Monday, February 13th, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Monday, February 13, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

With a new partnership with the NFL in tow, up-and-coming children’s sports content provider The Whistle is looking to make its mark on the next generation of sports fans. The company is targeting kids from 6-16 in a quest to develop the first all-encompassing collection of platforms for young viewers. With a series coming up on NBC Sports Network in the fall, as well as a collection of digital platforms, executives at The Whistle are looking to carve out a new breed of sports media viewer.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with The Whistle’s Chairman John West about the process of launching a kid’s sports brand in a digital age, how viewer appetites have changed for the younger generation, and how content will influence the future of the outlet.

On the story behind the brand: When I was at home watching sports with my kids, I was blown away by a couple of things. One, when we went to media to get sports content, I was muting and shutting the TV off a lot more than I thought, because there was this focus on the game, and then the commercials were about alcohol. I didn’t want them to associate this with sports. Two, watching them consume media, they migrate across screens all day long, and that got me to do some research where I learned that the average kid in America spends 7.75 hours a day on screen. They’ve got short attention spans, its difficult to watch three hour games and kids have a real need now to engage with the media and want their content when they want it.

On the multi-platform approach: At the time that we first started down this path, we were looking at the traditional website model, an app, linear cable network, etc. But in 2011, we did research about how kids were watching TV and where they were getting their video-based content. The trends were amazing and we learned that our younger demographic was watching a lot less time-based TV, a lot more time-shifted TV and that they were watching across the screen so we changed our distribution strategy to be where kids are today. We are now looking at an online web presence, we launched our beta site a couple months ago, we are in the process of creating our first mobile app which should come out in early March, we are talking to the game console companies who are now offering content on their platforms. We also want to be on TV so the deal we have with the NBC Sports Network to start is a weekly show on TV that kids can watch. The objective is to have integrated content around all the places and screens and devices that kids are on so that wherever they are they can get The Whistle.

On the producing content: We have three sources of our content, the first is original. We’ve gone in the process of looking at everything from instructional videos to trick shots to game highlights, as well as condensed games, game shows, etc. There’s really a ton of great options. The second source of material is kid-generated, and next month we will have functionality on our site for video upload. Kids are out there now with their football and cameras and we want to give them a place to go and be part of a community, share video with friends, edit the video and add some cool audio, graphics and make it their own. The third part of our content source will be from the leagues. In the NFL deal we announced last week, a piece of it is that we get access to the NFL Film vault, we have a partnership with NFL Films as a production partner for some of that content, and they like the idea of bringing in a new generation of viewers.

On the Air

ESPN Films and NBA Entertainment are teaming up to present The Announcement, a documentary looking at Magic Johnson’s famed admission 20 years ago. The film will be narrated by Johnson himself and premiere on ESPN/ESPN HD on Sunday, March 11, at 9p. According to the company, it will contain “riveting insights from the people closest to him including his wife Cookie, son Andre, longtime rival and friend Larry Bird, Los Angeles Lakers teammates James Worthy and Kurt Rambis, former Lakers general manager Jerry West, and longtime friend and agent Lon Rosen.” NBA Commissioner David Stern, former NBA star Karl Malone, and close friends Chris Rock and Arsenio Hall also participate in the film to discuss how Johnson’s announcement changed the perspective of HIV and AIDS.

With UFC set to make its official event premiere on FUEL TV this Wednesday night with a Sanchez/Ellenberger bout, channel VP George Greenberg held a conference call late last week to discuss the impact the MMA promotion has had for the network. Speaking with reporters, Greenberg stated that “We’ve had an 80% increase in the target demographic of men ages 18-49, and a near 230% increase in overall primetime ratings from past ratings periods. To say I’m jacked would be putting it mildly.”

Qatar is officially in as a contender for the 2020 Olympic Games, announcing that they will deliver the candidacy file to IOC officials today, according to the AP. The city of Doha will now compete with Rome, Madrid, Toyko, Istanbul and Baku, Azerbaijan to play host to the event.

Lots of reports over the weekend that President Richard Nixon once tried to make a deal with the NFL over league television blackouts, According to the articles, a previously unreported tape recording of Nixon found the former President telling his attorney general to offer the league a deal to allow playoff games to be shown on the air in the hometown city, and in exchange, the president would then block any legislation requiring regular-season home games to be televised as well as the league, at the time, blacked out all home games. The NFL passed on the opportunity.

