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Cynopsis: Sports
05/11/11

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, May 11, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Longtime CBS announcer Gus Johnson is heading to Fox Sports as the company’s top college football play-by-play voice. He will be paired with Charles Davis this fall for Big 12, Conference USA and Pac-12 games that will debut on FX, as well as a pair of games for Big Ten Network, one of FOX’s two conference football championship games and the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Next year, the duo will call Fox’s regular-season over-the-air broadcast schedule, as well as postseason assignments. Johnson will also continue as the lead play-by-play voice for college basketball on Big Ten Network and will now call Fox’s Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament games in 2013 and select NFL on Fox broadcasts following the college football season this year.

On the Air

The NHL has thrown its support toward NFL owners as the lockout rolls on. The league submitted an amicus brief with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that agreed with the NFL’s claims that a court-ordered end to the lockout would hurt sports business. In the brief, the NHL states that the ripple effect from the ruling would impact all professional sports leagues in the country and that a union decertification should not be used as a negotiating tactic. The NHL had its own lockout in 2004-05 and the entire hockey season was canceled as a result.

UFC is shuffling up its lineup for the UFC 130 PPV event this month. The headlining match between Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and undefeated challenger Gray Maynard has been pulled due to injuries to both fighters and could be rescheduled for late summer/early fall. The company will now put the co-headlining match pitting Quinton “Rampage” Jackson against Mark Hamill as the main event. The Heavyweight fight featuring Frank Mir and Roy Nelson will now serve as the co-main event.

Boston and Miami continues to pack a punch for TNT. Tuesday night’s playoff matchup of the high-profile NBA teams helped the network score as the top-ranked program of the day among adults 18-34, men 18-34m men 18-49 and men 25-54, and scored as the highest-rated NBA Playoff game on cable so far this year with a 4.7 household rating. Overall, second round action is up 30% compared to 2010.

Fresh from a deal with the Pac-10 for 2012 and beyond, ESPN will be airing a slew of games from the conference for the 2011 season, including 10 for Saturday telecasts and one for the Friday after Thanksgiving. Overall, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise 20 Pac-12 home games, with other games to be announced as the season progresses. Games will now include Oregon playing Arizona on Sept. 24, against California on Oct. 6, and against USC on Nov. 19.Stanford games will be shown on Sept. 17 at Arizona, Oct. 22 against Washington, Oct. 29 versus USC and Notre Dame on Nov. 26.

Other games on deck for broadcast include:

  • A minimum of three Saturday late-night games, including two on Saturday, Sept. 24, will be offered: Oregon at Arizona at 10:15p on ESPN or ESPN2, and USC at Arizona State at 10:15p on ESPN or ESPN2.
  • Thursday night’s ESPN College Football Primetime series will feature three consecutive weeks of telecasts from the conference, all at 9p: California at Oregon (Oct. 6), USC at California (Oct. 13) and UCLA at Arizona (Oct. 20).
  • ESPN2 will televise new conference members Utah (facing intrastate rival BYU on Sept. 17) and Colorado (against USC on Nov. 4).

SPEED will be marking its fifth anniversary as the home of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race with 70 hours of programming dedicated to the event beginning May 19 and running through May 21, with the 7p telecast of the race. The channel will then air the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 23. New elements this year will be includes beefed up radio communication with drivers during the event as well as the SPEED Social Tracker, a social media dashboard comprised of on-air personalities answering fans’ questions in real time and posting analysis via Twitter and SPEED’s Facebook page.

FOX Soccer will debut the U.S. release of the feature film Blue Moon Rising on its channel Wednesday at 8p. The movie, which documents a year in the life of Barclays Premier League club, Manchester City and will run commercial free. The movie will replay on Friday ahead of the team’s FA Cup final match vs. Stoke City at Wembley Stadium on May 14.

Formula One President and CEO Bernie Ecclestone again addressed the media to address a potential takeover bid of the sport by News Corp. and Exor. Speaking with reporters, the executive said that current majority owners CVC Capital Partners ‘don’t want to sell’ and stated that he hopes that teams ‘come to their senses’ over the issue because moving the sport to pay-TV broadcasts would be ‘suicidal’.

MLS will host its championship this fall at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA for a record fourth time, the league announced this week. MLS Cup 2011 will take place on Nov. 20 at 9p on ESPN and Galavision in the United States and on TSN2 in Canada.  The stadium Is home to the LA Galaxy which is aiming become the second team in MLS history to win the championship on its home field.

IMG locked in a pair of deals this week, reaching agreements with the Air Force Academy and the Federation Equestre Internationale to handle rights deals for the brands. IMG College will manage and market all rights associated with television and coaches’ shows, radio, coaches’ endorsements, corporate sponsorships, stadium and venue signage, and other deals in the new multi-year multimedia rights partnership. The deal marks the first service academy for IMG College’s multimedia rights division and begins July 1, 2011. IMG‘s deal with The Federation Equestre Internationale will allow IMG Worldwide to handle ensure global distribution of the FEI’s major equestrian events to television audiences worldwide. The agreement will handle broadcast rights for events such as the FEI World Equestrian Games and the FEI European Championships.

With ratings on the upswing and a TV deal in the near future, NASCAR recently announced a series of executive moves throughout the organization designed to keep momentum moving forward.

