12.01.14 Good morning. It’s Monday, December 1, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
This year, the NHL’s signature annual event, the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, goes to the nation’s capitol on January 1 when the Washington Capitals meet the Chicago Blackhawks on NBC. Prior to the game, the NHL and premium channel EPIX have partnered for the first time for The Road To The Winter Classic, making the episodes available for free on any device to anyone in the U.S. as well as on NHL.com, Epix.com, and a host of other sites. The series kicks off December 16 with a very recognizable name at the helm 52-time Emmy Award winning producer Ross Greenburg, who is once again creating the show he originally produced at HBO, the show’s previous home. Here’s what Greeenburg has in store for fans and marketers alike.
Since you created the series at HBO, what will fans see that’s different, now that it’s on EPIX?
We’ll dig deeper into the storylines than ever before. From Crawford and Sharp to Ovechkin and Backstrom, the players are amazingly compelling. Plus, you have very accessible and engaged coaches who fans will love to hear more about. But most importantly, we’re going back to the root of what made this series so successful when it started: the humanity, the intensity and the grittiness of everyone involved with these two franchises, from the players to the owners.
The partnership between the NHL and EPIX is designed to give all fans – not just premium cable subscribers – a chance to see the show for the first time on any platform. What does that mean for you as producer?
It means we have to keep an eye open a little wider for what may appeal to such a broad audience. We can’t take anything for granted. We want to make sure we deliver the story that will keep not just hockey fans, but everyone, engaged.
You’ve now done several projects with EPIX, including the documentary Forgotten Four. What has that experience been like?
EPIX has been very aggressive in working with partners like MLB and the NFL – and now the NHL – in getting the word out and showing that they want to be a player in this space. By making a series like this available outside their network on any device to all fans, they’re showing that they’re willing to take chances. They believe that once people see what they’re doing in sports, they’ll get hooked and will also see what EPIX is doing in entertainment. It’s a very smart approach. I’m sure it will help change the dynamic in how premium channels engage with fans.
The documentary space continues to grow; now with EPIX, ESPN, Showtime and HBO creating content. First, what makes a great series, and second, is there ever a saturation point?
You used to think there was only one way to do it, but now every day there’s a new approach that gains momentum and we have seen, rightly so, that sports can deliver some very dramatic stories that cross cultural and social boundaries like nothing else. There’s no shortage of content and interest, especially if the story is framed correctly and delivered and promoted well. The biggest surprise we have seen is that there’s a huge interest in the genre from young people; there has been this myth that early adopters and millennials only want to hear about what is going on now, when in fact they love the historical pieces and deeper dives into the personalities in and around the games. The most important thing is to deliver the story on the right platforms, which is what we are doing now with the NHL and EPIX. If they can find it, they will engage, become fans and share the content.
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Fox led all Thanksgiving NFL telecasts with 32.0 million viewers for Eagles-Cowboys in the late afternoon window, marking it the network’s best regular-season telecast of any kind since 1998, when the Minnesota Vikings and Cowboys drew 32.7 million viewers on Thanksgiving. Their audience was up 13% from 28.3 million viewers from the Packers-Lions in 2013.
The Seattle Seahawks’ 19-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football on Thanksgiving Night averaged 22.9 million viewers, to rank as the NFL’s most-watched Thanksgiving primetime game, topping by 9% last year’s game (21.1 million for Baltimore’s two-point home win over Pittsburgh), according to fast national data released today by The Nielsen Company. The NFL introduced the Thanksgiving primetime game in 2006.
CBS’s Thanksgiving Day broadcast of the Detroit Lions win over the Chicago Bears earned the network’s highest rating/share for their Turkey Day game in 16 yrs with a 15.3/35 in metered markets.
NBC Sports continues to score with global events as well. In its second season of presenting Formula One™, NBC Sports Group’s 2014 coverage of all 19 races across NBC, NBCSN and CNBC produced record viewership, highlighted by NBCSN delivering the most-watched F1 season ever for a single cable network, according to The Nielsen Company. NBCSN averaged 385,000 viewers for its live coverage of 12 races this season, up 86% vs. 2013 (207,000) and the best F1 season ever for a single cable network, surpassing the previous record held by SPEED in 2007 (379,000 for 13 races). NBCSN’s 2014 average viewership of 385,000 was also up 24% vs. 2012 average viewership on SPEED (311,000). In addition, all 10 races that aired on NBCSN in both 2013 and 2014 posted year-over-year viewership gains.
