12/07/15: College football postseason lineup; SEC Championship takes the lead; MLS mulls a foursome


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Good morning. It’s Monday December 7, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

After nabbing dynamite ratings in year one, year two of the College Football Playoff has its contenders. Playoff action is carried on ESPN and begins on Dec. 31 at 4p with Oklahoma/Clemson, followed by Michigan State/Alabama at 8p. While controversies typically accompany the postseason selections, this year’s biggest heat may come from the Mountain West Conference, which will see two of its teams square off in the Arizona Bowl. “It is a travesty the Mountain West has been forced into this situation,” said conference Commissioner Craig Thompson in a statement. “Clearly, the system is broken. There is an excess of bowl games due in part to a disparate allocation of openings vs. conference bowl histories. The result is teams with sub-.500 records participating in bowl games. There is consensus change is needed and this year’s outcome must not be repeated.”

Here’s the complete postseason lineup…

Dec. 19
Celebration Bowl: Alcorn State/North Carolina AT&T at noon on ABC
Cure Bowl: San Jose State/Georgia State at noon on CBS Sports Network
New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico/Arizona at 2p on ESPN
Royal Purple Bowl: BYU/Utah at 3:30p on ABC
Camellia Bowl: Ohio/Appalachian State at 5:30p on ESPN
New Orleans Bowl: Arkansas State/Louisiana Tech at 9p on ESPN

Dec. 21
Miami Beach Bowl: South Florida/Western Kentucky at 2:30p on ESPN

Dec. 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Akron/Utah State at 3:30p on ESPN
Boca Raton Bowl: Temple/Toledo at 7p on ESPN

Dec. 23
Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State/Northern Illinois at 4:30p on ESPN
GoDaddy Bowl: Bowling Green/Georgia Southern at 8p on ESPN

Dec. 24
Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee/Western Michigan at noon on ESPN
Hawaii Bowl: San Diego State/Cincinnati at 8p on ESPN

Dec. 26
St. Petersburg Bowl: Connecticut/Marshall at 11a on ESPN
Sun Bowl: Miami/Washington State at 2p on CBS
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Washington/Southern Mississippi at 2:20p on ESPN
Pinstripe Bowl: Duke/Indiana at 3:30p on ABC
Independence Bowl: Virginia Tech/Tulsa at 5:45p on ESPN
Foster Farms Bowl: Nebraska/UCLA at 9:15p on ESPN

Dec. 28
Military Bowl: Pitt/Navy at 2:30p on ESPN
Quick Lane Bowl: Minnesota/Central Michigan at 5p on ESPN2

Dec. 29
Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force/California at 2p on ESPN
Russell Athletic Bowl: North Carolina/Baylor at 5:30p on ESPN
Arizona Bowl: Colorado State/Nevada at 7:30p on Campusinsiders.com/ASN
Texas Bowl: LSU/Texas Tech at 9p on ESPN

Dec. 30
Birmingham Bowl: Auburn/Memphis at noon on ESPN
Belk Bowl: North Carolina State/Mississippi State at 3:30p on ESPN
Music City Bowl: Louisville/Texas A&M at 7p on ESPN
Holiday Bowl: USC/Wisconsin at 10:30p on ESPN

Dec. 31
Peach Bowl: Houston/Florida State at noon on ESPN

College Football Playoff semifinals
Orange Bowl: Clemson/Oklahoma at 4p on ESPN
Cotton Bowl: Alabama/Michigan State at 8p on ESPN

Jan. 1
Outback Bowl: Northwestern/Tennessee at noon on ESPN2
Citrus Bowl: Michigan/Florida at 1p on ABC
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame/Ohio State at 1p on ESPN
Rose Bowl: Stanford/Iowa at 5p on ESPN
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma State/Ole Miss at 8:30p on ESPN

Jan. 2
TaxSlayer Bowl: Penn State/Georgia at noon on ESPN
Liberty Bowl: Kansas State/Arkansas at 3:20p on ESPN
Alamo Bowl: Oregon/TCU at 6:45p on ESPN
Cactus Bowl: West Virginia/Arizona State at 10:15p on ESPN

Jan. 11
College Football Playoff: Championship game at 8:30p on ESPN


Meanwhile, CBS Sports reports that its coverage of Alabama’s win at the SEC Championship game on Saturday ranks as the highest-rated college football game of the year. The matchup drew an overnight household rating/share in the metered markets of 8.3/17, for a rise over 8% over last year’s 7.7/16 for Alabama-Missouri.

Thursday’s Green Bay/Detroit matchup on TNF wrapped up the season for the CBS and NFL Network simulcast package. The eight games featured by the two channels delivered an average HH rating of 10.9/19, according to Nielsen, for a 9% rise over 2014. Viewership was also up 9%, averaging 17.6 million viewers.
HBO Sports saw the 20th anniversary of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel average 3.1 million viewers in 2015. That marks a 19% uptick over numbers from three years ago with cumulative monthly viewership up 27%. Overall, the show has presented 224 episodes to date and featured 21 correspondents including Gumbel.

Speaking of the network, HBO Sports and IMG are teaming up for a behind-the-scenes special showcasing the Gonzaga University men’s basketball team season. The crew is embedding themselves with the team with the multi-part special set to run in early 2016.

Major League Soccer’s board of governors feels that 28 may be a lucky number and is now looking to continue expansion beyond its current call for 24 teams by 2020. Currently, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minnesota are slated to join the league by then, along with Miami set to become #24. “There is no shortage of demand for MLS expansion teams and we believe the opportunity exists to grow beyond our current plans,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “We will evaluate how to grow the league to 28 teams and establish a process and timeline for future expansion.” Sacramento, San Antonio and Las Vegas had previously been considered for growth.

