Friday, February 17th, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports
02/17/12

Good morning. It’s Friday, February 17, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

It’s almost time for March Madness, and Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA announced plans for NCAA March Madness Live (formerly known as March Madness on Demand) which will offer “more opportunities to watch every minute of every game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.” The product will span multiple screens and will be produced by Turner Sports Interactive. Unlike last year, this year’s version will cost $3.99 for some viewers and provide access every broadcast for the tournament as they are televised by TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV. Among the features will be higher quality live video streams; video highlights for every game of the Tournament on the iPhone and Android phones; live game alerts; an updated design; and live radio broadcast courtesy of Westwood One/Dial Global Radio Network.

On the Air

The USFL could soon be back in business, with EndZoneSports Management acquiring the defunct league and planning to announce locations of new teams over the Summer with plans to kick-off a season in the Spring of 2013. The original USFL spanned from 1983-1987 and produced players such as Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie and Reggie White. 

Karl Benson was officially named fifth commissioner in Sun Belt Conference yesterday, and already speculation is growing that he may raid his old conference, the WAC. Benson replaces outgoing commissioner Wright Waters, who announced his retirement last October and will take over the position in July. In a teleconference with reporters, Benson there is “an advantage to getting to at least 12,” noting that FBS and FCS schools in its footprint could be potential targets.

CBS Sports announced that it has selected its Pac-12 Wildcard college basketball game for Saturday, March 3 to be Washington/UCLA. The game will be a regional broadcast with LSU/Auburn also in the window.

For the third consecutive game, Jeremy Lin and the Knicks drove MSG Network to a season high, with Wednesday night’s victory earning a 5.78 Nielsen household rating (with 427,015 households). The channel’s pre- and post-game ratings are also experiencing a bump, in the six games that Lin has started, both the “Visa Knicks Game Night” and the “Ford Knicks Post-Game Show” are up 96% compared to the season-to-date average (pre-game: 0.88 vs. 0.45; post-game: 2.00 vs. 1.02).

MSG Network is also set to run a behind-the-scenes series about the first phase of the three-year transformation of Madison Square Garden in a new show called “The Garden Transformed: Year One.” The five-part series, narrated by Billy Crudup, will premiere Sunday, February 19 at 11:00p with new episodes running each night next week following either a Knicks or Rangers game.

NY Emmy nominations were announced, with MSG Network drawing 57 nods, while YES Network was nominated for 31 awards. Up for the sports anchor category were: WNBC’s Bruce Beck, YES Network’s Bob Lorenz, and MSG’s Steve Cangialosi. Beck was also nominated for the sports reporter slot, with SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt, WPIX’s Mario Diaz and MSG’s Stan Fischler. For play-by-play, nominees are MSG Plus’ Mike “Doc” Emrick and Steve Cangialosi, SNY’s Gary Cohen, YES Network’s Ian Eagle and MSG Plus’ Howie Rose. Sports analyst nominees were Keith Hernandez for his work at SNY and YES Network’s John Flaherty.

BTN is ready for spring, announcing that the channel will televise at least 32 Big Ten baseball games this season, including the entire Big Ten Baseball Tournament. Programming begins March 23 with Illinois/Nebraska. On the softball side, BTN is slating 27 games, with a minimum of 66 additional games set to be streamed on the digital network. First game is April 1 featuring Nebraska/Minnesota.

Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon and Dick Vitale are getting the animation treatment, guest starring on Disney XD’s Kick Buttowski – Suburban Daredevil for two upcoming episodes of the animated show. Kornheiser and Wilbon will appear on Saturday at 11a, while Vitale will appear in April. 

Dana White told website MMAjunkie that following Wednesday’s UFC on FUEL TV 1 event, which featured in-fight statistics during each bout, including total punches thrown, takedowns etc., he would like to see the stats appear in future broadcasts of the promotion.

SAVE THE DATE: The Cynopsis Sports Business Summit is April 24 in Manhattan. Details revealed soon.

