10/16/14: NBC Sports launches long-form digital destination; A Giant win for FOX Sports 1; Cotton Bowl loses AT&T connection


Good morning. It’s Thursday, October 16, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

NBC Sports Group is deepening its digital ties, announcing the launch of NBCSportsWorld.com, a new micro-site within NBCSports.com that will be dedicated to long-form storytelling. The site launched yesterday and will be populated with long-form stories, essays, short films and documentaries, including select archived Olympic video. Participants include award-winning writer Joe Posnanski, Joe Prince-Wright of ProSoccerTalk, and Nick Zaccardi of OlympicTalk. At launch, NBC SportsWorld will host programming that includes: Nancy & Tonya; Lokomotiv; Long Way Home: The Jessica Long Story; Space Race; and Arnie.

“Our SportsTalk strategy of providing readers with quick, impactful news posts multiple times a day has been incredibly successful. However, we will now complement that plan by tapping into NBC Sports Group’s rich history of long-form storytelling,” said Rick Cordella, SVP & GM, Digital Media, NBC Sports Group. “NBC SportsWorld will create an immersive experience for our users with deep, thoughtful multimedia pieces written and produced by our talented roster of contributors from all facets of the NBC Sports Group.”


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FOX Sports saw some high scores in the ratings game, announcing that Sunday’s America’s Game of the Week featuring the Cowboys and Seahawks generated a season-high 17.4/32 household rating/share with 30.0 million viewers tuning in, according to Nielsen. That marks the highest-rated and most-watched program on all broadcast and cable television since the Academy Awards in March and is the NFL on FOX’s highest-rated regular season broadcast in nearly three years. Even better, the game ranked as the most-watched NFL on FOX regular season Sunday broadcast in 19 years, up 10% in rating and 12% in audience compared to last year’s Week 6 national window.

Elsewhere at FOX, Tuesday’s Game 3 of the NLCS delivered 2,779,000 viewers, per final Nielsen national figures, to rank as the top ad supported cable network between 4-8p. That ranks as the second most-watched weekday daytime event on FOX Sports 1, and the third most-watched daytime event ever. In fact, the channel announced yesterday that, bolstered by its MLB postseason coverage, the 14-month old channel now ranks as the fastest growing network in television, according to Nielsen. Overall, on a total day basis, the channel has increased its audience by 175,000, for a markup of 164%. Meanwhile, the NLCS also continued to deliver for FOX Deportes. The Game 3 matchup handed the channel with 144,00 total viewers and 79,000 P18-49.

Around the dial on TBS, its coverage of the ALCS Game 3 continued the network’s momentum, scoring an average of 6.0 million total viewers, up 25% over the channel’s comparable LCS telecast last year. This year’s corresponding 3.8 U.S. HH rating is up 23% over a 3.1 U.S. HH rating in 2013. Despite two small market teams, TBS’ exclusive coverage of the ALCS is averaging 5,349,000 total viewers through three games, up 13%.

ESPN announced that its 2014-15 women’s college basketball regular-season schedule is slated to include 131 games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network and Longhorn Network. Overall, ESPN2 plays host to 36 games this season, including top early-season matchups, all Big Monday contests and most Sundays throughout the conference season. ESPNU is programming 19 games, including doubleheaders on most Sundays during the conference schedule. The newborn SEC Network carries more than 60 games, including a doubleheader every Thursday and a game-of-the-week on Mondays. Of course, ESPN networks will continue to carry all 63 games of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship culminating with the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa on April 5 and 7.

Are you on the Leaderboard? Find out at the Cynopsis Sports Social Media Summit on Dec. 8!

Spike TV and Bellator MMA lined up a batch of programming to promote Bellator 131: Tito vs. Bonnar. The channel offers Tito vs. Bonnar: Winner Take All on Nov. 12 at 11p, and Unrivaled: Tito Ortiz at 11:30p. Countdown to Ortiz vs. Bonnar will later air on Nov. 14 at 10:30p, a day before the Nov. 15th card.

