Monday, June 20th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Monday, June 20, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

2011 has been a wild ride for digital outlets across the sports spectrum. For Turner Sports, however, the recent string of broken records has been especially sweet. With sites ranging from to to, the company continues to see value in partnering with digital brands. Now, with golf season in full swing, the company’s portfolio of golf sites, including, the PGA and PGA Tour sites, as well as the golf sections of Yahoo Sports and, are poised to extend the online winning streak.

Turner’s partnerships with the leagues positions the company to host, maintain and create content for some of the world’s leading sports brands, and sites operated by Turner Sports drew nearly 50 million visitors in May alone, up about 65% compared to May 2010. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Lenny Daniels, Turner Sports COO and Executive VP, about the value of these digital partnerships.

On why Turner is dedicating resources to developing other leagues’ digital brands: We are a 24 hour sports network, we need to look for ways to differentiate ourselves and provide what consumers want in the marketplace and this is an area we felt we could excel. We believe strongly in relationships and if we help build these partner brands, it’s only going to help our business and relationships down the road. It just works for us and for them which is why we’ve invested heavily in our ability to create and build these digital platforms and we are able to extend that to these partners.

On Turner’s new digital partnership with the NCAA: Honestly, I think at this point we are still learning, CBS ran before we did and they did a great job, but now were looking to make it stronger and more fan-friendly. We haven’t gotten to the point yet to determine how we want to make changes. We are still looking at the point of making the video quality just as strong as it is on our other sites.

On the importance of video to a site’s success: We all believe that the integration and being able to touch and feel and do different things along with your telecast is just good for everything. It’s all positive and everything we have seen is proving that. It allows consumers to do more with the property.

On the role of writers: Writers still play a pretty critical role, the world is changing of course, but now I think that way to look at a written article is as a different platform. It’s a different way of telling a story but there are things in the written form that you can’t do on video, there will also be a place for it, and we need to figure out a way to take these writers and put them in a position to succeed. You can’t do everything in video, it just doesn’t work.

On the Air

College football’s bowl games are officially locked in for the new season, and ironically won’t have a single game played on New Year’s Day. The schedule, released by the Football Bowl Association, showcases 35 games played over the course of 24 days this bowl season, beginning Dec. 17 with the New Mexico, Humanitarian and New Orleans Bowls. The season will wrap up on Jan. 9 with the BCS national championship to be played in New Orleans. Other BCS Games are set for Jan. 2 for the Rose Bowl, Jan. 3 for the Sugar Bowl, Jan 4 for the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl will be played on Jan. 5.

The Dodgers Divorce Drama may or may not be closer to a happy ending. The Los Angeles Superior Court announced Friday that a settlement had been reached between Frank and Jamie McCourt that is dependent on MLB’s approval of a 17-year television contract that has been reached between the team and Fox. If the league opts to rejects the agreement, likely citing the potential for more money from other parties, the divorce settlement would be voided. MLB has yet to announce a decision on the TV deal, a reports state that the Dodgers would have “no chance” of meeting payroll of June 30, if the deal is not approved. In April, MLB took operational control of the organization.

In spite of reported progress in labor talks, Senator Arlen Specter is calling for Congressional action to find a solution to the NFL lockout and resolve the differences between owners and players. The Senator called for government action in a letter to The New York Times, and cited the $5 billion economic impact a cancelled season would have on the economy. In the letter, he wrote, ““Congress should place a special condition on the continuation of the N.F.L.’s antitrust exemption: the owners and players must abide by a settlement procedure known as last-best-offer arbitration.” He went on to say “This procedure would require the two sides to negotiate; if an agreement is not reached, each side would make its last best offer and an arbitrator would chose between the two. This arrangement creates an incentive for each side to make the more reasonable offer, lest the arbitrator pick the other side’s.”

Rory McIlroy‘s multiple record breaking score for the US Open is already causing controversy, with pundits and players alike now claiming that the course at Congressional Country Club being too easy for the players. Graeme McDowell was one who complained about the layout, even though he previously predicted that no player would break par. For McIlroy, broadcasters are quickly predicting a marketing bonanza for his breakthrough play over the weekend following a breakdown at the Masters.

Weekend reports say that the British Broadcasting Corp. may be looking to scrap racing in order to save digital channel BBC4. The company is mulling an end to its Formula One car racing as well as Wimbledon coverage to save the money needed to maintain the channel. One report, from the Sunday Times, noted that the BBC is unable to raise its fees until 2017, and could save around $97.1 million by dropping the races, which is more than that annual budget of BBC4.

Canadian outlet TSN has announced its coverage plans for Wimbledon, lining up more than 100 hours of coverage beginning today and will include both the men’s and women’s early round matches, the round of 16, as well as the quarter-finals and semifinals from the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club. The channel also will stream select matches online and feature a Slam Tracker which will serve as a real-time scoreboard that allows fans to follow any live match in detail.

NFL Quarterback Chad Pennington is moving from the field to the booth, at least this season, signing an agreement to serve as a game analyst for NFL on Fox. The deal was for one year and he will be paired with Sam Rosen in the broadcast booth.

With the clock waning on the NBA striking an accord with players before the CBA expires next week, the league has cancelled its annual Las Vegas Summer League, although the Orlando Summer League is, so far, intact. The league is designed to allow additional practice for players who have three seasons of experience or less.

