10/20/15: ESPN finds its Undefeated champion; NFL numbers continue to roast; Reebok hooks another UFC whale


Good morning. It’s Tuesday October 20, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

ESPN is turning to Kevin Merida, managing editor at The Washington Post, as the new editor-in-chief for its site, The Undefeated. The platform will offer “in-depth reporting, commentary and insight on race and culture through the lens of sports.” In his role, Merida will serve as a senior vice president and oversee the editorial direction, tone and policies of the site, as well as offer oversight for key initiatives. He replaces the departed Jason Whitlock, who is now with FOX Sports.

"I’m excited to join ESPN and to help establish "The Undefeated" as a destination for the most vibrant, provocative, thoughtful work on sports, race and culture in the country," Merida said. "It will become a home for innovative storytelling, new voices and the exploration of athletes and ideas by writers you’ll want to read.


CBS saw Sunday’s NFL on CBS telecast, showcasing national doubleheader coverage, saw the afternoon’s Green Bay’s 27-20 win over San Diego and Baltimore/San Francisco rank as the highest-rated NFL game on any network in Week 6 with an average overnight metered market household rating/share of 15.5/28, according to Nielsen. That is up 17% over last year’s coverage. Meanwhile the early window drew an average overnight metered market HH rating/share of 12.4/26, up 7%.

Meanwhile, the Patriots win over Colts on NBC’s SNF notched a 14.6/23 in Nielsen overnight numbers, marking the best-ever Week 6 scores in the channel’s franchise history. The matchup was up 26% over last year’s equivalent and marks the best numbers for an NFL primetime game versus the MLB LCS since 1997. Top markets included Boston, with a 44.6/64, followed by Indianapolis, Providence, Denver and West Palm Beach.

Speaking of the LCS, TBS’ latest battle between the Cubs and Mets exclusive presentation of the 2015 National League Championship Series averaged 6.6 million total viewers and a 3.8 U.S. HH rating to mark the network’s most-watched and highest-rated LCS Game 2 ever. So far, the series is averaging 7.2 million total viewers and a 4.1 U.S. HH rating. Meanwhile, Turner’s TV Everywhere platforms are seeing 137% growth in unique visits, 49% in video starts and 25% in minutes consumed over last year’s comparable coverage.

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

ESPN laid out its college basketball broadcast plans, slating around 1,200 games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, SEC Network and Longhorn Network this season. Coverage tips off on Nov. 13 with the fourth annual Armed Forces Classic from Camp Foster in Okinawa, New elements this year will see ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU combine to air every game of the third annual Big 12/SEC Challenge Presented by Sonic on Jan. 30, 2016. In addition, College GameDay Covered by State Farm will be live for the first time from the annual Jimmy V Classic presented by Corona on Dec. 8. Overall, ESPN will carry live coverage of at least one game on an ESPN television network every day but eight from November 13 to March 6. Daily programming is set to include the Big Monday doubleheader, Super Tuesday presented by Hotels.com, Wednesday Night Hoops, Thursday Night Showcase, Saturday Showcase, Saturday Primetime Presented by DIRECTV game-of-the-week on ESPN and ACC Sunday Night Basketball series on its networks.

Disgruntled viewers who purchased DIRECTV’S Sunday Ticket are suing the company, along with the NFL and its franchises, CBS, ESPN, FOX and NBC in a class action suit. The plaintiffs claim that the outlets’ exclusive distribution agreements violate antitrust law and have driven up the cost of NFL telecasts. The lawsuit was filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in New York, according to Variety, and reads that viewers are “Limited to only one source for the football programming that many of their customers demand, commercial establishments pay anywhere from $1,458 per year to more than $120,000 per year  as much as 10 times more than they pay for other sports packages.” In response, a spokesman for the NFL said in a statement to the paper that, “The NFL’s broadcast arrangements, including the Sunday Ticket agreement with DirecTV, have been in place for decades. They provide fans with at least three, free over-the-air games to every market every week of the NFL regular season and also provide displaced fans with the opportunity to watch their favorite team compete on the field every week. The NFL believes that these arrangements are entirely lawful and intends to defend these cases vigorously. We are the only sports league that televises all of its regular-season and playoff games on free over-the-air television.”

