Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, January 21, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

With all eyes on New Jersey for the next two weeks leading into the Super Bowl, companies have also been lining up for another big event set to hit the state this year in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, which run from June 14-21. Expected to participate will be 3,500 athletes, 1,000 coaches & delegates, 10,000 volunteers, 70,000 spectators with events that range from aquatics to basketball to golf to baseball. On the partnership front, 21st Century FOX has signed on as media partner with founding partners that range from Toys ‘R Us to WWE to Hess.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with TJ Nelligan, Chairman & CEO of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Game as well as founder of Nelligan Sports Marketing, about the new approach to funding the famed Games and the dynamics to pulling together such a large event. Meanwhile, anyone interested in the Special Olympics should contact their state organization. If you want to be involved in the 2014 Games, you can visit www.2014specialolympics.org.

Nelligan on wooing the Games: I have been working with the Special Olympics for the past 20 years, and we decided to go after this event. We went around and rounded up a lot of corporate support. We had about a hundred companies that said that if the Games came to New Jersey, they would support that. Now the reason we were able to do that is that we have a college sports marketing company in Nelligan Sports Marketing and we were able to develop partnerships a lot easier because of our relationships with the sponsors.

On raising revenue: When we started, we were determined to create some value for these corporations, instead of just asking them for money. We know the Special Olympics are a wonderful movement that changes people’s lives. So our goal was two-fold. Raise enough money to put on a world-class event, which will end up being about $20 million. Two: to create media partner/partners that will help tell the story of Special Olympics to a broad audience around the country. So with our background and expertise, we went out and started finding some founding partners at $1 million plus and we now have nine of those. It’d been a really terrific, eye-opening situation as these companies are giving us as much as they possibly can. That’s opposed to when you are selling other kinds of sports, when they are simply looking to get the best deal they can. It’s really been the opposite here.

On media partners and exposure: Even more important to the cause is the partnership we’ve made with 21th Century Fox that will see visibility and television shows on the Special Olympics on FOX Sports, FOX Business, FOX News, etc. They are running our PSAs to talk about the movement to a huge audience. At the end of these Games, we would have told the message of Special Olympics which is by being involved, you not only get to participate in athletics, meet new friends and be accepted in the community, but it is life changing as well. Meanwhile, WWE has agreed to come in and use their production expertise to produce the entire week from the torch run to the Opening Ceremonies to all of the competitions and special events. We will then edit that down to a one-hour show and FOX has agreed to carry that show on FOX Sports 1.


A terrific NFC Championship game paid dividends for FOX Sports, as Seattle’s win delivered a 28.5/44 national household rating/share according to Nielsen. Early tallies saw 55.9 million viewers tuning in to mark an 18% spike in rating over last year’s match-up between San Francisco and Atlanta, while audiences rose 33%. The game now ranks as FOX’s highest-rated non-overtime NFC Championship Game since 1997 and is the most-watched non-overtime NFC Championship Game since 1995. All four NFL on FOX playoff games this season delivered the channel with year-to-year increases in rating and viewership, generating a 23.1/40 with 42.0 million viewers, up 13% in rating and 18% in audience over 2013. Seattle led all markets with a 54.3/85, followed by San Francisco (47.5/78); Sacramento (46.7/72); Portland (39.5/63); and Milwaukee (38.9/57).

Around the dial, CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2014 AFC Championship averaged 51.3 million viewers to rank as the second-highest viewer average for the AFC Championship game in 32 years, according to Nielsen. That is up 8% from last year’s AFC matchup in primetime and 22% over the early NFC game. The contest received a 28.1/51, the second most in 17 years.

It would seem that everyone is down for some Thursday Night Football action. Multiple reports surfaced over the weekend that all four of the NFL’s television partners NBC, Fox, CBS and ESPN submitted an offer for a piece of the TNF broadcast, with ESPN’s bid likely targeting an ABC telecast. In addition, Turner Sports has also bid, according to the AP. Bob Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, wouldn’t confirm his company’s bid over the weekend, but told reporters over the weekend that “We’d love to have more NFL games and Thursday night games might be really interesting to us.”

