Good morning. It’s Wednesday, May 9, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
National numbers from Nielsen generated a boost for NBC Sports for Saturday’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby. The race drew 14.8 million viewers, to mark the third most-watched Kentucky Derby in 23 years, and up 2% from last year’s event. The Derby drew a household rating of 9.0/20, up 6% year-to-year. Top metered markets included Louisville with a 31.7/59, followed by Cincinnati, Ft. Myers, Hartford, West Palm Beach and Buffalo. In two weeks, Derby winner I’ll Have Another will look to continue its journey to try to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 33 years, with NBC Sports Group coverage of The Preakness Stakes starting Friday, May 18 at 3p.
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On the Air FOX revealed the game schedule for the Barclay’s Premier League’s Survival Sunday this weekend, when FX, FSMG networks SPEED, FSN, FUEL TV, FOX Soccer, FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Deportes, as well as digital platforms FOXSoccer.com and FOX Soccer 2Go, all carry nine matches live at 10a. Pre-match, halftime and post-match coverage on all of the English platforms will be hosted by Rob Stone, with analysis from Eric Wynalda, Warren Barton and Brian McBride. All FSMG outlets are also showing the Barclays Premier League trophy presentation following the day’s events along with highlights from all 10 Survival Sunday games. The slew of matches will be highlighted by Sunderland/Manchester United on FX and FOX Deportes. Chelsea/Blackburn Rovers will be carried by SPEED; Swansea City/Liverpool on FUEL TV; West Bromwich Albion/Arsenal hits FSN; Tottenham Hotspur/Fulham on FOX Soccer; Stoke City/Bolton Wanderers on FOX Soccer Plus; Everton/Newcastle streams on FoxSoccer.com; Norwich City/Aston Villa on FOX Soccer 2Go and Wigan Athletic/Wolverhampton Wanderers on FOX Soccer 2Go. Meanwhile, ESPN carries Manchester City/Queens Park Rangers.
ESPN First Take is set to get a new look on Monday, June 4 when Stephen A. Smith joins the show fulltime to partner with Skip Bayless as a featured commentator at the debate desk. The first hour of the program will hone in on their one-on-one discussion of the day’s sports headlines while the second hour of each show will feature guest analysts, current and former athletes. Host Jay Crawford will continue to moderate the debate topics. The show is up 58% over second quarter ratings in 2011 and is up 63% in the male 18-34 demographic. Other new elements on the series a revamped set design, graphics and show logo.
ESPN is going to televise the World Series of Poker Main Event beginning Tuesday, Aug. 14, and wrap up with a virtually live (on a 15-minute delay) presentation of the Main Event Final Table on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Two new events to ESPN will precede the Main Event schedule: the Big One for One Drop a no-limit Texas Hold’em game with a $1,000,000 buy-in per player and the WSOP National Championship. Lead commentator Lon McEachern and analyst Norman Chad return, along with roving reporter Kara Scott.
CBS Sports locked in a multi-year deal with The University of Alaska Anchorage to televise the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. Beginning with this year’s tournament, CBS Sports Network will carry seven games slated for Nov. 21-24. This year’s action will feature three first-round matchups, both semifinals, and the third-place and championship games. CBS Sports Network coverage will premiere with Belmont vs. host Alaska Anchorage on Nov. 21 at 2a. Other first-round contests will air Thanksgiving night, Nov. 22, with UC Riverside vs. Oral Roberts at 9p and Texas State vs. Charlotte at 11:30p.
Former Gold Glove Award-winning MLB outfielder Jose Cruz, Jr. is now on the ESPN team where he will serve as an MLB analyst, making his debut on Baseball Tonight on May 16. In addition to appearing on Baseball Tonight throughout the season, Cruz will also contribute to Beisbol Esta Noche on ESPN Deportes. Cruz previously worked as an MLB analyst for MLB.com.
Riggo is back. Sportsman Channel is launching a new series announced today that NFL HOF Running Back John Riggins will host the series Riggo on the Range, which will begin airing January 2013 on the cable network. Show segments will follow Riggins around the world in pursuit of “extraordinary hunting, outdoor and cooking adventures.”
Sponsorship & Promotion
Bud Light is launching a new promotion that will give fans a chance to win NFL Tickets for life. The contest will offer one fan who enters online a lifetime supply of tickets to his or her favorite NFL team, or for 50 years as well as a parking pass beginning with the 2013 season.
Sportsman Channel is partnering with The Cable Show 2012 for its Hunt.Fish.Feed. initiative set for Boston on Sunday, May 20. Sportsman is partnering locally with the NCTA to help organize, staff and transport volunteers with Cable Show attendees, along with local and state elected officials, assisting with the volunteer efforts.
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Digital Fields Comcast and The Walt Disney Company formally announced that Xfinity TV subscribers can now access ESPN live streaming content through the WatchESPN app, as well as WatchESPN.com and soon on Comcast’s XfinityTV.com. The service allows customers who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their Xfinity video subscription to stream events and associated coverage live from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNU from iPads, iPhones and iPod touch devices, as well as online.
Broadband network SPEED2 has now been made available to DIRECTV and Verizon FiOS TV customers to expand distribution to more than 35 million customers.
Bloomberg Sports unveiled the integration of the Fantasy Alarm feature to their Front Office 2012 fantasy baseball product. The alarm delivers instant updates to all subscribers who opt in with news on their fantasy players’ activity. Updates will appear when: A player does not appear in the daily line-up; A player has been moved to the Disabled List, sent to minors, or placed on the inactive list; A player involved in a game that is rained out or postponed and more.
NBC Sports Group expanded its partnership with social enterprise software company Vitrue to now serve as the social media management platform of choice for all NBC Sports’ properties. As part of the expanded partnership, the Vitrue Social Relationship Management platform will now manage the social media presences for NBC Olympics, NBC Sports, Sunday Night Football, NHL on NBC, and Golf Channel, among others.
The Main Event
The Knicks try to prevent elimination against the Heat on TNT at 7p.
ON THIS DAY in 1987: Eddie Murray become the first player to switch hit HRs in two consecutive games for the Orioles. Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In which event did Bruce Jenner win an Olympic Gold Medal? The Decathlon in the 1976 Games. Kudos: Barry G. Waldman-Vistrada/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Nick Johnson-NBC Sports/NY; Barry McMullin-PBR/NY; Christopher Doyle-CBC Sports/Toronto; Ged Young-GC Marketing/Garden City; G. David Brown-FOX Sports Carolinas/Charlotte; Gina Hemphill-MLB Network/Secaucus; Mike Patterson-Turner Digital/Chicago; Lucie Prann-The Richards Group/Dallas; Greg Finch-Time Warner Cable Media/Dallas; Will Allmendinger-Captivate Network/Chicago; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Dave Goldstein-NFL Network/LA; John Sutton-Charter Digital Media/LA; Michael Madnick-Saban Brands/LA; Susan Torrey-New Day Marketing/Santa Barbara.
In The Know: What team drafted John Riggins out of Kansas? (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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