Good morning. It's Thursday, June 14, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Game one of the NBA Finals handed ABC with the highest-rated, most-viewed opening game in network history. The Heat/Thunder contest scored a 9.9 household rating, with 16,195,000 viewers and 11,318,000 household impressions, all of which are records, according to Nielsen. Compared to last year's Game one between the Heat/Mavericks, the 9.9 rating is up 10% and viewership is up 7%. Online, the opening game of the series logged an average minute audience of 99,199 across computers, smartphones and tablets via WatchESPN and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE. The 2012 NBA Finals continue with Game 2 tonight at 9p ABC.
On the Air
BSkyB fended off rival attempts to land broadcast rights to the English Premier League, paying around $3.55 billion for the opportunity to showcase 116 English Premier League soccer matches as part of a new three-year deal that will start with the 2013-14 season. As part of the agreement, British platform BT will showcase 38 games a season, taking over the games from ESPN.
While we are on that side of the pond, ESPN announced that the channel will bring back the iconic Breakfast at Wimbledon as part of the company's branding for the famed tennis tournament. That title will serve as the name of the on-site, pre-match show leading to the five days ESPN is the sole broadcaster is televising matches. The show will debut on June 30 at 7a and then returns for the final four days of the tournament, from Thursday, July 5 through Sunday, July 8. Chris Fowler and Hannah Storm are slated to return as hosts of ESPN's Wimbledon telecasts, with Fowler also continuing to call matches as well.
NBC Sports Group announced a broadcast extension with the USA Pro Challenge that runs through 2013 and includes 29 hours of race coverage over seven days beginning Monday, August 20 on NBC Sports Network and NBC. This year's programming slate will include extended coverage on NBC with two hours on Saturday, August 25 and Sunday, August 26. Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen will take the microphone to offer observations and insight for each day's coverage. Former cyclist Bob Roll will serve as the in-race reporter.
Turner Sports named Craig Barry as Senior Vice President of Production and Executive Creative Director, where he will oversee all aspects of production, editorial content and creative direction for Turner's portfolio of television and digital sports properties. In addition, the company appointed Tim Kiely to Vice President and Executive Producer of Production, and Albert Vertino to Vice President and Executive Producer of Content.
Numbers in for the NHL Stanley Cup saw NBC and the NBC Sports Network average a 1.8 in households with 3 million viewers for the six games of the Kings/Devils series. However, after showcasing 86 games of the playoffs, including 25 overtime games and 50 one-goal games, the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs finished with NBC Sports Network up 12% over 2011 and overall ratings for NBC and NBC Sports Network rising 4% versus 2011. Six local markets-Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Phoenix and St. Louis-scored all-time viewership records for NHL games in their respective markets on NBC Sports Network.
SPEED announced that this year's 80th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours from France's famous Circuit de la Sarthe, which starts Saturday at 8:30a will a half hour of pre- and post-race activity, SPEED will over 23 hours of coverage while SPEED.com is set for two hours. SPEED is also presenting an hour-long special, Toyota's Road to Le Mans, which premieres Friday, June 15 at 10p. In addition, two live Corvette Racing in-car cameras are also available throughout the weekend, along with a camera placed in the General Motors pit lane. Leigh Diffey and Bob Varsha are anchoring the on-air team.
The Aug. 19 IndyCar race in China has been officially canceled, according to the AP, with series CEO Randy Bernard now hunting for another event for the second half of the season.
UFC President Dana White announced that the MMA promotion will return to an all-taped format for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. The most recent season of TUF drew an average of just over 1 million viewers per episode that featured live weekly fights from Las Vegas.
Univision's live coverage of the Men's National Team's (MNT) World Cup Qualifier between Mexico and Guyana on Friday, June 8th, scored 6.1 million total views to make Univision the top broadcast network in primetime for the evening. The viewership brought 3.2 million total viewers to Univision, according to Nielsen.
Clean Break is going from online to network. FUEL TV debuted Clean Break Presented by Schick Hydro last night and the show will also be exclusively featured online at Yahoo! Screen. Six episodes of Clean Break will run and feature well-known watersports professionals who will guide three typical guys who need a "clean break" from their everyday routines via a series of adventures in Hawaii.
Turner staple Charles Barkley is interested in trading in his microphone for a desk, and is up to taking on the job of General Manager for the 76ers, according to 94WIP's Anthony Gargano.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Sponsorship & Promotion
Rovio, producer of Angry Birds, has inked a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles that will include an Eagles-centric Angry Birds game set to be launched in the fall. The agreement also will provide a marketing push that will span social media as well as provide integration on local team shows and in-stadium displays.
TrueCar Racing announced that Virgin Group has signed on as an affiliate sponsor of TrueCar Racing, the world's first all-female racing team and "Women Empowered" initiative, for the rest of the IndyCar season. Virgin will now be included on Dragon Racing's IndyCars piloted by TrueCar Racing driver Katherine Legge, and four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais with branding on the nose and fuselage of the cars, team uniforms, visor of helmet and all team apparel.
The NBC Sports social media team is developing a Facebook and Twitter driven Sunday Night Football campaign for the fall, as a means to announce the NFL players who were selected to participate in the show open. The campaign began yesterday and will run through Wednesday, June 20th. Announcements will be made on Facebook and Twitter where, every morning, users will be given a blurred out photo of a new player and will have an opportunity to guess the player that has been selected. Then, each afternoon, a new player will be revealed.
The Colonial Athletic Association announced that league presidents officially approved the creation and funding for a CAA Digital Network that will be hosted by NBC Sports Group. Conference Commissioner Tom Yeager told reporters that the network would follow the ESPN3 model and feature every men's basketball game for free for the upcoming season.
Less than four weeks before first pitch of Major League Baseball's 83rd Mid-Summer Classic, which runs Tuesday, July 10 at 7:30p on FOX, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton currently leads all Major League players with a whopping 3.8 million votes. Six-time All-Star and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter trails him in second place for the American League. In the National League, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kempis tops with over 2.5 million votes. Fans can vote at www.allstargame.com.
ESPN is shutting down is its high school business unit, according to SBD, including the division's ESPNHS.com website, as well as its magazines and its event management service.
The Main Event
Heat/Thunder game two on ABC at 9p.
ON THIS DAY in 1989: Nolan Ryan becomes second pitcher to defeat all 26 MLB teams.
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What MLB team has a mascot named Ace? Toronto. Kudos: Kristen Hudak-ESPN/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Jen Benensky-Turner Digital/NY; Chris Crowley-Outside Television/Westport; Christopher Doyle-CBC Sports/Toronto; Steve Walker-Saatchi & Saatchi/Toronto; Anthony Antonelli-Rogers Communications/Toronto.
In The Know: Which MLB stadium has the largest seating capacity? (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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