Good morning. It’s Monday, October 13, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
How do you give an American icon an overhaul? That’s the $400 million question that faced executives of the famed Daytona International Speedway in a move that’s all about evolving the fan experience. The multi-year project, dubbed Daytona Rising, will see the venue feature “approximately 101,000 permanent, wider and more comfortable seats, twice as many restrooms and three times as many concession stands. In addition, the Speedway will feature over 60 luxury suites with track side views and a completely revamped hospitality experience for corporate guests.” One key feature will include massive social areas, or “neighborhoods,” along the frontstretch with the facelift set to be completed in time for the 2016 season.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Joie Chitwood, President of Daytona International Speedway, about the project at its halfway point, how the venue is looking to transform the event experience for fans, how tech and social media are impacting plans and what advertisers can expect.
Chitwood on the state of the track: It is the most impressive thing when you take a racetrack and turn it into a motorsports stadium. That’s the goal and I think we are living up to that goal, it’s really impressive so far. For us it really started with some basics, a facility audit and looking at some of the metrics you see nowdays, in terms of point-of-sale per guest, pictures per guest, seats and all those elements. Once we did that audit, we were able to see what Daytona was lacking that we see in newer stadiums.
When you see what Daytona means to our sport, with the 500, and being the world’s center of racing, we saw the things that we needed to do better. So we went down the path of looking at what we could fix and improve and realized that there might be an opportunity to do something different. Instead of fixing this seat and adding a bolt to an escalator, we saw that we could take a different approach and examine what it would be like to rebuild Daytona.
On updating an icon: We are creating these things that you see at other venues such as: vertical transportation; concourses; social interaction, zones and neighborhoods; and really provide some amenities that we hadn’t been offering. We’ve got 50-year old seats out there. We needed to approach it like Big Bill approached it back in the late 50s and that is to do something that no one else has ever done. I’m happy to say we’ve got the organization convinced, we talked to the board of directors and everybody went all in.
On the importance of fan experience: At the end of the day, it is all about the fan experience. The investment to come to the Daytona 500 is a lot different than going to a professional sport in your hometown. 60% of our crowd comes from outside the state of Florida. They stay an average of five nights so it is an investment to attend. We want to make sure that their investment is worth their while because it is much easier to sit at home on your coach than watch the great FOX broadcast on TV. We’ve got to make sure this property entices you to come to a great racing event and that was one of the goals, offering all of those amenities so fans can enjoy it in a way that they hadn’t before.
On this February’s Daytona 500: we’re going to have 40,000 new seats ready for the 2015 racing season. That means two injectors will also be open. Injectors are going to load the new seats into the concourse. The escalators and elevators will be available, along with other new elements. That will be in addition to the 60,000 historic seats that will be available for use. So we will have a hybrid property next year. We’ve got old and new at the same time and I think the fans who sit in the 40,000 seats are going to be blown away. It is like their sneak preview of what it will be like when everything is done.
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Everyone talks about passionate fans, but they don’t often hear from this super fan audience directly. Here’s your chance to get to know the new breed of devoted viewers of TV shows who were critical to the success of programs like AMC’s Breaking Bad, ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, and USA’s Suits.
ON THE AIR
Despite a duo of smaller market teams, TBS had two hits on its hands for the first two games of the ALCS that featured a pair of Royals victories. Saturday’s Game 2 scored an average of 4.3 million viewers, up 26% from the comparable LCS telecast a year ago. The contest also drew a 2.6 household Nielsen ratings, up 18%. That follows Game 1 numbers of 5.92 million total viewers (up 9%) and a corresponding 3.6 U.S. household rating (up 3%). Overall, TBS’ coverage of the series is averaging 5,119,000 total viewers through two games, up 9% over an average of 4,715,000 total viewers for the network’s comparable LCS game telecasts last year.
Around the dial on FOX, Game 1 of the NLCS between the Giants and Cardinals on Saturday handed the channel with a 3.5/6 metered market household rating/share, which includes the alternative NLCS on FOX Sports 1. The NLCS on FOX Sports 1 powered by JABO simulcast contributed a .14 to the game’s 3.5 HH rating.
