Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, June 1, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

Tennis Channel and ESPN have inked a four-year deal that will extend their French Open and Australian Open multimedia programming alliance. Under terms of the new deal, the networks will alter their coverage of the French Open, with ESPN shifting to cover the early morning matches, while Tennis Channel’s coverage will run from 10a and continue throughout the night. Additionally, Tennis Channel will now offer 10 consecutive nights of prime-time match play during its Australian Open window, without any intermittent days off. The broadcast alliance began in 2007. The deal begins with the 2012 French Open and the 2013 Australian Open and Tennis Channel will be able to stay with men’s matches that run longer than its two-hour programming windows.

Both networks will continue to cross-promote each other’s schedules, and each will present live broadband action during both networks’ telecast windows at the tournaments. In addition, ESPN platforms will also feature the action, including, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Mobile TV, the WatchESPNApp, ESPN Interactive TV and

On the Air

NBC and Versus announced their broadcast plans for the Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks, which begin tonight. The two channels will offer primetime coverage of every game as well as pre- and postgame coverage nationally on Versus as well as locally in Boston on Comcast SportsNet New England. NBC will broadcast Games 1-2, as well as Games 5-7, if necessary, while Versus will present exclusive coverage of Games 3-4 of the series.

Speaking of the NHL, as expected, the league officially announced that Canadian group True North Sports and Entertainment has purchased the Atlanta Thrashers and will move the team to Winnipeg next season. The sale is still subject to approval by the NHL’s board of governors, and will be largely contingent on the team selling 13,000 season tickets. The announcement marks the second time Atlanta has lost a team, which has lost an estimated $130 million since 2005, according to reports.

Quebecor Inc. is gearing up to launch an all-sports specialty channel dubbed TVA Sports this fall, and have lined up broadcasts of Ottawa Senators and Toronto Blue Jays games in French for the programming lineup as well as UFC and Champions League soccer games. Company CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau announced the plans during the news conference on Tuesday and stated that as part of the launch, TVA Sports will build a newsroom in Montreal to deliver sports news and information.

The 79th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours is set to begin next week on June 11. SPEED will carry the race beginning at 8:30a with 18 hours dedicated to the network, featuring Leigh Diffey and Brian Till behind the microphone, and running seven hours of the auto race. Along with live streaming from the race, will also feature on-site coverage, news, notes and photography starting Sunday, June 5 with scrutineering and pre-race festivities.

FOX Soccer will be televising the USA group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on beginning June 7 at 7:30p when the US takes on Canada and continuing on June 11 and 14 as well as The Gold Cup quarterfinals and semifinals before airing the finals on Saturday, June 25 at 8:30p. FOX Soccer’s Eric Wynalda, Christopher Sullivan and Cobi Jones will co-host pregame, halftime and postgame shows live from each venue with Kyle Martino and Dave Johnson running play-by-play and in-game analysis.

Officials for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl have announced that this year’s game will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 4:30p. The game will be televised by ESPN and is slated to pit a MAC team against and Big Ten team, if available.

GolTV will be premiering the second season of Soccer Aces on Thursday at 8p, featuring 18 amateur players looking to win the chance to play preseason for Portuguese club Benfica. Zinedine Zidane and Enzo Francescoli, will return to judge the hopefuls.

The World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the Ironman-branded sports events, has named AEG Sports head Andrew Messick as the new CEO of the company. Messick had been the president of AEG Sports since 2007, where he founded and grew the Amgen Tour of California.

The NCAA and CBS Sports Network have announced a six-game weekly Division II football television package for the 2011 season. All games will air live on CBS Sports Network, as well as syndicated on regional and local networks, and simulcast live on The schedule will begin Central Washington at Humboldt St. on Sept. 8 and conclude on Oct. 27 when Augustana visits Minnesota State Mankato. 


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Sponsorship & Promotion

The Big Ten Network is undergoing a facelift, announcing a re-branding of the network as BTN, with a new logo and web domain to boot. Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said that the changes will reflect the network’s evolution and direction while the new logo will offers greater flexibility for multiple applications, including creating school-specific BTN logos using school colors. The new logo is also part of a complete redesign of the network’s graphics, animation and music packages that viewers will see for the first time during the network’s coverage of the Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon in July.

As the official outfitter of the London 2012 Olympics, Adidas told the Financial Times that the company expects to sell $164 million worth of themed merchandise and that the company hopes that the event will help the brand unseat Nike as the sportswear leader in the United Kingdom.

With a scandal-plagued re-election set for tonight, several of FIFA’s biggest sponsors, including Visa, Coca-Cola and Adidas, have gone public to pressure President Sepp Blatter to reform soccer’s governing body. “The current situation is not good for the game and we ask that FIFA take all necessary steps to resolve the concerns that have been raised,” Visa Europe said in a statement. Meanwhile, some members are calling for the election to be postponed.

Count two more schools to IMG College Ticket Solutions roster of clients. The company, a division of IMG Worldwide, has added the University of Tennessee and San Jose State as partners in an effort to drive ticket sales. As part of the multi-year agreements, IMG College Ticket Solutions will now manage the schools’ athletics ticket sales with a full-time, professional sales staff located within the schools’ athletic departments. Meanwhile, current client Temple University inked a two-year extension with the company.

New England Sports Network is teaming up with the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) for the third year in a row for the 19th Annual Against the Tide event to be on June 18, 2011. Over 50 NESN employees are expected to participate in the event which will feature hundreds of participants who will walk, run, swim and/or kayak to raise money for research on breast cancer prevention.

Digital Fields

Tribeca Film and ESPN are teaming up to create a video-on-demand sports film festival. The two companies said the festival will debut on June 23 and run through Aug. 25, featuring five films that will be available in around 40 million homes. The films will documentaries Catching Hell, Boys of Summer, Fire in Babylon, Renee, and Turkey Bow. ESPN’s docu-series films from its 30 for 30 series will also be available.

The NBA is in the mood for some Indian, inking a partnership with Times Internet Limited for a digital partnership that will launch the first-ever dedicated NBA section on the Times of India website. The NBA section will look to capitalize on increasing interest in the league throughout the country and will feature daily updates on the latest NBA news, scores and original columns from Times Group journalists. Daily video highlights, photo galleries and articles from NBA analysts will also be part of the mix, as well as in-depth features on the league and its players and journalists from the Times will travel to the 2011 NBA Finals to provide coverage for fans in India.

The Main Event

Game one of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on NBC at 8p as the Boston Bruins visit the Vancouver Canucks.

ON THIS DAY in 1939 – Television’s first boxing match. Lon Nova defeats Max Baer to win the bout.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Which team has won the most Stanley Cups?  The Montreal Canadians with 23. Kudos: John Carlo – NBCUniversal Ad Sales/NY; Aaron Beitler – DIRECTV/NY; Chris Connaughton – Big Lead Sports/NY; Carol Teichman – Comcast Spotlight/Bloomfield; Jane Degen – Mass Relevance/Austin; Dan Radman – Busch Media Group/St. Louis; Adam Deverell – Cox Reps/LA; Don Surath – CBS Media Solutions/San Francisco; Roman Saienni – Fox Sports/LA; Troy Taillon – Ocean Productions Inc./Vancouver

In The Know:  In what year did the first NHL team leave Atlanta? (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
June 1, 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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