06/03/15: Blatter’s bombshell rocks FIFA; College softball drives records for ESPN; MLB checks into The Hartford


Good morning. It’s Wednesday June 3, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

A surprise press conference delivered the end of Sepp Blatter’s reign atop FIFA, with the organization’s president stating that, less than a week after being reelected for a fifth term, he would resign from the position amid a growing scandal throughout the organization. Blatter then called for new elections to choose a successor, stating that he will remain atop FIFA until a new name is selected, a process that is expected to take place between December and March. “FIFA needs a profound overhaul,” he said. “While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football  the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA. Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election.”

The move was quickly applauded from organizations around the world who had expressed concern over the state of the union given the various scandals.

From US Soccer President Sunil Gulati: The announcement today by President Blatter represents an exceptional and immediate opportunity for positive change within FIFA. I commend him for making a decision that puts FIFA and the sport we love above all other interests. This is the first of many steps towards real and meaningful reform within FIFA. Today is an occasion for optimism and belief for everyone who shares a passion for our game.

From Coca-Cola per WSJ: We believe this decision will help FIFA transform itself rapidly into a much-needed 21st century structure and institution.

From Visa: Transparency, integrity and fair play must be the hallmarks of the new administration and Visa stands ready to work with FIFA towards these principles. We repeat, however, that it is our expectation that FIFA will take swift and immediate steps towards addressing the issues within its organization to quickly rebuild a culture with strong ethical practices.

From AB InBev: We look forward to the beauty of the game taking center-stage again for football fans around the globe.

FOX Sports broadcaster Kelly Smith on impact on FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015: It’s going to be big now that the main guy has stepped down, but I don’t think individually it will affect the players playing in the World Cup because they’ve got a job to do. They’re focused on their group play and trying to get out of the group, but this is major news. Sepp Blatter has resigned. It’s massive.


ESPN saw record viewership for the 2015 Women’s College World Series, notching its top two most-viewed Women’s College World Series bracket round games ever this past weekend. LSU/Michigan on Sunday averaged 1,950,000 viewers for the company while UCLA/Auburn on Saturday drew 1,612,000 viewers. Overall, the 2015 Women’s College World Series bracket round (May 28-31) averaged 1,055,000 viewers. Meanwhile, the 2015 Women’s College World Series Championship Finals Game 1 on Monday drew a 1.0 overnight rating, which is tied for the highest-rated WCWS Championship Finals Game 1 on record (since 2007) and a 43% increase (0.7 overnight) from 2014 WCWS Championship Finals Game 1.

Speaking of ratings, the shift of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from Dover from FOX to FOX Sports 1 paid off to the channel, scoring 3,940,000 viewers, which makes it the fifth most-watched telecast in channel history. Following the race, an 18-minute edition of FOX Sports Live reeled in 2,772,000 viewers, making it the most-watched episode ever in series history. 

ABC will see NBA star Dwyane Wade join NBA Countdown for select games during the NBA Finals where he will contribute insights and analysis during pre-game and halftime shows for Games 2 and 3, and again for Games 6 and 7, if necessary. Wade will join host Sage Steele and analysts Doug Collins and Jalen Rose on the set.

Around the dial, NBA Digital announced plans for the NBA Finals on NBA TV. NBA GameTime will offer pre- and post-game coverage live with analysts that include Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Grant Hill, Isiah Thomas, Steve Smith, Dennis Scott, Rick Fox and Brent Barry. Coverage will be hosted by Matt Winer. Other programming will include NBA Finals Film Room, a new roundtable show featuring former coaches breaking down strategies, trends and game action in real time as they watch every game, will debut during this year’s Finals coverage. The taped two-hour episodes will usually premiere at 9p on the day following each Finals game. The Finals will also feature two special episodes of NBA Inside Stuff presented by Samsung Galaxy  co-hosted by Hill and Kristen Ledlow with new episodes on June 6 and 13 at noon.

ESPN’s longest-serving commentator Bob Ley will continue his run at the company. Inked a long-term extension to remain with the network he joined as a SportsCenter anchor on its third day of operation, dating back to September 9, 1979. The deal sees Ley keep his soccer responsibilities under the new agreement, serving as primary host on key soccer properties, including Euro qualifiers, Euros 2016, World Cup coverage and key U.S. Men’s National Soccer team matches. He will also remain host of Outside the Lines.

NBC Sports Group takes on the LPGA’s second women’s major championship of the year with the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, offering 38+ hours of programming on Golf channel and Golf Channel on NBC starting Monday. The broadcast team for Golf Channel’s early round coverage on Thursday, June 11, and Friday, June 12, will see Terry Gannon handling play-by-play with Judy Rankin on as lead analyst. Over the weekend, Golf Channel on NBC’s coverage of the third and final rounds will see Dan Hicks on play-by-play with analysts Gary Koch and Annika Sorenstam.

