10/19/15: PBR CEO opens the gates on new ownership; MLB Championship Series open with a bang; AT&T hitches ride with Uber


Good morning. It’s Monday October 19, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Following last week’s announcement that 2.3 million people tuned in to watch PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series event on CBS earlier this month, marking the most-watched PBR event on the channel in more than four years, the organization now hits Las Vegas this week for the World Finals. The event will mark the end of an era as it shifts from Thomas and Mack to the sparkling new Las Vegas Arena in 2016. Coverage begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday on CBS Sports Network.

With new ownership under the WME/IMG umbrella, PBR CEO Sean Gleason spoke with Cynopsis Sports about the future of the organization, how the new bosses are impacting the company, and how

Gleason on new ownership: Obviously, our world became a different place in mid-May when we were sold to WME/IMG, and being part of that organization is a phenomenal opportunity for the sport. We are like a kid in the candy store with all of the resources, assets, connections and other things that they have. We are quickly getting plugged in to all of the departments and areas of expertise that they have built over the years. There have been some really positive gains for our business such as the licensing group where they’ve got a worldwide professional licensing organization, whereas we didn’t have any real representation in the sport. On the content/media side, there are a number of new opportunities for us that we are working on. So we are in great shape, having a good time and looking forward to the next level of growth.

On becoming CEO: I’ve been here for 16 years. I was Chief Operating Officer the day I joined the company many years ago. So I’ve seen it grow from a relative startup to what it is today, so I can’t honestly say that we are changing a whole lot of the plans. The plan has been successful for every phase of our growth, but we are modifying it now to tap into a lot of professionals and professional expertise that we didn’t have the resources to afford or the expertise to build. It isn’t a substantially different plan, just on a grander scale.

On the long-term deal with CBS: We’ve seen tremendous growth in the last four or five years in our audience and ratings. We’ve seen our audience find us and then return on a regular and consistent basis since we’ve been able to announce and promote that CBS and CBS Sports Network are the home of Professional Bull Riders. We’ve seen a lot of recapturing of audience that may have lost touch with us when we split the package between NBC and CBS, and made transitions from Versus to NBC Sports Network. We are in the first year of our long-term arrangement with CBS and all signs are showing growth.

On growth: We have a diverse demographic group. Six or seven years ago, our audience scaled on the older side of things. So our biggest growth has been in the 18-34 year old category. We are now seeing a pretty even mix of demos. That is one of the big challenges we’ve had to face over the years, because when someone asks us about how demo, we would say “In which city?” In New York, it is 60% women between the ages of 24 and 34, while in Billings, Montana, it certainly skews older. We’ve embraced who we are but we have done a lot more marketing initiatives to the Hispanic audience in the last three years. We’ve target Spanish language ads in the right communities, such as Chicago, the Texas markets, or Albuquerque.

On changing venues in Las Vegas: It is a little bittersweet because there is 17 years of history with the Thomas and Mack Center. On a personal front, I’ve watched virtually the entire history of the sport unfold there and it feels like home when we go there. But anybody who has had a chance to view the Las Vegas Arena and understand what it’s going to be when the doors open on that place, would agree that it is a move that is in the best interest of the sport, the competitors, the fans and anybody associated with this sport. We were able to work with the architects early on and they solicited our opinion on a “What if” basis and we were able to work with them to design some elements into that building that made it a very specific opportunity to present the sport with sightlines and fan experience in mind and we look forward to starting there next year.


Chicago vs. New York paid dividends for TBS’s coverage of the 2015 National League Championship Series with Game 1 between the Cubs and Mets delivering 7.9 million total viewers and a 4.5 household rating to the network. That marks its most-viewed and highest-rated NLCS Game 1 ever, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals and pushed TBS to win the night across all of television in primetime on Saturday, based on metered market delivery. Those numbers are up 46% in total viewers and 29% in rating over the network’s comparable NLCS coverage in 2013 with markups of 34% among total viewers and 25% in rating over last year’s ALCS Game 1. Meanwhile, the channel’s final battle between the Mets/Dodgers was also a hit, averaging 7.4 million total viewers and an 4.5 household for rises of 21% and 15% over the comparable NLDS Game 5 telecast in 2013.

Around the dial, Game 1 of the 2015 American League Championship Series handed FOX Sports with a 4.0/8 household rating/share and 6.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast nationals, for spikes of 29% in rating and +30% in audience versus the FOX/FS1 telecast of NLCS Game 1 a year ago. In addition to household gains, ALCS Game 1 also saw gains across several key demographics compared to 2014 NLCS Game 1: Men 18-34, +21% (1.7 vs. 1.4); M18-49,  +50% (2.4 vs. 1.6); M25-54, +47% (2.8 vs. 1.9); Adults 18-49, +42% (1.7 vs. 1.2).
In addition, FOX Sports is bringing in Alex Rodriguez to serve as a guest analyst for the network’s presentation of the 2015 American League Championship Series and the 111th World Series. The announcement was made during yesterday’s edition of FOX NFL Sunday. Rodriguez debuts tonight at 7p during pregame coverage of ALCS Game 3 on FS1.

