10/19/20: FOX Sports Mark Silverman breaks down the network’s plans for the return of the Big Ten and Pac-12 to football

 

Medias First Morning Read
Monday October 19, 2020

With Big Ten football returning this weekend and the Pac-12 on the near horizon, FOX Sports is going big with its staple pregame show Big Noon Kickoff originating from Ohio Stadium for the Big Ten opening weekend matchup between Ohio State and Nebraska on Saturday at noon. Cynopsis Sports caught up with Fox Sports president of national networks Mark Silverman to discuss his company’s approach to a peculiar college football season.

Silverman on expanding the Big Noon Kickoff pregame show: We were beyond thrilled with the success of Big Noon Kickoff in its first season. Not only did we create a quality product that we’re immensely proud of, but the show also made a mark on the college football landscape in terms of competition for ratings. Leading into our Big Noon Saturday game of the week, FOX enjoyed its most-watched college football season ever last year, and in household ratings, our Noon package was second only to CBS’s late afternoon SEC window. When we looked at what we were able to do and how viewers responded so positively to the show, it felt like expanding it to two hours was the next logical step in the show’s growth. When you look at what is being produced, we knew that an additional hour would allow us to expand on the content even further. Even without knowing what our college football schedule would look like in such a unique season, we knew it was the right move, and everyone who works on the show deserved that extra time.

On expectations for the pregame show: From the outset, we knew we wanted to create a college football pregame show that connected with fans across the country, no matter which team they cheer for or which conference they compete in. We believe we’ve accomplished that by offering up smart football discussions and analysis with the most relevant and successful names in the game today. Urban Meyer’s unmatched football acumen is fully on display in the Urban’s Playbook segment, which resonates with casual fans and experts every single week, and we’re proud but not surprised of how much of a television star he’s become. And then you add in guys like Reggie, Matt and Brady – three names that today’s football fans remember seeing on the field and who current players look up to – we really believe that the composition of our cast and the insights they provide sets us apart. Plus, we have one of the bests hosts on TV, Rob Stone, guiding the conversation.

On the return of the Big Ten and Pac-12: We’re very excited to have a full slate of college football back on our schedule with the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West resuming play over the next couple weeks. At FOX, we really shine as a network during the month of October when you look at our full roster of programming. Not only are we going to be back to full strength for college football, but we’ve got our usual lineup of top NFL games, including Thursday Night Football, plus the MLB World Series, which is shaping up to have some dramatic storylines, and our second season of WWE Friday Night SmackDown. We truly see ourselves as being at our best when sports are at their best, and this year is no exception. Not only do we continue to own the fall in terms of the best sports programming out there, but with Thursday Night Football, WWE, college football and the NFL, we’re the sports fan’s destination for the entire long weekend.

On getting the show out of the studio: We pride ourselves on not just televising big games, but creating big events, and going out on the road for games when the situation calls for it allows us to do that to a different extent. Obviously, this year will be different with no fans or reduced capacity, but just being part of a game environment and having our guys near the field contributes to the “big game feel” that so many of our events warrant. Even though we won’t be able to celebrate and engage with fans the way we want to, we’re excited to get out to Columbus this weekend and to The Coliseum in a couple weeks to celebrate the hard work that the student-athletes, coaches and everyone associated with these programs has put in to get to this point.

On working with conference partners on their return to play: This has truly been a year unlike any other, but despite all the challenges and obstacles, we’ve been able to try some unique and interesting things. For example, without fans traveling to the game or entering the stadium, we worked with our partners at the Pac-12, USC and Arizona State to put the Nov. 7 game in our featured Big Noon Saturday slot, which is a 9a local kickoff – the first time that’s happened. I think that speaks to how successful our strategy was in Year 1, that that time slot has now become attractive to West Coast teams. Overall, this year’s once-in-a-lifetime season has reinforced how strong our relationships are with our partner conferences, as we really worked hand-in-hand with the Big Ten and Pac-12 on helping to shape their plans to return to play. It also certainly tested the limits of our staff, and I give credit to Mike Mulvihill, Derek Cocker and their team for putting together several different versions of our season schedule and working quickly to communicate with so many external partners when changes inevitably needed to be made.

PROGRAMMING

Speaking of FOX Sports, with contenders in place, the company locked in its programming times for the World Series. The 116th World Series opens with Game 1 on Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington starting Tuesday at 8p on FOX. Game 2 is on Wednesday, with remaining games (when necessary) slated for Oct. 23, 24, 25, and then potential Games 6 and 7 running on Oct. 27 and 28.

MLB Network, meanwhile, serves up extensive live coverage throughout the World Series, both from Globe Life Field and from MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus. High Heat presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance at 3p, MLB Now presented by Fisher Investments at 4p, Intentional Talk presented by Taco Bell at 5p and MLB Tonight presented by Evan Williams Bourbon at 6p will offer analysis, reporting, interviews and highlights throughout the series.

