Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, April 11, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

MLB Network launched MLB Network Strike Zone, a new channel that will offer highlights around the league on Tuesday and Friday nights during the regular season, with updates on every game across the league, including up-to-the-minute video and live look-ins. All of the programming will be commercial-free. The platform launched last night on Bright House Networks, DIRECTV, DISH Network and Time Warner Cable.

Meanwhile, MLB Network CEO Tony Petitti told reporters yesterday that the network is looking for more exclusive content from the league, stating “I can’t say whether it will be the new Wild Card [games], but I think the right words are ‘exclusive content.’ We’ve talked about the next step for us being having some exclusive baseball content where we really are the place to go for that particular game, whether it’s Postseason or regular season. I think that’s the next step, whether that will happen in the short run or happen over time as [Major League Baseball] goes through the contract negotiation process, whenever they start that.”


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On the Air

Wimbledon found their new CEO. The All England Lawn Tennis Club has turned to Richard Lewis, the former British Davis Cup player and currently the Chairman of the Rugby Football League (RFL) and Chair of Sport England to serve as its new Chief Executive where he will join the All England Club on May 1.

TNT’s NBA coverage this season continues to serve double-digit gains versus last year’s numbers, according to Nielsen. The NBA on TNT is averaging a 1.7 household rating to mark a 13% spike over last year, with 1,958,000 households (up 10%) and 2,578,000 viewers(up 8%) on average.
Gearing up for the Summer Games, Universal Sports Network announced a new weekly studio news show titled Countdown to London that will offer a comprehensive look at the top stories leading up to London 2012. The show will debut on April 18 at 8p, which marks 100 days from the start of the Games, and will air every Wednesday through July 25. The debut show will run 90 minutes, with subsequent episodes spanning an hour. The series will offer a weekly rundown of the most important Olympic qualifying and trials events taking place in the U.S. and internationally. Hosts include Craig Hummer, who has served as a play-by-play announcer for NBC’s Olympics coverage, and Amy Bender, veteran studio host and reporter.

UFC series The Ultimate Fighter struggled on Friday, with its new Ultimate Fight Live brand drawing a 0.5 among A18-49 with 947,000 viewers to mark a series low.

Dodgers voice Vin Scully missed the team’s opening day for only the second time due to a cold. The absence marks his first miss since 1977 when he was calling The Masters.

NESN revealed that the New England sports network saw a Bruins regular season ratings record this season, averaging a 4.7 household rating in the Boston DMA. That season average marks a 52% bump over 2010-11 which in itself was a record.

MSG Networks delivered a 36% ratings bump this year for its coverage of the New York Rangers over last season, scoring a 0.99 household rating. That score also records the highest regular season rating for the Rangers since the 2008-09 season when they drew a 1.05 household rating. The Rangers average ratings on MSG Networks were also up in every demo across the board compared to last season, including a 150% increase among adults 21-34.

On to the Flyers, team games averaged a 3.3 household rating on Comcast SportsNet as well as a 2.2 HH rating on The Comcast Network this season, for boosts of 38% and 10% respectively year-to-year. Flyers Pregame Live grew 60% on Comcast SportsNet. Comcast SportsNet will air five of the possible seven Flyers games during the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, all in high definition to local fans.

FUEL TV unleashes its new motocross series Rip to the Tip tonight at 11p. The show will feature 37 professional motocross riders who take part in an eight-day, 1,500 mile journey from the U.S. Border to the tip of Baja California. Cast members include Rip founder and host Cameron Steele.

After the lockout wreaked havoc on the preseason, the NBA Summer League announced that it will return this summer starting July 13 at the Thomas & Mack Center and the COX Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Cynopsis Sports is proud to announce that Tony Ponturo, former president and CEO of Busch Media Group, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cynopsis Sports Business Summit on April 24. Of course, Ponturo is now partner at Kirmser Ponturo Group LLC, where they have produced such Broadway fare as Lombardi and the new production Magic/Bird. Join us as we salute Tony at the Grand Hyatt! Register now at this site:

Sponsorship & Promotion

The NCAA hired Mark Lewis to serve as its new Vice President overseeing national championship events, where he will replace Greg Shaheen, who took the position on an interim basis in late 2010. Lewis previously served as president of Jet Set Sports, a hospitality and event company that worked closely with Olympic organizations.

The NCAA is also looking for a marketing boost, and is hunting for an agency to help branding and communications, according to Ad Age. According to the report, the association is on the hunt to help “increase awareness of and advocacy for the positive values of intercollegiate athletics” for $1.25 million annually over two years.

The Madison Square Garden Company named Kevin Christie to the new position of Senior Vice President, Business Development for Madison Square Garden Sports where he will be responsible for finding new opportunities for revenue growth for the MSG Sports business, which includes the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and New York Liberty and other sporting events. In the role, Christie will manage business development activities for MSG Sports, “working to find new opportunities for revenue growth and additional opportunities within the existing core businesses.”
The Harlem Globetrotters are partnering with fitness club 24 Hour Fitness to host 120 summer skills clinics for youth across the U.S. The clinics will be designed to take fans ages six to 14 behind the curtain to see the Globetrotters’ basketball skills and tricks and learn about the importance of staying active and eating healthy. The innovative clinics will take place at approximately 40 24 Hour Fitness clubs in nine states over a 10-week period this summer.

Digital Fields

The NHL is offering a slew of new digital products and touch points ahead of the playoffs, including Daily Digital Video Shorts produced by the league twice a day, seven days a week. The two- to three-minute videos start today and will continue throughout the entire run of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Two editions will be released, Stanley Cup Countdown hosted by MTV Canada VJ Aliya-Jasmine “A.J.” Sovani, and Melrose’s Place with Barry Melrose of the NHL Network and ESPN. The league is also giving the Stanley Cup its own Facebook page and added new features to NHL social including the virtual beard app and locker room postcards.

Over the border, CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada unveiled Hockey Night Playoff Pulse, the a second screen experience that features in-game pools, polls and plays. In addition, a Microsoft-sponsored near-live three minute highlight package from each game will be made available online and on mobile devices including tablets with game recaps going to Xbox.

The Main Event

NHL Playoffs, Flyers/Penguins on NBC Sports Network at 7:30p.


April 24 | Cynopsis: Sports Business Summit | NYC

Chance to win tickets to Broadway Show: Magic Bird
Legendary Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
New MAGNAGLOBAL Sports Media Research
Superb Networking Opportunity
Thought-provoking Sessions
Robust Panel of Speakers


ON THIS DAY in 1921: The first-ever sports broadcast takes place on the radio.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Easy one. Who was known as Mr. October? Reggie Jackson. Kudos: Tony Caravello-ABC-TV/NY; Steve Posnock-Nielsen/NY; Peter King Hunsinger-Golf Digest & Golf World/NY; Erica Kronenfeld-Impulse Media Sales/NY; Charlotte Sweet-Foster Television/Atlanta; Kathryne Copeland-XOS Digital/Orlando; Ken Nice-Yoh/Silver Spring; Tony Marinaro-lin media/New Haven; David Perlmutter-Mediaocean/Chicago; Bob Ramsey-WCIU/Chicago; Thom Sutton-Telemundo/Chicago; Kathryn Kieser-Haworth Marketing and Media/Minneapolis; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Tina Cannizzaro DeBone-Double T Productions/Burbank; Michael Madnick-Saban Brands/LA; Stephen Rodgers- PRO- Peter Rodgers Organization/Hollywood; Cathy Korda-ABC Entertainment/Burbank.

In The Know: What is the only NFL team with its logo on only one side of the helmet? (Email 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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