Pac-12 Networks detailed plans to offer 147 men’s basketball games this season beginning Oct. 23 at 10a with the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day Special, followed by the primetime premiere of Ambassadors of the Game: Pac-12 Men’s Basketball All-Stars at 7p. On the talent front, Bill Walton returns for game analysis, while Mike Montgomery begins his first full season as an analyst on game and studio coverage and Spero Dedes also joins Pac-12 Networks this season. Network veterans including Don MacLean, Ted Robinson, Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd, Matt Muehlebach, JB Long and Roxy Bernstein also return to game coverage this season.
With a press conference scheduled for tomorrow, the AP writes that the NHL will announce that Nashville will host the league’s 2016 All Star game.


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AT&T appears to have hung up on the Cotton Bowl. Local reports in Dallas state that the bowl game will have a new title sponsor when it hosts its first game in the College Football Playoff on Jan. 1 after AT&T opted not to continue its deal. According to the article, ESPN, which holds the media rights to all the playoff bowls, had been “seeking a significant increase in sponsorship deals, up to $25 million a year.”

Fantasy sports technology and content provider Hotbox Sports Ventures will enter into a sponsorship agreement with a NHL team for the first time, inking a deal with the New Jersey Devils. As part of the deal, the Devils will promote HotBoxSports.com, as it introduces a new style of fantasy sports gaming to hockey fans around the world in late November. The sponsorship pact will promote HotBoxSports.com throughout Devils assets including in-arena, media and social channels.

The NFL Alumni Association locked in a new partnership with New York City-based sports and entertainment marketing firm Leverage Agency to procure sponsorship opportunities and develop “unique activation ideas for numerous local and national events,” including Super Bowl Weekend in Glendale, AZ. “The NFL Alumni Association is comprised of former NFL players, coaches and executives across 29 Chapters nationwide,” said Ben Sturner, CEO and Founder of Leverage Agency.  “We’re confident we can help brands maximize the unique marketing potential of this formidable association, especially around the marquee Super Bowl Weekend.”
WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon has been selected as a 2015 Eisenhower USA Fellow, serving as one of nine U.S. leaders to participate in the international leadership exchange program for outstanding professionals. Fellows are selected based on their “proven leadership and success in their professional field, their enthusiasm for continued learning, their active engagement in community activities and their potential for advanced leadership and societal impact.”


Campus Insiders announced plans to produce eight men’s basketball games for broadcast on Patriot League Network. The slate begins Jan. 7 at 7:30p with American/Loyola Maryland and will feature teams that include Navy, Boston University, Army, Holy Cross, and Bucknell. Powered by Campus Insiders, PLN will continue to live-stream events and provide on-demand video content, numerous interviews, feature stories and highlight packages throughout the year.


Sports investment bank Park Lane announced that it has officially wrapped up two major sports franchise transactions this month. The bank acquired the Bologna Football Club 1909 in Italy and sold a minority interest in Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds. The two deals were announced today by Park Lane Founder and Managing Director Andrew Kline. 


Cardinals/Giants at 8p on FOX Sports 1.

ON THIS DAY in 1969: The Mets beat the Orioles to win the World Series.

In The Know: Brooklyn Nine Nine star Terry Crews was a professional athlete for what sport? (Battle Dome does not count.) (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 Yesterday’s Question: In addition to Karl and Moses, who is the third “Malone” to rank in the top 100 regular-season NBA scorers of all-time? Answer: Jeff Malone. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Nick Gaetano-MLB Network/NY; David Stern-BARD Entertainment/NY; Doug Drotman-Drotman Communications/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Jim Sweeney-MIKE/St. Petersburg; Anthony Antonelli-Rogers Media/Toronto; David Hauptman/Denver; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Doug Verb-ACTION Mediation/Las Vegas

Later — Chris
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