11/03/14: Major League Soccer bets big; LeBron helps TNT roll; WWE offers a freebie


Good morning. It’s Monday, November 3, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

It was a big week for Major League Soccer, which not only kicked off the playoffs, but also prepared for the future with announcements that Chivas USA would be folding, a new Los Angeles FC would be moving in for the 2017 season and an overall realignment would shuffle the season setup. The new LAFC features an ownership group that includes Henry Nguyen and Peter Guber as well as star power such as Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra as well as Tony Robbins.

With a new TV deal in store next season, Cynopsis Sports asked Eric Krasnoo, VP, MLS Digital Properties, about last week’s announcements and the future of the league.

Krasnoo on the 2014 season: 2014 was a year of tremendous growth across our digital platforms with significant increases in users, social participation and mobile activity. Driven by both the World Cup and continued interest in MLS, every month in 2014 significantly outpaced 2013 in terms of Unique Users and Page Views. This pattern of digital growth is happening at both a League and Club level, so we are obviously excited to see increased scale and engagement everywhere we look. When you consider MLS has the youngest and most tech savvy fans in sports, it’s easy to see where the growth has come from. Our Millennial and Hispanic fans all significantly over index in use of mobile, streaming and social, plus they are most likely to interact with sponsors on social platforms, which makes our brand enticing to our partners and advertisers.
On sponsors: We are always looking for ways to authentically incorporate our sponsors and advertisers into our media platforms. While we’ve had the AT&T Goal of the Week program for a few years now, we saw exponential growth in 2014 with the continued success of the MLS digital sites coupled with incorporating Goal of the Week into our broadcast partners’ linear and digital platforms.  With a cohesive cross-platform strategy, we were able to deliver increased engagement for AT&T.
A fantastic example of how we’re looking to push digital boundaries with our partners was using EA Sports’ FIFA game in selecting a roster spot for our 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star team. Goals scored in the video game using MLS players during a specific promotional window leading up to the All-Star Game were tallied up with the top scorer being added to the roster.
Also, adidas’ sponsorship of 24 under 24, a feature on our digital platforms that crowns MLS’ best young player, was a perfect and seamless way for adidas to align their messaging with young, homegrown stars in our league. Fans love to participate in the conversation around this series which we feel is a testament to the future stars within MLS.
On new partners: The biggest change in 2015 is that our new broadcast relationships (ESPN, Fox, Univision) will allow us to look more holistically across all media platforms including linear TV, web, mobile and social.  The ability to bring fully integrated opportunities to our MLS partners that includes media (both inside and outside the white lines) and traditional rights/activation is something we’re excited about. Our partners have invested in the sport of soccer and we will continue to use our media assets as an important megaphone as we work with them to develop their strategies and narratives for our 20th season.
On growth: We have a new brand that will spearhead our outreach and allow us to connect with our clubs, partners and fans in a totally unique way. We will continue to highlight what a differentiating experience we have at MLS — the intoxicating stadium environment, the unique supporter culture, driven by Millennials, and the access we provide in North America to a club in your home town. In addition, we are celebrating our 20th season next year with two new teams (New York City FC & Orlando City SC) and a number of world stars (Kaka, David Villa, Frank Lampard) making their debut in the league. These elements will allow us to reach both existing and new fans by telling a compelling story that is relevant to them.
On the new LA franchise: The ownership group led by Henry Nguyen, Peter Guber and Tom Penn is going to be terrific. They’re going to build a new state-of-the-art stadium and the rivalry that will be built between LAFC and LA Galaxy will be exciting. The new Los Angeles team’s brand identity will be announced at a later date. They will start play in MLS in 2017, the same year that Arthur Blank’s team in Atlanta will join, bringing MLS to 22 clubs. We’ll add two more clubs before 2020 to get to 24.


Will you make The Leaderboard?

Join Cynopsis Sports on Monday, December 8 when we present our end-of-year 2014 Cynopsis Sports Leaderboard, a showcase of the best social media campaigns in the sports industry from 2014. Enter today 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

Don’t miss your chance for greatness… Enter Today!



LeBron James drove TNT to an opening week liftoff with the channel’s start of the NBA season, which featured the Cavaliers and Knicks delivering 4 million total viewers. That marks a 50% uptick over the comparable telecast window last season, according to Nielsen fast nationals. Its 2.6 household rating was up 44% over last year as well. Overall, the network’s NBA Thursday doubleheader averaged 2.9 million total viewers and a 1.9 household score, up 21% and 19% respectively over the comparable doubleheader last season. TNT’s NBA regular season coverage will continue with doubleheader action on Thursday.

