Tuesday, September 4th, 2012


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Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, September 4, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NFL season is officially underway this Wednesday when NBC carries the Cowboys/Giants game at 8:30p. NBC’s broadcast of Sunday Night Football, of course, ranked as the highest-rated program of the 2011-12 broadcast season and following an Olympics that surpassed even optimistic expectations this summer, sports continues to be a defining point for NBCU.

Around the dial, NBC Sports Network is still less than a year old from its rebrand in January, and the channel already features a look and programming that veers sharply from its Versus predecessor. Recent programming additions include the MLB series Caught Looking, morning show The ‘Lights, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, Costas Tonight and more.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network about the Olympics afterglow, the return of football and what sports we might soon see added to NBC Sports Network.

Miller on lessons learned from the Olympics ratings: It’s kind of that old line that is used in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” It is clear to me that if you put good content on the air anywhere, people will come to find it. The Olympic strategy really was a smashing success, there’s no other way to put it. People consumed more content on more platforms than ever in the history of television. What people don’t realize is that the Olympics is more than just a sporting event. It is the true ultimate family-entertainment viewing event. The way you consume the Olympics on all these different platforms, whether it was on the iPad, on multiple televisions, or on your desktop at work, there were just so many places to consume the Olympics that you really felt completely engaged. That’s what our role was and that is what you are supposed to do when you take on something like the Summer Olympics.

On the new season of SNF: The Sunday Night Football package is a pretty spectacular property and also the number one show on television. The team makes what is essentially a three-hour major motion picture blockbuster every week. The NFL giving us a great schedule so we try to surround Sunday Night Football with as much quality shoulder programming in every place we can and make sure it is primed as well as it can be primed. So we are looking for more and more ways to get out talent, affiliates, and everyone involved so it is a real group project that everyone works very hard on.

On the direction of NBC Sports Network: When we inherited what is now NBC Sports Network, it had a much different look, a different agenda, a different feel and a different business narrative. We are trying to make NBC Sports Network into a compelling, attractive, multi-sport property that really attracts true sports fans that are looking for quality production and great storytelling. We have three pillars that we build on. The first is live events which are obviously very important. We are constantly on the lookout for those opportunity and we are very strategic about the properties that we will go after. The second is news, talk and information and you can see that on a show like The Lights. The third is original programming. The one thing you can always change is your original programming.

We have put together some really good effective quality original content in the year or so that we’ve been around. NBC Sports Network got rebranded on January 2 of this past year. So we’ve moved heaven and earth to try to create a lot of the series to define the brand. That includes everything from NFL Turning Point to all of the shows we do on INDYCAR and MLS and the NHL and boxing as well as Caught Looking, which we are doing with Major League baseball. So it’s moving along very nicely.

On the status of negotiations with Major League Baseball: Baseball is a great property. I was here in the 70s and 80s when baseball was a big part of what NBC was. I know we are looking at it aggressively but there are other people looking at it as well. So, we’ll see what happens.

On the Air

New Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told reporters on Sunday that the conference’s new TV deals with FOX and ESPN could be wrapped up by the end of this week. The trio already has an agreement in principal on a broadcast deal that is expected to span 13 years and worth about $200 million a year for the NCAA league. In addition, Big 12 members have agreed to grant TV rights to the conference for the life of the deal, effectively ending any chance that a university bolts in that duration.

PGA TOUR Playoffs continue to deliver for Golf Channel and NBC, as the Deutsche Bank Championship drew the highest-rated and most-watched early round for the tournament on cable ever as well as the highest-rated Round Three on broadcast in five years, according to Nielsen’s preliminary and metered market overnight data. Preliminary ratings saw Saturday’s Round Two on Golf Channel nabbing a 1.5 household rating with 1,526,000 average viewers to mark the highest-rated and most-watched Round Two for this event ever. Meanwhile, Sunday’s Third Round coverage on NBC pulled a 2.5 overnight rating, for a 67% climb over the same round in 2011 and marking and the best since 2007.

FOX Sports debuted a new graphics system during the Hawaii/USC game over the weekend, designed to track and show players on the field. The system, created in conjunction with Hego US and Sportsvision, utilizes two banks of eight unmanned cameras that track all moving objects. Technicians then identify and tag players by number, and once tagged, the system can generate the player’s name and place automatically in a graphic, or “pointer,” that can be made to appear on-screen. The system will also be used for the upcoming NFL season.

UFC’s next round of The Ultimate Fighter is set to debut on FX on Sept. 14. The new season will return to the all-taped format utilized before season 15 of the show, which featured live telecasts.

ESPN Deportes announced that the channel’s coverage of Spain’s 2012 Supercopa featuring two consecutive Clasico matches -FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid-, delivered a ratings record for the network. The tournament also pushed  ESPN Deportes to one the top three most-watched telecasts in Spanish-language cable thus far this year. The second leg match that ran on Wednesday, August 29, scored as the second highest-rated telecast ever on ESPN Deportes and second most watched in Spanish-language cable television thus far this year, reaching 1.4 million Hispanic viewers.

