03/06/14: ESPN is showcasing 92 men’s conference tournament games from March 7-16


Good morning. It’s Thursday, March 6, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

We are approaching Championship Week in college basketball, and ESPN announced plans to spotlight 92 men’s college basketball conference tournament games spanning 23 different conferences across ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 from Friday, March 7 through Sunday, March 16. The ten days of coverage will tip off with nine games from the Big South, Ohio Valley and Southern Conference tournaments on ESPNU and ESPN3 before wrapping up on the 16th with the ACC (ESPN) and Sun Belt (ESPN2) title games at 1p and the SEC championship at 3:15p (ESPN). This year will see Super Saturday include coverage of 14 conference tournament games, including 10 championships, highlighted by the American and Big 12 title games as well as ACC and SEC semifinals.

The men’s NCAA Championship selection will include coverage of the brackets as they are announced on SportsCenter following the conclusion of the SEC Championship, a two-hour Bracketology Presented by Staples at 7p on ESPN and another two-hour Bracketology Presented by Staples at 9p on ESPN2. ESPNU will televise the eighth annual NIT Selection Show at 8:30p as well as a two-hour Tournament Countdown edition of The Experts at 9p.


FOX Sports 1’s conference tournament coverage will include the Big East and Pac-12 men’s basketball tournaments next week. The channel is slated to carry the entire Big East Tournament from tip-off on Wednesday, March 12, until the championship on Saturday, March 15. FOX Sports’ lead college basketball broadcast team of Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery call seven of the tournament’s nine games, while Justin Kutcher and Tarik Turner have Thursday’s afternoon matchups. Meanwhile, Aaron Goldsmith, Sean Elliott and reporter Molly McGrath call three Pac-12 Tournament contests beginning with the fourth quarterfinal on March 13 at 11:30p with coverage also including the second semifinal on Friday, March 14 and the championship game on March 15 at 6p.

FOX Sports also announced today a long-term extension of their agreement for Premiere Networks to continue producing and distributing the FOX Sports Radio Network’s sports entertainment programming to nearly 400 stations across North America and Canada. The deal will see Premiere Networks and FOX Sports work together across multiple platforms to synchronize the audio, digital, online and television assets of FOX Sports, FOXSports.com and FOX Sports Radio. In addition, the radio and television divisions will work closely to increase cross-promotional opportunities and highlight FOX Sports’ personalities.

Golf Channel announced plans for its primetime television event, Arnie, a three-part series about the life of the legendary Arnold Palmer that will air on consecutive nights at 10p starting Sunday, April 13. Golf Channel spent the last year traveling with Palmer, collecting interviews from more than 100 people, and reviewing hundreds of hours of archived film to create the series, which spans Palmer’s entire life to the present.

ABC locked in a multi-year deal with Disson Skating that will bring the sport back to the network. The channel now gets exclusive broadcast rights for Disson Skating’s portfolio of specials for the 2014/2015 television season and will carry the first set of 2-hour skating shows in fall 2014. The second pair of skating specials will air in early 2015.

Back to basketball, NBA TV’s Heat/Rockets telecast on Tuesday averaged 788,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen, to rank as the second most-viewed NBA Fan Night game of all time. The game also marks the channel’s fifth most viewed telecast ever and peaked with more than 1.1 million viewers from 10:15-10:30p.

BTN will present the exclusive, live announcement of the annual Big Ten basketball awards during the #BTNLive All-Conference Selection Special at 6p on Monday. Dave Revsine hosts the show alongside analyst Jim Jackson. Interviews from select award winners will also be included during the 30-minute program.

Cablevision Systems’ Optimum TV locked in a deal to carry beIN Sports, which will launch with a free preview from March 20-23. beIN SPORTS en Espanol and English-language beIN SPORTS will be available on channels 154 and 155 respectively in standard and high definition. The deal will see the channel available to Optimum TV residential customers with either Optimum Gold or the Optimum Sports and Entertainment package.

MLB Network is on deck to launch a brand new weekday studio program featuring famed radio voice Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo. The baseball talk show, High Heat with Christopher Russo, begins on Opening Day, March 31 at noon. The one-hour series will then run weekdays at 1p with discussion on all 30 MLB clubs and interviews with players and club personnel.

ESPN announced that Britt McHenry will join the network as its Washington, D.C.-based bureau reporter, and will serve as correspondent for various news-gathering platforms including SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and sport-specific programs like NFL Live and Baseball Tonight. McHenry currently serves as a sports reporter in Washington, D.C at ABC7/WJLA-TV and at News Channel 8.

NBC Sports launches its second season of Formula One with the Rolex Australian Grand Prix. NBCSN handles coverage of the race starting March 13 with live coverage of both practice sessions and race qualifying with the race starting at 1:30a on March 16. Leigh Diffey returns to anchor the coverage with analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, with Will Buxton live from Australia on the ground as pit reporter and insider.

Tennis Channel offers its own version of March Madness with more than 180 live hours of combined coverage across 17 days from the BNP Paribas Open and the Sony Open Tennis this month. Among the new faces on the network’s on-air team this year will be Jim Courier, Mary Carillo and, making her Tennis Channel debut, Lisa Leslie. The action gets underway with 12-straight hours of matches in Indian Wells Thursday, March 6.


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Budweiser and FOX Sports unveiled a new partnership to create a documentary series showcasing six unique football stories from around the world leading into the World Cup. The new series will air in more than 55 countries around the world, is part of Budweiser’s fully integrated, global content series supporting its new Rise As One FIFA World Cup campaign. The first installment of this series will premiere on March 25 at 8p in the US and Puerto Rico on FOX Sports 1. Scott Boggins and Gabriel Spitzer produce and direct the Rise as One documentary series.

USA Golf locked in a deal with Adidas Golf to become the official uniform provider of the U.S. Olympic team for the 2016 Games in Brazil. The agreement will see Adidas provide clothing for the US team and introduce a line of USA Golf branded appeal. The uniforms will be unveiled in early 2016, ahead of the Olympics.

Spring Training in Arizona will see the debut of Baseball City, the largest and only interactive Spring Training event in the country. Baseball City takes place Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16 at the Phoenix Convention Center with names that include Hall of Famers Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda and San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series Champion Pablo Sandoval and Salvador Perez, All-Star and gold glove catcher for the Kansas City Royals. Fans will experience what it’s like to ‘hit it out of the park’ at the Home Run Derby field before learning how to throw a world class fastball at the Speed Pitch station. Experiences will also include historic memorabilia, locker room displays and more.

Ahead of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, the New Jersey Devils announced plans to host local athletes from Special Olympics New Jersey on March 8 when the Devils face Carolina. Special Olympics New Jersey athletes and the 2014 USA Games, which are taking place in New Jersey this June, will be recognized throughout the game that evening. In addition, Prudential Center will serve as Opening Ceremony Host on June 15 for the nearly 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from throughout the country.


CSN Houston announced that its website, CSNHouston.com, will offer live streaming of the Lone Star Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament games. The action will be also carried live on CSN Houston’s secondary channel, CSN Plus, on Saturday at 3p and 5:30p.


Heat/Spurs on TNT at 8p.


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Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which MAC school has won the most men’s conference basketball tournament championships? Answer: Ball State. Kudos: Denis Barry-CBS Television Stations/NY; Jon Show-Show Sports Media/Charlotte; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.


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