Monday, September 9th, 2013

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Cynopsis: Sports
09.09.13

Good morning. It’s Monday, September 9, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

After being acquired by Turner just over a year ago, Bleacher Report exits the summer of 2013 on a high note. The digital platform reports that in the latest comScore numbers, B/R drew 22 million uniques in July via its multimedia platforms, marking a new all-time record for the company. The site also drew mover 1 billion minutes in time spent during that period, marking the first time the company hit that number.

With numbers rising, the digital destination beefed up content and coverage in time for the NFL season, inking deals with Mike Freeman and Matt Bowen, launching the first-ever Fantasy Football stream via the Team Stream app and, with the introduction of a new production studio in NY, beefing up its video franchises and as well as its sponsors. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Dave Finocchio, Founder and Chief Content and Product Officer, Bleacher Report, and VP, Turner Sports, about the evolution of the brand.

Finocchio on changes under the Turner umbrella: It has been going extremely well, the Turner guys kept it simple. We focused on the growing the size of our audience and continuing to grow engagement as well as sponsorship opportunities. Turner obviously adds a lot more “oomph” from a promotional standpoint and from an investment standpoint. So it is pretty easy to see that our growth has been propped up by being part of Turner and I think we are pretty well set up here. I can’t tell you that I ever imagined that Bleacher Report would end up being this successful. We are well positioned to continue climbing the ranks in the coming years.

On the audience dynamic: We had a record-setting month in July and hope to top that in August. Our growth story has been incredible, we have not only completely changed the audience profile at Bleacher Report, where, at one point, as much as 50% of our traffic was coming from search and we were dependent on that. Today, the majority of our traffic is direct and the engagement with our audience is growing through the roof. We just launched our fantasy football stream within Team Stream, which is another huge engagement driver and another way of providing our audience with better content. Our goal will continue to be providing sports fans with real-time information on the topics they care most about.

On the importance of real-time: We are making a big move into real-time reaction video. I think that a big part of the future is to do a tremendous job getting fans instant video content to show what just happened and what are the two or three things they need to know about what just happened. We just opened up a state-of-the-art video production facility in New York. We are in recruiting mode for talent for that right now and the facility shows that we are not kidding around. That facility is going to allow us to pipe in a lot of content from video analysts from around the country, which is one of the strengths of Bleacher Report. For example if something happens in LA surrounding Kobe Bryant, we can turn that around quickly and pump it out to all of the people following the Lakers on Team Stream.

On sponsors for the NFL season: We are very excited about having McDonald’s come on as the sponsor our Fantasy Football coverage, specifically as a sponsor of the customized My Team functionality within Team Stream, that’s a really cool way for them to build their brand with us with exposure to a very large number of people. We are going to be using the product 10, 20 times every single day with fantasy news and figuring out how fans are going to beef up numbers for their teams. State Farm is also on board, Old Spice. etc. We are also getting something going with MillerCoors called the Bleacher Bar and is run out of our video facility in New York City, which is going to be more of a debate oriented show. We will also have a series called Behind-the-Mike and are excited to have Ford serve as a sponsor for the show. 

On the Air

NBC’s Kickoff for the new NFL season continued to display the league’s dominance in Nielsen ratings. In time zone-adjusted final ratings for Thursday’s game, NBC pulled a 10.3/27 among adults 18-49 for a 6% spike over last season’s 9.7/26 for the regular-season opener. Viewership hit 25.1 million viewers, also up over 2012 scores. The matchup marked the third-most-watched NFL Kickoff in the last 11 years.

The NFL confirms that Bruno Mars will take center stage at the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show on FOX in February. Mars has sold over 115 million singles worldwide. Marks joined the FOX NFL Sunday crew to make the announcement just before the kickoff of the Sunday afternoon games.

The IOC made headlines over the weekend on multiple fronts, with Tokyo winning its bid to host the 2020 Summer Games. The city bested Istanbul and Madrid in the votes. In addition, after losing its place on the Olympic roster, wrestling is officially back after the IOC overturned a decision to scrap the sport from its schedule. Wrestling ended up beating out bids from baseball/softball and squash on the docket.

Thursday’s Red Sox/Yankees telecast handed some good news to the YES Network, with the game averaging a 4.76 household score and 486,000 viewers in the New York DMA, according to Nielsen. That makes it YES’ highest-rated and most-viewed program of the year. 

Meanwhile, MLB Network reports that August 2013 marked the third-most watched month in primetime in MLB Network’s history, averaging 221,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. The month saw two of MLB Network’s top ten games of the 2013 season in Cardinals/Pirates on August 1 and the Tigers/Yankees on August 9, which each averaged 355,000 viewers. The Sunday edition of MLB Tonight in August averaged 161,000 viewers, for an uptick of 28% over the same time period in 2012.

beIN SPORT made its debut on AT&T U-Verse TV over the weekend with both beIN SPORT and beIN SPORT en Espanol joining the lineup. AT&T U-verse TV will offer beIN SPORT on Channel 662 in SD/1662 in HD, 3120 in SD/3320 in HD. The Spanish-language channel, beIN SPORT en Espanol, will be available on Channel 663 in SD/1663 in HD, 3119 in SD/3319 in HD.

