10/08/15: Astros win hits a new viewership orbit; NFL launches new satelite radio pact; TNT prepares for The Quest


Good morning. It’s Thursday October 8, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The Yankees/Astros Wild Card game on ESPN opened the MLB postseason on a high note, delivering the largest MLB Wild Card Game audience ever, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals. The contest averaged 7,604,000 viewers to also rank as the network’s most-watched MLB game since 2003. Audiences were up 46% over last year’s AL Wild Card Game and up 36% over the channel’s telecast of the 2014 NL Wild Card Game. Its 4.9 U.S. household rating grew 48% and 36% over last year’s AL Wild Card and NL Wild Card telecasts.


The NFL is down for another six years with SiriusXM, inking a deal with the company that will continue to offer every NFL game live nationwide from the preseason through Super Bowl LVI in 2022 as well as SiriusXM NFL Radio. Now for the first time, SiriusXM NFL Radio programming is available to subscribers on SiriusXM On Demand, giving them access to an extensive catalogue of show episodes, interviews and more that they can listen to whenever they want. “We are pleased to extend and expand our partnership with SiriusXM into the next decade,” said Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s executive vice president, Media. “SiriusXM has been a valuable partner and provides our fans with tremendous content throughout the year and on gameday.”

FIFA head Sepp Blatter has been provisionally suspended by the organization, according to CNN, following allegations that he signed an "unfavorable" contract and made a "disloyal payment" to UEFA president Michel Platini. A potential 90-day suspension could be handed down provided it is approved by the adjudicatory arm of FIFA’s Ethics Committee.

The NFL approved an extension to play international regular-season games through 2025, most countries outside the UK on tap. The 2016 slate of overseas games will be announced later this fall. “This marks an important step in our long-term international growth,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Fans in the UK have responded incredibly well to the regular-season games we have played in London since 2007. They have demanded more NFL games, and we have worked to accommodate them. We think it’s time to expand our International Series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the UK, but elsewhere around the world.”

FOX Sports detailed its MLB Postseason coverage plans with the action beginning tonight with an American League Division Series doubleheader on FS1. Overall, FS1 carries up to eight ALDS games over the next seven days beginning with Rangers/Blue Jays at 3:30p and featuring Kenny Albert, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci on microphone duties. They will be followed by the Astros/Royals at 7:30p. Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz and reporter Jon Paul Morosi cover the game with A.J. Pierzynski joining in and making his debut as a Postseason game analyst. Pregame begins at 2:30p on FS1 and will be hosted by Kevin Burkhardt.

MLB Network scored its most-watched regular season in 2015, swelling 18% over the 2014 season, according to Nielsen. Highlights for the channel included: MLB Network notching its most-watched Opening Day, Opening Week, Trade Deadline, and regular season week. Third quarter 2015 ended with average total day audiences up 25% over the same period a year ago. To date, MLB Network is on pace to deliver its best year ever, with total day audiences up 14% over 2014.

CBS and NFL Network mark up another edition of their Thursday Night Football Presents series, which features 16 different opening teases for each of the TNF matchups. For the Colts/Texans game tonight, the networks are offering “The Measure,” featuring original music by recording artists 2Cellos with narration by Anna Faris. The music featured in the opening spotlights the matchup between Andrew Luck and JJ Watt in their AFC South rivalry. Pregame begins at 6p with TNF GameDay on NFL Network and continues at 7:30p with Thursday NightKickoff on the channels.

Don’t miss out on our FREE webinar next week, Beyond Viral Addiction: Building a Loyal Community for Your Products”, produced with Whistle Sports, on Wednesday, October 14. Speakers include: Whistle Sports EVP Brian Selander; Fit Men Cook’s Kevin Curry; Lacrosse Network’s Samir Chaudry & pro Lacrosse player Paul Rabill; as well as Mashable’s Eric Korsh. Make sure to sign up here.

ESPN locked in a long-term deal with Multi Screen Media targeting sports fans in India and across the Indian subcontinent. The partnership will include new Sony ESPN sports channels and a new multisport website and app. The two companies will launch other new channels in the coming months.

Continuing this week’s market spotlight, FOX Sports Midwest announced that it hit an all-time high in 2015 thanks to the Cardinals. Telecasts averaged a 10.0 household rating/123,000 households on FOX Sports Midwest for a markup of 29% over last season. Cardinals’ local-market ratings ranked second in MLB, behind only the Kansas City Royals.

Editor’s Note: Please join the Cynopsis team and your industry peers for the half-day Programmatic TV Summit on Nov. 5. Register now.


With the sports fan, it’s all about relationships –

How to start them, how to maintain them, how to enhance them. If you want to build a sustainable audience connection that results in increased ROI and better branding, sign up for the October 14th Cynopsis Sports Webinar, in partnership with Whistle Sports, Beyond Viral Addiction: Building a Loyal Community for Your Products Register here..


