03/10/14: Lydia Murphy-Stephans Talks Basketball, Future of Pac-12 Networks


Good morning. It’s Monday, March 10, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament now over, Pac-12 Networks prepares to hit Vegas as part of its blanket coverage of its Winter Championships with the men’s tournament. Coverage spans March 12-15 with all four opening round matchups, plus three quarterfinal and one semifinal contest airing exclusively on Pac-12 Networks. Live game action on the nearly two-year old channel begins on Pac-12 Networks Wednesday at noon.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Lydia Murphy-Stephans, President of Pac-12 Networks, about plans for the upcoming tournament coverage, the future of the network and how fans have surprised her.

On the state of the channels: Year one was about creating the foundation and building our team to launch the networks and be able to deliver quality events. Now we have a really solid foundation, and all seven networks are operational. Each regional network is very different from the other so we’ve been able to truly cater to our fan base by being able to deliver them Pac-12 content that is of interest to each particular fan so our fan now has choices. First of all, the fan can consume content on any device that she or he wants. Our TV Everywhere mirrors our channels and is available to authenticated consumers. Through Pac12.com, we have a plethora of content offering any sport at any time. We’ve activated all platforms and that is very exciting for us.

On digital successes: We launched TV Everywhere at the same time that we launched our linear networks. That should continue to grow. The percentages that it is growing are phenomenal but we are still very much in the testing stage as we are still working with our university partners as well as consumer to make sure that we are delivering the highest quality and the most content that we possibly can. For example at the men’s and women’s Pac-12 basketball tournaments, the post-game press conferences will be streamed in their entirety online. We are doing game coverage and also have our studio shows and our digital side will also offer in-game highlights as the games are going on. Last year we crashed the server because so many fans were consuming content online. That will not happen again, but was a good news/bad news situation and we got everything back up and running, but we didn’t anticipate at the time that time that kind of traffic. Now we are expecting and prepared for it.

On surprises: While we expect engagement to be veracious for football and basketball, we are also noticing that this year, compared to last year, the volume and increase in popularity for women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer has been strong. Year-to-year increases in some cases were more than 300%. We’ve now increased the number of games in those sports that we cover and it seems like our audience first was aware that Pac-12 Networks now exists and then they were trained to actually go online and utilize the schedule to find when the events were being telecast and on which network.

On production advancements: With the men’s basketball championships, we typically cover a game with seven cameras, but for the tournament we will have 12 cameras per game. We’ll have RF cameras, we’ll have super slo-mo. We’ll use LiberoVision, the 3D replay system. All the bells and whistles that are available and that a fan is accustomed to seeing in a high-end championship sports event, we will roll out for the men’s basketball championship.

On distribution: We have ongoing talks and they remain a high business priority to get the maximum distribution that we can for the Pac-12 Networks. We are very pleased with where we are today. Talks with distribution companies that don’t carry Pac-12 Networks are ongoing.


ESPN revealed plans to premiere a new soccer-themed series, Inside: US Soccer’s March to Brazil, this spring, spotlighting the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team as they prepare for the World Cup. The six episode documentary series comes from ESPN Films and air weekly for five consecutive weeks beginning on May 13. Episodes will also air on ABC following their ESPN premieres. ESPN will also showcase additional original scenes from the series that will air across SportsCenter and other ESPN platforms including ESPNFC and ESPN.com.

WWE should know its new home by the end of next month, according to company CFO George Barrios. "We think we’ll be able to announce a new domestic rights partner at the end of April or beginning of May," Barrios said in a call with reporters. According to multiple reports, the company has had discussions to bring Raw and Smackdown with companies that include AMC Networks, Viacom, Time Warner and FOX as well as incumbent NBCU.

ESPN tackles NFL free agency this week with multiple editions of NFL Insiders and an hour-long NFL Live as part of a special three-hour block of programming starting at 3p tomorrow. Suzy Kolber hosts an hour-long NFL Insiders on Tuesday previewing the official start of free agency (which begins at 4p) and will be joined by Insiders Adam Caplan, Adam Schefter and Bill Polian.

NBA TV’s next edition of NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint will feature the Rockets visiting Oklahoma City on Tuesday at 8p. Host Matt Winer will be joined by Chris Webber to offer analysis during the AutoTrader.com Pregame Show starting at 7:30p.

