Friday, August 26th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Friday, August 26, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Texas A&M made it official, notifying the Big 12 Conference landlords that the university is exploring a move out. As part of the announcement, Texas A&M requested that the Big 12 outline the process for withdrawing from the conference. With the SEC an obvious landing spot in the future, a pullout from the Big 12 has conference commissioners around the NCAA watching as universities mull opportunities to move up the ladder.

“Ultimately, we are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs,” President R. Bowen Loftin in the letter to the conference. “As a public university, Texas A&M owes it to the state’s taxpayers to maximize our assets and generate additional revenues both now and well into the future.”

The Big 12’s directors board is scheduled to meet on Saturday.

On the Air

Just in time for today’s launch, Longhorn Network has landed its first national carrier, signing a deal with Verizon, which will carry the Texas-branded channel for its FiOS TV subscribers. The distribution agreement will allow fans to begin watching the network on Sept. 1.

ESPN is celebrating the opening of the college basketball season with a marathon of college basketball coverage across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and for the fourth straight year. This year’s College Hoops Tip-off Marathon Presented by Disney Parks is set for on Tuesday, Nov. 15, beginning at midnight and is set to include 19 live games featuring teams from 21 conferences. The marathon is set to include annual powerhouses such as Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State  in the inaugural State Farm Champions Classic doubleheader, as well as 15 teams that played in last year’s men’s NCAA Tournament. Games will tip off every two hours on ESPN beginning with Washington State at Gonzaga at midnight.

Danica Patrick officially announced her intentions to go NASCAR full-time in 2012, where she will race a full-time Nationwide Series schedule as well as a limited Sprint Cup schedule in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The Charlotte Observer reported that Patrick will debut in the Sprint Cup Series in the Daytona 500, although Patrick noted that her first race hasn’t been determined. “We are pleased Danica Patrick has chosen to race full time in NASCAR in 2012,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “She has demonstrated a strong desire to compete and NASCAR provides the best opportunity to race against the top drivers in the world with the largest and most loyal fan base in motorsports on a week-to-week basis.”

Weekend updates:

NBC Sports and Universal Sports will be delivering more than 45 hours of coverage of the 2011 Track and Field World Championships from August 26 through September 4 from Daegu, South Korea. Universal Sports begins its coverage today at 10p, running through next week, while NBC Sports carries weekend coverage for both weeks. NBC Sports’ broadcast team includes Tom Hammond, Ato Boldon and Lewis Johnson calling the action for both networks. Paul Sunderland and Dwight Stones will also contribute to the Universal Sports broadcast from the Westlake, Calif. studio.

Fox is on deck to showcase four games for its Saturday Baseball coverage at 4p. 43% of the country will see a Braves/Mets matchup with Kenny Albert, Mark Grace and Ken Rosenthal handling microphone duties. 31% o audiences will get to see Justin Verlander try for his 20th win of the season with Mario Impemba and Bert Blyleven making the calls. Dan McLaughlin and Mitch Williams hit the broadcast booth for a Pirates/Cardinals game that will air in 17% of the nation. The rest of the country will get a Rockies/Dodgers matchup, with Daron Sutton and Eric Karros making the calls.

CBS Sports will be broadcasting Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on Saturday at noon. The event will feature players, as well as celebrity guests is a tennis exhibition that will be hosted by La La Anthony and Quddus. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Venus and Serena Williams are among the athletes slated to participate in the exhibition.

Tennis Channel has named Peter Steckelman to Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs. Steckelman comes to the network with more than 15 years of experience in major corporate business affairs practice and will manage all business and legal affairs activities for the company including content licensing, programming, tournament production matters, intellectual property oversight, and athlete names and likenesses.

DISH Network announced the launch of ONE World Sports to its lineup. OWS serves as an independent sports channel that showcases Asian sports in the United States. Programming includes: Japanese J-League Soccer, Korean K-League Soccer, Chinese C-League Soccer, One Asia Tour Golf, and more. 

MSG Varsity is adding some familiar faces to its roster, signing New York Giants stars Amani Toomer and Roman Oben to its broadcast team. Toomer and Oben begin their new duties as color analysts for the channel’s high school sports on Friday, Sept. 9 at 7p when MSG Varsity’s “Friday Night Football” returns. The channel also is giving its daily sports show, “High School SportsDesk,” a refresh, with a new format designed to provide more in-depth, local high school sports coverage and reporting and adding two of its high school sports experts Steve Gelbs and Keith Irizarry  to the show’s team. As part of the new format, MSG Varsity will now expand from one show that covers the tri-state area into four simultaneous shows focusing on different region — New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut / Westchester / Hudson Valley, and New York City.

Ultimate Boarder, a triathlon event that features crossover amateur and professional athletes from surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding, has locked in its dates and locations for the 2012 week-long multisport series. The fifth annual triathlon will kick off on Saturday, March 17 with the snowboarding competition in Bear Mountain, Calif., moving to Seaside Reef in Cardiff, Calif. from March 19-23 for the surfing portion and finally hitting Del Mar Fairgrounds for the skateboarding finale.

ESPN’s SportsCenter is launching a four-part series titled “Back to School” on Sunday, Aug. 28, that will bring four of the network’s former head coaches back to their hometown. The series followed former head coaches and ESPN NFL analysts Mike Ditka (Aliquippa, Pa.) and Herm Edwards (Monterey, Calif.), as well as ESPN college football analysts Lou Holtz (East Liverpool, Ohio) and Lee Corso (Miami, Fla.), during their surprise returns to spend time with the current football teams at their former high schools.