With the Warriors streak intact, NBA TV’s Fan Night will feature the undefeated team tomorrow night as part of a doubleheader pitting the team against the Pacers at 7p. Afterward, the channel will see Jazz/Kings at 10p.


If you’re working in Virtual Reality Marketing, no matter how well you do your job, it all starts with the VR experience itself: Either users like it, or they don’t. Greg Downing, the President of xRez Studios, is an acclaimed visual artist, and a pioneer in crafting VR experiences. Safe to say, he knows what pitfalls to avoid, but do you?

Join Downing and a panel of experts on Tuesday, December 8 for our latest Cynopsis webinar, to learn about the new tools at your disposal to successfully implement VR into your media strategy.


ESPN announced that outdoor fitness event and obstacle race organizer BattleFrog locked in a deal to become the title sponsorship of the 45th Annual Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2. BattleFrog will also serve as the title sponsor of the ‘BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl Fan Fest’ pregame party at University of Phoenix Stadium prior to kickoff. "We are thrilled to bring the BattleFrog lifestyle to Arizona as title sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl and Fiesta Bowl Fan Fest Pregame Party," said BattleFrog CEO Ramiro Ortiz. "BattleFrog is about family, country, health, fitness and love of the outdoors. BattleFrog, You Gotta Live It. We will add a new and interesting flavor to the event and will use this as an opportunity to entertain Arizonans and showcase our lifestyle."

IMG, in partnership with Flightly, leveraged Twitter to help teams sell merchandise directly to fans of Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Michigan State ahead of the College Football Playoff.  The schools tapped the Twitter Buy Now feature over the weekend’s Conference Championship games, offering special merchandise such as the team’s locker room hats and tees.


Back to the Warriors, the team’s success pushed CSN Bay Area Digital to score all-time records in November, scoring 10.6 million visits with 7.9 million unique users, its second-most ever. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ victory last set a streaming record for CSN Bay Area with 1.2 million minutes.

NBC Sports reports that Rotoworld.com also posted its best November ever, generating 6.8 million unique users and almost 30 million visits. This marks Rotoworld.com’s 14th straight month in year-over-year gains.


Dec. 3 saw The Game Awards reveal its winners for 2015. Honorees are below…
BEST FAMILY GAME – Super Mario Maker (Nintendo EAD Group No. 4/Nintendo)
BEST FIGHTING GAME – Mortal Kombat X (NetherRealm Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
BEST MULTIPLAYER GAME – Splatoon (Nintendo EAD Group No. 2/Nintendo)
BEST MOBILE/HANDHELD GAME – Lara Croft Go (Square Enix Montreal/Square Enix)
ESPORTS PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Kenny "KennyS" Schrub (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive/Team EnVyUs)
ESPORTS GAME OF THE YEAR – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Valve)
MOST ANTICIPATED GAME – No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)
BEST NARRATIVE – Her Story (Sam Barlow)
BEST INDIE GAME – Rocket League (Psyonix)
BEST SPORTS/RACING GAME – Rocket League (Psyonix)
GAMES FOR IMPACT – Life is Strange (Dontnod Entertainment/Square Enix)
BEST FAN CREATION – Portal Stories: Mel (Prism Studios)
DEVELOPER OF THE YEAR – CD Projekt Red (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
BEST ART DIRECTION – Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios/Microsoft Studios)
BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE GAME – Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (Kojima Productions/Konami)
BEST SCORE/SOUNDTRACK – Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (Ludvig Forssell, Justin Burnett, Daniel James/Kojima Productions)
BEST PERFORMANCE – Viva Seifert (Her Story)
GAME OF THE YEAR – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt Red/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
BEST ROLE-PLAYING GAME – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt Red/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
BEST SHOOTER – Splatoon (Nintendo EAD Group No. 2/Nintendo)


Cowboys/Redskins on ESPN at 8:30p.


Women in Digital – This one is for you!

We live in such an exciting time – women are rising in the ranks and excelling in the fields of digital content, marketing, advertising, social media, & online. With these trailblazers in mind, we are pleased to announce the call for entries of our second annual TOP WOMEN IN DIGITAL AWARDS, celebrating the unique, the uncommon & the bold.

The deadline to enter is Tuesday, January 12 so get ahead of the holiday season by starting your entry today!

ON THIS DAY in 1963: CBS debuts instant replay during the Army/Navy game.

In The Know: Saturday saw Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey set the all-time mark for career all-purpose yards. Whose record did he beat? (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which artist made the maneuver that caused Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at Super Bowl XXXVIII? Answer: Justin Timberlake. Kudos: Len Appel-Corbis Entertainment/NY; Doug Jacobs- Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP/NY; Pete Gautieri-A&E Networks/NY; Jon Latzer-CBS Digital Media/NY; Keith Allo-Golf Channel/NBC Sports/Orlando; Brianne Maciejowski-Miles/Sarasota; John Miller-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; Farrah Segaloff-Comcast Spotlight/Quincy; Steve Tahsler- Frontier League/St. Louis; David Perlmutter-SQAD/Chicago; Karl Hoium-F-M RedHawks/Fargo; Dacia Smith-Continental Television Sales/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Scott Sarra-NBC Sports Group/Denver; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; Denise M. Abbott-PBR/Colorado Springs; Peter Steckelman-The Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Tony Reyes-RGH Entertainment/Woodland Hills; Drew Moser-San Diego Hall of Champions/San Diego; Dani Beaulieu-FanServ/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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