Univision Deportes detailed plans for the second annual Premios Univision Deportes, which launches last year as “the ultimate sports award show for U.S. Hispanics honoring top athletes and teams from the leagues and sports that Hispanics care about most.” This year’s two-hour event will take place in Miami and will run live on the Univision Network on Dec. 18 at 8p with a simulcast on UDN. Julian Gil hosts with Jacqueline Bracamontes, with 25 categories on deck.

CBS Sports selected Tennessee/Alabama for its SEC on CBS slot on Oct. 24 at 3:30p. Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and reporter Allie LaForce call the contest from Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. 

Get in early and claim your spot as we rumble toward the Cynopsis Sports Engagement Summit on Dec. 2 in NY. We’ve already unveiled a taste of the speakers to come at http://www.sportsengagementsummit.com, so don’t miss out on keynotes/Q&As that include Twitter’s Danny Keens and Thuzio co-founder/NY Giant legend Tiki Barber. We’ll also serve up some spicy panels that include our famous CMO Roundtable, as well as sessions about leveraging data, eSports, maximizing video and the evolution of PR. Seats are limited so get your tickets now!

FOX Sports’ Garbage Time with Katie Nolan saw Wednesday’s episode set a show record, notching 473,000 to the show’s premier. The numbers come following Nolan’s viral comments about Greg Hardy, which scored record digital views the previous week.

ESPN’s College GameDay is hitting James Madison University for the first time, announcing that the show will tackle JMU’s campus on Saturday ahead of the undefeated Dukes’ homecoming game against Richmond. JMU will become the first FCS school to be featured this season after stops at North Dakota State and Harvard a year ago.

Sky News reports that China Media Capital is looking to join a takeover of Formula One via an $8.5 billion bid. The report states that China Media Capital is leading a group of Chinese firms who want to invest roughly $1.5 billion in an offer being assembled by Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins American football team.



From the e-sports explosion to the take-no-prisoners evolution of social media and more, Cynopsis Sports will reveal the tech and trends that are keeping fans tuned in. Join us for this one-day conference on December 2nd and get the lowdown that will keep your business growing.


AT&T has been hitching its ride to Uber, with Uber riders in four major markets able to watch live college football games in an AT&T Connected Car while en route to their final destination. Recent stops included Detroit and Nashville last weekend with Houston and Atlanta also in the cards on 10/24 and 11/14 respectively. Each vehicle is outfitted with four tabletslocated in the back of the headrests in each rowWiFi connectivity for all passengers, two sets of wireless headphones, and built-in phone chargers. Certain fans can also ride with a former player, with cars outfitted with GoPro cameras to capture the experience.

Turner Sports announced plans to tip off the NBA season with a slate of special fan events in the Bay Area during NBA on TNT Premiere Week presented by Autotrader. The network opens the season with a doubleheader on Oct. 27 with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal offering a live pre-game show at 7pfrom Pier 43 in San Francisco as part of a daylong attraction presented by sponsors Mountain Dew and Samsung Galaxy. Features will include a LED basketball court, a performance stage sponsored by Mountain Dew, a viewing area and more. The day will include a musical performance live from Pier 43 and a viewing party for the night’s doubleheader.

Tonight’s MNF matchup will see the debut of a new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens during halftime of the Giants/Eagles matchup. The Spanish language version of the trailer will air on ESPN Deportes simultaneously. The movue opens in U.S. theaters on December 18.

The PBA locked in sponsors for the GEICO Professional Bowlers Association World Series of Bowling VII presented by Silver Legacy and Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority from Dec. 7-19. ESPN showcases seven telecasts with 100 hours of digital coverage through PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame. Primary sponsors are set to include GEICO, Rolltech, Silver Legacy Resort Casino and Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. Presenting sponsors include PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game by Concrete Software, Storm Products, Xtra Frame, HotelPlanner.com and the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.

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


MLBAM reports that, through the MLB League Championship Series, the company’s Live Digital Data Ratings study showed daily averages of 38.2 million minutes consumed and 4.2 million unique sessions, with triple-digit increases over the average regular season games, +240% for minutes consumed and +158% for unique sessions per game during the Postseason, highlighted by ALDS Game Five between the Rangers and Blue Jays which ranked as the most consumed nine-inning game of the year with 36.2 million minutes consumed and 5.5 million unique sessions.

Fans can now stream SEC Network and SEC Network + live on WatchESPN on Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. “We’re pleased to give our customers live access to their favorite SEC teams anytime and anywhere across multiple platforms," said Mike Angus, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital Programming and Content for Time Warner Cable.


Royals/Blue Jays on FS1 at 8p.




ON THIS DAY in 1936: The Associated Press releases its first-ever poll to rank major college football teams, with Minnesota taking the top spot.

In The Know: What network was the first to carry NBA games nationally? (Hint: it isn’t around anymore.) (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What two current SEC coaches served as head coach at Arkansas State? Answer: Hugh Freeze-Ole Miss and Gus Malzahn– Auburn. Kudos: Andrew Feingold-Nielsen/NY; Tony DeSanti-ABC/NY; Denis Barry-CBS/NY; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Steve Hebel-Katz Television Group/Chicago; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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