On Friday, September 9, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will honor Dick Enberg with the Eugene L. Scott Award at the annual The Legends Ball. Other award recipients are set to include International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2011 inductees Andre Agassi and Peachy Kellmeyer. Enberg’s award an individual who embodies Scott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world. In September, Enberg will deliver his final US Open broadcast this year on CBS.

Stats for the week ending Aug 21

FOX Saturday Baseball delivered a 1.5/4 with 2.4 million viewers to the channel for a 25% rise over last year’s game, according to Nielsen. This marked the third straight week in which FOX’s weekly game has posted a year-to-year increase. Through 21 weeks, FOX Saturday Baseball is averaging a 1.9/5 with 2.94 million viewers, up +6% over last year’s 1.8/5 on Households and up +5% for Average Audience.

ESPN’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Michigan averaged a 3.2/8 with 5.0 million viewers for the network on Sunday, up 3% over last year’s numbers. Through three races, NASCAR Sprint Cup racing on ESPN is averaging a 3.5/8 holding even with last year’s 3.5/9 in rating. Among Men 18-34, ESPN is up 9% year-to-year, up 5% among Men 18-49, but down -3% for Men 25-54.

NBC kicked-off its NFL preseason coverage with a 6.4/11 and 10.7 million viewers for its Chargers/Cowboys game on Sunday. That’s down 4% from last year’s comparable matchup but still scored as the highest-rated event of the weekend.

Sponsorship & Promotion

With the upcoming 25th season of ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, ESPN is launching a series of six promotional spots that debuted online yesterday and will go on air on August 29. Taking part in the spots will be LSU’s Coach Les Miles as well as Oregon’s Coach Chip Kelly in the first two parts of the series.

NASCAR Sprint Cup partner Dollar General, is offering customers the chance to win more than 9,000 prizes including free gas for a year, a trip to Las Vegas and $250,000 through the company’s “Race in to Win” sweepstakes. The promotion launches on Aug. 28 and serves as the first-ever national retail program around the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will help push the contest to millions of Dollar General customers.

Last night, the NFL held the final upfront of the year with its 6th Annual NFL Media Fantasy Football Draft event at the Edison Ballroom in New York. The upfront event serves as a celebration of the start of the NFL season with media executives at the event representing more than 75% of the national buying community and represents virtually all of the NFL’s 22 national sponsors ahead of the fourth quarter scatter market. The winning agency, last year taken by the Mediavest crew, earns the right to play a flag football game with the NFL Media Sales team and former NFL players in Central Park before next April’s NFL Draft. NFL Network’s Scott Hanson hosts the upfront. The 16 agencies participating this year include: OMD, Zenith, Mediavest, Mindshare, Initiative, PHD, Mediacom, W&K, Busch Media, Horizon, Universal McCann, Mediaedge, Carat, GM/Starcom, MPG, and Targetcast.

Digital Fields

Just ahead of the college football season, ESPN has updated ESPN on Xbox with a newly redesigned user interface as well as new personalization features, tools and more to deliver fans with access to thousands of live events and highlights, including more than 400 college football games, 31 bowl games and more than 75 exclusive games  close to 50 in the first five weeks of the season alone  from New features include: My Sports which allows fans to choose their favorite sports and teams so they can jump quickly to the content; a Mini Guide, Split Screen, and Voice Control with Kinect among other features.

The New York Giants are tapping Mass Relevance to launch several new social media opportunities for Giants fans attending games at MetLife Stadium as well as for fans at home watching the action. Social initiatives include the use of Twitter to engage and entertain fans who tune into the TV broadcasts of the team’s final two preseason games, the integration of real-time fan tweets on MetLife Stadium’s video boards and other stadium distribution channels and more. The program will make the Giants the first NFL team to use the popular social media platform as part of their TV game broadcast. Starting with Saturday’s pre-season contest against cross-town rival the New York Jets, set to run on NBC 4 New York, these initiatives will launch and continue throughout the season and are powered by Mass Relevance’s scalable technology platform that allows the team to instantly aggregate, curate and deliver fan content into stadium displays, TV broadcasts and

The Main Event

PGA Tour Playoff: The Barclays throughout the weekend on CBS and Golf Channel.


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ON THIS DAY in 1939: The first ever MLB telecast featured the Reds taking down the Brooklyn Dodgers

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who was the last member of the Fighting Irish to win the Heisman Trophy?  Tim Brown in 1987. Kudos: Rick Rosenfelt – New York Jets, LLC/Florham Park; Matthew Nicholson – IMG Media/NY; Keith Marder – Halstead Realty/NY; Joe Isabella – CBS Television Stations Sales/NYC; Kevin Micklo – Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago; David Hauptman – Katz Television Group/Denver; Greg Moloznik – GLM Media Dynamics/Scottsdale; Matt Novoselsky – ESPN Consumer Products/Las Vegas; Matt Chase – Caught Looking Productions/Long Beach; Patrick Reynolds – Reynolds Media Consulting/LA

In The Know:  Who is the only Kansas Jayhawk to have been picked first in the NBA draft?  (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.)

Later — Chris
 Chris Pursell for Cyn opsis | Sports

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