CBS showcases PGA TOUR 2015: Coming Home presented by Visionworks, on Sunday at 1:30p. The one-hour special spotlights the prevalence and importance of home for TOUR members “who spend a significant part of the year on the road.” Features will hone in on Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel and Brendan Steele.

The 2015 Professional Bowlers Association World Championship will be carried live in weekday prime time on ESPN for the first time in 14 years, according to PBA Commissioner and CEO Tom Clark. Programming will see two-hour coverage at 7p on Thursday, Dec. 17. “This is an unprecedented opportunity for the PBA and bowling,” Clark said. “December 17 will be one of the most spectacular events in the history of the sport.”



“Addressing changes in viewer consumption, given the rise of smart devices & improved connectivity. These changes have allowed for massive distribution of content potentially impacting live authenticated viewership.”
– Will Funk Turner Sports Ad Sales SVP of Sponsorship Integration/Business Development

Sponsored by MP & Silva, espnW & Thuuz


Major League Baseball locked in a multi-year sponsorship with The Hartford, where the company will become the exclusive business insurance, homeowners insurance and employee benefits partner of MLB. The sponsorship includes the presenting sponsorship of the Reliever of the Year Awards as well as a partnership with famed closer Mariano Rivera. “This partnership is a natural fit between two iconic American organizations,” said The Hartford’s Chairman and CEO Christopher Swift. “The notion of prevailing is at the core of everything we do for our customers, partners and communities. Likewise, prevailing moments are seen in every baseball game, especially when relief pitchers and closers take the mound. We are proud to partner with Major League Baseball and are excited to engage with baseball’s passionate fans.”

The PGA TOUR and Ace Hardware struck a new, multi-year marketing deal that makes Ace the Official Hardware Store of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour. Ace will work closely with the TOUR on a program whereby tournaments will have the opportunity to purchase products efficiently, cost-effectively and conveniently through Ace.

Today marks National Running Day, with Runner’s World celebrating by partnering with November Project Philadelphia for a run that starts at the Art Museum steps at 6:25a in the city. The day continues with the brand partnering with WFMZ-69 for Lace up at Lunch, and then, at 2p, the media outlet will see Chief Running Officer Bart Yasso co-host a Twitter Chat with New York Road Runners, using the hashtag #runningdaychat. The day concludes with RW teamin up with Aardvark Sports Shop for a local fun run and post-run happy hour.


STATS LLC is deepening its ties with MVPindex with the launch of a combined social media offering for STATS’ digital media partners. The new content offering mixes STATS’ on the field performance data with social media statistics from the MVPindex database of more than 25,000 athletes, teams, and leagues to enhance consumer engagement across the web. While the initial effort will focus on the NFL, additional major sports including baseball and golf are targeted areas for expansion.


May proved to be sunny for sports platform For The Win, which saw more than 17 million unique users during the month and saw its best month ever, according to Omniture. Unique users drew 17.2 million for an 82% markup over the previous May, with page views rising 77% year-over-year to 51.2 million. Coverage of Mayweather/Pacquiao marked FTW’s best day and week ever with 2.6MM and 7.8MM uniques respectively.


NBC Sports Group drops the puck on its 10th consecutive year of Stanley Cup Final coverage tonight at 8p on NBC. The company announced plans to again utilize a 4K “DreamCatcher” camera throughout the series, offering super-zoom capability for replays. In addition, NBC Sports Group’s Stanley Cup Final production will include up to 46 cameras, including two super-slo-mo cameras, 9 EVS to record over 40 different feeds simultaneously, and over two miles of cabling.


NBA President, League Operations Joel Litvin is stepping down after a 27-year career in the league office, effective Sept. 1. He will then serve as a consultant to the league. Litvin has been involved in all aspects of league operations during his tenure, including legal affairs, collective bargaining, salary cap administration, basketball and referee operations, league security, player development and health initiatives, and social responsibility programs. “Joel has been central to the NBA’s operations and growth for more than a quarter of a century,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.  “We are deeply grateful for his exceptional efforts and accomplishments throughout his distinguished NBA career and we’ll really miss him.”


Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final begins tonight at 8p on NBC.



ON THIS DAY in 1989: Vin Scully broadcasts 23 innings from two different cities on one day.

In The Know: What NFL team is the only one to neither play nor host a Super Bowl? (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 is the Colorado Rockies’ all-time leader in HRs? Answer: Todd Helton. Kudos: Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Paris; Barry Solomon-Retailability Inc./NY; Kate Erickson-NBCUniversal Sports Group/NY; Doron Haramati/Nielsen Sports/NY; Scott Jenkins-Gracenote/NY; Joe Schreiber-3 Penny Films/Bethesda; Clifford Smith- American Sports Network/West Palm Beach; Mike Antolini-Tiger Woods Foundation/Boston; Kevin Wicker-Chiefs Football Network/Mission; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; David Hauptman/Denver; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Alan Perris/Beverly Hills; Adam Deverell-Cox Reps/LA; Jim Seifert/San Francisco.

Later — Chris
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