Monday, October 8th, 2012

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Monday, October 8, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

After 30 for 30 returned last week to record ratings for the ESPN series with a documentary called Broke, ESPN Films has lined up 9.79* about the infamous Ben Johnson/Carl Lewis 100m final at the 1988 Seoul Games airing tomorrow at 8p. The documentary is directed by Daniel Gordon and examines not only the race, but the steroids scandal that soon followed the showdown in which Johnson tested positive for an anabolic steroid and was stripped of the gold medal. Later, five other competitors in that race had either tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs or were implicated in a drug scandal.

Cynopsis Sports asked Gordon about the film, how the race brought steroids to light worldwide as well as the impact of the 30 for 30 series for filmmakers.

Gordon on his interest in the project: At first I was drawn to it from my memory as a kid – it was such a historic race, the first time four men ran under ten seconds in the same race. Obviously then there was the fallout with Ben Johnson’s positive test, but at the time I was too young to really understand what that meant, it was still a great race to me. However, when I started researching the film, I realized there was so much more depth to the story than mere statistics. Each of the finalists had his own story to tell, each one had overcome adversity to be at that start line, and each of them had their world changed beyond the finish line.

On lessons learned from production: I learned that nothing about elite sports should surprise you! Each of the athletes was candid in his own way, some were entertaining, some bashful, others bitter. But it was clear that this one race binds them as a group and affects – some may even say haunts – them all to this day.

On how the athletes see the scandals now: Each athlete has his own take on the subject. Some have sympathy for Ben and what he went through, others have none whatsoever. Some of the athletes became embroiled in drugs scandals later in their careers, and it is interesting to see how they react to their own brushes with drugs positives. I toe a non-judgmental line throughout – the audience can decide who or what it believes.

On 30 for 30: ESPN’s 30 for 30 series is a wonderful opportunity for filmmakers to tell their stories in a way they may struggle to elsewhere. Without ESPN’s involvement, this film could never have been told, and I felt the relationship with the producers at ESPN was exceptional – they allowed me to make my film. It seems reasonable enough, but elsewhere with other broadcasters you will find plenty of interference, a molding by committee to an invisible audience that seems to have been dumbed down in advance. That wasn’t the case with 30 for 30 and my film is stronger for it.

On the Air

The new MLB postseason format paid dividends for Turner Sports as TBS averaged 3.9 million total viewers over the first two days of the playoffs. The first-ever Wild Card presented by Budweiser and last night’s Division Series doubleheader drew an increase of 26% in viewership compared to the first two days of the MLB Postseason last year. That equated a 2.5 U.S household rating, based on Nielsen fast nationals, for a 25% bump over last year’s 2.0 rating.

Baylor University hooked up with FOX Sports on a new multi-year agreement to televise the school’s athletics events and related programming on FOX Sports Networks’ platforms, including FOX Sports Southwest, FOX Sports Southwest Plus and/or FOX College Sports. The deal includes all available men’s basketball games and mutually agreed upon Olympic sports, including women’s basketball, baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball contests. Starting with the 2013-14 academic year, FOX Sports will also televise one Bears football game annually for the remainder of the deal. Telecasts of Bears football games will be produced by FOX Sports, while other Baylor airings will be produced by the school in collaboration with FOX Sports.

Saturday night’s primetime college football rumble on ABC, FOX and NBC saw ABC taking the evening in the early demos and viewers, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen. ABC’s broadcast of Ohio St.’s win over Nebraska drew a 1.4 rating in the 18-49 demo, up two tenths of a point from last week’s numbers with 4.95 million viewers overall. FOX’s West Virginia/Texas shootout drew a 1.3 with 4.07 million viewers, also up two tenths from last week’s numbers. NBC’s coverage of a Notre Dame blowout over Miami garnered a 1.1 rating in the demo with 3.50 million viewers, down from the last Notre Dame airing on the channel two weeks ago, which saw a 1.9 rating and 6.02 million viewers.

