ours. We are going to fight for those kids and we want to convey to the parents that we want those kids to root for the hometown team the same way you did.
On reaching youth: Facebook and Twitter are important vehicles to talk to adults, but Snapchat and Instagram are far more important to us. We feel like we can really connect with those younger fans on those platforms. At the beginning of last season, our Instagram page began with around 20,000 likes and now we are up to around 99,000 and our engagement rates are through the roof. Last March, we became the first ever team to do a Snapchat night and it was a huge success. We had a scavenger hunt throughout the building that culminated with a meet-and-greet with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who himself is active on Snapchat.
On results: We see this as a long-term strategy. A lot of teams create these campaigns, which are intended to be a one year campaign. This is intended to by our “Just Do It.” This is a repositioning of a very distinct NHL team. Most teams work really hard to figure out what makes them different. For us, it was obvious. This campaign is intended as a multi-year program that is intended to help us tell stories about the franchise and will continue as long as it’s useful for the purpose.
In the near term, we do have increased ticket sales over last year and sponsorship is up over last year. Our opening night is about to sell out and we anticipate seeing continued increases this year although there is a lot that goes into that like team performance. We feel really strongly about how we are messaging the team moving forward.
The 2015 MLB Postseason is showing 18% in viewership as of Sunday morning, averaging 4.146 million viewers over last year to become the most-watched postseason for the league since 2010, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals. On TBS, telecasts are averaging 5.4 million total viewers through Saturday to ranks as the network’s most-viewed coverage on record through the second day of the Division Series. The network’s postseason coverage is up 39% in total viewers over last year to win the night in prime time across all of cable television each of the three nights, based on metered market rankings. Overall, the slate is also notching double-digit growth across all key demos on the channel including an increase of 25% in Adults 18-34, 40% in Adults 18-49, 19% in Men 18-34 and 37% in Men 18-49. This year’s corresponding 3.3 U.S. rating through five telecasts is up 32% over a 2.5 U.S. HH rating to date last year. Turner’s TV Everywhere platforms are also delivering spikes for the postseason to-date including live streaming coverage up 46% in unique visits.
Elsewhere, MLB Network scored its second-best rated game telecast ever with a 1.9 coverage rating for the Rangers’ ALDS Game Two win over the Blue Jays. The game also led MLB Network to its best-ever overnight viewership for total day, up 25% from its prior record set last year. MLB also reports that FS1 saw the Astros/Royals ALDS Game 2 grab 1.841 million viewers while the Rangers/Blue Jays ALDS Game 1 average 1.750 million to rank as the most-watched daytime programs on FS1 in almost a year.
Thursday Night Football continued this season’s upswing trend for CBS and NFL Network. The Colts win drew an average overnight household rating/share of 10.7/18 in the 56 metered markets, for a 3% markup over last year’s equitable game. Through four weeks, the franchise has seen ratings increases in each week versus the comparable week last year with game coverage earning a combined overnight rating/share of 12.6/22, rising 16%.
Editor’s Note: Please join the Cynopsis team and your industry peers for the half-day Programmatic TV Summit on Nov. 5. Register now.
ESPN is seeing College GameDay Built by The Home Depot average 1,992,000 television viewers before Saturday’s game with an additional 41,000 average minute impressions on WatchESPN through the first five episodes of this season. As a result, this season ranks as the most-watched and most-streamed first five weeks of College GameDay since it expanded to three-hours on ESPN in 2013. This season’s 1 viewership through the first five weeks represents a 15% and 5% rise over 2014’s and 2013’s first five weeks, respectively. The program will stop in Ann Arbor on Saturday ahead of the Michigan/Michigan State game.
Don’t miss out on our FREE webinar on Wednesday, “Beyond Viral Addiction: Building a Loyal Community for Your Products”, produced with Whistle Sports. Speakers include: Whistle Sports EVP Brian Selander; Fit Men Cook’s Kevin Curry; Lacrosse Network’s Samir Chaudry & pro Lacrosse player Paul Rabill; as well as Mashable’s Eric Korsh. Make sure to sign up here.
Speaking of ESPN, for the sixth consecutive year, SportsCenter Ladies Week returns to ESPN Deportes to support breast cancer awareness and highlight the roles women play in sports. Carolina Padron and Kary Correa will be joined by Carolina Guillen to lead the network’s top show in a weeklong special starting today for the show’s night editions at 11p and 1a. Programming will include a series of special segments around athletes that include Ronda Rousey, Nuria Diosdado, Lorena Ochoa, and Paola Longoria, among others.