NASCAR is reportedly mulling on overhaul of the Chase and its qualifiers. According to the Charlotte Observer, the new format would feature 16 drivers instead of 12 with a greater emphasis on winning races. At the end of the season, the championship field would then be whittled down during the 10 Chase races to create a winner-take-all season finale with the Final Four drivers. “NASCAR has begun the process of briefing key industry stakeholders on potential concepts to evolve its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship format,” Jewkes said in the report. “This dialogue is the final phase of a multi-year process that has included the review of extensive fan research, partner and industry feedback and other data-driven insights. NASCAR has no plans to comment further until the stakeholder discussions are complete. We hope to announce any potential changes for the 2014 season to our media and fans very soon.”

Mandalay Sports Media now has an eastern outlet, acquiring NY-based sports and entertainment outfit Roadside Entertainment, founded by producers Ron Yassen and John Hirsch, who will now serve as Executive Vice Presidents of Production for MSM.

NFL Network analyst and former player Darren Sharper has been suspended without pay until further notice after he was arrested for two separate charges of sexual assault in Los Angeles. Police said the investigation is ongoing and no information about the victim or victims was available. Sharper joined the channel in 2012 after retiring from the league.

Golf Channel is set to tee off on coverage of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show from Orlando with nearly 15 hours of coverage. In addition to the previously announced back-to-back Feherty Live specials, Morning Drive will broadcast live from a dedicated set on the showroom floor Wednesday-Friday, while Golf Central will also report live throughout the week. In addition, streaming of Golf Channel’s PGA Merchandise Show programming will be available for the first time ever via Golf Live Extra.

ONE World Sports locked in a deal for multi-season, multi-platform and exclusive rights to distribute A.C. Milan TV programming. The deal, which runs through the 2015-16 season, includes the A.C. Milan Serie A “match of the week,” while highlights and short-from video content from the club will be distributed digitally on broadband and through the  Watch ONE World Sports app.

FOX Sports announced plans for the February 9 running of the $500,000 Donn Handicap, which will kick off The Jockey Club Tour on FOX series of races for FOX Sports 1 this year. The new series includes eight other races with on-air talent set to be announced soon.

Tonight’s NBA TV NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint will feature the Celtics/Heat at 7:30p. NBA Fan Night host Ernie Johnson and analysts Chris Webber and Greg Anthony will offer analysis during the AutoTrader.com Pregame Show starting at 7p.

ESPN revealed its college lacrosse schedule, set for ESPNU and ESPN3 this season, with 29 men’s and two women’s regular season games on tap. The action starts Sunday, Feb. 9, with Ohio State/Johns Hopkins at 11:30a on ESPNU. The lead announcing team of Eamon McAnaney, Quint Kessenich and Paul Carcaterra will have the call of the game.

Tim McCarver is back after retiring from national broadcasts for FOX last year. McCarver, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, has agreed to call 30 games as part of the Cardinals’ local broadcast team on FOX Sports Midwest.

FYI: the drop-dead, hard deadline is Friday. No exceptions so time is running out! Submissions are being accepted now for the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards to show the world your best work. Click here to enter.

SiriusXM is boosting the amount of Spanish-language NFL programming available to subscribers nationwide, with live game broadcasts each week as well as a new original Spanish-language NFL show. Beginning with the weekend’s AFC and NFC Championship games, subscribers now have access to Spanish-language broadcasts of all postseason games including the Super Bowl, and will get multiple games every week of the regular season starting in 2014. In addition, SiriusXM launched a new show hosted by former NFL placekicker and veteran broadcaster Benny Ricardo, dubbed La Onda de la NFL.


Jan. 30, 2014|8-10:30AM|New York Athletic Club (NYAC)

Featured Speakers:
George Pyne – President
(IMG Worldwide Sports & Ent.)
Stephen Master –
SVP Global Head of Sports Practice (Nielsen)
Blaise D’Sylva
VP of Media, Sports & Ent. (Anheuser-Busch)

Register Now.


Bud Light launched teasers over the weekend for its upcoming Super Bowl entry “Epic Night” that featured the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle and Reggie Watts. Said Rob McCarthy, Vice President, Bud Light, “When you introduce a new campaign at the Super Bowl called ‘The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens,’ there’s an expectation for the unpredictable. Bud Light lives up to that challenge by documenting an unforgettable adventure that features five special cameos, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Don Cheadle, and Reggie Watts (and a llama).” Fans will have to tune-in during the game to see how these seemingly unrelated events form one cohesive story.

