12/15/15: NBCU, Tivo prepare for Olympic data drill; Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series gets another run; NBA’s break’s Vine’s billion barrior


Good morning. It’s Tuesday December 15, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With an eye toward the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, TiVo Research and RealityMine locked in a partnership with NBCUniversal to mine "comprehensive single-sourced cross-platform measurement" throughout the Summer Games, spanning Aug. 5-21. The alliance will create an in-depth analysis of how viewers (who opt in) consume NBCUniversal’s Olympic content across multiple devices including TV, mobile and digital in a move to improve cross-platform measurement and better understand consumer consumption by blending TiVo Research’s set top box data with RealityMine’s digital and consumer behavior research.

"The Olympics offer us a unique opportunity to test innovative research methods and technologies," said Alan Wurtzel, President of NBCUniversal Research. "What makes the Olympics such a notable research environment is the enormous amount of consumer activity on multiple platforms for a nearly three-week span, enhancing our ability to measure behavior and detect trends across time."


NBC Sports Group also reupped with Breeders’ Cup for a three-year renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which was originally inked last year. The deal sees 16 of top Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races in the US each year through 2018. 2016 will see the "Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing," consist of nine telecasts on NBC and NBCSN and feature 16 "Win And You’re In" races plus other major stakes races on the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships such as the Travers Stakes from Saratoga. This year, NBC Sports Group’s viewership for the "Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In" grew 136% year-over-year for the nine telecasts, according to Nielsen.

FOX NFL Sunday continued its 2015 run by throwing a 3.9/10 over the weekend. That marks a 22% rise over last year’s 3.2/8 score. That marks the fifth consecutive week that Fox’s NFL pregame show saw a year-to-year ratings spike, and is now averaging a 3.6/9 among the metered markets for a 6% markup over last year’s numbers. Meanwhile, a Packers blowout over the Cowboys still handed the network with an 18.4/35, up 6% over last year’s equitable game. Regional action earlier in the day scored a 10.9/22, up 14%.

Around the dial, NBC saw the win over the Texans on SNF earn a 13.9/22 in Nielsen overnights, matching last year’s numbers between the Patriots and Chargers. Top markets: Boston 42.4/61; Providence 34.6/50; Houston 31.5/44; Hartford 19.8/31; Las Vegas 19.3/31.

The Ryder Cup travels to Italy for the first time in 2022, winning hosting rights that year for the tournament to take place in the Marco Simone club in Rome. The country beat out bids from Germany, Spain and Austria for the 44th edition of the biennial competition between Europe and the US. "The Italian bid was consistently strong and impressive across the board in terms of infrastructure, commercial structure and government support," Europe’s Ryder Cup director Richard Hills said. "The plans outlined for the golf course at Marco Simone are spectacular alongside the commitment to develop all levels of golf in Italy."

On the talent front, WWE named veteran announcer Mauro Ranallo as the new voice of SmackDown starting Jan. 7 when the show shifts to USA Network. Ranallo is currently the play-by-play announcer for Championship Boxing on Showtime and former lead announcer for the Strikeforce MMA promotion. "Joining WWE has always been a lifelong dream of mine," said Ranallo. "I am thrilled to add my voice to the SmackDown broadcasts as the show moves to its new home on USA Network."

Meanwhile, ESPN named Victoria Arlen as a contributing features reporter, reporting for espnW and X Games Aspen, as well as SportsCenter. Diagnosed early with Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, Arlen fought through four years of being in a vegetative state and has since become a motivational speaker, actress, model and competitive swimmer with three silvers and a gold medal from the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Last May, she served as a features venue reporter at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

Get ready for a bevy of sports-themed marathon programming as we hit the end of the year. FOX Sports lined up a 17-hour NASCAR marathon on Christmas Day starting at 6a on FS1 with three consecutive hours of NASCAR Race Hub: Best of the Year. Programming will showcase the likes of the 1979 Daytona 500 to the 1992 NASCAR All-Star Race to last season’s dramatic Daytona 500. On Dec. 26, FS1 then airs 14 consecutive events from the 2015 Monster Jam monster truck season starting at 9a.

Around the dial, Golf Channel is dedicating the holiday to helping viewers improve their golf game in the New Year, via a dedicated "12 Tips of Xmas" campaign that runs this week and continues through Dec. 24. In addition to tips airing within Morning Drive, Golf Channel will feature some of the most memorable tips and lessons from 2015, beginning Monday, Dec. 14 and continuing through Thursday, Dec. 24. On-air programming will include episodes of The Golf Fix, Golf Channel Academy, School of Golf, Champions Tour Learning Center and Playing Lessons, running each day from 11a-1p. Meanwhile, GolfChannel.com offers a special holiday instruction show on its homepage, hosted by Blair O’Neal.

HBO’s holiday programming will include four straight nights of the year’s standout fights starting Dec. 27 with replays of nine bouts from 2015. The "Boxing’s Best" lineup airs at 11a each night, beginning with Sergey Kovalev/Jean Pascal I; Terence Crawford/Dierry Jean and Canelo Alvarez/James Kirkland.

