Good morning. It’s Friday, November 16, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
News Corp. is expected to announce as early as today that the company has acquired a stake in YES Network as the newest addition to its sports portfolio. Reports state that the company could acquire as much as 40% of the network, purchasing its share from some of the network company’s financial investors. Meanwhile, the Yankees’ holding company will continue to hold on to its own 34% stake in YES. News Corp is also not expected to take a management role in the channel.
ESPN’s portfolio of bowl games continues to swell. After going public with the network’s deals for the Sugar Bowl, ESPN has also confirmed a 12-year agreement with the ACC for the Orange Bowl in South Florida. The agreement begins in January 2015 and will showcase the Orange Bowl across ESPN’s platforms through 2026 pitting the ACC champion against an opponent from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame.
NBA TV hit another new milestone, with Tuesday’s telecast featuring the Lakers and Spurs averaging 739,000 total viewers to rank as the network’s most-viewed NBA Fan Night ever, according to Nielsen. The game also generated NBA TV’s second highest-rated regular season game and its third most-viewed regular season telecast. Hosted by Ernie Johnson, NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint allows fans to determine the game they most want to watch via voting across NBA.com, the NBA Facebook page, Yahoo.com, NBA.com mobile web, mobile Game Time App and Twitter.
With Formula One set to join the family in 2013, NBC Sports Group is adding veteran motorsports voices Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), David Hobbs (analyst) and Steve Matchett (analyst) as the new broadcast team for the sport. In addition, Diffey will call IZOD Indy Carraces on NBC Sports Network, following the retirement of legendary motorsports voice Bob Jenkins earlier this year. Diffey, Hobbs and Matchett, of course, worked together for several years on SPEED’s coverage of the circuit.
A much-publicized standoff is finally over, with DIRECTV agreeing to carry Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes for all Southern California customers as well as Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, Las Vegas and Hawaii. Time Warner Cable SportsNet will be available for DIRECTV customers on channel 691. Time Warner Cable Deportes will be available on channel 458.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet also announced that Lakers legend Robert Horry will be join the channel in studio for select Lakers games this season. His first game will be on Tuesday when the team faces the Nets.
As the LPGA wraps up its season this week, the organization announced that its television ratings on Golf Channel have spiked over year-ago numbers. LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan announced that average viewership per round of U.S.-based LPGA telecasts on Golf Channel is up 74 percent versus 2010 and 19 percent over 2011, with a cumulative audience of 2.7 million unique viewers. The number of LPGA tournament original telecast hours broadcast on Golf Channel has also soared, up 39% overall versus a year ago. In addition, the LPGA saw growth across its other key fan touch points, including a 20% gain in visitors to its website, and an 80% gain in followers of its social media platforms.
UFC on FUEL TV 6: Franklin vs. Le, which marked UFC’s first visit to China last Saturday, handed the channel with its best Saturday prime time audience ever, according to Nielsen. The program also helped deliver the network its third most-watched day and fourth most-watched prime time audience ever. UFC on FUEL TV 6 was broadcast three times throughout the day and had 290,000 viewers between all three airings.
Comcast SportsNet Houston revealed the network’s inaugural college basketball schedule, lining up at least 61 games this season- 45 men’s and 16 women’s -with schools from Conference USA, the Southland Conference, the SEC and the WAC. The slate begins on Nov. 25 with Houston visiting Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Regional men’s teams set to make multiple appearances on the network this season include Arkansas, Houston, Lamar, LSU, McNeese State, New Mexico State, Rice, Sam Houston State, Texas A&M, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Comcast SportsNet Houston’s schedule of women’s college basketball opens with UTEP/New Mexico State on Nov. 28.
Tennis Channel offers exclusive coverage of defending champion Spain and the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup championship competition in Prague this weekend, with live and same-day “Instant Encore” replays slate for Friday through Sunday. The year-end championship competition will feature two singles matches on Friday, Nov. 16, at 10a, followed by the doubles match Saturday, Nov. 17, at 8a and concluding with the remaining singles play Sunday, Nov. 18, at 7a.
Comcast SportsNet is bringing back weekly series Chicago Baseball Hot Stove, dedicated to the White Sox and Cubs off-season activities, along with in-depth discussion of all the key off-season moves and news around Major League Baseball. The second season premiere of the show will take place Tuesday, Nov. 27 and will once again be co-hosted by David Kaplan and Chuck Garfien.
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ESPN announced plans to bring back its week long Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research for the sixth consecutive year, beginning Tuesday, Nov. 27 and running across all domestic ESPN platforms. The week long initiative will drive awareness of and donations to The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Last year, the initiative raised a record $1.3 million, to up its total contributions to more than $5 million. The initiative starts at 7p with a simulcast of former NC State coach Jim Valvano’s 1993 ESPYs speech across ESPN domestic media networks, as well as on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square and wraps up with the Jimmy V Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona Extra on Monday, Dec. 3 and Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Pac-12 Enterprises has renewed Esurance as the official car insurance partner of the conference with the multi-year deal delivering the company with exclusive sponsorship rights to the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament and Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament. It also extends to all other Pac-12 championship sporting events, including cross country, golf, women’s gymnastics, rowing, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field and wrestling. The deal also includes a media commitment and presence on Pac-12 Networks and Digital Network.
For the second consecutive year, CSE has been tapped to serve as the marketing agency of record for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. CSE is working jointly with the team to develop consumer advertising campaigns that include television, radio, print, digital and outdoor, as well as promotion and event activations, media planning and sponsorship group assistance.
Spike TV announced its nominees for its annual Video Game Awards, which mark the channel’s tenth, celebrating the best in video games. VGA TEN will be hosted by Samuel L. Jackson and premiere live on Dec. 7 at 9p. In the category of Best Team Sports Game, EA Sports snagged three of the four nominations with the titles, FIFA Soccer 13, Madden NFL 13 and NHL 13. 2K Sports drew the fourth nomination for NBA 2K13.
The Main Event
In a racing two-fer: Check out Formula One’s return to the US this Sunday on SPEED at 1p, followed by the conclusion of the NASCAR season’s Chase on ESPN at 3p. Sunday night then offers the Ravens/Steelers on NBC at 8p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1926: The New York Rangers play their first game, beating the Montreal Maroons 1-0.
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What NFL great earned the nickname “The Minister of Defense”? Answer: Reggie White. (Deacon Jones was known as the Secretary of Defense). Kudos: Kevin Byrnes-NBC Sports Group/NY; Marc J. Beck-Major League Baseball/NY; Zach Schulman-Zenith/NY; Aymon DeMauro-Discovery Communications/NY; Doug Drotman-Drotman Communications/Commack; Jim DeLash-GlaxoSmithKline/Philadelphia; Chris Ellis-Comcast Spotlight/Philadelphia; Heidi Bahnck-NFL Films/Mt. Laurel; Derek Crownover-Crownover Blevins pc/Chattanooga; Jay Goslee-Comcast Spotlight/Nashville; Kathryn Kieser-Haworth Marketing and Media/Minneapolis; Alicia Smits-Laughlin Constable/Laughin; Harry S. Vested, Jr.-Gravity Collection Inc./Denver; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; James Pena-Time Warner Cable SportsNet Media Sales/LA; Jerry Silbowitz-Size Sports & Entertainment/Beverly Hills; Joe Pedri-KLAS-TV/Las Vegas.
In The Know: Who was the first player to be featured alone on the famed Madden cover? (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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