With the 33rd season of Inside the NFL set to debut tomorrow night, and the recent announcement of upcoming Army/Navy docu-drama A Game of Honor and the championship match of the Super 6 super middleweight tournament, Showtime Sports continues to spread its wings. The channel’s sports programming, which began in 1986 under the banner of Showtime Championship Boxing, now touches the NFL, the NCAA, NASCAR, MLB and MMA as well as boxing.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports about his vision for the Super 6, why the Army/Navy game was an easy sell, and the network’s strategy to use sports as a brand builder.
Hershman on sports programming: Sports on TV is a key component of our strategy. It delivers not only a demographic we want to have watching our channel, but all delivers something extra for our subscribers. We obviously can’t bring certain games or leagues to our channel the way others can, so we find ways to deliver the stories behind those great matchups and help build interest toward those events.
On the future of boxing: Boxing has been a cornerstone of our sports programming since the beginning, and we hope it continues to anchor our sports coverage. Creating a platform for young fighters is important to us as well as to the sport overall. With the Super 6 tournament, there were a lot of moving parts we needed to pull together in order to get five promoters and six fighters involved. We will have a champion in October and I would personally love to do something like that again.
On the decision to air a special on the Army/Navy football game: This was a way for us to get into the leagues where we just aren’t able to get games. Fans love seeing the rivalries involved and clearly Army/Navy is one of the sport’s biggest rivalries. So when the idea was pitched to me, it took me a nanosecond to realize what a special series this could be. It is also a tribute to the men and women who are dedicating their lives to our country and will one day be the leaders of our nation.
On Showtime’s MMA programming: Strikeforce and MMA are doing great for us and it’s something I want to continue here at Showtime. Our ability to showcase rising stars from the world of MMA, as well as boxing, is crucial to our strategy because they are events we can drive our viewers to. Both sports help define our culture here and fans have come to appreciate what we can do for the sports.
UFC has upped the ante for the promotion’s upcoming FOX special on Nov. 12. President Dana White announced on Friday that he would be shifting the world heavyweight championship fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos off of PPV and onto the national broadcast. White is already pushing the fight as the return of the heavyweight championship to network television.
In the midst of the US Open, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS customers suddenly lost Tennis Channel on Sunday, a result of a dispute centering on a recent contract between Tennis Channel and the National Cable Television Cooperative mandating that members place Tennis Channel on a broad digital basic level or not to carry it at all. Previously, Cablevision hosted Tennis Channel on a sports tier, while Verizon made it part of its Ultimate package. A Cablevision statement declared that Tennis Channel was “demanding significantly higher fees.” Meanwhile, Tennis Channel’s statement read “We regret that Cablevision has elected to no longer carry Tennis Channel under the terms of the network’s new agreement with the (NCTC) – an organization Cablevision joined a few days before the 2009 US Open seemingly only to get access to Tennis Channel, under terms that the network had agreed to with much smaller operators seven years earlier.”
Meanwhile, Tennis Channel welcomed home a familiar face over the weekend John McEnroe returned to the network’s US Open prime-time broadcast over Labor Day weekend. McEnroe was again paired with Ted Robinson for the telecasts.
Viewers seemed ready for the return of college football, with ABC taking the crown on Saturday night, according to Nielsen’s fast nationals. The network’s coverage of the Oregon/LSU game gave the network the win in both adult 18-49 ratings as well as viewership with a 2.8/9 and 7.21 million viewers. Final ratings will be available today.
Amid escalating rumors by the media that Big 12 changes could soon get drastic, ESPN announced that the newborn Longhorn Network has locked in its second football game featuring Texas, with the Oct. 29 game against Kansas now scheduled. Longhorn Network will be the exclusive national distributor for the matchup with the exception of in the state of Kansas where the game will also be televised on select over-the-air stations. Longhorn Network also picked up another distributor, inking Grande Communications as a network carrier.
Following Baylor’s win over TCU over the weekend, CBS Sports went behind the scenes of the university with last night’s College Football Confidential: Baylor. The series delivered an all-access look at Baylor during game week leading up to the season kick-off.
DISH Network added MLB Network to its lineup over the weekend, making the channel available on channel 153 to customers who subscribe to one of DISH Network’s America’s Top 200, DISH Latino Dos or MultiSport packages. MLB Network debuted with the classic New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox matchup.
Thursday’s Yankees-Red Sox telecast delivered YES with its highest-rated and most-viewed telecast in nearly two seasons. The channel drew a 7.70 rating with 733,000 average total viewers, peaking at a 9.28 rating from 11:00-11:15p.
ESPN’s coverage of The AdvoCare 500 has been rescheduled for today at 11a due to the rain delays over the weekend.
Sportsman Channel has tapped “extreme” fly fisherman Conway Bowman to serve as the new host of Fly Fishing the World beginning with the October 8 premiere. Bowman replaces longtime host John Barrett.
Germany’s SPORT1 inked a program deal with London’s Matchroom Sport to deliver exclusive broadcast rights for a slew of series across Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Programming includes the Darts World and European Championships with the new deal beginning in 2012 and running for five years.
Sponsorship & Promotion
London Olympic organizers unveiled Team Great Britain’s new 2012 Olympic mascot ‘Pride’ the Lion yesterday. The mascot’s merchandising sales will be used to help fund the country’s team. Executives estimate that around 10,000 London 2012 merchandise items will be available for sale in Britain by next summer’s Games and are expected to generate around $1.6 billion dollars.
Yahoo! Sports is partnering its RivalsHigh high school sports coverage with iBN Sports to co-produce the website RivalsHighTV. The site will serve as a destination for live-streamed high school football games, game highlights, video-on-demand replays and more and kicked off last weekend with coverage of 10 live-streamed games, beginning Thursday evening and continuing through Saturday.
The NFL and Verizon are set to offer more live games, live NFL Network, as well as news and via the duo’s NFL Mobile platform. This year, NFL Mobile will offer live streaming of ESPN’s Monday Night Football games for the first time beginning Monday, Sept. 12. The 17 MNF games will now join the live stream of NBC’s 18-game Sunday Night Football package, NFL Network’s eight-game Thursday Night Football slate and NFL RedZone.
Big 12 member Missouri is now the latest school to create a university-branded channel, launching the Mizzou Network as an Internet-based channel with live, multi-camera broadcasts of the school’s Olympic sports as well as with behind-the-scenes glimpses into football practices or basketball locker rooms.The channel will roll out on Dec. 1 with apps for smart phones, tablet computers and Internet-capable TV.
The Main Event
With Chase points on the line and little time left, catch ESPN‘s coverage of The AdvoCare 500 at 11a.
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ON THIS DAY in 1963: MLB celebrates its 100,000th game
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who was the last Super Bowl-winning quarterback to come from an ACC school? Tampa Bay’s Brad Johnson graduated from Florida State. Kudos: Don Abel – WTLH/Tallahassee; Marc Nightingale – Lake 5 Media/NY; Matt Collins – Nokia/White Plains; Art Salisch – Salisch Media Research/New Jersey; Pam Tierney – Voiceover/Chicago; Mike Vest – BTN/Chicago; Kevin Micklo – Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/LA; David Chill – DIRECTV/LA
In The Know: What is the name of the mascot at the University of Missouri? (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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