03/21/17: NCAA Tournament numbers stay heated; CBS Sports Radio hits shuffle; NFL’s Career Days


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Good morning. It’s Tuesday March 21, 2017 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

March Madness continues to foster viewership fever, as CBS Sports and Turner Sports saw coverage of the 2017 NCAA Tournament drum up record viewership across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV as well as for streaming on NCAA March Madness Live and engagement through social media channels heading into the Sweet Sixteen. Live game coverage across the four Networks on Sunday averaged 11.9 million viewers, up 34% over last year to mark the most-watched first Sunday in 24 years. Overall, the 2017 NCAA Tournament is also pacing the most-watched in 24 years through the first Sunday, with an average of 9.325 million viewers, 10% from 2016, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile, NCAA March Madness Live generated an all-time record 69.1 million live streams through the first Sunday of the tournament, up 24% over last year while official March Madness social media handles generated 26 million social engagements across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram through Sunday, up 20%.


Meanwhile, CBS Sports and Turner Sports locked in tip times and commentator teams for the Regional Semifinals of the 2017 Men’s Basketball Championship for Thursday and Friday with play beginning at 7p on both days. Tip off begins on CBS at 7:09p on March 24 with Oregon/Michigan, and Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson on microphone duties. TBS features Gonzaga/West Virginia at 7:39p as Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lewis Johnson make the call. Friday’s action starts with North Carolina/Butler on CBS, as Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson call the game. TBS showcases Baylor/South Carolina, with Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel and Allie LaForce handling commentary.

CBS Sports Radio will see its lineup get a shakeup with the departure of Doug Gottlieb from the airwaves, where he will wrap up his run on April 14. The schedule shuffle will see Gottlieb’s show replaced in the 3-6p slot by current 9a-noon hosts Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, who will also assume Gottlieb’s TV simulcast on CBS Sports Network with Tiki and Tierney. Meanwhile, Damon “DA” Amendolara moves from his current 6-10p slot for The DA Show to the 9a-noon slot. Barber, Tierney and Amandolara have all inked new multi-year renewals to remain with the network.

ESPN detailed plans for the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, and will be offering coverage every night this week at 6p on ESPN2. Programming will be hosted each night by ESPN’s Lindsay Czarniak and Kevin Neghandhi with the program originating on site in Austria and include interviews, features, special guests, a daily “competition showcase” segment, and contributions from ESPN’s Jen Lada, Victoria Arlen and Marty Smith.

Get you tickets here! Don’t miss out on the Cynopsis Sports Awards, our annual breakfast honoring the best media and marketing in sports, taking place on April 13 in NYC. Click here for tickets and a list of nominees and get ‘em before they sell out!

After starting season 7 on a hot note with record viewership, Golf Channel’s Feherty announced that Stephen Curry will join David Feherty on his show this season. Curry now joins other names that include Matthew McConaughey and Condoleezza Rice on the guest list this year.

NASCAR America is launching a new series My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows to “highlight and celebrate local race tracks and racing associations in all 50 states across the country.” The show will span the country alphabetically from Alabama to Wyoming and spotlight an individual track each day starting today at 5:30p on NBCSN with South Alabama Speedway in Kinston.

Pac-12 Networks hit season five of baseball coverage with the addition of Ben Francisco to its roster of on-air talent. The channel will offer 102 collegiate baseball broadcasts this season, and will bring back Eric Byrnes, Wes Clements, Scott Erickson, Andy Lopez, Donnie Marbut, J.T. Snow, Kevin Stocker and Dean Stotz as analysts. Also joining the Pac-12 Networks play-by-play chair this season will be Ted Enberg. The rest of the network’s play-by-play lineup is set to include Thad Anderson, Roxy Bernstein, Rich Burk, Joe Castellano, Troy Clardy, Guy Haberman, Greg Heister, J.B. Long, Ted Robinson, Daron Sutton, and Jim Watson.


JUST ANNOUNCED: Sports Media Awards Finalists

Our 6th annual Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast is set for Thursday, April 13 from 8:15-10:30am at NYAC. Network with your peers and hear about the year’s best sports programming and marketing.

Join the finalists, support your colleagues and network with the best in the industry!

