06/10/15: US, Women’s World Cup get a high ratings kick; Vitale, ESPN extend date to 2018; FOX Sports lines up US Open marketing plans


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Good morning. It’s Wednesday June 10, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

FOX Sports saw the U.S. Women’s National Team and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 get off to a sweet start. The team’s win over Australia on FOX Sports 1 on Monday more than tripled the first match in 2011, ringing in  3.311 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That marks the largest audience ever for a soccer match in the history of the channel, with an addition 118,000 unique streams for the contest on FOX Sports GO, making it the most-streamed authenticated event ever on the app. Overall, Washington, D.C. led all metered markets with a 4.5 rating, followed by Baltimore (3.8), St. Louis (3.7), Hartford (3.6), and San Diego (3.2). Through the first eight matches of the tournament, program viewership is averaging 1.054 million vs. 598,000 in 2011, for a 76% spike.


NBCSN saw its coverage of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final reel in an average of 3.896 million viewers, which marks the third-most watched Stanley Cup Final game ever on NBCSN. That was up 35% versus Game 3 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final. Both Chicago and Tampa Bay drew their highest local ratings ever for a game featuring their respective teams on NBCSN. Chicago delivered a 24.0 rating, while Tampa produced a 13.2 rating.

ESPN and Dick Vitale will continue their near four decade relationship with a new contract that will run through the 2017-18 season, which will mark his 39th with the company. Vitale will continue to call some of the season’s top games across ESPN networks, including regular-season action primarily on ESPN and ESPN2 and the Men’s Final Four for ESPN International. “Dick continues to connect with fans by demonstrating an incredibly successful combination of exuberance for and knowledge of the game he loves,” said John Wildhack, ESPN Executive Vice President, Production and Programming. “He is a one-of-a-kind personality and the passion he brings to everything he is involved with continues to have an enormous impact.”

FOX’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday saw the broadcast network snatch a 1.3 household rating with 2.2 million viewers according to Nielsen. That makes it the second highest-rated and second most-watched UEFA Champions League Final ever. Around the dial on FOX Deportes, Spanish-language coverage added another 1.452 million viewers to combine for an average 3.65 million viewers. FOX’s match rating was up 18% over last year and up 16% in audience.

MLB Network continues to shore up interest in the MLB Draft. Coverage of the event on Monday ranked as the most-watched Draft ever on the channel, rising 32% over 2014 and peaking with 411,000 viewers during the first hour of the event at 7p. Since MLB Network first started showcasing the Draft, the event has grown 65% in total viewership.

The Football Bowl Association unveiled the full slate of contests for this season. The postseason launches Dec. 19 with five bowl games and will include forty-one postseason games overall, wrapping up with the second College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Mon., Jan. 11, 2016. “This is the most comprehensive schedule  ever,” said Wright Waters, Football Bowl Association Executive Director. “At one end of the spectrum is the opportunity to crown a national champion through the bowl system. At every level, student-athletes, fans, teams and universities will all have the opportunity to compete in the postseason.” The ESPN family of networks  including ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC  will offer live television coverage of 39 games, including the national semifinals on Dec. 31 and the national championship game. CBS Sports Network will televise the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 19 and CBS Sports will continue its run with the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 26.

Speaking of postseason college football bowl games, ESPN Events locked in the inaugural Celebration Bowl for Dec. 19 at noon, where it will be carried by ABC. The Celebration Bowl, which “showcases the legacy, values and traditions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” will pit the conference champion from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference against the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion. “We could not be more pleased to have the Celebration Bowl kicking off the college football bowl season on ABC,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president, ESPN Events. “Not only will the first annual Celebration Bowl deliver a first-class postseason experience to the teams, their fans and their alumni; the live telecast on ABC will bring the thrill and pageantry of the bowl to fans across the nation.”

Don’t miss our newest session at next week’s Cynopsis Sports Summit on June 16! “Women of Action: Driving the Future of Sports,” sponsored by espnW, will offer a candid breakdown of the state of women in sports and how companies can make the most of opportunities – on the field, in the broadcast booth, in the stands, in front of the television and in the boardroom. Moderated by espnW Editor-in-Chief Alison Overholt, all-star panelists will include LPGA Player Cristie Kerr, espnW reporter and columnist Jane McManus, World Team Tennis CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss and Philadelphia 76ers EVP Lara Price. We are down to 20 tickets so hurry and register here!

Universal Sports Network offers 25 hours of exclusive coverage of the first-ever European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan from June 12 to 28. Baku 2015 will feature more than 6,000 of the continent’s best athletes competing in 20 sports, including 16 Olympic sports, over 17 days of competition. Eleven of the sports will offer qualification opportunities for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, including Archery, Athletics, Boxing, Cycling, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Triathlon, Wrestling and Volleyball.

