Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, May 22, 2013, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing. 

The NFL partnered up with another heavyweight in Microsoft for a deal estimated to be worth $400 million over five years. The deal will see Microsoft deliver interactive NFL television experiences for the just-announced next-generation Xbox One as well as leverage Microsoft devices and services to evolve the in-game, sideline experience for coaches, players and other personnel. The NFL on Xbox will provide fans with an all-new viewing experience through innovations around Skype and Xbox SmartGlass; an all-new fantasy football solution that allows fans to view players and live competition side by side on a single TV screen. Xbox also gets the exclusive rights to extend these interactive experiences to tablets.

Meanwhile, the deal also provides coaches and players with access to a variety of Microsoft solutions, including Surface tablets to enhance on-field communications, photo viewing and play calling. The league and Microsoft will work toward a future that allows players to review in-game photos from different camera angles directly from the sideline and head coaches calling plays off connected Surface tablets instead of today’s static paper products.

On the Air

While we are on the NFL, the league announced that Super Bowl L will officially take place in San Francisco at the 49ers’ new stadium in 2016. Meanwhile, Houston was awarded the 51st Super Bowl at Reliant Stadium.

ESPN made surprising headlines yesterday when it was revealed that the company was laying off hundreds of employees in an effort to cut costs with multiple reports stating that the cuts could top 300 jobs. Deadspin broke the story, noting that the layoffs are concentrated in sales and technology and are a result of spiraling rights fees, among other factors. The reductions mark ESPN’s first major staff reduction since 2009.

With more Nielsen numbers in, NBC Sports reports that its coverage of Saturday’s Preakness Stakes drew 9.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched Preakness since 2009. Viewership for the race was up 20% over last year’s race.  The household rating of 5.9/14 is up 13% from last year’s race (5.2/13), the highest since 2009 (6.8/16), and the second best since 2006 (6.6/16).

Meanwhile, SPEED saw some wins from its coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, according to Nielsen. Subtracting a red-flag stoppage for rain, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race scored a rating of 3.29 Saturday night, up 6.5% from last year’s 3.09. Including the delay, the total rating of 3.04 dipped 2% from 2012. On the night, SPEED’s ratings finished second in ad-supported cable, second with Men 18-49, first with Men 35-54 and second with Men 25-54.

Two of sport’s biggest brands are teaming up with Manchester City and the New York Yankees set to announce a $100 million Major League Soccer team today. New York City Football Club will become the MLS’s 20th team and will look to start playing for the 2015 season. YES Network will televise live the press conference tomorrow morning formally announcing the new MLS team at 10a. Michael Kay will host the coverage on-site.

NBC, NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports Network will offer more than 20 hours of Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball from July 22-28. The event marks the first Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) sanctioned Grand Slam tournament in the United States since 2003, and will include the inaugural World Series Cup, a special competition that features the top U.S. men’s and women’s teams competing against the best teams from around the world. Coverage launches Thursday, July 25 at 8p on NBC Sports Network with the Women’s Grand Slam Quarterfinals, and will continue through the weekend. The World Series Cup Women’s Finals will air Saturday, July 27 at 4p on NBC, with the Men’s Finals airing Sunday, July 28 at 4:30p on NBC. Universal Sports Network will also provide more than 13 hours of coverage of the event.

Paul Finebaum is returning to the airwaves, inking a deal with ESPN for a radio program on ESPN networks, 100 televised appearances annually on ESPN and a TV simulcast of his radio show on the ESPN-owned SEC Network launching in August 2014, according to the WSJ. His radio program will being on Aug. 1.

NBA TV will offer a special 30-minute edition of Shaqtin’ A Fool, featuring Shaquille O’Neal taking a light-hearted look at some of the funnier moments in the game. The special run Thursday, May 23, at 7p and will be hosted by Jared Greenberg with O’Neal and Dennis Scott.

NBC Sports Group carries 12 live hours of the first major championship of the 2013 senior golf season and the oldest event on the Champions Tour with the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. Golf Channel airs the opening rounds Thursday and Friday from Noon-3p, followed by weekend coverage on NBC from 3-6p.

