Monday, June 4th, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Monday, June 4, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

I’ll Have Another’s quest to become the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years at the Belmont Stakes this weekend has brought horse racing back into the limelight as networks gear up to capture a potentially historic event. Whether he wins or not, the race is assured of garnering national audience attention on NBC with a goal of generating a renewed interest in sport.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with HRTV’s Scott Hazelton about the horse’s historic pursuit, what it means for the industry and how horse racing is looking toward the future. HRTV will broadcast the Belmont Stakes’ post-position draw on Wednesday at 11a and offer the latest happenings on the event throughout the week.

Hazelton on the effect of a potential Triple Crown winner on the state of horse racing: You can’t really quantify what this means to horse racing. The possibility of a Triple Crown is a big enough thing for thoroughbred racing and that’s been evident in recent years of this going down. If this horse could end up winning the Triple Crown, I think it’s one of the best things that could possibly happen because we’ll get more mentions in the mainstream media, it will allow for fans to follow this particular horse. You can already see the attention this horse if getting, whether it be in social media or on ESPN or anything else. It is something we really need.

On how racing broadcasts have evolved: I think HRTV for example giving fans an opportunity for fans to stay in tune with racing 24/7, that’s the biggest change and I can’t tell you how many people sit back and watch HRTV as racing fans. A presence like NBC gets the sport out to the mainstream and might grab the casual person flipping through the channels, but for the hardcore fans who have really gotten into it, we’ve gotten so much into narrowcasting, I think that’s the biggest for thoroughbred racing.

On developing the next generation of fans: It is something that is constantly thrown around. I think it’s one of the things where you have to slowly build upon it. You have to grab this generation of fans and hope that they pass it along to that next generation. You have to start now and hope for the future. So many people became fans by coming out to the racetrack with their father or uncle or whatever and it starts with that and making it a family experience so the sport can grasp them.

On whether I’ll Have Another will win the Triple Crown: I think he’s got a great opportunity, I really do. I think he’s better than all the other horses in the field and he proved it in the Kentucky Derby. He’s looked good in the way that he’s trained. But its animated roulette but I sure hope we see it.

On the Air

TNT’s coverage of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals Game 4 scored an overnight rating of 4.9 to maintain its pace to deliver the channel’s second highest-rated and second most-viewed playoffs ever. Through four games, the series between the Spurs and Thunder is up 7% in rating (4.6 vs. 4.3); 6% among HHs (5,250,000 vs. 4,935,000) and 4% among viewers (7,193,000 vs. 6,922,000) compared to 201. Oklahoma City was the top-rated local market for WCF Game 4 with a 28.5 DMA rating while San Antonio ranked second with a 22.2 DMA rating.

Golf Channel is set to deliver its own version of Super Tuesday today when nearly 1,000 golfers attempt to qualify for the 79 slots available in the final field for the 2012 U.S. Open Championship. The network will devote the entire day of programming under the theme “Golf’s Longest Day.” The first-of-its-kind programming slate will start at 7a and run through midnight with interviews, analysis and scoring updates from more than 50 reporters and production professionals who will be planted at 14 locations throughout the country. In addition to the 11 USGA Sectional Qualifying sites, the network also will have reporters located at The Olympic Club in San Francisco and at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. All of the content will be hosted by Steve Sands and Kelly Tilghman. 

Golf Channel wrapped up May on a high note, delivering its highest-rated May ever, according to Nielsen. The network averaged 112,000 viewers for the month, bolstered by episode two of Big Break Atlantis delivering the highest-rated (with a 0.3 household rating) original entertainment program in primetime this year while the Donald Trump episode of Feherty earned a 0.2 with 215,000. Overall, 2012 saw average viewers rise 20% over the same period in 2011.

The 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee Final on ESPN, which was won by 14 year-old Snigdha Nandipati from San Diego, was seen by an average audience of 1.06 million viewers, based on a 0.8 rating, according to Nielsen, to rank as the most-watched Spelling Bee Final ever on cable television. Those numbers topped the 2011 Final of a 0.7 with 952,000 viewers. (The winning word was ‘guetapens.’) Kansas City topped local markets for the final, delivering a 2.6 rating.

