02/17/15: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit marketing strategy laid bare; NBA All-Star powers Turner; Daytona revs up social media push


Good morning. It’s Tuesday February 17, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The Sports Illustrated annual Swimsuit Issue bonanza entered its next phase on Sunday as Travel Channel began its five-part series, SI: The Making of Swimsuit 2015, diving into the behind the scenes action for the magazine’s most profitable issue. The annual publishing juggernaut has also been supported by the likes of a two-city fan festival tour, a live Kings of Leon concert streamed across Time Inc. digital channels, “unprecedented collaboration with Time Inc. partners” and more, in addition to the show. This year’s 220-page print edition include what the company is touting as its most consumer activations developed in collaboration with sponsors that include Lexus, The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. (NCVC), Maui Jim, Smith & Forge (Miller Coors) and Schick Hydro. In terms of numbers so far, the results have been “bigger than anticipated,” notching over 4 million uniques to the swim site since launch as of Friday as well as hundreds of millions of page views and over 2 million video views on the site, according to the company.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Brendan Ripp, Sports Illustrated Group Publisher, about the franchise and the company’s recent forays to broaden its brand.
Ripp on the state of the union: I’ve been with Sports Illustrated for a little over a year now and it’s really been the year of launches for us. There were so many video launches, including 120 Sports, which really drove innovation and change for us. As we started to look toward 2015 for Swimsuit, the push was about how we could bring Sports Illustrated to our fan base. We realized we had so much around video and mobile and not much around experiential. So that became out focus as we started to build that out broader.

On 2014 vs. 2015: One thing that worked very well for us were launches put into specific verticals. What I believe you will see more coming down the road will be more vertical launches for specific sports. The success this year will see more of that.

On the importance of consumer activations: Last year we had the beach volleyball tournament in Miami and realized how important it was for the consumers to get some experience that was both live and direct, and that’s when we decided to start building this year’s strategy to make this the most consumer-facing in brand history. Between the activations in both New York and Nashville, we touched over 50,000 consumers. We had 17 live bands in Nashville, we had sponsors activate inside our Swimville and Swim City tents, and everyone came away with an incredibly positive experience. I believe a number of our partners will be reupping for next year. Experiential is just becoming a bigger portion of the slice of pie that advertisers are using to reach consumers so when you have that marriage and it works out perfectly in terms of what we need to do as a brand, it works out perfect.

On measuring results: We are not measuring ourselves exclusively by the success or failure of the printed product. We look at every single franchise as a whole across all channels and we build a strategy on how we are going to build revenue and profit and consumer interaction across every single medium and Swimsuit is the best, most recent example of that/.
On developing content with sponsors: I would say of all the brands I’ve worked on, Sports Illustrated has done a phenomenal jobs of listening to our advertisers and what they want to accomplish as well as figuring out what tools we have to help those advertisers reach the consumer in a new and unique way. When you see the DIRECTV ads that are in the issue, I can honestly say that when DIRECTV used Hannah Davis for that campaign, we had no idea she would be the cover model. What a great opportunity for them to believe in our brand, invest in our brand, create custom content for this issue and have one of their spokespeople, if you will, also be the cover model is an amazing example of the great working relationship we have with our advertisers.


Amid stiff competition (aka SNL), Turner Sports’ coverage of this year’s NBA All-Star Game handed the company with a 4.3 household rating and an average of 7.2 million viewers, including an 7.2 local rating in NY, its highest ever in Turner’s history televising the event, according t Nielsen. Saturday’s presentation of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night on TNT generated an average of 6.1 million total viewers and a 3.4 score. NBA All-Star content also pushed growth across live video streams, including Turner’s TVE platforms, with nearly a 90% increase for State Farm All-Star Saturday Night and more than 50% improvement for the NBA All-Star Game.

Following last week’s announcement that FIFA had quietly granted FOX Sports and Telemundo rights to the 2026 World Cup, other broadcasters expressed their dismay of the bidding process. “We were not invited to be involved in this process,” ESPN said in a statement. “Considering the high quality presentation that ESPN demonstrated and the exposure we brought to FIFA events through all our platforms, it was surprising and disappointing to learn of this when the press release was issued.” Meanwhile, Univision offered its own take on the matter, stating, “We were not invited to participate in the process and find it curious that FIFA would think keeping the #1 Hispanic media company in the U.S. out of a competitive bidding process is good for the growth of Soccer in the U.S.”

NBC Sports Group gears up for Hockey Day in America this Sunday, announcing that NBC and NBCSN will offer a hockey tripleheader with studio coverage on-site from Lake Placid on the 35th anniversary of the 1980 Miracle On Ice. Coverage begins at noon on NBC with the Capitals/Flyers, followed at 3:30p by Bruins/Blackhawks. At 7p, NBCSN offers NHL Live ahead of the 8p Stars/Wild matchup. Of course, NBCSN carries the NHL Stadium Series on Saturday at 10p from Levi’s Stadium. Kathryn Tappen will host live studio coverage on-site at Levi’s Stadium, and will be joined by Dave Strader (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst), Brian Engblom (Inside-The-Glass analyst) and Carolyn Manno (reporter).

