Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, February 18, 2014, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

It has been 50 years of swimsuits and models for the Sports Illustrated brand. The Swimsuit anniversary issue is out today, going live on print/web/digital/mobile after the much-publicized cover reveal last week, and will reach around 70 million through its platforms with over 17 million of them women. The company reports that ad revenue for the famed edition is up 12% year-over-year and 45% over 2012 with sponsors from 20 different categories, including: Mattel (Barbie), Lexus, Target, Crown Royal, Captain Morgan, Diageo, ForeverMark, Breitling, DirecTV, M&Ms, Air New Zealand, Finish Line, and Fontainebleau. In addition, the magazine is beefing up its experiential marketing, producing its first-ever large-scale consumer facing event for the edition in partnership with the SoBE Wine and Food Festival and a Swimsuit Beach House.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with new Sports Illustrated Publisher Brendan Ripp about the issue’s role in pop culture, how sponsors are activating and his goals for the brand.

Ripp on taking the job: The opportunity to work with the staff at Sports Illustrated on how to take this brand forward after the incredibly successful run they’ve had in establishing and running this brand was just too good to pass up. There is so much growth and opportunity here in the digital space, the video space, the experiential space and the broadcast/production space that the opportunities for this brand and extend its presence are limitless. We are already looking at a couple things we will be announcing in the near future involving strategic partnerships, additional content and revenue opportunities for the brand that didn’t exist before.

On 50 years of the Swimsuit brand: The Swimsuit brand and franchise has become to SI what the Super Bowl is to the NFL. It’s really become a lead revenue source for us and one that attracts more men 18-34 than the Super Bowl itself. So consumers flock to the franchise and as a result our great advertising partners flock to the franchise as well. What you’ll see in this year’s franchise is even more native integration and native advertising if you well from our partners who are taking the time to invest additional resources to make sure the message is spot on and appropriate for the environment.

On custom sponsorships: I think you can look at the Target’s sponsorship as the classic example of a brand that has come to this franchise to enhance and promote their swimwear line by creating custom advertising. Target will offer a Black and Gold swimwear line in celebration of Swimsuit’s 50th Anniversary and offer consumers a look at 50 Years of Swim editorially. That’s a classic example of a brand that is leveraging Sports Illustrated in a way that you might not expect. There are historical examples of swimwear literally flying off the shelves once they appear within the issue. Target wanted to take advantage of that demand at the right time with the right message. My mind is already racing with different ideas of things we can do, which is exciting as well.

On digital: The unique part about this from a digital point of view is that there is a unique website built from the ground up every single year, not just refreshed with new content. This year, in addition to our video coverage, there will be Twitter feeds from the models refreshed every minute as well as the app that will be available on iTunes. It all comes together for great growth for the brand.

On making an experiential push: This is the first time we are taking the swim franchise to the public. We want to dip our toe in the water to see if this is something we can grow. I believe this is something that needs to become more and more entrenched in the media mix. Sports Illustrated wants to make sure we have the right opportunity for those brands to do something like this.


On to the Olympics. NBCSN walked away from the weekend a big winner averaging 4.1 million viewers for Saturday’s USA/Russia Olympic men’s hockey game. That sets a new record for the most-watched hockey game in the network’s history, according to fast national data from Nielsen, hitting 6.4 million during the eight-round shootout. Those scores also helped drive NBCSN to its best-ever daytime viewership (2.9 million viewers). In addition, the game handed NBC Sports with its most streamed hockey game in history, with nearly 600,000 unique users and 14.7 million minutes of consumption.

NBC, however, hit a lull on Saturday, drawing a 9.6 fast-national rating and 17.1 million viewers for its primetime Olympic coverage, still dominating the completion but off-pace from comparable coverage during both the 2010 Vancouver and 2006 Turin Games. Still, through Sunday, NBC is averaging 23.5 million viewers and a 13.2 household rating/21 share from the Opening Ceremony through last night – up 14% and 8% respectively from the last European Winter Olympics. Sunday’s telecast averaged 21.3 million viewers and a 12.1 household rating/19 share up 11% from Torino but down from the virtually live coverage in Vancouver. In a call with reports, NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell said he was thrilled with the ratings, stating “We couldn’t be happier with how things are going. Would it be nice to have another gold medal here or there? Sure. But that’s always the case at any Olympics.”

Sunday also saw the NBA All-Star Game on TNT averaging a 4.3 household score and 7.5 million total viewers, according to Fast National numbers. Facing two monsters in the Olympics and the Walking Dead, the game was slightly off pace by 4% in households and 6% in audience. Top markets included Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Richmond, Miami and San Antonio. In addition, the network’s coverage of the State Farm NBA All-Star Saturday Night ranked in the top five all-time over the 29-year history of the event, pulling a 3.1 U.S. HH rating and 5.7 million total viewers.

ESPN is doubling down with John McEnroe, inking the 17-time Major winner to a new deal that will see him expand his duties beyond tennis. The company announced that McEnroe will serve as an analyst on SportsCenter discussing major topics of all sorts and handling sit-down interviews with top sports stars as well as make regular appearances on ESPN2’s Olbermann and on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike.

TBS announced that late-night series CONAN will hit Dallas for a week of shows in the host city of this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Final Four and National Championship. Episodes will tape from March 31-April 3 at the Majestic Theater and marks the second year in a row the late-night series has taped a week of shows from the site of the tournament.