ESPN pulled a 7.2 overnight rating for the “Iron Bowl” matchup between Auburn and Alabama Saturday, a number that ranks as the network’s best on record for a regular-season college football game. The game drew a 5.18 local rating in Birmingham, ESPN’s best-ever number in the market for a regular-season college football game.
NBA TV Fan Night presented by Sprint telecast will feature the Toronto Raptors at the Sacramento Kings and on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 10 p.m. ET. The NBA TV Fan Night presented by Sprint game selection was based on fan voting via NBA.com, the NBA.com mobile web, NBA Game Time App, and via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
With Cyber Monday here, Courtney Reagan from CNBC is going live all day from Fanatics’ new, state-of-the-art 565,000 square foot fulfillment center just outside Columbus, OH.
Suze Orman is leaving CNBC to develop a syndicated talk show with Warner Bros. Telepictures. Is this a good move? Vote in our poll.
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As interest in global sport grows, the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan announced that their Games could have the largest amount of participants for any global event ever, and could feature 30 or more sports – including an equestrian event and possibly netball – and up to 6,000 athletes.
Super 8 Motels celebrated its 40th anniversary in grand style, setting a Guinness World Record for a pillow fight during last week’s South Dakota-South Dakota State football game. Over 4,201 students, alumni, parents and fans took part in the record-setting promotion during the first and second quarter break in the annual rivalry game.
Burbank Bob Hope Airport officials kicked off a promotion and awareness campaign as the official airport of the Rose Bowl Stadium last week, with a Facebook contest, signage at the Rose Bowl and other elements designed to drive more consumer engagement. The promotion, created by IMG College, began in advance of the holiday season in partnership with UCLA athletics, and will include signage not just at the Rose Bowl but also on campus at Pauley Pavilion as well.
The New England Revolution advanced to the MLS Cup after a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls Saturday before a home playoff-record crowd of 32,698 at Gillette Stadium.
Fantasy sports participation for women is becoming more of a reality. The number of women playing fantasy football in the United States and Canada has more than doubled since 2007, to 8.3 million this year, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Women now compose 20 percent of all players, an attractive and growing business: In a four-year period, their spending on related magazines, memberships and other content has more than doubled to $334 million, according to a New York Times piece on the phenomenon.
IMG announced that Christian Salomon has been given the role of managing director of IMG’s business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Formerly the senior vice president and head of IMG Media across German-speaking countries, Salomon replaces Matthias Pietza, who decided to leave his position as senior vice president and managing director of IMG in Germany and Austria earlier this year.
The University of Maryland named former University of Georgia Athletic Director Damon Evans Senior Associate AD & CFO.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Organizing Committee for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics was named President of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Chernyshenko will replace Alexander Medvedev, the deputy chairman of state-owned gas company Gazprom, as head of a Russian-led league consisting of 28 teams spanning seven nations across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods begins with Nebraska at Florida State at 7:00 pm on ESPN2.
ON THIS DAY in It just took a peach barrel to get started. In 1891, James Naismith officially created the game of basketball in Springfield, Mass.
In The Know:With college hoops now kicking in, which school plays in the oldest continuous use facility in Division I? (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: Where did Phil Simms go to college? Answer: Morehead State. Kudos: Rick Rosenfelt, ESPN, David Kalan, NHL, Tina Ofori, Discovery Communications, Michael Neuman, Scout Sports and Entertainment, Jon Miller, NBC Sports, Kyle Helm, CBS Sports Network, Michael Ritz, BucStar Consulting, Vito Lepore/ CoxReps, Michael Novara, ESPN New York, Phyllis McQuillan, MSG Media, Jay Goldstein/AdMore NY, Ken Nice, Yoh, Andy Pittman, Baylor U, Eric Burak,VP/Digital, Bellator MMA, Doug Kelly, Foster Farms Bowl, David Westberg, SAG-AFTRA, and Judie Henninger, Valentine Productions Inc.
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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