05/20/16: NFL repays patriotism; Cynopsis’ 2016 Hall of Fame class; Kobe takes on the Copa


Good morning. It’s Friday May 20, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NFL is giving back $723,724 following an internal audit of payments made to the league for sponsored military tributes. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain describing how the league conducted an audited review of 100 marketing agreements from 2012 to 2015 by accounting firm Deloitte & Touche. Goodell also wrote that marketing activities would be audited more frequently to catch such activities in the future. Last year, Flake and McCain announced that at the Department of Defense had spent $5.4 million in contracts with 14 NFL teams from 2011 to 2014, prompting “paid patriotism” criticism.

“In order to ensure that the military appreciation activities remain separate form military recruitment in the future, the NFL will include an assessment of marketing contracts in our regular internal audit reviews,” Goodell states in the letter.


A big congratulations to the Cynopsis Sports 2016 Hall of Fame class for their inductions at this year’s Sports Business Summit. Our inductees, who have each transformed how sports and pop culture intersect, are set to include ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen, International Speedway Corporation CEO and Vice Chairperson Lesa France Kennedy, MLB’s Vice President of Social Responsibility & Inclusion Billy Bean, and three-time National Sportswriter of the Year Peter King, editor of TheMMQB.com, senior writer for Sports Illustrated and NFL Insider for NBC’s Football Night in America. Please join us on June 22 as we honor this year’s class by clicking here.

NBC Sports Group unveiled expanded plans for the 2016 French Open, with coverage starting Sunday at 1p on the network and running through the women’s final on June 4 and the men’s final June 5. Meanwhile, the men’s semifinal round on June 2 will be carried live at 11a on the network on the East Coast and to all time zones at on NBCSN. Ted Robinson anchors NBC’s coverage, joined by analysts John McEnroe and Mary Carillo.

Game 2 between the Thunder/Warriors on TNT averaged 7.5 million total viewers and a 4.7 household rating on Wednesday, based on Nielsen Fast Nationals, to win the night on cable. Inside the NBA, meanwhile, averaged a2.5 rating in the metered markets. The game was up 32% in viewers and 27% in U rating over 2014, the last time the network televised the Western Conference Finals, and up 29% in viewers and 31% in U rating over last year’s NBA Eastern Conference Finals coverage.

John Cena has been tapped to host The 2016 ESPYS Presented by Capital One, carried on ABC on July 13, at 8p. The showcase of the best moments from the year in sports kicks off with The ESPYS Countdown Show Presented by Capital One airing at 5p, followed by SportsCenter at The ESPYS at 6p and another hour of The ESPYS Countdown Presented by Capital One at 7p on ESPN.

ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 lined up over 13 live hours of coverage of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 25 and 26. ESPN3 is on deck starting that Wednesday at 8a with live coverage of the Finals running at 10a before shifting to ESPN at 8p. Throughout the competition, ESPN3 on WatchESPN will feature a second-screen, multiple-choice Play-Along version, presented by Sony’s The Angry Birds Movie, that gives fans a one-in-four chance to pick the correct spelling of the given word, allowing fans to try their hand at competing along with the spellers. Also new this year is the SpellCheck feature on the main feed, highlighting each individual letter as the speller spells the word. Correct letters will be highlighted in gold, and the first letter the speller gets incorrect will be highlighted in red.

ESPN also added three National League matchups to its Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell slate in June. On June 5, the network carries the Giants/Cardinals, with the Pirates/Cubs on June 19, and Dodgers/Pirates on June 26. The Sunday Night Baseball schedule will also feature a special doubleheader on June 12 pitting the Cardinals/Pirates at 5p followed by Dodgers/Giants at 8:30p.

FOX Sports serves up the unveiling of the 23-man U.S. Men’s National Team roster on Saturday during halftime of MLS’s New York City FC/New York Red Bulls battle on the broadcast channel. Rob Stone hosts the halftime show alongside studio analysts Eric Wynalda and Cobi Jones.

Nickelodeon got the greenlight to showcase NASCAR drivers Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne in an upcoming episode of Blaze and the Monster Machines in upcoming race car-themed episodes that begin on May 30 at 1:30p, followed by another ep on June 2 on the channel. The remaining four race car episodes will roll out this fall.

