Good morning. It’s Tuesday, August 23, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Flushing Meadows is set for its annual run in the spotlight as programmers lock in plans for this year’s US Open, set to take place from Aug. 29-Sept. 11. ESPN’s coverage will include 100 hours on ESPN2 HD, as well as 420 hours on ESPN3.com. During the first week of the tournament, ESPN2’s programming will start at 1p each weekday and will continue nonstop for at least 10 hours through both the day and evening sessions. On Thursday, Sept. 8, the evening telecast will include a special doubles exhibition with actors Will Ferrell and Matthew Perry and Tennis Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Jim Courier.
The tournament will mark the ESPN US Open debut for Chris Evert as both a studio and match analyst for the company. Chris Fowler will serve as a host and call matches with Mike Tirico, Hannah Storm and Chris McKendry also serving as hosts. Leading up to this year’s tournament, ESPN Classic is offering famed US Open matches from the past, including a 21-hour marathon Thursday, Aug. 25 at midnight.
In its third year of US Open coverage, Tennis Channel brings Mary Carillo to its on-air lineup, joining Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport and other returning talent throughout the network’s US Open “Grounds Pass.” During the two-week competition, Tennis Channel will devote 236 hours of programming to the event, with 72 of them dedicated to live, on-court play, including prime-time windows on Labor Day weekend, with a schedule that typically runs from 11a to 7p.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football preseason game between the Chargers and Cowboys continued recent ratings spikes for the sport this year and were good enough to carry Sunday night among adults 18-49 and total viewers with its first NFL preseason game, according to Nielsen overnights. The telecast drew a 7.1/12 overall with a 3.3/9 within the 18-49 demo.
CBS Sports Network is beefing up its college football programming for the 2011 season with four new shows. Upcoming series will include SEC Today Presented by Sonic, SEC Express, Talking the Trends as well as the previously announced Tim Brando Show. Hosted by Brent Stover, SEC Today will run on Saturdays at 2p and preview the game of the week with analysis and live on-site reports about conference action. SEC Express is set for Sundays at 10a and will spotlight top plays from CBS Sports’ SEC Game of the Week. Tackling the Trends is set to feature Tracy Wolfson each Wednesday at 9p to examine trending topics across college football through a variety of interactive platforms.
Versus got its hands on some NFL football. The channel will launch a new one-hour program, dubbed NFL Turning Point, which will run during the NFL regular season and marks the first NFL programming ever to air on the channel. The series spawns from a partnership between NFL Films and NBC Sports Group and is slated to debut Thursday, Sept. 15, at 10p. Starting Nov. 10, when Thursday night NFL games begin on NFL Network, new episodes of the series will then shift to midnight. Every week, NFL Films will showcase crucial moments from two of the previous week’s games.
Long-time sports broadcaster Vince Cellini is returning to Turner Sports as a full-time host for NBA TV, as well as host for a collection of online programs across Turner Sports’ digital properties, including a new college football preview show on NCAA.com. Cellini hits the airwaves beginning September 1 to host NBA TV’s live studio show, GameTime. Cellini will join Turner’s roster of hosts including Ernie Johnson, Matt Winer and Rick Kamla on the league’s 24-hour network.
The Pac-12 has found its leader, tapping veteran sports media and marketing executive Gary Stevenson to run the conference’s new Pac-12 Enterprises, which will include the launch of the Pac-12 Networks. Stevenson brings more than 30 years of experience to the table, with outlets that include the Golf Channel, the NBA, and the PGA Tour. In his new role, Stevenson will run the newly formed media company, overseeing the Pac-12 Networks, the Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Properties, which handles all sponsorship, licensing and event management for the conference.
The USTA is once again tapping Panasonic to broadcast the US Open Tennis Championships in 3D for a second year with CBS Sports. This year’s 3D broadcasts also will extend to coverage of CBS Sports’ matches from Louis Armstrong Stadium. This year’s expanded 3D broadcast coverage will include new, 3D-specific positions designed by the telecast partners to provide the best 3D perspectives via 10 3D broadcast cameras and a high-speed 3D replay system.
