Good morning. It’s Wednesday, December 14, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
FUEL TV’s schedule is locked and loaded for the New Year, with the company announcing that they would begin programming the UFC on New Year’s Day with a 24-hour marathon of UFC programming as well as five show premieres dedicated to the promotion. Executives announced that the channel will offer more than 2,000 hours of UFC programming next year, with more than 100 hours of live fights, weigh-ins, preliminary bouts, and pre- and post-fight shows.
The New Year’s Day marathon will feature the debuts of: UFC Reloaded 1, a retelling of a previous PPV; UFC Bad Blood: Liddell vs. Ortiz; UFC Champion’s Roundtable with Jay Glazer; UFC Unleashed and UFC Ultimate Knockouts. Other series debuting in January include UFC Tonight on Jan. 3, UFC Best of 2011 and Countdown to UFC Rio on Jan. 10. Other programming will include weigh-ins, preliminary bouts, and post-fight wraps.
An uncertain victor helped propel this year’s Heisman Trophy Presentation on Saturday, Dec. 10 to an average of 4,603,000 total viewers, 3,294,000 households and a 3.3 rating for ESPN, according to the network. The show featured Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III taking home the trophy and showed ratings spikes of 22% in viewers, 24% and households and 22% in rating over the 2010 presentation. ESPN’s most-viewed and highest-rated Heisman telecast was in 2009 when it averaged 5,990,000 viewers, 4,045,000 households and a 4.1 rating.
Baseball’s new labor accord has some language that could help the networks, according to the AP. The new MLB CBA will include more video replay, allowing teams from the same division to meet in the playoffs before the league championship series, the possibility to wear microphones during the games according to the report. In addition, MLB “shall have the right to elect to switch the All-Star game from Tuesday to Wednesday and the Home Run Derby from Monday to Tuesday.” Players have already ratified the deal with owners scheduled to vote Thursday.
Telemundo’s broadcasts of the Mexican Liguilla soccer final on Sunday averaged more than 2.3 million persons 2+,according to Nielsen, to score as the highest-rated Futbol Liga Mexicana match aired in 2011 by any Spanish-language network. The game also delivered nice upticks for the network, which surpassed the channel’s own Apertura 2011 playoff average with persons 2+ by 65% (vs. 1,400,000) and by 66% among adults 18-49.
ESPN Deportes’ live soccer coverage of El Clasico of Spain’s La Liga, which saw a 3-1 Barcelona FC victory over Real Madrid, drove the channel to win the weekend among all Hispanic cable networks in households, viewers, and all key Hispanic male and adult demos, according to the network. The telecast averaged 442,000 Hispanic households for the broadcast with over 1.3 million Hispanic persons tuned in. That marks the second highest rated telecast on ESPN Deportes this year.
Looking toward the Olympics, Universal Sports Network and NBC announced that the company will broadcast the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool, a competition pitting the best swimmers from the U.S. against Europe’s best. The event will air on Universal Sports Network on Friday at 7p before concluding on NBC Saturday at 2p. The event is part of Universal Sports Network’s “Swim Week” which will include the debut of new original series “Against the Tide.” Universal Sports Network and NBC broadcasters will include Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines and Andrea Kremer.
The U.S. Soccer Federation has approved Women’s Professional Soccer as a first-division league in 2012, despite only having five teams according to reports. The USSF said however, that final approval depends on meeting certain undisclosed conditions.
CBS Sports Spectacular is set to run the first of a two-part documentary,THIRD AND LONG presented by State Farm, on Saturday at 1p. Narrated by Chuck D, the series will explore and celebrate the history, racial struggles, sacrifices and triumphs of African Americans in professional football from 1946 through 1989, when Art Shell was named the first Black head coach of the NFL’s modern era. Part Two will run on Christmas Day at 4p.
