Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, October 5, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The Yankees/Tigers series delivered an autumn gift for TBS, which saw game three between the two teams score a 4.8 rating in metered markets for a 30% jump over the comparable game in 2010. The first game of the doubleheader between the Rays and Texans delivered the channel with a 2.8 rating to hold even with 2010. In local markets, New York averaged a13.2 with Detroit pulling a 25.0.

On the Air

ESPNU Midnight Madness is slated to tip off the basketball season for the sixth year on Friday, Oct. 14. Coverage is set to begin at 9p on the channel with a four-hour special previewing top college programs via whip-around coverage of 11 basketball events across the nation. In addition, seven sites will be featured live on ESPN3. Highlights of Midnight madness 2011 include in-studio coverage and analysis provided by ESPNU host Dari Nowkhah, college basketball analysts Hubert Davis, Doug Gottlieb and Katz, as well as contributions from Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas.

CBS Sports Network has locked in plans for the channel’s ninth season of college hockey programming. The network will feature action from Hockey East, as well as CCHA, WCHA, ECAC and Atlantic Hockey games. The puck will drop on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30p with a pair of top five teams in Denver taking on Boston College. Dave Starman is set to return for his ninth year calling college hockey for the network alongside analyst Jim Paradise and play-by-play announcers Matt McConnell, Eric Frede and Ben Holden.

Once again, NBA owners and players weren’t able to close the gap in a day of labor talks described as “huge” in order for the season to begin on time. Union President Derek Fisher told reporters that he expects the rest of the preseason to be scratched from the schedule. Players had reportedly offered to drop their cut from 57% to 53%, but owners would not budge from their demand of 47% of the basketball related income.

The EU’s highest court made a ruling that could create a fundamental shift in how soccer fans watch games. The court ruled against England’s Premier League, stating that it is “contrary to EU law” for TV rights holders to establish exclusive contracts for each EU nation and to try to block viewers from watching those games with a cheap decoder card from elsewhere in the EU.

BTN is set to produce the channel’s first-ever special live on-site pregame show at a Big Ten stadium this Saturday. The event will run live from Ryan Field at Northwestern, just before BTN’s primetime game that evening. Dave Revsine will host BTN Countdown to Kickoff with analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith at 6p. The crew will host BTN’s normal pregame show at the network’s Chicago studios at 11a on Saturday morning before moving 15 miles north for the telecast.

The second of three taped-delayed Barclay’s Premier League matches this season on FOX swelled above the network’s first outing, according to Nielsen Media Research. The delayed broadcast on FOX featured Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal FC scored a 1.1 household rating and attracted 1,626,000 viewers, up 10% in rating and up 1% in audiences over the Manchester United-Chelsea broadcast on Sept. 18. Top markets included New Orleans with a 7.5; Kansas City at a 3.2; and Las Vegas with a 2.8.

The NHL and package distributor iN DEMAND are set to offer a free 18-day free preview of NHL Center Ice on cable systems around the country for the start of the season. NHL Center Ice, which allows viewers to watch up to 40 live out-of-market NHL games every week across 14 channels, is also upgrading the experience with a multi-screen mosaic, same day replays, dual feed telecasts, and a stat channel. MSOs offering the package distributed by iN DEMAND this year include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems, Bresnan Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent, Verizon FiOS, plus a number of independent affiliates.

Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour this week with the Open, to mark his first PGA Tour Fall Series event. Golf Channel will air 16 hours of exclusive, live tournament coverage from Thursday through Sunday with Kelly Tilghman handling play by play and Frank Nobilo as analyst.

Asian sports channel One World Sports continues to beef up its content lineup, inking a deal with Infront Sport & Media to distribute games for the Chinese Basketball Association. As part of the deal, OWS will present two, same-day delay English language basketball games per week for the entire CBA Professional League season.

Saturday’s airing of UFC on Versus 6: Cruz vs. Johnson, the last on Versus before heading to the FOX family, delivered the network with an average audience of 789,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. The number is up over 20,000 viewers compared to the channel’s UFC on Versus 5 special to rank as the third highest in series history.

Sponsorship & Promotion

NBC Sports Group has tapped communications veteran Greg Hughes as the Senior Vice President, Communications for the group where he will be reunited with Chairman Mark Lazarus. In the position, Hughes will have strategic oversight of the communications and media relations strategy for the entire NBC Sports Group’s portfolio of broadcast, cable, regional and digital sports assets which include NBC Sports, Golf Channel, VERSUS, the 11 Comcast SportsNets (regional sports networks) and their respective digital assets and will work closely with the communications professionals in those business units. Hughes spent 19 years with Turner Broadcasting, where he previously worked with Lazarus, and most recently served as President of Sedan Communications, Inc.

The famed Superdome has gone luxury. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal joined New Orleans Saints Owner Tom Benson yesterday as well as Ernst Leib, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA to announce a new 10-year agreement between the NFL Saints and Mercedes-Benz USA for naming rights to the recently renovated Louisiana Superdome. The venue will now be known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The new name marks the first time the stadium has had a naming rights sponsor. The deal is worth between $6 million to $10 million each year for the rights, according to reports.

Electronic Arts is turning to football to help sell the company’s videogame Battlefield 3. The company is utilizing NFL stars Drew Brees, Clay Matthews, Larry Fitzgerald, and Jared Allen for a reality show titled GTTV Presents Battlefield 3: Operation Gridiron. The series, which will air online as well as on Spike TV, will feature the foursome undergoing training before entering real-life combat scenarios inspired by the videogame. Weekly Tuesday webisodes will be posted at 9p on the Battlefield Facebook page with the finale running on Spike TV on October 24.

Digital Fields

EA Sports saw its most successful launch in history with the release of EA Sports FIFA 12. According to the company, internal estimates since its September 27 launch in North America and September 30 worldwide saw the company sell an estimated 3.2 million units of the game.

The Main Event

Philadelphia Phillies & St. Louis Cardinals continue their post-season rivalry on TBS at 6p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1921: The first ever World Series radio broadcast saw the Yankees beat the Giants 3-0

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Lions player Calvin Johnson has the second-most career receiving touchdowns for the Detroit franchise. Who has more? Answer: Herman Moore. Kudos: Alex D. Smith – ESPN/Bristol; Jared Merrell – Optimum Sports/NY; David Koonin – MELT/Atlanta; John Carlo – NBCUniversal Ad Sales/NY; John Ward – NBC Sports/ Chicago; Jim Jorgenson – KTTC/Signal Hill CW/Rochester; Brian Manning – Warner Brothers/Burbank; Guy Cacciarelli – MSG Media/Santa Monica; Paul Gygli – NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City

In The Know:  What NHL franchise holds the all-time record for most consecutive appearances in the playoffs? (Email 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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