Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, February 13, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

FOX Sports posted its lineup for the upcoming MLB season, which marks the network’s 18th with MLB. This season, the FOX Saturday Baseball Game of the Week will offer a 24-week schedule, including eight consecutive weeks of primetime coverage for the second straight year. Regional coverage debuts on April 6 with Yankees/Tigers, Cardinals/Giants and Angels/Rangers on deck. Primetime coverage will tip off on May 25 at 7p with a slate of five games. Overall, the Nationals, Red Sox and Reds are each scheduled to make a maximum nine appearances on FOX, while the Yankees, Tigers, Cardinals, Braves and Dodgers are slated for eight appearances. Coverage of the 84th MLB All-Star Game takes place on Tuesday, July 16.

On the Air

The world of wrestling didn’t take long to condemn the IOC’s decision to drop the sport from its place in the 2020 Games. Although wrestling has been a regular part the Games since 1896, the decision was made over sports such as modern pentathlon, field hockey and taekwondo. The sport’s governing body FILA will campaign to keep the events for an IOC meeting in September. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement. “It is important to remember that today’s action is a recommendation, and we hope that there will be a meaningful opportunity to discuss the important role that wrestling plays in the sports landscape both in the United States and around the world. In the meantime, we will fully support USA Wrestling and its athletes.”

The decision also didn’t sit well with TNA Impact Wrestling, “The news from the IOC is very disheartening to all of us at TNA as well as the tens of millions around the world who either participate in amateur wrestling or enjoy watching it in its entertainment form,” TNA President Dixie Carter said in a statement. “We need to join together right now. We encourage our own Impact Wrestling community, WWE and wrestling organizations worldwide as well as competitive amateur coaches and athletes to have a unified voice to make sure wrestling will be an Olympic sport in 2020.”

Sunday brings back Hockey Day in America Presented by Discover Card, with the NHL, NBC AND USA Hockey teaming up to offer a daylong celebration of the sport. In addition to the nine hours of hockey coverage on NBC and NBC Sports Network, NHL Live will originate at noon from Trump Rink in Central Park. NBC Sports will mix in stories of America’s affinity for hockey with stories that include Ice Hockey in Harlem, Jack Jablonski’s Road To Recovery, and Hockey Hair.

Comcast reached a new multi-platform distribution deal with FOX Networks that will now only extend carriage of the likes of networks such as FX as well as sports channels SPEED, FUEL TV (which will both undergo rebranding later this year) as well as FOX Deportes.

ESPN has its NASCAR plans ready to roar for the new season, as coverage begins this week heading into Daytona. ESPN’s coverage is highlighted with a live telecast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 23. NASCAR Countdown begins at noon with the race at 1:15p. ESPN2’s NASCAR Now will have four programs originating from Daytona International Speedway including a one-hour Daytona 500 preview show airing at 9a on Sunday, Feb. 24.

The Jockey Club, in partnership with the NBC Sports Group and six racetracks, will offer live coverage of six major prep races for the2013 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands. The Road to the Kentucky Derby series begins with a 30-minute special on the NBC Sports Network on Saturday, March 23 at 6p. The following week, racing begins with the Besilu Florida Derby and the Louisiana Derby on NBC Sports Network on March 30 at 6p.

The NBA lined up even more musical talent for this weekend’s NBA All-Star festivities. Ke$ha will headline the pregame concert on Sunday, along with Ludacris and B.o.B. on NBA TV at 6p.

Speaking of NBA All-Star, ESPN Radio will showcase events throughout the weekend, culminating with exclusive radio coverage of the2013 Sprint NBA All-Star Game on Sunday at 7:30p. Kevin Calabro calls the action with Dr. Jack Ramsay.

Saturday’s MSG+ telecast featuring the Devils and Penguins delivered a 1.25 Nielsen household rating with a 1.02 rating among A25 to 54, marking the network’s highest household rating and key demo rating for the team since March 10, 2010. Through 10 games this season, the average household rating for Devils’ telecasts is up 143% compared to the 2011-12 season with a 0.56.

