12/05/16: FOX prepares to toast the MLS Cup; Who is ready to bowl?; The great Madden rush


Good morning. It’s Monday December 5, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The 2016 soccer season hits its pinnacle on Saturday as Toronto FC face the Seattle Sounders for the MLS Cup from BMO Field in Toronto on FOX and UniMas at 8p. The FOX broadcast will mark the channel’s first-ever presentation of the championship event, and the first time since 2008 that the MLS Cup will air live on English-language network television.

For FOX, the game culminates a season that included FOX Sports’ split-national MLS telecast delivering a record 1,298,000 viewers on Sept. 18, making it the most-watched MLS telecast of any kind and on any network in 12 years. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Jonty Whitehead, Executive Producer of Soccer, about the company’s plans for the event

Whitehead on moving coverage to FOX: This is FOX Sports’ first presentation of an MLS Cup, and as MLS Cup is the pinnacle of what’s been a fantastic season for MLS, we want what should be a tremendous game – with two fantastic teams (Toronto and Seattle) – to be available to as many people as possible. We had terrific numbers for a couple of games we aired on the FOX Broadcast Network earlier in the season so it would be great to think we can build on those numbers in a one off, winner takes all, culmination to the season.”

On production: We are really excited about the production, we were fortunate enough to have done a really tremendous Eastern Conference final game from there (BMO Stadium Toronto) last week which finished 7-5 on aggregate! What struck me then was what a fabulous atmosphere there is in the stadium, so our first priority is to get that raw, intense atmosphere across to the viewers. We will have a number of enhancements to our regular season coverage to help us achieve this, including camera’s embedded into the pitch itself, a cable cam flying high above and the latest in super slo mo technology to bring all that happens right back into the viewers’ homes. We will have the Coaches mic’ed up on the sidelines and have added a specialty Movi Camera to get in and amongst the pomp and ceremony of the leagues show piece event.

On soccer fans: The one thing I have been impressed with is that although we encounter some challenges with clashes with some of the more traditional American sports over the course of an MLS season the core fans tune in every week without fail. They are committed, passionate and knowledgeable and only increasing in size. It is also no secret that this demographic is an advertisers dream – young, city dwelling professionals, with disposable income.

On future challenges: Moving forward as the audience grows for the sport, one of the main challenges we face is that we really need to make the sport accessible to the new and first time viewers. We need tokeep the new viewer engaged while also entertaining the committed and knowledgeable soccer fan that tunes in on a regular basis. This is a fine line on occasions and we can get it wrong, but when we do we have to learn from those mistakes and try not to repeat. It is important to us here at Fox Sports that we have a fun, entertaining, informative approach which delivers an authentic American voice for the sport that is, after all, the world’s game.


