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Good morning. It’s Tuesday, March 26, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is on a hot streak. CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ coverage of the annual event across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV is averaging a 6.3/14 overnight rating/share, which marks the highest rating for the opening week of the NCAA Tournament in 23 years, according to Nielsen. Those combined scores are also up 5% over comparable numbers from last year. Viewership has also spiked, with the most viewed first week of the NCAA Tournament in 20 years (1993) also in the books, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals. The combined coverage averaged 8.9 million total viewers, up 9% over last year’s 8.2 million. Sunday’s coverage showed audience increases in all four telecast windows including more than 20% in three of the four.
On the Air
Tournament action returns on Thursday with the Regional Semifinals with all games locked in to TBS and CBS. Coverage will begin both nights with the Infiniti NCAA Tip-Off pregame show at 6p on TBS, before CBS offers up Marquette/Miami at 7:15p.
ESPN lined up plans for the Frozen Four, announcing 30 hours of coverage with all 12 games in the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Regional and Semi-Regional rounds live from four regional sites as well as the Frozen Four and Championship matchups on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or on ESPN3 and local syndication. The action begins on Friday at 2p with Yale/Minnesota on ESPNU.
MLB Network’s coverage of the 2013 Major League Baseball season hits the plate with fifteen live hours of Opening Day action on Monday, April 1 that will include a special preview of the new studio show MLB Now at 8p. Opening Day coverage begins on April 1 at 10a with Intentional Talk, the return of The Rundown at 11a, MLB Tonight at 1p as well as highlights show Quick Pitch at 1a. Band OneRepublic will provide the soundtrack for MLB Network’s coverage of Opening Week with the song Counting Stars. Opening games include Orioles/Rays at 3p, followed by the Giants/Dodgers at 10p.
FOX Sports locked in a multiyear deal with Dorna Sports for broadcast rights to motorcycle racing series, the MotoGP World Championship. Races will run on SPEED and its successor FOX Sports 1 in 2013. MotoGP is highlighted during the FOX Sports 1 August launch weekend, with the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix slated for Aug. 18 as one of the first live events on the new network. The season opens April 7 on SPEED with the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar live at 3p.
Barry Larkin reached a multiyear extension with ESPN, where he will serve as a Baseball Tonight analyst throughout the season with regular appearances on the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball pre-game edition of the show at 7p.
Telemundo’s Rumbo al Mundial Soccer World Cup Qualifier between Honduras and Mexico on Friday drew over 2.3 million total viewers on average and nearly 1.3 million adults 18-49, according to Nielsen.
Root Sports drew a record-breaking 16.50 average household rating during the Penguins game against the Flyers on Sunday. Over 515,000 fans tuned into the game to make it the highest-rated regular season game in the network’s history.
FCS football powers Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are moving up a level to the FBS and will join the Sun Belt Conference starting in 2015, according to ESPN. The addition of the two schools gives the Sun Belt 10 football members in 2015, although Western Kentucky is rumored to be on the radar of CUSA.
The sports world mourns the passing of long-time sports executive Loren Matthews, who passed away on Friday. Matthews served as Senior Vice President of Programming at ESPN, before retiring in 2006.
Congratulations to Steve Bornstein, President and CEO of the NFL Network and Executive VP of Media for the NFL, who will receive the Legacy Award at this year’s Cynopsis: Sports Media Awards, which will take place on April 17 at Yale Club in Manhattan. Click here for more info and stay tuned for more special award winners to be announced this week!
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
April 17 | 8:00-10:00am | The Yale Club | NYC
Join award finalists, support your colleagues + network with the best in the industry!
Preview the list of finalists: http://www.cynopsis.com/events/sports-awards/.
Sponsorship & Promotion
Major League Baseball unveiled a new marketing campaign, dubbed I Play, for the new season. The campaign is designed to showcase “the intensity and passion of baseball’s young stars, illustrating what drives them to succeed and highlighting their desire to lead their team to the Postseason,” according to the league site. Spots launched this past weekend on ESPN and MLB Network and are also slated to run on FOX and TBS throughout the season. The Opening Day spot includes Robinson Cano, Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, David Price, Mike Trout, Justin Verlander and David Wright.
LockerDome is teaming with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues to launch of the St. Louis Blues LockerDome Network, which marks the first official Network by a major professional sports team for the sports social media-publishing platform. As part of its debut, the Blues will host their first LockerDome contest allowing fans to win tickets, an autographed jersey and more.
AT&T and ESPN announced that WatchESPN, is now available to AT&T U-verse customers to access ESPN networks live online.
ESPN inked an agreement with columnist Rick Reilly to continue to write his weekly Life of Reilly columns for ESPN.com as well as contribute television essays through his on-site coverage of ESPN’s Monday Night Football and other major events.
WFN: World Fishing Network is partnering with ReserveFishing.com, the world’s first real-time fishing guide booking system, to allow visitors to WorldFishingNetwork.com to research, compare and book a fishing guide.
Dave Howard has taken the reigns as the new President of MSG Sports, effective April 9. In this role, Howard will be charged with running the business operations of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Liberty and Hartford Whale, as well as the management of the company’s Sports Properties unit. He joins MSG Sports following more than two decades at the New York Mets organization and Major League Baseball where he most recently served as Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Mets.
The Main Event
Rangers/Flyers square off on NBC Sports Network at 7:30p.
ON THIS DAY in 1979: Michigan State, led my Magic Johnson, beats Indiana State (featuring Larry Bird) to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
In The Know: What athlete was parodied by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live with a commercial for Little Chocolate Donuts? (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.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: While UCLA has won the most NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments in the post-season, what school has won the most NITs? Answer: St. John’s with six. Kudos: Mike Dittelman-CCM/NY; Bobby Coyle-New York Yankees Radio Network/NY; Chris O’Reilly-ITN Networks/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Ron Salcedo-Zimmerman/Nashville; Jim Dittemore-I Will Race You MotorSports Management/KC; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.
Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports
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