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Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, August 10, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Universal Sports and NBC Sports have locked in plans for multi-platform coverage of the upcoming 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, with the tournament set to begin on Friday, Sept 9 and running through Oct. 23. In spite of time differences, Universal Sports is on deck to offer live coverage of seven matches, beginning Sept. 9 at 3:30a with the Opening Ceremony, followed by the first match of the tournament, pitting host New Zealand against Tonga. NBC will broadcast its first match on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1:00p when the USA Eagles face Ireland in their first match. Coverage will feature a studio pre-game show and halftime and post-game shows, with a studio team of Fred Roggin and Bill Seward alongside former USA Rugby Captain and Universal Sports analyst Brian Hightower. Overall, the two outlets will broadcast 10 of the tournament’s 48 matches, although all of the contests will be available via online streaming at

On the Air

Basketball fans will have the chance to forget the lockout for the moment. NBA TV and are set to deliver exclusive live coverage of the 2011 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremonies on Friday, with Teresa Edwards, Artis Gilmore, Chris Mullin and Dennis Rodman toplining this year’s class. Programming on NBA TV begins at 6p with the Hall of Fame Red Carpet Show hosted by Matt Winer, along with Rick Kamla and David Aldridge. Ahmad Rashad will handle emcee duties during the evening’s festivities. The Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony will begin at 7p. NBA TV will spotlight each enshrinee with a career highlight video prior to being called to the podium. is planning a special tribute page dedicated to the Hall of Fame enshrinees.

Speaking of legends, the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies last Saturday delivered NFL Network with the channel’s best-ever audience, scoring an average of 513,000 viewers for a 16% bump versus last year. In addition, the one-hour NFL Total Access Post-Enshrinement show posted a 72% viewership increase over 2010 with an average of 381,000 fans. Online, drew a 56% rise in unique users for the induction.

New US Soccer Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is set to make his debut tonight when the US team faces Mexico. ESPN2, and Univision will all broadcast the game at 9p. ESPN will feature lead soccer commentators Ian Darke and John Harkes calling the match while ESPNEWS is programming a 30-minute special prior to the game. Univision’s coverage will begin at 8:30p.

ESPN has added another piece to its broadcast team, inking Hall of Famer Jerry Rice as an analyst where he will appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter and ESPN’s Audibles show. He is set to begin on Sept. 15. Rice previously has co-hosted Sports Sunday on NBC Bay Area and served as an analyst for BBC Television’s coverage of the NFL and co-hosted an afternoon show on Sirius NFL Radio.

The Los Angeles City Council approved an agreement Tuesday with developer Anschutz Entertainment on the general terms to create a city football stadium and bring a team back to the city. The vote was unanimous for the proposal, which would be fund the $1.2 billion stadium, as well as new parking structures and a modernize the convention center through private money.

Spike TV’s “UFC Prelims” special for UFC 133 averaged 1.4 million viewers for the network, up from the 1.2 million that tuned in for the UFC 132 special.

More drama for the Big 12, whether it’s actual fire or media-created remains unknown. According to paper the Austin American-Statesman, after the upcoming Longhorn Network lost its ability to air high school games for at least this season, network executives turned to Texas Tech. The channel asked about the possibility of airing the university’s game against the Longhorns this year as well as some of the team’s other games over the next four seasons for a cool $5 million. Tech reportedly declined the invitation.

The Baltimore Ravens have renewed and expanded their partnership with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic for this season. The new deal will allow the channel to program a live 90-minute postgame show following all Ravens games while select games will feature a Ravens Kickoff pregame show. The series will debut Sept. 11 prior to Ravens’ opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The agreement also stipulates that Comcast SportsNet will be the exclusive cable home for three of the Ravens’ four preseason games.

MLB Network is looking to the minors, and will be showcasing some of the sports prominent young baseball players throughout August as part of Youth Baseball Month. Programming is set to being Saturday with the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game. Other highlights will include the Senior Baseball Division and Softball Division Championship Games of the2011Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI)World Series, Cal Ripken World Series and New Era National Youth Baseball Championships.

WGN-TV Chicago and WGN America have announced that the channels will carry “The Arlington Million” from Arlington Park Racetrack on Saturday at 4p. The broadcast will be hosted by WGN’s Dan Roan and Arlington Park’s Howard Sudberry.

WPIX is gearing up to air bring back the second season of series City Gridiron on Sunday at 11a, which follows the lives of New York City’s top student athletes on and off the field. Producers have created 19 weeks of new episodes that will run through December.

Sponsorship & Promotion

ESPN’s soccer app, ESPN Goals is going to be free this season, thanks to a sponsorship deal the company signed with Bet365, which will place a betting button on the apps live scores page as part of a sponsorship deal.

An Illinois federal judge has denied Comcast’s request for a temporary restraining order against DIRECTV seeking to restrain the company from advertising its NFL Sunday Ticket package as free for the 2011 season.

Electronic Arts is partnering with Chevrolet to feature the 2011 Chevy Cruze in the demo of Madden NFL 12. The demo launched earlier this week on Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation Network. The Chevy Cruze brand integration is powered by EA Signal and will feature a multi-layered experience where players who log in are given the choice to play the game or view a variety of Chevy Cruze sponsored videos. The integration will also feature videos featuring champion Madden NFL player Van Bernardino driving his Chevy Cruze on a road trip down California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway to meet Reggie Bush as well as codes to enter a sweepstakes to win the car.

Digital Fields

The Missouri Valley Football Conference has announced that ESPN has reached an agreement with the Missouri Valley Football Conference to air at least three and as many as five football games on this season. Games are set to include North Dakaota St/Southern Illinois on Oct. 8, Northern Iowa at South Dakota St. on Oct. 15, and Indiana St/Illinois St. on Oct. 22.

The Main Event

US Soccer Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s debut as the US faces Mexico on ESPN and Univision at 9p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1954: Sir Gordon Richards retires as a jockey with a record 4,870 wins.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who is the all-time leading scorer for the men’s basketball team at Duke?  J.J. Redick with 2,769 points. Kudos: Michael Raskin – Eagle TV Sales/NY; P.J. Fitzgerald – Zimmerman Advertising/Ft. Lauderdale; Adam Licker – ABC Family/NY; Matt Collins – Nokia/White Plains; Scott McAdams – Intersport/Chicago; Shannon Myers – Intersport/Chicago; Steve Krone – Starcom/Chicago; Tommy Buhr – Turner Sports/Chicago; Steve Hirsen – Director,Producer/Sherman Oaks; Andrew Tenenbaum – MBST Entertainment/LA; Joe Brooks – MTV/Santa Monica; David Bier – ESPN/LA

In The Know:  What was Dennis Rodman’s final team in the NBA? (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 Cyn opsis | Sports

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