CBC’s Olympic Daytime reported its highest reported weekday audience for Thursday, notching a total of 2.586 million viewers across all platforms. The Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey game between Canada and Norway saw nearly one in four Canadians (8.4 million) tuning in to watch the contest, with 1.4 million of those viewers watching online.

Tuesday’s NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint on NBA TV will see the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers face off as a part of a network doubleheader on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 10:30pThe channel’s opening game will feature the New York Knicks against the Memphis Grizzlies at 8p.

Upcoming Dodgers channel SportsNet LA expanded on its programming plans ahead of its Feb. 25 launch. The channel will offer new behind-the-scenes show about the team in Backstage: Dodgers, the network’s signature live studio program Access SportsNet: Dodgers, a social media-driven series in Leadoff LA and the weekly all-access show Dodgers Clubhouse. Other original SportsNet LA programming will include Dodger legends and personalities in Talkin’ Blue, team countdown shows listing the greatest moments, players and events in Dodger history, hour-long Dodgermentary and biographies about past and present Dodger personalities and classic Timeless Dodgers games.

Chicago’s Comcast SportsNet revealed that it will offer 15 Games in 16 Days featuring nine White Sox and six Cubs contests beginning Friday, March 14 at 3p CT. Every Comcast SportsNet spring training telecast will feature Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Steve Stone handling microphone duties for White Sox games while Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies handle all Cubs telecasts

CBS Radio’s WFAN will launch its first year of a multi-year contract as the flagship station of the New York Yankees with live coverage of the team’s pre-season match-up versus the Pirates on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 1p. WFAN’s broadcast team is led by John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, who are entering their 10th season together behind the microphone, with Sweeny Murti offering commentary during the station’s pre- and post-game shows broadcast before and after all regular-season contests. 


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Mattel and WWE locked in a multi-year extension of their global master toy licensing agreement through 2019. The deal extends a relationship that began in 2009, and includes FlexForce figures and plush Brawlin’ Buddies. “WWE and Mattel’s action figure line is consistently ranked in the top two thanks to our creative marketing campaigns, tremendous retail support and seamless infusion of cutting-edge innovations,” said Doug Wadleigh, Senior Vice President, Global Brands Marketing, Boys and Entertainment for Mattel. “We are excited to continue our partnership with WWE as they expand their global footprint and leverage our global scale to deliver WWE toys to kids around the world.”

Outdoor Channel is teaming up with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to launch a Pure Michigan travel and tourism campaign surrounding Jack Link’s Major League Fishing, the network’s bass fishing competition TV series. The deal will look to leverage targeted fishing advertising spots utilizing key talent from Major League Fishing to build awareness of the recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts in the state.


Twitter released numbers on how the NBA All Stargame played out through the 140-character network over the weekend.

  • Total tweets for #NBAAllstar Game: More than 2.5 million during the live telecast on Sunday from 7:50 p.m. to 11:40 p.m. EST.
  • Peak moment with the most tweets-per-minute during the game: 9:02 p.m. @KingJames (Lebron James) and @Blakegriffin32 (Blake Griffin) with back-to-back dunks at 46,487 TPM.
  • Most mentioned players on Twitter during game telecast: Eastern Conference – @KyrieIrving (Kyrie Irving), @KingJames and @carmeloanthony (Carmelo Anthony). Western Conference -@blakegriffin32, @KDTrey5 (Kevin Durant) and CP3 (Chris Paul).

completed installation of Apple’s iBeacon technology at the first two of more than 20 Major League Baseball ballparks that will use iBeacon technology for Opening Day of the 2014 season. Overall, 65 iBeacons were affixed throughout Petco Park and Dodger Stadium that will use Bluetooth Low Energy and geofencing for micro-location awareness.

IMG College extended its tied with 10 Foot Wave, which offers place based digital solutions, that will see the company will work collaboratively with IMG to expand the footprint of their FanConnect platform across IMG College’s portfolio of properties. FanConnect blends sponsor messaging with live game content, real-time stats, out of town scores, social media feeds and more, via high-definition on the television screens found throughout a stadium or arena. 

Major League Gaming (MLG) is going global, entering a partnership with Grupo Aguia, Brazil’s largest and most established sports entertainment and hospitality company, to launch MLG’s first international franchise – MLG Brasil. The alliance begins with support for the Call of Duty Championship Brazilian Online Qualifiers on February 16 and 23.


Manchester City and Barcelona at 2p on FOX Sports 1.



The Exploding World of Kids’ Tablets: The New Way to Build Your Brand Webinar

Save The Date:March 20th, 2013|1:30-3:00 pm EST

ON THIS DAY in 2001: Dale Earnhardt dies at age 49 in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500.

In The Know: John McEnroe has appeared in four Adam Sandler movies. Name two. (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: The Indiana Pacers retired #31 in honor of what player? Answer: Reggie Miller. Kudos: Rick Alessandri-Univision/NY; Peter King Hunsinger-Golf Digest/NY; Rick Rosenfelt-ESPN/NY; Scott L. Pinker-Sony Pictures Television/NY; Michael Goodman-Radio One/Atlanta; Tim McGhee-MSP Sports/Summit; Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick; Shavonne Flora-UPTV/ASPiRE/Atlanta; Kristin Staskowski-Charter Media/Birmingham; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; David Hauptman/Denver; Matt Sautter-OpenTV/Golden; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; Daniel Glenn-Warner Horizon/Burbank.


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Later — Chris
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