Friday, September 9th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Friday, September 9, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

A whopping $15 billion is ensuring that the legendary Monday Night Football franchise will remain at ESPN for the foreseeable future. The new agreement, which runs through the 2021 season, marks a rise of 73% over the previous deal with the league with ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer all but certain to factor those games into upcoming contract renewals with cable and satellite companies.

The deal for the NFL rights package includes:

  • Telecast rights to 17 Monday Night Football games per season for eight additional seasons (2014-2021).
  • Rights to more than 500 new hours of NFL-branded studio programming per year, beginning this week, including programs such as Sunday NFL Countdown expanding to three hours, NFL Live growing to one hour, as well as new NFL-branded studio programming, including NFL 32and NFL Kickoff, both of which will premiere this week.
  • Expanded highlight rights across ESPN’s television and;
  • Pro Bowl;
  • NFL Draft;
  • 3D distribution rights;
  • Rights to simulcast network coverage of ESPN’s MNF and NFL studio programs on tablet devices through ESPN’s WatchESPN App;
  • Continued Spanish-language rights to MNF on ESPN Deportes;
  • International rights, and the ability to utilize NFL programming on all platforms as part of a linear stream of ESPN network programming.

On the Air

Here’s the latest from NFL’s opening weekend:

Sunday’s NFL on FOX coverage will commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with special stories and remembrances throughout the broadcast day and will begin pregame coverage at with a special open narrated by former president George W. Bush who filmed the two-minute piece this week in Texas. This Sunday at 12:57p, the NFL has coordinated pregame ceremonies from Shanksville, PA to be simulcast live to all early games. The tribute includes a special video introduction narrated by Robert De Niro, followed by a performance of Taps, a moment of silence and the National Anthem from each game site. Coaches, players and local first responders hold field-length American flags during these performances. In addition to FOX, other News Corp networks including Fox News, FX, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, SPEED, FOX Soccer, FOX Soccer Plus, FOX Deportes, Big Ten Network, FUEL TV, and Fox Sports regional networks interrupt scheduled programming to also provide coverage of the pregame ceremonies.

Fox’s broadcast assignments include Brennaman/Billick/Okmin covering the Eagles/Rams game at 1p in 46% of the country. Albert/Johnston/Siragusa take on the Falcons/Bears match, and Myers/Ryan receive the Lions/Bucs game. Afternoon assignments include Buck/Aikman/Oliver at the Giants/Redskins game, airing in 63% of the country. Pitts/Mora get the mic for Vikings/Chargers, Stockton/Lynch hit the Bay for Seahawks/49ers and Rosen/Pennington will handle the Panthers/Cardinals action.

CBS assignments include Nantz/Simms in the nationally broadcast Steelers/Ravens contest. Harlan/Wilcots get in-state rivals Bengals/Browns. Gumbel/Dierdorf handle Colts/Houston. Eagle/Fouts hit Florida for a little Titans/Jaguars action and Albert/Gannon are set for the Bills/Chiefs game.

NBC is set to air the one hour Kickoff 2011: Back to Football special on Saturday at 8p with Bob Costas hosting and previewing the first week of NFL games with commentary and analysis from NFL Network and NBC Sports talent. Performances from Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5 will be featured with highlights from their NFL Kickoff 2011 performances at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. In addition, Jon Bon Jovi pays tribute to the 9/11 first responders by performing ‘America the Beautiful.’

NFL Network is on deck with 11 hours of live coverage on Sunday, and will be officially adding Kurt Warner to the NFL analyst team on NFL GameDay Morning. 

Today officially marks the kickoff of Rugby World Cup 2011 in Eden Park in Auckland. This year’s event will be comprised of 20 teams, for a total of 48 matches across 12 venues which will take 45 days to complete. Stateside, Universal Sports began broadcasting early this morning with the Opening Ceremony at 3:30a, followed by the first match of the tournament in New Zealand/Tonga. NBC airs its first match on Sunday at 1p featuring the first match of the USA Eagles. IMG serves as the brokers and commercial managers for the event for the fifth consecutive time, generating 137 media rights licenses for RWC 2011 (with only two countries on the entire planet where this RWC will not be televised).

Longhorn Network found a way to broadcast more football, inking a deal for exclusive rights to broadcast five home football games of the University of Texas at San Antonio. Programming will begin this Saturday, Sept. 10 when the Roadrunners take on the McMurry War Hawks at the Alamodome on Saturday. Andrew Monaco and Ahmad Brooks will call the action in the booth.

Fox Sports has put the kibosh on series The College Experiment after the program ran a video segment featuring a comedian who approached students at USC of Asian heritage, and later mocked their accents. The segment was condemned by Fox Sports executives, who issued an apology, and the show is now cancelled, effective immediately.

