2/10/14

Cynopsis: Sports
02.10.14

Good morning. It’s Monday, February 10, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

This week marks the launch of the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend with more than 24 hours of coverage on TNT, including the big game on Feb. 16 at 8p. The network’s exclusive live coverage will tip off with the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 14, at 9p, followed by the signature State Farm All-Star Saturday Night events on Saturday at 8p. Marv Albert is set to call his 18th NBA All-Star Game alongside analysts Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller and reporters Craig Sager and David Aldridge. Some of the goodies in store this year include the most-ever All-Star participants mic’d for sound, an appearance by Kobe Bryant in the booth, and the utilization of the freeD – free dimensional video – technology at select moments during the All-Star Game telecast to provide fans a defining view of the action. The technology uses 22 5K ultra high definition cameras placed around the court to render unique 360-degree replays of the action and will be used it will be used during the game as well as during the Sprite Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 15.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Turner Sports’ Craig Barry, SVP of Production and Executive Creative Director, about the NBA season and All-Star Weekend.

Barry on the NBA season on TNT: The season is going well. We standardized the production complement as opposed to having certain tiers for certain games. That was something I really believed in when I took over here. The production complement for every game on Thursday night and going forward across the playoffs is always equal standard. In addition, I think that we’ve had a good time in the studio, obviously putting Charles on the road some more and the acquisition of Grant Hill has been a great addition. I feel like we are off to a great start as we hit the halfway point.

On the All-Star Game: It’s one of our tentpole events and a great celebration for our networks, as well as our partners at the NBA. We have the luxury of being an entertainment network that carries sports, so we really get to straddle the sports/entertainment line for this event and we have the ability to throw all of our creative assets at it. We work very closely with the league trying to develop the best possible experience for the fan at home as well as in the arena in New Orleans as well. Frankly, a lot of the philosophy going into this coming All-Star Weekend is that if the energy is high in the arena than the energy will be high on the broadcast. So I would say that there has been a considerable amount of collaboration with the league that we’ve really stepped up this year.

On new elements: Philosophically for me and where we are heading with Turner Sports as a collective, we wanted to create the most access for the fan. The fans and viewers demand to be as close to the game and the players as the possibly can, especially in this day and age with the social media canvas and over-the-top on-demand digital access. So the closer we can get and the more access we can give, the more engaged the fan becomes.

We’ve been able to make some considerable upgrades this year. At a minimum, we’ll have double the number of players mic’d. We had four last year, this time we’ll have at least eight and we are probably looking more at 10. We have Grant Hill and Chris Webber embedded at the 13th man on the East and West benches. They will be getting candid player interviews during the course of the game. We’ll have Kobe joining us at some point as a guest in the booth. We will initiate a steady cam on the court, it will be completely mobile around the sidelines as well as being able to come out on the court during free throws and player interaction. If you look at the three trucks that interact with Saturday and Sunday, you have the game truck, you have the studio truck and then you have the entertainment truck and all of those trucks are talking to each other with a total of 45 cameras. So this will obviously be the largest production that we’ve done to date.

On Marv Albert: He’s an icon. It wouldn’t be an All-Star game without Marv. His depth and wealth of experience and his ability to tell stories and reference past All-Star Games and still be current is relevant is amazing. He’s become a brand voice for us and I couldn’t imagine game without him.

ON THE AIR

NBC once again got off to a strong start for its Olympic telecasts. Saturday’s coverage averaged 25.1 million viewers and a 13.9 household rating/24 share for the channel. That’s down from the 2010 Games in Vancouver, but up 8% and 3% respectively from the opening Saturday of the last European Winter Olympics for Torino in 2006, according to Nielsen. That handed NBC with its best Saturday primetime viewership of any broadcast network in February in four years.

Over on NBCSN, the channel generated an average of 2.6 million viewers and ranks as NBCSN’s best daytime viewership ever. The outlet’s 1-2p coverage of the new team figure skating competition averaged 4.9 million viewers  marking the network’s most watched event ever.

Friday’s taped coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Olympics averaged 31.7 million viewers, below a live Vancouver show but still notched the most-watched Opening Ceremony for a non-live Winter Games since the 1994 Lillehammer Games, per Nielsen.

Finally, Thursday’s bonus night of the Sochi Winter Olympics coverage on NBC posted the highest average rating and viewership for Thursday primetime on any network in more than five months. NBC’s telecast earned an 11.3/18 household rating/share and averaged 20.0 million viewers.

