05/20/15: GroupM experiences ESP; ABC starts its engines; ABC starts its engines; Microsoft, Zynga are under a spell


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Good morning. It’s Wednesday May 20, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

GroupM is expanding its sports and entertainment offerings under new global agency brand, ESP, made up of ESP Properties and ESP Brands. ESP Properties will be GroupM’s first company dedicated to serving rightsholders from the worlds of sports and entertainment, including federations, leagues, events, teams, publishers and venues and offer partnership sales, both to existing WPP brand clients and beyond. GroupM is also expanding its support for brands to plan, negotiate and activate sports and entertainment partnerships by growing the specialist teams in its individual media agencies. These specialist teams will be underpinned in key regions by ESP Brands. The new ESP Properties will be led by John Kristick, Global CEO of GroupM ESP. ESP Brands will be managed regionally in North America by Bryce Townsend and through the individual GroupM agencies in other regions.

"The global launch of ESP Properties brings leading commercial and creative capabilities to some of the world’s most celebrated names across sports and entertainment,” said Dominic Proctor, Chairman of ESP and President of GroupM Global. “Sport is a driving force in media and we want to serve the market better by assisting rightsholders in optimizing their properties and creating more winning partnerships with leading brands. At the same time we will ensure we work more efficiently on behalf of brands by providing even more resources for the specialist sports and entertainment practices that are embedded in our GroupM agencies, underpinned by a central team in key regions, ESP Brands."


On to racing news. ABC carries the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, beginning with a one-hour pre-race show at 11a. The production will utilize 85 cameras, including three onboard cameras per car in 12 of the 33 cars competing in the race. Four of the 12 will be equipped with dual-path technology, allowing shots from two of the cameras on a car to be used at the same time. This year, the channel will expand the use of five Ultra Hi Motion cameras to enhance views and replays, with the cameras now capable of shots around the entire 2.5-mile track as well as all of pit road. In addition, fans can use a second screen experience through a choice of live streaming video from the onboard cameras on ESPN3 through WatchESPN, on Indycar.com and the Verizon INDYCAR 15 app. Allen Bestwick calls the race with analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. Lindsay Czarniak hosts.

Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race notched 3,840,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, according to Nielsen, which makes it the most-watched All-Star Race since 2011. When added to Saturday’s UFC and MLB programming, the lineup drove the channel to its eighth most-watched day in network history, averaging 818,000 viewers from 6a-6a.

With Championship Sunday on the horizon, NBCUniversal detailed plans for carry all 10 Premier League matches simultaneously across ten different networks at 10a with Telemundo and NBC Universo also carrying games in Spanish. Networks will include NBC, NBCSN, USA, CNBC, Syfy, MSNBC, Bravo, E!, Esquire and Oxygen with coverage kicking off at 9a with Premier League Live on NBCSN featuring Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Mustoe, Robbie Earle and Kyle Martino. Following the matches on each of the 10 networks, there will be a special one-minute sneak preview of Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World, which premieres Friday, June 12. NBCSN then offers up a special one-hour season finale of The Men in Blazers Show on Sunday night. This season, NBC Sports Group’s Premier League viewership has averaged of 426,000 viewers for an uptick of 10% versus the same point last season. Top five markets have been DC, NY, Columbus, Denver, and Philadelphia.

CBS Sports tapped its all-star roster to announce Adam Schein’s new show. The series will air on CBS Sports Network later this summer and will run weeknights at 6p. Here’s the link… http://www.snappytv.com/tc/603054.

ESPN/SEC Network staple Jesse Palmer is now a morning person, officially joining ABC’s Good Morning America as a Special Contributor. The deal was put together by Jesse’s agency, Playbook, Inc. and will see Jesse continue his duties with ESPN and the SEC Network while also contribute to all ABC News platforms.

FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes report audience spikes for their respective coverage of the UEFA Champions League semifinals last week. FOX Sports 1’s coverage on Wednesday’s game scored 704,000 viewers and 479,000 Adults 18-49, making it the second most-watched UEFA Champions League match in FOX Sports 1 history in both metrics. Meanwhile, Tuesday’s drew 530,000 viewers and 348,000 Adults 18-49. FOX Deportes’ coverage of Bayern Munich/Barcelona was the most-watched program or event that day on Spanish-language sports networks with 570,000 viewers, and it is the most-watched UEFA Champions League match on the channel this season.

Speaking of soccer, FOX Sports added Jenny Taft, Julie Stewart-Binks and Grant Wahl to its FIFA Women’s World Cup team. Taft is embedded with the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT), providing in-depth reports, breaking news and features on the squad throughout the tournament. Stewart-Binks serves as a roving reporter, and is expected to report from at least 11 different games in four different cities during the group stage. Wahl serves as correspondent-at-large, covering the wide-array of stories that develop naturally during a month-long tournament.

The American Sports Network continues to bulk up programming, announcing a deal with Minor League Baseball to carry a weekly game this summer. The new series, dubbed Minor League Baseball Sunday Showcase, premiers with a Pacific Coast League matchup between the Iowa Cubs and the El Paso Chihuahuas on May 31, and continue weekly on Sunday nights. As part of the agreement, 25 teams, 11 leagues and 20 Major League Baseball affiliates will be featured on the show, in addition to two All-Star Games.

