Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, February 21, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The NBA lockout may have raised alarms last year about whether or not fans will continue the sport’s upward momentum and as we hit NBA All-Star Weekend this week, it is obvious that those fears were for naught. TNT, which will carry this weekend’s festivities for the 27th year, averaged a 1.8 rating through 19 games this year, up 20% over the previous season, and more than 2.8 million viewers.

Cynopsis Sports spokes with Christina Miller, Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBA Digital and Senior Vice President, Turner Sports Strategy, Marketing and Programming, about the network’s broadcast and digital plans this week, how the company will carry momentum through the rest of the season, and, of course the impact of Jeremy Lin.

Miller on NBA All-Star Weekend: I think these guys come and play, no matter which event they are in. But this is special because you get to see them all play in the same place at the same time. From our point of view, there will be different points of access around these particular events. On top of programming on TNT and NBA TV, there will also be original programming on NBA.com as well as our app and more. I think that kind of brings us to that seamless consumption across all of these platforms making it a much bigger event that it used to be. You will be able to access it via different points and consume it in different ways to watch the game, see the players, and root for your team.

On the new NBA.com Social Spotlight: Last year, we did a lot of social applications around All Star and around playoffs and this is designed to take it to the next level and next generation. We know that everyone is socially active and people are curious about what other people are saying. I think a vehicle to highlight that and a way to visualize it is a way we have achieved that.

On the evolution of the All-Star Game: There is such a depth of talent lately across the league. I think if you look at the history of the NBA, it’s really one of the great times from top to bottom – from rookies on up to long term players. Each of these players bring more and more each year and people come back again, so it’s our goal to give them more. I think when you look at that the All Star Game, as well as the events around it, evolved and I do think it is different than other events.

On the sudden stardom of Jeremy Lin: We are always happy to have a Knicks game and next Thursday against Miami is a pretty big one, regardless, because he has become a phenomenon. I think that just speaks to the access of NBA TV and NBA.com that before everyone knew how big it was going to be, we were there because the story mattered. The league is able to surprise you and give you another story and the rise of Jeremy Lin is an example of the unexpected that can happen during any given season.

On the Air

The war of words is officially over. MSG Media and Time Warner Cable signed off on a multi-year agreement for carriage of MSG, MSG+ and Fuse on the MSO with the networks returning to Time Warner Cable’s channel lineup on Friday.

Almost time for Daytona, and FOX Sports to announce broadcast plans which will include the final hour of the race telecast going without breaks and instead feature racing side-by-side with commercials, marking the first time FOX has used that with this event. Other new features are set to include a smaller Gopher Cam, a virtual car/touchscreen to showcase what’s happening under the hood, as well as a makeover to the Hollywood Hotel that includes a background virtual window and more. Overall, the company will utilize 20 manned cameras, four Gopher cams, 2 “X-MO” cams, 12 in-car camera packages as well as over 150 microphones.

Thursday night’s overnight ratings for NBA on TNT drew a 1.7 metered market rating in households, for a 21% bump over the equivalent doubleheader a year ago. Bulls/Celtics pulled a 2.0, while Clippers/Trail Blazers drew a 1.4.

UFC on FUEL TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger scored as the network’s most-watched program and created the most-watched day in channel history. The Wednesday night telecast, which featured the inaugural fight card for the outlet, averaged 217,000 Total Viewers and 130,000 in the M18-49 demo, for increases of 1347% and 2067%, respectively, vs. the Feb. 2011 average. For the day, the channel saw Total Day average audiences rise 520% in households and up 580% in M18-49 vs. Feb. 2011 averages.

Meanwhile, UFC middleweight Brian Stann has a new career ahead of him. After serving as an analyst on FUEL TV’s broadcast, the fighter tweeted that he will be taking a regular gig behind the microphone, stating “Huge thanks to all the fans who have supported me after the Fuel broadcast, looks like I will be doing the Live Fox shows now, power of fans.”

If the Summer Olympics in the desert summer seems utterly painful, you’re not the only one who feels that way. As part of Qatar’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics in Doha, the country’s Olympic committee is proposing that the events be held in October instead of August, according to the AP, to allow for “ideal” for athletes and spectators. The plan calls for the Olympics to be held from Oct. 2-18, while the Paralympics would run from Nov. 4-15.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports are marking their one-year anniversary as a team this week at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, where more than 50 hours of coverage are on deck. Golf Channel and NBC will run a total of 28 hours of live tournament action beginning Wednesday and running through Sunday with Golf Channel also offering news coverage throughout the week. Day one matches kick off at noon on Wednesday on Golf Channel. In addition, Rich Lerner, Brandel Chamblee, Frank Nobilo, Tim Rosaforte and Steve Sands will host special editions of Golf Central that will air exclusively on NBC Saturday and Sunday at 1:30p leading in to live tournament coverage.

