Good morning! It’s Thursday November 10, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Tonight, NFL Network kicks off its broadcasts of Thursday Night Football with a Chargers/Raiders game from a tight AFC West race. Brad Nessler provides the play-by-play and Mike Mayock serves as game analyst in the debut of the channel’s new broadcast team with Alex Flanagan delivering reports from the sideline for the second consecutive season. Coverage begins with the pregame show featuring Michael Irvin joining host Rich Eisen and analysts Steve Mariucci, Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders live from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
The network enters its first game on a roll, with a record total of 32.1 million fans tuning into the channel over the season’s first nine weeks, besting the previous mark set last year (31.6 million). NFL Network’s average weekday primetime viewership has jumped 21% over last year at this time to 167,000 while Sundays featuring the NFL GameDay lineup are up 17% to 250,000 average viewers.
NBC’s Bob Costas is set to host a series of quarterly live town halls, starting with Costas Tonight: Live from the Super Bowl, as well as a monthly interview show Costas Tonight beginning in Spring 2012 that will run on NBC Sports Network. The town hall series will take on the prominent issues from the world of sports with the initial airing set to focus on the state of the NFL, with a preview of Super Bowl XLVI and the storylines from the NFL season. The special will air on the NBC Sports Network in front of a live studio audience from the Indiana Repertory Theater on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012, at 8p.
ESPN has picked up rights to the eight remaining EURO 2012 qualifying playoffs which are scheduled for Friday, Nov. 11 and Tuesday, Nov. 15. ESPN will carry full coverage across its platforms for the international soccer championship while ESPN3 will carry all eight matches live from both the 1st and 2nd Legs on Friday, November 11 and Tuesday, November 15 with English commentary. The playoffs will qualify four teams for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, which will be carried across ESPN platforms from June 8 – July 1, 2012 live from Poland and Ukraine.
The NBC Sports Group is gearing up for coverage of The Presidents Cup 2011 next week, lining up 51 ½ hours of match-play action on Golf Channel which will carry all four rounds live for the first time and NBC from Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia. Golf Channel will provide 28½ hours of live coverage of all four rounds beginning at 9p on Wednesday, Nov. 16 to mark the first time that all four rounds of a Presidents Cup competition played outside of North America will be presented live. Golf Channel and NBC also will combine to show 23 hours of re-packaged coverage for replay. Terry Gannon and Curt Byrum, will handle most of the play-by-play and analysis with Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller contributing on Days Three and Four for both Golf Channel and NBC.
The ESPN family of networks is on deck to offer a record 130 women’s basketball games this season. New changes this year will include a stronger presence for Rebecca Lobo, while Beth Mowins, Pam Ward and Brenda VanLengen will serve as the primary play-by-play announcers on ESPN and ESPN2 telecasts this season. Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck will be in studio for halftime, pre- and post-game coverage during ESPN and ESPN2’s Sunday and Monday night windows. There will be 95 games run during the regular season on the networks as well as coverage from 13 conference tournaments. ESPNU will feature 41 matchups including 23 regular-season matchups with 35 games on ESPN2. In addition, the first-ever women’s game aired on ESPN 3D will be part of Big Monday telecasts.
MSG Networks has released its own 2011-12 college basketball schedule, slating 148 games on MSG Network and MSG Plus. The schedule includes 40 games with 65 Pac-12 games, 19 SEC matches, and 18 Big East games on deck.
The horrible Penn State sex abuse scandal continues to tear through the university, with the firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno. Penn State President Graham Spanier will also reportedly be out of his job, according to local papers. Athletic director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz were charged by authorities on Monday after allegedly failing to notify authorities of an eyewitness that reported a 2002 assault. Curley requested to be placed on administrative leave during the case, and the National Football Foundation announced yesterday that the organization is withdrawing an award that was to be presented to Curley next month. The award, called the John L. Toner award, was set to be given to an athletic director who has shown “outstanding dedication to college athletics and particularly college football.”