Running solo without CBS for the first time this season, NFL Network’s telecast of Thursday Night Football on Oct. 30 drew an overnight household rating of 5.12 in the 56 metered markets (including over-the-air stations in home markets). While obviously down from its partnership with CBS a week ago, that still marks a 3% gain from last year’s Week 9 contest. When the final numbers are in, last night’s Thursday Night Football game is expected to be the most-watched program on cable for Thursday, Oct. 30.Through eight games of the 2014 schedule, TNF on CBS and NFL Network (and over-the-air stations) is up +91% in the metered markets compared to last year’s games on NFL Network and the over-the-air stations in participating markets.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s Florida State/Louisville college football matchup on ESPN delivered the highest overnight rating this season across the ESPN family of channels. The game scored a 3.5 Nielsen score. On the digital front, the contest ranked as the second largest for a regular season game on WatchESPN, with 74,000 viewers per average minute and 366,000 live unique viewers, according to the company. 

NBC’s ties with The Breeders’ Cup continue to pay dividends as Saturday’s primetime coverage of the Classic race. Bayern’s win posted a 1.8 household score in overnight numbers, up 25% from the 2013 race.

The NFL announced that the Week 11 matchup between the Eagles/Packers on Nov. 16 will now be played at 4:25p on FOX as part of the league’s flex scheduling program with its television partners. The Vikings/Bears game will now be seen on CBS at 1p. Meanwhile, NBC Sports will keep its Patriots/Colts contest for Sunday Night Football.

NBA TV announced that its first NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint telecast of the season will feature the Cavaliers facing the Trail Blazers on Tuesday at 10p as a part of a network doubleheader. The night’s opening game will feature the Rockets/Heat at 7:30p.


Do you work at a traditional network but want to transition to a digital publishing position?

Cynopsis is presenting a career-focused webinar on Thursday, November 6, 2014 to educate TV executives (and by that we mean senior managers and above) on how they can move successfully into the digital world and take advantage of the job opportunities it offers  without having to start all over in an entry level slot.

Don’t Wait… Register Now!

Reinventing Yourself – Transitioning from Traditional Media to New Media Webinar


OneMain Financial announced plans to move with its driver, stating that the company will serve as the primary sponsor of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 1 OneMain Financial Ford Mustang driven by Elliott Sadler in the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series. Sadler had previously been part of Joe Gibbs Racing for the series.

PVH Corp., owner of the Van Heusen brand, locked in a partnership with non-profit philanthropic organization Career Gear, which offers “professional clothing, mentoring and life-skills to help economically disadvantaged men.” The duo are looking to #GiveAShirt over the holiday season as part of new campaign that will see dress shirts donated to Career Gear every time a consumer uses the hashtag #GiveAShirt on any of their social channels. Van Heusen spokesmen Steve Young and Jerry Rice will be joined by former New York Giants running back David Wilson to launch the campaign via a full slate of earned and social media activations.  


WWE Network is free this month to new subscribers with content that includes Survivor Series available for fans who sign up. Beginning in December, WWE Network will be available for $9.99 per month with no commitment.

The Topps Company announced a “tremendous response” to the company’s first-ever digital daily venture that was tied to the MLB Postseason. For the first time, Topps unveiled wall art every day during the postseason with the “MLB Playoff Player of the Day,” as selected by Topps and Bloomberg Sports. Following the completion of every day of the postseason, fans went to Topps.com to see who had been selected “The response from fans who logged on to view and purchase the wall art exceeded what we were anticipating in the first year, and shows we are on the right track as we expand our business offerings going forward,” said Jeff Heckman, Manager of Marketing, Topps Digital.


Sports Legacy Institute, which is dedicated to concussion education and research, announced that Paul Levesque, Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative at WWE (aka Triple H), has been elected to its Board of Directors. “We are thrilled to welcome Paul Levesque to our Board of Directors,” said Christopher Nowinski, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Sports Legacy Institute.  “As an athlete himself, Paul is familiar with the risks associated with concussions.  As an executive, Paul has made it a priority to protect WWE’s performers through education and awareness, as well as preventative measures and world class medical care.”


Colts/Giants on ESPN at 8:30p.

ON THIS DAY in 1989: The NBA’s Timberwolves play their first game, losing to Seattle.

In The Know: Which two college football teams square off in a battle for the Golden Boot? (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 what university was NFL QB Randall Cunningham drafted? Answer: UNLV. Kudos: Michael Jaquet-US Ski and Snowboard Assoc./NY; Jon Latzer-CBS Digital Media/NY; John Totaro-Totaro Communications/NY; Yussuf Khan-The Shadow League/NY; G. David Brown-FOX Sports/Charlotte; Rich Dubroff-CSNBaltimore.com/Baltimore; Keith Allo-Golf Channel/Orlando; Mike May-PHIT America/Wellington; John Currie-Kansas State/Manhattan; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Joe Lyons-Back Nine Productions, Inc./Dallas; Will Allmendinger Zoom Media/Chicago; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA; Doug Kelly-S.F. Bowl Game Association/South San Francisco; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; Paul Barrere-HTS/Playa Vista.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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