** Preview the list of finalists & register for the Awards event **


The NFL hosts is second-annual Women’s Career Development Symposium in Phoenix starting March 24. The vent will bring together over 40 female executives from across the 32 NFL teams and league office, with a mission to educate, develop and train participants on specific career paths in Football Operations, including football administration, operations, coaching and scouting. Among the speakers and presenters are RSE Strategy and Business Development Executive Dawn Aponte; Cardinals Owner Michael Bidwill; Bengals Executive Vice President Katie Blackburn; Falcons Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli; and Chargers President of Football Operations John Spanos

Topgolf is teaming with both the PGA TOUR and the LPGA in a move to help kids gain access to the game of golf. As part of its Topgolf for Good program, Topgolf announced that it will now offer free game play to any charitable organization whose purpose is aligned with youth leadership, mentorship and empowerment. Free game play is now available at any Topgolf location in the US Monday through Thursday from 9a-5p. “The PGA TOUR and LPGA are collaborating with Topgolf on developing initiatives to help grow the game,” said Ty Votaw, PGA TOUR Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer. “PGA TOUR Charities is excited to bring LPGA-USGA Girls Golf and The First Tee together to experience a free Topgolf event through Topgolf Junior PLAY. Topgolf is having tremendous success attracting golfers and non-golfers alike by providing a fun, casual atmosphere at its venues. Alongside this event, Topgolf is announcing free game play at Topgolf for charitable organizations committed to youth leadership and mentorship, in addition to any high school golf team. Collectively this speaks to the commitment of our respective organizations to grow our sport.”


The Oakland Athletics locked in a multi-year partnership with licensed sports merchandise leader Fanatics, opening the doors for a larger assortment of A’s fan gear available at the most competitive. Fanatics, which currently runs e-commerce for the team through its operation of MLBShop.com, will create an omni-channel retail experience for A’s fans attending games at the Oakland Coliseum. “The A’s are a tradition-rich franchise and we are excited to offer fans ready-access to the largest assortment of merchandise ever available at the ballpark,” said Cole Gahagan, chief commercial officer for Fanatics. “As a company that’s focused on creating unique omni-channel experiences for our partners, we look forward to using our tech-infused retail approach to help boost the overall game-day experience for A’s fans.”
Outside TV is launching Outside TV Features, offering on-demand via leading streaming platforms to offer instant access to full-length action and adventure sports films. The platform expansion offers a lineup of snow-sports films available for the first time as SVOD, such as Tight Loose, TGR’s highest achievement to date and Wildcats Never Die. The service will be offered for $4.99 a month.


Newborn Indian esports league UCypher has already landed a national distribution partner within the country, inking a deal with MTV India as the league begins its first season in April. The organization will also be carried on YouTube and Twitch with season one of the bi-annual league run by USports and featuring six teams, vying for CS:GO and DOTA 2.


Whistle Sports is bringing in Tyler Steinhardt to serve as the General Manager of The Lacrosse Network. Steinhardt previously founded the 24-hour lacrosse event Shootout for Soldiers and previously served as the General Manager of the Uganda National Lacrosse Team. “Tyler’s experience in the lacrosse space will be a great addition to The Lacrosse Network and will help push it forward as the digital powerhouse in lacrosse. We look forward to seeing the work that Tyler and the TLN team can do as they continue to grow the sports’ audience through connecting around digital content,” said Jeff Urban, co-founder and President, Whistle Sports.

ESPN Radio New York 98.7FM program director Justin Craig was named Senior Director, Programming and Operations for the national ESPN Radio network. Craig will now be responsible for all aspects of ESPN Radio programming and production, including oversight of Mike & Mike, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, Russillo & Kanell, and nighttime and weekend programming.


Team USA/Japan in the World Baseball Classic semifinal on MLB Network at 9p.


WEBINAR: What You Need to Know Now About the Hottest Social Media Platforms

The rapid-fire pace of the social media landscape (R.I.P., Vine, hello Houseparty) requires an ever-evolving social strategy for networks and brands. But staying on top of social is a real challenge. Music Choice and Octagon will offer insights on new platforms and features programmers and advertisers should be exploring, as well as what social media skills your team should focus on updating.


ON THIS DAY in 1964: UCLA wraps up an undefeated NCAA men’s basketball season.

In The Know: Which country was crowned champion in the first two editions of the World Baseball Classic? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In which movie could you see the Globo Gym Purple Cobras play? Answer: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Kudos: Traci Liner-WME/IMG/NY; Bob Dudelson-Leverage Agency/NY; Evan Noonan-Optimum Sports/NY; Rick Ramage-UTA/NY; Meredith Violi-CSN Mid-Atlantic/DC; Sonia Durr-Carat/Atlanta; Scott Leslie-UPS/Atlanta; Farrah Segaloff-Comcast Spotlight/Quincy; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Matt Fumagalli-NBC Sports/Chicago; Derrick Stasica-THV11/Little Rock; Lance Davis-Good Karma Brands-ESPN Milwaukee/Milwaukee; Michael Jaquet-US Ski and Snowboard/Park City; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Jeff Cederbaum-Arizona Diamondbacks/Phoenix; Anne C. Wettig-Fox Cable Networks/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Julie Shields-Alaska Aces/Anchorage.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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