Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Thursday, December 1, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

ESPN rolled out broadcast plans for the slate of upcoming bowl games, with 33 on deck including all five BCS matchups. ESPN 3D will continue its schedule of college football with exclusive 3D coverage of six bowl games, concluding with the Allstate BCS National Championship. Overall, ESPN will utilize a minimum of 64 on-air commentators to provide play-by-play, analysis and sideline reports for the network’s multiplatform coverage of the annual games. BCS highlights include Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi taking the microphone for the second straight year for the Allstate BCS National Championship on Jan. 9 at 8:30p. Musburger, Herbstreit and Andrews will also call the Rose Bowl on ESPN on Monday, Jan. 2, at 5p. Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Heather Cox are on deck for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Monday, Jan. 2. Mike Tirico will be joined by MNF analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski for the Discover Orange Bowl on Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 8:30p. Finally, Blackledge and Rowe will also work the Allstate Sugar Bowl with their regular-season play-by-play partner Brad Nessler on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 8:30p.

On the Air

Not that there was much doubt, but the NFL officially topped the Thanksgiving holiday weekend ratings charts, with the CBS Thanksgiving game (Dolphins/Cowboys) delivering 30.9 million viewers in final Nielsen numbers, to mark the most for a CBS Thanksgiving game since it acquired the AFC package in 1998 and ranking as the most-watched television show this fall. In addition, the CBS Sunday national telecast (mainly featuring Patriots/Eagles) drew 26.3 million viewers to score as the channel’s most-watched Sunday telecast of the season. On FOX, the Thanksgiving game of Packers/Lions saw a 15.8 overnight rating, to match the 1998 Vikings/Cowboys game as the network’s highest-rated game on the holiday since 1996.

Over on ESPN, MNF won the night among all networks in households, viewers, and all key male and adult demos, averaging a 9.3 household rating, with more than 10.6 million households and 14.4 million viewers. MNF is averaging an 8.5 household rating so far this year.

The ESPN family is scheduling a new one-hour show into its lineup with ESPN Sports Saturday, which will debut on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 5p on ABC to anchor the ESPN Sports Saturday block of programming on ABC. ESPN Sports Saturday will blend live news updates with debate and segments created exclusively for the show featuring commentators from ESPN programs such as Pardon the Interruption, SportsNation, First Take, Jim Rome is Burning, NFL Live, SportsCenter, College GameDay and Mike & Mike in the Morning. ESPN anchor Jay Harris will host the show.

CBS Sports is set to showcase the SEC Championship game on Sat. Dec. 3 at 4p pitting LSU against Georgia. Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson will call the action from Atlanta with Tracy Wolfson reporting from the sidelines. Kicking off the day’s coverage live will be CBS College Football Championship Saturday 3p. CBS Sports Network, meanwhile, will air a special SEC Championship Tailgate at 1p.

LA Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig won’t be testifying next week when the team and FOX Sports launch a court battle over the proposed sale of the club’s television rights, a judge ruled. On Tuesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross rejected Fox’s request to question Selig and McCourt under oath about what the company called the “secret parameters” of a deal to sell the Dodgers, according to the AP. Fox is seeking to expand a hearing over the proposal to start marketing the team’s future TV rights to include the agreement between MLB and the Dodgers. A two-day hearing to review TV rights will begin on Dec. 7.

Nevada is working with officials in California to make a run at the pair of states hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics at Lake Tahoe, according to Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said Wednesday. If the bid was accepted, it would mark the Games first return to the country since Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002. Krolicki said that the bid would be dependent on the USOC backing its efforts. Denver has also expressed interest to the national committee about hosting, however the USOC maintains that it won’t bid for another Games until it agrees on a new revenue-sharing deal with the IOC.

The value of Laker television rights? Try a cool $5 billion, according to the Orange County Register. The paper reports that is the value of the NBA franchise’s new deal with Time Warner with $5 billion to be paid over 25 years or $4 billion over 20 years if the future option isn’t exercised. It had previously been reported in the $3 billion range.

With upcoming events for FOX and FX in line, the UFC has now announced plans for its first event for Fuel TV. The channel’s MMA broadcast will take place on Feb. 15 and feature welterweights Diego Sanchez and Jake Ellenberger in a headlining bout.

As expected, Arlo White has now officially been hired as the play-by-play voice for NBC Sports Group’s upcoming coverage of Major League Soccer, beginning with the first broadcast on NBC Sports Network on March 11. White spent the last two years as the play-by-play voice for the Seattle Sounders FC of MLS on television and radio and previously spent nine years with BBC Radio Sport in England where he was part of the BBC Radio 5-Live announcing team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

NBC Sports Group has turned to Matthew Hutchings as the new President and GM of Comcast SportsNet Houston. The outlet will launch in the fall of 2012 as the new television home of the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets along with other regional sports action and studio programming. Hutchings begins his new position in Houston on December 12 and was most recently President and CEO of Altitude Sports & Entertainment, television home of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, and managed all of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment’s media ventures.

Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced that football fans in the state will now have access to the FCS playoffs this weekend after ESPN agreed to offer broader TV distribution of this weekend’s games. The game had previously been only available on ESPN3, which isn’t picked up by many local MSOs, so the company will now make all 8 games of the December 3rd NCAA Division I Football Championship playoffs available on cable and satellite nationwide through ESPN GamePlan for a suggested price of $24.60.

The NHL and the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK | RTR) have announced a deal to give the Russian broadcaster the rights to telecast live NHL games. Under terms of the agreement, VGTRK | RTR will show multiple games per week, which will be shared between their free-to-air channel Rossiya 2 and their sports channel Sport 1. The deal follows a string of recent agreements by the league to broaden international carriage deals.

Sponsorship & Promotion

The 13th edition of EA’s Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour video game series is taking it to the fans to decide who will be on the cover with Tiger. EA Sports wrote on their Facebook page “The 1st time in franchise history where … YOU, the FANS, decide who should be on the cover with Tiger.” The standard edition of the game shows golfers Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy alongside Tiger Woods in the US and European editions, respectively, while cover art for Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 13: The Masters Collector’s Edition features the famed Green Jacket.

Digital Fields

Epic Poker announced that the new league has entered content partnerships with the USA TODAY Sports Media Group as well as Big Lead Sports. The new affiliations will utilize the latest Global Poker Index  updates  a system designed to rank and track the weekly performance of the world’s top 300 live tournament poker players  that will be published weekly in both the print and online editions of USA TODAY. In addition, Epic Poker will now serve as the exclusive source of poker news and information for Big Lead Sports that will include highlights from tournament action featuring the world’s best professional poker players, reporting from Epic Poker’s team of trusted poker feature writers, and video teasers and content from the Epic Poker League.

Verizon launched a live online simulcast of the Longhorn Network and is making the platform available to Verizon FiOS TV customers across the country, marking the first provider to launch the online broadband companion of the channel.

The Main Event

Penguins/Caps on NHL Network at 7p is always a great rivalry game.


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ON THIS DAY in 1988: NBC bids a record $401M for the rights to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who was the first coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars? Answer: Tom Coughlin. Kudos: Rob Caravello –  Golf Channel/Orlando; Josh Lappin – MLB Network/NY; Andrew Cohen – Octagon/NY; Jeff Rickard – SiriusXM Host/Connecticut; Roman Saienni  FOX Sports/LA; Paul Gygli – NBCUniversal Television Distribution/Universal City; Adam Frank – Lionsgate/Santa Monica.

In The Know: What city was the original home of the Houston Rockets? (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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