ESPN released plans for the second annual SEC/BIG EAST Challenge, which will run from Thursday, Nov. 29 to Saturday, Dec. 1. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 12 games of the early season three-day men’s basketball event. For the second straight year, all 12 games will be played at home sites with each conference hosting six games with Marquette, Notre Dame, South Florida and Villanova of the Big East participating in their first-ever Challenge. Matchups include Kentucky/Notre Dame, Marquette//Florida, South Carolina/St. John’s and Seton Hall/LSU on Nov. 29. The 30th features Syracuse/Arkansas, Tennessee/Georgetown, DePaul/Auburn and Georgia/South Florida. Saturday’s games include Alabama/Cincinnati, Villanova/Vanderbilt, Mississippi St./Providence and Rutgers/Mississippi.

TeleFutura’s coverage of the international friendly soccer match between USA vs. Brazil on Wednesday, delivered an average audience of 949,000 total viewers 2+. That was good enough for triple-digit increases on the channel compared to the same time slot the previous Wednesday for boosts of 159% among viewers 2+ and 262% among adults 18-34.

UFC fighter Kenny Florian is hanging up the career in the octagon and will now work on the outside. Florian announced his retirement from MMA where he will now focus his energies on his broadcasting career, which includes live UFC cable-TV broadcasts and the weekly UFC Tonight program on FUEL TV.

WFN: World Fishing Network will premiere three shows tonight starting at 7p, the WFN OriginalLost Lake,the all newKayak Bassin’ as well as one of Canada’s longest running fishing shows, The Fish’n Canada Show. In addition, seafood chef David Pasternack offers his tips to cooking fish in a new video collection, ESCA Kitchen.



Is Online-Only TV Ready for Prime Time?

Cynopsis Digital‘s very own Sahil Patel
chats with Bob Garfield, NPR’s On The Media audio podcast!

Listen + Learn:

Sponsorship & Promotion

Olympics sponsor Visa took some shots after accusations flew that the company replaced 27 ATMs with eight of its own outlets, according to Sky News. The report states that Visa requested the swap to allow only Visa cards to be used at the events.

ESPN announced that The League Cup will now be sponsored by Capital One beginning next season. The company inked a four-year deal with opening matches set to start on August 13.

The Professional Bull Riders inked a deal to make the official booking source for the premier bull riding organization in the world. The partnership will include advertising and signage for at PBR Built Ford Tough Series events.

Digital Fields

The Grand Prix du Canada cancelled one of its upcoming events due to hacking threats from Anonymous Operation Quebec. So far, the race’s Open House, which was once set for Thursday morning, will now be cancelled due to the potential online attacks, according to The group issued the threats to protest Quebec bill 78 which limits public protests, and stated it will “wreck” Grand Prix websites as well as potentially publish ticket buyers’ private credit card information. The global “hacktivist” group already shut down the official Formula One website during the Grand Prix race in Bahrain last month.

The Main Event

Make it a double. Devils/Kings on NBC Sports Network at 8p, while the Thunder and Spurs square off on TNT at 9p.

ON THIS DAY in 1974: The NFL grants a franchise to the Seattle Seahawks.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Henderson still tops the all-time MLB record for steals. Who is number two?  Lou Brock. Kudos: J. Barry McMullin-Professional Bull Riders/NY; Jason Newman-Univision Deportes/NY; Bobby Coyle-New York Yankees Radio Network/NY; Mike Douglas-Maxus/NY; Matthew Meachem-Tribune Media Services/Queensbury; Chad Glidewell-Octagon/Atlanta; Peter Gordon-Armada Sports and Entertainment/Orlando; George Finkel-MegaSport Productions/Myrtle Beach; Mike Patterson-Turner Digital/Chicago; Kevin Micklo-Digitas/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Larry Hutchings-Retired/LA; David Levin-KTVU/ Oakland; Don Surath-CBS Local Media/San Francisco.

In The Know: What was the name of the stadium that was the original home of the Seahawks? (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.)

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports

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