Well, scratch the US from the list of potential hosts for the 2020 Summer Olympics. With the USOC unable to lock in a revised television revenue sharing deal with the IOC, the U.S. Olympic Committee has bowed out of the running with spokesperson Patrick Sandusky confirming the news on Twitter. Dallas, Chicago and New York were all expected to be game for hosting. The IOC will award the 2020 Games in 2013 with Rome, Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul set to bid. .
The 2012 Fiesta Bowl has been shifted, moving up three days to Jan. 2 where it will be played right after the Rose Bowl. The game was originally slated for Jan. 5, but bowl officials thought ratings and visitors would be higher during the holiday week.
Spike TV will air a UFC Prelims special for October’s UFC 137 event on Oct. 29. The one-hour special will feature two preliminary-card bouts.
The lockout hasn’t prevented NBA stars Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) and Chris Bosh (Miami Heat) from landing work. The duo will play themselves in the Sept. 28 episode NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit at 10p Anthony and Bosh will appear in the opening as well as the episode climax.
The WNBA has entered a multiyear marketing partnership with Boost Mobile, that will feature ten of the 12 teams in the league sporting the company’s logo on the front of their uniforms the next time they play. As part of the deal, Boost Mobile will serve as the title partner for the league’s All-Star game and will sponsor upcoming programming that highlights the WNBA’s top 15 moments.
ESPN has officially launched its “Is It Monday Yet?” campaign for the 2011Monday Night Football season. The first, called “Animal Control,” will lead the way of three 30-second and two 15-second image spots this season and was created by ESPN Consumer Marketing and Weiden+Kennedy New York. The campaign plays off the theme that when it comes to MNF, a fan’s only job is watching football. Other spots, such as “Plumber,” “Construction Worker,” “Food Inspector” and “Police Officer” will play up that theme and debut closer to the season.
DIRECTV is inviting tennis fans to Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue Armory for DIRECTV’s Old School Challenge presented by ESPN on Aug. 25. The private event is set before the 2011 US Open and spotlights old school tennis legends Ivan Lendl and the Jensen brothers against stars Pete Sampras and the Bryan brothers. John McEnroe will offer color commentary for the matches and Tennis Channel’s Brett Haber and Mayleen Ramsey will serve as play-by-play commentator and sideline reporter, respectively. As part of the event, DIRECTV is turning the Lexington Avenue Armory into a regulation US Open tennis court complete with stadium-seating.
When it comes to online NFL buzz, the AFC and NFC East continue to dominate, according to Nielsen. The company surveyed blogs, message boards/groups, Twitter, Facebook, and online news posts to uncover who was scoring in the preseason among fans, with the New York Jets topping the list with 11.9% of total NFL team buzz. Rounding out the top five, in order, were: the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots from July 31-Aug. 6. Among sports sites during the period, Nielsen reports that Yahoo! Sports led the way as the top destination for fans with nearly 15 million uniques, followed by ESPN, Fox Sports, NFL and MLB.
Sports site Bleacher Report is launching a new Lead Writer Program, designed to give direction and guidance to the company’s vast contributor base, as well as shape content and conversation with readers through social media platforms. The company has hired five Lead Writers to help mold content, including Dan Levy, Matt Miller, Dan Rubenstein, Josh Zerkle, and Bethlehem Shoals.
The Main Event
The Boston Red Sox take on the Texas Rangers at 8:05p on MLB Network.
ON THIS DAY in 1982: Seattle Mariner pitcher Gaylord Perry gets ejected for throwing a spitter.
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question:Which American gymnast has won the most Olympic gold medals? Shannon Miller with seven. Kudos: Jordan Goldberg – Disney and ESPN Media Networks/Tel Aviv, Israel; Nicole Kivel – NBC Sports/NY
In The Know: Who was the youngest player to ever win the US Open men’s singles title in tennis? (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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