04/07/14: Jason Coyle Lays Out Plans for 120 Sports


BTN is the premier national college sports network born from the nation’s most storied conference. With nearly half of its 180 football and men’s basketball games featuring a top 25 team & deeper coverage than anyone else, BTN delivers 450+ live events & Emmy-nominated programming yearly. The Big Ten’s eastward expansion means BTN will have over 60 million subs nationwide. And it’s all supercharged by BTN’s digital, mobile & social media extensions, including BTN2Go, the network’s TV-Everywhere app. This is today’s Big Ten Network.


Good morning. It’s Monday, April 7, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

February saw the announcement of 120 Sports, a live-streaming platform dubbed as "a first-of-its-kind network partnership involving multiple leagues and media properties." The launch includes equity investors such as Sports Illustrated and Silver Chalice with content partners that also include the NHL, NBA, MLB.com, NASCAR and Campus Insiders. The company will soon detail schedules and an official launch date but was designed to offer programming in two-minute segments on a platform created and powered by equity investor MLBAM’s technology infrastructure and mobile app development. Talent already includes former ESPN host Michael Kim along with Bryant McFadden, Ovie Mughelli, Dave Ross, Tim Doyle, Dylan McGorty, Ro Parrish, Alex Schlereth and Laura Britt.

Cynopsis Sports caught up with Jason Coyle, President of 120 Sports, to talk about the venture, what to expect and the backstory on how it all came together.

Coyle on the creation of 120 Sports: It’s been in development for a number of years. It really started out as a conversation of "what if" and we went and asked the leagues what they thought during the drawing board phase. So we just started working together loosely and diligently over the course of a couple years and everyone seemed to think it was a good idea to pursue it. We finally hit a stage in May of last year, where everybody was getting a sense that we would like to do something and it was about then when we had a conversation that was completely separate with Sports Illustrated, but it started to make sense that perhaps we should combine the conversations. It made sense editorially, from a sales perspective and a directional perspective of where they wanted to take their business and where we saw the opportunity for 120.

On bringing in the leagues: It really was less of a sale and more of a conversation and constantly looking to where we thought opportunities for fans existed. We were fortunate enough through our ownership structure to have great working relationships with the leagues. So we had ongoing dialogues, wondering "What if we did this?" Honestly, we knew that the only way it would work is if it was complimentary of all of their businesses and respectful of all of their television relationships. This was not pitched as the XYZ killer. We think that this is a great multisport digital compliment to their individual businesses. So when we come out you will see a deeply ingrained philosophy of promoting television tune-in, and offering deeper analysis for their sports. We won’t have live games, although we will be live with our news and conversation and will let fans know that a game has gone into the fourth quarter and they should check it out on XYZ network.

On why it’s a good idea: We knew that there’s this great big service we could build for the fans that is both fast and first in terms of real-time coverage of the trends that was digital from inception. It is uniquely social, interactive and allows any user on any device to always access this. It didn’t seem like there was anything like this out there, and we wanted to take something like that and offer it to sports fans in a way that would hopefully grow the overall pot for everybody.

On programming: We will be announcing programming specifics in the next couple of weeks, but it is talent driven. We’ve got a deep bench of eleven hosts/co-hosts/update reporters and a great group of league specific analysts that we will be announcing shortly. We will be pulling them in remotely from all over the country to add analysis and insight to their specific sports. We will also be pulling in Sports Illustrated writers through the week and throughout the day to add their own unique insight. So you start with this diverse and unique talent base and you add the fact that we’ve got a hundred people working on the productions themselves. We’ve got a fully staffed operation that allows us to produce in two-minute blocks and be live for a significant number of hours.


Improbable runs by Kentucky and Connecticut (I never thought I’d say that!) delivered Turner Sports and CBS Sports with the two most-watched college basketball telecasts in cable television history for the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Semifinals on Saturday across TBS, TNT and truTV. The collective coverage of Kentucky/Wisconsin grossed 16.3 million total viewers for the channels, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals, to rank number one all-time, while Connecticut/Florida grossed 11.7 million to take second for an average of 14 million for the night. Although those games were down 11% from year ago numbers from CBS, this marks the first year the Final Four had ever aired on cable. The games also netted 3.8 million live streams for an increase of 76% over last year with more than one million hours of live video consumed, up 37% over 2013. According to Social Guide, the National Semifinals tallied more than 1.8 million tweets – that were seen by nearly 200 million followers – for a 36% increase over last year.
It’s Masters Week! Golf Channel laid out its coverage plans for the event, with over 80 hours of live news coverage through Sunday. In addition to themed editions of Morning Drive and Live From the Masters, the network will also reel in special guests that include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw, Ray Floyd, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. Digital coverage is set to include news and features as well as live chats from Thursday to Sunday. Following Live From the Masters on Sunday, Golf Channel will premiere Arnie at 10p, a three-night television documentary on the impact of Arnold Palmer.

ESPN continues to shore up the talent base for the upcoming SEC Network, adding LSU legends Anthony "Booger" McFarland and Marcus Spears as college football analysts for the channel. McFarland and Spears join a lineup that includes Greg McElroy, Jesse Palmer, Tim Tebow, Brent Musburger and Joe Tessitore.

Wednesday saw UniMas continue its run of ratings wins with its telecast of the USA/Mexico friendly, which was simulcast on Univision Deportes Network. The match delivered an average of 3.9 Total Viewers and 2.4 million Adults 18-49, according to Nielsen. The 2-2 draw ranks as the most-viewed soccer match of 2014 on any network and the top friendly ever on the channel.

