Good morning. It's Monday, June 18, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Last week's announcement that the NBC Sports Group was partnering with Dial Global to create the NBC Sports Radio Network formed the birth of a formidable pre-branded new platform in sports media. Beginning in September, the network will be distributed to radio stations nationwide by Dial Global with content that includes hourly sports news updates, daily features as well as full-length shows.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Rob Simmelkjaer, Senior Vice President, NBC Sports Ventures and International about the new partnership, how it boosts the NBC Sports brand and who will be in the programming mix for the network.
Simmelkjaer on the strategy behind the partnership: We are trying to build a brand in the NBC Sports Group that is on the tip of the tongue of every sports fan in America. From the time they get up in the morning to the time they go to sleep at night, radio is a necessary part of that. Radio has always held a very special place for sports fans and continues to this day, not just in the terrestrial form of radio but also through digital streaming and podcasts and all the forms of audio content that are out there right now. So we thought that radio was a very important piece of the puzzle for us in building a more robust brand at NBC Sports.
On the role of radio in a digital age: It brings the ability to interact with fans when their eyes are otherwise occupied, whether that means they are driving or they are at work, their ears still have room for sports. We wanted to be in those ears. Secondly, radio is a medium that has historically done incredibly well in the world of opinion. People listen to the radio because they want to hear that take about what happened last night, what happened the day before. It's a great place for people to hear opinions and share opinions. Of course, Facebook, Twitter and social media have given people lots of outlets to express their opinions about sports but calling into a radio show and interacting with that radio host and having those battles voice to voice is still a very special form of debate that we still have in the world of sports.
On talent and content: we will be looking at a combination of people who are already in the NBC Sports universe and people who are not with us. We have a great roster of talent here with some incredibly recognizable names and we're trying to figure out how to utilize our talent as best we can in a different format that we are looking at in radio going forward-the three-hour talk show, the updates, and essays that we are looking to include as part of our initial offering. So you'll see some familiar voices and names in there and you'll also have some names that are new to NBC Sports as part of the offering.
On the regional connection: One of the things that differentiates us as a radio programmer is that fact that we already have a regional presence with Comcast SportsNet as well as all those NBC stations in local markets. We are going to try on a regional basis to work in talent that is known in regional markets as best we can in the local radio offering that we create.
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On the Air
The Tiger Woods effect is still alive with NBC scoring the best U.S. Open Championship third-round rating in a decade on Saturday, with a 5.5 overnight rating and a 13 share. That is up 53% over last year and ranks as the best in a decade. In addition, NBC's coverage of round one was up 50% vs. last year's with a 2.1/6 while round two rose 64% with a 2.3/7.
Over on NBC's Golf Channel, pre-game show Live from the U.S. Open on Saturday pulled a 2.1/6 which was the highest for this show this year on NBC. Those numbers are also helping the channel earn its best U.S. Open Week ever and up 12% over 2011 numbers.
Around the dial on ESPN, (funny that my kids have no idea what a "dial" is), ESPN's prime time coverage of the second round of the 112th U.S. Open on Friday, June 15, earned the network's highest rating and largest audience ever for a regular round of play in the event. The telecast averaged 3.6 million viewers with a 2.9 household score, according to Nielsen.
Showing that star power trumps markets, the 2012 NBA Finals, which pit the Heat against the scored as the most-viewed Finals ever on ABC two games into the series. The contests have averaged 16,439,000 viewers so far, according to Nielsen. Thursday night's broadcast delivered the largest audience for an NBA Finals Game 2 in ABC history, averaging 16,670,000 viewers. Overall, The Finals are averaging a 10.1 rating, to mark the highest numbers since 2004 and the second highest-rated ever on ABC, through two games. The series is up 10% in household rating and 7% compared to last year with game 2 recording a 10.4 household rating. The game also logged an average minute audience of 97,629 across computers, smartphones and tablets via WatchESPN and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE.
BTN is set to recognize the best of Big Ten sports tonight with the fifth annual BTN Awards show at 7:30p. Dave Revsine, Mike Hall and Rick Pizzo will host the one-hour show, with highlights set to include the two Big Ten Conference awards, the Suzy Favor Award, for the best female student-athlete, and the Jesse Owens Award, for the best male student-athlete. The show also will feature interviews with selected award winners, both coaches and players.
Curt Schilling is set for a leave of absence from his job as an ESPN analyst now that the retired pitcher's video gaming company filed for bankruptcy, according to the AP. According to a company tweet, the network and retired pitcher mutually agreed to the leave in order for him to sort through his business issues. Schilling is expected to return later this season.
America East anchor Boston University surprised pundits and announced that the school has formally accepted an invitation to join the Patriot League beginning July 1, 2013, where it will now join Boston University will join American University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, The College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy as full members of the league. The America East could potentially be down more schools with at least one more member in discussions with the CAA about a move.
CBS Sports Network is set to air Lemming Report: Summer 100 tonight at 8p, showcasing CBS Sports Network and MaxPreps.com recruiting expertTom Lemming's Top 100 college football prospects for the Class of 2013. Ahead of the program MaxPreps.com will unveil Lemming's complete list of positional rankings for the Class of 2013.
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Sponsorship & Promotion
UEFA came down on Denmark forward Nicklas Bendtner with improper conduct after the player lowered his shorts to reveal an unofficial sponsor's name on his underpants while celebrating a goal at the European Championship. The soccer organization is expected to focus on the case today.
Social benchmarking company Unmetric revealed its Unmetric Scores for the NBA, combining 24 qualitative and quantitative social media metrics, weighted and balanced to produce a number that quantifies a team's pull on the platforms. This year, the Lakers ranked first in combined Unmetric Score, followed by the Heat, Celtics, Clippers and Bulls.
TNT is asking NASCAR fans to submit photos of the favorite pre-race habits, with some of the best shots set to be featured in the pre-race show. Fans can submits pics using the hashtag #NASCAR.
The Main Event
Braves/Yankees on ESPN at 7p.
ON THIS DAY in 1972: The US Supreme Court confirms lower court rulings in the Curt Flood case by a vote of 5-3, upholding MLB's exemption from antitrust laws.
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: From what school was Joe Namath drafted? Alabama. Kudos: Tim McCann-MediaOptions/NY; Ross Molloy-CBS Sports Network/NY; Jon Miller-NBC Sports/NY; Peter King Hunsinger-Golf Digest, Golf World/NY; R J Cavallaro-Mills James Productions/Columbus; Ged Young-GC Marketing/Garden City; Mike Bridges-Today Media/Philadelphia; Derek Crownover-Crownover, Blevins, P.C./Nashville; Tom Akers-Outdoor Channel/Chicago; Dan Radman-Anheuser-Busch/St. Louis; Kevin Micklo-Digitas/Chicago; Frank Forgey-Missouri Broadcasters Association/Jefferson City; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Michael Jaquet-US Ski and Snowboard Team/Utah; David Hauptman- Katz Television Group/Denver; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA; Alan Perris-The Television Academy/North Hollywood; Dave Goldstein-NFL Network/Culver City; Keith Samuels-Mogreet/Venice.
In The Know: What team holds the record for the most first round selections in the NFL draft? (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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