AccuWeather has entered a multi-platform partnership with the World Fishing Network that will revolve around the production of “Weekend Fishing Forecast” weather segments.

FOX Sports San Diego appears to have a liftoff date, with the San Diego Tribune reporting that the channel will launch in early March. MLB still has to approve the deal and the article states that the new platform is still locking down clearances.

The Hall of Game Awards hit Cartoon Network over the weekend, with TNT NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal playing host. Fans cast more than 100 million votes in the event’s second year, easily besting last year’s 37 million votes. Winners included Tim Tebow for “Captain Clutch” and Victor Cruz for “Dance Machine.”

NASCAR announced a deal with FanVision ahead of Daytona, for a multi-year agreement designed to enhance the at-track companion viewing experience for fans. As part of the deal, FanVision will offer broadcast content, provided by NASCAR Media Group. With the transition to the new FanVision controller, fans will no longer be able to rent, purchase or activate FanView devices.

Sponsorship & Promotion

This NASCAR season will find FOX Sports supporting the American Heart Association, with the campaign starting on Sunday Feb. 26, 2012 with the in-race and/or prerace mentions, as well as PSAs featuring FOX Sports broadcasters and NASCAR drivers. The initiative comes via FOX Sports Supports, which has worked with 15 different major charities in its first four years of operation. Last season NASCAR on FOX’s official charity was Hole in The Wall Camps.

NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps was named ADWEEK’s Sports Marketing Executive of the Year in the publication’s annual Sports Media and Marketing MVPs poll. Phelps helped develop and implement the body’s five-year Industry Action Plan designed to engage and excite existing fans and to expand the sport’s fan base. Last year, NASCAR saw TV viewership increase as well as attendance and merchandise sales stabilize.

The T. Howard Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting diversity throughout the multimedia and entertainment industries, announced that ESPN, Univision and NBC Universal were the recipients of its 19th Annual Diversity Awards program. All of the recipients will be honored at this year’s Diversity Awards Dinner and gala on March 28, 2012 and ESPN’s award will be accepted by George Bodenheimer, Executive Chairman, ESPN, Inc.

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

ESPN officially apologized for comments made/written during its coverage of Jeremy Lin. The company has since fired the ESPN mobile editor associated with the controversial headline that ran on one of the company’s mobile platforms. In addition, ESPN suspended on-air analyst Max Bretos for 30 days due to another comment.  “We again apologize, especially to Mr. Lin,” the company said in a statement. “His accomplishments are a source of great pride to the Asian-American community, including the Asian-American employees at ESPN. Through self-examination, improved editorial practices and controls, and response to constructive criticism, we will be better in the future.”

NASCAR.com is gearing up for the new season and will offer RaceBuddy for 25 of ESPN and ESPN2’s NASCAR Nationwide Series telecasts, courtesy of Nationwide Insurance. Coverage begins with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Drive4COPD 300 from Daytona International Speedway, and will also be available throughout the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series seasons.

The Main Event

Red Wings/Blackhawks on NBC Sports Network at 8:30p.




SAVE THE DATE: Cynopsis Sports Business Summit
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Grand Hyatt NY

It will examine how the industry is using content, context and digital connectivity to build audiences, engage fans and integrate sponsors locally, nationally and on a global stage.

For sponsor information, please contact Mike Farina at (203) 218-6480.

More information to follow…

ON THIS DAY in 1948: NASCAR is incorporated.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What was the name of the USFL team representing the New York/New Jersey region? The New Jersey Generals. Kudos: Marc Wollis – NBC Sports Group/Orlando; John Russo – INSP/NY; Ged Young – GC Marketing/Garden City; Tom Dempsey – GroupM/NY; Todd Hommel – ESPN NY/NY; Benjamin Simonds – NFL/Chicago; John Kukla – KDFW, WDFI/Dallas; Tom Akers – Outdoor Channel/Chicago; Bill Robertson – Tunheim Partners/Bloomington; Allan Kass – Viamedia/LA; Roman Saienni – FOX Sports/LA; David Chill – DIRECTV/LA.

In The Know: In what city was the last US-based Summer Olympic Games? (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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