Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

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

Say goodbye to Versus and hello to the NBC Sports Network. As part of a its branding strategy, the NBC Sports Group announced that Versus will be re-named the NBC Sports Network, complete with a redesigned NBC Sports logo. The changes will begin on January 2 to maximize exposure, launching the day after the end of the NFL season, and the day of the NHL Winter Classic. Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group, made the announcement today at TCA in Los Angeles.

On the Air

Speaking of branding, Yahoo! and Gow Broadcasting, LLC announced the launch of Yahoo! Sports Radio yesterday. The new, national sports radio network can now be heard on over 180 affiliate radio stations across the country, as well as on Sirius Satellite Radio, and a number of digital and mobile partners. This deal will bring Yahoo! Sports  a top destination for online sports with more than 50 million monthly unique users  into the broadcast sector.  As part of the deal, Yahoo! Sports and Gow Broadcasting will share content, develop new content in tandem and engage audiences and advertisers across multiple platforms.

NFL Network landed another big fish with its agreement on a new long-term deal for carriage on Charter. As part of the deal, Charter will also offer the NFL RedZone channel to its customers and both channels will now be available in time for the launch of the 2011 NFL season. The agreement now lifts NFL Network to 60 million subscribers, with seven of the country’s top ten video providers carrying the network.

ESPN is looking to change how we view quarterbacks. The company is turning to Monday Night Football commentators Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski to host the Year of the Quarterback SportsCenter Special:The Total Quarterback Rating presented by Degree Men on Friday at 8p. The one-hour program will unveil the Total Quarterback Rating (Total QBR), a new statistical approach to evaluating the NFL quarterback position that measures “all of the significant contributions by a quarterback during the course of a game and accounts for precisely how much he impacts his team’s performance and chances of winning.” As part of the show, a Sport Science feature will break down the new rating system.

Texas A&M is continuing its fight to prevent the Longhorn Network from airing high school football games. According to CBSSports.com, A&M is pointing toward NCAA bylaw, which was designed to prevent newsletters, magazine and other content related to university-sponsored sports and recruiting. The bylaw blocks programs from releasing “institutional publications” as an “athletics representative of the institution.”

Chuck Pagano has been named to the new position of Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer of ESPN, after a long career at the company that began when he was hired as a technical director in 1979, and became ESPN’s 25th employee. Pagano will now lead all of ESPN’s core technical functions and operations including distribution, transmission, engineering, IT, software development, technology innovation and strategic technology forecasting across all areas of the company.

ESPN has also tapped former NFL defensive end Hugh Douglas as a NFL studio analyst where he will be featured in programs such as SportsCenter, NFL Live, ESPN2’sFirst Take and ESPNEWS. Douglas made his ESPN debut yesterday, appearing on NFL Live at 4p.

HRTV was honored with nine 2011 Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Awards at the 47th annual Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Award ceremony on Saturday, winning Emmys in seven separate categories.

WUSA Sports Director and primary news anchor Brett Haber is leaving the station to pursue other opportunities. For the past five years Haber has received the Emmy Award as Washington’s outstanding sports anchor and has won five additional Emmys during his tenure at WUSA.

Sponsorship & Promotion

ESPN is rebranding its collective high school sports initiatives as ESPN High School. The new name was created in “an effort to accurately capture and reflect a growing business” and was designed to give ESPN the flexibility to package all of its high school sports content under all if its platforms. The ESPN High School brand will premiere on television during the Boost Mobile Elite 24 on August 26-27 and the High School Football Kickoff slated for Aug. 26-28.

US women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo has signed a multi-year deal with Gatorade. She previously inked a sponsorship deal with Bank of America along with teammates Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan.

WWE and 7-Eleven are once again teaming outside the ring, promoting WWE collectible Slurpee and Super Big Gulp cups and straws during the month of August. This marks the first time 7-Eleven has had three consecutive summer promotions with one entertainment property. The cups feature shots of the stars from WWE All Stars, the latest WWE video game released by THQ. All 7,400 7-Eleven retail locations in the U.S. and Canada will have a WWE presence as part of the cross-promotional partnership. 

Jason Feneque has been promoted to Senior Director, Affiliates Sales and Marketing at the YES network, where he will oversee all day-to-day affiliate sales and marketing efforts and manage relationships with YES’ cable, satellite and telco partners. Feneque will report to YES COO Ray Hopkins.

Digital Fields

Top Social Programs in Sports for the week ending July 31 (games only), according to Socialguide.com’s Social 100:

  • Soccer  Barcelona vs. Manchester United          ESPN2            7/30/2011
  • XGames  Various events                                 ESPN              7/28/2011
  • Soccer  MLS All-Stars vs. Manchester United     ESPN2             7/27/2011
  • Soccer  Audi Cup: Barcelona vs. Int’l                Fox Soccer      7/26/2011
  • XGames  Various events                                 ESPN              7/30/2011

Universal Sports Network has named Elliott Gordon as its Vice President and General Manager of Digital Media where he will oversee and drive all digital initiatives for Universal Sports, including digital operations, product development, sales production, and vendor management. Gordon will report to Perkins Miller, Chief Operating Officer of Universal Sports. Gordon joins the team after five years as Director of Digital Media and Product Management for the NFL.

The Main Event

The Cardinals and Brewers square off in a key game for command for the NL Central on MLB at 8:10p


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ON THIS DAY in 1973: George Brett gets his first MLB hit

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who is the all-time passing leader for the St. Louis Rams franchise?  Not Kurt Warner (who had more passing yards overall but for various teams). The answer is Jim Everett. Kudos: Mark J. Freibott – OMD/NY; David Stern – BARD Entertainment/NY; Howard Elgart – AstroTurf/Baltimore; Stephen Narissi – Optimedia/NY; Stephen Rodgers – PRO- Peter Rodgers Organization/Hollywood

In The Know:    When was the last time the Brewers won a pennant? (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.)

In My Opinion …

The upcoming Pac-12 networks are taking a look, the Longhorn network is taking a look, and now the NCAA is taking a look. Is high school sports on a university-branded TV network really a sly recruiting advantage or is it inevitable in a digital society desperate for content? The answer, of course, is both and I give props to the NCAA for quickly pulling together the summit to explore the issue. If a university or conference feels its brand is strong enough to carry a network, great, but how much more friction will the have-nots be able to handle? Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said Thursday he was concerned about the potential negative effects of high school football games on Texas’ Longhorn Network calling it a “Pandora’s Box.” And that is literally what it is. Of course, I fully expect games to (eventually) be allowed.

Agree or disagree?  Send in your views for posting here to chris [email protected] under Emails to the Editor …

Later — Chris
 Chris Pursell for Cyn opsis | Sports

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