Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, February 14, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The NBC Sports Network locked in its first collegiate athletic conference under the new banner, inking a deal with the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) as part of a five-year agreement with the NBC Sports Group. The agreement begins with the 2012-13 season and will feature conference men’s basketball and football on the NBC Sports Network, regional television coverage of CAA men’s and women’s basketball and football through the Comcast SportsNet regional networks as well as other events through NBCSports.com.

Under terms of the agreement, NBC Sports Network will provide national television coverage for a minimum of 12 men’s basketball games each year, including the semifinals and finals of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship. The channel will also host a minimum of five CAA Football games annually. On a regional level, the Comcast SportsNet regional networks, which have partnered with the CAA for the past 28 years, will televise 39 additional men’s and women’s basketball games, including the quarterfinals of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship and the semifinals and finals of the CAA Women’s Basketball Championship. The Comcast Sports Group will also televise an additional 13 regular-season CAA Football games.

On the Air

A Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson pairing helped propel CBS Sports’ final-round coverage of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday the highest rating for the final round at Pebble Beach in 15 years with an average overnight household rating/share of 5.1/10, up 96% from last year’s score in metered markets. With Tiger back in the hunt (at least on Saturday), the third round broadcast scored an average rating of 2.8/6 in overnights, up 56% from year ago numbers.

Showtime Networks and Major League Baseball Productions hooked the Miami Marlins for season two of series The Franchise. With outspoken manger Ozzie Guillen now running the club as well as an off-season rebranding campaign, the series has already started production. Last year, the series focused on the Giants.

Presidents and chancellors from 16 universities from the Mountain West conference and Conference USA agreed to work on forming a newly merged intercollegiate athletic association that would begin playing in the 2013-14 academic year. The new conference would feature membership of 18-24 universities that stretch from North Carolina to Hawaii and will involve the first four team conference playoff in football. The presidents and chancellors will now meet over the next six months to flesh out the operational issues.

MLB Network is adding Lauren Shehadi, Alanna Rizzo and Scott Braun to the broadcast roster where they will serve as studio hosts and reporters appearing across MLB Network’s studio programming. Shehadi most recently served as anchor and reporter for CBSSports.com and CBS Sports Network. Rizzo moves from ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain, where she received three Regional Emmy Awards for her work. Braun most recently worked for ESPN as a college basketball play-by-play announcer for ESPNU and ESPN3, and as the host of ESPN.com’s Heat Index.

“Linsanity” appears to have boosted the Knicks and MSG Network. During the team’s five-game winning streak, featuring breakout star Jeremy Lin, ratings on MSG Network have been buoyed by the play. Saturday’s win over the Timberwolves scored a season high 4.17 Nielsen household rating, the highest-rated Knicks game on MSG Network since Carmelo Anthony’s debut on February 23, last season. Through four games in which Lin has been the starting point guard, the Knicks’ average household rating on MSG Network has increased 70% to a 3.08 household compared to the previous 20 game rating of 1.81. The winning streak also spurred a 71% increase in the average season-to-date household rating compared to the first 24 games on MSG Network last season.

While a group of senators are reportedly joining calls that push for the FCC to end sports blackouts, the NAB is going the other way. The organization filed comments to the FCC opposing the change, stating that the “elimination of these rules would harm local broadcasters and localism” and “could accelerate the migration of popular sports programs from free to pay TV.”

FUEL TV is offering fans and would-be fans a special free preview this week, allowing MMA viewers to watch FUEL TV’s first-ever live main card event of UFC on FUEL TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger tomorrow night at 8p. On Fight Night, the network will run five straight hours of live fight programming, including a one-hour live prefight show at 7p and a one-hour postfight wrap up

ESPN is promoting Jamie Horowitz to Vice President, Original Programming and Production where he will be responsible for all original programming at the company. In this new role, Horowitz will focus on new programming needs and coordinating the production effort to meet those needs, including new shows, producing segments to enhance existing shows and oversight of potential new projects.

IMG Media is partnering with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to launch the first-ever live global 24-hour sports channel, dubbed SPORT 24 for airline passengers from this week. The service will feature live coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, The Barclays Premier League, and Bundesliga, The Masters, The Open Championship and the Ryder Cup, Formula 1, Roland Garros and the Australian Open. The channel will also be available to cruise liners from March 1 with Norwegian Cruise Liners (NCL) being the first operator to broadcast SPORT 24 on selected vessels.

