Friday, May 13th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports


Good morning. It’s Friday, May 13, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

NFL players again took to the courts yesterday, asking a federal judge for $707 million in damages as a result of the lockout. U.S. District Judge David Doty took the request during a two-hour hearing Thursday from attorney for both the owners and players. Doty admonished both parties during the hearing, stating “I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t think we would have this hearing, and I’m a bit disappointed we are having it.” In March, Doty ruled that the NFL did not maximize revenues for players during broadcast negotiations, harming payouts.

On the Air

After slating primetime games for the Pac-12 and ACC earlier this week, ESPN gave the Big Ten its turn at the plate on Thursday, announcing that seven Big Ten Conference college football games would air this season in prime time on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 in 2011.

Among the highlights:

  • Wisconsin will have four primetime games, beginning with UNLV on Sept. 1. Other matches include Ohio St. on Oct. 29, and Michigan St. on Oct. 22.
  • The Big Ten’s newest member Nebraska will have their first two conference games on an ESPN network, facing Wisconsin on Oct .1 and Ohio St. the following week on Oct. 8.
  • ESPN will televise the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium when the Wolverines host Notre Dame on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Nice foreshadowing on Tiger Wood’s exit from Golf Channel Analyst Brandel Chamblee who predicted the Tiger Woods wouldn’t be ready for The Players Championship this week. On Wednesday, Chamblee told reporters,It’s very likely that he’s going to reinjure himself playing this course and maybe just hobble out here. It’s kind of sad. We watched Tiger age so rapidly right before our eyes and maybe right before our eyes we’ll watch Tiger Woods play where he’s literally shuffling off the course.” Woods initially said his injured leg had recovered, but ended up limping off the golf course nine holes into the Championship after shooting a 42.

The NBC Sports Group will continue coverage of the event through Sunday, with Golf Channel running 17 hours of Live from The Players and 10 hours of golf re-airs to bring the total number of programming hours during the four days of the tournament to 49.

Tennis Channel is adding Mary Carillo to its roster, signing the award-winning sportscaster and former player to a deal that will make her a primary face of this month’s French Open. Carillo will also be part of the channel’s US Open telecast. Her duties in France will include hosting the network’s live tournament desk, conducting interviews, offering perspective and analysis, as well as taking occasionally play-by-play duties during select matches. Carillo will also produce human interest stories and segments for the network. This year will mark Tennis Channel’s fifth year broadcasting the French Open.

ESPN is taking men’s college basketball to a whole new field, literally. The network has reached an agreement with the Morale Entertainment Foundation that will televise the Michigan State vs. North Carolina game for the Carrier Classic 11-11-11, marking the first time a men’s college basketball game will be played on the deck of a United States military aircraft carrier. The game takes place on Nov. 11 at 7p and as part of the telecast, ESPN will televise a special halftime entertainment show and post-game concert organized by Morale Entertainment Foundation. The ship being used to host Veteran’s Day event is still being determined but will be positioned in the San Diego harbor.

The NBC Sports Group has locked in coverage for the NHL Conference Finals, which begin Saturday. VERSUS will begin airing the Eastern Conference Finals featuring the Lightening and Bruins with Game 1 at 8p. Western Conference Final action will start on Sunday with either the Sharks or Red Wings facings Vancouver. NBC’s coverage will begin on May 21, at 1p with game four of the Eastern Conference Final when Tampa Bay hosts Boston. Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick will handle play-by-play and Eddie Olczyk will serve as analyst of NBC and VERSUS’ coverage of the Tampa Bay-Boston series.

ESPN has locked in a slew of lacrosse programming. Beginning Saturday, the 2011 Major League Lacrosse season will begin, with all 36 regular-season games set to be streamed live on In addition, the 2011 Sports Authority MLL All-Star Game and the Sports Authority MLL Championship Weekend presented by Warrior will air on ESPN2 and Play-by-play announcer Joe Beninati and analyst Quint Kessenich will return to serve as the commentator team for the MLL telecasts on ESPN2.

The ESPN family of networks is also set to provide coverage of all 15 games from the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship. Programming will be in high definition across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU beginning Saturday and wrap up with the national title game on Monday, May 30. and ESPN Mobile will also carry select games.

Other sports programming notes for this weekend:

  • CBS Sports Spectacular will present the 2011 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships on Saturday at 3p. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships and Tim Brando, along with 1996 Olympic gold medalist Amanda Borden will call the action
  • NBC will broadcast the Quarterfinals of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship presented by from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev. on Sunday at Noon. NBC’s Craig Hummer, Ali Nejad and Leeann Tweeden will be behind the microphones.
  • TLC premieres Off the Rez on Saturday at 9p, a film by Jonathan Hock and executive produced by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, about four generations of Native American women from the Umatilla Nation who seek to preserve their traditions in the world of American high school sports.

Wait… what? A British company is launching a petition that will make pole dancing a test sport for the 2012 London Games. Vertical Dance started the movement, which has already earned nearly 6,000 supporters thus far, and officials state that they hope an event will become an official competition by the 2016 Games.