ESPNLA locked in an extension with the Los Angeles Lakers to continue their radio play-by-play relationship for another two seasons, now running through 2021-2022. ESPNLA (710 AM) will carry all 82 regular-season games as well as the entire preseason and every playoff game.

World Fishing Network is touting a triple-digit increase in average audience viewership during the month of April as part of the network’s North American free preview offering. The channel reports a 188% markup in average audience over the prior month during the preview period, while WorldFishingNetwork.com saw traffic jumping 59% for site visits.

The Basketball Tournament announced a 97 team field that will participate in the opening rounds of the 2015 event with at least 125 players who have played in either the NBA or the NBA D-League, and over 500 with professional experience. Opening rounds begin July 10-12 in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and continues July 17-19 in Chicago and Philadelphia. The final 17 return to Chicago on July 23-25 before advancing on to New York to play for the Championship live on ESPN August 1 and 2.



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FOX Sports sliced open its marketing plans for next week’s 115th U.S. Open Championship, dubbing it the largest marketing effort in the history of the event and one of the biggest ever executed by FOX Sports. The campaign features three distinct television spots spanning FOX, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports’ Regional Networks, FX and local FOX broadcast network affiliates, in addition to other major cable networks, including CNN, The History Channel, Discovery Channel and Comedy Central. Online promotional elements include custom unit displays and videos on the GOLF, GOLFWEEK, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News websites, while social media buys appear on both Facebook and Twitter. Off channel, FOX Sports’ is also working with the United States Golf Association on the annual Open for All Trophy Tour leading up to the championship.

The Women’s FA Cup inked a new partner with a four-year title sponsorship deal with energy company SSE. According to the organization, the deal includes a commitment to invest in the women’s game with significant funding ring-fenced to create a country-wide program of girls-only football around FA Women’s Cup events and marks the first ever major sponsorship of the Women’s FA Cup competition.

Also on the soccer front, Enterprise Rent-A-Car entered a three-year agreement with UEFA to become an official worldwide sponsor of the UEFA Europa League beginning with the 2015/16 season and ending in 2017/18. The deal covers every stage of the competition from group stage matches through to the Final and will include branding on perimeter boards and post-match interview backdrops as well as branded content across all digital platforms.

NFLPI named OYO Sportstoys, FBF Originals and EA SPORTS as the inaugural winners of the NFL Players Inc. Licensee of the Year Awards in the Hardlines, Apparel and Digital categories respectively. NFLPI, the licensing and marketing arm of the NFL Players Association, launched the awards program to honor the most successful and creative NFLPI licensees that have demonstrated the best use of group player rights within the past year.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen extended its title sponsorship in a multiyear deal with the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl,. “This news signifies the reach and power of the Popeyes brand,” said Hector A. Munoz, CMO  U.S. for Popeyes,. “We have established a new tradition with the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl that will allow us to connect with fans in a forum they love  college football. Big brands do big things and we cannot think of a better demonstration of Popeyes growth and success.”

The National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators revealed that current Michigan State University Director of Athletics Mark Hollis, and IMG College Chairman & President Ben Sutton will be inducted into the Association’s Hall of Fame at the 2015 NACMA Convention. The Convention will take place from June 14-17 at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Fla.


ESPN the Magazine breaks new ground with its first-ever eSports issue, coming out on Friday. The cover features Seahawk and gaming fan Marshawn Lynch and discusses how he put his stamp on the blockbuster franchise as he becomes the first athlete to appear in a Call of Duty game. The issue also features stories on Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, a profile of the South Korean gaming prodigy, Faker, and a look at women in gaming.

Electronic Arts will make Russell Westbrook the cover athlete for NBA LIVE 16. “Russell Westbrook is a player who can do it all, and we can’t imagine a better fit for the cover ofNBA LIVE 16,” said EA Sports VP of Marketing Anthony Stevenson. “NBA LIVE 16 is all about self-expression, and who better embodies that than Westbrook, both on and off the court? Russell plays every game like he has something to prove. Our team is building NBA LIVE the exact same way, so we’re thrilled to have him as an ambassador for our game.” EA SPORTS will announce gameplay details next week at E3.

Yahoo video guru Anna Robertson shares why she thinks viewers will watch cancelled network shows on Yahoo, such as Community. Check it out in today’s Cynsiders.


Lightning/Blackhawks on NBCSN at 8p.



Tuesday, June 16  I  New York City

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ON THIS DAY in 2008: Michael Strahan retires.

In The Know: What father/son combo featured both a heavyweight champion in boxing and a multiple Super Bowl Champion? (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: What former player still holds the record for most career points in the NBA Finals? Answer: Jerry West. Kudos: Doron Haramati-Nielsen Sports/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Rich Packer-American Basketball Enterprises/Tampa; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

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