With the CFP selection committee going with conventional thought for its top four teams in Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington, bowl committees around the country were able to lock in their pairings for college football’s postseason over the weekend. Here’s the broadcast rundown…
Saturday, Dec. 17
Gildan New Mexico Bowl (2p, ESPN): UTSA/New Mexico
Las Vegas Bowl presented by Geico (3:30p, ABC): Houston/San Diego State
Raycom Media Camelia Bowl (5:30p, ESPN): Appalachian State/Toledo
AutoNation Cure Bowl (5:30p, CBS Sports Network): Central Florida/Arkansas State
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (9p, ESPN): Lousiana-Lafayette/Southern Miss
Monday, Dec. 19
Miami Beach Bowl (2:30p, ESPN): Central Michigan/Tulsa
Tuesday, Dec. 20
Boca Raton Bowl (7p, ESPN): Memphis/Western Kentucky
Wednesday, Dec. 21
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (9p, ESPN): BYU/Wyoming
Thursday, Dec. 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (7p, ESPN): Idaho/Colorado State
Friday, Dec. 23
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (1p, ESPN): Old Dominion/Eastern Michigan
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (4:30p, ESPN): Louisiana Tech/No. 25 Navy
Dollar General Bowl (8p, ESPN): Ohio/Troy
Saturday, Dec. 24
Hawai’i Bowl (8p, ESPN): Hawaii/Middle Tennessee
Monday, Dec. 26
St. Petersburg Bowl (11 a.m. ET, ESPN): Mississippi State/Miami (Ohio)
Quick Lane Bowl (2:30p, ESPN): Boston College/Maryland
Camping World Independence Bowl (5p, ESPN2): NC State/Vanderbilt
Tuesday, Dec. 27
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): Army/North Texas
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (3:30p, ESPN): No. 24 Temple/Wake Forest
National Funding Holiday Bowl (7p, ESPN): Washington State/Minnesota
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (10:15p, ESPN): Boise State/Baylor
Wednesday, Dec. 28
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (2p, ESPN): No. 23 Pittsburgh/Northwestern
Russell Athletic Bowl (5:30p, ESPN): No. 16 West Virginia/Miami
Foster Farms Bowl (8:30p, FOX): Indiana/No. 19 Utah
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (9p, ESPN): Texas A&M/Kansas State
Thursday, Dec. 29
Birmingham Bowl (2p, ESPN): South Florida/South Carolina
Belk Bowl (5:30p, ESPN): Arkansas/No. 22 Virginia Tech
Valero Alamo Bowl (9p, ESPN): No. 10 Colorado/No. 12 Oklahoma State
Friday, Dec. 30
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (noon ET, ESPN): TCU/Georgia
Hyundai Sun Bowl (2p, CBS): No. 18 Stanford/North Carolina
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (3:30p, ESPN): No. 21 Tennessee/Nebraska
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl (5:30p, Campus Insiders): South Alabama/Air Force
Capital One Orange Bowl (8p, ESPN): No. 6 Michigan/No. 11 Florida State
Saturday, Dec. 31
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (11 a.m. ET, ABC): No. 20 LSU/No. 13 Louisville
TaxSlayer Bowl (11 a.m. ET, ESPN): Georgia Tech/Kentucky
CFP Semifinal at Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (3p, ESPN): No. 4 Washington/No. 1 Alabama
CFP Semifinal at PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (7p, ESPN): No. 3 Ohio State/No. 2 Clemson
Monday, Jan. 2
Outback Bowl (1p, ABC): No. 17 Florida/Iowa
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (1p, ESPN): No. 15 Western Michigan/No. 8 Wisconsin
Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual (5p, ESPN): No. 9 USC/No. 5 Penn State
Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:30p, ESPN): No. 14 Auburn/No. 7 Oklahoma
Monday, Jan. 9
College Football Playoff National Championship (8p, ESPN): ALA/WASH/CLEM/OSU

Thursday night’s Cowboys’ victory on TNF delivered the most-watched game ever for the series with a Total Audience Delivery of 22.2 million viewers across all platforms  NBC, NFL Network, NBC Sports Digital, Twitter, and NFL Digital, according to Fast National data from Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics and Twitter. The game averaged 21.8 million TV-only viewers  also the best ever for TNF. Meanwhile, the Average Minute Audience for the live stream via Twitter, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital was 479,000 viewers  also a record for Thursday Night Football, with more than 89 million live minutes streamed.

Tiger Woods’ return to golf at the Hero World Challenge handed Golf Channel with 782,000 viewers on Thursday. That marks a 190% year-over-year rise for the tournament and ranks as the most watched round one for the sport since The Open.

In other ratings news, for the second consecutive season, NBCSN reports the best Formula One viewership for a single cable network in 21 years, per Nielsen. NBCSN’s 2016 F1 coverage averaged 429,000 viewers for the channel, up 3% over 2015 to rank as the best F1 season for a single cable network since 1995 Overall, NBC Sports Group’s F1 coverage on NBC/NBCSN/CNBC (20 races) averaged 482,000 viewers this year.

AT&T and NBA TV made broadcast history over the weekend, offering US a live NBA game in 4K Ultra HD for the first time after DIRECTV distributed NBA TV’s telecast of the Nuggets/Jazz game on Saturday.

Save the date! Don’t miss the Cynopsis World eSports Summit and Spring Owners’ Meetings in NYC on April 12, a gathering of the most influential businesspeople in the industry today. Speakers and panels are set to be announced and we hope to see you there.

MLB Network lined up over 35 hours of live coverage spanning five days for the 2016 MLB Winter Meetings in Maryland this week, with insiders Peter Gammons, Jon Heyman, Jon Morosi, Ken Rosenthal, Joel Sherman and Tom Verducci reporting live across all programming. Live coverage every day begins with Hot Stove at 9a followed by High Heat with Christopher Russo, MLB Now, Intentional Talk and MLB Tonight.

WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder joins Showtime’s announce team as a guest analyst for the IBF Heavyweight World Championship fight between Anthony Joshua/Eric Molina on Dec. 10 at 5:30p. Wilder joins host Brian Custer and analysts Al Bernstein and Paulie Malignaggi for the telecast.


