11/07/14: ESPN salutes the veterans; NFL slates a trio in London; Taco Bell reserves its seats at the College Football Playoff


Good morning. It’s Friday, November 7, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

ESPN lined up its sixth annual America’s Heroes initiative in honor of Veteran’s Day 2014 with programming set to include live, day-long SportsCenter coverage from The Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio on Tuesday, Nov. 11; ESPN2’s First Take from a military hangar at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey on Monday, Nov. 10; and the Armed Forces Classic from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico (Friday, Nov. 14). Among those providing daily “Shout Outs” via vignettes to the troops are: Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Nick Saban, Kevin Sumlin, Jeff Gordon and Diana Taurasi. USAA and Applebee’s are sponsors of the weeklong “America’s Heroes” on-air activation and these athlete tributes airing on all ESPN platforms.


DECEMBER 8, 2014 @ YALE CLUB NYC | Register Today!

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The NFL is bringing back a trio of games to London next season with its 2015 International Series slate set to feature a first-ever division game in the UK as well as games played on consecutive Sundays, also a first for the NFL in London. The schedule will see Jets/Dolphins on Oct. 4, Bills/Jaguars on Oct. 25 and Lions/Chiefs on Nov. 1, all at Wembley. “We are very appreciative of the outstanding support from our fans in the UK, not only for the games at Wembley, but for all of the related NFL events we have hosted throughout the city,” said NFL Executive Vice President of International Mark Waller. “We believe we have a great 2015 schedule that will continue to attract new fans to our sport and strengthen the bonds with our existing fans. To provide UK fans the opportunity to see games on consecutive weekends, to see new teams, and to attend a division game, which feature some of the most passionate rivalries in our sport, are signs of the growth and depth of our UK fan base.”

NBC Sports Group has added two more members to its NASCAR crew, announcing that motorsports reporters Dave Burns and Mike Massaro will contribute to the company’s coverage in 2015. In addition to covering pit road during Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series action on NBC and NBCSN, Massaro and Burns will contribute to NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN, as well as handle assignments throughout various NBC Sports properties

Speaking of NASCAR, FOX Sports unveiled its plans for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship from Homestead-Miami Speedway, with 21 hours of live coverage on the docket. FOX Sports 1 launches programming on Nov. 10, highlighted by a two-hour NASCAR Race Hub and Wednesday and live telecasts of on-track activity across NASCAR trio of series starting Nov. 14 as well as live presentation of Friday’s Truck Series season finale at 8p.

Tuesday night’s NBA TV Fan Night, which saw Houston/Miami and Cleveland/Portland, averaged 724,000 total viewers for a rise of 129% over both last year’s comparable Tuesday coverage and the network’s regular season average viewership during the 2013-14 season. The Cavs game alone averaged 836,000 total viewers to rank as the network’s second most-viewed Fan Night telecast and third most-viewed regular season game of all time.

It’s back to the start for WWE’s Smackdown, which will officially move back to Thursday night off of its Friday dates starting Jan. 15on Syfy at 8p. The long-running series has averaged 3.1 million viewers on Friday nights "Quite simply, more young men watch television on Thursday night than on Fridays,” said Michael Engleman, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Digital and Global Brand Strategy, Syfy. “Among Men 18-49, PUTS are 15% higher compared to Fridays, expanding the potential audience for SmackDown. Since the majority of broadcast programming skews female, we’re also using Thursday nights to counter program."

Bellator MMA locked in a deal for its Bellator 131: Tito vs. Bonnar fight card to run in the UK on Sunday, November 16 at 9p Viacom’s 5*. This marks the first time a Bellator event will air on the British broadcast network.

Pac-12 Networks revealed its talent assignments for its Full Court Friday lineup on November 14, where, for one night only, fans will get free access to ten games on Pac-12.com starting at 4:30p PT and running through midnight. Overall, 24 on-air personalities will be dispersed across 10 Conference campuses with more than seven hours of non-stop basketball action. Former Conference players Jon Crispin (UCLA), Casey Jacobsen (Stanford) and Pac-10 Coach of the Year Ben Braun (California) are the latest to join Pac-12 Networks’ men’s basketball team. The trio, who will serve as game analysts on Full Court Friday, join former coaches Mike Montgomery and Kevin O’Neill. Other talent will include Ros Gold-Onwude, Don MacLean, Matt Muehlebach, Dan Dickau, Dan Belluomini and Drew Shiller. Ted Robinson, Kevin Calabro, JB Long, Jim Watson, Josh Lewin, Daron Sutton, Rich Burk, Jason Knapp, Rich Waltz and Greg Heister round out the list of play-by-play voices.