FOX Sports pays tribute to the career of U.S. Women’s National Team star Abby Wambach as the team faces China tomorrow on FS1. A special one-hour pregame show at 7:30p precedes the international friendly as Wambach takes the field as a professional for the last time. Play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera joins analyst Cat Whitehill and reporter Jenny Taft on microphone duties. Rob Stone hosts pregame coverage comprehensive analysis and commentary from a panel of former Wambach teammates and international foes who have known her both on and off the field and includes a feature on Wambach’s contributions to soccer, her impact on women, men, girls and boys, and includes #ThanksAbby tribute video clips compiled from fans across all 50 states.


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World Series of Fighting unveiled a new logo to replace its original emblem. The mark will represent the brand across all of its media platforms beginning in January, featuring a three pronged crown. The company also announced that it will open a Manhattan-based corporate office for its operation next month. "We are excited to head into the New Year, and enter a new chapter in World Series of Fighting history with a distinguished, new look that conveys the essence of why this company was founded and what it stands for, and are thrilled to bring our operation to one of the greatest cities and sports entertainment epicenters in the world," said World Series of Fighting CEO Carlos Silva.

WWE and NBCUniversal announced that Coca-Cola will be the presenting partner of the 13th annual WWE Tribute to the Troops event, set to run air as a two-hour special on Dec. 23 from 8-10p on USA Network. The deal includes brand integration throughout the program and offers one military family a VIP experience at Tribute to the Troops, including ringside seats to the event, and the opportunity to meet WWE Superstars and Divas. Coca-Cola commercial spots will air during the USA broadcast and on WWE Network, and WWE will develop behind-the-scenes content with WWE Superstars and Divas for its global digital and social media platforms.

Buffalo Wild Wings partnered with the Carolina Panthers’ Greg Olsen to surprise a full B-Dubs restaurant in Concord, NC with $100 gift cards for every table, along with two additional $25 gift cards to give to others during the holiday season. The deal comes as part of the chain’s promotion where every time a guest buys a gift card from Buffalo Wild Wings of at least $25, they’ll get a bonus gift card valued between $5-$100. In addition, today B-Dubs will announce that for every RT it gets to a tweet over 24 hours, $1 will be donated to Greg’s personal charity The HEARTest Yard (up to $10,000).


The NBA became the first organization to surpass one billion loops on Vine. Overall, the league has built Vine’s largest following among all sports leagues, teams and players  drawing more than 1.45 million Top five looped NBA vines: LeBron from waaaaaaaay downtown!; Like father, like daughter; Riley Curry knows how to make an entrance; We’re just gonna leave this here; and #NoGifts.

Voting for WWE’s 2015 Slammy Awards will be held during Monday Night Raw on Dec. 21 at 8p as part of WWE Week on USA Network. The annual fan-voted awards honor the best of the year with their own golden statue in 18 categories with voting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Categories include:  WWE Superstar of the Year; WWE Tag Team of the Year; Hashtag of the Year; Celebrity Moment of the Year; "Tell Me You Didn’t Just Say That Moment of the Year; Best John Cena United States Championship Open Challenge Match of the Year; Rivalry of the Year; Double Cross of the Year; Surprise Return of the Year and Best Original WWE Network Show. Other categories can be voted on via the WWE App.


MotorsportNetwork is partnering up with Vice Sports for an alliance that will see digital content produced by companies shared on its respective platforms. Motorsport.com will provide motorsports content for the channel, including news stories, photos and videos in 11 different languages from 15 different editions.

Rotoworld will unveil its most-popular athletes of 2015, with the debut of the Rotoworld Top 50 celebration on Jan. 4. The Rotoworld Top 50 will feature individual athlete lists of the 50 most-popular fantasy players from seven different leagues and sports, as well as an overall Top 50 list of athletes from all sports spanning the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, Premier League, Golf and College Football. The Top 50 for each sport will include comprehensive analysis by Rotoworld’s collection So far in 2015, Rotoworld.com has averaged 5.25 million unique users per month, up 14% over 2014.


REVEAL 42 hired MLB Network’s Gary Waksman as Executive Producer where he will take part in its original production unit Reveal Originals. Waksman previously played key production roles with Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League and was the creative force behind content that includes The Franchise on Showtime, and several of ESPN’s "30 for 30" films.


Cavaliers/Celtics on NBA TV at 7:30p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1997: The 49ers retire Joe Montana’s #16.

In The Know: Who is second on the NFL’s career reception yardage list? (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: Three athletes from Marshall University have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Name two. Answer: Randy Moss, Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington. Kudos: Joe Isabella-WCBS-TV/NY; David Kalan-NHL.com/NY; Mario Prosperino-AP Images/NY; Margaret LaMura-Dara-The CW Network/NY; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Rich Dubroff-CSNmidatlantic.com/Baltimore; Wayne "World B." Otto-Pro-Am Sports/Boone;  Anthony Antonelli-UFC/Toronto; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Steve McNair-KUBE TV/Houston; Craig Trabulsy-Turner Broadcasting/Chicago; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Tim Davidson-hyfn/Hermosa Beach; Rich Greene-FOX/LA

Later — Chris
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