The 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships proved a boon for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and its media partners, reeling in the biggest national audience for skiing ever outside the Olympics. The USSA’s partnership with broadcasters NBC, NBCSN and Universal Sports Network reached an aggregate of over 10 million U.S. viewers with live coverage throughout the Championships with 38 hours of original content plus additional re-airs and more than 1.6 million viewers were tuned in on NBC to watch Ted Ligety win bronze in the men’s combined. In addition, starting next Thursday, the USSA will also bring the first-ever free live streaming package to American fans from the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sweden via usskiteam.com, as well as through the official Falun2015 Live Arena app. L.L.Bean serves as presenting sponsor of the live coverage from Falun.

Speaking of which, Universal Sports slated Beyond the Medals  The Business of Sport to run tomorrow at 7:30p. The program will feature interviews with USSA executives, including President and CEO Tiger Shaw, with Rick Horrow hosting the one-hour show with special guest co-host Picabo Street. Other interviews include the likes of Mikaela Shiffrin, Ted Ligety, Bode Miller and John Fish, Chairman of the Boston 2024 organizing committee.

Meanwhile, SNY tapped the services of nine-year Major League veteran, Brooklyn native and former New York Mets pitcher Nelson Figueroa as studio analyst for the network’s pre- and post-game coverage.  Figueroa will serve as lead analyst alongside host Gary Apple while former Mets General Manager Jim Duquette returns in his role as contributor to the network’s year-round Mets coverage.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred formally announced that the Miami Marlins will play host for the 2017 All-Star Game. Of course, the All-Star Game will be played in Cincinnati this year and in San Diego in 2016, marking three consecutive seasons that a National League team will host the game.

RIP to Rhonda Glenn, whose titles have included SportsCenter’s first female anchor, athlete, writer and manager of USGA media operations. She died Thursday after a long illness. “All of us at ESPN are deeply saddened by the news of Rhonda Glenn’s passing,” said Executive Vice President, Programming & Production John Wildhack in a statement. “As ESPN’s first female anchor, she is an important part of our history and someone who was a pioneer in our business. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and many friends.”


Webinar: Social Media & Sports: Engagement and Tune In Strategies
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 – 1:30PM to 3:00PM

Expert Panelists:
Nick Freeman, VP of Sales Integration for Fox Sports Digital
Jeramie McPeek, VP of Digital for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns
Daren Trousdell, Founder and CEO for OneUp Sports

Register your team today!.


The NBA announced a partnership with BBVA Compass and American Express for a new card-issuing partnership, aka the BBVA Compass NBA American Express Card. The deal will launch the first credit card bearing the global NBA brand and allows customers to personalize their cards with the logos of their favorite NBA teams.

Learfield Sports officially completed the integration of its licensing, merchandising and trademark services which will now be dubbed Learfield Licensing Partners. The move follows that acquisitions of Licensing Resource Group and Strategic Marketing Affiliates with more than 550 collegiate partners nationwide.

The Professional Bull Riders locked in a deal for Choctaw Casino Resort and Kawasaki to sponsor PBR’s Iron Cowboy, one of the newly crowned PBR Majors during the season. The event will air on CBS and take place Saturday, Feb. 28 at AT&T Stadium. The deal marks Choctaw Casino Resort’s first partnership with the PBR; while Kawasaki has been an official PBR sponsor since 2012.

ESPN revealed that its 2014 Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research raised a record-setting $2,232,000 for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, surpassing the previous fundraising record of $1.8 million set in 2013. In eight years, Jimmy V Week has raised $10.5 million for cancer research. Jimmy V Week ran from Dec. 3-9, 2014.


With Daytona hitting high speed this week, Snapchat announced that, for the first time ever at a NASCAR event, users of the mobile app will be able to help tell the story of the 57th Annual Daytona 500 by sharing their photos and video to the DAYTONA 500 Our Story located in the Snapchat feed. Snapchat’s roughly 100 million active users will all be able to watch the action unfold on the application from users who attend the race.

Meanwhile, Daytona broadcaster FOX Sports is partnering with car, motorcycle and racing enthusiast multichannel network GarageMonkey for a new social media content campaign for race fans. Audiences will be able to contribute their own stories tagged “#MyFirst500” relating their own first experience with the Daytona 500. FOX Sports is already partnering with with GarageMonkey YouTube channel partners to produce “MyFirst500” videos featuring current and past drivers, owners, race teams and others surrounding the Feb. 14-22 Budweiser Speedweeks,


The NHL, in a move to “enhance the fan experience at the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series outdoor game” on Feb. 21, is partnering with Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers, and VenueNext, for stadium’s Official App. The Levi’s Stadium App will offer fans functionality for mobile parking passes, food and beverage ordering for in-seat delivery or express pick-up,  in-seat merchandise ordering, live event and multiple angle instant replay feeds, turn by turn directions in venue, and more. 

Mobile sports network OneUp Sports announced today the launch of Villanova University’s official mobile app. The platform will offer promotions and rewards to fans while they are attending various Villanova sporting events. “The Villanova faithful are a passionate group who will now have the opportunity to utilize this mobile platform to interact socially and engage in Wildcats Athletics, 24/7,” said Daren Trousdell, CEO of OneUp Sports. “We are confident that this will be mutually beneficial to both the University and its devoted fans.”


Michigan State/Michigan on ESPN at 8p.


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