Learfield Sports named Joe Ferreira as the company’s first-ever Chief Content Officer where he will oversee development and expansion of digital/interactive, mobile, social, radio, and television media assets, as well as development of other new offerings in the marketplace. Ferreira has previously worked with CBS Inc., CBS Sportsline.com, CBS Interactive, the National Football League, as well as NBC Sports and NBC Inc.

BTN announced a new short-term agreement with DISH Network to keep the channel in the lineup. The two companies continue to work toward a long-term deal.

ESPN and AT&T U-verse TV locked in a deal to make Longhorn Network available to U-verse TV customers in Texas as well as across the AT&T U-verse footprint. Longhorn Network will be available for U-verse TV customers in Texas with the U100 package and above. Outside of Texas, fans who subscribe to the U-verse TV U450 package will have access to the channel.


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Sponsorship & Promotion

Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart is officially on the hunt for a new sponsor. Stewart announced that Office Depot would not return as one of the driver’s primary co-sponsors next season. Mobile 1 will continue its support of the driver, however.

The Ram Truck brand signed on as the presenting sponsor of the college football studio show on the ACC Network, according to Raycom Sports. The ACC Blitz presented by Ram Trucks will complement coverage of ACC Football on the ACC Network this fall, airing at noon every Saturday of the college football season. The show is hosted by Tom Werme and Tommy Bowden.

In addition, Raycom Sports announced that Chevrolet signed on as the presenting sponsor for the award-winning ACC Road Trip, which features a tour around the conference with cameras in order to capture gameday activities. The segments will be featured during the ACC Network studio show, ACC Blitz, beginning September 8th.

INDYCAR locked in Holmatro Incorporated, a global manufacturer and supplier of hydraulic products and rescue equipment, into a renewal that will see the company serve as the Official Rescue Tool Supplier for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights through 2017.

In response to Hurricane Isaac, Lowe’s is utilizing NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson to bolster relief efforts as part of the Lowe’s Racing for Relief program. Lowe’s will match the race earnings of Team 48 with a minimum donation of $100,000 to the American Red Cross. In addition, Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports will together donate $48,000 toward the cause.

Digital Fields

Facebook and FOX Sports are partnering for college football, with FOX Sports set to integrate the network’s college football broadcasts with their presence on Facebook, according to the site, with content publishing, audience feedback, and Facebook media. The partnership is dubbed Facebook  FOX Sports Social Sidelines and launched on Saturday. In addition, FOX and Facebook are looking to broaden Social Sidelines to other sports the network covers nationally as well as regionally, including MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL and soccer.

UPS announced it has joined STATS LLC, the world’s largest sports technology, data and content company, to launch the UPS Team Performance Index for college football. The Index serves as a measurement system for offense, defense and special teams for all 120 NCAA Division I FBS teams. According to the company, there is no overall statistical algorithm of this type that together ranks college football teams across all three statistical categories — offense, defense and special teams.

INDYCAR fans will be able to once again go behind-closed-doors in September, when the IZOD IndyCar Series streams pre-race drivers’ meetings at Auto Club Speedway via INDYCAR Mobile. The first streaming event took place on Saturday in Baltimore and the second will take place in Fontana at 7:45pm on Sept. 15.

The Main Event

Yankees/Rays on ESPN at 7p.



Cynopsis’ Most Intriguing People Awards

Deadline: NOV 1
Awards Gala: SPRING 2013
Read More + Nominate: NOW

Event/Submission Questions: Jenn Sredzinski
Advertising/Sponsorship information: Mike Farina.

ON THIS DAY in 1994: The Cleveland Browns become the first team to score a two-point conversion in the NFL.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who is the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy? Archie Griffin. Kudos: J. Barry McMullin-Professional Bull Riders/NY; David Kalan-NHL.com/NY; Bob Melvin-NBC Sports Group/NY; Zac Salamon-Northwestern Mutual/NY; Adam Zimmerman-CSE/Atlanta; Mike Bridges-Today Media/Philadelphia; Kevin P. McDonough-Blue Giraffe Sports/Atlanta; Matt Pumo-Triad CW 20/Estrella TV; Greensboro; Tom Akers-Outdoor Channel/Chicago; John Kukla-KDFW/Dallas; Mike Patterson-Turner Digital/Chicago; Eric Jackson-Richardson Bike Mart/Dallas; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; David Hauptman/Denver; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Brienne Chance-Republic Media/Phoenix; Larry Goldman-LMNO Productions/Encino; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Miriam Aardahl-OMD/LA; Jeff Black-blacklisted media/Beverly Hills.

In The Know: Clemson and Florida St. have the most ACC Football Championships with 14 and 12 respectively. What school has the third most? (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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