Mastering Mobile Programmatic
Mobile programmatic video spends will likely surpass desktop by next year. eMarketer projects that it will reach $15.45 billion in the U.S. by the end of this year. That’s 69% of all programmatic digital display ad spending. Are you up to speed on this technology? If the answer is no, then register today to hear from Assembly, Centro, Mindshare and The Weather Company during the latest Cynopsis Digital webinar on December 13.


LA’s big for the 2024 Olympics saw the planning committee detail is $5.3 billion budget plan, which would be less than half of what Rio spent for its recent Olympic run and a quarter of Tokyo’s budget for the 2020 Games. Bid officials noted that the budget was workable because of the existence of more than 30 venues already in the LA area. The IOC is set to cover around 16% of the overall tally by sharing $1.3 billion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenue with the host city. Domestic sponsorships are projected to generate $1.93 billion with ticket sales hitting $1.47 billion.

Ahead of Friday’s Pac-12 Football Championship Game, the conference announced today that Valvoline signed on as the official motor oil of the 2016 and 2017 Pac-12 Football Championship Games presented by 76. As part of its sponsorship, Valvoline sees significant on-air and online presence across much of Pac-12 Networks’ linear and digital content, including the Football Championship Game and was incorporated into the field-level LED signage during the championship game. Additionally, Valvoline will serve as a Pac-12 Football Game Day presenting sponsor for six games during the season.

Accenture and the Golden State Warriors locked in a partnership that makes the company the exclusive “official technology innovation partner” for the Warriors and a Founding Partner for Chase Center. The deal will see Accenture collaborate with the Warriors to design and implement” an immersive and engaging experience for the guests and fans of the arena, restaurants, retail businesses, offices and plazas that will comprise Chase Center and the surrounding district” and work with the team to create the underlying technical for Chase Center. The two organization will engage fans and the community in defining the future experience through “Fannovate,” described as an involvement effort to capture input and ideas, the most promising of which could be incubated and prototyped as part of the Chase Center experience design.


VR company Voke and the NFL are making four league games highlights available worldwide for free on the NFL Channel in the VOKE app. The programming began yesterday with the Broncos v. Jaguars game, and will also include Saints/Bucs on Dec. 11, Jaguars/Texans on Dec. 18 and Cowboys/Eagles on Jan. 1.

Monumental Sports Network launched live-streaming coverage of high school basketball from across the D.C. metro region and the country. The Network’s coverage includes more than 100 girls and boys basketball games showcasing every level of competition. “Through our existing partnership with Monumental Sports & Entertainment as the exclusive energy partner for the Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and Verizon Center, WGL is thrilled to extend its commitment to the D.C. region’s high school sports coverage through Monumental Sports Network,” WGL Chief Revenue Officer Dr. Louis Hutchinson says. “This is an innovative, ground-breaking offering for fans that reinforces that authentic connection that we all have with our favorite sports teams, including high school sports.”


A big weekend for Madden. EA Sports locked in multiple programming deals involving the famed game ahead of last weekend’s Madden Classic. One deal saw the NFL partner with the publisher to launch a new line of programming centered around the video game franchise that will include Madden NFL America  a weekly series  steaming on Fridays at 9p and running Saturdays at 8a on NFL Network, showcasing the Madden NFL Championship Series tournaments. Other events will include The Madden Bowl on Jan. 25-28 and Feb. 2-4; the Madden Challenge from March 31-April 2 and the Madden Championship that wraps up on May 19-21. Also launching this season is the Madden 17 Club Series, which will feature live Madden NFL tournaments produced by participating NFL teams.

Meanwhile, Univision Deportes got in on Madden as well, announcing on Friday that it would be showcasing the EA Sports Madden NFL 17 Classic, with the competition livestreamed on UnivisionDeportes.com with a broadcast on Univision Deportes Network tonight at 8p. Rodolfo Landeros and Ramses Sandoval will be commenting and hosting the show.


Colts/Jets on ESPN at 8:30p.



Awards Deadlines:
JANUARY 10 – Top Women in Digital
JANUARY 31 – Sports Media Awards

ON THIS DAY in 1981: Marcus Allen wins the Heisman Trophy.

In The Know: Which university has the longest active streak of playing bowl games? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Whoa boy, did that one get twisted around into an entirely different trivia question. I’m not even going to rewrite it. Answer: Stanford. Kudos: Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Rick Rosenfelt-New York Red Bulls/Harrison; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Edina; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver; Judie HenningerValentine Productions/Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
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