Good morning. It’s Wednesday, May 15, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
ESPN laid out its upfront presentation yesterday, announcing a bevy of programming and digital initiatives for advertisers. Highlights included the return of the 30 for 30 Film Series that will debut on October 1; a huge new studio, bus and app for SportsCenter; the debut of NFL Insiders-a one-hour weekday series that replaces NFL32, hosted by Suzy Kolber and featuring Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter; a new daily show ESPNFC that will debut on Aug. 11; as well as a brand new ESPNFC.com and ESPN FC app.
On the sponsorship side, the company also revealed two new ad executions from its first internal Hackathon devoted to Ad Innovation. The initiatives will include GameBreak, a video ad innovation integrated into ESPN’s GameCast and ESPN Alerts, an ad execution that utilizes the 80 million alerts ESPN sends on a monthly basis.
Afterward, ESPN President John Skipper told reporters that he wasn’t concerned about Sen. John McCain’s legislation to have cable channels go a la carte. Skipper also said that he welcomed bids by NBC and FOX to challenge the ESPN networks, noting “It makes us better. It makes us sharper.”
NBC Sports Group laid out programming plans for the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which started last night with Ottawa/Pittsburgh and San Jose/Los Angeles, with the company’s playoff kicking in starting with this slate of games. NY Rangers/Boston will start Thursday night at 7:30p on NBC Sports Network, while Detroit/Chicago begins tonight at 8p on NBC Sports Network. NBC’s coverage this weekend will include Detroit/Chicago on Saturday at 1p and NY Rangers/Boston on Sunday at 3p.
Speaking of NBC, with more detailed numbers in, last week’s coverage of The Players Championship on NBC and Golf Channel scored record audiences, according to Nielsen. NBC’s final round coverage on Sunday averaged 7.6 million viewers (up 59% year-to-year) with a 5.0 rating, making it the most-watched final round at THE PLAYERS in more than 20 years. Golf Channel’s first round coverage on Thursday posted the most-watched first round in the history of the event with 1.7 million viewers, rising 54% over 2012. Golf Channel also saw its most-viewed week ever for The Players on record with more than 11.5 million unique viewers tuning in.
Nice nugget from the Los Angeles Times, which reports that News Corp. will launch “not one, but two national sports cable channels” this August. The article stated that FOX Sports 2, rebranded from FUEL TV, would launch around the same time and possibly the same day as its sister network FOX Sports 1, but with a softer launch strategy.
The Southeastern Conference and CBS reworked their long-term deal due to the launch of the SEC’s new network as well as the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri, according to CBS Sports. While terms of the deal are expected to remain intact at around $55 million per year through 2023-24, CBS will now lift the network’s exclusive 3:30p broadcast window so the SEC will be able to carry football games at that time. CBS still gets to pick the top SEC game every week and still owns rights to the league championship game in Atlanta.
ESPN revealed the matchups for the inaugural Big 12/SEC Challenge, which features 10 men’s basketball teams from the two conferences. The schedule begins Nov. 14 with Texas Tech/Alabama, before skipping to Dec. 2 with Vanderbilt/Texas and Auburn/Iowa State. The schedule resumes Dec. 5 pitting Ole Miss/Kansas State, West Virginia/Missouri and TCU/Mississippi State, while South Carolina/Oklahoma State and Kentucky/Baylor will be held the next day on Dec. 6. Wrapping up the challenge will be Kansas/Florida on Dec. 10 and Oklahoma/Texas A&M on Dec. 21.
At Univision’s upfront presentations, the company revealed that Univision Deportes will ramp up efforts to acquire rights to more teams and sports properties, and will air more live soccer for the 2013-14 season than any other sportscaster, regardless of language.
Zak Brown, who had been considered the odds on favorite to take over IndyCar as the new CEO, told reporters that he is pulling his name from consideration for the position and will instead focus his energies on his firm Just Marketing International.
Tennis Channel is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and will run Tennis Channel Yearbook today at 3:30p with an hour-long retrospective of the network’s history. The program is hosted by Murphy Jensen, a 1993 French Open doubles champion and veteran Tennis Channel personality, who will highlight the network’s progress and milestones in a yearbook-style format, beginning with its freshman year with interviews from celebrity fans and current players.
HBO Sports debuts an all-new installment of 2 Days on June 8 at midnight with a behind-the-scenes look at 160-pound star Gennady Golovkin. The program looks at a 48-hour span in the life of a boxer heading in to one of his fights.
ROOT Sports drew a 21.3 average household rating (with 665,600 viewers per game) for their coverage of the Penguins first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, according to the channel. That makes it the highest-rated first round playoff series in the network’s history, with the deciding Game 6, delivering a 23.3 average household rating to rank as the highest rated first round game and fourth highest rated playoff game in network history.
Topps is partnering with Major League Soccer to make the Topps Company the official trading card producer of the league. The multi-year agreement will see Topps will produce trading cards as well as player stickers, sticker albums and other Major League Soccer collectibles. Topps will launch its first MLS collection in July.
WWEagreed to a multi-year extension Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment for home video distribution of WWE programming. The deal will continue to give GVE distribution rights to release 12 WWE pay-per-view events each year, including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, as well as a catalog of collectible titles throughout the U.S. on physical and digital platforms.
CBS Interactive and 247Sports announced that 247Sports will become the official recruiting partner of CBSSports.com with football and basketball recruiting content set to complement CBSSports.com’s college sports coverage as well as MaxPreps.com’s national high school sports coverage. The CBS site will now incorporate 247Sports features including team and player rankings such as the 247Composite Team Recruiting Ranking, Crystal Ball commitment prediction engine, Recruiter Rankings, Top 247, news, analysis, and more.
The Main Event
The Heat look to put down the Bulls and close the series on TNT at 7p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1973: Nolan Ryan pitches his first no-hitter.
In The Know: Nolan Ryan has had his number (actually two numbers) retired by three different MLB teams. What are the 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.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What were the official team colors of the Seattle Supersonics? Answer: Green and yellow/gold. Kudos: Leopold Myrie-OMD/Sydney; Keith Marder-Halstead Property/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Bob Melvin-NBC Sports Group/NY; Jon Latzer-TuneIn/NY; David Schaefer-Golf Channel/Orlando; TJ McGovern-Golf Channel/Orlando; James Taguchi-WTVR/Richmond; Scott Jenkins-Tribune Media Services/Queensbury; Kevin Micklo-Two X Four Advertising/Chicago; Ryan Nolan-Sportsman Channel/New Berlin; Derrick Stasica-KHOU/Houston; Bill Adusei-Comcast SportsNet/Houston; David Hauptman/Denver; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team/Park City; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City.
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