Good morning. It’s Thursday, September 22, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
After one season, NBC Sports is returning to Saratoga. The NBC Sports Group announced a two-year extension with the New York Racing Association, Inc. for the Summer at Saratoga horse racing series, extending the deal through 2013. This year’s coverage of the Saratoga meet debuted with three hour-long shows on NBC as well as five on VERSUS to span seven weekends throughout the summer. Next year’s broadcasts are tentatively set to begin on Saturday, August 11 at 6p on NBC Sports Network.
With the Pac-12 opting not to expand, the Big 12 once again appears to have cheated death, with Oklahoma and Texas set to resume discussions designed to stabilize the league. Texas officials said Wednesday that they are open to a new revenue-sharing model for the conference, although the university remains adamant that it does not want to split any revenues derived from the Longhorn Network.
This week’s NFL games continued to score as the most watched shows on TV. The Eagles/Falcons Sunday night game on NBC ranked as the most-watched program on television for the week ending Sept. 18, with an average of 23.4 million viewers in primetime. The CBS national telecast, led by a Chargers/Patriots game, ranked second for the week with 22.7 million viewers. In local markets, NFL games continued to score, leading the ratings in all of the 30 NFL markets for the second consecutive week. Top five markets for the week included New Orleans, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Boston and Buffalo.
On the college football front, Saturday nights continue to score for the sport, with ABC and ESPN’s coverage ranking as the top program on television that night among households as well as all of the key male and adult demographics through the first three weeks of the season. ABC’s most recent game, featuring Oklahoma/Florida St. continued the trend with an average of 9,307,000 viewers, 6,608,000 households and a 5.8 rating for the game to score as the network’s most-viewed and highest-rated regular-season college football game since the Big 12 championship on Dec. 5, 2009.
MSG Networks is going all in on hockey again this winter, announcing its schedule for Ranger and Islander games this season. In addition, the network has added a new partner for Glenn ‘Chico’ Resch in the broadcast booth, announcing that Steve Cangialosi will team-up with Resch on MSG Plus for Devil’s games. In addition, MSG Networks is tapping Deb Placey to replace Cangialosi as the Devils host and rinkside reporter. Anyway, MSG Networks will telecast a total of 76 of the team’s 82 games in the regular season on MSG Network, MSG 2 and MSG Plus, with the opening season beginning on Oct. 7 when the Rangers face the Kings in Sweden at 1p. The networks will showcase 81 Islander games as well, beginning Oct. 8 when the team hosts the Panthers at 8p.
A pushback from MSOs toward potential rising fees to carry the ESPN networks by shifting the network toward a sports tier doesn’t sit well some Disney executives. Jay Rasulo, Senior Executive Vice President and CFO of The Walt Disney Company, told audiences at the Goldman Sachs Goldman Sachs Communacopia that consumers won’t accept extra fees to get sports, noting “We don’t see a fundamental shift to tiering being a good thing.”
NESN is turning to veteran sports broadcaster Dale Arnold as the network’s new Boston Bruins studio host and has inked Bruins reporter Naoko Funayama to a contract extension heading into the season. Arnold will host all of NESN’s pregame, intermission and postgame Bruins coverage for the channel, while Funayama come back for her fourth season as the network’s rinkside reporter. Bruins coverage returns to the channel on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6:30p before running the Bruins/Senators preseason game.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football franchise is set to become part of the league’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration next week during the Redskins/Cowboys game. The broadcast will include special graphic integrations and features, as well as themed lyrics within the Hank Williams Jr.opening video.
CBS is reteaming with NCAA partner Turner this weekend, when CBS Sports Spectacular presents an hour-long special,MLB 2011: Down the Stretch on Saturday at 2p. The program will feature the MLB on TBS studio team discussing the sport’s final stretch run heading into the post-season. TBS studio host Matt Winer will join Dennis Eckersley and Cal Ripken,as well as David Wells, to break down the pennant races and look ahead at the Postseason’s participants.
Speaking of the late season action, FOX has a doozy on Saturday, slating a Red Sox/Yankees game for the FOX Saturday Baseball Game of the Week. The game will be featured in 87% of the country, with Matt Vasgersian, Tim McCarver and Ken Rosenthal handing microphone duties. The rest of the nation will get the Mariners/Rangers game with Josh Lewin and Eric Karros handling the calls.
The American Hockey League has entered a five-year agreement with Rogers Sportsnet that hands the Canadian network multi-platform broadcast rights to the annual AHL All-Star Classic, beginning with this year’s game in Atlantic City, N.J.The multi-platform agreement includes rights on Sportsnet television, as well as mobile and online for the AHL All-Star Classic. In addition, Sportsnet will be producing and broadcasting the first ever outdoor AHL game held in Canada on Jan. 21, 2012.
MLB Network has lined up Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill as well as Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane and Moneyball author Michael Lewis to discuss the upcoming film adaptation of Lewis’ book. The interviews will take place on the channel’s Studio 42 with Bob Costas on Saturday, at 1p. Excerpts from the interview will also run across MLB Network’s studio programming beginning at 3p today. Costas will talk with the group about the development of the Moneyball concept and book, how Pitt and Hill translated the story to the screen, and the impact of Beane’s approach throughout Major League Baseball.
TBS launched a multi-platform marketing campaign for the MLB post-season yesterday, dubbed Come Out Swinging. The outreach will feature an elaborate takeover of transit shelters along Philadelphia’s Market Street that are transformed into the Phillies dugout and feature life-size photos of the team’s players. TBS’s exclusive coverage of all four Division Series starts September 30, followed by the NLCS on October 9. The campaign will also extend beyond Philadelphia and include traditional and interactive elements that include national TV and radio spots, print ads, promotion in 1,400 National Cinemedia movie theaters and more.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. officially revealed the new sponsor and paint scheme for his car next year, which will feature Diet Mountain Dew instead of AMP Energy as the primary sponsor. The NASCAR driver will, however, keep AMP on his car as an associate sponsor. The car will debut at next year’s Daytona 500.
Nearly 5,000 college, NFL and high school teams around the country are set to participate in the Ronald Reagan Centennial National Football Coin Toss this weekend to honor the late president’s 100th birth year. The coin will bear Reagan’s image and will be tossed prior to the games conducted from Thursday through Monday. Some of the colleges participating will include Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Michigan, Ole Miss, South Carolina and West Virginia. NFL teams will include the Bills and Cowboys.
Serena Williams has been named an International Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, where she will help raise awareness for underprivileged children around the world.
EA Sports has announced that the company will take its popular NHL Superstars videogame and make it social. The company, which has already found success with other social sports games such as FIFA Superstars, World Series Superstars and Madden NFL Superstars via Facebook, is expected to launch the online game next month.
The Main Event
Opening round play of the Tour Championship on Golf Channel at 1p.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM CTAM IN NEW YORK
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CTAM in New York (formerly CTAM Summit) | Oct. 5-7, 2011
ON THIS DAY in 1911: Cy Young nabs his final career victory with a 1-0 win over Pittsburgh his 511th win all-time.
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: What Hall-of-Famer has the all-time record for most touchdown passes in a single Super Bowl game? Steve Young with 6 against the Chargers in SB XXIX. Kudos: Ata Movassaghi – ESPN/NY; Betty Gomes – Sports Business Journal/Charlotte; Matthew Nicholson – IMG Media/NY; Anthony Diaz – The Sporting News/NY; Steve Krone – Starcom/Chicago; Steve Hirsen – Director/Sherman Oaks; Alex Petrilli, Jr. – Tivo; Alviso
In The Know: Which city was the birthplace of what is now the Oakland Athletics? (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.)
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