Good morning. It’s Monday, January 7, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Last Thursday’s debut of Bellator 360 opens a new era of MMA on Spike TV, with the pair of episodes drawing 487,000 on average and easily doubling audiences compared to the promotion’s old home on MTV2. On Thursday, Jan. 17 at 10p, the Bellator MMA will offer two World Championship Title fights as part of the MMA debut on the channel. Now, as Bellator prepares to settle in to its new home, where it will lead out of Impact wrestling, the promotion is looking to become the new pillar in the network’s lineup.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney about the league’s new home, how its partnership with Viacom is affecting the sport and what the company is offering advertisers.
On the Spike TV schedule: Thursday night is an absolutely tremendous night for us. For our consumer base and for our demographic, it’s the beginning of the weekend. In every conversation that Kevin Kay and I have had, it just made a ton of sense and to come off of Impact which is so highly-rated and does so well for Spike, it creates a compelling four-hour block. If you track the growth of the game and the infancy of MMA, Spike gave birth to all of it. They are the reason we are talking about MMA at this level so to be able to announce it and share it with everybody is exciting.
On the matchups: You never get a second chance to make a first impression and to come out of the box with Pitbull versus Curran puts two of the world’s best 145 pounders against each other for the World Title and then to close out the night with Hawn versus Chandler, pitting two of the most explosive lightweights in the world, and then the other fights make for a great night. It will just keep getting stronger as we go into week number two and week number three.
On branding: One of the smartest things my mom ever said to me is that when you are running a business, strive to not be the smartest guy in the world and surround yourself with really smart people who will elevate your game and elevate your brand and you can take your business to an entirely new level. If you are the smartest guy in the room all the time and if you are the person teaching everyone, it pretty difficult to expand the brand and grow what you are doing. But if you have the benefit of being surrounded by people, the way I am surrounded at Spike, from a marketing perspective, from a public relations perspective, from an advertising perspective, I’m surrounded by the guys who wrote the book. The interaction I now have at Spike is literally like the interaction I have with my team at the offices in Newport.
On the pitch to sponsors: Our pitch when we are out talking to sponsors is multi-faceted. We are able to deliver a super consumer on a regular, consistent basis, day-in and day-out on the same channel platform. As opposed to saying to saying to the consumer, ‘hey, watch this show and then come back when we talk to you next-maybe come back in a few weeks or maybe next month,’ we are literally able to say to that advertiser ‘come and interact with that consumer every week on Thursday night at 10p, same time, same place, same channel.’ Also interact with them on a platform and according to a format that’s real sports driven. There’s no match making here and nobody is going to sweet talk their way to a title shot. You’ve got to win a tournament. So you’ve got the same type of energy that the NCAA tournament has, or the NFL playoffs. It is simple for consumers to understand. The third part is that at Bellator, a sponsor will ultimately own exclusivity in their chosen category. You don’t have the league selling to one sponsor in a category and the network selling to a competitor in the same category.
The NHL season is on. The league and its Players’ Association finally pinned down an agreement on the framework of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement early Sunday morning following 113 days of the lockout. The deal offers a 10-year CBA with an out option for either side after eight years as well as a salary cap of $64.3 for the 2013-14 season. Scheduling details will be announced shortly with the agreement. “We have to dot a lot of I’s and cross a lot of T’s,” said league Commissioner Gary Bettman. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon. We have to go through a ratification process and the Board of Governors has to approve it from the League side and, obviously, the players have to approve it as well. We are not in a position to give you information right now about schedule, when we are starting. It’s early in the morning and we have been at this all day and all night, obviously. But, we will be back to you very shortly, hopefully, later today with more information in that regard.”
Tonight’s BCS National Championship Game pitting Alabama and Notre Dame is expected to set some viewership records. Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit are lined up to work their sixth consecutive BCS National Championship game, calling ESPN’s telecast with Saturday Night Football Presented by Windows 8 reporter Heather Cox and College GameDay Built by The Home Depot reporter Tom Rinaldi. For the second straight year, Mike Tirico will work ESPN Radio’s broadcast with ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge and reporters Holly Rowe and Joe Schad.
The four-game average for ESPN’s coverage of the BCS is up 1% to a 7.5 metered market rating (from 7.4 in 2012), heading into tonight’s game, according to Nielsen. That was despite the lower rating for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl last week, which featured an easy Oregon win over Kansas State. The matchup drew a 7.7 overnight, down from last year’s 9.0 overnight score for an overtime game.
ESPN also posted two of its top four most-viewers non-BCS bowl games ever last week as both the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Outback Bowl over-delivered on consecutive days. The New Year’s Eve telecast of the Chick-fil-A Bowl averaged 8,557,000 viewers on a 5.6 household coverage rating, according to the network, making it ESPN’s most-viewed non-BCS bowl ever. Meanwhile, the New Year’s Day Outback Bowl, ranked as ESPN’s fourth most-viewed non-BCS bowl ever with an average of 7,583,000 viewers on a 4.9 household coverage rating.
