Monday, March 25th, 2013

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Monday, March 25, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

A ratings boost on the TV screen for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament equated a viewership spike on digital platforms as well. Turner Sports reports that NCAA March Madness Live, which offers college basketball fans an all-encompassing viewing experience for the NCAA Tournament with streaming to broadband and mobile platforms, received a nice jump through the first Thursday of the tournament with live video streams rising 131% versus 2012. In addition, the platform set a record in time spent viewing, climbing 169% year-to-year.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Matt Hong, Senior VP and General Manager of Operations for Turner Sports, about the success of the app, how audiences are adapting to authentication, and the trends he is seeing from early data.

Hong on March Madness Live: While we had a great day in terms of television ratings, we also had a very positive showing on the digital front as well. That’s a reflection of higher interest around March Madness that we see with the TV numbers as well as industry-wide growth trend around digital. Thirdly, I think the increasing comfort level around user name and password registration and authentication with the TV Everywhere model has grown. This year-between people who are using the CNN app, the WatchESPN app or the Olympics-the comfort level is just so much higher. It is literally just like registering and logging in to Facebook.

On digital trends: One of the interesting things we are continuing to see within the March Madness Live is the growth around tablets and video streams. In 2011, mobile was about a third. Last year, it was just under one half, and it is interesting to see that trend continue to grow this year. While that is something we expected, it is amazing how fast mobile continues to grow.

On sponsor integration: Obviously the corporate champions and sponsors of the NCAA are heavily represented in March Madness Live, and then we have presenting sponsors of various platforms as well, and then heavy integration of certain sponsors into features and functionality. For example, Coke Zero is the sponsor who is integrated into our social platforms, so the way that people can view, for instance, curated tweets in March Madness Live, that’s all being sponsored by Coke Zero. Another example is that Coke and AT&T are sponsors of what we are doing with Twitter, where we are embedding video highlights in the @MarchMadness Twitter handle and that is presented by Coke and AT&T.

On the first year with Bleacher Report: It’s been great. It has been synergistic and from a portfolio perspective, it fills out an area very nicely for Turner Sports. It gives us something we didn’t have in a 24/7, 365 digital sports destination. The Bleacher Report didn’t have assets that exist here in Atlanta, like a television platform, and so our assets have been a very powerful marketing platform for them. The Bleacher Report has done a great job focusing on teams, and they have the ability to produce a ton of content about the teams that are important to you and the teams that are important to me. They already made a strategic move to increase the quality of writers and writing that occurs throughout the site and the app. We are trying to help them accelerate that and provide more fuel.

On the Air

As for the TV ratings, early Nielsen scores show that the NCAA Men’s Tournament continues to be up over 2012 so far. Second round coverage across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV on Thursday averaged an overnight household rating/share of 5.8/14, to mark the highest score for the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament in 22 years. That number is also up 4% year-to-year. Tournament to date, including the NCAA First Four, the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship is averaging a 5.2/12, up 2% compared with a 5.1/12 at this same time last year.

With the Miami Heat continuing their winning ways, the NBA revised the team’s television coverage plans when the Heat’s game against Charlotte shifted to NBA TV last night, while tonight’s game against the Magic will now be seen on ESPN at 7p. ESPN’s coverage of the NIT Tournament will now be seen on ESPNEWS.

IndyCar may have targeted a replacement for former CEO Randy Bernard. The AP writes that the organization is in talks with Zak Brown, founder of Indianapolis-based motorsports marketing company Just Marketing Inc., to take over the role. The report states that Brown was meeting with several team owners, Miles and board members on Friday.

The IOC awarded broadcast rights to the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016 to Carlos Slim and his company America Movil throughout Latin America (except Brazil). The deal marks the first time the IOC has granted rights to the company. In a separate deal, the IOC also awarded right for the two Games to TV Globo in Brazil.

Tiger Wood’s quest to retake the number one ranking will conclude today with Golf Channel airing final round coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard live today starting at 10a. Immediately following the conclusion of the tournament, Golf Channel will switch to live coverage of Day One of the Tavistock Cup at Isleworth Golf & Country Club, where the 16 players not playing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be in competition.

It didn’t take long for the Atlantic 10 to recover from schools defecting for the Big East. reports that the league will pick up George Mason from the CAA to join the conference with a formal announcement expected to be made today.

Sports broadcasting pioneer John “Bud” Palmer has passed away, dying of cancer last Tuesday, according to The Palm Beach Daily News. Palmer had produced and appeared in the CBS Sports Spectacular as well as on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Congratulations to Steve Bornstein, President and CEO of the NFL Network and Executive VP of Media for the NFL, who will receive the Legacy Award at this year’s Cynopsis: Sports Media Awards, which will take place on April 17 at Yale Club in Manhattan. Click here for more info and stay tuned for more special award winners to be announced this week!


Cynopsis Sports Media Awards

The Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast is set!
April 17 | 8:00-10:00am | The Yale Club | NYC

Join award finalists, support your colleagues + network with the best in the industry!

Preview the list of finalists:

Sponsorship & Promotion

IndyCar hit the new season by signing extensions with two key sponsors, inking deals with Verizon Wireless through 2014 and Novo Nordisk. As part of the deal, Verizon Wireless will sponsor the pole award at each of the 19 races while Novo Nordisk will be the official diabetes care provider, and sponsor the Emergency Care vehicle at race days.

Digital Fields

The NHL is going retro with hits highlight reel, creating online clips that pay homage to famed video game NHL 94. As part of the 20th anniversary of the game, now showcases highlights complete with pixilated ref, sounds, scoreboard and more.

The Main Event

Heat/Magic on ESPN at 7p.

ON THIS DAY in 1982: Wayne Gretzky becomes the first NHL player to score 200 points in a season.

In The Know: While UCLA has won the most NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments in the post-season, what school has won the most NITs? (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.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Former Olympic alpine ski racer Suzy Chaffee had a sponsorship deal that gave her what nickname? Answer: Suzy Chapstick. Kudos: Peter King Hunsinger-Golf Digest/NY; Eric Feinstein-Deltatre/NY; Jackie Corso-Oxygen Media/NY; John Miles-Maxus Global/NY; Holly Goode-KFC Advertising Co-op/Louisville; Gordon Beck-Beck Communications LLC/Northeast Harbor; Brad Stern-Mobileye, Inc./Jericho; Mary Kovach-ICON International, Inc./Stamford; Leigh Ann Schwarzkopf-Lookout Marketing/Minneapolis; Gretchen Brady-KDAF/Dallas; Heather R. Floore-KDAF/Dallas; Larry Morton-ONE World Sports/Dallas; Harry S. Vested, Jr.-Gravity Collection, Inc./Denver; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; David Hauptman/Denver; Michael Jaquet-US Ski and Snowboard Assoc./Park City; Guy Cacciarelli-MSG Media/Santa Monica; Sue Peabody-Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket/LA; Sandie Lanza-KESQ- ABC Ch. 3/Palm Desert; Heather Provost-Ciao Bella Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports

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