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Good morning. It’s Tuesday, September 13, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
If there was any doubt, the appetite for the NFL continues remains strong, with networks matching or even topping last year’s record breaking numbers through week one of the season. NBC’s Sunday Night Football opener featuring a Cowboys/Jets matchup drew the best overnight numbers for any Week 1 primetime game on Sunday or Monday night in 15 years, according to Nielsen. The Jet’s victory drew a 16.9/27 to score the network’s best-ever SNF rating and was up 3% over the 2010 SNF. Top five metered markets for the game included: Dallas with a 38.8/58; San Antonio’s 28.1/40; Austin with a 26.2/41; New Orleans drew a 24.7/33 and Las Vegas’ 23.3/36.
Fox’s late-afternoon game featuring Giants/Redskins, scored a 17.1 overnight rating to run even with the comparable game last year. CBS’ Sunday game coverage, pitting Pittsburgh/Baltimore, drew 10.6 to also hold even with last year.
TBS is scheduling the channel’s first-ever Sunday MLB on TBS doubleheader on Sept. 25, with a Yankees/Red Sox game set for 1p, followed by Giants/Diamondbacks at 4p. The games precede the network’s coverage of the MLB post-season where it will feature all four MLB League Division Series on Sept. 20 followed by the NLCS.
CBS Sports’ live coverage of the women’s 2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships on Sunday, which saw Samantha Stosur sweep Serena Williams, scored a 4.2/8 for the channel, doubling last year’s tallies and up 121%from the 1.9/4 last year’s women’s championship drew in prime time on Saturday night.
The SEC is reportedly preparing for a 13-team schedule next season, anticipating the move of Texas A&M, even though the university’s entry into the conference is currently on hold due to legal threats from fellow Big 12 institutions. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told a crowd Monday night that “Texas A&M is an outstanding academic institution with an exceptional athletic program, passionate fans and wonderful traditions. While the SEC wasn’t thinking about expansion, it was impossible not to be interested in Texas A&M.” He later noted that the conference currently had no plans to add a 14th member to help balance the divisions.
CBS Sports has made its pick for its SEC on CBS football game for Sept. 24, selecting a pair of ranked rivals in Arkansas and Alabama at 3:30p. Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson will call the contest, along with reporter Tracy Wolfson.
With the WNBA playoff bracket set, ESPN is programming up to 17 playoff games for the league, beginning Thursday. The east’s top seed Indiana will face New York to open ESPN2/ESPN3’s coverage on at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN2 and ESPN3 will run as many as five games of the Conference Finals from Thursday, Sept. 22 Tuesday, Sept. 27 in a best-of-three series.
CBS Sports Network is gearing up for documentary 1ST & GOAL IN THE BRONX: GRAMBLING VS. MORGAN STATE 1968, about the monumental game played between Grambling and Morgan State, the first historically black college football game played in New York City. The one-hour special will air on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 7p, exactly 43 years after the game was played at Yankee Stadium in front of more than 60,000 fans. Actor Keith David will narrate the program.
Former ESPN executive Rob Simmelkjaer is heading to NBC, where he will serve as Senior Vice President, NBC Sports Ventures. Meanwhile, Earl Marshall, formerly the Chief Financial Officer of the NBC Sports Cable Group has been upped to Chief Financial Officer, NBC Sports Group. Simmelkjaer most recently served as ESPN’s Vice President of International Development and Corporate Projects where he managed ESPN/Disney’s Olympic relationship since 2007. He will now lead the NBC Sports Ventures unit, and be responsible for leading international business development for the NBC Sports Group and oversee NBC Sports Group’s stake in Universal Sports. Marshall will have financial oversight of the NBC Sports Group consisting of NBC Sports, Olympics, VERSUS, Golf Channel, the 11 regional sports networks and digital assets.
Sportsman Channel has promoted Maura Fried to Vice President Sales from her previous post as Director, Distribution Strategy at the network.Fried had held her previous position since joining the channel in2007.
FUEL TV has slated a new weekly news show to showcase happenings in the action sports industry, Action Sports Plus presented by Jeep, will premiere on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 10p with the half-hour show and review the latest action sports contests and premieres; offer previews of upcoming events; and catch up with stars and personalities from around the industry. The channel has tapped FUEL TV Download regular Nicole Dabeau, to host.
The marketing minds behind Universal Sports are launching an “I Want Universal Sports” campaign designed to help upgrade the channel from multicast positioning to fee-based carriage on cable, satellite and telco platforms in time for the new year. The message will seek to create awareness and inspire audiences to call their MSOs asking for the channel. The campaign will begin this week by incorporating advertising in trade publications as well as TV spots and radio and digital ad buys in key markets around the country. Universal Sports recently scored its first major distribution partnership with DIRECTV and is currently available in around 55 million homes.
Kantar Media reports that ad spending on cable networks increased 11.8% in the first six months of 2011 largely due to a shift of prime college football and basketball games off of broadcast channels and onto the likes of ESPN and Turner. The company reports that network TV spending fell 7.6% during that same period.
With the Chase set to begin this weekend, the top-12 crew chiefs in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup are set to take part tomorrow in the annual NASCAR Performance Live “Chase Special” radio show, which will be broadcast in front of a live audience at NASCAR Technical Institute (NTI) in Mooresville, N.C. The show will be hosted by Larry McReynolds and Steve Post, and air nationally on Motor Racing Network (MRN) affiliates across the country beginning at 7p as well as on SIRIUS/XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 at 10p.
ESPN is entering a promotion with Applebee’s with the restaurant chain’s Check-In and Win sweepstakes and instant win contest. Through the promotion, customers and check into Applebee’s via a scan of a QR code and Facebook Places for ESPN’s MNF Pre-Game Show which will offer a chance to win Applebee’s Digital Gift Cards instantly as well as one trip to New York City and ESPN headquarters in Bristol.
ESPN Podcasts logged its best week ever for the company, drawing 10.3 million downloads from August 28-September 3.Top five downloads included The BS Report with Bill Simmons, Fantasy Focus Football, First and 10, Pardon The Interruption and Behind The Bets. Overall in the past year (August 2010-July 2011), ESPN scored more than 207.8 million podcast downloads, up nearly 26% compared to the same time period the previous year.
Top Social Programs in Sports for the week ending Sept. 11 (games only), according to Socialguide.com’s Social 100:
- NFL Cowboys/Jets NBC 9/11
- NFL Saints/Packers NBC 9/08
- NFL Steelers/Ravens CBS 9/11
- NFL Colts/Texans CBS 9/11
- NFL Eagles/Rams FOX 9/11
The Main Event
Indians/Rangers on MLB Network at 8:05
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ON THIS DAY in 1970: Gary Muhrcke wins the first NYC Marathon in 2:31:38
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: What two schools are former members of the Pac-12 conference? Answer: Montana and Idaho. Kudos: Eric Goldberger – The Madison Square Garden Company/NY
In The Know: What athlete has won both a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal? (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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