04/04/16: AJ Hawk puts on a show; TBS ready for spotlight; Papa John’s grabs a slice of baseball


Good morning. It’s Monday April 4, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

What’s in a name? For professional athletes, the answer is a lot as the stars join the growing not-com movement in a move to differentiate themselves from the plethora of media options on the table. With the expansion of the Internet, athletes are jumping into new opportunities to boost their online presence, and this month alone, at least eight athletes are making a tactical shift from .com websites, including Gordon Hayward, Brandon Bair, DJ Fluker and Davon House of .life extensions, while Andrew Nicholson is tapping .camp for his site.

For NFL linebacker AJ Hawk, who launched his own podcast series The HawkCast a year ago, the switch from .com to .show was an elemental strategy designed to simply educate fans on what exactly his media presence entailed. Now 53 episodes into the format, his lineup of interviews has included sports names that range from Joe Buck to Ricky Williams as well as a wide range of celebs that include the likes of Bret Michaels, Josh Duhamel, and Kato Kaelin. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Hawk about his decision to launch the show, how it impacts his post-football career and the importance of a name.

Hawk on launching The HawkCast: It all started because I was a big fan of listening to other people’s podcasts. I thought it was always interesting to hear people talk in a real and casual conversation-type of setting where it didn’t sounds like a typical interview. So I was talking with my wife, who encouraged me to do it and I started learning how to do something like this, the logistics of it, how I would talk to people, etc. and with that forum available to me, I’ve ended up enjoying it even more than I thought I would.

On lessons learned: I’ve learned it isn’t as easy as it looks! I knew that would be the case going in, as I had typically been on just the one side of an interview over the years. Most athletes have never been the guy asking the questions and since I want to go into the broadcast world when I’m done playing football, I knew this would help me get some practice asking the questions so I knew what they had to go through. I had Joe Buck on my podcast pretty early on, and he gave me a great piece of advice when I asked him what to do when you are about to interview somebody and you aren’t excited about it, and he said to keep an open mind because they could completely blow you away and they may not be who you thought they were. That has been absolutely true, and with each interview, I learn something new. Of course, I also find something that bugs me about my interview skills that I can correct, whether it is a tic or something I repeat, and I work to overcome that and get better. 

On rebranding the site: It made sense to me to rebrand to TheHawkCast.show because when I would try to explain what a podcast is to someone, a lot of people didn’t understand what that actually entailed. With the not-com movement going on, I realized that using a .com extension didn’t represent what I was doing. But if they type in .show, they will realize, “Wow, AJ Hawk has a show!” and it will help people become more aware.

On the AJ Hawk brand: I don’t really feel like I have a brand because there is no separate me. There’s no different version of me online or in my home or on the football field. This is who I am, whatever you see represents who I am at all times.


Two blowouts in the Final Four made history for TBS, which saw the National Semifinal doubleheader mark the third time in 50 years that both Final Four games were decided by 15 or more points. While the scores pushed viewership off-pace from last year’s numbers, North Carolina/Syracuse still averaged 12.9 million total viewers while Villanova/Oklahoma averaged 10.5 million to rank as the third and fourth most-viewed college basketball telecasts in the history of cable television, behind only last year’s matchups. Overall, Saturday’s Final Four coverage on TBS still delivered the highest-rated program of the night in primetime across all of television.

Meanwhile, the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship will tip off tonight at 9:19p on TBS with Jim Nantz calling the game beside analysts Grant Hill and Bill Raftery and reporter Tracy Wolfson. “Team Stream by Bleacher Report” will include the North Carolina Team Stream on TNT as well as the Villanova Team Stream on truTV with coverage beginning on TBS at 7p with the Capital One Championship Central pregame show. Pregame coverage will include guest appearances by Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo and Connecticut Head Coach Kevin Ollie and include taped performances from Sunday’s NCAA March Madness Music Festival featuring Maroon 5 and Pitbull, airing as part of the pregame show.

ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship tomorrow starts at 8:30p, with the network lining up 16 cameras to cover the games from 21 different positions, as well as four cameras focused on the in-arena studio set. Tech will include ESPN Virtual 3, illuminating the 3-point line; the ART system and two Avid Symphony Nitris DX Mac systems onsite. Meanwhile, Beth Mowins makes her television debut at the Women’s Final Four as the play-by-play announcer, joining analyst Doris Burke and reporter Holly Rowe

2016’s first quarter of 2016 saw ESPN lead all cable networks in primetime among key male demo groups, including 18+, 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.  In addition, the network led the pack among viewers 18-34 and 18-49. The quarter saw, ESPN run cable’s two most-watched telecasts (the College Football Playoff National Championship) and the Cotton Bowl.

Elsewhere, beIN Sports saw 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier ratings find audiences, led by the Chile/Argentina match on March 24 with an average audience of 564,000 total viewers across both beIN Sports and beIN Sports en Espanol. Other recent matches saw Peru/Venezuela delivered 253,000 total viewers, Brazil/Uruguay averaging 389,000, Argentina/Bolivia with 314,000 and Colombia/Ecuador drawing 263,000.

We are down to just a few weeks! The Cynopsis Sports Awards honors the best in the business on April 21 in New York. Click here now to claim your spot.

