Monday, December 10th, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Monday, December 10, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

When Michael Whan was named Commissioner of the LPGA back three years ago, the storied tour was struggling to define itself in the world of sports. The organization had cut back events, prize money was off by nearly a third, sponsorship was timid and tournaments were rarely seen live. Flash forward to the 2012 season and the picture is clearly different. The organization was back up to 27 events with six more North American stops as well as viewership that is up 74% via a 10-year deal with Golf Channel.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Commissioner Whan about the success of 2012, how the digital landscape is benefitting the sport and the road ahead.

Whan on the foundations of 2012: First and foremost I’m a Type A guy, so we’re really not done. We are definitely building and I don’t think anybody could doubt that we’re on the rise. We’ve added five new events in 2012, getting back into some old stomping grounds and bringing in some new ones. We added an international event as well with the Australian Open. I’m glad we played more than in 2011 and we have definitely been televised more. One of the real key things for us has been our partnership with Golf Channel and back when it started, 60% of our broadcast was tape delayed. In 2011, it really jumped up and then in ’12 virtually all of our telecasts were live. I think we were 100% live on weekends and 92% live overall. That’s not negotiation, you got to earn that and now our viewership is up 74% since we came together. What’s been fun is that when I came on three years ago, people were talking about our international influence like it was a negative, but today we probably get a call every week from some sports organization asking us questions about how to be so successful and so global. We used to be a punching bag, now we are a role model.

On positioning the sport: When it comes to professional athletics, we are not like anybody else. You can try to say we are like the PGA Tour, you can try to say we are like the WNBA, you can say we are like sand volleyball. We are not like any of those things. We’ve got the most approachable athletes in the world. I’ve got one vision for my time at the LPGA, and that’s to be the most customer-centric sport in the world and I’d be willing to bet that we’ve caught up to everybody already. Our athletes know what’s important and go out of their way to make sure people go home happy. We may not deliver a 4.0 rating on NBC on Sunday but we will deliver the greatest customer experience for a sponsor and their key business partners.

On embracing social media: We were the first sports brand ever to put the players’ individual Twitter handles on the players. All of our players’ hashtags and Twitter handles are located on the caddy bib. So if you are watching on TV and see someone you find interesting, we don’t make it difficult to follow her. We want our players to be the spotlight. We know that we win the more that you like and follow our players so it doesn’t have to be about the LPGA, it should be about them. At every tournament we offer the players suggested Tweets, Facebook comments, we give them email and mailing addresses to send thank you cards. We want players to Tweet about their Kia courtesy car at the Kia Classic because Kia wants them to. We know that if you tell a 22-year old to Tweet whatever they want about the courtesy car, they are going to Tweet a lot more than we could ever come up with, and it will be a lot cooler. While some sports are worried about how they can control it, we are working on how to fuel the flame.

On expectations for 2013: Usually the first week of January, I will introduce the next year’s schedule so I’m getting excited about introducing that because we will be adding some new events and new locations. We will also be adding some new sponsors, not only for tournament titles but also as official sponsors of the LPGA. You almost never in sports grow your brand unless your fundamentals are strong because companies don’t want to invest in anybody unless the foundation is solid. So the growth we’ve seen in viewership, sponsorship, purses or TV coverage, it all comes if the core is pretty strong. There aren’t a lot of great, successful and sound women’s sports franchises and the LPGA has been around for 62 years and we consider ourselves to be the leaders at it. We feel that putting our athletes on TV week in and week out for young girls to have role models is key. That’s a big deal.

On the Air

UFC’s return to FOX struck a chord. Saturday’s UFC on FOX 5 delivered a spike over the last two outings for the MMA promotion, hitting a 2.8/5 rating/share in overnight numbers, according to Nielsen. Those scores represent a markup of 65% over the network’s last primetime UFC event with the main event nabbing a 3.6/7, according to Nielsen. Las Vegas led all markets with a 6.3/11 metered market rating/share followed by Louisville (5.0/8), Sacramento (4.7/9), Columbus (4.6/8) and Phoenix (4.2/8).

The Pac-12 Networks are getting hit by IATSE members, who began striking against the channels and picketing outside member schools in order to “establish area standard wages and benefits” for daily hire technical employees. Network representatives responded by stating “We respect an individual’s right to decide whether to be represented by a union. Regardless of how they decide, we will remain focused on creating an environment that is inclusive, respectful and allows us to have relationships with our staff and contractors.”

NFL Network’s Broncos/Raiders game on Thursday Night Football scored an average of 6.8 million viewers, not counting over-the-air stations in Denver and Oakland to rank as the most-watched program overall on cable TV for the evening. The game’s 4.2 rating was up 5% over the comparable game in 2011, with viewership up 3%. Through 12 games of its new 13-game schedule, TNF is averaging a 4.1 US HH rating and 6.4 million viewers to rank as the highest-rated and most-watched Thursday Night Football season ever. The schedule wraps up its season this week with Bengals/Eagles.

