08/10/15: Turner lines up digital blast for PGA Championship; Premier League kicks up a new record; Microsoft upgrades NFL connection


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

With golf ratings swelling this season and the emergence of stars such as Jordan Spieth, Turner Sports and CBS Sports are looking to keep the trend moving upward with coverage of the 97th PGA Championship starting this week. The tournament tees off on TNT starting Thursday at 2p. Meanwhile, PGA.com, which is managed by Turner Sports, is set to boost its streaming offerings via PGA Championship LIVE, presented by Mercedes-Benz. This year’s platform will offer social content and new interactive features that include shot-by-shot laser-generated data for the marquee group as well as an alternative live leaderboard displaying players on the course by group. Fans will also be able to view simulcast broadcast coverage of the tournament via PGA.com while the PGA Championship TV App  designed for select Samsung Smart TV platforms  will once again offer “All-Access” PGA Championship content including live Marquee Group, and Par-3 coverage, new 4K All-Access Video On-Demand, live scoring, player info, social discussion, and photo galleries.

Cynopsis Sports asked Gary Treater, GM of PGA.com & Sr. Director of Business Operations at Turner Sports, about the goodies in store and how technology is transforming how audiences are interacting with the game.
Treater on audience growth: We have seen similar trends emerge on the digital side with golf sites experiencing solid traffic growth, in part due to the great play and popularity of many of the young stars like Rory Mcllroy, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Speith winning the first two majors of the year. And there continues to be tremendous interest in Tiger Woods and how he is working through his comeback.
For PGA.com, which Turner Sports manages for the PGA of America, we have seen a record number of users visit the site this year and they are spending more time and therefore consuming more content. One reason for our growth is that we present a holistic view of the game of golf so both fans and golf enthusiasts find it to be a useful destination. Fans receive all of the latest on the Tours and their favorite players and golfers can find information for their personal game, whether it’s instruction from top PGA professionals, reviews of the newest equipment and gear, or tips on how to plan their next golf vacation.
On what fans can expect: PGA.com has always strived to present the fan with a very immersive and interactive digital experience for all PGA of America events. This year at the 2015 PGA Championship we are taking it to the next level, both adding new features and products for viewers worldwide and significant enhancements for spectators at the course. Technology certainly plays a key role in enabling us to deliver new and innovative products and features to enhance that fan experience. This year, we are introducing a number of upgrades to our Marquee Group coverage including the use of more data to graphically enhance the experience, along with new leaderboard features.  From a production standpoint, we are also using Drone cameras, SwingVision, ProTracer and Golftrax to enhance the storytelling surrounding the Marquee Group coverage.
We’re also aligned with the PGA on creating the best fan friendly experience for those attending this year’s event.  The PGA of America has always been very progressive, being the first to allow phones at a major championship, and this year will include the largest free Wi-Fi network ever for the event.  We’re also introducing a new “Binoculars” feature within the PGA Championship App that uses Smart Bluetooth Beacon technology to allow fans to more easily identify players on the course that are in close proximity to them.  Additionally, for fans following the action from a particular on-course location  such as a grandstand or hospitality area  our PGA Championship App and mobile website will keep them updated with “Minute-by-Minute” real-time updates capturing the latest event coverage as storylines as they unfold.
On activations: We are working closely with Twitter to deliver an exciting video execution called PGA Championship Real-Time Highlights presented by Chase Sapphire.  From Thursday through Sunday, @PGA.com will be tweeting out the best highlights each day. These short, snackable videos will play in Twitter’s native video player, with Chase pre-roll, branded hashtag and “promoted by” attribution.  It’s a unique example of how we can create great content, deliver it in an efficient way and intelligently integrate sponsorship.  It’s a winner for the fan, event, social platform and advertiser.

On the keys to a successful user experience: We have a great sense of collaboration at Turner Sports and seek every opportunity to benefit from everyone’s experiences.  With leading products like NBA League Pass, March Madness Live and PGA Championship Live, we have an abundance of analytics and evolving best practices.  We work as a collective group to provide the best product for our fans and the key learnings and proven performance we have in the encoding and streaming space give us the opportunity to be innovative  as with the 4K VOD offering the PGA Championship TV App for Samsung TVs for this year’s PGA Championship.


The debut of the 2015-16 Premier League season offered a quick jolt to NBC Sports, which notched the best-ever overnight Nielsen ratings in the US for the league’s opening Saturday. The combined overnight rating for the four matches on the NBCUniversal networks pulled a 2.02 and was up 43% from the prior record set a year ago, at 1.41 for three matches across NBCSN and NBC. NBC’s matchup between Chelsea and Swansea City averaged a .93 overnight to rank as the best Saturday opener ever while Manchester United’s win over Tottenham gave NBCSN its best-ever overnight rating in the early Saturday window  with a .49.

Soccer was also hot at FOX Deportes last week, with the channel reporting that the second leg of the Copa Libertadores Final on Wednesday ranked as the best ever. Coverage averaged 979,000 total viewers and 640,000 in the Adult P18-49 demographic and took the top spot of the day among all Spanish-language cable networks. Overall, the 2015 Copa Libertadores Finals averaged 840,000 total viewers and 566,000 Adult 18-49.

