Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Cynopsis: Sports

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, May 25, 2011, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

The NBA Players Association opened fire on the impending lockout, filing an unfair labor practice charge claiming that the league did not bargain in good faith in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement.  The complaint was filed Tuesday with the New York office of the National Labor Relations Board and stated the NBA was making “harsh, inflexible and grossly regressing ‘takeaway’ demands” during negotiations without offering concessions. The association also claims that the league bypassed the union to deal directly with players and threatened an unlawful lockout. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with its players expires on June 30.

On the Air

Speaking of lockouts, the NFL has officially cancelled this league’s annual rookie symposium this year, marking the first scheduled league event lost due to the lockout. The symposium was slated to begin on June 26 and teach rookies life skills and money management strategies to maximize their opportunity in the league.

NBC’s broadcast of the Preakness Stakes, in which Shackleford edged Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom for the win, drew 8.8 million viewers to the channel, marking a jump of 5% over 2010. The telecast scored as the second highest Preakness in the past five years, earning a 5.6 household rating and 13 share.

Manchester United’s reward this season for winning a record 19th English Championship? Try a cool $97.6 million, based on television revenue this season. Per league rules, a quarter of domestic revenue is distributed according to how many times team games are broadcast and another quarter split according to team standings in the league, positioning the popular and successful Manchester United to the top of league earnings. Blackpool earned a league-low $63.2 million in its debut season.

After earning a spot in this year’s Indianapolis 500, Danica Patrick and her management team now have their sights set on a full-time NASCAR schedule, according to reports. Patrick is seeking to lock in a deal that would have her race full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season before jumping as a regular for the Sprint Cup in 2013. Her deals with both Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar Series and JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series expire after this year.

ESPN has announced that The 2011 Jimmy V Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics will both be held on Tuesday, Dec. 6, marking the first time the two events have been played on the same night. As part of raising awareness and funds to battle cancer, The 10th annual Women’s Classic will feature NCAA National Champion Texas A&M at perennial contender UConn in Storrs, Conn. at 7p on ESPN2. The 17th annual men’s doubleheader will be held at Madison Square Garden and showcase Missouri vs. Villanova at 7p and Washington vs. Marquette at 9p on ESPN. The two events will wrap up the company’s annual Jimmy V Week to help raise funds for cancer research. Last year’s initiative raised more than $1.2 million in net proceeds.

MLB Network is gearing up for interleague play in June, slating 12 matchups on the channel’s roster of game for the month. Matchups will feature Red Sox at Phillies, Yankees at Cubs, Rangers at Braves, Tigers at Rockies and Twins at Brewers, beginning on Friday, June 17.

The network will also feature longtime David Cone joining Bob Costas for two games behind the microphone for the always-pleasing Red Sox/Yankees series on Tuesday, June 7 and Thursday, June 9. MLB Network’s Tom Verducci will return to the game broadcast booth twice in June, first with Costas to call the Giants at Cardinals game June 2, and then with Matt Vasgersian for a matchup between NL Central rivals Cubs and Cardinals on Friday, June 3.

Fresh off a payday from the NBC Sports Group, NHL executives told the press that the NHL salary cap will rise next season. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a speech that the league’s salary cap will rise at least $1.1 million to $60.5 million per year. Daly noted that the NHL is expecting to post record revenue of close to $3 billion for the 2010-11 season.

MSG Network is kicking off its annual fiesta, locking in plans for the channel’s annual “Summer Block Party,” with themed programming blocks every night starting at 7p. Beginning Saturday, May 28, each night of the week on MSG Network will feature a programming block with a designated theme. The nights will consist of: Classic Mondays, Countdown Tuesdays, Boxing Wednesdays, Hoops Thursdays, Music Fridays powered by Fuse and Cinema Weekends. The “Summer Block Party” will also feature two new MSG Original programs, “Who Wore It Best?” and “10 to One.”

