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Good morning. It’s Wednesday, May 16, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
ESPN made its pitch to advertisers and media buyers during their upfront session yesterday, pushing digital properties and new initiatives as a means to reach a more targeted consumer. The digital push will include espnW, a new ESPN radio app, soccer brand ESPNFC, Grantland as well as a new partnership with Twitter. Meanwhile, executives also predicted that sports would score as the top buy at this year’s upfronts.
While lots of news came out of the upfront presentation (see stories scattered below) one unique initiative announced was that ESPN had formed a strategic collaboration with Twitter that will offer fans and advertisers interactive programs based around major sporting events. The effort will be promoted across Twitter, ESPN networks, ABC and ESPN’s digital assets, including ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile. Each program will be co-created by ESPN and Twitter, starting with GameFace – the first effort, which will be focused on the NBA Finals. GameFace will be integrated throughout the live ABC broadcasts and ESPN’s NBA Tonight programming with a dedicated Twitter hashtag #GameFace with fans then encouraged to tweet photographs of their “game face” throughout the finals.
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On the Air On a broadcast front, ESPN confirmed that SportsNation co-host Michelle Beadle is departing the company, (she is reportedly heading to NBC). The company is currently in the process of trying to keep Erin Andrews, whose deal is up, but did lock in SportsCenter anchor and ESPN Radio host Scott Van Pelt to a new multi-year deal. On Monday night, Scott confirmed that he has verbally agreed with the company, noting “It was more stressful than I would’ve imagined. I always wondered what it would be like to be the pretty girl at the dance, so to speak, and to have people interested was something I never really imagined would happen, at least not like this.”
Golf Channel’s week-long coverage of The Players ranked as the highest-rated and most-watched week in the history of the network’s coverage of the PGA Tour’s event, averaging a rating of .17 with 171,000 viewers for the week, according to Nielsen. Both figures were up 15% over the previously high marks for each category in 2007 and 2010, respectively, and 38% and 44% higher than last year. NBC’s coverage of THE Players scored as the best in three years, with average weekend viewers topping 4 million and besting last year by 21%.
ESPN Films is bringing back the 30 for 30 film series, and will once again partner with filmmakers to tell audiences how sports “inspire and entertain.” 30 for 30 Vol. II is slated to premiere in October. In addition, coordinating with the company’s digital push, ESPN Films is adding 30 for 30 Shorts – a 30-part digital short film series. Each segment will represent a specific point of view of the filmmaker and will be a reflection of how they blend the narrative with their own visual style. The Shorts will launch in September with a new short film will debuting monthly on Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com.
Virginia Commonwealth University officially announced that the school will depart the Colonial Athletic Association for the Atlantic 10 Conference starting July 1, 2012. The CAA is now down two teams.
Back to ESPN, on Thursday, May 17, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts will debut In the Game with Robin Roberts Presented by Lexus, a new series that will run across ESPN’s SportsCenter, espnW.com and ABCNews.com that features exclusive interviews with female athletes. The series will run every Thursday between 9a and noon on SportsCenter. In addition, the content will launch with digital and social media execution across espnW.com and ABCNews.com, which marks the first dual network, cross platform project between ABC News and espnW.
MLB is expected to announce that the Mets will host the 2013 All-Star game in Citi Field today. Multiple outlets report that the league has slated a news conference at City Hall that will involve Commissioner Bud Selig, Mets owner Fred Wilpon and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the announcement. The Mets last hosted the All-Star game back in 1964, which was the year Shea Stadium opened.
On Wednesday at 5p, Golf Channel airs an hour-long tournament special on the Sybase Match Play Championship Pro-Am, which will be the first time an LPGA Pro-Am will air on television. As part of the programming, LPGA professionals Natalie Gulbis, Jessica Korda, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis will be fitted with microphones for the Pro-Am, where viewers will be able to eaves drop on conversations between the players and their caddies.
