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Cynopsis: Sports
May 2011

Good morning. It’s Monday, May 2, 2011, and this is your weekly Sports article and editorial from Cynopsis.  If you’d like to comment on this story, there is a space for that below the article.  Look for more of these in the future! 


Which Sportscaster Carries the Most Appeal with Consumers?

By Chris Pursell

It’s been two years since John Madden, the NFL Hall of Fame coach and sports television personality announced his retirement from the airwaves. Madden had a career that spanned CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC to bring some of football’s most exciting moments to homes around the country. In addition, he is the namesake of EA’s Madden NFL videogames, spokesperson for a number of brands and has a connection with audiences that sponsors and networks alike sought to bring to their brands.

Now, as more outlets delve in the world of sports broadcasting, E-Poll and Nielsen have continued to monitor audience reaction to sportscasters and sports media personalities to see who else can bring the Madden appeal to a brand. Their studies poll consumers every week to gauge their recognition as well as reaction and thoughts toward active professionals in the industry. The results lead to N-Score, a measurement system that rates the brand effectiveness of professional athletes and sports personalities. N-Score breaks down the overall endorsement potential of sports figures via 46 attributes such as “experience” and “awareness” and measures the demographics that best align brands with endorsers.

“The N-Score that we work on with Nielsen is a secret sauce of awareness, appeal and key endorsement attributes,” said Gerry Philpott, CEO of E-Poll. “So it really is what we consider to be an ideal endorsement score. If someone didn’t make this list it doesn’t mean that they aren’t great commentators, but the guys who on the top ten are all extremely high in key attributes that make them appealing to consumers. “

Former athletes who are now in their second careers behind a microphone scored well likely due to the double dose of exposure, with football commentators in particular faring strongly. That said, each of the major networks that broadcast sports had a personality that strongly connected with audiences. Unsurprisingly, the sportscaster category did particularly well in appeal toward men 18-34 and men 18-49.

Some popular names that didn’t make the top ten still ranked high. Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully came in 13th, right behind NBC’s Al Michaels. ESPN’s Dick Vitale ranked 19th overall and the network’s Hannah Storm graded out as the top female on the list at #43.

With sports media personalities around the country earning a median N-Score of 25, the top ten are ordered as follows:

        Name                    Primary Network N-Score

        1)      Mike Ditka      ESPN                    344
2)      Terry Bradshaw  Fox                     277
3)      Dan Marino      CBS                     260
4)      Chris Berman    ESPN                    192
5)      Bob Costas      NBC                     182
6)      Charles Barkley TNT                     167
7)      Howie Long      Fox                     166
8)      Troy Aikman     Fox                     165
9)      James Brown     CBS                     161

        10)     Steve Young     ESPN                    144

Those scores add up the totals from respondents in categories such as “trustworthy,” “funny,” and “articulate.” Bradshaw scored the best among the top ten in the “awareness” and “funny” categories, while Bob Costas was tops in “articulate” and tied Berman in “trustworthiness.” Ditka fared well in nearly every choice and topped the list as well for “experienced.”

The surveys also found that there was a certain added bonus for figures in the world of football, with nine out of the 10 all involved with an NFL broadcast in some shape or form. Only Barkley isn’t associated with the sport.

“I think it should be a signal to both the NFL and its players to sit down and work this out when you’ve got the ratings that you have, and the bulk of this list of popular commentators  are NFL stars,” said Philpott. “It’s clearly the dominant sport right now so it’s not surprising that these guys are on there. It’s the only sport where their face is covered and yet they still have very high face and name recognition when you compare it to baseball or basketball. These results also prove that the NFL is the most dominant franchise and their players get the most endorsements and the most coverage year round.”

Sports announcers and commentators overall tended to score well in experience, confidence and talent. However, the public gave them low marks in glamour and as trendsetters, unsurprisingly.  Still, the future is bright.

“Sports announcers and commentators have become big business,” said Philpott. “Networks work these teams as if they work a Super Bowl football team. They are constantly tweaking the best combination of people, moving people in, taking people out, so I think these scores show how big their business can become.”

In My Opinion

Some of the most iconic moments in television that I remember were all associated with sports and the voices I recall came from a dedicated sportscaster telling me the story. Sports personalities are in a unique position from a branding perspective, as they can continue to tell stories for decades, while a successful TV show is gone after five years. That long run develops a rapport with viewers who welcome them every season.

Who are some of your favorites still on the airwaves?

Off the Field

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on being booed at the NFL Draft:“I’d say exactly what I said to the fans and what I sense from the fans last night: frustration. It’s frustrating because we have so much potential. Our game is in such a great place.”

Fox Sports Reporter Ken Rosenthal on MLB playoff expansion: “The problem with baseball is it wants all its different eggs in one basket: 162 game schedule, expanded playoffs, interleague play, you name it, they never cut back on any one area to make room for another. If you want to shorten the postseason, the obvious solution is to go back to 154 games, but we all know that will never happen. I understand baseball wants to have its cake and eat it too, but sometimes you can get too stuffed, a little too sugar overdosed and that’s what’s happening here.”

FUEL TV President George Greenberg on his mission on his goals at his new position: “I’m looking forward to injecting myself into all the various components of FUEL TV’s operations as quickly as possible as we transition to a network with a broader male appeal. My first priorities are to strengthen the quality of our action sports programming and then identify and/or develop attractive programs that help broaden our base while not straying too far from our core.”

New WNBA President Laurel Richie on growing the sport: “I have been amazed at the number of people, literally fans, reaching out and saying, Congratulations, we’re ready for you to take it to the next level. I’ve spoken to several of the owners and shared their passion and a true spirit of partnership in which we’re entering into the next phase of the WNBA and our 15th season, and also the unwavering support of the NBA and its leadership I think will be critical to success on the go forward.”

Comment freely below as to what you think about this story, about the idea of our having a Sports related edition, or anything else on your mind.  Or, email Cynthia at [email protected] or email Chris Pursell directly here.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis|Sports
May 2, 2011

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