05/01/15: Kentucky Derby gets NBC’s Big Event blitz; FOX Sports gets its World Cup team; Sports Illustrated gets Film treatment



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Good morning. It’s Friday May 1, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

NBC Sports Group continues its marathon of Kentucky Derby coverage today, calling in the family members to help boost promotion of the event before culminating with the 141st running of the race on NBC tomorrow at 4p. This year’s ‘Big Event Strategy” will include multiple touch points on Today where Al Roker reports live all morning from Churchill Downs tomorrow, while Kathie Lee and Hoda wear Derby hats while they share Derby trivia and their “drink of choice” ie the mint julep. Roker continues hit report on The Weather Channel during Wake up With Al. CNBC’s Dominic Chu reports on the big business of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs today, with MSNBC offering live interview segments and E! News features an “Insiders’ Guide” to the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs.

Late Night with Seth Meyers saw the host and Fred Armisen deliver their Derby picks to be revealed during NBC’s Kentucky Derby broadcast on Saturday as will the judges from The Voice and host Carson Daly, Steve Harvey and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. Kentucky Derby promotions will air throughout the week on NBC Affiliates, Owned Stations, and NBC Sports Regional Networks across the country. Meanwhile, for the first time, NBC Sports Radio will present two hours of live Kentucky Derby coverage beginning Saturday, May 2 at 5p. 


FOX Sports lined up its roster of studio analysts for live pre-match, halftime and post-match commentary ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. Personalities are set to represent five different countries – USA, Canada, England, Germany and Mexico and combine for 932 international matches played, including a 51 FIFA World Cup and Women’s World Cup match appearances between 1990 and 2011. The lineup includes US Men’s and Women’s National Team stars Angela Hucles, Alexi Lalas, Heather Mitts, Leslie Osborne and Eric Wynalda, along with retired Canadian WNT striker Christine Latham; Kelly Smith, England’s all-time women’s leading goal scorer; Ariane Hingst, two-time Women’s World Cup champion with Germany; and former Mexican Women’s National Team captain Monica Gonzalez. In addition, longtime FIFA Match Commissioner Dr. Joe Machnik will be on hand to offer insight, interpreting rules and dissecting referee decisions.

Speaking of FOX, the company announced that so far, the 2015 Major League Baseball season opened with a bang on FOX Sports 1. The channel saw average viewership grow 26% compared to the season’s first three Saturdays a year ago, reeling in an average of 597,000, while the A18-49 demo has swelled 28% season-to-date, according to Nielsen. Last Saturday’s action saw the Indians/Tigers game hand the channel its largest MLB audience ever with 817,000 tuning in. On the local front, FOX-owned regional sports networks saw game telecasts of the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres rank as the top-rated programming in primetime since the start of the season in their respective home markets.

Just ahead of Mayweather/Pacquiao, truTV steps into the ring for the first time tonight with MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout. The 10p broadcast will feature two title fights from The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Production is set to include the first-ever domestic use of “Spidercam” technology for a live boxing telecast, which will offer “definitive views of the action throughout the series by operating on a four-point system of cables from designated points beyond the corners of the boxing ring.” The suspended camera will be able to offer 360-degree angles of the action including the ability to move in three dimensions  left/right, forward/backward and up/down. Commentators include Kevin Kugler on play-by-play, with Timothy Bradley as analyst and Crystina Poncher as reporter. As part of its entitlement sponsorship of the boxing series on truTV, MetroPCS will receive camera-visible center ring and corner pad brand placement for each fight, as well as inclusion in all promotional messaging across truTV and other Turner Broadcasting networks.

