Good morning. It’s Monday, May 20, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Last week saw the 19th annual NFL Players Association Rookie Premiere in LA, with 40 recently-drafted rookies embedded for four days to meet with sponsors and learn about the business of football, including personal branding. Marketing partners and licensees on hand at the vent included Topps, Panini, Pepsi NEXT, Nike, EA SPORTS, Fandeavor, FedEx, SB Nation, TheraPearl and elevee.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Keith Gordon, President of NFL Players Inc., about the marketing lessons the young athletes received at the Rookie Premiere, and how the company has evolved with changes in sports.
Gordon on the Rookie Premiere: The event was founded in 1995 and at the root of the event were two trading card companies who we brought in as a way for our partners to acquire photos, autographs, memorabilia and-over the years-video content to utilize for their product. Over the years, however, we started to get better and more efficient and were able to consolidate some of those tactical elements and then build out a four day weekend where we were able to bring in other people and licensees and sponsors. So it’s a chance for folks from Pepsi or FedEx or Nike to screen the athletes who are going to potentially be the face of their brand and who could work in some promotional capacity. They have the opportunity to get to know them, not just as players, but at a time when they are more human and vulnerable than just about any other time in their career.
On the advantages for brands in meeting with rookies: For the marketers, on the one hand, you probably can get the player you want, and probably at a more competitive rate based on where they are instead of where they might be in two or three years like a Russell Wilson. For them it is a great way to get in on the ground floor and help an athlete establish his brand and grow the two brands together. These sponsors invest tens of millions of dollars and when you have a human face that is capable of giving a voice and establishing a connection with fans, it is far more valuable to them to tap into that.
On personal branding: We talk with players about the business of football and making sure they understand the business and their role in it as opposed to just being a player. We also want them to know the difference between just having a job in the NFL and making a career out of being an NFL player. When we talk about the business of football, it is projected to be a $10 billion a year business this year, and Roger Goodell has set the goal of being $25 billion by the year 2025. So it is very important to realize that a goal like that doesn’t happen without the players being integrated into everything. Therefore, we teach these guys their role as an employee, and we also want to make sure that they from year one develop positive equity in their own personal brand and their image.
On the evolution of NFL Players Inc.: It started with video games and trading cards so it is ironic that all these years later, we are still working with these two partners in EA and Topps, who are here this year. But over time, the organization has gone through a lot of different changes. At times, I’d say that it had an identity crisis of sorts. They were trying different things between different periods of labor stability and labor unrest. There were times when the business had to cede to the labor. So with the new CBA, we looked at it as a great opportunity to build out NFL Players Inc. to what we wanted it to be. What people really want is the ability to learn about player rights, the ability to strategically utilize them, the ability to get players matched up, and develop interaction with sponsors. Our core belief is that every business problem has a possible NFL player solution.
The sports world mourned that loss of Ken Venturi, who died Friday afternoon in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 82. Not only did Venturi win the 1964 U.S. Open, but he became a fixture on CBS Sports for 35 years as a golf commentator. His death comes just a week after he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He was the longest-running lead analyst on television for any sport. “For the second time in a month, the CBS Sports family has lost one of its legends with the passing of Ken Venturi,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. “Ken was not only one of golf’s greatest champions, but also the signature voice of golf for almost two generations of fans and viewers.”
In honor of Venturi, Golf Channel will air a special encore presentation of Feherty featuring Ken Venturi tonight at 10p. The episode first premiered in April 2012 and features David Feherty traveling to Los Angeles for a stroll down memory lane with Venturi.
The first NHL Conference Semifinal game between the Rangers and Bruins generated a new record for NBC Sports Network, according to Nielsen. With an average of 1.6 million viewers watching Thursday night’s game, the channel scored the most-watched Conference Semifinal Game 1 in network history. Meanwhile, Game 2 between the Sharks and Kings averaged 805,000 viewers. The two-game series average is 704,000 viewers, up 2% over last year’s Conference Semifinal series through two games.
After a sudden bidding war threw the sale of Outdoor Channel into unexpected waters, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment finally locked down the platform for about $265 million. KSE is, of course, owned by Stan Kroenke, and owns the Colorado Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets, and Colorado Rapids as well as venues like the Pepsi Center.
