06/12/15: FOX Sports lines up US Open barrage; Tennis Channel gets a French kiss; MLB Network gets authenticated



Most-Watched Group Stage Match Ever with 3.3 Million Viewers
Through Day 4, Entire Tournament Up +72% Over 2011

Including +68% growth among Men 18-49;
Second Highest-Rated and Second Most-Watched Final Ever


Good morning. It’s Friday June 12, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With its first US Open on deck next week, FOX Sports unveiled its full broadcast schedule and programming plan for the famed tournament with more than 38 hours of live golf action on FOX and FOX Sports 1 in the cards, in addition to continuous live-streaming available throughout the championship on FOX Sports GO. Unofficial coverage launches June 18 at 10:59a when FOX Networks team up to simultaneously show a featured group of golfers hitting their first tee shots from No. 1 at Chambers Bay with all cable networks in the FOX family expected to take part.

The first eight hours of action on June 18 and 19 will be carried on FOX Sports 1 from noon-8p before moving to the local FOX stations for the primetime 8-11p window. Coverage on June 20 and 21 that takes root on FOX from 2-10p on Saturday and 2-10:30p on Sunday. In the event of a tie at the conclusion of Sunday’s final round, an 18-hole playoff then runs on June 22 at 3p on the broadcast channel.

FOX Sports GO’s live streams will also offer ‘bonus’ content on three alternate streams created specifically for the event: the first follows two featured groups on Thursday and Friday and one group on both Saturday and Sunday; the second spotlights holes No. 12 and 15 throughout the week; while the third stream, U.S. Open 360 offers users “a fast-paced, technology-themed, all-access look from the grounds of Chambers Bay, taking viewers behind the scenes and to the action on the course. “


Lotsa hockey news today. Through four games, NBC Sports reports that the 2015 Stanley Cup Final has averaged 4.965 million viewers on NBC/NBCSN so far, which makes the series the second-most watched Stanley Cup Final through four games in 18 years, behind only the 2013 Blackhawks/Bruins series. Wednesday’s Game 4 generated a 2.23 household rating and averaged 3.914 million viewers, replacing Game 3 of the series as the third-most watched Stanley Cup Final game ever on the network. Viewership of last night’s game was up 16% vs. last year’s Game 4 matchup on NBCSN between the Rangers/Kings.

The NHL has settled an antitrust lawsuit that saw fans accusing the league of conspiring with broadcasters to illegally restrict their ability to watch their favorite teams, according to Reuters. The lawsuit claimed that the league worked with teams, Comcast, DirecTV and Madison Square Garden Co to leverage blackouts to limit broadcasts of games outside the teams’ home markets. According to papers filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, the league agreed over the next five years to let fans buy single-team packages for at least a 20% break below the cost of bundled packages.

The NHL also saw Glendale vote to void a 15-year lease with the Coyotes just two years after the city approved the deal. The Coyotes released a statement promising the action will wind up in court, while team President/CEO Andrew LeBlanc stated that the team will look to stay in Arizona, despite the decision.

Continuing the hockey theme, Yahoo Sports Radio is doubling down with Hockey Active, a multi-platform hockey marketing and promotional agency and owner of Hockey This Week content platforms. The pair is partnering to distribute two radio hockey programs that will launch on the national sports radio network in September. That Hockey Show debuts Sept. 1 and will be hosted by Paul C. Cuthbert on Tuesdays from 8-10p. Meanwhile, Hockey This Weekend, hosted by Mark Carver will run Saturdays from noon-2p.

The French Open proved hospitable for Tennis Channel, which is claiming new ratings high marks for the network in average and single-day tune in. Live tournament coverage saw an average 0.72 household coverage-area rating, for a 33% markup over last year’s coverage of the tournament. The network also scored an average of 175,000 households in Nielsen metered markets across two weeks, the best ever for the channel in Paris. Meanwhile, total-day (network ratings grew 33% in 2015. June 1 proved to be the company’s strongest day of the tournament, with a 0.56 coverage-area rating for total day. Overall, for each of the first 23 weeks of 2015, network audiences have grown vs. the equivalent week in 2014, by an average 30% in household coverage-area rating.

