03/02/17: Sinclair sees ace in tennis deal; MLB/Game of Thrones plot magic; Turner Sports’ new COO


Good morning. It’s Thursday March 2, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Sinclair Broadcast Group got a taste of tennis and now it wants more. The company acquired the assets of Tennis Media Company, owners of Tennis magazine and Tennis.com, for $8 million plus an additional $6 million earn-out potential based on certain contingencies. The new acquisition will now form a “unified media platform that combines Tennis.com, the most visited online tennis platform in the world, and Tennis magazine, with Sinclair’s own Tennis Channel.

“The acquisition of Tennis Media Company brings together tennis’ television, print and online platforms, with significant advantages in the tennis rights and stakeholder world," said Chris Ripley, President and CEO, Sinclair. "We are committed to enhancing Tennis Channel’s role as the undisputed tennis-media hub, and this combination of the sport’s foremost outlets, along with the Tennis Channel Plus subscription service, will lead to efficiencies that maximize all four platforms."

"Uniting Tennis Channel with Tennis.com and Tennis magazine lets us serve our combined audiences, the tennis community and fans of the sport in a way never seen before," said Ken Solomon, President, Tennis Channel. "We’ve long been in the business of creating demand for and helping to grow the game of tennis across the country, and now our ability to translate content across these platforms and elevate awareness for the sport is unprecedented. Similarly, advertisers have never had the one-stop-shopping opportunity to sponsor the top print, television and online tennis destinations in the same place, in one transaction."


CBS Sports Network hits conference championship week with “Bracket Week presented by Kubota,” showcasing seven conference championship games – the most ever in the network’s history – featuring men’s and women’s action from the Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Colonial, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Mid-American, Patriot League and Southland tournaments. Men’s Championship Week coverage tips off on Saturday on the network with the Missouri Valley Men’s Semifinals starting at 3:30p. Women’s basketball conference tournament coverage tips off on Saturday, beginning with the Atlantic 10 Women’s Semifinals at 11a. In addition to live game coverage, CBS Sports Network’s studio show Inside College Basketball will keep fans updated with championship week highlights from across the country.

Meanwhile, FOX Sports takes on the college basketball championships with three conference tournaments beginning this week with full coverage of the Big East men’s and women’s and Big 12 women’s tournaments starting Friday. The Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament will see its championship game running on FOX on for the second straight season on March 11 while first-round, quarterfinal and semifinal action will televised on FS1.

Speaking of FOX Sports, the company begins its coverage of the 2017 MLS season with the league’s two new franchises, Minnesota United and Atlanta United, both making their MLS debuts on FS1 and FOX Deportes. Coverage begins tomorrow with Minnesota United/Portland Timbers. Rob Stone hosts FS1’s first-ever Friday night MLS pregame show live from a field-level set at Portland’s Providence Park beginning at 9:30p. Overall, FOX Sports’ 2017 MLS schedule features 33 regular-season matches, including four on the FOX broadcast network and 29 on FS1, with all 33 matches simulcast in Spanish on FOX Deportes.

ESPN’s MLS season will kick off Sunday at 5p with Orlando City SC/New York City FC, marking the first of 31 regular-season MLS matches on ESPN and ESPN2 in 2017. The matches will air in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. Coverage will see Julie Stewart-Binks make her debut, reporting from the sidelines at every MLS on ESPN telecast in 2017.
FOX Sports saw Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions on FOX heavyweight title fight peak with 2.57 million viewers during the 10-10:15 quarter-hour, with the full card averaging a 1.2/2 rating with 1.862 million viewers. Viewership was up 6% vs. FOX’s last PBC event from July. The top markets on Saturday were led by Birmingham which did a 7.6/12, followed by Detroit with a 3.0/5 and Columbus with a 2.3/4.
The USGA and The R&A unveiled a preview of proposed new Rules of Golf, as part of a joint initiative to “modernize the Rules and make them easier to understand and apply.” Highlights of the proposed Rule changes include: elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties; relaxed putting green rules: relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (aka “water hazards”); relaxed bunker rules; relying on player integrity; pace-of-play support; and a simplified way of taking relief.

Amid the Dodgers’ continued blackout, the LA Times writes that the club and its TV partner are working on a deal to make selected broadcasts available on free television. The report states that KTLA-TV Channel 5 is close to a deal in which it would carry 10 Dodgers games, all of which would be in April and May.

Dancing with the Stars’ newest class will once again include a bevy of sports starts, including the first former MLB player to compete. The dozen celebrities will square off on March 20 on ABC with sports stars that include Olympic champion Simone Biles, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, NFL running back Rashad Jennings; former PBR competitor Bonner Bolton, and David Ross, part of the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship team. Other names will see Charo, Mr. T, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne, Glee star Heather Morris and Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei, and former SNL star Chris Kattan.

IFC is putting Hank Azaria in the driver’s seat under his upcoming persona – legendary baseball sportscaster Jim Brockmire from IFC’s upcoming original comedy Brockmire – to promote fan-favorite films coming to the network.  In an all-new, March Madness-inspired promo, “Brutal Brockmire,” Azaria provides color commentary on the films, which will include the likes of Snakes on a Plane, Mortal Kombat, and Speed. Brockmire premieres on IFC on April  5 at 10p.

Westwood One and the NCAA announced plans to broadcast the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Spanish for the first time. This event will be produced by Westwood One and presented by Werner Ladder. Westwood One Sports will present full play-by-play Spanish action from the NCAA Men’s Final Four on April 1, as well as the National Championship Game on April 3.


