Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports


Good morning. It’s Thursday, June 2, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Who said you need the Lakers and Celtics to pop a rating? ABC‘s broadcast of Game 1 of The NBA Finals, which saw Miami take down Dallas, drew the highest rating for the opening game of the finals since 2004 for the network. The telecast drew a 10.7 overnight rating, according to Nielsen, which was good enough for a three percent rise versus last year’s 10.4 score that featured two of the league’s highest profile teams in the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. In Miami, the game drew a 31.9 rating, while Dallas netted a 29.9 rating.

On the Air

Even with the playoffs on fire, NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters that it would be a “challenge” to reach a new deal with the players association before the current CBA expires in a month. Stern has already added a third negotiating session in Miami to the two already scheduled with players next week in Dallas, and noted that there will be more beyond those in an effort to get a deal closed.

As expected, embattered Fifa President Sepp Blatter has been re-elected as to the position. In spite of accusations and scandal across the sport’s governing body, Blatter drew 186 out of the 203 votes to win the reelection. Blatter has vowed reform as part of his new tenure.

Chalk up a high note for the sport however. The 2011 Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United earned a 1.8 overnight rating on Fox on Saturday. That score was up 64% over 2010 numbers with the sport’s best ratings coming from Washington DC, Seattle, and New York. The 2009 match, which also featured the two teams, drew a 1.0 on ESPN.

Over on ABC, a fiery end on the Indianapolis 500 saw the race earn a 7 percent bump compared to 2010 with nearly 5 million households tuned in to the broadcast and a 4.3 in preliminary ratings. .National numbers will be out tomorrow.

NBC has lined up programming for next year’s coveted post-Super Bowl spot, dedicating the hour to The Voice, on Sunday Feb. 5 at 10p. “There is no better showcase on television than to follow the Super Bowl, and we believe ‘The Voice’ is deserving of such high-profile exposure,” said Bob Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “The attention grabbing blind audition phase of ‘The Voice’ has mass appeal and will fittingly team up with the biggest sporting event of the year.”

LA Lakers star Ron Artest is getting a Second Shot. The controversial player will team with 44 Blue Productions on an upcoming reality series dubbed Last Second Shot with Ron Artest, where Artest will work with a team of mental health experts and life coaches to help a group of parolees take control of their lives.

The Pac-12 has added to its lineup of games that will be televised during the football season, unveiling games from this season’s schedule that will run on FSN, FX and Versus, in addition to the conference’s previously announced games that will run on ABC/ESPN. More will be added during the season. Broadcasts will now include:

  • Sept. 3 UCLA at Houston on FSN
  • Sept. 10 Utah at USC on Versus/Nevada at Oregon on FX.
  • Sept. 17 Colorado at Colorado St. on FSN/Syracuse at USC on FSN or FX
  • Nov. 25 Colorado at Utah on FSN
  • Nov. 26 UCLA at USC on FSN

ESPN 3D is set to televise the Gentlemen’s semifinals as well as the Finals of both the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s draws from Wimbledon next month. The four matches, set to take place between July 1 through July 4,  will be the first 3D tennis televised by the network which was launched a year ago. The channel’s coverage of the Grand Slam event will supplement ESPN2’s two-week schedule of the tournament with more than 100 live hours, beginning Monday, June 20.

ESPN has also lined up a record amount of coverage for the upcoming NCAA Division 1 Baseball Championship Games, lining up programming on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN Mobile TV for the tournament. Up to 69 games will be showcased, topping last year’s maximum of 55 games, with the addition of 14 games from two regional series that will be shown on New this year will be HD telecasts for every game on the networks, and every Super Regional game will be nationally televised. Coverage begins on Friday on ESPNU and

Fox will air the season finale of its NASCAR coverage on Sunday at Kansas Speedway before the sport heads over to TNT. With ratings for last weekend’s race in Charlotte yet to be counted, the network’s NASCAR coverage has seen growth this year, climbing 2% to a 5.1 in household rating, and jumping 19% amount M18-34.

NBA TV is down a man. NBA TV/TNT analyst Kevin McHale officially announced that he will be leaving the channels and life in the studio to take over as head coach of the Houston Rockets. “I really enjoyed spending the last two years with Turner Sports, bringing the best NBA coverage possible to the viewers at home,” said McHale. “Even though I’m moving back to the bench I’ll still watch my friends on NBA TV and TNT. Turner’s commitment to the NBA is part of the reason why the league is so special, and I look forward to seeing many of my former colleagues in the future.”