  • Steve Herbst has been named VP of Programming and Global Media Strategy as part of NASCAR Media Group, and will be charged with broadening the sport’s reach to fans.
  • NASCAR Media Group President Paul Brooks will now also take on leadership for the newly-created NASCAR Innovation Group in an effort to drive innovation and integration throughout the sport.
  • Chief Sales Officer will run a consolidated intellectual property group that will manage all assets carrying the NASCAR trademark.
  • Norris Scott has been promoted to VP of Partnership Marketing.
  • Marc Jenkins has been bumped up to VP and tabbed to lead the company’s digital media initiatives.
  • Former Bank of America Vice President of Global Media Relations Jon Schwartz has joined the Integrated Marketing Communications team as director of business communications.
  • Jill Gregory has been named VP of Industry Services.
  • George Silbermann is now VP of Regional and Touring Series
  • Marcus Jadotte will now serve as VP of Public Affairs and Multicultural Development.

International sports network One World Sports has inked a deal for exclusive North American rights to the Chinese Football Association Super League. With a focus on Asian sports, the channel will air weekly games on television, broadband and mobile. The CSL currently ranks the most regularly watched sport on television in the country.

WJLA-TV has locked in pre-season Baltimore Ravens games for the next two seasons. This fall, providing there is a season, the station will air three games not televised nationally beginning  in August with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons in pre-season show downs.

Mexicanal is riding the channel’s recent success in sports into its upfront presentations to advertisers with tentpoles that include Mexican League Baseball on its upcoming lineups. Other sports-themed series that will hit the airwaves will include hand-to-hand combat series Todo Vale and adventure sports program Xpedicion MX.

College Gametime Network, an out of home media network focused on in-game experiences for the collegiate sport market, has completed deals that will add Syracuse University, University of Kentucky, and University of Maryland to its lineup of outlets. CGN connects to screens installed in the concourses, concession areas and private boxes at top football and basketball venues across the country.


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Sponsorship & Promotion

The USTA is being covered by Esurance, signing a sponsorship agreement with the insurance provider for the US Open. As part of the deal, Esurance will focus on elevating the fan experience and the US Open’s Green Initiative. Esurance originally came on board as a US Open sponsor in 2010 and the new deal extends that partnership through 2012 to include media support of tournament television broadcasts, an on-site presence, and a relationship with USOpen.org, the official website of the US Open.

Toyo Tire U.S.A. has been named as the presenting television sponsor of the 2011 Pac-10 Track & Field Championships, to be broadcast on Fox Sports Net. Toyo Tires also sponsors Pac-10 basketball and football, and also the Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

NASCAR will be celebrating NASCAR Day on May 20 with its first-ever NASCAR Day Car Wash For Kids, a NASCAR Unites national volunteer effort and fundraiser to support children’s charities across the country. The event is designed to encourage fans to visit their local participating race tracks and other partner locations to contribute to the goal of raising $1 million and generating one million volunteer hours for children’s charities. More than 30 venues are slated to hold car washes for the fundraiser.

Jennifer Shaw has been promoted to SVP of Strategic Planning & Integrated Marketing at MLB Network. Shaw previously served as the channel’s VP of Pricing & Strategy. Shaw now runs the network’s pricing and planning department, and also oversees the integrated marketing department.

Digital Fields

Gamification platform BigDoor, is partnering with MLB Advanced Media to allow fans visiting MLB.com to and collect unique player badges as a way to engage fans. Badges can be earned in a variety of ways including through MLB.com’s Gameday. BigDoor and MLBAM will collaborate and

WFN’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA has wound down their nationwide search for America’s favorite fishing destination, whittling down 300 towns to the final 20. The winning town will receive a $25,000 community donation for fishing causes as well as 10 WaveSpin Reels and a feature about their town to air on the network. Online polls close on May 31 and the winner will be announced in June.

Electronic Arts announced that the new EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer 12 game will feature will be in 3D as part of the Nintendo 3DS platform and will boast over 500 clubs as well as new touch screen controls and the first-ever 3D Street Soccer. The game will come out this fall.

Tonight’s Main Event

TNT’s 1000th NBA Playoff Game airs tonight when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Memphis Grizzlies at 9:30p in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series. Dick Stockton will handle play-by-play and Mike Fratello will serve as analyst.


ON THIS DAY in 1959 – Yankee catcher Yogi Berra saw his errorless streak end at 148 games.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: What is the Dallas Mavericks’ mascot?  THERE ARE ACTUALLY TWO MASCOTS FOR THE TEAM. CHAMP THE HORSE AND MAVS MAN.  Kudos to: Rory Rosegarten – The Conversation Company/Roslyn; Valerie Achkhanian Bertram – CoxReps/New York; Juan P. Delgado – Telemundo Network Group/Hialeah; Ed Dall’Aste – Uproar! Youth Marketing/New York; Lucie Prann – The Richards Group/Dallas; Greg Finch – Time Warner Cable/Dallas; Allison Wright – MTV Networks/Detroit; Roger Stallard – Navigate Boomer Media/Los Angeles; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/Los Angeles

In The Know:  In what year did the Ravens begin play in Baltimore? (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 Cyn opsis | Sports
May 11, 2011

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