11/30/15: Schefter’s big break; Thanksgiving’s big numbers; Pepsi’s big reveal


Good morning. It’s Monday November 30, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

Proving that breaking news can still draw more eyes than opinion and boasting a 4.4 million followers on Twitter, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter’s six-year run at the company has earned him titles that include “the most influential New Yorker on Twitter” (per PeerIndex), and landed him recent spots on commercials for Domino’s and California Almonds. While Schefter has covered the NFL since 1990, his penchant for breaking news, use of social media and engagement with fans this year has also earned him the title of 2015 Cynopsis Sports Media Personality of the Year. The honor will be presented to the long-time NFL reporter on Wednesday as part of the Cynopsis Sports Engagement Summit (get your tickets here).

Cynopsis Sports asked Schefter about his relationships with fans, his philosophies on news and what, exactly, he’d be doing if he wasn’t covering the NFL.

On his relationship with fans: I really don’t focus too much about having a successful relationship with followers/viewers. What I do think about is trying to work as hard as I can to be as fair and productive in my job as possible. If the followers and viewers appreciate that, that’s justification to continue what you are doing. That, ultimately, is all you can really do.
On his idols: While attending the University of Michigan, I idolized Mitch Albom and Thomas George, who then were working for the Detroit Free Press  Mitch still does. Mitch’s writing style left me in awe, and I had the honor to work for him as one of his research assistants for his first book, Bo. I tried to watch everything he did and learn from it. Thomas left the Free Press to go cover the NFL for The New York Times. He was an enormous influence on me, helping convince me that you could make a living covering sports, which oddly enough, I didn’t believe you could. He set an example in the way he acted, and handled people in an incredibly professional way. Those two men, in different ways, were instrumental in steering me to the business and helping me learn the business.
On career advice for future reporters: Reading is critical, to anyone at any level, and it is imperative to learn how to write. Those two skills always will be critical, no matter how many advances there are in technology. When I was in college, I used to send letters to my favorite writers and reporters, seeking advice. There never was a letter that came back that didn’t include that very advice: Read, read, read, write, write, write. Try to share that with anyone who aspires to get into and advance in the business.
On favorite tools: It seems to come from all angles these days. Hopefully it’s through texts or emails or conversations from various people around the league. Twitter is helpful. ESPN.com is a tremendous resource. Rotoworld does a great job of aggregating breaking news. There are so many outlets that do a great job that all you have to do is have your phone and you can track it any number of ways. In this day and age, it almost feels like you don’t have to find breaking news. It comes to you.
On career options: I’m so ill-equipped in so many areas that I cannot imagine doing anything other than what I am today. If I were to start over, the field of nutrition would hold some interest to me  my sister, Marni, is a successful nutritionist on Long Island. Working for a team is something I didn’t think was possible growing up, but I now see how someone can break that barrier and get his or her foot in the door  and that would appeal to me. But there’s nothing I’d rather do today in part because there’s not much else I could do today.


A rivalry battle between Ohio State and Michigan on Saturday on ABC handed the network with a 6.8 overnight score, according to Nielsen, which makes it both the highest-rated game of the weekend and second-highest overnight rating of the 2015 season, trailing only Ohio State and Michigan State earlier this season. That score is also good enough to become the channel’s highest-rated noon kickoff game on record and is up 24% over last season’s equitable matchup. Meanwhile, Friday’s coverage of Iowa/Nebraska on the channel drew a 3.5 in overnight numbers, up 52% over the same window in 2014. Baylor/TCU saw a 3.2, up 88%.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving saw the Bears’ win over the Packers hand NBC 27.8 million viewers to rank as the network’s second-most watched NFL regular-season game since acquiring the SNF package in 2006. That also happens to mark the league’s most-watched Thanksgiving primetime game ever, notching a 13.8/28 fast national rating  up 21% over last year.