While ABC officially launched coverage of the 2013 NBA Western Conference Finals last night pitting the Spurs against the Grizzlies, all remaining Western Conference Finals games will air on ESPN at 9p. Mike Breen serves as the voice of the Western Conference Finals with reporter Doris Burke and analyst Hubie Brown (Game 1) and Jeff Van Gundy (Game 2 through remainder of series). ESPN Radio will serve as the exclusive radio broadcast home for both NBA Conference Finals series. Dave Pasch and analyst Chris Mullin call the action for the Western Conference Finals, while Kevin Calabro and analyst Hubie Brown will provide commentary for the Eastern Conference Finals starting Wednesday.
NBC Sports Group will offer 19.5 hours of coverage of Formula One’s famed Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, May 26 at 7:30a, marking the first time the event will air live on network television. Programming starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday across NBC, NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports Live Extra. Race day, Sunday May 26, will begin with a live pre-race show at 7a on NBC Sports Network, and conclude withF1 Extra, NBC Sports Network’s half-hour post-race show, live from Monaco after the race.
NASCAR announced dates for its postseason awards for the annual NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards and the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Awards. The events will be set for Dec. 13 and 14 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame/Charlotte Convention Center. Both the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards and the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Awards will be streamed live on NASCARHomeTracks.com.
After announcing a new partnership with ESPN a week ago, Twitter is now teaming up with the NBA to stream video clips of game highlights. NBA Digital, a joint venture between the league and Turner, will post game snippets on Twitter during the playoffs with the hashtag #NBARapidReplay. Meanwhile, short ads will appear alongside the clips,with sponsors that include Sony, Taco Bell and Sprint.
With a bevy of new schools on the way in the next two seasons, the Sun Belt Conference unveiled a new logo and rebrand. With the mantra “Together We Rise” the league unveiled a contemporary logo on Sunday that the league will use starting July 1. The league developed the look with SME, Inc. for the project with the goal of creating a “bold and fresh new identity built upon a foundation of unity that corresponds to the Sun Belt Conference.”
The high-profile event from USA Wrestling and Beat The Streets Wrestling, Inc., raised a record of $1.5 million for the organization, led by The Rumble on the Rails, a pair of dual meets featuring top squads from USA, Iran and Russia held at Grand Central Terminal, as well as the annual Beat the Streets Awards Gala at Bryant Park Grill.
Digital & Production
Van Wagner Communications is entering into a strategic joint venture between its sports division, Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, and CineSport. The two companies will offer and monetize original sports video content to more than 100 local, digital sports destinations, including the New York Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Main Event, the featured game of the day sponsored byThuuz, real-time sports discovery for mobile & connected TV platform
Blackhawks vs. Redwings Tonight 7:30p. Thuuz rating: 88
Momentum is with the Wings. How will the Hawks respond in Game 3? On NBCSN.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Tomorrow: May 21 | 1:30-3pm ET
Online Video: How the Heck Do I Measure This Stuff?
Speakers include: Joann Wolferman, Product Leadership Ad Effectiveness at Nielsen, Matt Timothy, President at VINDICO and Joseph White, Director, Research & Account Planning at Blip
ON THIS DAY in 1984: Boston’s Roger Clemens earns his first win as a pitcher, beating the Twins 5-4.
In The Know: What were the names of the mascots for the 2012 Summer Games in London? (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: David Beckham wore #23 in honor of whom? Answer: Michael Jordan. Kudos: Aymon DeMauro-Discovery/NY; Sam Berg-Golf Digest/NY; Linda Lieberman-IMG/Big Fish Entertainment/NY; Felipe Vilches-Mediavest/NY; Grace Olson-Georgia Public Broadcasting/Atlanta; Gordon Beck-Beck Comms LLC/Northeast Harbor; GedYoung-GC Marketing/GardenCity; Carina Bandeira Butkus-Comcast Spotlight/Bloomfield; Ryan Rabe-Sports Sales Manager/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Joe Pedri-KLAS/Las Vegas; Sal Cocco-NFL Network/Redondo Beach; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego.
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports
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