Univision reports that on Wednesday, UniMas drew an average audience of 2.5 million with its Mexico/Nigeria telecast. In addition, the match scored as the channel’s most-viewed friendly ever among adults 18-49, averaging 2 million viewers in the demographic from 8:38p to 10:34 during the contest.

RIP to Ted Bergmann, one of the first producers for NFL telecasts. The producer, who also produced some of the early Grammy broadcasts as well as live boxing, died last Sunday following surgery in Santa Monica at the age of 93.


Entry Deadline: March 14, 2014 
Late Deadline: March 21, 2014
Awards Ceremony: June 11, 2014
From the most outstanding achievements in content creation, marketing & promotion, Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards honor the best in kids international programming and marketing.

Learn about the Awards Program & Enter.


As ESPN offers up two major tennis events this month in the BNP Paribas Open and the Sony Open Tennis, the company announced that, for the first time, American fans are invited to submit entries in a contest to design the official annual poster representing The Championships, Wimbledon. The deadline for poster submissions is Sunday, March 16, after which the All England Club and ESPN will collaborate to narrow the field down to the top 25 contenders. During ESPN’s coverage of the Sony Open Tennis fan voting will open on ESPN.com to help determine the five finalists before Chris Evert and John McEnroe, along with AELTC Chairman Philip Brook, select the winning poster.

Nike laid claim to Johnny Football, locking in a deal with Johnny Manziel for apparel and to use the Texas A&M star in upcoming marketing campaigns via a multi-year deal. According to ESPN, Adidas, Under Armour and New Balance’s Warrior also submitted bids for Manziel’s marketing rights.

In a ceremony hosted at the NASCAR Fuel for Business (NFFB) meeting in Las Vegas, NASCAR presented the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company with the "Driving Business Award." The annual award is bestowed to the Official NASCAR Partner that demonstrates extraordinary leadership and results through its participation in the NFFB Council.


Nate Silver announced that the relaunch of FiveThirtyEight will be on time for March Madness and will be unveiled on March 17. According to a release from ESPN, they are "still completing final testing on the new website, and tweaking the final elements of the site’s design. But we estimate the probability of a March 17 launch at 90.617854%."

The UFC revealed that its digital platform UFC Fight Pass had gone international, with fans in 178 countries now able to access live fights, original programming and its library.

USA TODAY Sports Media Group announced a partnership between high school sports information companies Schedule Star LLC and AllPlayers.com Inc., that will see data living on USATodayHSS.com.


Old foes St. Mary’s/Gonzaga square off in the WCC semifinal on ESPN at 9p.


Reaching Today’s U.S. Hispanic Connected Audience Through Digital, Social Media and Web Video

Join Cynopsis Digital at 1:30 PM Thursday, March 27 to gain fresh data & insights into where the powerful and growing Hispanic market is most active on the second screen, apps, online and mobile video and the digital space in general.

Register now for this outstanding training session for you & your team!.

ON THIS DAY in 1985: Dallas Maverick coach Dick Motta becomes the 4th NBA coach to win 700 games.

In The Know: Name three Pac-12 teams that have never won the conference’s men’s basketball tournament. (Email [email protected] 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.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which school currently has the longest streak of consecutive appearances in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? Answer: Kansas with 24, three shy of UNC’s record. Kudos: Andreas Droste-NBC Sports/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Mike McCarthy-Ad Age/NY; Aymon DeMauro-Discovery/NY; Jeremy Bowman-ESPN/Chicago; Gretchen Brady-KDAF-TV  CW33/Dallas; Tony Black-USA Wrestling/Colorado Springs; Warren Weideman-Producer/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City.


The Exploding World of Kids’ Tablets: The New Way to Build Your Brand
Thursday, March 20, 2014 ||| Time:1:30 – 3:00pm ET

Abby Jenkins – Director of Content {PBS KIDS Digital}
Graham Farrar – Co-Founder {IStoryTime}
Caroline Fraser – VP, Digital Products & Prod. {Scholastic Media}
Mindy Brooks Director, Education & Research {Sesame Workshop}
Moderator: Cathy Applefeld Olson Editor {Cynopsis Kids!}


Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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