Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Friday, February 22, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The Big East may stay home after all. ESPN has opted to match NBC Sports Group’s offer to the conference’s football and basketball rights, according to SBJ, and agreed to pay more than $20M per year in a six-year package. However, both parties are still hammering out the amount of games ESPN would show as well as where they will air. In addition, other reports state that NBC will get the opportunity to increase its bid, making the league’s ultimate landing place unclear. Once that is locked in, the Big East will still have to get approval from conference presidents to formalize the deal.

On the Air

The Budweiser Duel is coming to prime time in 2014. Daytona officials announced that the 150-mile qualifying races that lock in the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 will move under the lights next year, joining The Sprint Unlimited and the NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race as the third prime time race during Budweiser Speedweeks.

ESPN released its schedule for the 18thseason of MLS on the network, which will begin Sunday, March 3, at 7:30p on ESPN2, ESPN 3D and ESPN Deportes with the Timbers/Red Bulls. Overall, the company will carry 20 regular-season matches, 18 of which will be televised on a Sunday. In addition, eight of the games will be seen on ESPN 3D. The Red Bulls will get the spotlight seven times this year, followed by the Galaxy with six and the Sounders with five.

NBC Sports Network’s Wednesday Night Rivalry game this week, pitting the Flyers and Penguins, drew a 0.55 household rating, making it the highest-rated NHL regular-season game in the history of NBC Sports Network, according to Nielsen. The game averaged 901,000 viewers, making it the second-most watched game in NBC Sports Network history. On the local front, both Pittsburgh (14.50 household rating) and Philadelphia (4.84) scored their highest rating ever for a NHL regular-season game on the channel.

Saturday’s UFC on FUEL TV 7: Barao vs. McDonald handed the channel with its most-watched day ever, according to Nielsen. The card averaged 195,000 viewers, up 122% over UFC on FUEL TV 6 and rose 121% among M18-49. 

Stephen Strasburg is slated to start for the Washington Nationals when they visit the New York Mets in MLB Network’s first Spring Training game of 2013 tomorrow at noon. Overall, MLB Network will air more than 150 Spring Training Games over the next two months.

NBC Sports Network continues its Fight Night series tomorrow at 10:30p with a 10-round main event featuring undefeated heavyweights Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov (14-0-0, 10 KO’s) of Lugansk, Ukraine vs. Malik Scott (35-0-0, 12 KO’s) of Philadelphia, Pa., at The Paramount in Huntington, N.Y. Kenny Rice will handle play-by-play with B.J. Flores serving as analyst.

Save the date for the Cynopsis: Sports Media Awards. This year’s honors will be held on April 17 at Yale Club in Manhattan. Join us as we honor the best of 2012!


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Sponsorship & Promotion

MillerCoors inked a multiyear deal with CONCACAF that will make Miller Lite not only the global exclusive beer sponsor of the 2013 Gold Cup, as well as the exclusive U.S. sponsor of the confederation’s club team tournament, the CONCACAF Champions League. The CONCACAF Champions League partnership covers the 2013/14 and 2014/15 tournaments. The deal hands Miller Lite with rights to use the tournaments’ intellectual property for advertising and marketing materials, as well as packaging, consumer promotions, signage and video features at tournament games. In addition, the deal also features the presentation of the Gold Cup Miller Lite MVP award and inclusion in the tournaments’ promotional marketing materials.

A new report from Sponsorium showed that-in a survey of sponsorships and partnerships around the world-sports accounts for the largest slice of the sponsorship industry in most markets, and has for some time. In fact, in the US, 71% of partnerships are in sports, 19% higher than the global total. In Canada, 49% of sponsorship spending is on sports.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research and ESPN are teaming up with the NBA and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital this week in the fight against pediatric cancer. Starting Feb. 24, the NBA family – led by Hoops for St. Jude ambassadors and ESPN commentators – will engage fans with 100% of donations to The V Foundation from this campaign will go directly towards cancer research benefitting St. Jude’s patients.