ESPN Regional Television has another bowl under its belt, signing on to acquire the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The deal also will see ESPN work with the Heart of Dallas charitable organization with its continuing efforts in the local Dallas community. The game will still be known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank with the 2014 game set for noon on Wednesday, Jan. 1, with schools from Conference USA and the Big Ten Conference.
 
ESPN Radio unveils the first phase of its revamped late afternoon and evening weekday lineup today when Sedano & Stink, hosted by Jorge Sedano and Mark Schlereth, debuts at 7p. The three-hour show will be followed each weekday by The Freddie Coleman Show at 10p. The new lineup will be completed when The Dan LeBatard Show makes its national debut from Miami on Monday, Sept 30 at 4p.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


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Sponsorship & Promotion

AT&T and the Pac-12 Conference locked in a new multi-pronged agreement that will see the company serve as exclusive wireless provider for Pac-12 athletic venues while AT&T will carry three Pac-12 television networks. The deal will see U-verse TV subscribers have access to more than 700 remaining live Pac-12 events of the 2013-14 season on Pac-12 Networks. Also under the agreement, AT&T will provide the Pac-12 with a full package of wireless and wireline communications services, from high speed Internet access to network integration. The sponsorship agreement also includes marketing rights at all athletic events including Pac-12 championships.
 
The PGA TOUR and Hyundai Motor America penned a two-year extension of Hyundai’s title sponsorship of the exclusive field Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii with the deal running through the 2014-2015 season. The upcoming Hyundai Tournament of Champions will be held January 3-6 at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Maui, and will mark the PGA TOUR’s resumption in January following a one and a half month break of the 2013-2014 tournament schedule.

To open the NFL season, Bud Light turned on the new Superstitions Machine, a real-life machine controlled by fans digitally that brings superstitions to life in order to bestow luck on their favorite teams. Fans were able to control machine via a homepage takeover on ESPN.com over the weekend and on ESPN.com/NFL every Monday this season to watch the machine work through a first-of-its-kind live stream that will air in the ESPN takeover. The live stream features hosts Patrick Jordan and Joshua Elijah Reese.
 
The Walt Disney Company, ESPN and Special Olympics announced a two-year global initiative that will leverage “the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance, by uniting people with and without intellectual disabilities through the Special Olympics Unified Sports program.” The multi-million dollar financial and in-kind investment will see Disney and ESPN support Special Olympics’ goal of registering one million Unified Sports participants, including athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities), teammates (individuals without intellectual disabilities) and coaches, by 2015.

Digital & Technology

NBC Sports Group reports that the NBC Sports Live Extra’s live stream of NFL Kickoff broke records for the company. Fans consumed 20.5 million minutes of the game, marking a new NBC Sports Live Extra record and making it the highest-trafficked non-Olympic, non-Super Bowl live stream in NBC Sports Digital history. In addition, NBC Sports Digital delivered its best month ever in August with 113.6 million visits, up 20% from July and up 68% year-over-year, according to data from omniture.

Gow Broadcasting, L.L.C., operator of Yahoo! Sports Radio (YSR) in partnership with Yahoo! Sports, is adding Sean Salisbury to its weekday lineup where he will join John Harris on The War Room, from 2-4p each weekday. The series is a nationally syndicated weekday show heard on Yahoo! Sports Radio affiliate stations across the country, online, mobile and other digital partners’ platforms.

ThinkAnalytics revealed new applications for its ThinkSports metadata library, allowing operators to offer recommendations for live and recorded sporting events across TV, Web or mobile devices for more than 50 sports across 20-plus countries, and in 17 languages. The recommendations are delivered to viewers based on their favorite athletes, teams and sporting events and integrates Thuuz Sports service to the mix.

Roster Moves

Sports industry veteran Bryan Burns announced the formation of The Forward Direction Group, a sports, media and entertainment consulting firm he will run out of Guilford, Connecticut. The firm will utilize a variety of industry professionals with more than 125 years of combined industry experience. Staff hires include Cathi Bosco, Jayne Hancock, Jared Miller, Jim Noel, Samantha Rudolph, Jody Shapiro, Jim Sperry, and Rick White. Burns leads the company following 16 years in Major League Baseball and 17 years at ESPN.

The Main Event, the featured game of the day sponsored by Thuuz, real-time sports discovery for mobile & connected TV platforms.
N. Djokovic vs. R. Nadal Today at 2p. Thuuz rating: 95
Rafa and Djokovic have the most meetings in the open era. On CBS.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


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ON THIS DAY in 1965: Sandy Koufax pitches a perfect game.

In The Know: What active pitcher has the most career strikeouts? (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.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: When was the last game played on a Tuesday night? Answer: December 26, 2010 pitting the Vikings/Eagles due to a snow emergency. Kudos: Christina Carestia-CBS Sports Network/NY; Michael Strauss-COXREPS/NY; Jon Miller-NBC Sports Group/Stamford; David Koonin-CSE/Atlanta; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports
09.09.13

Roberta Caploe: Editorial Director
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A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


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JOB OPENING: VP/DIRECTOR SALES/Yangaroo/NYC: Exp’d professional w/outstanding relationships for fun, agile, & rapidly growing co. Must know the biz & media segments; s/w exp req’d. Resume to: [email protected] (9/14)

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