Monday, June 27th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Monday, June 27, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Who said TV was down? Coming off of record numbers for the 2011 Gold Cup, bolstering a young demographic that rose 7.8% in the adult 18-49 demo last season, and preparing to launch a sports network in the new year, Univision status among the networks continues to climb.

Cynopsis Sports spoke with Univision Sports President Sandy Brown about his network’s recent successes in sports, the decision to launch a sports channel and whether a league like the NFL could soon be in the company’s future.

On the role of sports in the network: Sports is a very high priority for the company right now. As you know, we are coming off of a World Cup that was a record-breaking property for us, and now we are launching a sports network in the first quarter of next year. We devote a lot of hours to soccer and what we want to be able to do is to expand what we are doing currently, provide more comprehensive pre- and post-game coverage as well as develop our overall wraparound products. These are all things that we think are very important to us, and we are looking to sports to help continue our leadership in this category with Hispanic audiences.

On what his goals from the Gold Cup: Soccer is always a high point for us given our coverage of the Mexican League and the Mexican national team, and our Gold Cup numbers validates that. We want to raise the bar in terms of production value and you are already starting to see that from the games we just aired. We want to provide additional choices for audio and camera angles, and bring the audience closer to the field.

On bidding for other sports: Obviously we carry MMA, boxing and so forth but at the end of the day, we are looking at a variety of other sports that may have an interest to our audience. We only have a certain amount of airtime available to us and obviously soccer takes up most of that time. But once we have our network launched, we will have the ability to look at other sports as well, whether that is more football from other parts of the world, or dealing with some of the US leagues such as the NFL or MLB, maybe it’s a combination of those two, we are going to be looking at each and every opportunity on a selective basis.

On using digital platforms for Hispanic audiences: Univision has done a tremendous job streaming all their games. I think the overall quality of that coverage has been great online and we try to promote that on-air to help it. It dovetails that you are seeing online usage for Hispanics growing tremendously and it fits with the demographic we are looking towards.

On the Air

In spite of a lack of star power in this year’s pool, ESPN’s telecast of the 2011 NBA Draft Presented by Kia Motors on Thursday earned the channel a 2.5 overnight rating, according to Nielsen, to score as the highest rating for the NBA Draft since 2007, when Portland selected Greg Oden with the first pick and Seattle chose Kevin Durant second overall. That score was good enough for a 9% boost over ratings for the 2010 event. ESPN’s telecast also scored as the most-viewed NBA Draft in 15 years, averaging 3.2 million (P2+), for a gain of 15%.  Top five markets included Cleveland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Indianapolis and Chicago.

There is a new (old) name returning to the NHL, the relocated Winnipeg franchise has decided to honor its roots and name themselves the Winnipeg Jets. However, the relocation is likely to send a ripple effect around the league. Multiple outlets are reporting that beginning with the 2012 season, the NHL will undergo realignment, as the Jets’ division includes only southeastern teams. Among the teams that could be reshuffled in the process could be franchises from Detroit, Columbus and Nashville. Early reports suggest that a likely plan would include dividing the league into four divisions, two with eight teams and two with seven with a decision expected to be finalized in December’s Board of governors meeting.

Nick Charles, who served as CNN’s first sports anchor for nearly two decades, passed away on Saturday following a long struggle with cancer. He was 64. Charles landed his first broadcasting gig with WICS in Springfield and later worked at stations in Baltimore and DC before moving on to CNN when it launched on June 1, 1980. RIP

The Dodgers lost another one, this time with the resignation of Vice Chairman Steve Soboroff, who was hired by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt the day before MLB took over operations of the team only two months ago. Soboroff cited the MLB oversight as the reason for his resignation.

After a heavy stream of promotion on both Spike TV and Versus, Nate “The Great” Marquardt dropped out of UFC’s main event over the weekend and is now out the promotion entirely. Marquardt did not pass his medical examinations prior to his contest against Rick Story. The card’s main event was switched last minute to a heavyweight battle between Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry. 

After scoring around 1.4 million PPV buys for Manny Pacquiao’s previous fight, HBO and Showtime are reportedly bring the big guns for rights to his next bout against Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12. A Top Rank official told the sport’s news site that bidding for the rights could go as high as $15 million from the two networks.

Fox Sports Networks has inked a deal with Championship Bull Riding that will create a new primetime series covering the Cinch CBR Tour beginning in 2012. The program will highlight 13 events from the tour, in 90-minute Sunday night episodes beginning in May of that year. The deal marks the return of professional bull riding to FSN, which last featured the sport in 2008.

The WTA is shifting its Tournament of Champions away from Bali and into Bulgaria next year, locking down the event in Sofia for three years. Bulgaria has not hosted a WTA tournament in 22 years.

Sponsorship & Promotion

ESPN is launching its annual campaign for the ESPYs, which will be hosted by Saturday Night Live’s head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers for the second year in a row. The campaign features Meyers as the chaperone of a very ESPY prom, with attendees that include athletes such as Carmelo Anthony,Lindsey Vonn,BJ Raji, John Wall,Clay Matthews and Kevin Love. One of the spots features the vocal stylings of “Prom Queen” Serena Williams serenading the party  while another showcases Meyers conducting a post-dance interview with prom attendees Vonn and Anthony. The 2011 ESPYs will be televised on Wednesday, July 13, at 9p, with voting and nominees now underway on the website.  