MLB Network scored the channel’s best-ever 7-day period in primetime from Tuesday, Aug. 30 through Labor Day, Sept. 5, as well as the network’s most-watched game for 2011. The network pulled an average of 273,000 viewers during that period as well as and an average of 106,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo. The Aug. 30 game pitting the Yankees against the Red Sox scored as MLB Network’s most-watched game of 2011, averaging 573,000viewers, and  becoming the Stephen Strasburg’s MLB debut in 2010. Overall, MLB Network’s live game telecasts this year are up 35% in average viewers and up 31% among A18-34 average viewers compared to 2010.

Heading into the finale of the Super Six World Boxing Classic on Oct. 29, Showtime is introducing a slew of programming in support of the bout. As part of its new programming, the network will introduce a new boxing program titled Staredown: Ward vs. Froch, as well as premiere the two latest installments of FIGHT CAMP 360°: Inside The Super Six World Boxing Classic and replay some of the tournament’s best bouts on Showtime Extreme. The Staredown series premieres on Wednesday Oct. 5 at 7:45 and feature an intimate conversation between the Super Six finalists that is moderated by Jim Gray.

The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl has locked in the Army Athletic Association that guarantees the Black Knights a spot in the postseason game in 2014 and 2017, providing the team is bowl eligible.

The National Volleyball League has inked a deal with FOX Sports for a one-hour sports lifestyle show based on this weekend’s Models, Music and Fashion Festival in Miami. The NVL is set to offer the largest purse of the year for the tournament taking place at the festival. The show is scheduled to air on Sept. 25.

Sponsorship & Promotion

Fresh off his 85th Cup win, Jeff Gordon will feature a new look for this weekend race in Richmond. Gordon’s hood and decklid of the famed #24 will now feature Chase Card Service’s AARP Visa Card and logo to raise awareness of hunger in America. The sponsorship is part of AARP’s Drive to End Hunger campaign, which this year became the first cause-related primary sponsor of a major race team.

Red Bull North America took a new spin on athletic sponsorships, forming a partnership with DISC Sports & Spine Center that makes DISC the official medical services provider for Red Bull’s athlete performance programs throughout the United States. Athletes include big wave surfer Ian Walsh, BMX racing champ Mike Day and freestyle moto x veteran Robbie Maddison.

FOX Sports Southwest is hosting a live benefit for the Shannon Stone Memorial Fund during the September 13 Cleveland Indians/Texas Rangers telecast. Audiences will have an opportunity during the game to bid on sports and entertainment packages provided by FOX Sports Southwest and participating sponsors. Proceeds from the in-game telethon will be donated to the fund established by the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation in honor of Shannon Stone, who passed away after a tragic accident in July at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Digital Fields

NBC Sports is ramping up its use of digital technology for the upcoming 2011 Sunday Night Football season with Sunday Night Football All Access; dedicated Sunday Night Football Facebook and Twitter pages; as well as the fourth season of SNF Extra. In order to populate the “All Access,” Facebook and Twitter pages, will embed a digital producer throughout the season at the games. New this year on Sunday Night Football Extra, the service will feature online-only sideline updates and tweets from Michele Tafoya, as well as behind-the-scenes notes and images thanks to Sunday Night Football All-Access. SNF is also new this season with partnerships on GetGlue and foursquare that allow fans watching to check in at home or at the stadium.

The Southeastern Conference is launching SEC OnDemand, a new cloud-based college sports video streaming service that features the largest collection of SEC full games, historic documentaries, highlight shows and other original programming. Access will be available via upgraded iPhone, iPad, and Android apps, as well as web viewing, and Smart TV apps. Through an SEC Digital Network partnership with Ram Truck, the $2.99 cost of the SEC Mobile app is being covered so fans of the SEC can download SEC Mobile free of charge. The Smart TV app is free to download, while the iPad app is $4.99.

MSG Network is offering Rangers fans to take part  a la Twitter – in the four telecasts of the 2011 Traverse City NHL Prospects Tournament, running from Sept. 10-14. MSG Network’s Traverse City play-by-play man John Giannone and reporter Dave Maloney will call on fans to join their conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #NYRprospects during the programs, turning to Twitter for questions and remarks from viewers.

The Main Event

So much to pick from! Alabama/Penn St. on ABC on Saturday at 3:30; US Open Men’s Final on CBS at 4p on Sunday; and, of course, the return of the NFL season with a Cowboys/Jets game on NBC at 8:15p and a classic Ravens/Steelers matchup on CBS at 1p.



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ON THIS DAY in 1968: Arthur Ashe defeats Tom Okker to win the US Open

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question:  Who was the very first draft pick ever for the Carolina Panthers?  Kerry Collins Kudos: Michael Liebowitz – Freelance Writer/NY; Noah Coslov – CineSport/NY; Juan P. Delgado – Telemundo/Miami; Asher Levine – OMG/NY; Derek Crownover – Crownover, Blevins, P.C./Nashville; Neil Shurts –  Dish Network/Englewood; David Chill – DIRECTV/LA; Richard Murphy – Avail-TVN/LA;  Chris Loprete – ABC/Hollywood

In The Know:  What Texas Ranger pitcher holds the team record for most wins in a season? (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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