Canada’s Sportsnet reached a 10-year partnership extension with the Vancouver Canucks through the 2022/23 NHL season. The new agreement kicks in with the 2013/14 season and features multimedia rights that include television, online and mobile, delivering up to 60 regular season Vancouver Canucks games each season.

You’ll be the Judge of That: The Cynopsis Sports Media Awards, that is. Now that our nominations are in, we’re looking for a few more judges. Email me if you’re interested in participating. By the way, the Awards will be held on April 17 at Yale Club – so please save the date on your calendar now!


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Sponsorship & Promotion

Under Armour is launching its biggest global marketing push ever, with “I Will,” a campaign designed to bring “to life the passion and determination that drives all athletes and Under Armour’s commitment to engineering innovative products that provide real performance advantages.” Athletes taking part in the promotion will include: Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s welterweight World Champion; Sloane Stephens, the only teenager ranked in the top 20 in the WTA; Bryce Harper, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year; and Kemba Walker, who is currently leading his NBA team in points, assists and steals per game. The campaign debuts on TV on Saturday on TNT during NBA All-Star Weekend.

NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth will drive the No. 18 Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide series this season with Gamestop as the primary sponsor. The deal will span ten races this year.

The Pittsburgh Pirates will get a new look next year. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes that the team is developing a new logo for the 2014 season and officials are now utilizing focus groups to help decide the final product.

Digital Fields

As part of the celebration of 75 years of March Madness, the NCAA, along with T3Media, announced the launch of an official YouTube Channel, NCAA OnDemand. The platform’s videos will be linked to voting on to determine the best players, teams and moments of the NCAA Tournament. Videos have been clipped and tagged so fans can find their favorite winning shots and game changing plays. The NCAA and T3Media will release new clips and playlists in the weeks leading up to the tournament tipoff on March 19.

FOX Sports Digital reports that its network, which includes, Yardbarker, and, reached 39.4 million unique visitors in January 2013 according to comScore. That marks the company’s second-best month ever. Traffic was bolstered by not only the NFL Playoffs, the BCS Championship and UFC on FOX 6, but also by Lance Armstrong’s doping confession, the Manti Te’o hoax, and snowmobiler Caleb Moore’s death.

Bleacher Report has launched the first episode of Makin’ the League, a six-episode video series that spotlights former NFL quarterback JaMarcus Russell’s attempt at a return to the NFL. The series marks a first for Bleacher Report, with new episodes airing each Monday.

Roster Moves

Home Team Sports has hired three new account executives including: Jack Burns, who will be based in Detroit and was most recently at NBC Universal Cable; Victoria Toth, based in NY and recently at Current TV; and Alyssa Zeleznik, who spent the last three years at CBS Radio.

The Main Event

Gus Johnson makes his debut calling soccer at 2p when Real Madrid and Manchester United square off on FOX Soccer.

ON THIS DAY in 1976: Dorothy Hamill wins Olympic gold in Innsbruck, Austria.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Although he will forever be known as a Cowboy, Tom Landry was actually a player for what NFL team? Answer: The New York Giants. Kudos: Aymon Demauro-Discovery/NY; Hubert Dorsainvil-A+E Networks/NY; Barry Solomon-Retailability Inc./NY; Denis Barry-CBS Television Station Sales/NY; Joe Guarnieri-ESPN Remote Operations/Bristol; Rob Thompson-North American Sports Group/Ballston Spa; Fred Petrosino-JBG/Jupiter; Jonathan Lipson-Active International/Pearl River; Lucie Prann-The Richards Group/Dallas; Jim Dittemore-I Will Race You MotorSports Management/KC; David Hauptman/Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Rick Pike-Intermedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Brian Sullivan-KHQ-TV/Spokane; Joe Snell-FOX Sports/LA.

In The Know: Which primary NBA venue has the largest seating capacity? (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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