Tomorrow’s NBA preseason matchup between the Mavericks and Thunder will see FOX Sports Southwest Plus break from the traditional broadcast format and feature Mavericks announcers Mark Followill, Derek Harper and Jeff “Skin” Wade along with a member of the Mavericks’ front office staff calling the game from FOX Sports Southwest’s studio in a conversational format. The idea will be to introduce new players on this year’s roster and preview the upcoming season in a more relaxed setting.
We got ahead of ourselves last week. BTN’s launch of The Journey and Big Ten Elite will begin this Wednesday on the network.
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The NBA is launching a new campaign this week dubbed “This Is Why We Play.” The campaign “captures the emotions behind basketball’s universal appeal, showcasing stories of what motivates, inspires and excites teams, players and fans both on and off the court.” Out the door first will be “Anthem,” which showcases the game’s historical milestones and cultural impact, and demonstrates the ways teams, players and fans are connected to the sport. The spot showcases the likes of: Carmelo Anthony; Chris Bosh; Dwyane Wade; James Harden; and Kevin Durant along with former players such as Jason Collins, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Willis Reed, and Yao Ming.
Under Armour enrolled another heavyweight, locking in the University of Wisconsin to a new 10-year partnership that will see the company become the official outfitter of the Badgers. Under Armour replaces Adidas and will design and supply the footwear, uniforms and apparel for training and games for all of the school’s men’s and women’s varsity athletic teams starting July 1 of next year.
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MLBAM reports that, through the first five days of the postseason, data from the MLBAM LDDR study found daily averages of 3.4 million unique sessions and 32.8 million minutes consumed of live game access across MLBAM’s digital products. Game Two of the ALDS between the Rangers/Blue Jays ranked as the top-consumed game of the season, according to the study, in both unique sessions (3.2MM) and minutes (47.4MM). Top five markets accessing live games across MLBAM’s digital products : 1) New York; 2) Los Angeles; 3) Chicago; 4) Dallas-Ft. Worth and 5) Toronto.
DirecTV is getting into the VR ring. The company is launching a virtual reality app with Big Knockout Boxing that will be known as BKB VR App. The platform will be made available for Google Cardboard-based VR viewers, as well as the Samsung Gear VR headset. Initially, the app will offer pre-recorded highlights from a June 27 fight which was recorded in 360-degree video.
Sportradar is becoming the latest sports company to dive into the eSports world, announcing at the Leaders Conference Sports Business Summit in London last week that it was partnering with ESL to develop a slate of products and services for ESL, including the processing and distribution of real-time match data. Sportradar will also offer live scoring to customers around the world and utilize its Fraud Detection System, monitoring 450 global betting operators.
Xbox and 343 Industries are hitting the track, partnering with Hendrick Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing to bring two Halo-branded NASCAR paint schemes to Kansas Speedway on Oct. 18. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray will drive the cars, which marks the first time in franchise history that Halo will be represented by two cars on the racetrack at the same time. “We’re thrilled to partner with Hendrick Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to haveHalo 5: Guardiansrepresented on the NASCAR track by two of its most exciting drivers,” said Kiki Wolfkill, Studio Head of the Halo Interactive Entertainment and Channel at 343 Industries. “We have many NASCAR fans at the studio myself included and we’re excited to see both cars compete at Kansas Speedway.”
Catalyst SVP and Managing Director Bret Werner and Senior VP Bill Holtz are departing the agency nearly three years after it was sold to IMG Worldwide. The company announced that Senior VP Ted Fragulis will remain at the firm. "It has been an incredibly rewarding 10-year experience building Catalyst into an award-winning agency and successfully integrating the firm into IMG over the last three years," said Werner, in a statement.
Dodgers/Mets on TBS at 8:30p
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ON THIS DAY in 2002: The Lakers claim the 56th NBA Championship, sweeping the Nets.
In The Know: The last time the Mets won the World Series in 1986, this song by Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder topped the charts for the year. What was the name of the single? (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: Which brand sponsored Sacha Baron Cohen’s car in the movie Talladega Nights? Answer: Perrier. Kudos: Andreas Droste-NBC Sports/NY; Phyllis Toss-Maxus/NY; Jake Feinsilber-Fox Broadcast/NY; Russell Sargeant-NBC Sports/NY; Harrison Root-NBC Sports/Stamford; Sonia Durr-Carat/Atlanta; Lee B. Estroff-Bexel Global Broadcast Solutions/Atlanta; Farrah Segaloff-Comcast Spotlight/Quincy; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Steve Hebel-Katz Television Group/Chicago; Dacia Smith-Continental TV Sales/Chicago; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Mike Petrocelli-Friend MTS/LA; Tim Davidson-hyfn/LA; Glen Ross/San Diego; Jordan Cohen-Southport Marketing/LA.
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