Good morning. It’s Wednesday, January 11, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
On a day when BCS officials met to start figuring out the future of post-season college football, ratings for the BCS Championship took a dive for the all-SEC matchup. Overnight Nielsen figures show a 14.0 sore for Alabama’s 21-0 victory, for a drop of 8% from the 2010 Auburn/Oregon game and ranking as the second-lowest rating of the 14 BCS title games, beating only a 13.9 for Miami/Nebraska in 2002. That said, the 24.2 million viewer average goes down as the second-largest audience in cable history behind the 2011 title game. Top markets were, unsurprisingly, Birmingham with a 61.2 and New Orleans with a 53.3.
Tennis’ first major of 2012 is set to kick off next week, as the Australian Open gets underway. Coverage on ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN’s digital platforms will get underway beginning Sunday, Jan. 15, with more than 100 live hours, as well as afternoon highlights and replays from overnight action. Play begins in Melbourne with a 12.5-hour telecast at 6:30p and continues through the women’s and men’s finals on Saturday, Jan. 28, and Sunday, Jan. 29. This year also kicks off the 10-year agreement between ESPN and Tennis Australia. Cliff Drysdale leads the ESPN2 team along with Chris Evert, Darren Cahill, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver return as analysts.Chris Fowler will again host and call select matches, with Chris McKendry also hosting.
Tennis Channel, meanwhile, is adding another Hall of Famer to its roster at the Australian Open this year, bringing two-time US Open winner Tracy Austin to the broadcast booth. Austin, who hosts also the network’sTennis Channel Academy series, will offer commentary during the channel’s fifth airing of the annual two-week tournament, kicking off Monday, Jan. 16, at 7p. Austin will join Martina Navratilova and Bill Macatee, with the channel on deck for 175 hours of programming dedicated to the Australian Open this year, including 30 hours of live play, 85 hours of Australian Open Today and more than 60 hours of encore-match coverage.
Panasonic Corporation of North America announced a partnership with the NBC Sports Group to make the London 2012 Olympic Games available in 3D to all U.S. distributors who carry Olympic coverage. This marks the first time that the Games will be distributed in the U.S. in 3D. Panasonic serves as NBC’s exclusive Flat-Panel HDTV and Blu-ray Disc Player advertiser for the London Olympic Games. The 3D broadcasts will be shown on next-day delay and will cover events ranging from the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, to gymnastics, diving and swimming. Overall, more than 200 hours of 3D coverage will be produced.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is set to be offered a contract extension at this week’s meetings in Phoenix, according to ESPN. Selig will reportedly receive an offer of additional term when owners meet in Scottsdale on Wednesday and Thursday. Selig has served as commissioner since September 1992 and turns 78 in July. Whether he accepts or not remains an unknown as he told reporters in October that he planned to retire this year.
I alluded to it in the top story but new reports state that a “Plus One” college football post-season model is the topic du jour as conference commissioners meet and mull turning the Bowl Championship Series into a four-team playoff. Commissioners from the 11 FBS conferences met Tuesday in New Orleans to discuss an overhaul, starting in the 2014 season. BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock told the AP that 50 to 60 possibilities for various changes were presented, with five to seven meetings likely before July 4 to come to a decision. Other possibilities, according to the New York Times, include simply tweaking the current B.C.S. formula; eliminating the entire B.C.S. except for a No. 1 versus No. 2 title game; and playing the bowl games as they exist and then reseed teams after those games for a championship game between the No. 1 and No. 2 team. A new BCS format must be in place before the fall when television negotiations with ESPN will open.
The best-hyped fight of the year is already underway and a deal hasn’t even been signed. Floyd Mayweather Jr. tweeted a challenge to Manny Pacquiao targeting May 5 as the date of a potential historical bout. The unbeaten Mayweather wrote “Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out let’s fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see.” He later stated “My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk.” Pacquiao is reportedly mulling his options for his next fight.
Nat Geo Wild is turning from labs to laps with an all-NASCAR episode of “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan,” set to shoot in February in Daytona. This episode will be filmed around Daytona 500 events on February 17-18 and will feature NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick for two of the first three segments. For the final segment, Millan will work with a chosen NASCAR fan.
McDonald’s is set to sign off on an new eight-year sponsorship contract with the IOC, according to the Chicago Tribune. The fast food chain’s current deal runs out following the London Olympics and executives were finalizing details of an extension that would run through the 2020 Summer Games.
Meanwhile, Gillette is looking to make the most of the Summer Games by introducing a team of 24 world-class athletes from 18 countries that will represent the brand in London. Athletes for the campaign include Roger Federer of Switzerland, Ryan Lochte of the United States, Lin Dan of China, Emmanuel Ginobili of Argentina and Sir Chris Hoy of Great Britain. The campaign marks the first program launched as part of P&G’s 10 year partnership with the Olympic Movement.
Skechers USA is tapping Mark Cuban for the Company’s third consecutive Super Bowl commercial, which will premiere during the two-minute warning in the first half. Cuban will be part of television, print, outdoor, in-store, online and viral marketing campaigns for the brand.
New sports social media site Fancloud.com has launched, looking to connect sports fans via Facebook and Twitter with over 2000 of the top beat writers from around the world of sports, “while also allowing them to be a part of the conversation and share in-arena experiences in real-time.” To kick off the launch, site owners Terence Gelke, Ben Bjurstrom and Bryan Shaw have hit the road as part of a six-month, 43-city tour across the US and Canada via the Fancloud.com Van to engage in partnership meetings with over 100 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams and attend over 100 different sporting events to drive awareness and build the fanbase. The tour begins tonight at the Heat/Clippers game in Los Angeles.
PlayStation 3 executives announced that console owners now have access to two new media applications designed for college sports fans. The apps are from XOS College Sports and SEC Digital Network will both offer variety of content for streaming in to the PS3. It’s the first time either app has been made available for a videogame console, and both are free.
The Main Event
I’m always a sucker for a Penguins/Caps game, which airs on NBC Sports Network tonight at 7:30p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1995: The NHLPA & the NHL agree to end a 104 day lockout.
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who was the last NBA player to be the number one draft pick and win rookie of the year? Answer: Blake Griffin, who sat out his “rookie” year due to injury and subsequently won the award the following season. Kudos: Steve Valenta – UM/NY; Tony Ferranti – MMSI/Warwick; Randy Master – Tennis Channel/NY; Patrick McOwen – Comcast Spotlight/North Wales; Mike Patterson – Turner SI Digital/Chicago; Willie Price – American Forces Network(AFN)/Riverside; Bryan Geidt – DIRECTavenue/Carlsbad.
In The Know: What team is the focus of the movie “Major League?” (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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