MLB Network hits the plate for Opening Day with 17 straight hours of live coverage today starting at 9a with Intentional Talk with Chris Rose and Kevin Millar. Studio shows MLB Central (10a), High Heat with Christopher Russo (noon), MLB Tonight (1p) and Quick Pitch (1a) will air throughout the day. MLB Network offers 40 live games in April beginning with Mets/Royals on tomorrow at 4p.

SiriusXM’s coverage of the 2016 Masters Tournament will include more than 70 hours of original talk programming, over 20 hours of live Tournament play-by-play, new shows hosted by past Masters champions and contenders, as well as a guided course tour with Ben Crenshaw and Lou Holtz, and historic audio from the Augusta National archives. Tournament action runs at 2p from April 7-10, while the three shows debuting this week will include Craig Stadler’s I am the Walrus on April 5 at 1p and run as a monthly show on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio; The Follow Through with Hale Irwin and John Feinstein on April 6 at 1p; and Dave Stockton’s Own Your Game on April 5 at 4p.

UFC locked in a new partnership with WIN Sports to broadcast UFC-based programming in Colombia this year. WIN Sports will feature six live UFC events and three Countdown episodes, as well as the third season of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America and UFC NOW. 

Sporting Kansas City launched the SkyCam Wildcat system to SKCTV during Saturday’s match against Real Salt Lake at Children’s Mercy Park. The camera will offer in-game action throughout every SKCTV telecast this year and marks the first MLS club to feature a semi-permanent installation of SkyCam at its home stadium. “Bringing SkyCam to professional soccer will help SKCTV deliver the best television viewing experience in the sport,” Sporting KC president Jake Reid said. “This state-of-the-art addition will showcase the game to supporters in a whole new way and aligns with the club’s commitment to innovation and originality.”


5th Annual Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast
Thursday, April 21 | 8:15-10:30am | NY Athletic Club

Don’t miss the event, it’s sure to impress!

Finalists | Luminary Honorees | Event Details + Registration.


Papa John’s locked in a deal with MLB to become the Official Pizza of the league. The pizza brand will activate an integrated marketing and experiential campaign across MLB‘s media platforms, signature events, and the Play Ball Initiative with the deal. Promotions include Papa Slams, where fans gets a 40% discount for every Grand Slam hit during the season, while the company will now be promoted across MLB.com, MLB social channels, MLB Network and MLB.TV with live look-ins on games when the bases are loaded.

We have a confirmed departure from Oakland, as Overstock.com is ending its sponsorship of the O.co Coliseum, a deal that began in 2011, opting out of the final year of the six-year deal.


To celebrate the start of the new baseball season, @MLB and Twitter are asking baseball fans to wear their favorite club’s cap on Opening Day, submitting photos, videos, and more using #CapsOn in order to unlock a new Twitter emoji:


Facebook is reportedly withdrawing its bid to stream NFL games next season, with Bloomberg writing that company is pulling out of the running due to advertising conflicts. The report states that Facebook wanted the live stream to be commercial-free and wasn’t interested in the league’s traditional advertising model for the London Games.

Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins announced that fans will be able to access expanded digital content on Dolphins.com, the Dolphins mobile app, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube with content set to include behind-the-scenes stories, video content; weekly chats; podcasts and film breakdowns through the team’s video library. In addition, the team will share select Dolphins content with current media partners WFOR and ESPN Deportes and its English-language radio partner once a deal is finalized. As a result, press conferences now will be streamed on Dolphins.com, Facebook Live and Periscope and, during practices, the team will host Open Locker Room Live.


Psyonix, developer and publisher of Rocket League, unveiled a slate of amateur, collegiate, and semi-professional skill partnerships designed to bolster its current eSports initiatives. In addition to the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) announced earlier this month, Psyonix will also back the Electronic Sports League (ESL), Rocket League Central (RLC), and the American Video Game League (AVGL) starting this month. ESL’s Rocket League Go4 Cups are geared toward the amateur level, with weekly and monthly prize pools that will be increased in the upcoming season. "

The International Dota 2 Championship returns to Seattle’s KeyArena this summer, with top Dota teams fighting for the Aegis of Champions, with the main event set to run for 6 days spanning Aug. 8-13. Tickets go on sale April 7th at 10a PT. 2015’s $18.4 million prize pool marked a record, nearly doubling the $10.9 million haul in 2014.


2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship on TBS a 9p.




ON THIS DAY in 1986: Wayne Gretzky breaks the record for most points in a single season, notching his 213th point of the campaign.

In The Know: Which city has hosted the most NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship games? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What is the nickname for teams playing for UC Irvine? Answer: The Anteaters. Kudos: Michael Dittelman-Dedicated Sports Marketing/NY; Brian Traynor-WME|IMG/New York; Frank Costa-CBS Sports/NY; Keith Marder-Halstead Property/NY; Steve Nason-Simmons Research/Deerfield Beach; John Jordan-Flagler College/St. Augustine; Mike Vest-Atlantic 10 Conference/Virginia; Howie Schwab-Sports Jeopardy/ West Hartford; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Doherty-Starcom Media/Chicago; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Cameron Legge-Fox Sports/Phoenix; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; Scott Sarra-NBC Sports Group/Denver; Harry S Vested Jr.-GSN Group/Denver; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Drew Moser-San Diego Hall of Champions/San Diego; Bryan Geidt-REVSHARE/Temecula; Jim Bernard-FOX Sports/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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