ESPN is bringing together a couple of powerhouses for the Jimmy V Women’s Classic, slating the University of Connecticut and University of Notre Dame.  The13th annual game will be played at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind., and televised on ESPN or ESPN2on Saturday, Dec. 6.
ONE World Sports nabbed North American rights to carry every home match of the England national cricket team through 2017 in a multiplatform deal. Acquired through digital sports media company PERFORM, the move adds 600 hours of exclusive and live content to the network’s lineup. Matches will be telecast live on the network’s linear channel and across all ONE World Sports’ digital platforms, including its Watch ONE World Sports app. Coverage begins with a T20 match between England and Sri Lanka on May 20.

Only a couple of tables left. Tickets to the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards are going fast. This event will once again sell out!! Come join me as I co-host with Campus Insiders’ Bonnie Bernstein to honor the year’s best and brightest work from across the sports industry. Special awards will be presented to NASCAR’s Brian France, NBC Sports Group’s Mark Lazarus and Turner Sports’ Christina Miller. Presenters will include some of the hottest names in sports as well as some of the most powerful people driving the business today. Don’t miss out! Click here for tickets.

Speaking with reporters at the Final Four, NCAA President Mark Emmert made a firm statement against the prospects of unionization for college players. "To be perfectly frank, the notion of using a union employee model to address the challenges that do exist in intercollegiate athletics is something that strikes most people as a grossly inappropriate solution to the problems," Emmert said, according to the AP. "It would blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics." However, he did note that changes need to be made ASAP.

First Miami, now Major League Soccer appears to have its next franchise on deck. Philly.com reports that Atlanta will be officially awarded MLS’ 22nd franchise later this month. The report states that the team will be run "in association with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons," and will be a co-tenant with the Falcons in their new outdoor stadium, which is set to open in 2017.

Dish Network locked in an agreement with SportsTime Ohio that will see the Cleveland Indians once again become available to viewers in Northeast Ohio. The deal was announced the day the Cleveland Indians opened the home portion of their 2014 schedule.


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Analytics platform SponsorHub implemented its real time social listening efforts to the NCAA Men’s Tournament, tracking fan engagement with some of the top players participating this year. Through the Elite Eight, players to strike a chord with viewers (either positively or negatively) included:

  • Player who connects to the largest audience: Andrew Wiggins
  • Player who provides the most enjoyment: Nick Stauskas
  • Player who generates the most excitement: Marcus Smart and Fred VanVleet
  • Players offering best balance of reach and emotional impact: Nick Stausks
  • Player who elicits the most negative emotional sentiment: Rodney Hood
  • Shabazz Napier took the top spot in overall reach

Say goodbye to the Gator Bowl. A new six-year deal between TaxSlayer.com and the Board of Trustees of Gator Bowl Sports will now rename the game the TaxSlayer Bowl starting with the 2015 event. TaxSlayer.com became title sponsor for the Gator Bowl in 2011.

PBR kicked off ticket sales for the PBR’s return to Scottrade Center next February at PBR St. Louis: A Cowboy Bar, the newest member of the organization’s chain. The business marks the seventh PBR bar in the country, with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cordish Companies and PBR announcing the location in February 2013.
NASCAR announced that fourth-grader Whitney Thomason of Trophy Club’s Samuel Beck Elementary School created the winning paint scheme in Spin Master’s NASCAR Authentics Design A Die-cast competition among the 11 local elementary schools and more than 6,500 students participating in Texas Motor Speedway’s "Speeding To Read" educational program. The design incorporated her school’s colors and logo as well as reading into the overall theme.


The ACC Digital Network announced that it was the latest sports entry to take part on the newly-launched Amazon Fire TV as well as on Amazon’s Kindle Fire Tablets. "What a tremendous opportunity for the ACC to have the ACC Digital Network as one of the early services on Amazon Fire TV," said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. "The ACC Digital Network continues to develop a national portfolio of digital distribution partners that allows fans to easily and successfully access ACC content from anywhere at any time."

The North American Sports Group locked in a new deal with TeamSnap, a service used by 5 million+ people around the world to manage their sports teams, activities, groups and organizations. The partnership will see TeamSnap will have a major presence on the NASG’s digital platforms including its website, the Grassroots Sports Channel YouTube page as well as the company’s social media and registration platforms.


For all the marbles. Kentucky/Connecticut on CBS at 9p.



Creating the Perfect Media Pitch: The New Secrets of Selling Content to Advertisers Webinar
April 8, 2014 | 1:30-3 p.m. ET | Register Now

Speakers Include:
Lynn LaRoccaSVP of Marketing and Advertising (Modell’s)
Jon SteinlaufEVP, Ad Sales and Marketing  (Scripps)
Linda OngPresident and Brand Strategist (TruthCo.)
Tom TalbertGroup Director, Media Services (Lowe Campbell Ewald)

ON THIS DAY in 1969: Ted Williams begins managing the Washington Senators.

In The Know: (This will either be really easy to guess or amazingly obscure). To mark the return of Game of Thrones, one of this season’s actors recently finished second in the World’s Strongest Man competition. What character does he play? Hint: It is not The Hound. (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: Name one school that has left the Southeastern Conference as a full member. Answers: Georgia Tech, Tulane, Sewanee. Kudos: Noah Coslov-CineSport/NY; Michael Goodman-Radio-One/Atlanta; Justin Hirnisey-USA Gymnastics/Indianapolis; Victor Cates-UT Martin/Martin; Kristin Staskowski-Charter Media/Birmingham; Larry Glazer-WTTW TV/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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