ESPN isn’t the only one benefitting from the bowl games. Fox Sports drew a 7.5 overnight rating for Friday’s telecast of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic between No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 11 Oklahoma. That placed the Cotton Bowl telecast ahead of both the Orange and Sugar Bowls.
NFL Playoff action this weekend for the Divisional Round. Saturday will see CBS open up with Ravens/Broncos at 4:30p, followed by FOX’s primetime matchup of the 49ers/Packers at 8p. Sunday brings FOX’s coverage of Seahawks/Falcons at 1p with CBS wrapping it up with Texans/Patriots at 4:30p.
The seven breakaway schools departing the Big East are seemingly in for a nice payday. ESPN reports that the schools leaving the conference now expect to double their money thanks to FOX, which is offering a $500 million, 12-year deal to the schools as an anchor of the upcoming FOX Sports 1 network. Schools that plan to leave the Big East to form their own basketball conference expect to double their money off a television deal. Under the current Big East deal, the non-football schools pull in between $2 million and $3 million from the television contract.
NBA TV announced that tomorrow night’s NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint telecast will feature the Los Angeles Lakers visiting the Houston Rockets at 8p. This week’s NBA TV schedule also includes 14 games from the ninth annual NBA D-League Showcase including nine live telecasts.
As the Australian Open prepares to get underway, ESPN Classic has slated 80 hours of programming in tribute to the tournament. Beginning at midnight tonight, the channel will feature Australian Open programming virtually around the clock until Friday, Jan. 11 at 8p, including three men’s matches from a year ago – the semifinals pitting Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal against Roger Federer, and the championship between Djokovic and Nadal.
Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon is set to be featured on CBS’ upcoming one-hour special of “I Get That a Lot.” The episode will run on Wednesday at 8p. Other celebrities appearing in the special include actress Jane Seymour, actor and comedian Cheech Marin, former Olympian Bruce Jenner, late actor Larry Hagman and Phil Keoghan from “The Amazing Race.”
Celebrate the passing of 2012 in style! Now is the time to submit for our 2013 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards. The deadline is February 1 and we want to see your best work from the past year. Don’t let someone else take your trophy! Click here for entry information.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Whether fans utilize streaming as an alternative viewing option or a second screen experience, we’ll examine the rise and implications of connecting with today’s on-the-go sports fan (who is transforming the experience), the international implications & new revenue opportunities that have opened up. Whether it’s by smartphone, PC or tablet, watching sports will never be the same.
Push Date: January 28
For more info or to reserve your space, please contact:
Mike Farina // 203.218.6480
Go Daddy revealed that it has signed supermodel Bar Refaeli to star in its annual Super Bowl commercial where she will appear with Danica Patrick. The women will appear in one of Go Daddy’s two 30-second Super Bowl spots on Feb. 3.
OYO Sports toys announced its first release of officially licensed building-block mini-figures that feature the logos and likenesses of players from all 32 NFL teams. OYO will produce the building toys under new licensing agreements with the NFL and NFL Players Association.
ESPN.com launched a custom ad execution to promote the Discover BCS National Championship Game that included a first-ever dynamic wallpaper that changed color depending on fan votes for the game. More votes for Notre Dame added more blue to the background while more votes for Alabama delivered more crimson. In addition, the ad allowed fans to watch custom video trailers from either team.
ESPN Deportes+, the new digital extension of ESPN Deportes and ESPN3, launched exclusive Spanish language coverage of the Pac-12 basketball season for the first time, last week with the Colorado/Arizona game. Additionally, ESPN Deportes will televise the Pac-12 Championship Game March 16.
The Main Event
Alabama/Notre Dame on ESPN at 8:30p.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
It’s a NEW YEAR, so don’t forget to enter the
2nd Annual Cynopsis: Sports Media Awards
Entry Deadline: February 1
Late Submissions: February 8
Awards Event: April 2013 (NYC)
Visit our website for additional information on:
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ON THIS DAY in 1927: The Harlem Globetrotters play their first game.
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The University of Southern California retired the number three in honor of what player? Answer: Carson Palmer. Kudos: Keith Bielory-Step UP Management/NY; Tim DeLaney-Showtime Networks Inc/NY; Frank Costa-CBS Sports Research/NY; G. David Brown-FOX Sports Carolinas/Charlotte; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; ShawnGerchicoff-Turner Sports/Atlanta; Ron Salcedo-Zimmerman/Nashville; Bill Robertson-Tunheim Partners/Minneapolis; Larry Hutchings/Pacific Palisades; Kevin Fay-DIRECTavenue/Carlsbad; Adam Deverell-Cox Reps/LA; Keith Samuels-Mogreet Mobile Video/LA.
In The Know: What NFL player holds the record for most rookie rushing years in a season? (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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