Gennady Golovkin continues to perform for HBO with his 20th consecutive knockout victory on Saturday serving up 1,338,000 viewers, the third highest performing bout on HBO this season. That is up 3% over the last live prime time outing for Golovkin on HBO in Oct. 2014.

In other boxing news, after 17 years, ESPN Friday Night Fights presented by Corona Extra will see its final show run on Friday with the highly anticipated finals of Boxcino 2015 at 10p on ESPN2. ESPN Deportes will also televise Friday’s fights on Noche de Combates presentado por Corona Extra. ESPN then launches PBC on ESPN on July 11 at 9p. Friday’s action will see Joe Tessitore rungside with Teddy Atlas calling the action. The telecast will include a special video essay written and voiced by Tessitore in which he will put into perspective what Friday Night Fights has meant to the fan.

Golf Channel continues to dive into collegiate play, teaming with East Lake Golf Club and the East Lake Foundation to launch the East Lake Cup, a new two-day match-play championship featuring top-performing teams from the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships. The event will take place at historic East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, and air live on Golf Channel on Nov. 2 and 3. The field will consist of four of the nation’s top men’s and women’s college golf programs competing in two match-play tournaments.

SiriusXM signed Peter Oosterhuis to host a new show on the SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. The series, Oosty & Fred, will see Oosterhuis join Fred Albers on Saturday mornings from 8-10a starting May 23. Oosterhuis and Albers will take calls from listeners across the country and discuss the game’s current events and players.

Pac-12 Networks’ original docu-series The Drive: Pac-12 Football spotlights two teams for season three, announcing that the show will feature Oregon State and Utah. The season will offer 30-minute episodes featuring both teams airing weekly across all seven Pac-12 Networks throughout the fall. “Authentic storytelling and inside access have been key elements in making The Drive one of Pac-12 Networks’ most valuable franchises over the past two seasons," said Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans. “This season, Oregon State and Utah have a unique story arc that made returning to a two-team format very appealing.  We are very excited these two programs will be featured in The Drive’s third year.”



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The 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee nabbed two sponsors for its finals on ESPN. The event announced that Microsoft Corp and mobile app Words With Friends will serve as official broadcast sponsors. "We are fortunate to have two sponsors who share a similar mission with the Scripps National Spelling Bee," said Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. "We all are deeply committed to supporting educational programs. We welcome back Microsoft for its second sponsorship year. Microsoft has had a profound impact on millions of students around the world. Words with Friends engages millions of Wordies to test their vocabulary skills and to challenge other players in the social word game. Through this relationship, we hope to expose more audiences to the exploration of words, spelling and vocabulary."

Butler University is turning to Learfield Sports to represent Bulldog Athletics’ multimedia rights through the 2024-25 collegiate athletic season. Butler Sports Properties, a Learfield entity, will manage aspects of the Bulldogs’ multimedia rights, including signage, digital, corporate sponsorships, hospitality, event marketing, local television and radio play-by-play and coaches’ shows with Learfield veteran Willis Cheaney was named General Manager.


OneUp Sports announced the launch of the TigerNet official mobile app for Clemson fans. The app is available on all iOs devices and will be available for Android in the near future. TigerNet.com is the oldest and largest online Clemson Tigers sports community, offering original articles, sports information, blogs, message boards, live chats, player/coach profiles, scheduled results, photos, video, podcasts and more.


EA Sports unveiled features for the upcoming video game NHL 16, offering players new ways to compete as a team including: 6 v. 6 Online Team Play, Online Couch Co-op or the re-imagined EA Sports Hockey League. Other features include serving as a GM; the all-new Be a Pro progression system; visual on-ice training; precision skating and “game day authenticity.” Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Ray Ferraro are back to call the game.

Take Two Interactive’s 2K Sports announced the release date for the upcoming WWE 2K16 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360. According to Videogamer, the title will be released on October 27, 2015.


Cavaliers/Hawks on TNT at 8:30p.

ON THIS DAY in 2008: Mike Piazza retires.

In The Know: Which MLB club was the last that Mike Piazza played for? (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: Who portrayed US Hockey Team head coach Herb Brooks in the film Miracle? Answer: Kurt Russell. Kudos: Mitch Burg-Impact Communications/Israel; Linda Lieberman-IMG/NY; Ross Greenburg-Ross Greenburg Productions/NY; Alexander Prosperi-FleishmanHillard/NY; Bill Hirsh-Learfield Sports/NY; Chris Kiernan-MVPindex/Fairfield; Barbara Linebarger-Turner Broadcasting/Atlanta; Tom Powers-Open Door Co./Toronto; Shannon Malone-Red Rock Films/Chevy Chase; Jim Hall-True Media/Columbia; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Craig D. Schroepfer-WCCO Radio/Minneapolis; Lucie Prann-The Richards Group/Dallas; Harry S Vested Jr-GCSN/Denver; John Bessone-Freelance AD/Santa Fe; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; David Hauptman/Denver; Lawrence Fan-San Jose State University/San Jose; Dani Beaulieu-FanServ/LA; Bryan Geidt-Direct Avenue/Carlsbad; Mary Downey-Mary Downey Casting/Burbank.

Later — Chris
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