Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports
01/23/12

Good morning. It’s Monday, January 23, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

BTN is dedicating its programming to the passing of former Penn St. Coach Joe Paterno, with special presentations yesterday and today to the legendary coach who was forced out last year due to the scandal. BTN’s ability to readjust and fine-tune its schedule to breaking news has helped propel the network to ratings gains and sponsorships that have not only overcome a troubled launch five years ago, but now serve as a model for other leagues. With over 850 events produced during the 2011-2012 academic year, the network continues to capitalize on its built-in fan base.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with BTN President Mark Silverman about the network’s momentum, how a rebrand last year reflected on overall changes in philosophy for the channel and how the platform was maximizing its resources.

Silverman on BTN’s strategy: We really felt like this was going to be a launching off point for the network last year with Nebraska joining the conference. As we looked at our future, we really saw the ability to move up a notch and focused on improving the overall quality of the network. We changed our set, we changed our logo, we added a brand new graphics package before football season. Now that we are more of an established network, our strategy became more about the branding, and maximizing the quality of the matchups. We launched our BTN2Go initiative, so the BTN brand came into play as we needed an umbrella term to bring all of our additional products and platforms together. Our digital platforms helped us expand into all the different areas where our network was growing this year. Now, there is an improved perception of quality that helped us grow our ratings, grow our ad sales and become more of a substantial network.

On the reasons behind the channel’s ratings growth: Even though it’s our fifth year, I think it took time to break through the lineup of typical channels that a viewer will go through at night or during the day on weekends. I think that gradually we’ve had more compelling programming that inspired viewers to come back and check us out more than they have in the past. Our matchups pretty much stay the same from year to year, the games don’t vary that much. But we’ve been able to grow the number of games we run and combined with our original programming such as The Journey and Big Ten Icons as well as the upcoming series Impact the World, we have a better offering and variety of programming for our viewers.

On how digital platforms have helped branding: The comment I’ve heard the most over the last few years is ‘I want to watch the network online’ or ‘I want to watch the games on my tablet’ and we’ve worked hard to be able to produce a product where you can watch a full 24 hour live stream of BTN, as long as you are an authenticated BTN subscriber. It’s been rated very positively by our fans, it’s done very well at the iTunes store. It’s something that strengthens the connection that BTN has with its viewers. Being able to connect with viewers on whatever device is most convenient for them is a must going forward, especially for a sports network where programming is live. Wherever they want to go, we want to be there for them.

On how far they’ve come in five years: Everyone here at BTN in Chicago, our partners at FOX and the Big Ten Conference, view this as a remarkable collaborative effort where we’ve all be very much in sync from the beginning. We got through a very trying first year and I think we’ve gotten better every year since. The Big Ten brand resonates with a lot of people out there and as the Big Ten aspired to be as strong a conference as it can, FOX aspired to produce the best quality television, and BTN is here to work with both. We’ve been able to adapt the best of both FOX and the Big Ten to create this network and we are all very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.

On the Air

Football fans in Miami were treated to a one-day truce between DIRECTV and Sunbeam that allowed as many as 270,000 DIRECTV subscribers to see the game. For the past week, Sunbeam has blocked the satcaster’s Miami subscribers access to their local Fox station as well as Boston viewers access to their NBC and CW stations as a result of a carriage dispute between the two companies, WSVN-TV, the Miami Fox affiliate owned by Sunbeam, said before the game that it would allow DIRECTV to air the NFC Championship on Sunday.

ESPN series 30 for 30 took top honors for the sports category when the Producers Guild of America handed out their annual awards over the weekend. Other shows nominated in the category included Monday Night Football (ESPN), Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (HBO), Sports Center (ESPN), 2010 FIFA World Cup (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2) and the U.S. Open Tennis Championship (CBS/Tennis Channel).

NBA on TNT’s doubleheader last week, which was led by a Lakers/Heat matchup, handed the channel with a 2.2 metered market rating, up 57% over the equivalent games in 2011. The first game, featuring the two teams, delivered a 3.0 household score to record a 114% spike. Game two, featuring Mavericks/Jazz pulled a 1.4 for an 8% jump.

Voting for NBA TV’s Fan Night presented by Sprint resulted in a Cavaliers/Heat game for Tuesday at 7:30p. Fan Night voting for next week’s match-up on Tues., Jan. 31, will continue on NBA.com, the NBA Facebook page and Yahoo.com.

The St. Louis Rams made an unprecedented move to help propel international growth for the NFL, agreeing to play a slate of regular season games in the UK over the next three years. This marks the first long-term move by a franchise to play overseas, with games beginning on Oct. 28 at London’s Wembley Stadium against the Patriots. The game will kick off at 1p and be televised live on CBS. “The response to NFL games in the U.K. among our British fans has been exceptional,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the U.K. in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States.”

Tiki Barber signed on to SNY to serve as an analyst for the channel. Barber will join former teammate Shaun O’Hara, now serves as a contributing analyst for the Mets-owned network.

Sponsorship & Promotion

Merrill Lynch has signed on to serve as presenting sponsor of the Senior Bowl, in a deal announced Saturday. As sponsor, the company will be able to host exclusive financial seminars for the senior NFL prospects hoping to be drafted by the NFL. Merrill Lynch will also have a logo placed on the field at Ladd-Peebles Stadium during the week.

With NASCAR gearing up for another season, American Ethanol announced at the NASCAR Preview fan event that it has inked a deal to continue relationships with Richard Childress Racing and RAB Racing for the 2012 season. Austin Dillon will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet during the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series season with American Ethanol serving as the primary sponsor for six races as well as one race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012. The company will also serve as an associate sponsor with the entire RCR family of drivers.

Digital Fields

This year’s Super Bowl will deliver the first-ever social media command center, according to Mashable. The center will feature a team of strategists and analysts who will monitor the digital fan conversation on platforms that include Facebook and Twitter from a 2,800-square-foot space downtown. The station is slated to open Today and run through the Feb 5 Super Bowl. The report states that the command center will utilize more than a mile of Ethernet cable and more than 150 square feet of networked screen space.

The Main Event

The Magic and Celtics square off on NBA TV at 7:30p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1979: Willie Mays is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Answer to Friday’s Sports Trivia Question: What MLB player was known as the “Man of Steal”? Rickey Henderson. Kudos: Juan P. Delgado – Telemundo/Hialeah; Thomas Scheuer – Optimedia/NY; Brian Ricco – MultiVision Media/Secaucus; Michael LaPlante – ION Media Networks/West Palm Beach; John Kukla – KDFW, KDFI/Dallas; Ron Salcedo – Zimmerman/Nashville; Mike Patterson – Turner SI Digital/Chicago; Mary Ryan – Raycom Media/Dallas; DavidHauptman – Katz Television Group/Denver; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/LA; Anne Wettig – FX Network/LA.

In The Know: Who was the first pick in the 2001 NFL draft? (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
01.23.12

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INTERNSHIPS – These positions are for credit only – nobody gets paid here. These ads are always posted for free, and students work for school credit only. For more information on the specs for posting an Internship ad, email Trish at [email protected].

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E-mail [email protected] or call Trish Pihonak at 203.381.9096 for rates and specs for Job Openings.

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