Thursday, August 11th, 2011

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Cynopsis: Sports
08/11/11

Good morning. It’s Thursday, August 11, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

With soccer ratings continuing to trend up, Major League Soccer scored a deal with the NBC Sports Group in a three-year media rights agreement beginning with the 2012 MLS season. The agreement calls for 45 games as well as four U.S. Men’s National Team contests to be televised live across both NBC and the newly-rebranded NBC Sports Network each season. Every year, NBC will broadcast two regular-season MLS games, as well as two playoff games and two appearances by the U.S. Men’s National Team. The NBC Sports Network (now Versus) will televise 38 regular-season games, as well as three playoff games and two U.S. Men’s National Team matches, further broadening the channel’s portfolio. All of the telecasts will also feature pre-game and post-game coverage. The deal also delivers the NBC Sports Group with digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises.

On the Air

The famed Indianapolis 500 will continue to be a staple on ABC, thanks to a new rights agreement that runs through 2018. ESPN on ABC will broadcast the 500 Mile Race for the 48thconsecutive year next May and is on deck to showcase the 100th running of the race in 2016. As part of the extension, ABC will be the exclusive broadcast network partner for the IZOD IndyCar Series from 2013-2018 and will continue to televise four races each year in addition to the Indianapolis 500. ESPN also has international syndication rights for all IZOD IndyCar Series races. Beginning in 2012, ABC’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500 and the IZOD IndyCar Series will be expanded to include live streaming of ABC’s onboard cameras on ESPN3.com.

Yesterday it was Jerry Rice, today ESPN has announced the signing of former NFL Coach Bill Parcells to its ranks where he will contribute to Sunday NFL Countdown and other specials. Parcells is on deck to return to ESPN on Monday as part of ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown. Parcells previously worked at the company as a studio analyst on both Monday Night Countdown in 2007 and Sunday NFL Countdown in 2002 after spending part of the 2001 season as a guest analyst. With a slew of new additions to the talent pool, reports say that Warrick Dunne and Derrick Brooks will not be returning to the on-camera mix this year.

FOX Sports Media Group officially announced the promotions of two of its producers. The company named Doug Sellars as Executive Vice President, Production and Executive Producer, FOX Sports Media Group and Scott Ackerson to Executive Vice President and Executive Producer, FSMG. Sellars will oversee all studio and event production for the networks and entities within FSMG, including FOX Sports, Fox Sports Regional Networks, SPEED, FOX Deportes, FOX Soccer, FUEL TV and FOXSports.com as it pertains to digital programming and serve in an advisory capacity to the Big Ten Network. Ackerson now takes on responsibility of all studio programming for the networks and entities within FOX Sports Media Group. He will also serve in an advisory role to the Big Ten Network and oversee a newly-formed production unit that creates feature segments for all FSMG units.

BTN has unveiled its game broadcast teams and studio talent for the 2011 football season. BTN’s weekly broadcast teams for football telecasts will include Eric Collins(play-by-play),Chris Martin(analyst) and Dionne Miller(sidelines);Tom Hart(play-by-play),Derek Rackley (analyst) and Lisa Byington(sidelines);and Matt Devlin(play-by-play),Glen Mason(analyst) and Rebecca Haarlow(sidelines). For the fifth straight year,Dave Revsine,Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith will anchor the network’s game-day studio coverage onBig Ten Football Saturday. Jon Jansen, Tony Banks, Ahman Green and Joe Tiller will make their BTN debuts this fall.

ESPN has locked in broadcast plans for the inaugural BIG EAST/SEC Challenge,which will run from Dec. 1-3 this year, with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.com combining to televise all 12 games. On ESPN, the channel will spotlight Florida/Syracuse and Vanderbilt/Louisville on Dec. 2, and Arkansas/UConn and Pitt/Tennessee on Dec. 3. ESPN2 will take on St. John’s/Kentucky and Georgetown/Alabama on Dec. 1. ESPNU will take the rest including Providence/South Carolina and Mississippi/DePaul on Dec.1, Cincinnati/Georgia and Auburn/Seton Hall the second day and LSU/Rutgers and West Virginia/Mississippi St. on the final day.

