Good morning. It’s Monday, November 18, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Brand consultancy and creative agency Troika released the newest entry of its “What If” series last week, this time focusing on sports. The video marks the second edition of its thought-provoking clips, this time asking questions such as “What If America’s Pastime Changed?” “What If a Fight Promoter Transformed a Blood Sport into a Global Phenomenon?” and “What if a Single Team Became an Empire?” The video can be found here.
As the company behind the EA Sports Branded Video Campaign, NFL Network’s NFL Fandom Identity, and the ESPN College Basketball Rebrand, to name a few, the film called attention to the competition, shifting fan behaviors and the power sports brands have to connect with audiences. Cynopsis Sports asked Troika Creative Director Gil Haslam about the videos, the creative evolution for sports brands and branding philosophies.
Haslam on Troika’s branding strategy: We see brands as value-added assets. Brands enable businesses to get the most out of the products and services they offer, and they create a “platform” for expanding business opportunities. Sports media branding is particularly interesting because of the extraordinary potential that comes from combining the draw of a popular live sports event with the incredible reach of media. It’s all about building opportunities around the passion of fans driven by the immediacy of the game.
On challenges: One very important aspect of our role is in creating an ownable brand experience for the viewer. Sports broadcasting requires an enormous amount of graphic support, as many as a thousand deliverables for something like ESPN’s Sports Center. We consider every element a viewer experience opportunity. This can be a considerable engineering and design feat. The goal is to enhance the game experience in a particular way, one that supports the brand.
On the changing needs of clients: Five years ago, sports projects were on-air packaging assignments. Today, nearly every assignment has an element of brand strategy and positioning before any creative work is executed. This is a direct result of more competitors in the marketplace. Take ESPN. What was once a network with little competition now has to compete with Twitter and bloggers for breaking news, FS1 for national sports news, and dozens of region, league, and team-based RSNs for rights deals. It is challenge enough to keep up with the competitive landscape, but to find whitespace and own a specific position in a landscape that continues to evolve presents a whole other complex layer.
On the goal of the “What If” videos: There are two types of brands; those reactive to change, and those proactively creating and embracing – change. We wanted capture the essence of brands that see change as an opportunity rather than a threat, and decided to articulate it through an entertaining, informative piece of content. The goal is really to inspire people. Inspire them to think big, embrace the crazy sports landscape we live in, and help write the future of sports media.
On takeaways from the sports edition: How important media is to the success of sports brands. Even in the first two stories we tell in the film NFL and UFC – these brands have transformed from sport into spectacle, and media was the catalyst for this growth. There’s so much demand for sports content, and no matter what you deliver to fans, there will always be a thirst for more. That’s what’s exciting there will always be demand for the next big “What If” innovation.
The NFL and MLB are jumping into the fray in broadcasters’ battles against Aereo. Multichannel writes that the two leagues say they will end up moving major events such as the Super Bowl and World Series off broadcast network and on to pay channels if Aereo is allowed to continue its operations. In an amicus to the Supreme Court, the two leagues wrote, “If copyright holders lose their exclusive retransmission licensing rights and the substantial benefits derived from those rights when they place programming on broadcast stations, those stations will become less attractive mediums for distributing copyrighted content. The option for copyright holders will be to move that content to paid cable networks (such as ESPN and TNT) where Aereo-like services cannot hijack and exploit their programming without authorization.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the NFL will up the ante on flexing games in 2014. He writes that the league is developing a new weekly system of cross flexing, in which it can “take an early game on Fox and flex it into the late-afternoon slot on CBS so more of the country can see it, or vice versa with Fox or CBS getting a late-afternoon game that had been scheduled for an early start in return.” The move is geared toward maximizing exposure for the best matchups.
TNT continues to find rating success for the 2013-14 NBA season, pulling a 1.3 household Nielsen rating for its Nov. 14 doubleheader, pitting Houston/New York and Oklahoma City/Golden Gate. That marks a boost of 30% the comparable doubleheader last year.
NBA TV revealed that audiences selected that Hawks/Heat for tomorrow’s NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint. The action starts at 7:30p while Ernie Johnson and analysts Chris Webber and Greg Anthony will offer analysis during theAutoTrader.com Pregame Show at 7p.