Sportsman Channel entered a deal with “Xtreme” sport shooter, Patrick Flanigan to star in anew original series, Shell Shocked with Patrick Flanagan. The weekly half-hour series follows Flanigan taking on both clay targets and challengers. The series premieres on Monday, December 26, 2011 at 9:30p.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is hanging with a new crowd at a new address. The Super Bowl MVP will be on “Sesame Street” tomorrow, co-starring with Elmo in a segment for the show on PBS Kids.
Former boxing champion Evander Holyfield is looking to drum up more interest in the sport, teaming with R&B singer Ray J to create a new series of events that combine boxing and entertainment. The pair are working with Everi Exposure Entertainment to create new fan experiences for the sport, with Ray J staging the music and model talent while Holyfield brings in the athletes. The press release stated that the events are targeting TV broadcast although a launch date was not announced.
ESPN college football analyst and former SMU running back Craig James is reportedly running for Senate, where he will vie for the Republican US Senate nomination in Texas, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Sponsorship & Promotion
The NBA entered a deal with Under Armour for a multi-year partnership that will allow the company to feature its endorsers, such as Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats, and Greivis Vasquez of the Memphis Grizzlies, in their official NBA uniforms to promote basketball footwear in campaigns, brand advertising, and at retail. Additionally, Under Armour and the NBA will team up to refurbish community basketball courts throughout the US.
ESPN Consumer Products is set to introduce ESPNBowl Championship Apparel by adidas, featuring apparel and headwear featuring teams from the BCS games. The collection features men’s and women’s tees, fleece, hoodies and headwear as well as a Championship graphic for the five bowl winners. The collection will be available at select Dick’s Sporting Goods, Hibbett’s, Kohl’s and online at ESPNShop.com, FansEdge.com and FootballFanatics.com.
Basketball Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley no longer wants to be a heavyweight and, after gaining 100 pounds since retiring from the NBA, and has been announced as the brand ambassador for the new Weight Watchers for Men campaign. He will appear in print, broadcast and online marketing beginning Dec. 25 as part of the new “Lose Like a Man” program. Reports state that Barkley started the program about two months ago and has lost 26 pounds under the plan.
NBA Digital, a partnership between Turner Sports and the NBA, announced some new faces for the new season including the addition of Greg Anthony to NBA TV’s Tuesday Fan Night program and TNT NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal for regular contributions and in-studio appearances. Anthony will join host Ernie Johnson and analyst Chris Webber, with O’Neal making contributions for the popular NBA TV Fan Night on Tuesdays throughout the regular season. Other NBA digital upgrades this year include an enhanced NBA GameTime Mobile app with more content and video; NBA.com StatsCube, which, for the first time, allows fans will have access to the official analysis tool of league; and more social media interaction.
espnW is adding a trio of new faces to its roster, naming Heather Burns and Joy Russo as deputy editors as well as writer Kate Fagan to the team. Burns previously served as senior editor for ESPN.com where, since January 2008, she was in charge of the night news desk operation. Russo joins espnW from ESPN.com where she most recently served as senior editor for NHL and Olympics content. Fagan was previously at the Philadelphia Inquirer where she covered the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA.
The Main Event
Division leaders Chicago and Minnesota square off on VERSUS at 8p
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
“How do you like them apples?” [Good Will Hunting]
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ON THIS DAY in 1947: NASCAR is founded in Daytona Beach.
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: On which team was Bob Uecker made a World Series Champion? Answer: Sl. Louis. Kudos: Rich Dubroff – Comcast SportsNet.com/Baltimore; Fred Petrosino – JBG/NY; Synda Kollman – Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Joe Brucia – NBC Universal/NY; Tom Akers – Outdoor Channel/Chicago; Mike Patterson – Turner SI Digital/Chicago; Mary Ryan – Raycom Media/Dallas; Dan Radman – Busch Media Group/St. Louis; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/LA; Eric Bates – Tennis Channel/Culver City; Adam Deverell – Cox Reps/LA.
In The Know: What team defeated Charles Barkley and the Suns in the NBA Finals? (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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