What are the biggest challenges facing the sports industry? According to speaker Russell Silvers, SVP of Partnership Activation at AEG Global Partnerships, “The first is maintaining the prestige and equity in the live entertainment experience at a time when ticket prices can run high and home entertainment is more and more technologically sophisticated, and the programming available to watch and play is excellent. We need to continually reinforce the fact that live entertainment experiences are priceless and yield some of the most memorable and share-worthy moments of our lives to draw fans out of the home and into the stadium or festival grounds.” What is the second key hurdle impacting the business? Find out by attending the Cynopsis Sports Summit on June 16! Last tickets are up for grabs so hurry and register here!

Baseball and softball are officially on the table as potential Olympic sports for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The two sports are now tied under the World Baseball Softball Confederation banner and have been submitted for the event. The sports were last featured at the Games in Beijing in 2008.

Universal Sports Network will now carry CLIF Bar CrossVegas, the first Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Cyclo-cross World Cup held in the U.S. The race takes place on Sept. 16 from 11p-2a with live coverage of the women’s and men’s elite races from the Desert Breeze Soccer Complex in Las Vegas. Steve Schlanger will handle play-by-play alongside analyst Todd Gogulski.

Broadcaster TRACE Sports slated a series of specials celebrating soccer’s best in honor of the 44th Copa America. Programs run nightly at 9:30p through the month-long championship, profiling stars like Juliano Billetti and Maradona. The channel will also present special episodes of Ultimate Clash, comparing and contrasting two athletes from the same sport in an effort to determine the better player. “Our viewers can’t get enough information on the players they follow, and this is especially true during the Copa America when the whole world is focused on the star athletes of Latin America and the Caribbean,” added Laurent Dumeau, CEO, TRACE Sport Stars.  “We’ve programmed our in-depth profiles and Ultimate Clash specials to highlight the athletes that will be the stars of this year’s competition in an effort to give our viewers exactly what they want.”

The Houston Chronicle reports that attorneys representing the bankrupt Comcast SportsNet Houston filed suit against Comcast Corporation in a move to recoup the Astros’ and Rockets’ lost investments after the network collapsed. The suit seeks actual damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees associated with the network’s collapse from defendants, including Comcast, seven of its subsidiaries, including NBC Universal Media, and company officers Jon Litner, John Ruth, Robert Pick and Matt Bond.

WWE lost a legend yesterday with the passing of Dusty Rhodes, who died at age 69. “Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit,” the company said in a statement. “Moreover, Runnels was a dedicated father to WWE Superstars Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels), a caring husband and a creative visionary who helped shape the landscape of WWE long after his in-ring career had ended.”



“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


Gatorade announced partnerships with a slew of athletes for this summer’s Gatorade Beat the Heat educational campaign. Stars are set to include the likes of J.J. Watt, Jimmie Johnson, Usain Bolt, Eli Manning, April Ross and more for the campaign, which is in its 11th year. Other partners will include the Korey Stringer Institute and as well as the NFL and NBA to continue to raise awareness among athletes, parents and coaches on how proper hydration can help reduce heat-related illnesses during athletic activity. Throughout the summer, athletes will visit youth sports camps and will be shown on Gatorade’s YouTube page sharing their heat recommendations and warning athletes about the perils of dehydration.

Bellator MMA will see current Lightweight Champion, Will Brooks added to the promotion’s June 19th fight week coverage as a Digital Correspondent. The promotion’s digital content plan will also include Periscope videos, Twitter takeovers and hosted social media features that would run across all social channels throughout the week. “Will has a dynamic personality and strong social media presence,” said Eric Burak, Digital Vice President, Bellator. “We are thrilled to have a current Champ as our first official digital contributor and know he will be an integral component to our coverage in the days leading up to this huge event.”
Street Soccer USA named Buffalo Brand Invigoration Group to lead a public relations program promoting the 2015 Times Square Cup on Sunday, July 12. The third annual event serves as a four-a-side soccer tournament designed to “catalyze the expansion of a New York City-wide soccer league for at-risk youth and homeless young adults.”