The NFL is reportedly heading south as it continues to grow its international presence. Spanish news organization AS.com writes that the NFL will play five regular-season games — one per season — in Mexico starting in 2017 or 2018, supplementing the league’s already established roster of games in London. "We’re taking steps in the right direction so that eventually, this platform (of sponsors) which we have reconstructed will enable us to talk directly to the NFL in New York about the possibility of staging games in Mexico," NFL Mexico director Arturo Olive told AS.com. "It will be for five games, not three as originally proposed."

BTN announced plans to launch its 2015 college football coverage the season debut of BTN Live today, as the ninth annual football bus tour departs for all 14 Big Ten campuses. The show airs at 6p weekdays and will include analysis and interviews from the various campuses over the duration of the bus tour. On Aug. 19, BTN debuts Scarlet and Gray Days: Inside Ohio State’s Training Camp, offering a behind-the-scenes series showcasing the Buckeyes training camp as they prepare for the 2015 football season.

On the local front, Friday’s Blue Jays/Yankees game continued YES Network’s recent ratings trends, notching (once again) the season’s most-viewed and highest-rated Yankees telecast on the channel. The game generated an average of 450,000 viewers with a 4.38 average TV HH rating.

Two legends were lost over the weekend. NFL Hall-of-Famer and former “Monday Night Football” sportscaster Frank Gifford passed suddenly on Sunday at the age of 84. The sports and media world was quick to offer their condolences and memories of Gifford’s legacy. "Frank Gifford was an exceptional man who will be missed by everyone who had the joy of seeing his talent on the field, the pleasure of watching his broadcasts, or the honor of knowing him,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “His many achievements were defined by a quiet dignity and a personal grace that is seldom seen in any arena; he truly embodied the very best of us. Frank’s contributions to ABC Sports and our company are immeasurable. We are honored to call him a Disney Legend and I am very fortunate to have called him a dear friend and colleague. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time." Meanwhile, John Mara, Giants President stated that: "Frank Gifford was the ultimate Giant. He was the face of our franchise for so many years.  More importantly, he was a treasured member of our family. My father loved him like a son and was proud to act as his presenter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a favor Frank returned years later by presenting my father in Canton. For my siblings and me, Frank was like a revered older brother whom we looked up to and admired. We loved him and will miss him terribly."

Another pivotal figure in the world of sports, Louise Suggs, who was one of the founders of the LPGA, also passed at the age of 91. “While I have never lost a parent, the passing of Louise Suggs feels that way to me,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “Like a parent, she cared deeply for her LPGA family and took great pride in their successes. She always made time to hear my problems and challenges  her personal guidance was priceless.”


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NBCUniversal has reportedly launched a new sponsorship and strategy unit for its sports advertising sales team. B&C writes that the new division will be run by Trish Frohman and Seth Winter and that the new group incorporates the sponsorship team that had been working on individual events, such as the Super Bowl, Triple Crown and Olympics. “This new group will capitalize on the diverse investments we’ve made in live sports and more strategically align those advertising opportunities with the entire NBCUniversal portfolio,” said Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of NBCU Advertising and Client Services. “It will tap into cross-platform revenue streams and sponsor integrations, working with the sports sales team on strategy and league relations to grow revenue across the portfolio. They will take advantage of our vast sports event content from golf to motor sports to hockey and the Olympics.”

The 35th America’s Cup will see The Bermuda Tourism Authority come in as an Official Partner of the event. The final weeks of the race will be held in May/June 2017. “The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s strength as a sales and marketing organisation was evident during the bid process and its efforts were a significant contributing factor to Bermuda coming out on top,” said Harvey Schiller, Commercial Commissioner of the America’s Cup. “We are pleased to work in partnership with the BTA over the next two years to help reach a new generation of travellers and grow the tourism economy in Bermuda.”

The New York Red Bulls are launching a 2016 membership campaign dubbed "Red Membership.” The club will now scrub the term "season ticket holder" and replace it with "Red Membership" to “create the sense of family and unity between the organization and fan base.” The campaign will see the use of the "RED Jacket" which will not be available at retail.


Microsoft and the NFL are taking their partnership to the next level with the company announcing upgrades for the new season. First of all, this year’s preseason games will see referees issued special Microsoft Surface Pro 3 3s on the sidelines. For fans at home, Microsoft is giving its NFL app a facelift for Xbox One and Windows 10 units that will feature "Next Gen Stats" capable of tracking every player in the league via an RFID chip in their pads, measuring the likes of velocity, speed, etc. Fans can also compete for prizes by making predictions on stats dubbed NGS Pick’em.


Tigers/Royals on ESPN at 8p.


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ON THIS DAY in 2008: Michael Phelps wins the first of a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

In The Know: What number did the Giants retire to honor Frank Gifford? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: David Beckham left what club (hint: not Manchester United) to join the LA Galaxy? Answer: Real Madrid. Kudos: Ben Sturner-Leverage Agency/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Michael O. Brown-Lagardere Unlimited/NY; Nello Pesci-Discovery/NY; Amanda Doyle-NBC Sports/Stamford; Alex Beach-Discovery Communications/Silver Spring; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Imran Khan-Toronto/Rogers Sportsnet; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Judie Henninger -Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; John Baghdassarian-Olympusat/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
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