11.28.16 Good morning. It’s Monday November 28, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
With the holidays traditionally spawning a time of reflection, Cynopsis Sports hit Thanksgiving week with an interview with Eric Mirlis, author of the book "I Was There!" which features 65 prominent sports broadcasters and journalists remembering the top 5 Sports Moments they have seen in person. Participants spanned the spectrum of sports leagues and networks, including Marv Albert (who also wrote the foreword), Joe Buck, Bob Costas, Frank Deford, Jim Nantz, Bob Ryan, Dick Stockton and more.
On the genesis of the book idea: It actually is a fun story! It goes back to 2005, when I was playing around with my own website. Every week, I would ask broadcasters and writers that I was friends with a different Top 5 question. One week, the topic was the "Top 5 Sports Moments Seen In Person". The response I got was overwhelming, and it spread from there. A couple of weeks later, I was talking about it with two college friends of mine (Kenny Albert and Rich Ackerman) and Rich had talked about the topic in the press room of Madison Square Garden one night before a game. He told me some of the lists other media members had rattled off, and the two of them convinced me that it was a great topic for a book. That led to my first go-round, which became a book called "Being There", which came out in 2007. "I Was There!" is really a sequel to that, but I’m really viewing this as a standalone project, given how much time has passed and how much the media landscape has evolved since then. Aside from a small handful of people, it is a completely different group of participants and stories.
On lining up talent: I’ve been lucky enough to have spent 25 years working in sports, which really helped with that. I hit up all of my friends that are writers and broadcasters, and then called in as many favors as I could after that. That made it a little easier, but there were still plenty of blind emails and finger-crossing that people would agree to be generous enough with time to chat with me and take part. Happily, once again, I got very lucky and was able to put together what turned out to be a great group of professionals…and I mean that in every sense of the word.
On some of the best stories: The best stories are the ones that catch you off-guard and put a cool spin on something you already knew about. There are a lot of those in the book, but two, in particular, that I love sharing, because they take that concept to a different level. First is Jeremy Schaap talking about being at the Bucky Dent game and sitting in Bucky Dent’s seats as he hit his famous home run. The other comes from Terry Gannon, who grew up with Rudy Ruettiger and was at the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame game depicted in the movie "Rudy". In both cases, sports fans are very familiar with the event, but now get to see it from a completely different perspective. After I hung up the phone following each of those interviews, I knew I had something special that I was going to share.
On the variety of events: I’m not sure anything really surprised me, simply because everyone in the book has experienced so much. The depth of the potential stories was so great, that I knew that I could hear stories about literally anything. On one hand, you have Dick Stockton talking about Willie Mays’ catch in the 1954 World Series and Dave Kindred talking about Ben Hogan at the 1967 Masters, while on the other, Michelle Beadle talks about a low-level minor league hockey game and Survivor Series and Rob Stone talks about a bowling tournament.
Big ratings for Thanksgiving weekend. FOX Sports’ presentation of Redskins/Cowboys handed the channel with an average of 35.1 million viewers to rank as the most-watched regular season NFL game in company history. The game’s 15.6/38 Nielsen metered market score, up 14% over last year’s contest pitting the Eagles/Lions.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports saw its own Thanksgiving Day broadcast of Minnesota/Detroit turn in an average viewership of 27.6 million. That marks CBS’s most-watched NFL regular-season broadcast this season. The average household fast national rating/share, per Nielsen, hit a 13.0/32.
Michigan/Ohio State drummed up killer numbers for ABC, delivering a total live audience of 16,926,000 viewers, making it the most-watched college football game this season across all networks. Meanwhile, the TV-only audience of 16,647,000 viewers ranked as the most watched college football regular season noon kickoff on record and ABC’s second most-viewed game out of 791 game windows, dating back to 1991
Meanwhile, NBC Sports Group detailed its record-breaking coverage of the 2016-17 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association season, highlighted by the FIS World Cup Final in Aspen, Colo., and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at St. Moritz, Switzerland. NBC and NBCSN will combine to televise 53 hours of USSA coverage this season, plus an additional 33 hours of digital coverage on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. NBC is on deck for 20 hours of USSA coverage this season, the most ever for the network, marking the largest ski and snowboarding coverage in American ski and snowboarding event history.
Showtime announced that undefeated featherweight world champion Carl "The Jackal" Frampton and former three-division world champion Leo "El Terremoto" Santa Cruz will face off in a world title rematch that headlines a Premier Boxing Champions event Jan. 28 live on Showtime.
CBSSports.com reports that Troy Vincent, the NFL’s head of football operations, said that his department is prepared to move forward on a potential developmental league. According to the story, the league will begin the formal process of meeting with the Competition Committee, coaches and NFLPA after the season.
