Monday, November 28th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports
11/28/11

Good morning. It’s Monday, November 28, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

With the NBA back in business with a tentative labor accord, so are the networks. The league is quickly hashing out a new schedule, with a 66-game season on deck and games likely beginning on Christmas Day on ABC/ESPN and TNT. ESPN reports that playoffs will begin a week later than initially scheduled with The Finals being pushed until later in June. According to The New York Times, team schedules will be made up of 48 conference contests with only 18 slated out of conference. 

In fact, it was the TV deals that helped push the agreement forward. Multiple reports state that by limiting the amount of cancelled games, the league will now get to keep its TV revenue without extending its current deals by a year. That includes $485 million a year from ESPN/ABC and $445 million a year from TNT as well as from the regional networks.

The new agreement now calls for a 50/50 split of basketball-related revenues between the owners and the players, which would run around $2 billion each under current depending on whether the league hits projections, players can make as much as 51% or as little as 49% of that revenue. In addition, a harsher luxury tax will be imposed in an effort to maintain a competitive balance between richer and poorer teams.

Here are some highlights from the labor announcement:

NBA Commissioner David Stern: I think I really do want to express our appreciation for the parties that were here tonight – Mo, Derek and Billy and the entire party — because we talked about not just our teams and our players but literally thousands of people who are dependent upon the playing of our games at arenas, at parking lots, at restaurants around the stadium. We resolve that despite some, even bumps this evening, that the greater good required us to knock ourselves out and come to this tentative understanding. I think that there is still a lot, of shall we say, other issues to finish because we have the broadest outline but I think both sides are optimistic that this will yield a full blown series of agreements.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver: I think it will largely prevent the high-spending teams from competing in the free-agency market in a way that they have been able to in the past. We feel ultimately it will give fans in every community hope that their team can compete for championships.

Derek Fisher, President of the players union: The most important key thing here is that our fans and the support from the people and the patience through a large part of this process, that is who a lot of this credit goes to. The efforts that have been made have been largely with them in mind.

On the Air

Thanksgiving’s telecast of the 49ers/Ravens game on NFL Network ranked as the most-watched program in the eight year history of the channel as well as the most-watched cable program ever on the holiday. The game was seen by an average of 10.7 million viewers (not including over-the-air stations in San Francisco and Baltimore) and bested last year’s NFL Network game by 50%. In addition, the first-ever Thanksgiving morning NFL GameDay Morning pregame show scored an average of 419,000 viewers, for a 138% spike over the same time period last year.

CBS Sports’ Thanksgiving Day coverage of The NFL on CBS, featuring a last-second Cowboys victory over the Dolphins, drew overnight household rating/share of15.3/38, up 2% over last year’s 15.0/35 and up 21%from the comparable late window in 2009. That score marks the highest rating for a Thanksgiving Day game in the metered markets on the network since CBS re-acquired NFL broadcast rights in 1998.

Over the weekend, ABC’s coverage of the Notre Dame/Stanford game on Saturday Night Football delivered the network with a victory, with 5.17 million viewers and a 1.5 rating/5 share among adults 18-49, according to Nielsen Media Research. 

Sky has preparing to launch a dedicated channel to Formula One in March. The channel will be dubbed Sky Sports F1 HD and will feature all 20 races without commercials, as well as qualifying and practice sessions. In addition the channel will launch brand new analysis and highlights shows dedicated to the sport. Meanwhile, the BBC announced it will broadcast the British, Monaco as well as the Brazilian Grand Prix as part of their package of ten live races.

As expected, FX’s first broadcast of the UFC is set to come from Nashville. The MMA promotion confirmed the move, with the card set for Jan. 20 to mark the UFC’s first show on the channel.  The card will feature a bout featuring Jim Miller and Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard as well as lightweight Kamal Shalorus against the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov, Josh Neer vs. Duane “Bang” Ludwig; as well as heavyweight Christian Morecraft vs. Pat Barry.

After complaints that Montana and Montana St. football fans were unable to watch their team in the FCS playoffs on TV, (it had been relegated to ESPN3.com, along with all of the other second round games), the NCAA stated on their Facebook page that the organization is looking to rectify the situation, according to local station KPAX, stating “The NCAA and ESPN are discussing options to make these games viewable, but ultimately, we cannot guarantee anything beyond the ESPN3 coverage that is planned.”

Meanwhile the NCAA is also looking to shift the NCAA Women’s basketball tournament by a week, meaning that the Women’s Final Four would now be played the week after the Men’s Final Four. Members of the Futures Strategies Subcommittee are now accessing how a move would affect the game, as well as practice dates, first date of competition, the recruiting calendar and future host availability. The committee is also looking to work with media partner ESPN for the company’s perspective on the effect of moving the tournament.

BTN is set to offer the live announcement of several Big Ten football awards during the All-Conference Selection Special set to air tonight at 7:30p. For the fifth straight year, Dave Revsine will host the show, with analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith. Select award winners will be interviewed during the hour-long program. The show will reveal the All-Big Ten teams as selected by both the coaches and the media as well as the debut an enhanced football awards program, with 17 end-of-season honors.

The YES Network debut of new series,Yankees Access, tomorrow at 8p will feature access to Yankees star Curtis Granderson. The series will feature Granderson and YES Yankees reporter Jack Curry in Taiwan, where an MLB All-Star team was touring.

Sponsorship & Promotion

India isn’t pleased with Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of next year’s Olympic Games and is threatening to boycott the event as a result. Dow Chemicals signed on to pay for and make a multi-million dollar fabric wrap that will go around the top of the Olympic Stadium, according to the AP. The Indian Olympic Association, however, is upset because Dow now owns the Bhopal pesticide plant that leaked in 1984 and took thousands of lives. The IOA will vote on Dec. 5 whether or not to boycott the Games.

David Beckham played blind for a good cause, kicking off the campaign as the London 2012 Paralympic Games Ambassador by joining visually-impaired Great Britain players in a soccer demonstration. Beckham played blindfolded while taking part in a series of drills to showcase the skill and commitment needed for the Paralympic players to compete. The famed player, who needed a companion to move around, managed to impress the players after scoring on a penalty at the end of the session.

The NFL is set to transform a section of Union Station into a ski-lodge-themed exclusive hospitality area for February’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, according to local reports. The section will resemble a ski-lodge-themed and be called NFL House as a hideaway for league guests such as corporate sponsors, team owners and former players and coaches. The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that the site will feature talks by players and coaches, music from celebrity DJs and live bands and celebrity chef appearances.

Digital Fields

EA Sports has turned to soccer player Lionel Messi as the face of the upcoming FIFA Street video game, set to hit shelves in March. The Barcelona and Argentina player signed a multiyear endorsement contract to also become an EA Sports ambassador and the global spokesman for the game maker’s FIFA franchise.

The Main Event

Giants/Saints on MNF on ESPN at 8:30p


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ON THIS DAY in 1981: Bear Bryant becomes the winningest coach in college football with his 315th victory.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Only three NFL teams have never played a Thanksgiving Day game. Name one. Answer:  Texans, Panthers or Jaguars. Kudos: Michael Brown IMG/NY; Rich Dubroff – Comcast SportsNet.com/Baltimore; David Stern – BARD Entertainment/NY; Jordan Goldberg – Disney and ESPN Media Networks/NY; Simon Bassett – Veritas Communications/Toronto; GreggHess  NCC Media/Minneapolis; Greg Moloznik  GLM Media/Scottsdale; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/LA; Alan Perris – The Television Academy/North Hollywood

In The Know: The 49ers last won a Super Bowl in 1995, with Steve Young as the MVP. What quarterback did they beat? (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
11.28.11

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