Meanwhile, TiVohas its list of the top five moments from the Opening Ceremony, as Fisht Olympic Stadium played host to 88 national delegations, the singing group t.A.T.u., Maria Sharapova and lots of social media spoilers. Here are the top five moments of the NBC telecast, according to the company…

  • 9:25:47p-Team USA enters the stadium, with 230 athletes led by Todd Lodwick.
  • 8:24:57p-Only four out of the five snowflakes open to transform into the Olympic rings
  • 9:46:01p-The Russian Federation enters the stadium
  • 9:56:45-Russian ice dancers re-enact the construction of Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral
  • 8:31:10p-The Russian flag is raised

ESPN named the first round of nominees for the first edition of The ESPN Sport Science Newton Awards. The telecast will premiere on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 5p and will air on ABC on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Awards are hosted by John Brenkus and look to honor athletic achievements in nine categories, including “Best Catch,” “Best Flight,” “Outstanding Agility,” “Outstanding Reaction,” “Best Projectile Launch” and “Outstanding New Limit.” Scheduled presenters include actor and comedian David Koechner, ESPN personality Marcellus Wiley, former NFL player Jason Sehorn, scientist, inventor and author Bill Nye, MMA Hall of Famer Randy Couture, professional skateboarder Chris Cole and three-time U.S. Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin.

ESPN also announced that Lisa Kerney will join the network beginning Monday, Feb. 24, as a studio anchor. Kerney had been working at WCBS-TV in New York, serving as sports anchor for CBS 2 News This Morning since January 2012. She had also been at MLB Network where she was a sports contributor/reporter.

NASCAR announced the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series will once again open its season as part of Phoenix International Raceway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Weekend with the Toyota 120 on Friday, Feb. 28. The race will air live on mun2 for the first time.

Voting for NBA TV’s upcoming NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint selected the Thunder/Trail Blazers game for the network’s doubleheader on Tuesday. The opening game will see Sacramento and Cleveland square off at 7p before tipoff at 10p.

ESPN acquired the broadcast rights for XFCi 1 – Brazil. The company began running events on WatchESPN on Saturday with the deal covering fights in Brazil and Latin American territories in Spanish. “I’m delighted to announce this agreement with ESPN Brazil and ESPN Latin America,” said Edward Jung, CEO of XFC International. “They underline our commitment to develop our business in Latin America and to introduce new audiences to our wealth of talented MMA fighters from Latin America.”

Newborn Arena Football League team the L.A. Kiss will be featured on a new reality series on AMC, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The show will debut in the summer of 2014 as a 10-part series following the team.


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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

CNBC series The Profit is hitting NASCAR. The channel’s reality series joined Phoenix International Raceway’s team of corporate partners and serve as the official title sponsor for the track’s March 2 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event: ‘The Profit on CNBC 500, Presented by Small Business Fueling America.’ The show returns for a second season on Feb. 25 at 10p.

The Armed Forces Bowl found a new local sponsor, locking in Lockheed Martin for the next three years as title sponsor of the game. The date of this year’s game has not been determined, but is slated to pit teams from the American Athletic Conference against one of the U.S. military academies.

DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY

WWE’s John Cenaofficially passed Kobe Bryant to become the most-liked active U.S. athlete on Facebook with more than 18.6 million followers. The company also says that Cena now ranks as the No. 7 most-followed athlete in the world on Facebook.

FOX Sports added Rob Neyer, long-time Major League Baseball writer, sabermetrician, and author as its Senior Baseball Editor where he will make his FOXSports.com debut this week. Neyer joins the team from SB Nation, where he served as National Baseball Editor for the past three years.

CBS Interactive Advanced Media announced rankings from its more than 130 official athletic sites produced by the company on National Signing Day. Top ten sites in terms of page views on National Signing Day were: Tennessee, Auburn, Notre Dame, Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, Texas Tech, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida State.

THE MAIN EVENT

Alpine Skiing, Speed Skating and Short Track on deck for NBC’s coverage of the Olympics starting at 8p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1996: IBM computer Deep Blue beats reigning world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

In The Know: Lake Lloyd is located in what famed sports venue? (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: What NASCAR driver was known as The Intimidator? Answer: Dale Earnhardt. Kudos: Michael Brown-PGA TOUR/NY; Chris Long-USA Today Sports Group/NY; Denis Barry-CBS Television Stations/NY; Anthony Sedita-Dish Network/NY; Brad Stern-Bellavia Blatt/Mineola; Cris Aguilar-WCYB/Bristol; Juan Delgado-Telemundo Media/Hialeah; Dick Daggett/Fort Myers; Chuck Gordon-Clear Channel Media/Mobile; Joe Lyons- Back Nine Productions, Inc./Dallas; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; Adam Deverell-Cox Reps/LA; Tony Reyes-RGH Entertainment/Woodland Hills.


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Chris Pursell for
Cynopsis | Sports @VegasandVine
02.10.14

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