MLB Network is launching a live, authenticated stream of its baseball programming via MLB.com At Bat for smartphones and tablets and online at MLBNetwork.com. Eight of the top ten pay TV providers in the U.S., including AT&T U-verse TV, Bright House Networks, Cablevision/Optimum, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, DISH, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon FiOS will authenticate MLB Network subscribers. The stream will include all MLB Network studio shows, original programming, regular season, as well as Postseason and Spring Training game telecasts.
Outbox AXS is merging with Veritix to form a ticketing behemoth, blending “the consumer-focused interface and ticketing platform of Outbox AXS, including AXS Invite and the AXS Waiting Room with Veritix’s industry-leading season ticket management technology and its inventive Flash Seats digital, ID-based ticketing technology.” “This partnership is about more than ticketing,” said Bryan Perez, President & CEO, Outbox AXS. “It’s about combining the best technology and services to create the only platform in the industry that engages with consumers beyond ticketing through every phase of the event lifecycle.”

Eva Longoria’s Versus short film series from ESPN Films will offer four new entries to the lineup. The topics will look at female NBA referee Violet Palmer, figure skater Surya Bonaly and her one-bladed back flip, former star football player Jim Plunkett, and the story of Jennifer Bricker, a gymnast born without legs who later found out her hero, Dominique Moceanu, was her biological sister. Each film will premiere on a Friday episode of SportsCenter and then will be made available for viewing on espn.com/versus.

TopFan announced the launch of a fan community app for Evander Holyfield. The app allows fans “to watch his past fights, review his accomplishments, read his latest news, enter contests, and shop his clothing line.” Users will eventually be able to upgrade to VIP status, where they will receive access to new videos and pictures, contests, and live chats directly with the boxer.


Colonial Athletic Association Commissioner Tom Yeager announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season. "It has been my privilege and honor to represent the outstanding institutions in the CAA for what will be 31 years," said Yeager, who is the longest-tenured commissioner of a NCAA Division I conference. "At the conference’s core is our institutions’ unwavering commitment to conduct their athletic programs as a vital component of their students’ educational experience. I am very proud that this commitment has enabled us to create programs and a competitive environment that has enhanced each student’s experience."

NASCAR is turning to Senior Vice President Jill Gregory to run NASCAR Marketing effective immediately. In her current role, Gregory oversees a group that includes Driver, Team and Event Marketing Services, as well as Industry Operations and will now lead Brand Marketing, Marketing and Media Research, and NASCAR Creative Design. Gregory will report to NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer, Steve Phelps on Marketing and continue to report to NASCAR Chief Racing Development Officer, Steve O’Donnell on Industry Services.

University of Akron Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill is heading home, returning to Learfield Sports where he will serve as Senior Vice President for Learfield Sports’ University Partnership Group. Wistrcill had served as general manager of Learfield’s Badger Sports Properties at the University of Wisconsin from 2002-2006.

Brian Burke, founder of website AdvancedFootballAnalytics signed on with ESPN where he will serve as a senior analytics specialist. He will be part of the Stats & Information Group’s (SIG) Analytics Team, starting Monday, June 15.


Women’s World Cup: US/Sweden on FOX at 8p.



They may be 30 years old or younger, but they bring amazing energy and creativity to their work.

Nominate them NOW for the


ON THIS DAY in 2011: The Dallas Mavericks win their first NBA championship.

In The Know: In 2012, Dusty Rhodes inducted a quartet of long-time rivals into the WWE Hall of Fame. Who were they? (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: For what reason does Stephen Curry wear the number 30? Answer: His father also wore that number. Kudos: Joseph Tafuri-Haversack Consulting/NY; Michael O. Brown-Lagardere Unlimited/NY; Ron Simon-Paley Center for Media/NY; Kyle Helm-CBS Sports/NY; J. Barry McMullin-WWE/Stamford; Tim Overmyer-20th TV/Atlanta; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Lawrence Fan-San Jose State University/San Jose; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica; , Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Steve Morrow-Eclipse TV/Mill Valley.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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