Thursday, January 5th, 2012


Saturday 11 PM ET

the new home of PBR

Available to 98 million homes .

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Thursday, January 5, 2012, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Yesterday’s announcement that Comcast and Disney locked in a long-term carriage deal between the two companies might serve as a boost for supporters of bundling in the cable universe as well as TV Anywhere fans, especially for sports channels. The deal keeps Disney’s top sports, news and entertainment content, including ESPN, in line for Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers into the next decade on television as well as online, on tablets and on handheld devices. For the first time ever, Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers will be able to watch ESPN, ABC or Disney shows live or on demand and across multiple screens with Comcast obtaining rights to air certain content from ESPN3, ESPN FullCourt and ESPN GamePlan on Comcast’s Xfinity Sports Entertainment Package.


Saturday 11 PM ET

the new home of PBR

Available to 98 million homes .

On the Air

ESPN announced plans for its weekend coverage of the BCS Championship on Monday, with the game available on ESPN, ESPN3, ESPN 3D, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio. ESPNU will be in “all-BCS-all-the-time mode” leading into the game with 23 consecutive hours of BCS-themed programming beginning Sunday, Jan. 8, at 8p, and concluding with the immediate re-air of the championship matchup at the conclusion of the game. Meanwhile, ESPN2 will air the NCAA Division I Football Championship pitting Sam Houston State against North Dakota State on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 1p. Dave Neal will call the action with analyst David Diaz-Infante and reporter Allison Williams.

FOX announced that the 2011-12 NFL on FOX season averaged a 12.0/24 national household rating/share to mark the company’s highest-rated NFL season in 16 years (besting a 12.5/29 in 1995), according to fast national ratings released by Nielsen Media Research. The score marks ratings growth for the third consecutive year, and makes FOX the only full-season NFL television carrier to boast a year-over-year ratings increase this season. (NFL Network showed growth as well for its partial season package). NFL on FOX audiences in 2011 averaged 20.1 million viewers, to tie 2010 as FOX Sports’ most-watched NFL season ever. Year-to-year, the league was up 2% compared to 2010. FOX NFL Sunday again scored as the top pregame show with a 3.4/8 average (5.1 million viewers) for the entire 17-week season.

NBC announced that Sunday Night Football finished the season as the top show in primetime (among Viewers 2+, Household rating, all key adult and male demos, based on Nielsen live + same day data) to mark the second straight year that a sports series has been the most-watched show of the primetime TV season at the end of the NFL regular season. The games averaged an 8.4 rating for its season in the Adult 18-49 demographic, the best in the six-year history of SNF. In addition, Football Night in America delivered its best season ever, drawing a record 8.9 million viewers.

NBA TV tipped off the regular season on a roll with an average of 405,000 total viewers (up 120% from the opening week in 2011) and approximately 300,000 households (up 114%). The Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Clippers match-up on Dec. 30 scored as the most viewed regular season game ever for the network, averaging722,000 total viewers.

Tuesday night’s Allstate Sugar Bowl on ESPN gave the channel a 6.3 overnight rating for the game, off 11% from last year’s coverage of the third BCS game.

Golf Channel confirmed that 2011 goes in the books as the most-watched year in the network’s 17-year history with viewership up nearly 30% over 2010 and besting 2009 by 3% (which was anchored by strong play by Tiger Woods). PGA Tour viewership was up 23% while Golf Central rose 47%.

In honor of his NASCAR Hall of Fame recognition, SPEED is premiering a one-hour biography special Friday, Jan. 6 at 8p on Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip will be inducted into the third class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 20 alongside Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman, Glen Wood and the late Richie Evans.

BTN is bringing back the channel’s highest-rated series from last year, The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2012, presented by GMC, at 8p on Sunday. The documentary-style program takes viewers inside Big Ten basketball programs, spending consecutive days with different conference teams to follow the season’s storylines during the march toward the Big Ten Tournament.
ABC Sports staple Marvin Bader has passed, according to Sports Video Group. He died at the age of 85 on Jan. 2 in Escondido, Calif. Bader’s career included working on the Olympics from 1968-1992 where he oversaw production operations for ABC’s Olympic coverage.

The Dodgers extended the deadline for potential team buyers to make a bid to Jan. 23, to accommodate the “substantial interest of potential bidders,” according to the LA Times. Reports state that former manager Joe Torre quit his position at MLB to join a group seeking to buy the team and outbid other groups that potentially include the likes of Larry King, Magic Johnson and Mark Cuban.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference named former US Olympic Committee CEO Jim Scherr as its first commissioner where he will run the newly-formed eight-team conference that begins play in 2013. Scherr served as CEO of the USOC from 2003 through 2009.

Comcast Hometown Network (CHN), a regional channel that covers Northern and Central California, announced that it will televise 24 high school basketball games as part of its expanded programming in 2012. The games will appear under the banner of “Xfinity High School Sports” and will be available on Channel 104 to all Comcast digital cable customers throughout Northern and Central California. The telecasts kick off on January 7.

WWL-TV Sports director Jim Henderson will wrap up a more than three-decade career, announcing that he will retire from the station in February. The station said that Henderson will continue, however, as the radio play-by-play announcer for the New Orleans Saints, a job he has held since 1982.

Sponsorship & Promotion

Richard Branson is making his mark on the Premier League, inking a deal with his company Virgin Money to sponsor Newcastle United. The agreement will be a shirt deal that will run over the span of two and a half years. The company logo was worn on the player shirts for the first time last night against Manchester United, according to BBC Sport.

Digital Fields

Widespread reports that Apple was looking to beef up its lineup of content for a potential television service by bidding to distribute Premier League games appears to be untrue, according to The Guardian. The company was said to be looking at the league in an effort to drum up the support to get, its rumored television platform, off to a quick start.

ESPN reports that the three games BCS bowl games to date on ESPN3 online averaged 288,000 unique viewers and 23.1 million minutes for a rise of 31% and 73% respectively, and an average time spent of 79.8 minutes (up 33%) and an average minute audience of 106,000 viewers (up 66%).

The Professional Bull Riders announced that fans will be able to watch the sport via YouTube with select PBR Built Ford Tough Series events streaming at the Professional Bull Riders Channel. The first PBR event on YouTube will be opening night of the 2012 BFTS season on Friday, Jan. 6, from Madison Square Garden with the schedule also including YouTube feeds on Saturday, April 21, from Des Moines, Iowa; Saturday, April 28, from Uncasville, Conn.; Saturday, May 5 from Billings, Mont.; and Friday, May 18 from Pueblo, Colo.

Even through the season is less than two weeks old, voting has officially begun for the NBA All-Star game. Balloting was unveiled during an announcement Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., where the game will be played this year on Feb. 26. Fans can submit their picks on or by texting the player’s last name to 6-9-6-2-2 (“MYNBA”) through Jan. 31, and can vote for 10 different players each day.

The Main Event

Early division leaders Lakers and Trail Blazers square off on TNT at 10:30p.


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ON THIS DAY in 1989: MLB signs a $400 million deal with ESPN to show 175 games in 1990.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: What backup quarterback was a member of five straight Super Bowl teams? Answer: Gale Gilbert who was a backup for four Bills Super Bowls and one for the Chargers (losing all five). Kudos: Joe Tafuri – Tennis Channel/NY; Sab Singh – Farmingdale State College/NY; Jon May – Time Warner Cable Media/Buffalo; Rob Cinguina – WWE/Stamford; Tom Akers – Outdoor Channel/Chicago; Dennis Silva – KSTC-TV/St. Paul.

In The Know: With which team did Joe Torre make his last appearance as a player for the MLB? (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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