ESPN’s 10th annual Sears BracketBusters matchups have their announcers, with action tipping off on Friday, Feb. 17 and Saturday, Feb. 18.  Dick Vitale will join play-by-play veteran Dave O’Brien for the Murray State/Saint Mary’s matchup Saturday, at 6p on ESPN and ESPN3. Other assignments include Bob Wishusen/Dan Dakich for the Northern Iowa/VCU game; Doug Sherman/Sean Farnham for the Nevada/Iona match and Jim Barbar/Reggis Rankin for the UNCA/Ohio game. 

PlayOn! Sports announced a new nationwide network dedicated exclusively to high school sports, which will include a 24-hour television channel, as well as content for broadband, mobile, and video-on-demand platforms. The channel will debut in the fall with coverage of all boys and girls varsity sports and feature more than 15,000 hours a year of live event coverage of regular season, postseason and championship events.

Sponsorship & Promotion

HendrickCars.com announced that the company will sponsor three NASCAR teams in select races in early 2012. The sponsorship will kick off in Daytona with primary sponsorship of Phoenix Racing and 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch in the Feb. 25 Nationwide Series race as well as Feb. 26 at Daytona 500. In addition, HendrickCars.com will serve as a major associate sponsor of the Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Chevrolet with driver Elliott Sadler in NASCAR’s biggest race, the Daytona 500.

Meanwhile, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. picked up a deal with Kellogg Company and its Pop-Tarts and Rice Krispies Treats brands for the Nationwide season opener.

CALL FOR ENTRIES: Think you’re an MVP in the world of sports media or will your rivals steal the spotlight? Enter the Cynopsis Sports Awards and bring home a crystal award for your shelf, recognizing the grit and strategy you’ve shown all year long. The awards will cover the best of 2011 from the world of television, radio and online, with categories that range from news shows to apps to marketing campaigns.

Digital Fields

In a sequel to its research efforts for the Beijing and Vancouver Olympics, “The Billion Dollar Lab” is back with NBCUniversal teaming with Google and comScore for the third Olympics research initiative during the 2012 London Games. Research projects will explore new ways to measure single source consumption of video content on TV, mobile, the PC, and for the first time in this Olympics, the tablet. The partnership will find NBCU parting with Google to examine consumer media behavior, while the comScore partnership will measure how different demographic groups use media to follow the Games.

The NHL, NHLPA, NBC Sports Group and Verizon Wireless entered a multi-year partnership renewal that will allow customers of the Verizon NHL GameCenter Premium App the ability to stream programming for the first time, live look-ins, real-time scores, team press conferences, expert analysis, and more.

CBSSports.com inked analyst Pat Kirwan to join the roster to cover the NFL beginning tomorrow where he will contribute weekly columns, offer NFL news and analysis and dissect game matchup. Kirwan will also be a regular contributor to CBSSports.com video productions covering the NFL and contribute to CBSSports.com’s fantasy football service, providing player analysis and matchup breakdowns to aid fantasy football managers.

The Main Event

Heat/Pacers on NBA TV at 7p.



Cynopsis: Sports Media Awards


Entry Deadline: March 16, 2012  |  Late Submissions: March 30, 2012
Awards Event: Summer 2012 (NYC)

Click here to learn about the Awards program & enter online!

ON THIS DAY in 1966: Wilt Chamberlain breaks the NBA career scoring record with 20,884 points.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What venue did the Redskins play in before moving to FedEx Field? RFK Stadium. Kudos: G. David Brown – FOX Sports Carolinas/Charlotte; Andrew Joyner – Wasserman Media Group/Raleigh; RT Harris – WideOrbit/Detroit; Todd Hommel- ESPN New York/NY; Dory Melman Petsrillo – Petry Media Corp./Dallas; Bill Robertson – Tunheim Partners/Bloomington; David  Hauptman – Katz Television Group/Denver; Brian Sullivan – KHQ-TV/Spokane; Don Surath – CBS Local Media/San Francisco; Paul Gygli – NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; Bob WareKPSP Local 2/Thousand Palms.

In The Know: For which university did Chamberlain play? (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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