FOX Sports 1’s David Nathanson prepares for year two ; ESPN gameplans for 450; Samsung goes long with the IOC







Good morning. It’s Monday, August 18, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of FOX Sports 1, which came out of the gate as the largest cable launch ever in audience reach. One year down, the combo of FS1 and FS2 added nearly 5,000 hours of live programming to the overall sports programming threshold, according to the company. While studio programming has continued to evolve (RIP Crowd Goes Wild), the overall investments have seen a rise of 48% in primetime over year-ago numbers, with 62% spikes in both A18-49 and M18-49.

Looking ahead to year two, the network is poised to see a slate of new deals kick in that will further flesh out its portfolio. The network lays claim to 150 key live events (including MLB playoffs, NASCAR, Women’s World Cup, MLS and USGA) which will all debut on FS1 in late 2014 and 2015. Cynopsis Sports spoke with David Nathanson, GM and COO of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, about the first year, the surprises and lessons learned along the way and what we can expect for its sophomore outing. 

Nathanson on year one: Our first year was about building a successful foundation for this network. We obviously took some very successful channels and took some risk in bringing them together to launch a new brand in a crowded marketplace. In doing that, we ventured to establish a flagship show in FOX Sports Live, we launched programs, adjusted those programs and ultimately, it is something we are very proud of. The year ahead we are very bullish on. Obviously live events are key to driving ratings based on the success of getting people to find the channel. In year two, we are adding over 600 hours of new live events that never hit our air in year one. So our arsenal of rights has only just begun. Year two will be even more representative of our potential.

On integration: The biggest surprise has been the seamless integration between these three channels. We merged these staffs and hired hundreds of people who had never been part of the FOX Sports family. In the end, we got a world class cohesive team to work together. One of the things we need to work on is taking advantage of all the assets that FOX Sports has. The depth of championship broadcasts, the regional sports networks, the innovations being developed. We have some accomplishments that we are proud of, but we need to do it more consistently. We will also continue to work closely with the regional channels and out other partners to maximize the value of the FOX Sports brand. 

On studio programming: Huge lessons were learned this past year. In year two, you can expect a much more streamlines programming slate. I think that we’ve really stabilized our fringe and primetime blocks and obviously late-night with FOX Sports Live, not only did the show evolve but the audience did as well. What you can expect is for the shows to get better and for the talent to have better opportunities to build their brand.

On the Women’s World Cup: Our coverage of the Women’s World Cup is going to be bigger than anything that’s been before for this event. ESPN did a fantastic job around the men’s, and it really raised the bar. I think we’re very excited to carry on that mantle. You will see that around the year on FOX Sports 1, starting with the qualifiers in October that will be on FOX Sports 1. We’ll cover it through a combination of original programming, studio shows, special features and more that you will see on our schedule.

On FOX Sports GO: The biggest takeaway, when you look at the numbers from something like the Super Bowl, is that people are finding it and using it. The Super Bowl at the time was the most successful streamed sport at the time. It showcased our ability to reach record audiences. The quality of those audiences is the low-hanging fruit for us. That’s the audience we want to tune in to FOX Sports 1 day in and day out.


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Cynopsis Sports Business Summit – NYC | Wednesday, 8/20 12:10pm-12:30pm |


ESPN entered a multimedia rights sublicense agreement with FOX Sports Media Group to carry a select package of UEFA Champions League matches across ESPN media platforms this fall and running through the 2017-18 season. The sublicense agreement grants ESPN Deportes exclusive Spanish-language rights to 72 matches including the playoff round, group stage and knockout phase. The Spanish-language sports network will carry the Champions League Final and the UEFA Super Cup for the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons, alternating with FOX Deportes who will continue to carry these events in the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons. Under the agreement, ESPN Deportes will continue to be the exclusive Spanish-language TV home of the UEFA Europa League in the U.S. through the 2017-18 season.
ESPN opened the books to the college football season, formalizing plans for showcase over 450 games this year leading into the first College Football Playoff, spanning ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPNEWS, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, ESPN Radio and ESPN Goal Line. The new FCS Kickoff opens with Sam Houston State/Eastern Washington, on ESPN on Aug. 23, at 3:30p, while Abilene Christian/Georgia State square off on ESPNU on Aug. 27, at 7p, marking the first FCS and FBS games of the season. The lineup of announced games includes at least one team from all 10 FBS conferences (American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Pac-12, Southeastern and Sun Belt) as well as independents Notre Dame, BYU and Navy. Kickoff Week will see 55 Games across six days, from Aug. 27 to Sept. 1, marking the most ever. Ending the season, the channel will offer a record 38 post-season bowl games, highlighted by exclusive coverage of the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff.

Rich Eisen has a new gig, with DIRECTV and NFL Now teaming up to launch The Rich Eisen Show starting Oct. 6 on DIRECTV’s Audience Network from noon-3p. The daily talk show, according to the release, will see Eisen “use his engaging blend of insightful football analysis, with an offbeat mix of humor and pop culture while continuing to attract the most recognizable names in sports and entertainment.” In addition, the series will be made available on the league’s new video service, NFL Now as well as on DIRECTV’s ROOT Sports-branded regional sports networks in Pittsburgh, Denver and Seattle.