Reuters reports that NFL Network President and CEO Steve Bornstein may end up serving as chairman of IMG if the group he is advising ends up buying the agency. Bornstein is advising a group that is headed by British money management firm CVC Capital Partners and is one of four bidder groups who advanced to the second round of bidding earlier this month.
AXS TV Fights entered a new multi-year broadcast agreement with Legacy Fighting Championship. The deal will see 12 LIVE Legacy events on the channel in 2014, marking a 100% increase from the promotion’s six nationally televised events in 2012. In addition, Legacy will venture outside of the state of Texas for the first time with events scheduled in New Mexico, Louisiana, and Tennessee in addition to regular stops in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
Speaking of MMA, UFC President Dana White stated that the UFC is looking to add a second women’s division, this time at the 115-pound mark. White broke the news on FOXSports.com’s The Fighter & The Kid podcast on Friday, noting that the women are outdrawing the men by 44% on The Ultimate Fighter.
The IOC revealed the final list of six cities bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics following the deadline for applications last Friday, according to the AP. Candidates include Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing; Krakow, Poland; Lviv, Ukraine; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm. Krakow is bidding jointly with Slovakia, which would hold some events in Jasna. If they win the bid, Stockholm or Beijing would become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013| 1:30 – 3:00pm ET
Cynopsis Sports Webinar
Sports Social Media Superstars: Insider Secrets to Engaging Sports Fans on Multiscreens
Our panel of executives will drive the social media conversation for some of the most successful brands in sports will share their company’s strategies to stand out in the tumultuous world of social TV.
The NFL and McDonald’s kicked off their first Happy Meal promotion over the weekend. The kid’s entrees featured an NFL Rush Zone theme, inspired by the league’s NFL Rush Zone: Season of the Guardians program on Nickelodeon. The promotion will see 32 Rusher figures distributed through Dec. 12, and tied in the premiere of the third season Rush Zone on Wednesday.
Digital & Technology
Tom Richardson, president of Convergence Sports & Media, and Gregg Trueman, a former producer for MLB Productions announced the launch of Talent League, a labor pool of college students designed to supply sports properties and media outlets with talent for on-demand projects. The company is now developing a curated database of student talent available for hourly and project-based work in fields that include social media, analytics and digital content development. Universities that have partnered with them company include Oregon, Massachusetts and Michigan, Syracuse University and the Ivy Sports Collaborative; with more than 20 companies and sports properties also onboard, including World Wrestling Entertainment, Bloomberg Sports and digital video syndicator CineSport.
ONE World Sports is tapping the services of Gary Herman to serve as Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales and Sponsorships. Herman most recently was Senior Vice President of Advertising Sales at Tennis Channel and will now be responsible for overseeing all advertising and sponsorship operations for the network.
The Main Event
Division leaders Ducks/Penguins face off on NBCSN at 7:30p.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Leveraging Social Media to Drive Tune-In and Ratings
Thursday * November 21 * 1:30-3:00 p.m. ET
Moderated by:Lynn Leahey, Editor – Cynopsis Media along with:
Sumeet Kanwar, Managing Director, Midwest & Strategy – OMD
Deirdre Bannon, VP, Product – Nielsen SocialGuide
Jake Katz, VP, Audience Insights & Strategy – REVOLT
Dana Ortiz, VP, Brand Marketing – Syfy
Register here: http://www.cynopsis.com/webinars/leveraging-social-media.
ON THIS DAY in 1987: The Cubs’ Andre Dawson becomes the first player to win an MVP to come from a last place club.
In The Know: What was Andre Dawson’s nickname? (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: In which Olympic sport are beards banned? Answer: Boxing. Kudos: Kyle Helm-CBS Sports Network/NY; Keith Marder-Halstead Property/NY; Marc Wollis-NBC Sports Group/NY; Jason Krebs-Maker Studios/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Sabrina Sherman-COX Media/Phoenix; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Cynopsis Kids! Presents:
How to Drive Tune-In & Dollars with Apps and Games Webinar
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 | 1:30 to 3pm ET
You will learn how to:
~ Measure success and evaluate ROI around launches and sustained campaigns
~ Parlay popular apps into additional engagement and revenue
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports
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