07/21/14: Sports Illustrated’s Jim DeLorenzo on the importance of digital evolution; ESPYS, Kid’s Choice Awards are Summer Swans;; IOC prepares for Olympics channel


Good morning. It’s Monday, July 21, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

What a month for the Sports Illustrated moniker. Amid a month of launches, relaunches and brand evolution, the company not only unleashed a slate of ambitious digital projects in recent weeks, it also nailed a record day with its exclusive story on LeBron James’ new home, notching 6.1 million UVs. SI Digital’s recent projects have continued to expand the brand’s umbrella and all provide a mobile-first mindset, including a new SI.com digital platform, the launch of 120 Sports as well as the debut of FanNation, a suite of daily fantasy sports games.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Jim DeLorenzo, Vice President and General Manager of SI.com and Golf.com about the aggressive digital strategy and how it will impact fans as well as the company.

DeLorenzo on revamping the digital DNA: When I started here a little over two years ago, our digital property was essentially SI.com. It wasn’t at the time a very cutting edge website but that was all we had. So, the idea was that we needed to go beyond that and go from SI.com to Sports Illustrated Digital and create more of a platform approach where SI.com was going to be one of the pillars of that platform, along with other products and services under an umbrella strategy. That resulted in a process where we’ve now relaunched SI.com, which is a much more, cutting-edge site and we’ve made sure to make it mobile first. Beyond that, we have 120 Sports, FanNation, and others that have each played a role in expanding our reach and our voice.

On the new SI Digital: We had to do everything differently. We were formerly on the Turner platform and as we started to look at where we wanted to take the site, and to be mobile first, we also wanted to look at how we could help our editorial side and allow them to do what they do best, which was to create award-winning journalism. So we put on our thinking caps, and realized we were going to have to build this from scratch, soup-to-nuts. It was a complex process, when you are not just launching a new site, but also building a new CMS, an entirely new front end as well as migrate all that content that was on the primary system. So there were a lot of moving pieces but we are happy with where we ended up. There is so much flexibility there, not just in the way we can program it, but in the way we can continue and develop on this platform. This is really only the first inning and we expect to continue to make a lot of changes and improvement going forward.

On launch of 120 Sports: It took time to get all the pieces in place for 120 Sports. It was not an easy process to get the deals done and the partners aligned. It has become a great partnership now with MLBAM as well as the NHL, the PGA TOUR and some of the other partners that we have. I have to say, now that we are off and running, it is really a great product and the response has been amazing. I think that 120 is doing a great job at living up to the promise. We are three weeks in and we are going to continue to get better. I can tell you that I am personally very pleased with the traction and downloads that we’ve seen.

On FanNation: FanNation has been a long time in the works. We looked at the fantasy landscape and knew that it didn’t make sense for us to jump into the Commissioner-style games. The costs were high, you already had the established players, we knew it didn’t make sense to come in on that level. Then we saw that daily fantasy was a growing segment within the fantasy sector and we thought that it had a chance to explode and become even bigger because of the mindset needed. People talk about snackable content, well this is almost like snackable fantasy in that you can get in and out of the games very quickly. The daily fantasy world was very attractive, so when we decided to move forward, we wanted something that was, once again, mobile-first, and the mandate was that I needed to  in a minute or less- be able to open the app, draft a team, challenge my friend and be done. I think we accomplished this.



Last week’s pair of sports award shows both proved solid bets for their respective networks. The 2014 ESPYS last Wednesday delivered a 1.6 household rating, including the ESPN2 simulcast. That is up year over 2013, and also brought in higher P2+ impressions compared to a year ago, according to Nielsen.  Between ESPN and ESPN2, the telecast was up 31% in the M18-34 demo with a 2.1, up 13% increase in HH impressions with 1,921,000, and up 13% in viewers P2+ at 2,550,000 compared to 2013.
On Thursday, Nickelodeon debuts its first-ever Kids’ Choice Sports 2014, which won the night among kids 2-11, 6-11 and tweens. Nielsen numbers show that the telecast earned a 3.8/1.2 million with Kids 2-11; a 5.2/1.0 MM among kids 6-11; and a 4.2/848,000 among tweens. The show’s total viewer average of 2.3 MM marks a 37% spike over last year’s time period.