Around the dial, CBS Sports was also thankful as its Thanksgiving Day broadcast of Carolina/Dallas ranked as the most-watched Thanksgiving Day Game in 20 years for the television package, drawing average viewership of 32.5 million, according to Nielsen fast national ratings. That was good enough for an 11% rise over last year’s window with a rating/share of 14.3/35, up 1%.

After showcasing Glory 25 Milan, ESPN is getting back in the ring, carrying the kickboxing league’s Glory 26 on Friday, which will mark the promotion’s first card ever in Holland. The action kicks off on ESPN3 at 4p with a replay on ESPN2 in primetime on Dec. 6 at 8p. In addition, for the first time ever, Glory programming will also air on ESPN Deportes for Spanish-language viewers, beginning with a replay of GLORY 26 Amsterdam on Dec. 6 at 4p.

Disney disclosed that ESPN is now carrying 92 million subscribers, according to THR. Those numbers are off-pace from 95 million a year ago and down from 99 million in 2013.

The NFL unveiled its roster of teams for the 2016 UK International Series next year, with three games on deck. Oct 2 will see the Colts/Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. The Rams will host an NFC East team on Week 8 on Oct. 30 at Twickenham Stadium. Finally, Oct. 30 will feature the Redskins/Bengals at Wembley. Game times and a possible additional International Series game outside of the UK will be announced at a later date.

ESPN events unveiled its lineup of teams for its early 2016 college basketball tournaments, which include the Gildan Charleston Classic, Puerto Rico Tip-Off, DIRECTV Wooden Legacy, AdvoCare Invitational, NIT Season Tip-Off and Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, in addition to managing four premium events including the Armed Forces Classic, State Farm Champions Classic and Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Classics presented by Corona. The Nov. 17-20 Gildan Charleston Classic will include Boise State, College of Charleston, UCF, Mississippi State, UTEP, Villanova, Wake Forest and Western Michigan. That same span will see the Puerto Rico Tip-Off field Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier. From Nov. 24-27, the DIRECTV Wooden Legacy will consist of Cal State-Northridge, Dayton, Nebraska, New Mexico, Portland, Texas A&M, UCLA and Virginia Tech while the AdvoCare Invitational spotlights Florida, Gonzaga, Indiana State, Iowa State, Miami (Fla.), Quinnipiac, Seton Hall and Stanford. Thanksgiving week’s NIT Season Tip-Off will see Florida State, Illinois, Temple and West Virginia.

College football is coming to Sydney, Australia. TLA Worldwide and TEG announced the 2016 College Football season opener which will see the University of California, Berkeley face the University of Hawaii at ANZ Stadium on Aug.27. The matchup will become the first time college football will be played in Australia as a regular-season game in 30 years. TLA Worldwide CEO Michael Principe stated that “Australian fans are hungry for American football to hit their shores and we’re thrilled that two quality College Football teams in the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Hawaii are going to break new ground and will open their 2106 seasons in Sydney.”

In other international firsts, Bellator MMA announced plans for its first foray across the Atlantic, teaming with Oktagon Kickboxing for a co-promoted event set to take place on April 16 at the Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy. The event will feature both Bellator MMA and Oktagon Kickboxing bouts, with the Bellator MMA portion airing in the United States on SPIKE.


SPORTS ENGAGEMENT SUMMIT on 12/2 sponsored by SportTechie
KEYNOTE: Tiki Barber

With millions of followers and thousands of engagements, the online presence of an athlete is becoming more valuable than ever for brands looking to engage with sports fans. New York Giants legend Tiki Barber will discuss how brands can partner with athletes and their social media accounts to authentically participate in ongoing sports conversations and provide complementary content for their target audience.

Save your seat today!


The NFL announced that the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show on CBS will continue the league’s On the Fifty campaign, “honoring the past, recognizing the present and looking ahead to the next 50 years.” One of this year’s performers will be revealed on Thursday during the Green Bay/Detroit game on CBS and NFL Network. The league is pushing fans to visit Pepsi.com for a peek of next Thursday’s announcement. For the first time ever, fans will receive exclusive show content and behind-the-scenes access to the making of the performance.

