Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, December 13, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

SPEED President Hunter Nickell is stepping down as head of the network at the end of the year although he will continue to work with the channel to wrap up several projects as well as explore opportunities within the FOX Sports Media Group. During Nickell’s tenure, SPEED added nearly 16 million homes to its current Nielsen Household reach of 84 million homes in North America and added events to its programming schedule such as the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies and all three of the NASCAR post-season awards banquets. Nickell came to SPEED in 2005 after 12 years as general manager of FSN South, where he oversaw the nation’s largest regional sports television network.

“It’s unfortunate that Hunter is stepping away after all that he’s done for SPEED,” said FOX Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill. “He’s a man of great character, a true gentleman and he’s served FOX tirelessly for many years. Speaking for everyone at FOX and News Corp., his spirit and dedication will be missed.”

On the Air

Sunday night’s narrow Giants’ win over the Cowboys handed NBC with a strong showing for SNF, drawing a 16.1 overnight rating and a 25 share to rank as the second-highest SNF overnight this season and the fifth-highest in the six-year history of Sunday Night Football. Dallas scored as the top market with a 41.6/58, followed by San Antonio, Austin, New Orleans, and Albuquerque. In the adult 18-49 demo, the game drew an 8.5 in fast affiliate ratings and a total audience of 22.7 million.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is eyeballing China as the next step for the conference’s expansion, not for teams mind you but as a television market. Scott reportedly flew to Beijing on Sunday where he will spend four days meeting with various officials to put together a “road map” for a way to expand the presence of Pac-12 universities in China. The New York Times states that while he is also mulling a presence in Central America, South America, India and other Asian nations over the long haul, his immediate priority is establishing the Pac-12 in China and he expected the conference to play games in China in the next three to five years, with the league’s upcoming channels also having a presence.

The NHL and NHL Original Productions announced that the upcoming series NHL 36 will debut on VERSUS tomorrow at 6:30p with a look at Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. The series is designed to over a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of a player over the course of 36 straight hours. Other players will be profiled in future episodes.

While the offseason dramas continue to play out, at least the NBA can be satisfied that its chief legal battle stemming from the lockout is officially over. On Monday, Minnesota U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz officially dismissed the players’ anti-trust lawsuit at the request of players and owners now that the two sides have approved a new CBA. The locked-out players also filed a class-action antitrust suit in California, though that was later withdrawn.

ESPN announced that the network’s lead NBA commentator team of play-by-play announcer Mike Breen and analyst Jeff Van Gundy will in fact be calling two different games on Christmas Day. The tandem will begin in Dallas for the Mavericks/Heat matchup at 2:30p, then immediately fly to the Bay Area for the Clippers/Warriors game at 10:30p. Both games are part of an NBA Christmas Day quadruple header across ESPN and ABC.

In spite of recent losses, the Mountain West Conference’s Board of Directors decided to go for it. The board approved the immediate submission for a BCS exemption that would give the conference’s football champion an automatic qualification for the lucrative bowls games following the 2012 and 2013 football seasons. Meanwhile, departing member San Diego St., which is moving its football to the Big East, announced that the university will officially also become members of the Big West, moving all sports except football to the conference starting July 1, 2013.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is making a programming play, and is developing a reality series dubbed Bud United presents: The Big Time that will run on ABC on Jan. 21. The company announced that the series would feature amateur players competing in sports ranging from baseball and soccer to music and cooking. In one episode, pitching hopefuls get to visit Citi Field and receive tips from Frank Viola.

Long-time MLB broadcaster and Milwaukee Brewers voice Bob Uecker is set to be inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame during next year’s NAB Show Radio Luncheon, which will be held on Tuesday, April 17, 2012. Uecker is entering his 42nd year calling play-by-play on the Brewers Radio Network and Journal Broadcasting Group’s WTMJ in Milwaukee.

Various reports state that the upcoming WWE Network will be adding a daily talk show featuring Scott Standford as host.

Sponsorship & Promotion

In spite of the lockout, the NBA renewed deals with a slew of advertisers on Monday including Anheuser-Busch INBev, PepsiCo’s Gatorade and Autotrader.com. As part of the new agreements, Gatorade continues as the Official Sports Drink Partner of the NBA and is now also the league’s Official Sports Performance Nutrition Partner. Anheuser-Busch will develop NBA-themed campaigns and fan events throughout the year and the deal keeps it as Official Beer Partner of the NBA. Autotrader receives on-court branding and brand exposure on NBA digital properties NBA TV and NBA.com as well as title sponsorship of the NBA Tip-Off presented by AutoTrader.com on TNT for the entire season.

Bass Pro Shops and Nitro boats have agreed to become a sponsor of Major League Fishing, the recently formed partnership between Outdoor Channel and two dozen of the world’s best anglers. The Challenge Cup presented by Busch Beer will be available to the public via a web-based pay-per-view broadcast early in 2012, and will be aired on Outdoor Channel beginning in April 2012. Details of pay-per-view programming will be announced in December.

The NHL is working with the City of Philadelphia to extend the festivities of this year’s Winter Classic, launching a three-day fan festival just outside the gates of Citizens Bank Park. From Saturday, Dec. 31 through Monday, Jan. 2, Citizens Bank Way will be transformed into an outdoor hockey and entertainment festival. Sponsor Molson Canadian will offer a “Made from Canada” experience at the Molson Canadian Hockey House at Spectator Plaza. Honda will host a special fan autograph session with an NHL alumnus at the Honda tent. Geico offers a “Guess the Gecko” contest for chances to win prizes, an accuracy shooting contest, a hockey suit up challenge, as well as other trivia games. Reebok is setting up a NHL locker room set up for fans to take pictures.

Digital Fields

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ruled that Bell Mobility broke rules by entering into exclusive agreements for the mobile rights to NHL and NFL content, deciding that the deal gives the company an unfair competitive advantage. “Canadians shouldn’t be forced to subscribe to a wireless service from a specific company to access their favorite content,” Konrad von Finckenstein, Chairman of the CRTC, said in a statement. The decision followed a complaint from Telus Communications, which lost out in bidding for the rights early in the year.

The Main Event

Sharks/Avalanche hit the ice on VERSUS at 9p.


T H A N K  Y O U

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ON THIS DAY in 1936: The final NFL game of the Boston Redskins is played, losing to the Packers 21-6 before moving to Washington DC.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who is the Cleveland Browns all-time rushing leader?  Answer: Jim Brown. Kudos: Michael Brown – IMG Worldwide/NY; Pete Gautieri  -AETN/Stamford; Stephane Berthet – Creative Lead/Orlando; Russ Koch – MPG/NY; John Kukla – KDFW/Dallas; Ron Salcedo – Zimmerman/Nashville; Joe Pedri  KLAS-TV/Las Vegas; Ronald D. Chong – Warner Bros TV/Hollywood; Nick Monroe – Monroe Photography/San Diego; Tom Donatelli – S Callan Advertising/Burbank.

In The Know: On which team was Bob Uecker made a World Series Champion? (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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