Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports


Good morning. It’s Tuesday, May 24, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

After nearly locking in a long-term deal with ESPN in recent weeks, officials at the Big East Conference now say that the conference will wait until later in the year before entering broadcast negotiations for rights to its sports. On Monday, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto told reporters that university officials will look into having its membership expansion plans in place by September 2012 when the league enters a 60-day exclusive negotiation period with ESPN, who currently hold media rights through the 2012-13 academic year.

On the Air

The Heat and Bulls continue to pack a punch for TNT. The channel’s coverage of game three of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals series between the two scored as the second most-watched NBA game in cable history, based on total viewership by delivering 10.89 million total viewers and a 6.4 U.S. household rating via Nielsen. Game one of the series still holds that all-time record, with 11.1 million total viewers and a 6.2 U.S. HH Rating. Top market draws included Miami (24.9 household rating), Chicago (22.5), West Palm Beach (12.8), Memphis (11.1) and New Orleans (9.7).

The network will also grant refuge to studio analyst Charles Barkley for game four of the series after Heat fans jeered and threw items at him (while Barkley voiced his own comments back at them) as the studio crew was preparing to broadcast outside American Airlines Arena prior to game three. Reports state that the show will now be moved inside the arena for the game.

With the100th Indianapolis 500 on deck this weekend on ABC, ESPN has locked in its programming plans and crew for the event. ESPN on ABC’s coverage will begin at 11a with The Indianapolis 500  A Centennial Celebration presented by Honda. The race telecast will be presented by GoDaddy.com and is set to start at noon. Brent Musburger will host the telecast, while Marty Reid will call the race with analysis by Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. ESPN will use 62 cameras to televise the event, including a 360-degree rotating onboard camera mounted behind the driver on multiple cars.

ESPN Classic be in full gear throughout the week for the race as well, running tributes in honor of the race’s 100th anniversary including classic Indy 500 races and SportsCentury programming. On the actual 100th anniversary on May 30, ESPN Classic will run a 22-hour marathon anchored by a re-air of this year’s race.

Today will mark the debut of Fight Now TV, the first 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week combat sports channel. Spearheaded by veteran broadcast executives Mike Garrow, Cal Millar and Romen Podzyhun, the channel will goes live today as part of Cablevision’s iO Sports & Entertainment Pak and will be available in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Former UFC champion and MMA legend Randy Couture will serve as both a spokesperson and analyst for the channel which will focus on MMA, boxing, wrestling/grappling, Muay Thai, kickboxing and other combat sports.

ESPN is hoping to party like its 1999, turning to three members of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup winning U.S. team to join the network as studio analysts for this summer’s tournament. Brandi Chastain, Briana Scurry and head coach Tony DiCicco will contribute to ESPN and ESPN2’s studio coverage of the three-week 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, providing analysis on pre-match, halftime and post-match shows from Germany, including studio segments on the company’s news and information programming.

CBS Sports Spectacular will fire up the grill on Saturday with The Ultimate Barbecue Showdown at 2p. The program was taped from outside Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas during the 2011 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Final Four and features a host, four competitors and three judges for the event, which adheres to Kansas City BBQ Society rules. Competitors include world famous chefs Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone, Moe Cason and Bubba Latimar. Judges include Chris Lilly, Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe and Mike Lake. Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ final-round coverage of the PGA TOUR’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday garnered the channel with triple digit gains. The tournament averaged an average overnight household rating of 2.1/5, marking a jump of 110% over last year.

Time Warner Cable has named David Rone as President, TWC Sports. In the newly created position, Rone will look to strengthen the company’s position as a sports content provider by working and building relationships with sports leagues, conferences, teams, programming providers and others in the sports industry. He will now oversee the company’s sports programming portfolio and existing sports channels as well as build and lead Time Warner Cable’s new regional sports networks.