Bounce TV has locked in an exclusive sports right agreement with the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference(SIAC) which consists of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) located in the southern US. The deal will include regular season football games in October and November as well as the SIAC Conference Championship Game on November 16. The channel will also feature a new series called Step Wars, produced by CSE. The series will follow the world of step competitions at the country’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and debut in the first quarter of 2014.

The Chicago Sky reached a five-year deal with Weigel Broadcasting to carry 24 games a year on its networks, including two games this season on WCIU-TV and 22 games on Weigel’s U Too station.

Sponsorship & Promotion

The National Basketball Association and National Basketball Players Association will contribute $1 million to support relief efforts in the Oklahoma City area following the tragic tornado. The organizations will join forces with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other disaster relief agencies that are mobilizing their resources to support the recovery and rebuilding efforts. In addition, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Thunder star Kevin Durant each donated $1 million to the relief efforts, while other NBA teams, along with current and former players, are also contributing to aid in the recovery.

The Charlotte Bobcats officially announced that they will change the team name (back) to the Hornets, submitting their intent to the NBA.

Digital & Production

With production for the Indianapolis 500 set to air Sunday on ABC, ESPN revealed that its production will utilize 84 cameras to televise the event, including three onboard cameras per car in 12 of the 33 cars competing in the race. Equipment will include the newly-enhanced “Batcam,” a camera that offers unique views running on a cable over pit road and the frontstretch, which can now reach speeds of 95 mph. Views and replays will be enhanced with expanded usage of four Ultra Hi Motion cameras that will be located in the short chutes at each end of the 2.5-mile track as well as at the fourth turn exit, with a fourth robotic camera added this year to provide a low shot entering the first turn.

TiVo is now offering a MLB.TV Premium subscription on any of the TiVo Premiere DVRs. TiVo viewers can go to to subscribe to MLB.TV Premium and to activate an account on TiVo Premiere.

ONE World Sports will offer exclusive, live coverage of the World Cup Asian qualifiers in June with a special broadband preview of the network. The free streaming will feature the final stage of Round 4 of the Asian qualifiers, which take place on June 4, 11 and 18 and determine four of the possible five regional participants in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil on

Roster Moves

Universal Sports Network named Robert James as its Vice President of Programming where he will lead the overall programming strategy including planning, content acquisition and development for Universal Sports. James will also be responsible for contract negotiations with global partners including International Sport Federations and National Governing Bodies. James joins the channel from Comcast Cable Communications in Denver, CO, where he spent nine years as Regional Director of Content and General Manager for Comcast Entertainment Television.

The Main Event, the featured game of the day sponsored by Thuuz, real-time sports discovery for mobile & connected TV platforms

Pacers vs. Heat Tonight 8:30p. Thuuz rating:91
Don’t overlook the Pacers – they won the season series 2-1 against the Heat. On TNT.


Cynopsis: Digital BIG Monetization Summit
June 18 | 10 on the Park (TWC) | NYC

A sampling of the powerful line-up of speakers:
Marc DeBevoise, EVP & GM, Entertainment, News & Sports [CBS Interactive]
Raymond Dooley, VP, Marketing [Sundance Channel]
Jill Griffin, SVP, Branded Content & Storytelling [LiquidThread USA]
Liz Jenkins, VP Corporate Development [Media Rights Capital]

View the complete list of speakers & register:

ON THIS DAY in 2003: Annika Sorenstam becomes the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since Babe Didrikson 58 years earlier.

In The Know: What was the MLB’s last expansion team? (Note: relocation doesn’t equal expansion) (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.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: This former #1 pick in the NFL draft also had a major role in the movie Goonies. Who was he? Answer: John Matuszack who played Sloth. Kudos: Christian Storms-Fox Sports Japan/Japan; Perry Serwitz-Fox Sports/NY; Pete Gautieri-A&E Networks/NY; Mike Donato-CBS/NY; Vince Ricci-Newspaper National Network LP/NY; Jerry A. Kapner-Kapner Group/Montclair; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Jonathan Lipson-Active International/Pearl River; Chuck Gordon-Clear Channel Media/Mobile; Jim Dittemore-I Will Race You MotorSports Management/KC; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles local/LA; Fitzjohn Flynn-La Tierra Partners/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productins Inc/Santa Monica.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | Sports

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