Good morning. It’s Wednesday, October 15, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
The Southeastern Conference revealed that longtime Commissioner Mike Slive will retire next year after a transforming 13-year run atop the league. He will officially depart on July 31, 2015 and announced that he is beginning treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer. However, he will remain associated with the conference as a consultant for a period of four years. His run atop the league saw landmark television contracts including the launch of the SEC Network, seven consecutive Bowl Championship Series national titles in football and 67 national championships in 15 of its 21 sponsored sports during his tenure.
“I have been blessed in more ways than I can count and I will have as much passion for this job on my last day as I did on my first,” said Slive. “I consider my health situation a temporary detour in a remarkable road that has allowed me to meet amazing people, experience incredible events and celebrate historic victories. I will relish my final year in this position and look forward to being the biggest fan of the SEC for many years to come.”
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CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network slated the company’s most extensive schedule ever for the for the 2014-15 college basketball season with 252 total games on deck, including five men’s Conference Championships and spanning 18 different conferences. The action tips off on CBS on Dec. 6 at 12:30p with Wisconsin/Marquette and 39 games overall set for the network, including the inaugural CBS Sports Classic on December 20 with North Carolina/Ohio State and UCLA/Kentucky. Meanwhile, CBS Sports Network showcases 213 games, the most ever by the channel, starting Nov. 14 at 6:30p with the inaugural Veterans Classic at the Naval Academy pitting Tennessee/VCU and Michigan State/Navy. CBS Sports Network also spotlights 31 women’s basketball games from the likes of the American Athletic Conference, Big East, Conference USA, Atlantic 10, Patriot League and Southland Conferences. Lead play-by-play for CBS will once again feature Jim Nantz and analyst Greg Anthony.
ESPN saw this week’s Monday Night Football game push the network atop the rankings for the night among all networks in viewers, households and all key male and adult demos, according to Nielsen. The game averaged a 7.9 household score with 12,712,000 viewers (P2+). In San Francisco, the game delivered an 8.1 rating on ESPN and a 15.9 on KPIX-CBS, for a combined 24.1 rating in the market. In St. Louis, the game delivered an 8.2 rating on ESPN and a 7.5 on KPLR-CW, for a combined 15.7 rating in the market.
The season premiere of Open Court on NBA TV last week, which named the NBA 50 Greatest and the Next 10, averaged 146,000 total viewers for the channel. That marks an uptick of 128% over the comparable first episode last year. In addition, according to Nielsen, the network’s prime delivery averages are up 12% in total viewers and 7% in households, vs. 2013 to-date, with gains across all key demos, including up 14% among men 18-34 and 20% among men 18-49.
Speaking NBA TV, the channel will carry the Nets/Celtics on Sunday, but with a twist. The league is experimenting with the format of the game and the athletes will now play four 11-minute quarters – in a move to trim the overall timing of the contest – instead of 12. The format is purely experimental and will be played as a one-time season experiment. Overall, the game will feature two less TV timeouts.
Saturday night saw 9.8 million Canadians tune in to watch at least some of the Hockey Night in Canada telecasts, marking a record for the franchise in audience reach on the opening Saturday in October of the NHL season. “Seeing Canadians connecting with their game across so many platforms, and engaging with us in so many ways, is a great way to kick off the season for Hockey Night in Canada and Rogers Hometown Hockey,” said Scott Moore, President, Sportsnet & NHL Properties, Rogers Media. “We’re off to a strong start, and are looking forward to reaching more Canadians than ever before throughout the season.”
Golf mainstay Johnny Miller is going to be hanging around NBC Sports for a while. The AP reports that Miller extended his deal with the company through at least 2017, with an option for another year.
Paul Azinger is scheduled to join Morning Drive in-studio this morning to discuss the the newly appointed Ryder Cup task force that was announced yesterday. He will also will be fielding questions via Golf Channel’s social media channels throughout the duration of the show. Azinger will be joining hosts Kelly Tilghman, Damon Hack and Chris DiMarco. In addition, the show will cover Wednesday’s World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2015 announcement.
Are you on the Leaderboard? Find out at the Cynopsis Sports Social Media Summit on Dec. 8!
Mike Goldberg is already off his run as a play-by-play announcer for the NFL on FOX, according to multiple reports. After a debut on Sunday’s Lions/Vikings game that saw some errors, he later posted a profanity-laced tirade on Twitter after being criticized. Tim Brando will now be calling the game on FOX with Brendon Ayanbadejo.
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Big news on the MLS front, as the league locked in a long-term deal with Heineken to serve as the Official Beer of Major League Soccer. The partnership begins on Jan. 2015. The announcement also stated that MLS will also serve as a “seamless counterpart to Heineken’s global soccer initiatives, including sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), to create year-long engagement with fans. Heineken will further complement their soccer properties with individual MLS club deals to be announced in the coming weeks.” In addition, the brand will present MLS Rivalry Week and offer visibility during nationally broadcast matches, on-site and digital activations, and point-of-sale materials.
NHL partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car partnered with lead NHL Network analyst and NHL.com contributor Kevin Weekes to launch a new season of its daily trivia game, NHL Hat Trick Challenge. Fans can test their ability to predict various game outcomes including: which team will win; which player will score a goal; or which player will get an assist. Each game day, three questions will be posed and the individual who answers all three questions correctly will score a hat trick. The fan who scores the most hat tricks throughout the regular season will win the NHL Hat Trick Challenge and receive two tickets plus a trip to a 2015 Stanley Cup Final game, as well as a chance to shadow Kevin Weekes before the game.
Top five most mentioned players on Twitter during Week 6 of NFL play:
1. JJ Watt (@JJWatt)
2. Victor Cruz (@TeamVic)
3. Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12)
4. DeMarco Murray (@DeMarcoMurray)
5. Tony Romo
Top five most Tweeted games, according to Nielsen Social:
1. @dallascowboys vs. @Seahawks (FOX)
2. @Giants vs. @Eagles (NBC)
3. @Colts vs. @HoustonTexans (CBS; NFL Network)
4. @49ers vs. @St. Louis Rams (ESPN)
5. @Packers vs. @MiamiDolphins (FOX)
PGA Grand Slam of Golf on TNT at 4p.
ON THIS DAY in 1989: Los Angeles King Wayne Gretzky breaks Gordie Howe’s NHL points record.
(Whoops, forgot to change the year in yesterday’s edition! It should, of course, have read 2003.)
In The Know: In addition to Karl and Moses, who is the third “Malone” to rank in the top 100 regular-season NBA scorers of all-time?(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 Yesterday’s Question: For which university did actor Burt Reynolds play college football? Answer: Florida State. Kudos: Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Brian Lozynski-Turner Broadcasting/NY; Michael Neuman-Scout Sports and Entertainment/NY; Joel Segall-Monterey Media/NY; Bob Rathbun-FOX Sports South/Raycom Play-by-Play/Atlanta; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; Michael G. Hawkins-Francis Marion University/Florence; Michael Goodman-Radio One/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-Texas A&M University/College Station; Tony Tortorici-Fox Sports North/Wisconsin/Minneapolis; Kevin Wicker-Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network/Mission; Lucie Prann-The Richards Group/Dallas; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; David Hauptman/Denver; Daniel Hanson/Vail; Mike Van Diest-Carroll College/Helena; Jeff C. Fellenzer-University of Southern California/LA; Willie Price-American Forces Network/Riverside; Damon Parry-MediaVest/El Segundo
Later — Chris
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