Monday, October 17th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports
10/17/11

Good morning. It’s Monday, October 17, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

With a client list that crosses the sports spectrum with legends such as Randy Johnson to Emmitt Smith to Olympians that include Apolo Anton Ohno and Michael Phelps to sportscasters and producers, Octagon Entertainment continues to focus on maximizing sports brands. From businesses and sponsorships to reality show appearances and production companies, athletes continue to thrive across the media gamut.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Octagon Entertainment Managing Director John Ferriter about the evolution of the athlete brand, how the company is approaching clients and why the NBA lockout could change everything.

Ferriter on the goal of the Octagon Entertainment division: We work as a full service management company. As far as guiding our clients’ careers, where it’s getting interesting is that we are learning how our parent company Octagon – the sports management marketing group – is working with marketing clients, and how we are starting to work with individual personalities, whether it’s helping Wade Boggs get on an episode of Psych on USA or developing content around some of the other traditional athletes. We are involved in all of those aspects. We represented Emmitt Smith for years and we were involved on getting him on Dancing with the Stars. Ohno was also on the show and benefited from the experience.

On athletes as pop culture stars: There are shows out there of course like Dancing with the Stars and Celebrity Apprentice that are good star-making vehicles and you always try to find ways to get your clients involved. But the core of our business is representing talents and helping them create launch and establish their brands. When you go anywhere in the country, what do people care about? They care about sports, they care about music and they care about pop culture. I like that we are getting more involved with the athletes and the athletic properties and that’s one of the reasons Octagon brought me in, because they realized that I made a lot of people very rich and that I knew what I was doing.

On marrying sports with entertainment: My feeling is that we make sure we firmly play our clients in areas where there are eyeballs or ears so we then look at very specific things. One of our clients, with a very promising career, is Curt Menefee who hosts FOX NFL Sunday. That is one of the biggest shows in TV. So we made an investment of getting in business with Curt, and it is in the process of paying off as we speak. He has ideas and a production company and little by little we are going to help him increase that brand. We signed David Neal, and we have David working now as the EP at Univision Sports. For athletes, we are really wading slowly into working with them for a couple of reasons. We have Felix Hernandez, Randy Johnson, Michael Phelps, etc. and you have to make sure they play to their strengths. You have to look at things, see what’s right for the brand, and what to pay attention to when they are in full-time training. We keep our eye on different time periods because of their training schedules. For example, there may be some things that heat up very quickly for us if the NBA season is cancelled.

On the NBA lockout: I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the NBA, that’s kind of scaring me a little bit. What scares me about it is that you have all these 17, 18-year old kids coming out of high school who play at a third or fourth year college level because they’ve been playing basketball for ten years. What’s going to stop some billionaire from just making his own basketball league and starting with these guys. It’s a scary time. What also scares me is that they are on the brink of something that can’t be undone. When I was in my formative years and the NBA was hurting, along came Magic and Bird who revolutionized the game. Five or six years later, along comes Michael Jordan. Ten years after that, it was Kobe and Shaq and those guys. You could easily have people like that now say ‘Screw the NBA and screw going to Europe.’ There are lots of people out there with money who have been shut out of the sports leagues and want to get in so you never know what’s going to happen. So I hope cooler heads prevail and they can get the season going again.

On the Air

With television contracts driving realignment and the future of the BCS unknown, the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA reacted to a rapidly changing environment on Friday by announcing that the two conferences would merge into a 22-team, football-only entity that will span from North Carolina through Hawaii. The new conference had been in the works for more than a year and was designed to bring stability, security and flexibility to its member schools as well as drive up a potential TV deal and marketing possibilities in college football. Executives at the conference said that the two leagues will find a way to honor their current TV contracts, which includes CBS, FOX, and NBC, although the super conference would be working on a new television deal as well. The Hawaii and Armed Forces Bowls, which traditionally featured teams from the two conferences, are now expected to look for another affiliation.

The horrific season finale of the Izod IndyCar Series was officially cancelled following the death of Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon in a 15-car accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway yesterday. After the cancellation of the race, which aired on ABC, the drivers participated in a five-lap parade in tribute to Wheldon.

