Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports


Good morning. It’s Thursday, May 26, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Tuesday night’s overtime game that saw the Miami Heat take a 3-1 series lead over the Chicago Bulls pulled nearly 9.8 million viewers to TNT. The network’s coverage of the Eastern Conference Finals drew a 6.1 household score. Locally, the game fared best in overnight ratings in Miami (25.1 HH Rtg), Chicago (22.6), West Palm Beach (14.3), Memphis (11.0) and New Orleans (9.5). Through four games, the series is averaging a 6.2, up 32% over last year’s matches.

On the Air

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Wednesday that the lockout is having a negative impact on fans and the league, noting that ratings, online traffic and ticket sales have all been down since the labor strife began. The players and owners are next set to meet, not at the bargaining table, but at the 8th U.S. District Court on June 3 for hearings on the league’s appeal to continue the lockout.

In spite of some technical difficulties that delayed the start of the race by 30 minutes, SPEED’S coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race last Saturday saw growth, particularly among mend 18-34. Over, the race drew an average household rating of 3.32, according to Nielsen Media Research, rising 1% from last year’s 3.3. The race averaged 3,993,000 viewers. Among men 18-34, ratings grew 58% in coverage areas to a 1.26 compared to 2010 numbers. Friday’s airing of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Charlotte on the network drew its fourth straight week of growth, jumping 42% from last year.

Syndicated game show Wheel of Fortune is partnering with Tennis Channel to deliver the first-ever “Tennis Week” in series history. Set to air the week of May 30-June 3, the series will feature prizes on the Wheel that include vacation packages surrounding tournaments such as the French Open, the Australian Open, the US Open, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and the Sony Ericsson Championships. In addition, a slew of tennis stars will make appearances on the strip, including Tracy Austin, Billie Jean King, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Navratilova.

HBO is paying its own tribute to tennis, and will air the documentary McEnroe/Borg: Fire and Ice on June 11 at 10p. The film will look at the global rivalry between the two stars during the 70s and 80s, chronicling their back stories and classic matches as well as their post-tennis careers. The documentary was executive produced by Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein with Liev Schreiber narrating.

ESPNU and are scheduling more than six hours of programming dedicated to the inaugural ESPN RISE Girls Showcase, a three-week event designed to put the spotlight on female youth athletes from around the country. Nearly 15,000 elite and recreational female athletes will compete in basketball, softball, taekwondo and volleyball from June 2-22 as part of the gathering, which will take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. ESPN’s Rich Hollenberg is set to call the USA Basketball U19 game on June 5, with commentator assignments for other contests set to be announced at a later date.

Usain Bolt and Universal Sports are both set to run the fastest man in the world’s first race in 2011. Headlined by Bolt, the three-time World Champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist, runners will compete in the IAAF Diamond League for the first time this year on May 26 in Rome, Italy. The race will air live online and taped on Universal Sports on May 26.

FUEL TV has scheduled a live, HD telecast of skateboarding event, the Maloof Money Cup New York presented by Vans, on June 4-5. The event will feature skaters such as Andrew Reynolds, Geoff Rowley, Greg Lutzka, and Dennis Busenitz, compete for the first prize of $160,000. Pat Parnell, Ryan Clements and Chris Nieratko will host. 

The network has also expanded its TV deal with Texas-based MMA promotion Shark Fights that will add six upcoming Shark Fights events in 2011, beginning with Shark Fights 15 next month. Every event will run as a two-part series, creating a total of 12 hours of original programming for the channel’s Friday Fight Night programming block.

ESPN 3D is bringing more boxing into the mix, adding five nights of fighting to its schedule as part of its Friday Night Fights series. Fights will run beginning June 24 at 9p beginning with a card taking place at Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, CA.

Tonight begins Current TV’s docu-series 4th and Forever, at 9p, chronicling the 2010 football season of Long Beach Polytechnic High School. Dubbed the “Sports School of the Century” for producing more NFL players than any other high school, the series will showcase the highs and lows of the team. NFL alumni include Terrence Austin, Willie McGinest and Darnell Bing as well as celebrities such as Billie Jean King, John Wayne, Cameron Diaz and Snoop Dogg.

CBS affiliate WIBW-TV has signed a deal to once again make the channel Topeka’s affiliate on the Jayhawk IMG Television Network in a new four-year agreement. Kansas Athletics announced the deal Tuesday, which will allow WIBW to air the eight university men’s basketball games that are not shows on CBS, ESPN, Fox or the Big 12 Conference regional package. The deal also allows WIBW to run all football, men’s and women’s basketball coaches’ shows, as well as football and men’s basketball pre- and post-season specials.