In addition, Major League Baseball and T-Mobile will debut a special livestream program called “T-Mobile 5GBP” during batting practice leading up to Game One of the World Series on Tuesday night. Produced by MLB Network and co-hosted by MLB Network’s Lauren Gardner and Sean Casey, the program will feature a first-hand look of batting practice as T-Mobile 5G BatterCams will be mounted on caps of players and coaches, and views from a 360-degree T-Mobile 5G FieldCams will also be included. The stream will be available on MLB.com, Twitch, @MLB on Twitter, the Official MLB Facebook page, the MLB app, MLB.tv and the MLB VR app on Oculus., as well as T-Mobile’s Beyond the Bases page.

ESPN+ landed U.S. media rights in both English and Spanish to the Scottish Premiership, the top professional soccer league in Scotland. As part of the agreement, the direct-to-consumer sports streaming service will carry at least one Scottish Premiership match per week and will also have coverage of select matches from the Scottish Championship, Betfred Cup (Scottish League Cup) and Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup (Scottish Challenge Cup). “The Scottish Premiership on ESPN+ will offer fans tradition, intensity, rivalries and some of the most passionately supported clubs in the world – and will add further to the most comprehensive lineup of soccer available in the U.S.,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and general manager, ESPN+.

Karate Combat inked Layla Anna-Lee as presenter and Josh Palmer as play-by-play commentator for the org. The pair join combat sports hall-of-famer and Karate Combat Ambassador Bas Rutten and other celebrity guests.

Next week! Don’t miss the biggest esports business event in the world with EBS coming to your computer from Oct. 27-29. Hear first-hand from global brands, league commissioners, all-star investors, collegiate officials, celebrity content creators and more about how this industry can benefit your business. Click here to get your tickets now!

The International Olympic Committee last week moved to assure
international sports federations that the postponed Tokyo Games will open on time on July 23 next year. “We are very confident that the games in Tokyo next year will take place,” IOC sports director Kit McConnell told delegates in the on-line seminar. “We are moving forward on this basis.”

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

While laying out the groundwork for a return in 2021, officials at the AELTC not only revealed multiple operational scenarios for Wimbledon, but also announced that the AELTC will be extending its long-standing partnership with Rolex. The news follows the announcement that Sipsmith joined the AELTC’s official partner family as the first Official Gin of The Championships and other Official Supplier partnership renewals with Jaguar, IBM, Robinsons and PIMM’S, and official gaming rights renewals with IMG Arena and Stats Perform.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Hyperice, an industry leader in recovery technology and pioneer of percussion, vibration, dynamic air compression and thermal technology, announced a multi-year partnership with Major League Baseball, which will include a future investment by MLB in the company. The pair will work together with Club medical, athletic training, and strength and conditioning professionals to prioritize player health and athlete longevity leaguewide. Hyperice next-generation products and technologies will now be immediately available for use during games, in the dugout and bullpen to optimize player performance, improve mobility and speed up recovery.

ESPORTS

FIFA revealed new plans for its esports events played on EA SPORTS FIFA 21, announcing a new FIFAe tournament structure created to “unify and highlight three clear and distinct narratives of competitive FIFA: players, clubs and nations.” In addition, the FIFAe World Cup and the FIFAe Nations Series both now feature a $500,000 prize pool, with the FIFAe Club Series putting $350,000 on the line. In addition, another $3 million in prizes will be distributed by EA across Qualifiers, Regional Playoffs, the eChampions League, and CONMEBOL eLibertadores as part of the EA SPORTS FIFA 21 Global Series.

Heavyweight content creator Tyler1 inked a deal with famed esports team T1. Tyler1, who specializes in League of Legends content, features over 3.7 million followers on Twitch.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

ASICS revealed the appointment of Richard Sullivan to President and Chief Operating Officer for ASICS North America. In addition, Barbara Turner will assume the role of Chief Administrative Officer and Sean Condon has been named Vice President, Omnichannel. These changes to the ASICS North America leadership team will go into effect starting on November 1.

Measurement and Data Virtual Experience
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SESSION SPOTLIGHT: THE ISSUE OF DATA QUALITY
There’s a lot of data to choose from nowadays. Some is critical for one project but not with another. How can you smartly tell which is which? This panel on Tuesday, November 17th at 1:30pm ET features executives from New York Interconnect, Starcom and Publicis One Team (Citi) who will examine the way pros have separated the wheat from the chaff using examples from media & data companies.

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On this Day
1966: Bobby Orr makes his NHL regular season debut.

IN THE KNOW
Which was the last Big Ten team, other than Ohio State, to win the conference’s football championship? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
What former Chicago Bear debuted as a professional wrestler in 2004? Answer: Brian Urlacher. Kudos: Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Aymon DeMauro-ADM Media & Marketing/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Lisa Fikeys-NissanUnited/Chicago; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank

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