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!

Anthem Sports & Entertainment’s Fantasy Sports Network locked in a branded entertainment measurement agreement with Rentrak “to understand how custom content can be used to impact brands, as well as measure the value of their branded content assets.” “Rentrak will allow our network to provide a cross-platform value of our branded content and leverage that information in the marketplace,” said Fantasy Sports Network’s Vice President of Sales Mark Winokur. “This will enhance our sales groups’ ability to effectively present Branded Entertainment solutions to advertisers.”

Tennis Channel serves up live coverage of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1 with more than 50 live hours on deck. The action begins at 11p with live round-robin doubles play featuring Mary Carillo leading the network’s on-air team, flanked by coach Paul Annacone and Lindsay Davenport. Part of Tennis Channel’s night-and-day-long blocks of BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore will be within its world-whiparound Center Court telecast, which will include live matches from the men’s tournament in Basel, Switzerland, with all-time greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Golf Channel debuts The Squeeze on Nov. 10 at 8p, spotlighting “a gifted young golfer who crosses paths with an obsessive gambler willing to resort to whatever means necessary to win a bet.” The movie is based on a true story and was written and directed by Terry Jastrow, who produced or directed coverage of 62 major championships (U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship), and was a seven-time Emmy winner over the course of his 22-year career.

Universal Sports offers a one-on-one interview with IOC President Thomas Bach tomorrow night at 7:30p on Beyond the Medals  The Business of Sport. Host Rick Horrow interviews Bach on multiple issues ranging from the IOC’s Rule 40 protecting Olympic Sponsors to the FIFA scandal and also covers the IOC’s relationship with the USOC, the Olympic Agenda 2020 and its proposed tactics designed to reach a younger demographic in efforts to secure the future of the Olympic movement.

New York Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman joins We Need to Talk tonight at 8p on CBS Sports Network. Also joining the show are Dani Rylan and Hilary Knight of the newly formed NWHL. They will join panelists Dana Jacobson, Dara Torres, Lisa Leslie and Swin Cash.


CYNOPSIS is accepting entries for the Social Good Awards

We know the Cynopsis community is a vibrant group of engaged professionals who work hard, committed to evolving the media industry to be first and best at serving the consumer. But this is not all you and your organization are dedicated to. You’re also a collection of civic-minded citizens who want to give back to the public through their profession.



Reebok landed another UFC whale, signing undefeated Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman to a partnership. In addition to Weidman and the promotion itself, Reebok also sponsors other athletes that include UFC women’s Bantamweight champRonda Rousey, women’s Strawweight champion Joanna Jêdrzejczyk and interim Featherweight champion Conor McGregor.

The NHL and NHLPA launched the 17th annual Hockey Fights Cancer campaign, running through Nov. 13. Together, the NHLPA and NHL will distribute more than $200,000 in grants to local cancer organizations in all 30 NHL markets and nationally to five cancer organizations. Campaign highlights include: in-arena awareness nights; national broadcasts highlighting lavender  the official color of the campaign representing all cancers; and ?integration into EA’s NHL.

The Jr. NBA presented by Under Armour tips off this week, with the NBA’s youth basketball participation program for boys and girls ages 6-14 seeing all 30 NBA teams will participate via youth basketball events in their communities. The NBA and Under Armour host national launch events in Baltimore, Lexington, Ky., New York, Phoenix and San Antonio, featuring current and former NBA and WNBA players. In total, more than 100 events will be held during Jr. NBA Week. Additionally, as part of these expanded youth basketball efforts, the league has established the Jr. NBA Leadership Council to help provide direction on the program’s development and evolution.

