01/05/16: Networks get their NFL assignments; NBA/State Farm remain neighbors; UFC gets a new media partner


Good morning. It’s Tuesday January 5, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NFL confirmed its postseason broadcast plans with Wild Card Weekend opening the books on Saturday with Chiefs/Houston on an ESPN/ABC simulcast at 4:35p, followed by Steelers/Bengals on CBS at 8:15p. Sunday’s action will then see Seahawks/Vikings on NBC at 1:05p, with Packers/Redskins on FOX at 4:40p. The Divisional round begins on Jan. 16 with the Patriots game on CBS at 4:35p, while the Cardinals plays on NBC at 8:15p. FOX offers coverage of the Panthers on Jan. 17 at 1:05p, while CBS take the Broncos game at 4:40p.

FOX also announced that its A-team of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews will call all three of FOX Sports’ exclusive NFC postseason games starting Sunday. Joining the trio on-site will be Chris Myers, serving as an additional game reporter, and former head of NFL officiating and football rules expert Mike Pereira.


Meanwhile, the NFL assignments will shift NBC Sports’ coverage of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this weekend to accommodate the Wild Card matchup. New programming plans will see Golf Channel handle the tournament from 6-10p on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On Saturday, the event will now see NBC handle coverage from 4-6p, while Golf Channel takes it from 6-8p.

Speaking of NBC Sports, the Vikings division-clincher over the Packers for the NFC North title on SNF scored a 14.8/23 in overnight Nielsen numbers, rising 17% over last year’s score. Top markets: Minneapolis 52.4/74; Milwaukee 51.2/66; Seattle 21.8/33; Denver 20.0/33; New Orleans 20.0/27. Overall, NBC posted year-over-year overnight ratings increases for 13 of 19 SNF on NBC games this season.

Around the dial, The NFL on CBS’ doubleheader coverage on Sunday reeled in upticks of 66% for its regional game window and 19% for its national game window for the final week of the season. The regional window notched an average household rating/share of 11.1/19 besting last year’s 6.7/12 and ranking as the highest-rated CBS Regional game in the metered markets in Week 17 of the NFL regular-season since 2006. The National window earned an average HH rating/share of 12.8/25. Overall, for the 2015 NFL regular-season, The NFL on CBS averaged 19.1 million viewers, to grow 2% over last year’s 18.7 million viewers and an average preliminary national household rating/share of 11.1/23, up 1% over last year.

ESPN Deportes debuted its new 2,690-sq. foot production facility in Mexico City yesterday, offering “an updated look-and-feel and an array of production upgrades for all its programming, enhancing its Spanish-language offering to better serve U.S. Hispanic sports fans.” The new fully-equipped, unparalleled production center now house the likes of Futbol Picante, Futbol Center, Golpe a Golpe, Los Capitanes, NFL Live and the network’s flagship brand SportsCenter.

The clock’s ticking! Have you seen the new categories for the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards? Check out all your options here. Deadline is January 21, so ya’ll better get moving.
The Football Bowl Association announced that, with 40 of a record 41 college football bowl games having been played, in-stadium attendance for the slate of games grew over last year. Counting the expected 71,000-plus slated to attend next Monday’s sold-out College Football Playoff championship game, 1,791,733 fans attended bowl games this year, utilizing 77% of all stadium seating for its best numbers since 2011-12. The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual topped the list with 94,268 fans.

2015 threw MLB Network its most-watched year ever, with the channel grabbing a 15% rise over its previous all-time high in 2014. Overall, the network averaged 140,000 viewers in primetime in 2015 from 8-11p, for a 7% increase over 2014 and matched its best year ever. Meanwhile, the network will unveil the 2016 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot at a new time, 6p tomorrow with a simulcast on MLB.com, as part of a four-hour announcement show beginning at 3p. The program will feature National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson revealing the results and the first interviews with any electees.

NBCSN serves up coverage of the 2016 Dakar Rally over the next two weeks, featuring more than 550 competitors racing across nearly 5,000 miles of varying terrain across Argentina and Bolivia. NBC Sports Group’s lead F1 and IndyCar play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will provide commentary throughout NBCSN’s Dakar Rally coverage.


