Good morning. It's Monday, July 9, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
The countdown is on to college football season and with it, the launch of the Pac-12 Networks, featuring one national channel and six regional networks that will kick off on Aug. 15 with access to 40 million homes around the country. The inaugural fall season will feature 270 events in a span of 100 days and is on track for 850 events annually, with 350 on the national feed while 500 more will have a home on the regional channels.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Lydia Murphy-Stephans, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Pac-12 Networks, about the upcoming launch, how the pieces were fitting together and what, exactly, we can expect to see on the air.
Murphy-Stephans on the countdown to launch: We're in good shape right now. It's starting to come together from all different areas, from the staffing side, the operational side, our facility, everything is starting to become more concrete. On Monday, we move into our San Francisco facility and that's a big day for us. The networks will help continue to strengthen and grow the brand, bring it to life and will allow the fans to see the full array of men's and women's sports across all 12 schools.
On what to expect: Over the next two weeks, we'll have two or three more announcements related to on-air talent. We're getting very close to revealing our football talent as well as more studio people and announcers who will be related to our Olympic sports. So before July 24, which is our media day for football, we'll make our announcement for our football talent roster. In terms of programming announcements, almost our entire schedule for year one is very event centric. Our plans are to produce 850 live events so that's where all of our energy has gone. We'll have a handful of other programming. For example, during and around football, we'll have a full game day slate with pre-game, halftime and post-game. Then on Sunday night, we'll have a recap of the entire weekend of football games from the Pac-12 as well as highlights from the other conferences. On Tuesday night, we'll have our version of a conference-wide coaches' show. Every single fall, winter and spring sport will have a preview show. In addition, we'll have a nice mix of classic games and fan-voted games form the previous season that we'll roll out.
On why she took the job: It was such a unique opportunity to be part of a launch of a network and be involved on the ground and be one of many architects sitting at the table putting together the overall plan. I'm very entrepreneurial and also very organized and the Pac-12 was such as amazing draw for me given the quality of the schools involved, the spirit behind the schools and the Pac-12 being the conference of champions. It was something I couldn't say no to.
On why the Pac-12 chose not to partner with a media company in order to form the networks: Personally I think it was an amazingly bold and very smart decision to make because it gives the conference and the universities liberties to take and to execute and bring their brand to life the way they wanted. There are advantages and disadvantages to bringing in a partner. Culturally, you have to make sure there is a comfortable marriage in place to make it work.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
On the Air
ESPN reports that its new claim on Wimbledon paid off. Through July 4, the audience for this year's ESPN/ESPN2 presentation grew 24% over ESPN2's audience in 2011, with 727,000 viewers, while the rating was up 20%, according to Nielsen. The overall ESPN/ESPN2 rating matched last year's NBC/ESPN2 coverage, with male demographics growing by double digits with Men 18-34 up 28%, Men 18-49 up 30%, and Men 25-54 up 21%. Online, through the 4th, ESPN3/WatchESPN registered 72.1 million live minutes of viewing across all platforms, up 86% compared to the same point in 2011.
Tomorrow night marks the MLB All-Star game, with FOX newcomer Erin Andrews making her FOX Sports debut at the contest, set for 7:30p. Andrews will report from the dugouts as well as "tell the story of players and their journey to Kansas City." In addition, FOX Sports execs said that this year's coverage of the All-Star extravaganza will include an updated and improved version of "Diamond Cam," with views set to include: looking up from home plate at the batter & catcher; looking up at the pitcher; view from field to first base. Joe Buck is set to host and handle play-by-play alongside Tim McCarver. Ken Rosenthal reports from the field.
Well, scratch that idea off the list. IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters that Formula One racing will not become an Olympic sport, noting that the Olympic Games were designed for bodies instead of engines.
Golf Channel announced that the next round of Big Break will take place at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. The 18th series of the reality series will feature 12 male pro golfers competing for an exemption to play at The Greenbrier Classic in July 2013. The new season of the series is slated to premiere on Oct. 2.
The Portland Trailblazers announced that Larry Miller has resigned as president of the team in order to take a position with Nike. Miller served as president of the franchise for the past five years.
It appears that a group headed by San Diego businessman Ron Fowler is "heading toward" a deal to buy the Padres. CBS Sports reports that Fowler will join the family of former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley in the purchase and the group has entered exclusive negotiations to buy the team from current owner John Morres. The sale price is expected to be around $800 million.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Sponsorship & Promotion
ESPN is getting political, according to the Wall Street Journal, creating a way to sell more ad time to political campaigns for the election. The company struck a deal with NCC Media to sell some of the ad inventory that would have gone to national sponsors in order to bring in the heavy-spending politicos.
MLB Network hired Joe Ribando to serve as Director of Distribution, Affiliate Sales and Marketing for the channel. Ribando was previously Director of Sports Licensing for The Topps Company.
NASCAR bulked up the organization's Integrated Marketing Communications team, naming Sabrina Macias as Director, Brand and Consumer Marketing Communications; Chris Tropeano as Senior Manager, Business Communications; and Jon Schwartz, to Senior Director, Business and Brand Communications.
EA is tapping three of ESPN Deportes' soccer commentators to serve as the Spanish-language voices of FIFA 13, which will be be released later this year. The game will feature Fernando Palomo, Mario Kempes and Ciro Procuna in the new edition.
The Main Event
Home Run Derby on ESPN at 8p.
ON THIS DAY in 2000: Pete Sampras wins his 13th Grand Slam tennis title at Wimbledon.
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: USC has played the most times in the Rose Bowl with 33 appearances. Who has the second most? Michigan. Kudos: Joe Tafuri-Tennis Channel/NY; Mike Bridges-Today Media/Philadelphia; Pete Gautieri-AE Networks/Stamford; Jason Fleissner-Discovery Channel/Atlanta; Peter SP Gimber-WBZ-TV & myTV38/Boston; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Kevin Fay-DirectAvenue/Carlsbad; Alan Perris-The Television Academy/North Hollywood; Daniel Harrison-Level 3 Communications/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.
In The Know: Who coached the first Dream Team in the Olympics? (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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