Did he or didn’t he? The International Cycling Union “categorically” rejected cyclist Tyler Hamilton’s charges on Monday that the agency helped cover up a positive drug test by Lance Armstrong at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, declaring that the UCI “never altered or hidden the results of a positive test,” and that seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong had never been notified of any positive findings. Hamilton said in an interview that aired Sunday that his former teammate used the blood-boosting hormone EPO to prepare for his third Tour win in 2001 and that Armstrong told him the UCI helped cover up a positive test at the Swiss warm-up event.

Taj Television’s Ten Sports has inked a new deal with UEFA to broadcast its Champions League and Europa League tournaments across South Asia until 2015. The sports network, which is based in Dubai, will run at least four live games per match week between 2012 and 2015, as well as delayed coverage and highlights to households across India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith has thrown hot water on any chance the Atlanta Falcons will participate in HBO series Hard Knocks this year, telling NFL Network that although team executives had internal discussions to take part, they had decided to pass on the opportunity.

The Madison Square Garden Company has promoted Casey Coffmanto the newly-created position of corporate Senior VP, Corporate Strategy and Development where she will work closely with MSG president and CEO Hank Ratner to support the company’s strategic priorities and drive the company’s continued focus on growth across all of its businesses.

Sponsorship & Promotion

No games? No problem for advertisers, according to a new presentation by the Syndicated Network Television Association, which reviewed the stats/demos of NFL viewers, and compared them to syndication’s male targeted programming. The presentation suggests that sponsors utilize these shows as an alternative media buy if the lockout cuts short the new football season. The presentation states that syndicated shows offer a “higher duplication than network prime, comparable to other major fall sports,” and that targeted syndication buys deliver a higher composition of Men 18-49 than network prime; comparable to major sports  and that syndication is younger and more efficient than major sports alternatives.

IMG Licensing has signed the family of legendary basketball coach John R. Wooden for licensing and endorsements and will now represent the “right of publicity” of John Wooden including his name, voice, likeness, image, and signature. Additionally, the family has a plethora of videos, photos, and other rare mementos that will be used in a unique collectible program.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have promoted David Peart to SVP of Sales and Service for the team. Peart initially  joined the Penguins in 2009 as VP of Business Partnerships and  will now oversee the franchise’s overall sales strategy, including corporate sales, ticket sales, premium tickets, broadcasting, new media, integrated marketing, corporate outreach and the team’s client service efforts.

Cindy Freed has been named VP, Sales Marketing for ESPN’s Customer Marketing and Sales Group where she will oversee the ad sales marketing group and help develop key messages for the sales team as well as help develop cross-platform ideas that build the businesses of ESPN’s clients. Prior to joining ESPN, Freed was at Yahoo!, where she was ran an ad sales marketing group.

Digital Fields

The NBA has reached new multi-year deals with videogame publishers 2K and Electronic Arts that will allow the companies to continue developing games based on the league. 2K parent company Take-Two will also have the chance to create new social media opportunities for the NBA and become an official marketing partner of the league as part of the agreement. Last year’s release of NBA 2K11 sold five million copies worldwide.

AT&T announced the launch of its newest TV app yesterday, AT&T U-verse TV’s French Open Multiview that lets U-verse customers view up to four different courts of French Open matches at one time, and pick from the Tennis Channel’s main broadcast and five courts. The app will let fans choose which of the six channels to select as the main picture, and as well as record any French Open channel from within the Multiview.

MLB.com is debuting an iPhone app for its popular fantasy game Beat the Streak, which will offer fans the chance to win a $5.6 million grand if they can surpass the legendary consecutive games hitting streak mark of 56 games. Fan participation in this year’s Beat the Streak is already up 105% versus the same period in 2010.

The Main Event

The Bulls look to tie up the series to the Miami Heat tonight in the eastern Conference Finals on TNT at 8:30

ON THIS DAY in 1991 – The NHL adopts instant-replay as well as the tenth of second clock in final minute for its games

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: At what age did Anna Kournikova win the Italian Open? Tricky, but Kournikova won the Italian Open Junior Tournament at age 14. Kudos: Doug Drotman – Drotman Communications/Tennis Channel; Commack, NY

In The Know:  Who was the last American to win the Indianapolis 500? (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 24, 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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