CBS and NFL Network saw their simulcast of Thursday Night Football continue the season’s upward trend with an average fast-national household rating/share of 10.0/17, up 69% from last year’s 5.9/10. The game also snagged 15.9 million viewers, up 69% from last year’s 9.4 million viewers on NFL Network and over-the-air stations in the two team markets. Those numbers are on par with the rest of the season. Through five games of the CBS/NFL Network schedule, TNF is averaging a HH rating/share of 10.0/17, up 69%, and 15.9 million viewers, up 67%.
On the music front: Katy Perry is reportedly set to perform this season’s Super Bowl halftime show. Billboard reports that the deal is good to go. Around 111.5 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl, which included halftime performances by Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
FOX Sports revealed that Coldplay would front the soundtrack for FOX Sports’ coverage of this year’s NLCS on FOX and FOX Sports 1. Fifteen Coldplay songs spanning various albums are available to use for commercial bumpers, opening teases and montages during the series. Songs available from Coldplay’s newest album, “Ghost Stories,” include “A Sky Full of Stars,” “Ink,” “Magic” and “Midnight (Giorgio Moroder Remix).”
Michael Breed is set to host a special episode of The Golf Fix for Golf Channel tonight, where each of the 2014 major championship winners including Rory McIlroy (Open Championship, PGA Championship); Bubba Watson (Masters); Martin Kaymer (U.S. Open); along with former major champion Jim Furyk are set to join the discussion. The episode runs at 7p tonight from the PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda. Each player will spend time with Breed offering hands-on instruction geared toward the strengths of their respective games.
After seeing new highs on its national telecasts, the NHL is also seeing gains on the local front. FOX Sports Regional Networks reports a slew of upticks to open the season. Winners included: FOX Sports Detroit with a 5.6 household score and a 32% rise; FOX Sports Southwest with a 1.52 household rating, up 149%; Sun Sports’ drawing a 1.8 household average for a 10% climb; and FOX Sports Ohio growing 86% to a 1.38.
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
The NBA detailed marketing plans for its 2014-15 campaign, Everybody Up. The campaign is designed to “celebrate the NBA’s global community, calling on fans around the world to get up and show their team spirit for the season ahead.” Outlets include a slate of television commercials, print and online advertisements, as well as integration across all of the league’s digital platforms, including NBA TV, NBA.com, mobile and social media assets, throughout the season. The first spot, dubbed Roll Call, was narrated by artist and actor Common during the NBA Global Games Rio 2014 preseason game on Saturday.
NFL QBs Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are ready to take the run. Imangi Studios and NFL Players Inc. announced their partnership to bring league players to mobile game Temple Run 2. Kaepernick and Wilson are now available for download within Temple Run 2 for a limited time only. New NFL players will be chosen weekly by Imangi and released through the Fall season.
Sports investment bank Park Lane is adding Rick Perna as Managing Director and Head of Sports Advisory & Finance. Perna had served at Citigroup as Director of Sports Finance & Advisory Group, specializing in buy-side and sell-side representation, debt financings, and equity raises to the sports industry.
Game 3 of ALCS between Orioles/Royals on TBS at 8p.
ON THIS DAY in 1967: The ABA debuts.
In The Know: Demarco Murray became the second player to open the NFL season with six straight 100-yd rushing games. Who was the first? (Hint: it took place in the 50s.) (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: In a commercial for what brand did Charles Barkley declare that he was not a role model? Answer: Nike. Kudos: Marc Wollis-NBC Sports Group/NY; Michael Brown-PGA TOUR/NY; Jon Latzer-CBS Digital Media/NY; Tina Ofori-Discovery Communications/NY; Peter Lasser-Lasser Productions/Atlanta; Keith Allo-Golf Channel/NBC Sports/Orlando; G. David Brown-FOX Sports/Charlotte; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Jay Goslee-WZTV WUXP WNAB/Nashville; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Robb Rothfarb-AdMore/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City
Later — Chris
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