ESPN is launching a new sports series this fall spotlighting the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. The show, All-Access Kentucky, debuts this month and follows Coach John Calipari and his staff from Big Blue Madness to the start of the 2012 season with the first three episodes slated for Oct. 17, 24 and 31 at 7p.

Longtime MSG Network TV and radio analyst John “Johnny Hoops” Andariese is leaving the Knicks radio booth after serving as a team radio analyst since 1972. Brendan Brown, who served as a Knicks radio analyst for a number of games last season, will now handle the analyst role.

ESPN announced that College GameDay will return to Notre Dame for the first time in seven years next week when the school faces Stanford.

NFL Network series A Football Life will rekindle memories of the LA Rams’ Fearsome Foursome on Wednesday at 8p. The group consisted of Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy in the mid-1960s and the episode will look at their relationships on and off the field. Jennifer Allen, the daughter of former Los Angeles Rams head coach George Allen, narrates the one-hour documentary.

NBA TV announced more than 100 hours of pre-season coverage and 29 live games before the regular season tips off. The network will exclusively televise the premieres of the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat, Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers, top draft pick Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets and the Orlando Magic. In addition to the 29 live games, NBA TV’s original pre-season programming will also include a 30-minute preview show for each team and the series NBA Real Training Camp.

Don’t tell the Canadians they can’t watch hockey. CBC Sports’ launch of Hockey Night in Canada: Your Pick, which lets the fans determine which classic games are carried by the channel, saw more than 20,000 votes in less than 24 hours for the Oct. 13 broadcast.


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Sponsorship & Promotion

Tony Stewart is donning new colors. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion announced that Bass Pro Shops will join Mobil 1 as the primary co-sponsor of Stewart and the No. 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) starting in 2013. In the deal, Bass Pro Shops will adorn the hood of Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet for 18 races, including the Daytona 500. Mobil 1 will be on the hood for 11 races. That now leaves nine primary races open for a brand to partner with the driver.

Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports extended a deal through 2014 with sponsor AARP and AARP Foundation.

The start of the MLB postseason also wrapped up Budweiser’s Walk Off a Hero program for the year, in which $5,000 was pledged to the Folds of Honor Foundation for every walk-off hit during the regular season. This season saw 205 game-winning walk-offs since Opening Day, means that Budweiser is donating $2.5 million to Folds of Honor to help provide educational scholarships to families of U.S. military.

Digital Fields

As expected, ESPN formally announced that it will carry Kontinental Hockey League on ESPN3, which will showcase a number of NHL stars who are playing there during the lockout. A minimum of seven games to be carried exclusively in the US by the outlet, including the KHL All-Star Game. Coverage begins tomorrow at 1p with ESPN SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy and NHL studio analyst Barry Melrose calling the Lev vs. Dynamo Moscow game live on ESPN2 and ESPN3. The game will re-air in primetime on ESPN2 at 8p and will air on delay on ESPN in the UK on Wednesday. Among the players that will be seen thought the end of the month will be Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar.

The Main Event

MLB Divisional Series continue with Nationals/Cardinals at 4:30p and Yankees/Orioles at 8p on TBS.

ON THIS DAY in 1956: Yankees’ Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in the World Series.

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Only two batters have won MLB’s Triple Crown more than once. Name one. Rogers Hornsby/Ted Williams. Kudos: Tom Buffolano-Think Manhattan/NY; Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Media/NY; Michael Dittelman-CBS/NY; Michael Ritz-BucStar Consulting/NY; Jon Latzer-CineSport/South Hackensack; Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando; Tom Wetzel-MMSI/Warwick; Tony Ferranti-MMSI/Warwick; Chuck Gordon-WABM-TV/Birmingham; John Kukla-KDFW Fox 4/Dallas; AustinSmith-Turner Sports/Chicago; Dave Sikula-WalmartLabs/San Bruno; Lila Brown-Ella Bee Media Group/North Hollywood; Jack Simmons-Fox Sports/LA; Paul Gygli-NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City.

In The Know: The Yankees have won the most World Series Championships with 27. What team has the most losses in the Fall Classic? (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

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