NESN re-signed Charlie Moore to a multi-year agreement. Charlie Moore Outdoors has been one of the most successful programming partnerships in the network’s 30-year history, airs Sunday nights at 7p in the channel.


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Taco Bell is ringing up the first ever student section at the College Football Playoff. The deal, in partnership with ESPN, will see the creation of Taco Bell’s Live Mas Student Section to provide undergraduate students with tickets and the opportunity to see their teams at each of the three final College Football Playoff games. “The Live Más Student Section brings one of the most important and impactful elements of football typically reserved for the regular season into the inaugural College Football Playoff,” said Chris Brandt, CMO at Taco Bell. “The passionate student fans define what it is to Live Mas, especially at playoff games, and we’re thrilled to be able to provide such a memorable experience with a Taco Bell twist.” Additionally, Taco Bell and ESPN will reserve 60 seats  10 per school, per game  for the most dedicated fans. Starting today, current students can enter by following @ESPNCFB on Twitter and Instagram and sharing a photo that showcases their school spirit, using the hashtag #livemasfans.

The D-League is on the hunt for a title sponsor. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told USA Today that the league is looking for a naming-rights deal for its minor league. "For the D-League to go to the next level, one of the top items on our agenda is potentially selling a naming-rights deal for the league," Silver said. "There’s a naming-rights opportunity for the league, and Malcolm has a great track record in sales."

The NFL and the NFL Players Association released plans for its annual Salute to Service campaign. For every point scored during the NFL’s 32 designated Salute to Service games, the league will donate $100 to each of its three core, military non-profit partners  the Pat Tillman Foundation, USO, and Wounded Warrior Project for a total of $300 per point. Players will adorn helmet decals honoring military branches including Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard, as well as the NFL Salute to Service ribbon. In addition, the campaign will see camouflage ribbon footballs and camouflage goal post wraps and pylons with camouflage ribbon decals and more.

Intersport locked in Arrow Electronics as the presenting sponsor of the 25th edition of Courage in Sports on CBS. The silver anniversary production airs Nov. 16 at 5p on the network in most markets with the latest edition bringing “new stories of inspiration while looking back on a quarter-century of tales of athletes overcoming the greatest of odds.”


Tom Mendiburu, co-founder of High Point Solutions, announced the launch of the company’s Sports & Entertainment practice.  The High Point Sports & Entertainment practice will focus on “bringing state-of-the-art technology to enhance the fan experience while fostering the long term relationship among sports clubs, owners, sponsors, vendors and the community.” The expanded division will be led by newly appointed Vice President of Sports & Entertainment, Chip Foley, who formerly served as the Vice President of Technology for Forest City Ratner and The Barclays Center.


Alabama/LSU on CBS at 8p.

ON THIS DAY in 1991: Magic Johnson announces that he is HIV-positive.

In The Know: For what brand did Magic Johnson and Larry Bird go one-on-one? (Hint: It wasn’t Nike.) (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: Which former NFL athlete and current sports personality turned villain in the movie Broken Arrow? Answer: Howie Long. Kudos: Michael Neuman-Scout Sports and Entertainment/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Deborah Kapetanakis-Universal McCann/NY; Dan Hadel-ESPN/NY; David Ridpath-Ohio University/Athens; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Ged Young-GC Marketing LLC/Garden City; Tim Buckman-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Joe Lyons-Back Nine Productions, Inc./Dallas; Greg Finch-Time Warner Cable/Dallas; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; Michael Bell-NCC Media/Dallas; Denise M. Abbott-PBR/Pueblo; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Jacob Ullman-FOX Sports/LA; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA; Justin Elliott-Facebook/Menlo Park; Doug Kelly-S.F. Bowl Game Association/South San Francisco.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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