Good morning. It’s Monday, April 1, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
With the start of baseball season underway, RSNs are gearing up for six months of content bliss. Of course, upfront season is also in full swing as baseball continues to drive sales for half a year, with at least 60% of total ad sales coming during the MLB season.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Craig Sloan, Senior Vice President, National Advertising Sales for Home Team Sports, a division of FOX Sports Media Group about the advertising opportunities that lay ahead for the regional sports channels.
Sloan on how HTS in the upfront marketplace: Just because of the way our scatter marketplace went this year compared to the general sports and entertainment marketplace, we are at significant increases over upfront pricing a year ago as we get close to the season due to high sell out levels. I hope and trust we will find our way into more upfront deals, which allows for more meaningful partnerships and we can find more ways to embed better brand extensions within our game content. Our money flows form these regional sports networks to the teams, rather than the leagues, so we are not bound by any sort of restrictions, we are just really trying to make sure it is organic to the telecasts to weave these brands inside of our games.
On the growth of HTS: We were original created for FOX Sports and all the regionals that FOX sports owns, and what we have become since 2008, was to get to the point where people realize that we are involved with every regional sports network in the country. So we’ve got everybody from Comcast to YES and NES and MSG and SNY and all these regional sports networks that allow us to go out to these national brands and tell them that we can sell in any manner whether it is in a single market, if that’s the way they want to do it, or multi-market or blanket the country with over 94 million homes, we can do that as well.
On trends: People have started to look for efficiencies and more money has flowed from local to national in the perspective so we’ve started to realize that if it works in one market, it most likely works in all so we’ve taken some of our best practices that originally may have been developed in one single market and applied it to the whole country. Because of that, we’ve been able to make some meaningful partnerships that have allowed us to have some of the best reoccurring business. If you look at 24 out of our top 25 advertisers are back with only Home Depot defecting and we’ve added some new partners as well.
On the importance of MLB to regional networks: It’s important in a few ways, the RSNs with the amount of content that is going on over these six months, we average across the country over 140 telecasts of all these teams across the country. So you’ve got games on almost every night of the week on the RSNs, so someone in New York is automatically thinking of turning to YES if they are thinking about watching a Yankees game. That becomes a pattern of behavior which helps effect our strong ratings delivery. Form an advertising perspective, baseball is essentially our top revenue generator. We are basically neck-and-neck with the big four entertainment programming during primetime during the April through September timeframe which obviously includes season finales and season launches as well.
On marketplace conditions: Conditions seem to be better, there are more opportunities. Turnover is low and when you start with that base of reoccurring business, it allows you to look to better growth patterns. In addition, it is a really interesting year for baseball and I think people are getting that. When you look at free agency moves and everything that has happened in the off-season, I don’t think you can predict who is necessarily going to win a division so I think it is going to be a very interesting season. Subsequently, I think the advertising community has realized that ratings are only going to trend upward with that competitive balance that’s out there.
Saturday’s Regional Final of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on CBS averaged 9.4 million viewers, based on Nielsen Fast Nationals,up 6% over last year’s 8.9 million viewers. Regional Final coverage on Saturday earned a U.S. household rating/share of 5.8/12, up 4% from last year’s 5.6/12. Through Saturday’s games, the tournament is averaging 9.4 million total viewers to date, for a 9% markup over last year’s 8.6 million viewers, across CBS Sports and Turner Sports. That ties 1994 as the most watched NCAA Tournament through the Saturday Regional Finals in 19 years. To date, the tournament is averaging a U.S. HH rating/share of 6.1/13, up 9% from last year’s 5.6/12 to tie 2005 as the highest-to-date rating in 15 years.
Meanwhile, coverage of the tournament is slated to continue on Saturday at 6p on CBS with Wichita St./Louisville, followed by Syracuse/Michigan. Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr call the games with Tracy Wolfson serving as reporter.