  • “Who Wore It Best?” premieres Monday, May 30, and looks New York’s most iconic uniform numbers from every sport to determine which athlete brought the most prestige to the digits they donned. Dino Costa serves as host.
  • On Tuesday, May 25, the channel will debut “10 to One,” which counts down the greatest athletes, past and present, to call Madison Square Garden home. The series is hosted by Brittany Umar.

is heading back to the ring, picking up Peter Berg’s primetime reality series On Freddie Roach. The six-episode series will debut in early 2012 and follows boxing trainer Roach, owner of Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood. The series will examine Roach’s work with young fighters, his interactions with celebrities as well as his battle against Parkinson’s disease. Film 44 and Atticus Entertainment will produce.

Keep an eye out for two-time Super Bowl champ Jarvis Green in the second season of Masterchef on Fox next month. The Houston Texan player made the top 100 finals as one of the best amateur cooks in America. The series begins on Monday June 6 at 8p.

Kudos to this year’s NASCAR Hall of Fame class, who were officially inducted Monday night. Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, David Pearson and Lee Petty were enshrined and have captured a total of 350 victories and a dozen championships on the circuit.

The Summit League has reached a deal with Midco Sports Network that will give the network exclusive broadcast rights to the 2011 Summit League Baseball Championship presented by American Airlines. The tournament will take place from May 26-28 at Sioux Falls Stadium and feature a four-team, double-elimination tournament that will air on Midco Sports Network throughout North Dakota, South Dakota and parts of Minnesota.

Sponsorship & Promotion

CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company, China’s sports joint venture between CCTV, the national television network of China and IMG Worldwide are entering a strategic partnership with Shanghai Racing Sports Corporation to manage and promote China Touring Car Championship. As part of the deal, CCTV-5, China’s only national sports television channel, will provide extensive coverage for the sport and CCTV-IMG and Shanghai Racing will develop the commercial side to build the value of the series.

Last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway set a new kind of record when 65,000 fans turned on their flashlights to break the Guinness World Records achievement for most flashlights lit simultaneously. Energizer outfitted the audience with LED headlights as they entered the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Milwaukee Brewers answer to their “Where’s Bernie” promotion ended up being eBay. Thanks to a number of overzealous fans, the team’s local stunt of hiding 1,000 lawn jockey statues of team mascot Bernie Brewer went awry with fans arriving before the 7a promotion time and hoarding multiple statues, which quickly ended up for sale online.

Digital Fields

NASCAR joined Eutechnyx and Activision Tuesday to announce the release of NASCAR: The Game 2011 for the Wii. With Wii version of the game will optimize the Wiimote controls within the action to bring 43 cars and 23 faithfully recreated tracks to the system.

Hooters has partnered with the UFC for a Facebook promotion in hunt of a Hooters Girl to be a guest Octagon Girl during the UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber event in Las Vegas on July 2. Hooters Girls from around the country have submitted photos and bios in hopes to receive the most Facebook fan votes during the contest. From now through June 2nd, fans can vote for their favorite Hooters Girl on the Hooters Facebook page  with the winner of the contest appearing at the PPV event.

Big Lead Sports has named Brian LaRock to the newly-created position of Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer for the online sports property. LaRock brings more than 25 years of experience in financial management and strategy, most recently serving as CFO of 5min Media and UGO Entertainment.

The Main Event

Following a comeback, overtime win against the Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks look to punch their ticket into the championship series in game five of the NBA Western Conference Finals at 9p on ESPN. Mike Breen will call the action with analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy as well reporter Doris Burke.

ON THIS DAY in 1965 – Muhammad Ali takes the Heavyweight boxing title with a quick KO over Sonny Liston.

Answer to Yesterday’s Sports Trivia Question: Who was the last American to win the Indianapolis 500? Sam Hornish Jr. was the last American to win the famed race in 2006. Kudos: Juan P. Delgado – Telemundo/Miami; Tom Wetzel – MMSI/Warwick, RI; Nikki Chanda – SPEED/Charlotte; Jane Degen – Mass Relevance, Inc./Austin; Tom Moore – Kalt Productions/Los Angeles

In The Know:  In what city did the Milwaukee Brewers initially play? (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 25, 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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