IOC leaders met on Saturday to discuss the potential launch of a year-round Olympic TV channel, according to the AP, that would be utilized to promote Olympic events that occur between the Games. The IOC would serve as a “curator or moderator” to develop digital content, while sports federations, national Olympic committees, broadcasters, and sponsors would also take part in the platform. The channel would have the “potential to greatly increase the presence of sports and the promotion of the Olympic values year round and worldwide,” the IOC said in a statement.

Another notch for the SEC Network. ESPN and Comcast Cable locked in an agreement for carriage of the upcoming channel. Comcast subscribers will also receive authenticated access to additional live events scheduled for the SEC Network’s and Comcast’s digital platforms including the Xfinity TV Go app. “We are extremely pleased to have reached this agreement with ESPN to deliver the SEC Network to Xfinity TV customers on multiple platforms,” said Matt Strauss, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Video Services, Comcast Cable.  “Whether in the home or on the go, Xfinity TV customers will be able to watch their favorite Southeastern Conference teams in more ways than ever before.”

It’s finally here. Join us on Aug. 19-20 for the Cynopsis Sports Business Summit, taking place at the NY Athletic Club. Don’t miss panels that include a look at one of sport’s biggest changes, the birth of the College Football Playoffs featuring CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock as well as ESPN’s Ed Placey and Ilan Ben-Hanan. Don’t miss out as they share the behind-the-scenes work that went into the groundbreaking postseason and what we can expect in the year ahead. For more info and to register, click here. More speakers and details will be announced in the coming days.

The ACC announced that the ACC Network package of conference football games syndicated by Raycom Sports will be available to nearly 80% of the US this fall, covering over 90 million TV Households. Coverage includes all Top Ten TV markets in the U.S., and 21 of the Top 25. Since the ACC Network began syndicating beyond the ACC footprint, the household coverage of the ACC Network has grown from 27 million to 90 million, an increase of 230%.
Speaking of the ACC, conference Commissioner John Swofford stated that a proposal that will grant the Power Five conferences more autonomy will pass when it comes up for a vote next month, according to ESPN. Last week, the NCAA announced that its board of directors will rule on Aug. 7 whether to accept the proposal which will allow the ACC, SEC, Pac-12, Big 10 and Big 12 the ability to make their own decisions in order to benefit their athletes and institutions.

ESPN revealed its game selection for the August 10 edition of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell. The channel will feature the Nationals/Braves at 8p on ESPN. Dan Shulman, analyst John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney will provide commentary for the telecast.


Cynopsis Media Presents…
Cynopsis Sports Business Summit

August 20th  | New York Athletic Club
Early Bird Registration Ends: August 5th [REGISTER NOW]
Thank you to our sponsor – FOX SPORTS 1

Hear speakers from: Bloomberg Sports, CBS Sports, CSE, Electronic Arts, Fanatics, FOX Sports, Group M, HBO Sports, IMG College, MLS Business Ventures, NBA, NBC Sports Group, Neulion, NFL Media, NHL, Omnigon, SiriusXM, Sporting News Media, Troika and more.


Yahoo! Sports Radio announced plans to celebrate its 3-year anniversary in Las Vegas. Starting today, YSR will host Super Week live from Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo Hotel and Casino with over 80 hours of live programming that will include guests such as Mike Tyson, Dana White, Stephen Curry and more. Shows broadcasting in the city will include The Steve Czaban Show, Travis Rodgers Now, Hit ’em Up with Geoff Ketchum, Prime Cut with John Granato and Sean Salisbury, Sports X Radio with Ken Thomson and The Peter Brown Show.


Rangers/Yankees on ESPN at 7p.


Cynopsis Sports Women of Action
August 19 | 1-6:30 PM | New York Athletic Club
Thank you to our sponsor – FOX SPORTS 1
Join us for a stimulating afternoon with a dynamic group of women in senior sports positions talking candidly about the challenges that women still face in landing shot-calling, game-changing positions in the sports world, as well as the opportunities those same challenges present.
*Cocktail reception to follow event*

For sponsor information, please contact Mike Farina at (203) 218-6480

ON THIS DAY in 1989: Greg LeMond wins Tour de France.

In The Know: What song is Mike Tyson listening to when first seen in The Hangover? (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 is the name of the Celtics’ official mascot? Answers: Lucky the Leprechaun. Kudos: Celia Converse-Central Talent Booking/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Dan Michaud-KEYE-TV/Austin; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Neal Stevens-Stevens & Associates/Beverly Hills; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

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