Good morning. It's Friday, June 1, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
With the Stanley Cup Final underway, the NHL announced that more than 70 million viewers tuned in for all or part of the Conference Quarterfinals, Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals on television. In the US alone, over 47 million individuals watched at least part of the first three rounds, which is up 22% over 2011. Up north, more than 23 million watched at least part of the games. These figures through the finals make the playoffs the most-watched in the US since 1997.
That said, the first game of Finals between the Devils and Kings delivered a 2.4 in the overnight ratings with a 4 share on NBC, according to Nielsen. That is off 25% compared to the opener last year between the Bruins and Canucks. However, overtime action is still being factored in and the score could go up in coming days.
On the Air
Newly retired Steeler Hines Ward will join NBC Sports Group as an analyst across the company's NFL, college football and studio programming in a multi-year agreement. Under the deal, he will also serve as a regular contributor to Football Night in America; serve as an analyst every Saturday on NBC's and NBC Sports Network's college football studio programming; and will also appear on NBC SportsTalk. Ward is represented by Atlanta-based marketing agency CSE.
Presidents and Chancellors from the Southeastern Conference confirmed that the conference will be discussing a launch of a SEC Network during their spring meetings. The conference is now discussing a rejiggered media rights deal with CBS and ESPN and will look to model the success of BTN for a launch as early as 2014.
Meanwhile, President of upcoming Big East member San Diego St. Elliot Hirschman told the San Diego Union Tribune that the "most conservative" estimate for a new TV right deal for the conference would be $6.4 million per school on an annual basis. Negotiations for the deal are reportedly set to begin in September.
FOX Networks Group COO David Haslingden told investors at a conference yesterday that the company was indeed mulling a new, broad sports channel with SPEED being a strong candidate to make the switch if the company opts to move forward.
ESPN announced that SportsNation's new co-host Charissa Thompson will debut on Monday, June 4, opposite co-host Colin Cowherd. Thompson joined ESPN in September of 2011 and has served as host of ESPN2's Numbers Never* Lie. Outgoing co-host Michelle Beadle will have her last appearance on the show this morning with a "Beadle Bash" that highlights her favorite moments and memories.
FUEL TV series Action Sports Plus has been canceled and will go off the air at the end of this month, according to multiple reports.
ESPNU announced that the channel will offer eight hours of coverage from the 2012 NBA Draft Combine on June 7 and 8. Coverage will begin each day at 10a will feature interviews with top draft picks, NBA and college coaches and general managers. The combine will also be available on ESPN3. Ryen Russillo hosts the two-day event.
Bright House Sports Network announced that it has inked a deal with the Florida High School Athletic Association to become the Official Television Partner of the Florida High School Athletic Association. Under the agreement, Bright House Sports Network will produce and distribute all FHSAA state quarterfinals, semifinals and final series games for the next three years with a minimum of sixty high school post-season games each year.
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Sponsorship & Promotion
General Motors confirmed that the company is trading football for, well, football, announcing the expected deal for Chevrolet to be the automotive sponsor of Manchester United. The deal spans five years and comes after the company announced that it will not sponsor the Super Bowl this season.
Herbalife announced that it will be the title sponsor and official nutrition company of soccer exhibition tournament the 2012 World Football Challenge. The event spans July 18 through August 11, and pulls together some of the world's most accomplished and celebrated soccer clubs to play in major sports venues across the U.S. and Canada. As part of the deal, Herbalife will serve as the "Official Nutrition Company" of the event, and provide teams with Herbalife24, its line of comprehensive performance nutrition products that help power athletes on and off the field.
Nike is mulling a move into the Olympics, according to looking to Charlie Denson, President of Nike Brand at the SportAccord convention. The AP reports that the company is looking into a potential sponsorship deal with the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Currently, Adidas is an official sponsor of the London Olympics.
The United States Golf Association officially relaunched a new-look website for the 112th U.S. Open Championship. The new usopen.com includes features such as live-streaming video, live scoring, interactive PlayTracker and access to Web and mobile applications along with real-time scoring, and the Virtual U.S. Open, which allows fans to experience each hole at The Olympic Club.
Golf Channel announced a number of promotions within its new media sales force for the network's GolfNow.com site naming Mike Hendrix (Midwest region), Stacey Oleck (Mid-Atlantic region) and Jonathan Vassil (Northeast region) to the positions of Senior Director of Sales.
The Main Event
Kings/Devils on NBC at 8p on Saturday night.
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ON THIS DAY in 1982: Rickey Henderson becomes the fastest player to reach 50 stolen bases in a year.
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who was the only top NBA draft pick to come from Louisville? Pervis Ellison. Kudos: Sarah Galvin-Centsables/NY; JR Podvesker-Comcast Spotlight/NY; Matt Denerstein-Mindshare/NY; Geoff Singer-ESPN/NY; Bob Rathbun-FOX Sports South/Raycom Play-by-Play/Atlanta; David Koonin-MELT/Atlanta; Gerald Brown-Bottom Line Sports Show/Teaneck; Debbie Teitel-Cleveland Interconnect and SportsTime Ohio/Cleveland; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; David Levin-KTVU/Oakland.
In The Know: Henderson still tops the all-time MLB record for steals. Who is number two? (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.)
Later -- Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports
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