WWE, the Pearson Foundation and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) announced the launch of the 2014 WrestleMania Reading Challenge, which offers students ages 4-18 the chance to win a trip to WrestleMania 30 on Sunday, April 6 in New Orleans or have a WWE Superstar visit their school. Students can sign up for the WrestleMania Reading Challenge at WWEReadingSuperstar.com. WWE will make a financial contribution to We Give Books and YALSA in order to support literacy initiatives and provide access to books for children across the United States.

Tickets are going fast! Join us on Jan. 30 for the Cynopsis Sports Breakfast of Champions event in NY for a New Year’s lesson on branding 2014. Newly added to the list of speakers is Bonnie Bernstein, Vice President of Content and Brand Development/On-Air Host at Campus Insiders who will moderate our panel on athletes and branding, featuring NFL Players Inc. President Keith Gordon, NFL athletes Pierre Garcon and Keith Rivers, Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo and ESPN’s Jay Williams. Speakers are also set to include keynote from IMG’s George Pyne and Anheuser-Busch’s Blaise D’Sylva, as well as a special presentation on the Year in Sports from Nielsen’s Stephen Master. BONUS: Tickets to a performance of Bronx Bombers will be up for grabs. Click here to register.


YouTube opened the doors to its Ad Blitz pre-game gallery, which features ads form some of the Super Bowl’s primary advertisers. The channel allows users to vote for their favorite ads and already showcases spots from the likes of Pepsi, Doritos over than 265 million times, for a total of more than 3.2 million hours.

The January 24th Kings/Pacers game will be all about Google Glass with reports that CrowdOptic is coordinating a mass use of the platform that will allow fans to see the game from the POV of the team’s mascot, announcers, dancers and others.

USL PRO announced a deal to live stream every regular season and playoff game on YouTube this year via team channels. Live games and on-demand content will be available for free on each team’s YouTube channel, with archived games available shortly after each game’s completion.
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The Professional Bull Riders named Bob Chasse as Vice President, Partnership Marketing where he will lead the PBR’s partnership marketing team in servicing and managing existing partner relationships and generating new business opportunities. Chasse comes to the PBR with more than 20 years of experience in sports and event marketing, most recently serving as the principal of Genuine Partners.

Learfield Communications announced a trio of promotions in its Missouri headquarters. Aaron Worsham will now serve as Senior Vice President of Affiliate Relations and Operations while Tom Boman was named Vice President of Broadcast Operations. Worsham and Boman manage the company’s sports operations division. Meanwhile, the company also named Jennifer Heim as Vice President, Corporate Controller. 


Trail Blazers/Thunder on local channels at 8p.


You need to be in it, to WIN it! Enter Today!

Late Submission Deadline: January 24
Awards Event: April 17, 2014 (NYC)

Click here to learn about the Awards program & enter online!

ON THIS DAY in 1990: John McEnroe becomes the first player since 1963 to be disqualified from a Grand Slam tournament for misconduct.

In The Know: Super Bowl XXX was the first to be broadcast in what Native American language? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Herschel Walker was an Olympian in what sport? Answer: The two-man bobsled. Kudos: Michael A. Neuman-Scout Sports and Entertainment/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Lon Samuelson- Hospital for Special Surgery/NY; Jordan Bick-CineSport, LLC/NY; Juan P. Delgado-Telemundo/Hialeah; Lee Estroff-Bexel/Atlanta; Patrick Costello-ESPN/Bristol; Chris Faulds-Bell Media Digital/Toronto; John Kukla-KDFW/Dallas; Bill Robertson-Tunheim Partners/Minneapolis; Chris Wujcik-Anheuser-Busch/St. Louis; Drew Nelson-Marketing Architects, Inc./Minneapolis; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Michael Jaquet-US Ski and Snowboard Assoc./Park City; Steve Morrow-Eclipse TV/Mill Valley; DeWitt Mosby-KPIX-TV  KBCW-TV/San Francisco; Neal Stevens-Stevens & Associates/Beverly Hills; Willie Price-American Forces Network (AFN)/Riverside.


The Cynopsis Media Boot Camp
One-Day Immersion In Ratings Analysis, Web/Social Analytics + Multi-platform Buying
February 11, 2014 | Yale Club NYC | Early Bird Ends – Jan. 27

Peter Katsingris, VP, Industry Insights, Nielsen
Thomas Ziangas, SVP, Research, AMC Networks
Audrey Siegel, President & Co-Founder, TargetCast tcm
Ron Geraci, EVP, Research & Planning,
Nickelodeon Group

Click Here for Agenda & Pricing

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for
Cynopsis | Sports

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