Monday, May 7th, 2012

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Cynopsis: Sports
05/07/12

Good morning. It’s Monday, May 7, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

As we hit the thick of the upfronts, and sports continues to drive not only marketing dollars but audience engagement and innovation as well, Cynopsis Sports spoke with Stephen Master, Vice President  Sports at The Nielsen Company about audience growth in the genre, how the company is evolving its practices with clients looking to break down numbers and consumption in the sports arena, and where we can expect to see the role of brands in the future.

Master on Nielsen’s current approach to measuring sports: We are doing a lot right now. We’ve developed a term “fanalytics” which is an overarching theme that provides market intelligence which allows our clients, which are sports properties, sports media companies and brands who invest in sports to get a deeper understanding of the fan. For the most part, everyone knows our “watch” business, where we could tell you what everyone is watching on TV, but now it’s about what other platforms fans are consuming sports content on, phones, computers, tablets and we’re measuring a lot of that stuff as well. For the first time, we have on-device meters on mobile phones, so we’re able to track people’s consumption of sports content on those platforms as well.

On the growth of digital viewing in the genre: It’s exploding. It’s just unbelievable just how quickly people are adopting, smartphone penetration is growing unbelievably fast. People always have their smartphone with them unlike a computer so if you want to check a score, you can. You don’t always need to have your computer with you. The other thing we’ve found that’s really interesting from a consumption standpoint on the media side is the dual role that people have when they are consuming content on TV. They also have their smartphone, tablet or computer on at the same time. 88% of folks at least once a month are also engaging while watching TV with their smartphone or tablet. Sports is the ultimate in terms of lean forward programming, particularly for the younger generation like the millenials. We did a panel recently, they don’t just sit back drink a beer and watch a game anymore, the are always tweeting checking a fantasy score, checking a stat, posting something this is happening as its happening. 34% check a sports score while watching TV on the tablet, and close to 30% on a smartphone.

On measuring the role of brands in sports media: We’re tracking fan sentiment, behavior and actual purchases. I can’t really get into the client list but we’re working a really big Fortune 50 company that is a huge spender in sports and helping them track their returns, and the behavior of fans in the particular sport they are invested in. We’re able to pinpoint to a sponsor of a beverage company, that if they put a big investment in the NFL from a sponsorship and media standpoint, we can track the behavior of NFL fans as well as what they are purchasing. So for us, it’s not just what percentage of folks know that you are a sponsor, that’s what has been done in the past. We know not just whether someone knows who the official beer was of the NFL, we know if they actually went and bought that beer.

On the reason behind recent ratings highs: In this whole fragmented media marketplace, there isn’t a necessity to watch CSI while it’s happening because you can watch it at your convenience. But if you didn’t watch the Knicks game last night, you aren’t going to watch it tonight. You want to watch that game while it’s happening. In addition, you have the social part of it with all the correlation of the social media going on, Facebook postings and Twitter and everything going on in that universe. That can drive sports television ratings. Jeremy Lin became a phenomenon and people wanted to tune in, but a lot of that was driven by the stuff that was going on in social media. So someone who was a casual fan who wouldn’t necessarily tune in to a Knicks game in February, sees something about Lin from postings on Facebook pages, then tunes in because their friends are talking about it.

On the Air

With fewer household names in the main event and a Floyd Mayweather PPV bout that same night, overnight ratings for Saturday night’s UFC on FOX 3 showed a 1.7 in households and peaked at 2.1 in the final quarter hour, according to Nielsen. The Saturday bouts drew an estimated 2.25 million viewers, down from the 4.77 the network drew for UFC on FOX 2. That said, numbers are expected to rise when final tally is delivered and the two-hour event still scored as the top-rated program in its timeslot among the A18-49 demographic with a 1.0.

Conference USA made it official, adding University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Florida International University, Louisiana Tech University, University of North Texas and University of Texas at San Antonio to their membership on Friday. Each new member will join the league in all sports for 2013, with Charlotte (which is only just starting a team) set to start football in 2015. Conference executives say that Conference USA and the Mountain West will continue to discuss a future affiliation that could begin as early as 2013.

While we are on the subject, the Mountain West Conference made it official on their end as well, adding San Jose State University and Utah State University to its ranks. The pair will have accepted invitations to join the conference, effective with the 2013-14 academic year and brings membership to nine institutions for all sports with 10 football-playing members.

Universal Sports Network announced coverage plans for the upcoming 2012 Giro d’Italia, which marks the first Grand Tour of the year. The live coverage of Italy’s cycling event will air each race day from May 5 through May 27. In addition, NBC Sports will offer a one-hour preview of the race as well as a recap of the first two stages on May 6 from 2-3p. Bob Roll joins the for the opening day of coverage, he will then be replaced by the network’s lead cycling play-by-play announcer Steve Schlanger alongside analyst Todd Gogulski.

The NCAA and Major League Baseball are in “active discussions” to develop a broad partnership that could make a push for the sports on a collegiate level, according to CBSSports.com. According to the site, the partnership is designed to expand the importance of college baseball and will likely result in a “significant investment” by MLB such as scholarships for the sport. The two organization will also look at driving diversity within the sport at both levels of play.

Fans of windsurfing at the Olympics had better enjoy the London Games. The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) voted that the sport of kiteboarding replace windsurfing at the event beginning with the Rio Games in 2016.

ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning co-host Mike Greenberg will pay up for losing the annual “Mike and Mike Sheets of Integrity Challenge” to Mike Golic tomorrow and will have to perform with Dancing with the Stars’ Anna Trebunskaya at 8:15a. The show will simulcast on ESPN2, when they dance to Livin’ la Vida Loca. Golic and SportsCenter anchor and ABC’s Wipeout host John Anderson will serve as play-by-play announcers for the dance.


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Sponsorship & Promotion

NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne nabbed himself a sponsor, inking a deal with Good Sam/Camping World’s for sponsorship of the No. 21 car. The sponsorship spans four races this season, where he will race under Good Sam/Camping World colors in the May 19 Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte as well as in Atlanta, Chicago and Charlotte.

The NHL is throwing investing in the Zynga game Draw Something, sponsoring words tied to the NHL Playoffs, according to Ad Age. As part of the deal, words like zamboni and puck are being entered into users’ lists to draw.

Digital Fields

IMG Media teamed with Digital Goldfish to launch a new app based on the World’s Strongest Man Competition. The app costs $2.99 and is now available on Apple’s iTunes with players taking their from amateur to professional status via a training regimen.

The Main Event

Caps/Rangers continue a terrific series so far on NBC Sports Network at 7:30p.



ON THIS DAY in 1982: The Oakland Raiders announce official move to LA.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What university has a mascot named Puddles? Oregon. Kudos: Michael Brown-IMG Worldwide/NY; Robert J. King-Wy’East Media/Brooklyn; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; TJ McGovern-Golf Channel/Orlando; Corey Goff-Turner Sports/Atlanta; Allison Wright-Viacom Media Networks/Detroit; Mike Donohoo-IMG Sports Marketing/DeKalb; Dennis Silva-KSTC-TV Channel 45/St. Paul; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Stephen Rodgers-PRO- Peter Rodgers Organization/Hollywood.

In The Know: Which NFL team was the first to be founded?(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
05.07.12

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