Game 6 ended up being the final game of the American League Championship Series on Saturday with Texas returning to the World Series. The game delivered FOX with 7.51 million viewers and a 2.1 rating/7 share among adults 18-49, according to Nielsen Media Research. Meanwhile, NASCAR on ABC scored 5.03 million viewers for the network with a 1.5/ 5 among adults 18-49.

Even while lawyers battle over FOX’s role in upcoming Dodgers television rights, the media company is now closing in on a deal with fellow SoCal team the Angels, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper reports that Fox and the Angels have been in discussion about a new deal for a while now and “the Angels have the leverage to command a deal in excess of the 20-year, $1.6 billion contract to which Fox and the Rangers agreed last year.” The Angels’ current contract with Fox, which extends through the 2015 season, averages $50 million per year.

Last week’s airing of SmackDown marked the 634th airing of the show for WWE, and officially pushed the program ahead of Gunsmoke as the second longest running weekly episodic TV show in history. Fellow WWE series Raw is number one.

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Big 12 television partners ESPN/ABC and FOX Sports had a role in making TCU the newest member of the conference, in lieu of BYU. The paper reports that the media partners were concerned about the university’s policy of not playing games on Sunday and how it might impact future basketball telecasts.

It’s about to get a little bumpy over at DIRECTV. The company is pairing up with the Professional Bull Riders this month to offer the 2011 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in 3D to homes around the country for the first time. The 3D broadcast will air on Oct. 30 at 4p DIRECTV’s 3D channel, n3D. 

Golf Channel is set to air a special Golf Fix episode tonight at 7p. The show will feature Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Charl Schwartzel, and Keegan Bradley, i.e. all four major champions from 2011 from the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda. U.S. Open Champion Rory McIlroy will discuss driving accuracy; Open Champion Darren Clarke will discuss playing in the wind; Masters champion Charl Schwartzel will talk chipping and PGA Champion Keegan Bradley will discuss putting with a long putter.

Sponsorship & Promotion

The Indianapolis Colts took another hit after a bad season last week with the resignation of Tom Zupancic, the team’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. His decision brings a 27-year tenure with NFL franchise to an end.

Sportsman Channel is teaming the Atlanta Falcons to create a segment called, “Fishing with the Falcons,” which is now available on Xfinity on Demand – Get Local ATL. As part of the segment, Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, Head Coach Mike Smith, Falcons cheerleaders and former alumni, will pay tribute to America’s wounded military and highlight the sacrifices made by America’s wounded military. In its fourth year, the event gives veterans an opportunity to be paired with a Falcon player on individual fishing boats in an attempt to compete for various prizes.

Digital Fields

CBCSports.ca just underwent a facelift, with the channel’s website unveiling a new design that includes revised visitor navigation, as well as the latest sports news and live and on-demand video streaming. As part of the redesign, advertisers will also have new options that include social TV engagement, a push-down ad unit, and branded content.

The Main Event

Early NHL division leaders go at it with that Colorado Avalanche/Toronto Maple Leafs game on VERSUS at 7p.


ON THIS DAY in 1920: The Chicago Bears (then known as the as Decatur Staleys) play their first NFL game

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question:  What was the last NHL team Wayne Gretzky played for? Answer: The New York Rangers.  Kudos: John Quinn – DISH Network/NY; Peter Gordon – Armada Sports & Entertainment/Orlando; Rich Dubroff – C-SPAN/Washington, DC; Juan P. Delgado – Telemundo/Miami; Tom Akers – Outdoor Channel/Chicago; Lucie Prann – The Richard’s Group/Dallas; Greg Moloznik – GLM Media Dynamics/Scottsdale; David Hauptman – Katz Television Group/Denver; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/LA; Roman Saienni – FOX Sports/LA; Emily Little – PROMAXBDA/Santa Monica; Tom Powers – Open Door Co./Toronto; Chris Faulds – Bell Media Interactive/Toronto

In The Know: In 2002, this pitcher became the first rookie pitcher to win the seventh game of the World Series in 93 years. Who was he? (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
10.17.11

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