Showtime Sports announced that Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood had been tapped and the announce time for the inaugural presentation of live undercard boxing on Showtime Extreme, beginning Feb 18 at 8p. The telecast will precede Showtime Championship Boxing, set for 10p and featuring Paul Willaims/Nobuhiro and Tavoris Cloud/Gabrielle Campillo.

With the future of the BCS in flux, and more executives publically supporting a plus one model, Arizona State University President Michael Crow wants even more. He told the Arizona Republic that amid cried to bring in a college football playoff system, he is pushing for an eight-team playoff to formally end the BCS system as we know it. With the declaration, Crow becomes one of the first major university officials to denounce the controversial BCS, which he also criticized for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists to influence Congress. Crow said he plans on pushing other Pacific-12 Conference presidents to adopt his proposal when they meet next month in Los Angeles.

WFN: World Fishing Network is offering weekend amateur anglers who compete in the American Bass Anglers(ABA) fishing tournaments the opportunity to be featured on the channel. Every Monday, at 10p starting Feb. 13, WFN will broadcast ABA Tournament Trails- a 2-minute recap of a recent ABA amateur tournament, highlighting winners of the events.

Sponsorship & Promotion

The NASCAR Foundation is moving and will shift its headquarters to Daytona Beach later this year. The new location will be at the International Motorsports Center, the corporate headquarters for NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation and GRAND-AM Road Racing. Executive Director Sandy Marshall will remain with the organization until a new leader is locked up, and the foundation will keep its ties to Charlotte to serve teams, drivers and industry members in their charitable endeavors.

The Professional Bull Riders announced that the company has reached an agreement with Stealth Cam’s EPIC Cameras, to be the Official POV Camera of the PBR. Footage from the camera will be featured on PBR television broadcasts on CBS, CBS Sports Network, NBC, and NBC Sports Network as well as on the PBR website.

Politics and sports have always had a cautious dance, but now conservative organization American Majority is taking it one step further, signing on as a season-long sponsor of Jason Bowles and the #81 car for this year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Multiple reports state that Watkins Glen has lost its title sponsor for its August NASCAR weekend. Heluva Good! Informed the company that it would not return and would instead focus on smaller marketing projects. The track is actively looking for a new partner to replace the late dropout.

Digital Fields

NLL team the Philadelphia Wings became the first professional team to feature Twitter handles instead of names on the back of their jerseys in a game against Buffalo yesterday. I kind of admire that.

THQ announced upgrades and new featured for the upcoming UFC Undisputed 3 videogame, which will include online exhibition, highlight reels, community sharing, and custom content for players.

The Main Event

Syracuse/Louisville on ESPN at 7p.


SAVE THE DATE: Cynopsis Sports Business Summit
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Grand Hyatt NY

It will examine how the industry is using content, context and digital connectivity to build audiences, engage fans and integrate sponsors locally, nationally and on a global stage.

For sponsor information, please contact Mike Farina at (203) 218-6480.

More information to follow…

ON THIS DAY in 1937: The Boston Redskins officially move to Washington DC .

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: What university did Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson play football for? The University of Miami. Kudos: Michael Steele – ESPN/Bristol; Joshua Duboff – CBS Sports Network/NY; Peter Hunsinger – Golf Digest/NY; James Taguchi – WTVR Television/Richmond; Chris Faulds – Bell Media Interactive/Toronto; Corey Russell – Fadoo Productions/Toronto; Mary Ryan – Raycom Media/Dallas; Mike Patterson – Turner SI Digital/Chicago; Lucie Prann – The Richards Group/Dallas; Bill Robertson – Tunheim Partners/Bloomington; Aly Stogol – KOLD/KMSB/KTTU/Tucson; Scott Paridon – FUEL TV/LA; Terry City – Huffington Post/LA; Mary Downey – Mary Downey Productions/Burbank; Andrew Vann – Wild Card Media/LA.

In The Know: What venue did the Redskins play in before moving to FedEx Field? (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.)


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Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports

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JOB OPENING: CLIENT SOLUTIONS MGR/USA Today/NY: Help drive rev via the effective mgmt of a team, focused on the dev of creative multi-platform adv. solutions that leverage content equity of USA TODAY. Resume: [email protected] (2/18)

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