The IOC may be after guerrilla marketers this year, but how what about this??…Top Australian beach volleyball player Claire Kelly is looking to raise money to get her and partner Carla Kleverlaan to the 2012 Games in London, and to raise money she is now offering sponsors tattoo space on her body, according to the Sunday Herald. For $10,500, sponsors can get themselves on a 0.8 x 0.8 inch piece of Kelly’s left limb, while a cool $52,490 will get them a 1.9 x 1.9 inch spot on her right arm or shoulder. Other deals are now being offered on eBay.

Hilton Worldwide has inked a deal to serve as the official hotel sponsor of the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2011 in Athens, Greece, and of Special Olympics International through 2014. As part of the promotion, two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan announced today that the company will launch the “Celebrating Special Olympics” traveling photography exhibit, a set of exclusive displays featuring images from famed photographer Richard Corman to drive awareness. To support Special Olympics, Hilton Worldwide will also donate $75 million Hilton HHonors points to the organization and provide discounted accommodations to Special Olympics constituents attending events .

Digital Fields

Overwhelming demand for tickets to the 2012 London Summer Games is causing issues with the online ordering system set up to sell the second round of tickets. About 2.3 million tickets went on sale at 6a London time and fans were quickly met with computer issues preventing orders, London Olympics organizers later said the process was back up to par and flowing normally.

Off the Air

ESPN Senior Vice President and Executive Producer Jed Drake on the company’s production of the FIFA Women’s World Cup: “I will tell you this – we have put in a lot of effort on this one, and we’re doing some things that we didn’t even consider doing in South Africa, and we’ve learned a lot from South Africa.  We got a lot of very nice praise for what we did, and it was greatly appreciated.  But we’ve learned a lot.  We’ve applied that to what we’re doing, and I’ve got to tell you, I think this thing that we’re about to embark upon is just going to be a spectacular production.

Tiki Barber on WFAN explaining the success of his broadcasting career: “No I think you’re going a little bit into hyperbole there Mike because I didn’t have a big failure in broadcasting. I think if you laid the stage that you and Chris tried to at the time that I would be the next Matt Lauer, then yeah it was a failure. But I had a lot of fulfillment at NBC. I did a lot of stories that I think had a lot of impact over the three years that I was there. So I don’t think it was a failure. I think it was a learning experience. It turned out to not be the direction of broadcasting that I wanted to be in, but I think it’s unfair for you to label it that way.”

The Main Event

And then there were 32. Wimbledon on ESPN2 and NBC at 7a and 10a respectively.

ON THIS DAY in 1988 – Mike Tyson takes all of 91 seconds to KO Michael Spink in Atlantic City

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question:  Who was the high-school player selected number one in the NBA draft?  Dwight Howard was the overall top pick for the Orlando Magic in 2004 out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Kudos: Joe Isabella – CBS Television Station Sales/NY; Ayana Bryan – Turner Sports/Atlanta; Chris Connaughton – Big Lead Sports/NY; Jaime Leigh Overton – Marketing and Media Services/Warwick; Jamie Raybon – Time Warner/Dallas; Robert Teinowitz – Live Action Media/Chicago; Randy Turrow – Featurepro, Inc/Malibu; Jared Casden – SPORTSEARCH/Phoenix

In The Know:  Who won the 2009 Gold Cup tournament?  (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.)

In My Opinion …

Give it up Frank. Although I’m from the east coast, I’ve lived in LA long enough to have seen both the good and the bad from the Dodgers. Now, when even Mark Cuban, who tends to be linked by the press to every potential baseball sale, goes on record to say he isn’t sure he wants a piece of the team, it’s time to get out of Dodger Stadium. I’ve worked with some terrific people at the Dodgers over the years, and frankly, they deserve better than this mess. In my visits to the team this year, there have been three constants: No stars, no fans, and no fun. Drop the legalities and sell the team, it’s done.

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

Completely agree with you on your take about McCourt and this is coming from a lifelong Giants fan. As much as I hate the Dodgers it does pain me to see such a storied franchise mire in this mess. The frustrating part for Bum fans is that everyone knew it would be a mess once they took hold of the team and started spending like they won the lottery. I honestly miss having a relevant rival.

–Clint Rogers

I completely agree! The fact that one of MLB’s most celebrated franchises is a bargaining chip in something so sordid as a high profile divorce case is shameful. I think MLB’s and Commissioner Selig’s actions to date have been none too subtle hints to Mr. McCourt to sell the team and take his personal dirty laundry back behind closed doors where they belong. The best interests of the Dodger’s and their fans would best be served with an owner whose focus is on putting a winning team on the field. Mr. McCourt may think he has his team’s best interest at heart by wanting to hold on to the franchise, but this situation has tainted his reputation as an owner and tainted the storied traditions of Dodger Blue. Time to let someone else play Frank!

–Frank D’Aleo

Later — Chris
 Chris Pursell for Cyn opsis | Sports
June 24, 2011

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