The WNBA honored free agent Katie Couric Tuesday, presenting the former CBS News anchor with its 2011 Inspiration Award, which recognizes “an individual who inspires others through her commitment and dedication to work, family, and community.” Previous honorees include former US. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and ABC News’ Cokie Roberts.

Reality TV Wrap from the world of sports:

  • Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward was crowned champion of this season’s Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday and now joins Emmitt Smith as pro football players who’ve won the Mirrorball trophy.
  • As expected, tennis star Anna Kournikova will officially join NBC’s hit series The Biggest Loser for season 12 of the show as the show’s newest trainer.
  • Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion is reportedly shooting a reality TV pilot dubbed The Ladies of My Life with hopes of landing a series deal.

Sponsorship & Promotion

Red Bull New York and Kia Motors America, Inc. are entering a partnership that will make the automaker the “Official Partner of the New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Arena”. The agreement will give Kia intellectual property rights for the team, as well as Red Bull Arena and the Red Bulls Academy and Training Programs. Kia will now be featured throughout Red Bull Arena, including branding on player bench areas, in-stadium signage, and a presence at the arena’s fan Interactive Zone, and be involved in the Red Bulls’ Kicks for Kids program, which benefits various local charitable foundations

The first-ever NASCAR Day Car Wash for Kids delivered more than 1,600 cars and raised nearly $30,000 for children’s causes on NASCAR Day, as part of the company’s NASCAR Unites initiative. Car washes at 32 locations from coast-to-coast generated volunteerism and raised funds for The NASCAR Foundation and local children’s charities, securing more than 2,000 volunteer hours in a single day.

Digital Fields is set to launch the website’s first interactive fan feature, which will break down hole No. 17 at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla where the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships will be held. The feature will allows users to explore the course and learn how previous champions fared at other courses compared to Karsten Creek, as well as the secrets to taming No. 17  from tee, to approach to green. is exploring the Indianapolis 500 throughout the week, dedicating stories to the evolution of women’s roles in the sport. Yesterday, the site focused on women working on pit row. Other stories will include looks at the skills required to excel in auto racing, the future of Danica Patrick, and an assessment of the women in this year’s race.

The Main Event

Can the Heat finish off the Bulls? Tonight, the Heat head to Chicago for Game 5

ON THIS DAY in 1911 – The very first Indianapolis 500 race was run.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: In what city did the Milwaukee Brewers initially play?  Seattle, in 1969, as the Seattle Pilots. Kudos: Chris Callahan – ABC Network/NY; David Scherzer – Sizzle Productions/Westfield, NJ; Mark Altabe – Citibank/NY; Ben Dwertman – National Geographic Channel/Washington, DC; Kate Knorring, Turner SI Digital/Chicago; Susan O’Sullivan – Laughlin Constable/Milwaukee; Bill Goodfriend – Charter Media/St. Louis; Kevin Micklo – Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago; John Amato – Good Day L.A./Los Angeles; Roger Stallard – Navigate Boomer Media, LLC/Los Angeles; Roman Saienni – Fox Sports/Los Angeles; Rich Roberge – Univision Seattle/Seattle; Pete Holtermann – HolterMedia Inc./Paris

In The Know: What number does Hines Ward wear for the Steelers?  (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
May 26, 2011

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In My Opinion

It will be strange to picture the Olympics next year without Dick Ebersol, who has left a legacy as the driving force behind NBC Sports, broadcasting all of the five major sports as well as the Olympics, golf, tennis, and horse racing on the channel during his tenure (we will forget the XFL for now). But between his departure and Comcast’s designs to expand its presence in the sports world, the company’s appointment of Mark Lazarus is the ideal selection to take the reins. As President of NBC Sports Cable, where he oversees Golf Channel and Versus as well as the regional sports channels, and with his roles at CSE and Turner, Lazarus brings experience in marketing, branding, ad sales, digital opportunities and programming to the table and has the background to take the NBC Sports Group to a whole new level in the digital age of programming. Branding is about content as well as marketing, and Lazarus is perfect for the role.

(Agree or disagree?  Email your comments to chris [email protected] for inclusion under Emails to the Editor on Monday)

Comcast is truly fortunate to have a very capable and talented executive in Mark Lazarus, however, he is not a Dick Ebersol, he is an icon. There are visionaries and then there are those that execute the vision – Dick Ebersol’s special talents make him the exception to that rule, he is both. Comcast has been about asset deployment and plan execution, if the departure of Ebersol is part of the plan there is an “immense” hole in the strategy. Perhaps the “hole” can be contained for the immediate future, Ebersol is leaving the house in order for Lazarus, Burke and Comcast.

I am most interested in Dick Ebersol’s future endeavors. I would think that Apple, Google, ESPN, Comcast, et al will be as well.

Wayne Casa
Dallas, TX

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