The Golden State Warriors will be among this year’s slate of 24 teams set to compete in the Samsung NBA Summer League 2016, spanning July 8-18 in Las Vegas. Other teams include the Rockets, Spurs, Celtics, Suns, Kings, Bulls, Nuggets, Wizards, Grizzlies, Raptors, Heat, Jazz, Nets, Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Bucks, Timberwolves, hawks, 76ers, Lakers and Pelicans. Last year’s event set records for NBA TV viewership, consumption of digital content on NBA.com and NBA Mobile, total attendance and single-day attendance.



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FOX Sports is tapping the services of Kobe Bryant to promote the upcoming 2016 Copa American Centenario, announcing a partnership with the newly-retired Laker. The partnership includes a 30-second spot featuring Bryant explaining the significance of the tournament that will debut on FOX tomorrow during the FA Cup Final and will air across FOX channels as well as paid media. FOX Sports televises all 32 matches of the historic 2016 COPA AMERICA from June 3 to June 26 across FOX broadcast network, FS1, FS2, and FX.

Chef’s Cut Real Jerky unveiled a partnership with Boston’s David Ortiz. The retiring MLB player and classically-trained chef will help build brand awareness by “blending his passion for food with the brand.” The equity partnership deal will see Ortiz serve as a brand ambassador, being featured in digital content, social media efforts and advertising.

Delta Air Lines locked in a new three-year sponsorship agreement to become the Official Airline of the St. Paul Saints, a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball league. Delta will also serve as the exclusive partner of the accessibility initiatives at CHS Field. Delta will receive prominent branding in designated areas around the ballpark, including signage around accessible seating, and will work closely with the Saints on various promotional activities and fan initiatives throughout the season.


NeuLion locked in a new multi-year agreement with Eleven Sports Network to launch a new digital service for sports fans in Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Singapore and Taiwan. Fans can now access live and on demand premium sports content on their tablet, mobile or laptop devices via the expanded Eleven Sports service with features such as a Catch Up option, allowing them to watch any live sport or programming shown on the network’s channels in the past 24 hours. “Our experience and expertise delivering live sports throughout Europe and Asia for big brands including the NFL, NBA, UFC and others has allowed us to continue to land fantastic new partners,” says Kanaan Jemili, CEO, NeuLion.

Showtime Sports is showcasing the first episode of All Access: Quest For The Stanley Cup across multiple platforms and devices as well as on NHL Network following the series premiere tomorrow at 9p on Showtime. At 9:30p, audiences can see the episode for free on the Showtime Sports YouTube channel, Facebook page and website, SHO.com.


The IEGC detailed plans to host the first ever eGames event via a two-day pop up smack dab in the middle of the Olympics in Rio on Aug. 15-16. The showcase event will be broadcast to eSports fans around the world with countries invited to participate for gold medals. This inaugural event will take place at British House, Parque Lage in the city. "We are honored to have been invited by the UK Government to be in the British House to show the eGames to the world.” said Wim Stocks, Chief Operating Officer, International eGames Group. “The venue is truly special and completely unique, the same qualities of which will be emulated in the eGames.”

Here more about the IEGC’s plans for the games at the Cynopsis eSports Conference as Stocks takes part in a Q&A in NYC. Click here for more info.

Yahoo is taking its eSports coverage to the iPhone, launching its app that allows users to set alerts and receive push notifications when a match is about to begin as well as real-time tournament broadcast coverage, breaking news, highlights, and league scores for all your favorite games. The company launched its Android app earlier this year.


Learfield announced that Paul Michinard will serve as GM for Patriot League Sports Properties. The Patriot League is represented exclusively by Learfield for marketing and sponsorship initiatives.


Nyquist looks to win the Preakness Stakes tomorrow at 5p on NBC.


The New Out-of-Home Marketing: 
How to Drive Tune-In and Brand Awareness

Programmers, TV marketers, and consumer-facing brands are always on the lookout for creative ways to engage with audiences beyond on-air promos. At the Cynopsis Out-of-Home Marketing webinar, you’ll learn how to craft cross-platform marketing campaigns that combine OOH and digital to drive awareness, tune-in, and social amplification.

Questions?  I  Register Now.

ON THIS DAY in 1987: Wrestler Jerry Lawler sues WWF and Harley Race for trademark infringement.

In The Know: Which two teams play for the Old Oil Can trophy? (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Who was the last pitcher to lead his league in strikeouts in three consecutive seasons? Answer: Tim Lincecum. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/Dallas; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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