Digital Fields

The At Bat app has been updated with the launch of At Bat 13 and its suite of new features across iPhone, iPad, supported Android smartphones and tablets and Kindle Fire. For spring training, the app will now offer multi-platform live audio access sortable batting, pitching and fielding statistics re-designed individual team pages, and an updated news interface. 

NASCAR entered a worldwide digital partnership with video news agency SendtoNews that will allow race highlights to be distributed to thousands of news outlets around the world. SendtoNews will distribute cuts from the Daytona 500, plus the rest of the Sprint Cup series, the second tier Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series via the new partnership.

Roster Moves

Michael Thomas has joined Octagon Worldwide as its Chief Financial Officer. Thomas previously served as CFO for other agencies of the Interpublic Group of Companies including Weber Shandwick public relations and, for the past five years, Devries public relations.

One on Ones

With the Daytona 500 set to rev up on Sunday, Cynopsis Sports asked Colin Smith, NASCAR’s Managing Director of Digital Platform, about the organization’s new digital strategy since taking over operations and moving it to Charlotte in the offseason, and its impact with both fans and sponsors.

On NASCAR’s digital goals: The primary goal for the first year of the new digital platform is to simply give our fans a better, more engaging digital experience, regardless of their level of fandom. We said when we launched the platform in January that this new digital experience is all about the fans and will continue to evolve based on their feedback, and most of that will take place in 2013. The immediate goal of the new and our mobile experience is to be the ultimate second screen companion to the race day broadcast.

Over the next five years, we want to develop our digital platform to be a completely customized, optimal user experience based on each fan’s preferences. The experience will be a tailored experience dependent on the fan’s behavior and consumption patterns.

On the biggest changes: The new has responsive design, so the format changes very little whether it is being viewed on a PC, on a tablet or on a mobile device. It is also simplified, interactive-heavy and designed with ease-of-use in mind to better help our fans navigate the site and engage more deeply in the content they are interested in. Lastly, more of the content is event-oriented so fans can engage in rich comprehensive race information on a week-to-week basis.

In addition, we have built and launched two mobile apps for iOS and Android – NASCAR Mobile ’13 and NASCAR RaceView Mobile ’13. NASCAR Mobile ’13 includes news, video, race day leaderboard, NASCAR Fantasy Live, social media updates as well as premium subscription-based content including an enhanced leaderboard, in-car audio and race broadcast audio. NASCAR RaceView Mobile ’13 is a subscription-based product that includes all of the features of NASCAR Mobile ’13 as well as the ability to render a virtual 3D live racing environment. Both apps give fans an opportunity to engage in live race day action from anywhere, and the premium features come at no cost to Sprint customers per the sponsorship with the league.

On reception: By and large, the fans have reacted positively to the new digital platform; however, like any new platform, we are running into bugs and working to improve performance. Mobile has been great for us to-date, as the apps look good and the new site displays and reacts well on any mobile device. As I also mentioned earlier, we will continue to encourage fan feedback and use that feedback to improve and evolve the digital experience.

On sponsors: Members of our digital team will continue to work closely with Turner to optimize activation across the digital platform with our sponsors and partners. For example, we worked closely with Sprint to create a fan vote for The Sprint Unlimited. Through and through the NASCAR Mobile ’13 app, fans were able to vote for several competition aspects of the preseason event, including the number of laps in each segment, the type of pit stop the teams made after the first segment and how many cars were eliminated after the second segment.

Another great example is working with Mobil 1 to launch a new element that will explore NASCAR’s world-class automotive technology via the “NASCAR Automotive Technology Center Engineered by Mobil 1.” The comprehensive platform will deliver automotive technology-driven content through original feature stories, imagery, video, fan polls and a glossary of specialized automotive and racing terms.

The Main Event

Daytona 500 on FOX at noon on Sunday.

ON THIS DAY in 1980: The US men’s hockey team scores “The Miracle on Ice,” beating the Soviet Union 4-3.

In The Know: What was the name of the club featured in Caddyshack? (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 Cynopsis | Sports

Roberta Caploe: Editorial Director
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