Good morning. It’s Wednesday, January 4, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
NBC is making the most of its ties to the Super Bowl, launching NFL Honors the evening before the big game in what is designed to become an annual event. The awards show will salute the best players and plays from the 2011 season with a football and entertainment event hosted by Alec Baldwin. The show will air nationally on Feb. 4 starting at 9p with the league and the Associated Press announcing their annual kudos on TV for the first time. Top sponsors will be Pepsi, Castrol, Van Heusen as well as Disney films “The Avengers” and “John Carter.”
NFL Network will air red carpet arrivals the hour before beginning at 8p.
ESPN reports that, based on Nielsen’s Fast National ratings, the channel’s two BCS games on January 2 averaged a 10.7 household coverage rating, up 8% over 2011. The Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO drew an 11.8 rating while the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl earned a 9.7 for a drop of 10% and a gain of 37%, respectively, from year ago games, which were played on January 1.
NBC’s slightly delayed telecast of the 2012 NHL Winter Classic averaged 3.74 million viewers, according to fast national data from Nielsen, for a 2.4 rating. That number is down from last year’s 2.8, which took place on Jan. 1. Still, NBC says that viewership for the game was up 2% compared to the last NHL Winter Classic played in the afternoon, the 2010 contest played on New Year’s Day at Fenway Park between the Boston Bruins and Flyers, which was watched by 3.68 million. Philadelphia led all markets with an 11.9/21 rating, while New York posted a 4.3/9 score.
Sportscaster Rob Stone is joining FOX Sports Media Group to serve as the lead studio host for FOX Soccer and all soccer events on FSMG outlets, including FOX Sports and FX. Eric Wynalda, who previously served as FOX Soccer’s main studio host, now shifts to become lead studio analyst. Stone’s first assignment will be to host FOX Sports’ coverage of the Arsenal/Manchester United match before the NFC Championship Game, on Sunday, Jan. 22, which marks the first-ever live Barclay’s Premier League match on U.S. broadcast television. Stone will also host FOX Soccer series such as Goals on Sunday and Match Day. Stone joins the crew from ESPN.
MLB Network announced that the results of the 2012 National Baseball Hall of Fame balloting will be announced on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com on Monday, January 9 at 3p as part of a two-hour announcement show, beginning at 2p. The telecast will feature National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, with coverage including interviews with any electees and anchored by Matt Vasgersian along with MLB Network’s Bob Costas, Greg Amsinger, Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds, Peter Gammons, and voters Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci.
Charles Barkley is on deck for TNT’s NBA Thursday tomorrow where he will be courtside for the Heat/Hawks game with Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller to call the game with Craig Sager. The second game will feature the Lakers/Trail Blazers with Marv Alber and Steve Kerr calling the action along with Cheryl Miller.
CBS Sports Network brings back weekly primetime college basketball studio shows Courtside with Seth Davis and Inside College Basketball on Wed., Jan. 4 at 7p and 10p respectively. Inside College Basketball will feature the debut of Mateen Cleaves on the network as a college basketball studio analyst.
The University of Oklahoma and FOX Sports are set to enter a broadcast agreement that will land the university’s third-tier TV rights with at least 1,000 hours per year of Oklahoma programming on the FS Southwest and FS Oklahoma regional sports networks, according to SBJ.
ESPN announced that Bernardo Osuna has been named ESPN’s Friday Night Fights new studio host on ESPN2 and ESPN3. Osuna will debut Friday when the series kicks off its 14th season at 9p.
World Fishing Network is set to debut two new series, along with six veterans this month with Water & Woods as well as Adventures South of the Border both set to kick off Jan 7 and 15, respectively. Veterans coming back in the lineup will include Lindner’s Fishing Edge, Musky Hunter and The New Fly Fisher.
Sponsorship & Promotion
An NBC Sports Group spokesperson confirmed that the network is officially sold out of spots for this year’s Super Bowl. Multiple reports state that advertisers were quick to take up commercial time, with the average spot costing $3.5 million and some fetching as much as $4 million.
With no ending in sight to its feud with Time Warner, MSG Network announced that the company will host Knicks viewing parties tonight in New York City for customers unable to watch the Knicks/Bobcats game. The events will take place at 7:30p at Snap Bar, Village Pourhouse and The Hill in Manhattan, and at Bootleg Mannings on Staten Island. The viewing parties are free and open to the public, with appetizers on deck as well as prizes and giveaways. The parties will also include a special appearance by the Knicks City Dancers.
History is teaming up with the Professional Bull Riders to drive awareness of jousting on the small screen. The partnership will add live jousting exhibitions to PBR events in New York and Anaheim, Calif., in January as part of the promotional run-up to the launch of History’s new series, Full Metal Jousting, which debuts on Sunday, February 12 at 10p. The campaign will feature six PBR events across the country, highlighted by live demonstrations during intermissions in New York’s Madison Square Garden Invitational on Jan. 7 and at the Anaheim Invitational at the Honda Center on Jan. 14.
Anheuser-Busch has named Blaise D’Sylva to head its U.S. media, sports and entertainment marketing division, where he will be responsible for directing the company’s investments in growing its brands through media, sports and entertainment marketing properties at both the national and local levels. D’Sylva most recently was Senior Director, Sales Manager at ESPN.
USA Cycling has a new sponsor, announcing that Grape-Nuts will serve as an official sponsor of the sport’s national governing body.
Xbox Live’s first big dose of UFC didn’t sit too well with subscribers. Reports state that after giving away 30,000 coupon codes to watch Brock Lesnar at UFC 141, technical malfunctions caused some would-be viewers to not be able to load the app, while others saw the bout, which only lasted 146 seconds, continually crash. Microsoft announced that the company will give all 30,000 customers who registered for the event, free access to a future fight at no cost.
The Portland Trail Blazers expanded its partnership with Comcast Sportsnet Northwest to allow fans in remote areas of the region the ability to subscribe to streaming live video of the team’s games in areas that Comcast does not broadcast. The deal between the NBA, the team and Comcast will allow the company to offer a pay-per view streaming alternative, according to local reports, with games running at $2.99 each or $69.99 for the entire season.
The Main Event
Orange Bowl battle between Clemson and West Virginia on ESPN at 8:30p.
ON THIS DAY in 1986: David Robinson blocks a NCAA record 14 shots.
Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question:For which school did John McEnroe win a NCAA Championship? Answer: Stanford. Kudos to: Rich Boland – DISH Network/NY; Keith Marder – Halstead Property/NY; Andreas Droste – NBC Sports & Olympics/NY; Andy Beskin – Crawford Media Services/Atlanta; Bill Robertson – Tunheim/Bloomington; Steve Morrow – Eclipse TV/Mill Valley; Richard Murphy – Avail-TVN/LA; Eric Bates – Tennis Channel/Culver City; Randy Sollenberger – One Three Television/Santa Monica.
In The Know: What backup quarterback was a member of five straight Super Bowl teams? (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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