FOX Sports Media Group and the ARCA announced the 2013 broadcast schedule for the ARCA Racing Series, which will consist of 10 events set to be televised live or same-day on SPEED. The action starts Feb. 16 with ARCA’s 50th consecutive annual event at Daytona International Speedway at 4:30p. Other events will include races at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3; Toledo Speedway on May 19; Pocono Raceway on June 8 and August 2; Michigan International Speedway on June 14; Chicagoland Speedway on July 21; Iowa Speedway on September 7; Kentucky Speedway on September 20; and the season finale at Kansas Speedway on October 4. 2012 numbers for the season saw a 22% rise in households to a .44 rating, according to Nielsen.

Former IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is taking on a new role as CEO of RFD-TV. Rural Media Group announced his hiring for the cable channel on Friday. RFD-TV is a lifestyle network that was launched in 2000 with a programming emphasis on country music and entertainment.

The Ladies European Tour has a new boss with the hiring of Ivan Khodabakhsh as CEO starting with the new year. Khodabakhsh leaves his role as CEO of World Series Boxing and will take over for Alexandra Armas, who is stepping down after nearly eight years at the helm.

Cheeseheads are on the verge of becoming the next stars of reality television. Various local reports state that producers from Style Network are looking to shoot a pilot about the diehard Packers fans and met with some of the most faithful Thursday night at Lambeau Field. The Green Bay Press-Gazette writes that producers are planning to film a pilot before the end of the year.


Cynopsis Social Media Webinar
December 13 | 1:30-3:00pm ET
Social Media 3.0 for TV Programmers: Beyond Facebook + Twitter

Expert Speakers:
Jessica Chow
(Associate Media Director) Ignited
Tom Fishman
(Director Social Media) MTV Networks
Pamela Russo
(VP, Digital Media) Discovery Communication
Tom Thai
(VP, Marketing) Bluefin


Sponsorship & Promotion

ESPN released the latest spot from the “It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports” campaign, this time looking at the concept of being born into fandom via the Manchester United and Manchester City rivalry. The Born Into It spot examines “two seemingly opposite blokes from Manchester, each explaining – in colorful colloquialisms – how his fate might be different, had he been born a Red, not a Blue – or vice versa.”

The NFL named the UK’s Daily Telegraph’s sponsorship chief Ben Dunn to serve as the country’s Commercial Director, according to Marketing Week, as the league looks to boost revenues in the country. Dunn will look to spike partnerships with British brands and lead a content push across platforms to grow the local fanbase.

Digital Fields

Yahoo! and the NBC Sports Group are aligning, announcing a content and promotional deal that combines Yahoo! Sports’ reporting talent, coverage of big events, Rivals college content and fantasy sports products with NBC Sports Group’s growing portfolio of digital assets and significant television promotion and integration. While Yahoo! Sports and the NBC Sports Group will maintain separate sites and editorial control of their respective newsrooms and digital properties, they will collaborate on premium sports news and events coverage both online and on the air. The alliance will feature original video programming concepts such as editorials and interviews from Bob Costas, live streaming and more.

WWE is taking a new tact toward PPV events, announcing an exclusive global online live stream with Yahoo! of the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary concert via a pay-per-view special that will take place on Saturday, December 15 at 9p on Yahoo! Music. WWE, in partnership with Dainty Group and Endemol, will distribute the pay-per-view event globally using WWE”s experience in live pay-per-view events and NeuLion’s live video technology.

The Main Event

Texans/Patriots game is must-see on ESPN at 8:30p.


To benefit the Robin hood Relief Fund
Madison Square Garden
Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Dave Grohl, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin,
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Eddie Vedder, Roger Waters,
Kanye West, The Who, Paul McCartney plus more artists to be announced!

Watch, stream or listen live!
For more info and to donate:

ON THIS DAY in 2006: LaDainian Tomlinson breaks the single-season touchdown record with his 29th score of the year.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What NBA All-Star starred in Spike Lee’s He Got Game? Answer: Ray Allen. Kudos: Rob A. Kligman-USA TODAY Sports Media Group/NY; J. Barry McMullin-Professional Bull Riders/NY; Andrew Bohnker-FOX Sports/NY; Patrick Mauro-wieden + kennedy/NY; Carol Teichman-Comcast Spotlight/Bloomfield; Jeff Pomeroy-JDP Communications/Atlanta; Spencer Wade-ION Media Networks/West Palm Beach; Max Nelson-Millennial Media/Baltimore; Michael Bell-NCC Media/Dallas; Steve McNair-CBS Radio Houston/Houston; Ryan Nolan Sportsman Channel/New Berlin; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Teams/Park City; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA; Dani Beaulieu-USA TODAY Sports Media Group/LA; Mark Petix-Pac-12 Networks/san Francisco; Leopold Myrie-OMD/Sydney.

In The Know: What NFL team with the first to win the Super Bowl as a wild card? (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

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