Good morning. It’s Wednesday, March 14, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
ESPN locked in its broadcasting lineup for all 63 games of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship with contests slated across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court beginning Saturday and wrapping up with the NCAA National Championship game Tuesday, April 3 in Denver. During the first two rounds, ESPN2 will offer 48 games within 12 telecast windows in a whip-around format with home market protection while ESPN Full Court offers complete games as a pay-per-view package. The final 15 games, beginning with the Regional Semifinals, will receive national telecast windows on ESPN or ESPN2. Broadcast additions include: Brenda VanLegen returning for play-by-play position for the first- and second-rounds in West Lafayette, Ind., where she will team with analyst Stephen Bardo. Beth Mowins will have the call for the first time of a regional semifinal and final from Des Moines, Iowa with analyst Stephanie White. Allison Williams and Samantha Steele will join as reporters this year. Dave O’Brien once again handles play-by-play for the Final Four, joining analyst Doris Burke and reporters Holly Rowe and Rebecca Lobo.
NBC Sports Network made its MLS broadcast debut on Sunday, with a matchup between FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls. The game drew a 0.07 national household rating, according to Nielsen overnight numbers, to mark around 82,000 viewers according to reports. With better distribution for the channel, the figure did score a sharp increase over the opening telecast on FOX Soccer last year.
Meanwhile, Fox Soccer locked down a deal with the Scottish Premier League to add matches to its schedule through the 2013-14 season, according to the AP. The league will run on Fox Soccer Plus in the U.S. and Caribbean with the first game set for Saturday between Rangers and Dundee United. The channel would then look to air up to two Scottish matches per week as well as a half-hour highlights show.
The UFC helped deliver FUEL TV to record audiences in February, according to Nielsen, bolstered by the channel’s Fight Week and the inaugural UFC Fight Night. During the month, the network aired a total of 233 hours of UFC programs, which helped propel the channel to its most-watched month in network history, finishing up 100% on both Total Viewers and M18-49, compared to Feb. 2011. The week of February 13 – 19 scored as the most-watched week in network history with Total Day average finishing up 260% on both Total Viewers and M18-49 vs. the same week last year and UFC Fight Night on FUEL TV on Feb. 15 became the most-watched program in network history with 217,000 total viewers and 130,000 M18-49, for gains of 1347% and 2067%, respectively, vs. Feb. 2011.
The Pac-12 is moving out of LA and taking its conference basketball tournaments to new cities, confirming that at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas would house the men’s tournament beginning in 2013. The deal runs through 2015 with all games televised nationally on ESPN, FOX and the Pac-12 Networks. The 2013 tournament will be played March 13-16. The women’s tournament will head up north and moves back a week, according to Commissioner Larry Scott, in a three-year deal to play at Seattle’s KeyArena next season. All women’s games will be televised.
Golf Channel kicks off coverage of the 2012 LPGA Tour season on Thursday in Arizona with the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup beginning at 6:30p. The tournament will launch a season on the network that will be anchored by live coverage of the Kraft Nabisco Championship (March 29-April 1), golf’s first major championship of the season with more than 20 hours of live coverage throughout the tournament, The season’s second major of the year, Wegmans LPGA Championship, will air on Golf Channel from June 7-10. Overall, Golf Channel will broadcast 23 LPGA Tour events this season.
The Universities of Charlotte and Texas-San Antonio are reportedly in discussions to join the Sun Belt and are “leading candidates” to join the league, according to CBSSports.com. The report states that both schools may have already received “informal invitations” to join the conference, and could join the league as early as the 2013-14 academic year.
With a 16 men’s and women’s basketball teams competing in post-season play, (a conference record) BTN is scheduling nightly episodes of Big Ten Basketball and Beyond: Tournament Edition and postgame press conferences throughout the tournaments to keep fans in the loop. Dave Revsine, Rick Pizzo and Mike Hall will alternate as hosts and be joined by analysts Jim Jackson, Gary Williams, Stephanie White, Keno Davis, Shon Morris, Tim Doyle and Mike DeCourcy.
Chad Ochocinco has lined up a reality series with VH1 where he and fiance “Basketball Wife” Evelyn Lozada will star in a new series showcasing their upcoming wedding. The eight-part series, Ev and Ocho, will premiereSeptember 2012.
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The UFC announced a sponsorship renewal with SafeAuto that will give the insurance carrier a sponsorship presence in nine different UFC events throughout the year, including Octagon signage at UFC on FOX,UFC on FX and UFC on FUEL TVevents. In addition, SafeAuto will continue sponsoring individual fighters during UFC events throughout the year.
Citi revealed its roster of Team Citi athletes ahead of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will consist of two U.S. Olympic alumni as well as 11 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic qualifiers and hopefuls. Names include: gold medalists Dominique Dawes, Rowdy Gaines, Cullen Jones, and Christie Rampone. Citi announced the sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams in the spring of 2011.
CALL FOR ENTRIES: Cynopsis Sports Awards deadline is this Friday!
NFL.com is creating its own brackets in March, launching Bracketology, that will allow fans to vote for the best NFL team in the Super Bowl era. The 64-team NFL.com bracket will be made up of 46 Super Bowl champions as well as the league’s best 18 “at-large” clubs since 1966. The field includes number one seeds: ’72 Dolphins, ’78 Steelers, ’85 Bears, and ’89 49ers, and four clubs – Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and San Francisco – will have six entries apiece. The 18 “at-large” teams and seeds were determined by an NFL.com/NFL Network editorial panel.
GolfChannel.com will jump back a hundred years to look at the lives of Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan, who were all born in 1912. The online series, 1912: A Year That Changed The Game, will examine the lives of the three men on and off the golf course, and expose what defined them as legends of the game. The series kicked off yesterday with a look at the relationship the three men had with each other and continues with new episodes through Friday.
ESPN is gearing up to highlight the 40th anniversary of Title IX. The initiative, dubbed, The Power of IX, will examine the legislation that changed sports and debut on espnW.com on March 26 and run through June 23, the anniversary of when Title IX was passed into law. Content is set to include a dedicated microsite examining the impact of Title IX on sports and society, including an essay from Katie Couric, SportsCenter will count down the top 40 female athletes of the last 40 years beginning April 30, and ESPN Films will air a series of documentaries in Spring/Summer of 2013 that will highlight women in sports, all by female storytellers.
The Main Event
More First Four, with South Florida/California on truTV at 9:30p.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
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ON THIS DAY in 1976: Jockey Bill Shoemaker wins his 7,000th race.
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question:What NFL great was nicknamed “Sweetness”? Walter Payton. Kudos (FYI I’m changing it up today for our bevy of east coast peeps): J. Barry McMullin-Professional Bull Riders/NY; Peter Hunsinger-Golf Digest/NY; Frank Brown-NHL/NY; Bobby Coyle-New York Yankees Radio Network/NY; Adam Zimmerman-CSE/Atlanta; Shawn Gerchicoff-Turner Sports/Atlanta; Dan Overleese-Golf Channel/Orlando; G. David Brown- FOX Sports South/Charlotte; David Perlmutter-Mediaocean/Chicago; Bob Ramsey-WCIU/Chicago; Jamie Raybon-KTXA Television/Dallas; Jennifer Hernandez-Comcast Sportsnet/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Daniel Paul-IMM/Boulder; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; John Sutton-Charter Digital Media/LA; Michael Madnick-Saban Brands/LA; Alan Perris-The Television Acadmey/North Hollywood; Brian Sullivan-KHQ-TV/Spokane.
In The Know: What team had won the most NCAA Division I Women’s basketball Championships? (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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