Upcoming Upfront 2011 Special Edition:
The Broadcast Market
Publishing May 16

Special Editions and more Upfront information are available at Upfront Overview.

Stats – National Ratings for the week ending May 8

NBC’s coverage of the 137th running of The Kentucky Derby averaged a 6.7/16 for the network, drawing 11.2 million viewers to the race, but down 11% from 2010. The actual race earned the channel an 8.5/19 and rose to a 9.7/22 when Animal Kingdom overcame 20-1 odds to take the derby.

Ratings for the NBA Playoffs only reaffirmed earlier audience spikes for the league. Season-to date, the NBA post-season airings are up by double digits on all three networks telecasting the games, with ABC growing 27% to a 4.2 household score, ESPN up 30% to a 2.6, and TNT soaring 25% to a 3.0.

Select sports’ year to date averages:
Sport                     2010 Household Rating            2011 Rating              Difference
NBA Playoff (All)                2.4                                 3.1                        +29%
NASCAR Sprint Cup           2.7                                 2.9                        +7%
PGA Tour                          2.2                                 2.3                        +5%
NHL Playoffs (NBC)            1.1                                 1.2                        +9%
NHL Playoffs (Versus)        0.5                                 0.5                        0%
MLB Baseball (ESPN)         1.0                                 1.0                        0%

Sponsorship & Promotion

The Women’s Tennis Association is launching a new global advertising campaign with the tagline “Strong is Beautiful”, which will initially feature 38 current and next-gen stars of the sport. The branding initiative is set to include TV, digital and print ads as well as social media applications. The “Strong is Beautiful” campaign will feature athletes detailing their personal stories and dreams in order to create a stronger engagement with fans. The spots and adverts will be utilized for WTA tournaments around the world in order to create a cohesive message for the sports.

NASCAR has announced the return of the NASCAR Wendell Scott Scholarship Program and the University of Central Florida, DeVos School of Management Scholarship for the second straight year. The programs, funded in part by long-time NASCAR partner UPS, was established to provide financial support to deserving African-American and Hispanic students currently enrolled in college who are pursuing degrees in areas of study related to motorsports, including marketing, engineering and public relations.

US Cellular has inked a three-year agreement with the Oklahoma City Thunder to become the official mobile sponsor of the team. As part of the deal, US Cellular will host interactive kiosk will offer interactive games during events as well as create the Thunder Text Alert Program which will provide text alerts to users on scores, team information, breaking news and promotions.

Digital Fields

While major leagues sports are often frowning on athlete’s tweeting, UFC is going the other way. Executives at UFC announced this week that they will now be rewarding fighters with bonuses for using Twitter. As part of the plan, the company will divide their fighters into four categories based on their Twitter follower count and every three months thereafter, reward three fighters from each category with a cool $5,000 based on how many followers they’ve gained, the biggest percentage of new followers added and the most creative tweets, which will be judged by UFC head Dana White.

Interactive sports programming provider Score Media has bought smartphone app SportsTap (well. not just the app, the whole company) in a move designed to boost the company’s global monthly unique mobile userbase to over 3 million. The ad-supported SportsTap app delivers box scores, team and player statistics and related news and information covering the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Nascar and as well as other major sports leagues. SportsTap currently ranks as the third most popular free sports app in Google’s Android Market, behind Score Media’s own application ScoreMobile.

Tonight’s Main Event

Former home cities of Seattle and Vancouver mourn as the Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Memphis Grizzlies on ESPN tonight at 9p in a potentially series ending matchup with the Thunder up 3-2 in the best of seven series.

In My Opinion:

First of all, I’m much obliged and grateful for all the kind words and show of support with the launch of Cynopsis Sports. There seems to be in infinite amount of material to cover and I’m thrilled with this opportunity.

What may be the biggest issue from this past week is one that is both baffling yet unsurprising. Last year, the Fiesta Bowl netted $15 million as a part of the BCS system, which included $2.9 million alone from Big East champion UConn for unsold tickets for their game against Oklahoma. That’s a lot of money from Connecticut taxpayers. So after the BCS came down with a $1 million fine, to be paid to Arizona’s youth, for potentially illegal reimbursements paid to employees for political donations as well as lavish spending by executives, bowl organizers were more than happy to pay the fee. In addition, the Fiesta Bowl was allowed to stay in the BCS.

With the Justice Department now involved in an investigation into the legality of the BCS system, and more states mulling lawsuits, a slap on the wrist wasn’t the right image for an already beleaguered organization, whether you like the BCS or not. What do you think should have been done? (Agree or disagree?  Email your comments to chris [email protected] for inclusion under Emails to the Editor on Monday)

ON THIS DAY in  1983 – Reggie Jackson became the first major leaguer to strike out 2,000 times.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: What was the last team the Wizards beat in a series during the NBA playoffs?  The Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 4 game to 2 in 2005.  Only one person was able to correctly answer this! Kudos: John Ward – NBC Sports Group/Chicago

In The Know:  What female player won last year’s French Open? (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
May 13, 2011

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