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Sponsorship & Promotion

NBC gave some love to its newest Comcast sibling last night during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The network debuted a 30-second spot for Golf Channel’s upcoming series “Feherty” during the game, marking the first time a Golf Channel promo for one of its original series had aired on the network in prime time. The promo featured six “personalities” of funnyman David Feherty having a conversation about his upcoming show, which will premiere Tuesday, June 21 at 9p.

USA Sevens has unveiled its line-up of national sponsors for the second-ever Collegiate Rugby Championship which will air this weekend on NBC and Versus. Sponsorships will include Bridgestone, Go Daddy, Subway Restaurants, Toyota and Motel 6, who will all retain exclusive category rights as well as signage throughout the stadium, including on-field, on tickets and credentials and in commercial spots during the live broadcast on NBC and Versus, as well as pre-promotional TV spots leading up to the event and digital presence online at and Coverage beings on Versus at 2p on June 4.

The first-place Cleveland Indians have inked BP to serve as the team’s official fuel provider. As part of the deal, customers will have the opportunity to receive a voucher for two free mezzanine tickets for a future game by pumping gas as well as the chance to win gift cards by catching BP balls curing batting practice.

Digital Fields

Who needs a news conference when you already have a national audience on Twitter? Shaq took to the platform yesterday to announce his retirement from the NBA after 19 seasons. The veteran player posted a 15-second video to his Twitter account to announce the news.

The Main Event

The NBA Finals on ABC continue with Game 2 tonight at 9p with a Mavericks/Heat heading for their second clash. Mike Breen makes the calls with analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Doris Burke.

ON THIS DAY in 1925 – Lou Gehrig begins his 2,130 consecutive game streak.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: In what year did the first NHL team leave Atlanta?  The Flames left Atlanta for Calgary in 1980. Kudos: Michael Goodman – Radio One/Atlanta; Chris Faulds – Bell Media Interactive/Toronto; Marty Rosenberg – Petry Television/NY; Karen Yaldoo – Comcast Spotlight/Bingham Farms, MI; John Ward – NBC Sports Group/Chicago; Greg Moloznik – GLM Media Dynamics/Scottsdale; Roger Stallard – Navigate Boomer Media/LA; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/LA; Dan Dise – MEC/LA

In The Know:  Which non Big-10 or Pac-10 team has won the most Rose Bowls? (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
June 2, 2011

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In My Opinion …

With all the talk about Big East expansion this week, perhaps the most telling words come not from Commissioner John Marinatto, but from UConn Coach Jim Calhoun who CBS Sports, “”My own personal opinion – and I won’t probably see this – in the next couple of years, four or five years down the road, I think you’ll see a separation [of the football and non-football membership]. I think it’s inevitable.”
After reportedly turning down an offer from ESPN to extend media rights, there remains a clear divide between football and basketball within the conference. With 8 (soon to be 9) football playing members and 16 (soon to be 17) basketball teams, universities will have to soon decide which is more important, money or tradition. A quick survey of media executives and analysts showed that keeping the conference together would provide a bigger overall deal than if the football schools broke away. However, if the football teams formed their own conference, while adding three other football playing teams, the payout per school would be greater. Of course, that would mean the end of traditional rivalries with basketball brands such as Georgetown and Villanova (providing they don’t move up in time.)
Which road to travel? The answer will continue to reshape college athletics.


Professional sports has undergone significant league expansion over the past decades bringing more professional sports to more cities and communities. The College/NCAA approach could and should be ripe for similar expansion and consistent for basketball, football as well as other sports. The number of schools and the sports committed to participating in a given division is important and should have limits based on NCAA directives, but not as important as the geographic and regional parameters involved. Proximity of competing teams within the same division promotes greater competition and serves to support ongoing rivalries. Fans can “commute” from one school venue to the other with relative ease and teams will require shorter time and distance for travel, putting a lighter academic burden on student athletes and reduce overall expenses for the individual programs. If a school chooses to join and/or be accepted into a specific regional division (i.e.: Big East, ACC, SEC, MAC, etc.) the number of sports in which it may choose to participate should not be limited or required by that division’s policy. The school itself should determine if it believes it is competitive in a given sport and the choice to participate should be theirs and theirs alone and division acceptance must not be determined if that school competes in one sport and not another.

Expanding regional divisions is a positive step in many ways, and a division member school should be entitled to compete in any combination of sports it chooses with revenues being distributed and shared on a school-to-school, sport-to-sport basis. 

Jeff Gilbert

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