Sponsorship & Promotion

The NHL renewed its affiliation with McDonald’s USA in a multi-year deal that makes the chain the Official Quick Service Restaurant of the league as well as in territories where the annual season-opening NHL Premiere Series is held. Under the deal, McDonald’s will return as the Presenting Partner of the NHL and NBC’s Hockey Day In America platform, in addition to serving as the Official Partner of the NHL Premiere Series, NHL Winter Classic, NHL All-Star Game, the NHL All-Star Skills Competition and the NHL Awards.

Castrol USA locked down a deal with Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of MLS, to renew Castrol GTX as the official motor oil of the league, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team and the Mexican National Soccer Team games played in the United States.

The USTA is partnering with Emirates Airline in a global, integrated sponsorship of the US Open and US Open Series. As part of the deal, Emirates now becomes the “Official Airline of the US Open” as well as the title sponsor of the “Emirates Airline US Open Series,” which features 10 events over the summer. The deal will be for seven years and include integrated consumer experiential elements and substantial digital media assets and opportunities.

Seven-time Grand Slam tournament champion John McEnroe has been named the 2012 spokesperson for “Tennis Night In America,” a promotional venture between the USTA, StarGames, Inc., and MSG Sports that includes youth registration events around the country and is highlighted by the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on March 5.

CALL FOR ENTRIES: Think you’re an MVP in the world of sports media or will your rivals steal the spotlight? Enter the Cynopsis Sports Awards and bring home a crystal award for your shelf, recognizing the grit and strategy you’ve shown all year long. The awards will cover the best of 2011 from the world of television, radio and online, with categories that range from news shows to apps to marketing campaigns.

Digital Fields

As part of “National Hockey Day” on Sunday, the NHL is set to deliver hockey-themed content through its social channels to support the initiative. On top of NBC Sports Group’s coverage throughout the day, the league’s social media platforms will gear up as well with fans encouraged to follow @NHL and @USAHockey on Twitter for giveaways and use the hashtag #HWAA and #HockeyMeans as a conversation theme. On Friday, Feb. 17, fans who visit the NHL’s Facebook page and USA Hockey’s page will be pushed to submit photos of themselves and their friends wearing hockey jerseys while on Sunday they will ask fans to post stories about their hockey heroes.

The Mets announced the launch of “50 Days to 50″ on Twitter yesterday to celebrate the franchise’s 50th Anniversary season. As part of the promotion, the team will give away tickets, autographed memorabilia and unique experiences as part of the 50 prizes for fans every day through Opening Day on April 5. The campaign consists of trivia questions and games related to Mets history as well as the 2012 season.

Alright, time to address the Jeremy Lin sensation from a social POV. Two different companies, NM Incite and SocialGuide both measured the Linsanity amongst fans. NM Incite found that the social media buzz surrounding Jeremy Lin followed in the same upward pattern as TV ratings, with online mentions of Lin going from zero before February 4 to 0.32 percent of all online conversation on February 15, which tops the Knicks, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant combined. SocialGuide noticed that since #Linsanity was first mentioned on Twitter on Feb. 4, mentions of the hashtag now outpace #Knicks two to one.

The Main Event

Looks like some good Bracketbusters matchups on ESPN this year (tonight and tomorrow evening across the channels). NASCAR is back with the Budweiser Shootout on FOX Sat. at 8p, and Sunday sees the Bruins/Wild on NBC at 3p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1943: NY Yankee Joe DiMaggio enlists into the US Army.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: With which team did Ron Jaworski begin his NFL career as a player? The St. Louis Rams. Kudos: Kurt Lundberg – Ogilvy & Mather/NY; Kevin Byrnes –  NBC Sports Group/NY; Tony Ferranti – MMSI/Warwick; Art Salisch – SMR, LLC/New Jersey; David S. Hauptman – Katz Television Group/Denver; Stephen Rodgers – PRO- Peter Rodgers Organization/Hollywood.

In The Know: What was the name of the USFL team representing the New York/New Jersey region? (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
02.17.12

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