Speaking of fights, Showtime and HBO beef up content today heading into the Mayweather/Pacquiao showdown. The pair of channels will both deliver the weigh-in live today at 6p. Additionally, the Showtime Sports digital team is working with SnapChat to offer exclusive content, launching a new boxing blog on TUMBLR entitled Pound for Pound, and working with Twitter on a unique feature capturing the years of social conversation leading to #MayPac. CBS Sports Network will also showcase the official Weigh-In today, as well as immediate reaction and analysis following the fight and the post-fight press conference. Meanwhile, CBS Radio will see stations from 10 of the country’s top markets broadcasting live from MGM Grand tomorrow, including WFAN in New York, KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, KRLD-FM in Dallas and WIP-FM in Philadelphia.

Golf Channel’s own Feherty will feature PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem on Monday at 10p. David Feherty will chat with Finchem about his life and career as well as the organization’s initiatives, including The Presidents Cup international match-play competition, the season-long FedExCup points competition and its playoffs, as well as the changes that occurred on Tour with the ascendance of Tiger Woods.

Back to the Kentucky Derby, TVG will carry a "Kentucky Derby Handicappers’ Preview" tonight at 8p. Meanwhile, here are some picks from TVG talent:

  • Todd Schrupp — American Pharoah, Frosted, Upstart
  • Scott Hazelton — American Pharoah, Firing Line, Danzig Moon
  • Caleb Keller — Firing Line, American Pharoah, Materiality
  • Simon Bray — American Pharoah, Danzing Moon, Dortmund


In addition to getting picked in last night’s draft, Marcus Mariota added another sponsor to his growing portfolio, showcasing Beats by Dre in a promotional YouTube video. The company now joins the likes of Subway in picking up Mariota’s endorsement. 

Meanwhile, Under Armour locked up Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw in a multi-year extension. The reigning 2014 National League MVP and 3-time Cy Young award winner’s new deal allows Kershaw to continue representing the only brand he has worn throughout his entire Major League Career. As part of the agreement, “The Claw” will be featured in baseball category specific marketing including in-store, digital and social activations.


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FOX Sports will once again deliver 100,000 Cameras, with the second installment from FOX Sports 1 and NASCAR Productions slated to premiere Thursday, May 14 at 9:30p as part of 10 Days Of Thunder on FOX Sports 1. This time around, the episode will focus on Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, May 3, blending fan and driver-generated video to tell the story of Talladega from “every conceivable angle, regardless of location.” The crowd-sourced documentary will ask fans to tell their own Talladega story by using the hashtags #100KCams and #NASCAR, and upload videos to their social media accounts during or immediately following the race.


Time Inc. is beefing up its video programming with the launch of Sports Illustrated Films, one of 11 new video initiatives the company announced at its NewFront presentation. This new documentary-style video experience is a logical next-step for SI, which has been in the storytelling business for more than 60 years, said Time Inc. Sports Group editor, Paul Fichtenbaum. The launch comes on the heels of a string of digital shows including daily live web show SI Now Powered by Ford, Sports Emmy-winning short A Boy Helps a Town Heal and Underdogs.

Saturday’s coverage of the NFL Draft will see NFL Draft LIVE Presented by Courtyard hit NFL.com, NFL Mobile from Verizon and NFL Now starting a noon and offer fans “the only place to see the announcement of every single pick made during Rounds 4  7.” Additionally, NFL.com’s Draft Tracker allows fans to follow every pick from any device on the go, including analysis of each selection.


Yahoo Fantasy Football opened its registration ranks for the upcoming season, with the company announcing that fans can be eligible to win prizes that include a trip to Vegas for one commissioner and his/her entire league to attend its National Draft Day event at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Aug. 29. Fans must enter by May 14.


The Jacksonville Jaguars announced plans to become the first franchise to utilize ChryonHego’s Virtual 1st’s stadium jumbotron graphics package. The tech provides animated virtual lines for first-down and line-of-scrimmage graphics on the stadium’s 8K HD LED video scoreboards. The Jaguar’s use of Virtual 1st will mark the first time that the graphics package has been used outside of a traditional broadcast.


Blockbuster Saturday with events that include the Kentucky Derby on NBC at 5p and Mayweather/Pacquiao on PPV at 8p.


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