BTN is set to honor the conference’s best and brightest tonight, as part of the fourth annual BTN Awards Show, which will air live at 7:30p. Mike Hall and Rick Pizzo are lined up to host the one-hour telecast. Awards will include: the Suzy Favor Award for its best female student-athlete, the Jesse Owens Award for the best male student-athlete; Breakout Performer of the Year, Men’s and Women’s Coaches of the Year, Most Dominating Performance, Best Finish, Men’s Team of the Year, and Game of the Year, among others.

IMG Academies has added Greg Phillips to its roster of company executives, where he will serve as Vice President and Athletics Director of IMG Academies. Phillips joins IMG after serving as Senior Associate Athletics Director at from the University of Oklahoma, and oversaw the football, baseball, tennis and wrestling programs. In his new role, Phillips will manage the program delivery, business operations and expansion of IMG’s seven existing sports  baseball, football, basketball, lacrosse, golf, soccer and tennis.

Sponsorship & Promotion

The Heritage Classic golf tournament has finally locked in a long-term title sponsor, announcing a deal with RBC for the next five years at the annual PGA Tour stop in South Carolina. The tournament will now be dubbed RBC-Heritage.
MX Sports has inked a multi-year deal with Red Bull to serve as the title sponsor of the 2011 Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch. The event stands as the world’s largest amateur motocross race. The race was founded in 1982 and will celebrate its 30th Anniversary this summer.

Digital Fields

Where do you turn after a riot these days? To Facebook, of course. Citizens of Vancouver, which suffered from rioters that destroyed property, injured 175 peoples and started fires as a result of their team losing the Stanley Cup final, have launched a Facebook initiative calling for residents to voluntarily clean up the city. Another initiative is posting pictures of rioters, and asking people to identify them via Facebook profiles so they can be reported to the police.

Off the Air

ESPN Analyst Chris Evert on the lack of American rivalries in women’s tennis: “I kind of get a little impatient with this bashing American tennis, because let’s just realize that there are no other Americans at the top right now and it will take a couple of years. But we’ve embraced Roger Federer, Nadal, we’ve embraced all these other nonAmerican players and nonAmerican rivalries. So let’s give these women a chance.”

NBC Sports Producer Tommy Roy on the challenges of producing the US Open: “There is one sporting event harder than golf and that’s the Olympics, but golf is clearly the second-most difficult thing to produce. For us in golf, where you have up to 70 balls in play at any one time as opposed to football, baseball and basketball, that creates situations where we have to make decisions what we think the stories are and, obviously, that’s the leaders. But there’s a lot of guys that have made it into the Open via qualifying…So there are those stories that we deal with. The biggest thing is how we react to that.”

Fox Soccer General Manager David Nathanson on the channel’s rebrand: “Our audience comes to FOX Soccer for one thing: to interact with the game they love. They are smart, they want new technologies, they want the best coverage. “The re-branding symbolizes our continued commitment to push the limits and evolve with the game in this country.”

MLB on Fox Analyst Ken Rosenthal on proposed MLB realignment: “I’m in favor of two 15-team leagues for the simple reason that it would make the competition fairer. The same number of teams would compete in each division for the division title. The same number of teams would compete in each league for the wild card. The distribution of inter-league opponents also would be more equitable. This season in the NL Central, the Brewers must play the Yankees and Red Sox, the two super-powers of the AL East. The Cardinals will play neither of those clubs, while the Reds will play only the Yankees. How is that right?”

The Main Event

Early Wimbledon action on ESPN2 and Tennis Channel. Coverage begins at 7a.

ON THIS DAY in 1967-Mohammad Ali was convicted for refusing induction into the armed services.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Before this year, what was the last Canadian team to play in the Stanley Cup Finals?  The Ottawa Senators, who lost to the Ducks in 2007. Kudos: Michael Raskin – Eagle TV Sales/NY; Daniel Della Cerra – Active International/Pearl River; Luis Vazquez  Zenithmedia/NY; Mike Patterson – Turner SI Digital/Chicago; Adam Frank  Lionsgate/LA; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/LA

In The Know:  In which Grand Slam event does Chris Evert hold the most championships? (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 Cyn opsis | Sports
June 20, 2011

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Agree or disagree? 

In My Opinion …

What exactly is in the water in Boston? When the Patriots are the local team that has the longest drought in Championships, something seems to be clicking with teams in that market. While some editorials cite solid and smart ownership of the teams, which is obviously a factor, there is something to be said for the rabid fan base and solid media coverage within the market. Large crowds, high merchandise sales, and a draw for star athletes helped propel the Bruins to the Cup this year, helped deliver the Celtics their rings in 2007-2008, and broke the Red Sox curse in 2007. Analysts can say that Boston’s big market gives them an unfair advantage, but what other major city is finding this type of success? Maybe it’s time to pity the poor Patriots, who haven’t won since 2005. Nah…

Send in your views for posting here to chris [email protected] under Emails to the Editor …

It’s chicken and egg! Smart ownership invests in players, team, stadium/park when they are confident there is an appreciative fan base. Media ownership invests in better writers, websites, talk hosts and reporters when the fan base can’t get enough. Good players want to come to cities that appreciate their talent and where THEY are the story. But the fans make the market. They feed The Tradition! If they aren’t into it, you get the Tampa Bay Rays.

Interesting observation I heard yesterday on talk radio.  When has one city had four active championship coaches all coaching/managing at the same time? Francona, Belichick, Rivers, Julien

Can’t think of another yet.

Beverly Tilden

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