The UFC and FOX Sports held a joint press call yesterday to discuss this Saturday’s UFC on Fox 1 event. Among the highlights was the announcement that Jon Anik, the longtime host and anchor of ESPN2’s weekly “MMA Live” show, has joined the UFC broadcasting team where he will call UFC Fight Night and The Ultimate Fighter Finale events on FX, as well as the live TUF episodes. It was also revealed that FUEL will broadcast more than 2,000 hours of UFC programming in 2012, with UFC broadcasting most of the prelim matches on the channel.
Meanwhile, Bellator Fighting Championships has agreed to a five-year deal with FremantleMedia Enterprises, according to reports, to sell the promotion’s MMA programming to broadcasters around the world. The company currently runs its weekly fight cards on MTV2 and is on deck to replace the UFC on Spike TV in 2013 or earlier.
Former Yankees player and coach Willie Randolph is set to join Bob Lorenz when the YES Network premieres its Yankees Baseball Daily show on Monday at 7p. Randolph will make regular appearances on Yankees Baseball Daily, YES’ five-night-a-week show which will cover the news from the Yankees as well as MLB. Lorenz and Randolph will be joined by baseball writers Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman.
ESPN’s College GameDay will surprisingly hit Stanford for the very first time this weekend, when the team hits Palo Alto, Calif., on Saturday for the Oregon/Stanford game. The weekly show airs from 9-10 a.m. on ESPNU and 10 a.m. to noon on ESPN.
Asian sports provider ONE World Sports has signed an exclusive agreement with World Sport Group (WSG) to distribute Japan Top League Rugby on a multi-screen basis throughout North America. As part of the deal, OWS will run one rugby match per week for the entire season.
Kid Rock is set to take the stage to open the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony on Dec. 2 at Wynn Las Vegas. NASCAR announced that the singer-songwriter and musician will perform the title track and lead single “Born Free” from his latest album, which was released last November and he will join event host, Reba as celebrities performing at the year-end awards ceremony.
Halfway through the season, the NFL reports that the league’s digital media platforms are on a record pace, posting a 64% jump in page views as well as a 37% uptick in unique users over the same period last year. In addition, the league reports that fans have accessed double the number of videos across all league digital properties compared to 2010.
Bleacher Report has added EA COO Peter Moore to the company’s board of directors where he will “provide guidance and counsel on Bleacher Report’s approach to developing key relationships within the sports business community as a way to further establish the company as a formidable brand with consumers and marketers,” according to a company release.
Verizon FiOS and Grande Communications have announced that beginning Friday, Nov. 11 at 9a, and running through the weekend, the companies will be running a free broadband simulcast of Longhorn Network to fans nationwide as part of All-Access Weekend presented by Grande Communications and Verizon FiOS.
THE MAIN EVENT
Chargers/Raiders on NFL Network at 8:20p.
ON THIS DAY in 1996: Dolphins’ Quarterback Dan Marino becomes the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 50,000 yards.
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who was the only non-professional player on Michael Jordan’s Olympic Dream Team? Answer: Christian Laettner. (Yes, Magic was retired but had been a Pro). Kudos: Corey Goff – Turner Sports/Atlanta; Juan Maldonado – Nielsen/NY; Adam J. Honig – IMG College/NY; Brent Rupp – Ad Age/NY; Beth Eastwood – FOX Sports Southwest, FS Houston, FS Oklahoma/Irving; Dan Radman – Busch Media Group/St. Louis; Steve Hall – TRC MEDIA/Dickson; Greg Busch – Freelance Production/St. Louis; David Hauptman – Katz Television Group/Denver; Antranig Balian – Generate/Santa Monica; Damon Perry – Agency Division/Marina del Rey; Joe Farr – Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; Jordan Cohen – USC Athletics/LA;
In The Know: Two Penn St. players have been selected with the top pick in the NFL draft. Name one. (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
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