FOX Sports saw its coverage of Bundesliga on Nov. 19-20 set new season highs on the broadcast network and FS1. Nielsen reports that Bayern Munich’s first Bundesliga loss of the season delivered 426,000 viewers to FOX, making it the most-watched Bundesliga match on the broadcast network this season. The next day, Hoffenheim’s win drew 102,000 viewers to FS1, making it the most-watched Bundesliga match ever on the channel.
Disney released its annual report last week, detailing subs for its lineup of channels, per Deadline. The report stated that ESPN had 90 million subscribers in September, down 2 million, or 2.2%, from 2015. Meanwhile, ESPN2 reports 89 million subs, down 3.3% from 2015, while ESPNU had 71 million subs, down 1.4%.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is reportedly now leaning toward a 48-team World Cup, higher than previously thought. The AP writes that the potential expansion would see 16 teams go home after playing one game in a new opening playoff round. The 16 playoff winners would then join 16 seeded teams to begin a 32-team group stage that follows the current World Cup format, which will still be used in 2018 and 2022.
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The Las Vegas NHL franchise finally unveiled its name and look, announcing that it will be known as the Vegas Golden Knights. The team’s colors — steel grey, gold, red and black — "reflect the community and the focus of the team" while the helmet in the team’s logo includes a ‘V’ in the negative space to represent Las Vegas. The secondary logos include swords that create the star from the iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. "We want our team to be known for dedication, honor, strength, courage and a commitment to never give up — both on the ice and off," said team own Bill Foley.
Tiger Woods has a new sponsor, with ESPN reporting that the golfer is set to return from a 15-month hiatus with Monster Energy in tow. Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg confirmed to the site that a new sponsor would debut with Woods’ return to golf.
The Denver Broncos are turning to WME/IMG to a locked in a naming rights partner for their stadium. "WME/IMG’s extensive network throughout the sports and entertainment industry will serve as a tremendous resource for our organization in this very important process," Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said. "Naming rights are critical to improving our stadium and the overall fan experience. Teaming up with WME | IMG will help us find the right partner that understands the values of our organization and this community."
The Yahoo Sports — NBC Sports Network served up 5.2 billion minutes and an Average Minute Audience of 115,700 in October. Milestones during that period included the Cowboys win over the Eagles on Oct. 30, which set a live stream record for a Sunday NBC game (excluding Super Bowls) with 933,000 unique users.
MMA promotion ONE Championship announced a partnership with StarTimes that will see the sport delivered to sub-Saharan Africa. The rights to air ONE Championship’s live events ensures the company satisfies the needs of African audiences for original MMA content.
Another big event for Overwatch as Next Generation Esports announced the Overwatch Winter Premiere, described as a multi-month tournament featuring that title that starts in December. Competition is open to all North American Overwatch teams and launched with four days of online qualifiers, after which the top 8 teams — vying for a share of the $100,000 prize pool — will face off in 3 weeks of Double Round-Robin group play, followed by a 2-day live finals event in January 2017. Next Generation Esports will work with Blizzard Entertainment to fully produce, direct, and broadcast the Overwatch Winter Premiere.
ESL unveiled the format and dates for the Rainbow Six: Siege ‘Six Invitational’ qualifiers taking place in North America, Europe, and Latin America, running in Dec. and Jan. to determine who will vie for a $200,000 prize pool. Open qualifiers will take place on Dec. 3rd, 10th, and 17th for PC and Xbox One for the three regions.
Cloud9 raised $2.8 million in investments, according to theScore eSports, which found a document filed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission detailing the investment. The $2.8 million in equity was sold to 21 separate unnamed investors.
Jinx Inc. released an original collection of officially licensed apparel and accessories featuring Echo Fox. The collection features the team’s logo and signature burnt orange hue with the first set of shirts, hoodies and hats from J!NX’s Echo Fox label available at JINX.com. Additional items, including performance-wear jerseys and shorts, will roll out over the coming season, spring 2017.
The Milwaukee Bucks named Mike McCarthy as COO of the organization. McCarthy joins the Bucks after spending the previous three years as the Executive Vice President of Media, New Business & Events for The Legacy Agency.
Packers/Eagles on ESPN at 8:30p.
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ON THIS DAY in 1975. Bobby Orr plays his last game for the Bruins.
In The Know: The last time the University of Washington won a national championship in college football, the school split the honor with what other team? (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Two non-QB players share the NFL record for most points on Thanksgiving Day with 24. Name one. Answer: Sterling Sharpe/Brian Westbrook. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Halter Cunningham-WME/IMG/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Deerfield Beach; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Lance Phegley-Texas Runner and Triathlete magazine/Houston; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions/Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
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