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Join Cynopsis Media in honoring this year’s Top Women in Digital at an awards breakfast celebrating the exceptional, the creative and the bold in the digital media industry. See the list of honorees here: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/2017-top-women-digital-awards-breakfast/

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MLB and HBO’s Game of Thrones are taking power to another level, with the two brands offering fans special Game of Thrones theme nights in ballparks around the league that will offer feature commemorative collectibles, ticket packages, giveaways, special co-branded merchandise, social media events and a lot more. Currently, at least 19 teams are scheduled to participate, including the D-backs, Red Sox, Reds, White Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Royals, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Athletics, Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, Giants, Cardinals, Rangers, Rays and Nationals.

The NHL is releasing two new national TV spots to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup. Both spots ran yesterday during NHL programming and include: Imperfectly Perfect and If This Cup Could Talk. Both TV spots were developed by Las Vegas-based creative shop R&R Partners, in collaboration with the NHL. The agency also worked with the NHL on a long-form video piece featuring the Stanley Cup that will be released next week.

Phil Mickelson is now backing Intrepid Financial Partners, and will serve as a brand ambassador for Intrepid as well as a member of its Advisory Board. “I can’t think of a better ambassador for the Intrepid brand than Phil,” said Skip McGee, CEO of Intrepid. “We have a longstanding relationship with Phil, and I’m very excited to have him as part of our team again. He is one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game, and his dedication, integrity and respect for the game reflect the values that we embody at Intrepid towards our business and clients.”   

Delta Air Lines unveiled the launch of a new campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers titled Beyond the Court, designed to allow young Lakers stars to collaborate with an established mentor. Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson will serve as program ambassadors for the initiative, each participating in an experience that fits their off-court passion of art and fashion, respectively.


The Olympic Channel locked in eight more governing bodies, bringing the number of the global platform’s federation partners to 49. Federation of International Bandy (FIB), World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD), International Orienteering Federation (IOF), Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), International Racquetball Federation (IRF), International School Sport Federation (ISF) and World Underwater Federation (CMAS) join the 41 Federations and sport organizations who have previously announced similar agreements with the Olympic Channel.
Showtime Sports is giving Thurman/Garcia that All Access Daily treatment. The four-part digital series will offer daily coverage of fight week leading up to the March 4 welterweight unification. Part One of the four-part series is available now with new installments available each day by 10a.

As NFL teams weight off-season needs, 120 Sports rolled out a new video series called The Best Fit  in partnership with Pro Football Focus. Using exclusive and proprietary grading system, which analyzes and grades the performance of every player on every play of every game, Pro Football Focus will take a look at the 2017 Draft prospects and indicate why a certain team should draft a player based on his particular style of play. 120 Sports will produce the videos and release them during the NFL Combine.

Former WWE star Scott “Raven” Levy is hitting PodcastOne with a new weekly podcast that will see his new show The Raven Effect run under The Jericho Network banner. The Raven Effect will feature “discussions about current events, conspiracies, pop culture, politics, pet peeves and anything else Raven thinks of.”


In this week’s edition of Cynopsis eSports & Gaming
·       Microsoft opens the door to Creators
·       Cinedigm launching 24/7 esports channel, called The WHAM Network
·       343’s Frank O’Connor lines up Halo’s mission
·       Twitch taps streamers for goodies
·       Google’s reformats ad play
·       Rockstar gives Versus a jolt
·       Cynopsis World Esports Summit updates


Turner Sports named Matt Hong to the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer where he will now oversee all aspects of Turner’s involvement in setting the strategic direction and leading day-to-day operations of NBA TV, NBA App, NBA League Pass and NBA.com in addition to adding responsibility for programming of the division’s sports assets across TNT, TBS and truTV.  Hong will also continue to oversee strategy, rights acquisitions, marketing, and digital for Turner Sports. “Matt is an exceptional leader, and his business acumen and ability to combine strategic thinking and innovation with operational execution throughout the Turner Sports portfolio have been instrumental in driving our success,” said Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels. “Highly regarded throughout our entire industry, I strongly value Matt’s perspectives.  This increased scope of responsibility is a well-deserved recognition for his important role across all aspects of our division.”
The Aspen Institute announced that WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon will be part of the 2017 Class of Henry Crown Fellows, which recognizes leaders under the age of 45 who can apply their skills to build a better society. She is one of 21 leaders selected to participate in the prestigious program.


Rangers/Bruins on NBCSN at 7p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1962: Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points in a single NBA game.

In The Know: Which three NBA teams retired #13 in honor of Wilt Chamberlain? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who played Cerrano in the movie Major League? Answer: Dennis Haysbert. Kudos: Hector Calix-MEC/NY; Marissa Sunio-Columbia Sports Management/NY; Evan Noonan-Optimum Sports/NY; Greg Conklin-Gray Television/NY; Scott Leslie-UPS/Atlanta; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; J D Spangler-JDL Broadcasting/Terre Haute; Matt Fumagalli-NBC Sports/Chicago; Jeremy Bowman-ESPN/Chicago; John Ward-Tennischannel.com/Chicago; Lisa Fikeys-Zimmerman/Chicago; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Adam Frank-Lionsgate/Santa Monica; Tony Masucci-FTM Productions/Valley Village; Shawn Kopelakis-Inside Job Podcast/LA; Nick Monroe-Monroe Photography/San Diego.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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