Monetize your video, capture growing demographics, leverage your fans and peek into the future this week at the Cynopsis Sports Business Summit and Women of Action in NY. On Aug. 19-20, with nearly 70 speakers and hundreds of fellow participants slated to attend, hear from companies that include Turner Sports, ESPN, CBS Sports, the NFL, College Football Playoff, NBA, Mars, NHL, EA Sports, MLS, Big East, FOX Sports, Chobani, WWE, HBO Sports, Twitter, SiriusXM, Soccer United Marketing, AEG, Univision, LPGA, Telemundo, IMG, Learfield Sports, US Ski and Snowboard Association, CSE, Nielsen, AVP, Troika, Sports Illustrated, Daytona International Speedway, WNBA, Campus Insiders, GroupM, USA Gymnastics, Bloomberg, NeuLion, Sporting News, Omnigon, USA Today Sports Group and more! Make a move before the fall and don’t miss out. For more info and to register, click here.

The return of the Premier League on NBC Sports Group saw the opening three games on NBCSN & NBC pull a .47 overnight Nielsen rating, according to the company. That matches the record set last year for the opening Saturday with top markets of DC, West Palm Beach, Boston, Las Vegas and Sacramento. In addition, over 6.2 million minutes of games from the league were streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra, the most event and up 47% from the opening Sat. in 2013.

Speaking of ratings, Univision reports that its coverage of the current Liga MX 2014 Apertura season is seeing double-digit ratings gains. Univision Network is averaging 793,000 Total Viewers and 412,000 Adults 18-49 per match this season, up 29% and 20% respectively. UniMas has scored an average audience of 797,000 Total Viewers and 421,000 Adults 18-49 per match this season (up 52% and 43%) while Univision Deportes Network has averaged 232,000 Total Viewers and 139,000 Adults 18-49 per match this season, to hit growth of 70% and 52% on year ago averages.

Spike TV and Bellator lined up two one-hour specials ahead of the Bellator 11 season premiere, Bellator 123, on Friday, Sept. 5 at 8p. Birth of A Rivalry: Curran Pitbull I will debut on Spike on Aug. 29 at 11p and examine the origin of the rivalry between Pat Curran and Patricio “Pitbull”. Then, Countdown to Curran-Pitbull II premieres Monday, Sept. 1 at 11p with an inside look at one of Bellator’s biggest events this year.

The NET10 Wireless Arena Football League revealed the broadcast talent for ArenaBowl XXVII on ESPN, announcing that Anthony Herron and Ari Wolfe will be in the broadcast booth for the game on Aug. 23. Sherdrick Bonner will serve as the sideline analyst and JB Long will serve as the sideline reporter. The game kicks off at 8p.

Missed any Cynopsis news last week? Check out Just in Case You Missed It.


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Featured Panels Include:
College Football Playoff
State of the Sports Industry
CMO Summit
Leveraging the Power of the Local Fan

Thank you to our sponsor FOX Sports 1
Agenda | See Who’s Attending | Speakers


The IOC locked in an extension with Samsung Electronics as part of its Worldwide TOP Partnership. The new deal runs through the end of 2020 and makes Samsung the official Worldwide Olympic Partner in the Wireless Communication Equipment and Computing Equipment category.

WWE unveiled a new corporate logo, designed to “convey a more contemporary, bold and powerful image” while maintaining the iconic “W.” The logo was originally designed for WWE Network. “We are excited to launch a new logo that reflects the evolution and future of WWE’s global brand,” said Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer, WWE. “While we usher in a new iconic brand identity, WWE’s best-in-class entertainment, which has stood the test of time for the past 50 years, will continue to reward our fans’ passion with our exciting blend of unique characters, incredible athleticism and engaging storylines.”
Boise State University will continue its ties with Learfield Sports, approving an extension that runs through 2025. Learfield Sports has been Boise State Athletics’ only comprehensive multimedia rights holder and marketing partner in school history, with the initial relationship commencing July 1, 2010.

Nike will unleash its Lunar TRI “Week Zero” collection  athletic shoes branded to eight universities  on August 27. Key retailers include Champ’s, Academy, Dick’s Sporting Goods and other key Nike accounts. IMG, through its college licensing affiliate, CLC, worked with Nike over the past two years to develop and sell into schools this very exciting school footwear program for CLC schools Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Ohio State and Oregon, represented by IMG in multimedia rights, are also participating. 

DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY rolled out the first of its series of profiles spotlighting the emerging leaders of the Global Sports Mentoring Program. The first entry introduces Yasmin Helal, a former basketball star who founded “Educate-Me,” a program dedicated to educating underprivileged children in Egypt. espnW looks at how basketball helped to shape Helal and equip her with the skills needed to help local children. 


Ben Simonds has been elevated to Sales Director for the NFL Media sales team where he will lead the on-air and digital sales efforts for the Midwest and West Coast territories.


Browns/Redskins on ESPN at 8p.


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Ross Greenburg – Ross Greenburg Productions
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And more sports industry experts!

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ON THIS DAY in 1992: Larry Bird retires.

In The Know: Easy one. What number was retired in honor of Larry Bird? (Email 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.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The New York Giants first Super Bowl win came against which team? Answer: The Denver Broncos. (Congratulations to the winners of the free pass to the Summit, who have been notified by email. See you there!) Kudos: Marc Wollis-NBC Sports Group/NBC Sports Group; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Brian Browne-BMG Rights Management/NY; Tim DeLaney-Showtime Networks/NY; Will Pleasants-Wasserman/Raleigh; Gordon Beck-Beck Communications LLC/Northeast Harbor; Richard Scott-New York Jets/Florham Park; J. Barry McMullin-WWE/Stamford; David Hauptman/Denver; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA.

Later — Chris
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