Turner Sports is lining up a new marketing campaign, dubbed “The Quest,” for the upcoming NBA season. The promotion will “chronicle the fictitious journey some of the NBA’s best teams and biggest stars navigate through during their ‘Quest’ for an NBA Championship.” Spots were produced by Turner Sports and feature NBA stars that include LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, DeAndre Jordan and more. They will be paired with comedians Mike Epps (Cavaliers), Billy Crystal (Clippers) and D.L. Hughley (Rockets). The first promo debuted last night during the NL Wild Card game. The clip can be found here.

Speaking of promos, in a move to promote UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm on Nov. 14, the company produced a spot entitled Revolution that highlights the path both athletes leading into their clash for the UFC bantamweight title, showcasing Rousey’s interest in judo growing up (and played by Rousey’s real sister Julia De Mars )while Holm takes on boxing. The spot can be found here.
Relativity Sports CEO Happy Walters is leaving the agency to launch a new company in the sports and media field. The news comes as billionaire Ron Burkle bought half of Relativity Media’s interest in the endeavor has committed $30 million of growth capital to expand Relativity Sports. Burkle will also serve as Chairman of the Board.

If the Rams return to St. Louis, any potential new stadium already has a name and sponsor. National Car Rental has pledged $158 million over 20 years for the naming rights to a proposed riverfront venue, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.


Infront Sports & Media is turning to digital services firm Omnigon in a new partnership that will see the companies collaborate to offer the “most impactful digital solutions, consultancy and services to the global sports industry.” The duo will offer professional services and jointly develop custom-made digital solutions with products that will include centralized content management platforms, designed to further enhance fan engagement and contribute towards an inspiring sports viewer experience. In addition, the tandem will now offer strategic and technical guidance on how to expand and monetize digital reach.

MLBAM has another ace up its sleeve, announcing the launch of a league wide keyboard extension app, MLB.com Clubhouse. The platform will offer fans the ability to expand and customize their personal keyboards with baseball-themed GIFs and stickers, with access to hundreds of newly developed baseball-themed images that include official logos, current and legendary player emojis, team mascots, ballpark food and features and baseball equipment, and animated GIFs built by MLB.com.

Sports Illustrated is teaming with WIRED to launch a five-month-long series that will look 50 years into the future to explore football “through the lens of innovation.” The package is named “SB 100” and will feature Gatorade and Microsoft as presenting sponsors of the endeavor. Over a dozen journalists have been involved in the conception, research, reporting and ongoing production of the series, which will feature themes such as: How will Super Bowl 100 be played? What will the experience be like for fans? How will the athletes who play the game be different from today’s NFL players? How will the equipment change? How will player safety be ensured? Will virtual reality change the sport? How will data and analytics change the training and strategy of the game?

SI also announced that former Washington Post writer Alex Prewitt has joined the outlet as a Staff Writer where he will mainly be covering the NHL but he will also contribute to other beats and work across all platforms.

U.S. Women’s National Team forward and World Cup champion Christen Press will become the first active athlete to contribute to FOX Sports’ digital series @TheBuzzer. Press is slated to make 25 @TheBuzzer appearances through the end of the calendar year, working at FOX Sports’ digital studio in Los Angeles while continuing her training and full-time commitments to the U.S. Women’s National Team.


Endemol Beyond USA launched its new eSports and gaming SMASHER Network, lining up seven original series including flagship Legends of Gaming hosted by Toby Turner, as well as Rule’m Sports, based on the hit UK series and hosted by YouTube star Jesse Wellens. SMASHER Network will be available across more than 20 platforms, including YouTube, Roku, TiVo, DailyMotion, Amazon Fire TV, Verizon go90, Vessel and also at Endemol Beyond USA’s OTT platform GetBeyond.US. “eSports is trending globally and we’re excited to be at the tipping point with ‘Legends of Gaming’ hosted by the mega-talented Toby Turner,” said Adrian Sexton, Interim President and COO, Endemol Beyond USA. “Our premium networks’ strategy, starting with ICON Network and Michelle Phan, and now heading into SMASHER with eSports and gaming, puts us right in the middle of one of the most passionate and intense fan bases in digital. Game on!"


Sponsorship Research International named Craig Bloomquist as the company’s new Vice President, Group Director. Bloomquist has served as Vice President at Ipsos and will now be charged with continuing the growth of SRi as well as fueling the innovative product development.


A double bill on FS1 sees Rangers/Blue Jays at 3:30p followed by the Astros/Royals at 7:30p.




ON THIS DAY in 1994: The NY Giants retire Lawrence Taylor’s #56.

In The Know: Who is the all-time leader in MLB Grand Slams? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which NFL franchise claims the longest run in NFL history without a win in the postseason? (Hint: it spanned 1947-1998.) Answer: The Cardinals. Kudos: Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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