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The NBA and State Farm locked in a new multiyear expansion of their marketing relationship in a move that will see State Farm continue to work with the NBA and WNBA on various programs throughout the year including State Farm All-Star Saturday Night and the NBA Draft presented by State Farm. In addition, State Farm will become an official supporter of the NBA Development League and USA Basketball and become involved in programs such as the USA Basketball Exhibition Tour. The insurance brand will also be integrated into the NBA’s new three-story, 25,000-square-foot flagship store in New York City. In addition, the deal will introduce a newly created State Farm Assist Tracker on NBA.com.

The Doritos brand is honing in on its Super Bowl plans by revealing the three finalists for the Crash the Super Bowl advertising contest. In contention will be: “Ultrasound” by Peter Carstairs, Australia; “Doritos Dogs” by Jacob Chase, USA; “Swipe for Doritos” by David Rudy, USA. The three finalists will be competing to not only see their commercial aired during the Super Bowl 50 broadcast, but the chance to win $1 million and an opportunity to collaborate with director Zack Snyder while working with Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment.

Lehigh University locked in a deal with Learfield Sports to outsource its athletic multimedia rights with the deal set to coincide with the start of the 2016-17 athletic season.


To celebrate the 2015 #BallondOr awards, Twitter and FIFA launched seven special emojis today for fans, with aach of the finalists for men’s and women’s “Footballer of the Year” receiving their own icon. Fans on Twitter can utilize the emojis by using any of the following hashtags in a Tweet: #Cristiano/#Messi/#Neymar/#CarliLloyd/#AyaMiyama/#CeliaSasic. In addition, by using the main event hashtag #BallondOr, fans will see a golden ball emoji appear in Tweets.


UFC locked in a deal with SINA Sports for a long-term strategic agreement with China’s largest online sports portal. As part of the strategic cooperation, SINA Sports will live stream in mainland China UFC live events that include Chinese fighters and relaunch the UFC China website, www.ufc.cn. “China’s domestic sports industry is clearly booming,” said Kenneth Berger, UFC Executive Vice President and General Manager. “We felt that SINA Sports was a great fit for the UFC brand and would contribute greatly to our effort to expand our content and coverage to the large and loyal fan base across mainland China.”


Activision Blizzard confirmed the acquisition of Major League Gaming in a move to expand its reach across the eSports landscape and help create the “ESPN of eSports,” according to Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard CEO. MLG will continue to operate MLG.tv, MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles platforms, and will continue to work with its partners and other publishers across the industry. "MLG’s ability to create premium content and its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities – strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming,” said Kotick. “MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming. We are excited to add Sundance and the entire MLG eSports team to our competitive gaming initiatives."

Turner Sports and WME|IMG detailed plans to unveil ELeague at CES via live streaming coverage of the “Road to Vegas” Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Championship in Las Vegas on Thursday at 12:30p. The matchup will see Lounge Gaming and OpTic Gaming square off in a best-of-three championship round streamed live via the FaceIT Twitch Channel.  Shoutcasters for the championship event will include “Anders” Blume, Auguste “Semmler” Massonnat and Daniel “DDK” Kapadia. Analysts for the CS:GO “Road to Vegas” Championship include Richard Lewis, Duncan “Thorin” Shields and James Bardolph.



UFC GYM named Tamer El Guindy as its Senior Vice President of International Franchising and Head of UFC GYM University where he will be charged with oversight of international operations, support and expansion of the UFC GYM brand. As Head of UFC GYM University, he will lead the training and development of all franchise and corporate employees of UFC GYM.


Canadiens/Flyers on NBCSN at 7p.

ON THIS DAY in 1988: “Pistol Pete” Maravich dies of a heart attack.

In The Know: Ex coach Tom Coughlin previously served as head coach of which university’s football team? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The Houston Texans’ JJ Watt became one of only two players to notch at least 15 sacks in three of their first five NFL seasons. Who was the other great to accomplish this? Answer: Reggie White. Kudos: Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Scott Jenkins-Gracenote/NY; Tim Newman-York College of Pennsylvania/York; Keith Allo-Golf Channel/NBC Sports/Orlando; Les Stipp-GSD&M/Chicago; Derek Crownover-Dickinson Wright – Music Row/Nashville; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Ron Salcedo-Zimmerman/Nashville; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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