The YES Network debuts its David Wells Yankeeography on Thursday, at 11p, immediately following YES’ Yankees post-game show.
MSG Networks announced today that the company will telecast a total of 13 New York Liberty home games this summer beginning Saturday, May 19 at 4p on MSG+ when the Liberty host the Connecticut Sun in the season opener. Play-by-play announcer Mike Crispino joins analysts Kym Hampton and Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, who will be making her MSG debut.
On Wednesday, June 6, HBO PPV will offer a live HD presentation of the eighth annual Prelude to a Dream event, which brings together racing pillars that range from NASCAR to IndyCar. The race will pit 25 world drivers from around the world of racing in an effort to support charity Feed The Children. The June 8 event features the likes IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series stars Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon, dirt regulars Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz, as well as Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte and others. The broadcast starts at 8p.
Sportsman Channel locked in a multiyear agreement renewal with AT&T U-verse to carry the network across all of its markets.
Rising criticism about the new ACC deal on ESPN prompted Burke Magnus, ESPN Sr. VP, College Sports Programming, to respond. Magnus posted a letter to address the situation, which received the spotlight when a Florida St. official openly criticized the deal. He stated “The new agreement with the ACC provided a win for all involved. Fans will be served with more ACC content than ever before through a wide variety of outlets, devices and technologies. ESPN added value through four more years of an ACC agreement, plus more football games, more basketball games, more ACC sports content and new sponsorship rights for conference championships. The ACC has received significant additional financial compensation and unprecedented exposure for the added value and the longer term.”
USA Basketball revealed some marketing partnerships heading into the Olympics. In one, the organization announced a marketing partnership with Burger King that will make it the Official Quick Service Restaurant Partner of USA Basketball. As part of this partnership Burger King will introduce commemorative cups that celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Dream Team, and highlight four of USA Basketball’s memorable teams over the last two decades as well as launch a “Your Team. Your Voice.” campaign. This initiative allows fans to participate in and influence a variety of elements during USA Basketball’s summer exhibition tour.
USA Basketball is also teaming with Sunkist Soda and 7UP which is now its official soft drink partner. As part of the deal, collectible cans will pair legendary members of the 1992 Dream Team with soda brands. Including, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Scottie Pippen who will be featured on Sunkist, 7UP, A&W root beer, Canada Dry and Sun Drop soft drink cans, respectively, during a summer-long promotion.
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Digital Fields ESPN Radio is unveiling a new ESPN Radio App for iPhone, iPod touch and, for the first time, iPad. The app is designed to create “a seamless, personalized sports listening experience both live and on demand and includes a new feature that allows fans to build their own sports stations.” In addition, listeners now have the option to rewind live audio streams, including ESPN Deportes Radio.
ESPN Deportes is now launching ESPN Deportes+ por ESPN3, a digital vertical for the online network. ESPN Deportes+ will offer coverage of live sports in Spanish on a multi-screen network available on computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox and will launch later this year. The programming lineup includes: Barclay’s Premier League, International soccer friendlies, World Cup Qualifiers, Winter Baseball from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, college football, college basketball, tennis and more.
The Main Event
Celtics/76ers on TNT at 7p.
ON THIS DAY in 1995: Annika Sorenstam captures the 50th US Women’s Open Golf Championship. Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who was the 2011 Men’s College World Series Champion? South Carolina. Kudos: Bobby Coyle- New York Yankees Radio Network /NY; Phyllis Starsia-Tangible Media/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Ken Nice-Yoh/Silver Spring; Michael LaPlante-ION Media Networks/West Palm Beach; Philip Oliphant-22squared/Atlanta; David Parks-Voices Heard Media/Knoxville; Joanna Kuebel-Entertainment Studios/Chicago; Bill Robertson-Tunheim Partners/Minneapolis; Kevin Micklo-Digitas/Chicago; Tom Akers-Outdoor Channel/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego.
In The Know: What NFL Hall of Famer was a terrorist in the movie Broken Arrow? ( 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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