PBR is launching their “PBR goes Pink” online auction today to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation ahead of its 22nd PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals. Autographed memorabilia from top PBR riders, as well as World Champion stock contractors, PBR sponsors, and celebrity friends and athletes have been donated to support the PBR’s Pink Promise. Items can be found at www.PBR.com/eBay.


Bleacher Report now ranks as the leading publisher in driving social engagement across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to CrowdTangle. September saw the platform rank first among all publishers including outside the sports vertical, in driving social interactions on those channels, ranking second in Instagram and Twitter interactions and fifth on Facebook. The site bested FOX News (which came in second), followed by MTV News, BuzzFeed Video and ESPN.

The US Ski Team and Ski Racing International are launching a new app ahead of this weekend’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup. The free app features alpine, freestyle and nordic skiing, and gives users quick access to the news, videos and photos from usskiteam.com and skiracing.com, including the latest results from events. “Over the past year, the USSA has been in the process of developing new digital tools to better connect our members and fans with our sports,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “The U.S. Ski Team app powered by SkiRacing.com is a new way to engage with our fans and gives us an added tool to help reach new audiences and demographics. Through a strong mobile presence, we can provide our constituents with immediate access to relevant news and information wherever they are.”

SportingNews.com picked up Tom Gage, the 2015 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner, to report on the ALCS and World Series for the site. “We are honored to have Tom Gage join our team for this postseason,” said Steve Miller, editorial director of SportingNews.com. “We think it only fitting that the Spink Award winner should complete his Hall of Fame season by providing Sporting News’ national audience with the same insight and style Detroit Tigers fans have known the past 36 years.”


Mets/Cubs on TBS at 8p.


The Results are in: How do you $tack Up?

Age and experience will land you a bigger paycheck. So will business travel. Burning the midnight oil? Not so much. Check out the latest Cynopsis Salary Survey of media execs for the “dollars and sense” of who’s making what, and why!

ON THIS DAY in 2004: The Red Sox complete a miracle comeback, defeating the Yankees in Game 7 after being down in the ALCS 0-3.

In The Know: From what school was Drew Brees drafted? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What network was the first to carry NBA games nationally? (Hint: it isn’t around anymore.) Answer: The DuMont Network. Kudos: Marc Wollis-NBC Sports Group/NY; Pete Gautieri-A&E Networks/NY; Seth Goldberg-Syracuse University/NY; Lewis Blaustein-Lewis Brand Solutions/NY; Tim McGhee-MSP Sports/Summit; Rich Dubroff-CSNmidatlantic.com/Baltimore; Dave Lucas-Newschannel 8/Arlington; Stehen Kelley-9story/Toronto; John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas; Will Allmendinger-Clear Channel Outdoor/Chicago; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Rich Greene-FOX/LA; Adam Shuler-Nielsen/San Francisco; Don Surath-CBS/San Francisco; Betsy Ockerlund-Spectrum/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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JOB OPENING: MGR, INTEGRATED MARKETING SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY/Viacom/NYC: Conceputlize/implement digital, social & video dist strategies for sponsor programsBA deg. 5yrs mktg exp w/in media/ent ind, promotions/advrtsng agency or branded ent/prod co. Full info/apply HERE (10/24)

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JOB OPENING: DIRECTOR, CONTENT & EDITORIAL SERVICES/NYC: Excellent writer/editor w/video prod exp to create digital content, corp materials & mng editorial calendars. Collaborative, creative approach. Music, news or entertainment exp necessary. Full info/apply HERE (10/21)

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JOB OPENING: MGR DIGITAL AD SALES MKTG/DISCOVERY/NYC: Strong sales storyteller to develop/execute digital and intgrtd sales solutions for both online and tv sales mktg teams. Support digital sales strategy. 5 yrs digital or intgrtd mktg exp, 3-4 in digital req’d. Full info/apply HERE (10/21)

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