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Good morning. It’s Tuesday, February 28, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
Up against the Oscars, TNT’s broadcast of the 2012 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night delivered a 5.4 household rating in overnight metered markets numbers, according to Nielsen, which ranks as the second highest-rated number since 2005. Top five markets included Miami/Ft. Lauderdale with a 10.5, followed by Oklahoma City, Orlando/Daytona Beach/Melbourne, Chicago and LA.
As we wind down the regular season of college basketball, ESPN is set to spotlight a record 137 men’s game from March 1 through March 11. Overall, ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 will combine to offer exclusive coverage of 86 games, while ESPN3 will simulcast another 51 matchups available in the local markets via syndication. Coverage will include 23 Division I conference title games and action from 25 conferences overall, as well as the Division II CIAA tournament. For the first time, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will televise the entire ACC Tournament, with no local market blackouts on any of the 11 games. The final day of Championship Week, culminating with Selection Sunday, will begin at noon with College GameDay Covered by State Farm on ESPN, followed by the ACC Championship (on ESPN) and SEC Championship (on ABC), both at 1p. Coverage of the men’s NCAA Championship selection will include a three-hour Bracketology Presented by Staples at 3p. and a two-hour edition at 7p.
On the women’s side of the sport, ESPN will offer a record 88 women’s college basketball conference tournament games from March 1-11 that will offer game action from 21 Division I conferences championship games and action from 25 conferences overall, including the Division II CIAA Tournament and Gulf South final. Coverage is set to include games from 15 different conferences and 13 NCAA Championship berths with another 60 contests available in local markets via syndication.
Universal Sports Network entered into a multi-year, multi-platform distribution agreement with DISH Network that will give subscribers access to the channel’s Olympic sports coverage of qualifying, trials and highlights as well as other programming. Universal Sports will launch in DISH’s Multi-Sport, International Basic and Chinese Basic programming packages on April 25, but will be available to most subscribers until then at no additional charge.
The resuscitated United States Football League made announcements yesterday to further propel its comeback. The league said that it is planning to field eight teams in targeted US markets for its inaugural season in the Spring of 2013, and also announced that it had appointed former NFL executive Jim Steeg and sports consultant Terrell Jones to the USFL Board of Advisors. The league said it intends to create a working relationship with the NFL, instead of competing against it, by allowing access to players and personnel.
ESPN unveiled portions of its ACC football schedule for this fall, which will include a Labor Day prime time telecast as well as four games on Thursday nights. The channel’s Labor Day game on September 3 will feature Georgia Tech/Virginia Tech at 8p. ESPN Thursday night series — ESPN College Football Primetime will feature four ACC matchups, including Florida St./Virginia Tech on Nov. 8, Clemson/Wake Forest on Oct. 25, Virginia Tech/Miami on Nov. 1, and UNC/UVA on Nov. 15.
Spike TV’s debut of MMA Uncensored drew a .4 household rating for the channel, with a .5 among M18-34 and a .62 in the M25-54 demo. That marks year-to-year increases of 41% and 51% respectively. The series scored an average audience of 547,000 viewers.
Sacramento appears set to lock in the Kings for the long haul, with a tentative deal in place to finance a new arena. The City Council is expected to vote on the plan March 6 and the financing plan will become available to the public by Thursday. According to the AP, the arena is expected to cost $387 million and would open in time for the 2015-16 season in the downtown Sacramento rail yards.
The UFC and FX revealed the 32 contestants in contention for Season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter which will focus on lightweights this year. This year, all 32 will square off on March 9 at 9p with a two-and-half-hour episode that features 16 elimination-round fights. The winners of each fights will earn official cast-member status. Coaches are set to be Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber with all fights running live this season.
The Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network and CBS Radio inked a multi-year extension of their radio affiliation agreement with WJFK-FM, 106.7 The Fan in DC that will give the station all Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball game broadcasts, as well as programs that includes the weekly Tech Talk Live. The extension runs through the 2014-15 season.
With just two weeks to go until tip off for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, CBS Sports and Turner Sports are gearing up for a wide scale marketing campaign that will incorporate television, on-site activation, music integration and more. The campaign begins today with the “Brackets Everywhere” campaign airing on TV with cameos from Big Boi from Outkast, Conan O’Brien, Kevin Hart, Jonah Hill, and Channing Tatum; CNN Anchors Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien, and HLN’s Robin Meade, among others. The creative campaign will showcase a fashion designer who decides the bracket design is the “next hottest thing,” and promotes a nationwide bracket craze that results in celebrity appearances commenting on the new trend. The spots will run across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV, as well as CNN, HLN, Airport Network, CBS Outernet Partners and across Turner Digital, which includes SI.com and NCAA.com. The Black Keys will serve as the musical backdrop to the Tournament with the song “Gold on the Ceiling.”
Turner Sports and CBS Sports will also place ginormous brackets as big as 50 x 32 feet in three major locations: CNN Center in Atlanta on Mar. 6, Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles on Mar. 7 and Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal in New York on Mar. 12, National Bracket Day.
All-Star Weekend may be over, but plans are already underway to find players to take part in the 2013 festivities. Sprite is teaming up with six NBA players Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Andrea Bargnani, Al Horford, Omri Casspi and Serge Ibaka to uncover 24 amateur ballers to be part of either Team Sudden or Team Intense in the Sprite Uncontainable Game at NBA All-Star 2013 in Houston. As part of the promotion, players will identify the team that best represents their personal style and skills and then have the opportunity to try out for the first round by either uploading their best moves online at Sprite.com or by showing their moves off at local tournaments and events.
Sam Adams is launching a special 26.2 brew that will tie in to its new sponsorship with the Boston Marathon, set to take place on April 16. (Hmmm… a beer or a marathon, which 26.2 to pick?)
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.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has been selected to grace the cover of EA Sports upcoming NCAA Football 13. The game is scheduled to arrive in stores on July 10. He will share the cover with one of eight other past Heisman Trophy winners that will be selected on a fan vote on the NCAA Football Facebook page, with other names that include the likes of Marcus Allen, Doug Flutie and Eddie George.
The Main Event
Michigan St./Indiana on ESPN at 7p.
ON THIS DAY in 1940: Television broadcasts its first basketball game, featuring Pitt besting Fordham 50-37.
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What team did Rod Tidwell play for in “Jerry Maguire”? Kudos: The Cardinals. Kudos: Bill Hirsh-New Jersey Devils/Newark; Meredith Violi-The Bleacher Report/Philadelphia; Brian Cleek-PGA of America/Palm Beach Gardens; Barry G. Waldman-Vistrada/NY; Christopher Doyle-CBC Sports/Toronto; Simon Bassett-Veritas Communications/Toronto; Daniel Radman-Anheuser-Busch/St. Louis; Kevin Micklo-Initiative Media/Chicago; Jamie Raybon- KTXA Television/Dallas; Marci Crane-GRP Media/Chicago; Brienne Chance-Republic Media/Phoenix; Jess Schoep-STARZ Entertainment/Englewood; David Hauptman-Katz Television Group/Denver; Brienne Chance-Republic Media/Phoenix; Dave Denholm-Hit the Pitch Productions/LA; Allan Kass-Viamedia/LA; Joe Pedri-KLAS/Las Vegas; Gary MacKinney-FilmTrack Inc/Studio City.
In The Know: What was the last ACC team-other than UNC or Duke-to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament? (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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