The International Paralympic Committee saw Toyota sign on as a Worldwide Paralympic Partner in the mobility category through to 2024. The deal covers vehicles, mobility services and mobility solutions, with Toyota rights including the IPC, all National Paralympic Committees from 2017 and future Games Organising Committees from Tokyo 2020. That deal marks the first partnership in the Paralympic Movement’s history to encapsulate the IPC, all NPCs and future Paralympics Games under one agreement and the first time an IOC TOP Partner has shown such widespread support of the Paralympic Movement through funding and global promotional reach.

Goodyear is tapping FC Bayern Munich for a platinum sponsoring partnership starting January 1, 2016. The multi-year agreement includes perimeter advertising at all Bundesliga home games and other advertising rights. “Bayern Munich and Goodyear both have a strong international focus,” said Darren Wells, President of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa business unit. “The games are broadcast across the world, and the team has more than 400 million fans on all continents. Both the football club and the tire manufacturer have highly positive reputations that transcend borders. Wells said, “Both brands share a long and successful heritage, a passion for winning, and a commitment to innovation.”
Hyundai Motor Company locked in a three-year sponsorship deal supporting World Archery, including title rights for the Hyundai Archery World Cup in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and the Hyundai World Archery Championships in 2017. The auto brand will see extensive branding at global archery events and exposure in all related broadcasts, as well as securing sole automotive sector rights to the sponsorship. Hyundai Motor will also work with World Archery on activation partnerships around the events.


The NWHL found another partner, with espnW Editor-in-Chief Alison Overholt tweeting the news that the newborn league will be carried on ESPN3. "We are excited to work with ESPN in growing women’s hockey through this agreement,” said Commissioner Dani Rylan. “With more than 90 million subscribers, this is a tremendous opportunity for the league, our players and potential business partners to build something special through live broadcasting.”

Whistle Sports is teaming up with digital video platform Dailymotion to bring original content that will include video from over 20 creators, according to multiple reports. Martin Rogard, COO of Dailymotion said the partnership will help the company expand the platform’s reach further into the sports’ vertical, and attract new viewers to the platform.

Virtual reality is booming, and will only heat up more as state-of-the-art headsets are unwrapped over the holidays. Sports brands are taking advantage of this exciting technology, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg in developing an enjoyable experience for consumers – and monetizing it, too. That’s why you’ll want to be part of the December 8 Cynopsis webinar Virtual Reality: What Programmers Need to Know Now to Lure Viewers and Advertisers. Details are here.


Spurs/Bulls on NBA TV at 8p.



Join Cynopsis Sports at this year’s Engagement Summit, an event that will bring together some of the most accomplished executives in the world of sports, spanning marketing, technology, public relations, eSports, and social media. As an attendee, you will gain exclusive insight into the techniques, strategies and tactics that have been successful for brands, leagues and networks as they motivate, activate and aggregate their fans.

Register today!.

ON THIS DAY in 1993: The NFL announces its 30th franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In The Know: Which All-Pro tackle was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first draft pick in franchise history? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which sports “great” is credited with stating, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take?” Answer: Wayne Gretzky. Kudos: Margaret LaMura-Dara/The CW Network/NY; Nicole Langella-Fox Networks Group/NY; Katie Cifarelli-ESPN/NY; Jeff Day-NHL/NY;  G. David Brown-FOX Sports/Charlotte; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Matt Laramee-MMSI/Warwick; Christine Ferrara-WBZ-TV/WSBK-TV/Boston; Kevin Micklo-Pinnacle Advertising/Chicago; Gretchen Brady-KTVT/Dallas; Dory Petsrillo-HRP/Dallas; Aaron Paquette- Vision Critical/Fort Worth; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Drew Moser-San Diego Hall of Champions/San Diego; Anne Wettig-Fox Cable Networks/LA; Damon Parry-NCC Media/LA; Jim Seifert/San Francisco.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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