Four bowls are bidding for three openings in the semifinal rotation in college football’s forthcoming playoff format, according to ESPN. Those bowls include The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta and the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Of those four, it appears that the Holiday Bowl will likely be on the outside looking in moving forward, according to the report.
MLB Network Strike Zone enters its newest season with increased distribution, according to Multichannel. This year the network is adding Consolidated Communications, OpenBand and SureWest Communications to its partners, while Google Fiber will jump in as well when it debuts its sports package. The channel not only offer commercial free look-ins, highlights and more but also live games on Tuesday and Friday nights during the regular season.
Conference USA is expected to name a new member to the league today with the addition of Western Kentucky, according to multiple reports including ESPN. Western Kentucky becomes the latest member of the Sun Belt to depart although the Sun Belt has added some intriguing FCS programs in the past week with the additions of Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and potentially James Madison University.
The Houston Astros and Univision inked a two-year extension for Spanish-language radio broadcast agreement to the team that will run through the 2014 season. All 162 games from each season will air on the Astros Flagship Spanish Radio Station, KLAT 1010 AM La Tremenda with Francisco Romero and Alex Trevino handling microphone duties.
Awards, networking and breakfast! Join us for the Cynopsis: Sports Media Awards on April 17. The event takes place at Yale Club in Manhattan. Click here for more info.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
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Entry Deadline: June 20
Late Submissions: June 27
Awards Event: November 2013 (NYC)
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Univision Communications lined up its roster of advertisers for the company’s NASCAR-based web series Arranque de Pasion, La Historia de Ela. Companies in line to become integrated sponsors include the likes of Mary Kay, MetroPCS, State Farm and Western Union, who will all be featured throughout the web series, which premieres today. Mary Kay will serve as a sponsor of the main character’s race team.
Head & Shoulders is launching a season-long campaign to coincide with baseball season, designed to help the MLB Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program. The brand named its new “Mane Man” in Angels pitcher CJ Wilson, and had declared this year to be the Season of the Whiff. For every whiff across MLB this season, Head & Shoulders will donate $1 to the program.
Sports fans attending the NCAAMen’s Final Four in Atlanta or the NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans are being given an all-access pass for events around the weekend thanks to new apps. The platforms will include event schedules, interactive maps, news, concert lineups, ticket information, seating charts, social sharing and more. In addition, NCAA.com will offer microsites with events, venues and concert info.
ESPN Digital Media drew 28% of all sports category usage across digital platforms in February, the company announced, marking more than twice the average audience of the Nos. 2 and 3 sports properties combined, according to comScore’s Multi Platform data. ESPN ranked as the top sports category in average minute audience, total minutes of usage, total visits, and was second in monthly unique visitors.
CBSSports.com is offering a live weekday show starting today in Fantasy Baseball Today, designed to offer fantasy baseball players advice on managing a winning team this season. The series is hosted by Adam Aizer, and features CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writers Nando Di Fino and Scott White, along with Data Analyst and Fantasy Writer Al Melchior, who will answer viewer questions from live phone calls, social media, and e-mails.
The New York Rangers launched a new social media campaign designed to boost social engagement with a goal of reaching 1 million Facebook likes. The team currently has 946k likes, and is offering incentive to fans to help them reach the 1 million mark with prizes for every 20k likes earned, including autographed merchandise, sticks and pucks, Tissot watches, Party City prize packs, a year supply of Wheat Thins and a Rangers VIP experience at a game at Madison Square Garden.
The Main Event
Red Sox/Yankees on ESPN at 1p.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
The list of Finalists will be announced soon, but don’t wait to reserve your tickets/tables… last year, the event sold out a week before.
Register here: http://www.cynopsis.com/events/sports-awards/.
ON THIS DAY in 1985: Villanova bests Georgetown to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
In The Know: Kobe Bryant now ranks fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list. Who are the top three? (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.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: While Gary Bettman will go down in history as the first Commissioner of the NHL, who was the first president? Answer: Frank Calder. Kudos: Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica.
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports
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