Formula One’s grand return to the US will have to wait a little longer with executives saying that the US Grand Prix, set for Austin in 2012 will now likely be shifted to November when cooler temperatures prevail. The race will take place on the $200 million Circuit of the Americas track currently being built in the city.

CBS Sports is offering CBS Sports Spectacular this weekend with a one-hour special dubbed GAME! SET! MATCH!, previewing upcoming coverage of US Open Tennis. The program will be hosted by Bill Macatee and feature a one-hour interview with Roger Federer about his quest for a sixth US Open title. The special will run on Sunday at 1p.

ESPN is pulling together a panel of college sports experts, including ESPN analysts, current head football coaches, a former conference commissioner and a current athletic director, to look at the state college football as well as propose a potential blueprint for changing the system. Segments from the College Football: Blueprint for Change roundtable will air across ESPN’s SportsCenter, College Football Live and Outside the Lines, as a one-hour special on ESPNU and on ESPN.com from Sunday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 21. Rece Davis will serve as host with ESPN college football analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Urban Meyer, Mark May, Mike Bellotti, Robert Smith as well as network college basketball analysts Rod Gilmore and Jay Bilas as well as current college football coaches Nick Saban and Bob Stoops, former BIG EAST commissioner Mike Tranghese; and current Tennessee athletic director Joan Cronan.

The Breeders’ Cup World Championship is returning to Southern California, and will take place at Santa Anita Park in 2012, officials announced. This year’s races will be held from Nov. 4-5 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., for a second consecutive year. Santa Anita Park has previously hosted the races five times since 1986. The event will be broadcast by ABC/ESPN.

Sponsorship & Promotion

The Tampa Bay Rays are joining the “It Gets Better” video campaign to become the ninth team in professional sports to join the crusade against anti-gay bullying and homophobia. Previous professional teams include the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox, Orioles, Phillies and Mariners.

Digital Fields

ESPN Fantasy Football is back for its 17th season, with sponsors GEICO and GMC. With the end of the lockout, the online service saw signups soar on July 25 and 26, to score two of the three biggest days ever for signups. Page views for fantasy content were also up 85% over the previous week. To drive awareness, ESPN.com is launching a Fantasy Forever campaign. iPhone and Android users can download the app for free this year with features that include fractional scoring, tutorial videos, draft recommendations and sharing via Facebook and Twitter.

NBA.com will present exclusive live coverage of the 2011 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremonies on Friday, August 12, 2011in Springfield, Mass. Red Carpet coverage begins at 7p and the ceremonies will start at 8p.

The PGA Championship App sponsored by Mercedes-Benz is now the number one downloaded free app in the sports section of the App Store. The app allows fans to follow the action using their iPhone or iPod touch with live video, highlights, push alerts for hole-by-hole scoring updates and breaking news.

Quick Note: Yesterday’s edition should have read that The Arlington Million would start at 6p on WGN-TV Chicago and WGN America.

The Main Event

Kick off the afternoon with opening rounds of the PGA Championship at 1p on TNT before welcoming back football with the opening preseason game featuring the Seahawks and Chargers on ESPN at 8p.


ON THIS DAY in 1984: The Cincinnati Reds retire Johnny Bench’s famed #5.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: What was Dennis Rodman’s final team in the NBA?  : Rodman last played with the Mavericks in 2000. Kudos: Aaron Billig – Zenithdirect/NY; Brendan McGovern – YouTube/NY; Caitlin Pike – Sinclair Broadcast Group/Buffalo; David Trager – NBA TV/Atlanta; Lucie Prann – The Richards Group/Dallas; John Kukla – KDFW/KDFI/Dallas; Jamie Raybon – Time Warner/Dallas; Aly Stogol – KMSB/KTTU – Tucson

In The Know:  What NFL team drafted Bill Parcells? (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 Cyn opsis | Sports
08/11/11

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