Good morning. It’s Thursday January 28, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.
A year after launching American Sports Network, Sinclair Broadcast Group is going deeper into the biz, nabbing Tennis Channel for $350 million. With its new acquisition boasting rights to 90% of all the televised tennis in the US, the company has already locked in agreements with MVPDs that will boost carriage of Tennis Channel from 30 million to 50 million homes.
“Tennis Channel is an established property with high-quality content and advertisers, and is vastly under-compensated and under-distributed relative to the value it brings to its viewers. It was the only independently-owned major sports network left, and we knew we could unlock value through a tuck-in acquisition,” said David Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sinclair. “The additional subscriber base, which has already been contracted, equates to the creation of approximately $200 million of incremental value at closing. Furthermore, we expect this combination to create additional linear and OTT viewership and advertising growth, and we have the added benefit of continued involvement of Ken Solomon, CEO of Tennis Channel, and a seasoned programming executive.”
“In Sinclair we have found the perfect owner-partner to accelerate scaling the Tennis Channel brand and our sport’s expanding fan-base to the next level. Sinclair’s unique size and position in the media ecosystem will facilitate significant distribution growth towards parity with our competitive set and expand our brand’s assets and unique value as the go-to destination for all things tennis in the U.S. and beyond,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO of the Tennis Channel. “The larger platform will immediately help develop incremental advertising and sponsorship business and puts us in a great position to enhance our already comprehensive rights portfolio domestically as well as develop the brand internationally. We also intend to utilize Sinclair’s advanced branding capabilities, digital expertise and significant broadcast asset platform to drive increased awareness for both Tennis Channel and our successful subscription-based OTT platform, ‘Tennis Channel Plus.’”
ON THE AIR
FOX Sports landed multi-platform media rights to the 2016 Copa America Centenario in June, anchored by teams from the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the US. The company will carry all 32 matches live across 10 venues nationwide spanning June 3-26, with matches appearing on FOX broadcast network, FS1 and FS2. In addition, FOX Sports expects to offer pregame, postgame and complimentary programming over the month-long tournament.
Meanwhile, Paul Azinger signed on with FOX Sports to serve as lead analyst for its golf coverage, beginning this year. Azinger replaces Greg Norman and will join Joe Buck and analyst Brad Faxon in the 18th Tower for FOX Sports’ USGA Championship telecasts. In his new role, Azinger will work the 116th U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club, the U.S. Women’s Open at Cordevalle and the U.S. Senior Open at Scioto Country Club.
Speaking of golf, CBS Sports launches its 2016 golf season on Saturday with its “most comprehensive lineup in the history of network television.” Overall, the company serves up 21 golf tournaments this year, with more than 155 hours of coverage, including the Masters, PGA Championship, 19 PGA TOUR events and more than seven golf specials. This weekend will see the Farmers Insurance Open from 3-6p on Jan. 30 and 3-6:30p on Sunday. Bill Macatee serves as anchor this weekend along with Sir Nick Faldo in the 18th tower.
ESPN’s Pro Bowl plans this year will see Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and reporter Lisa Salters call the NFL showcase on Sunday at 7p. Production elements will include: all quarterbacks wearing microphones; aerial coverage via Spidercam; live talk-backs with captains Irvin and Rice; next Gen NFL stats applications; a wireless camera on the referee; inside the locker room access; sideline interviews with Salters.
ONE World Sports is broadening distribution thanks to new deals with three affiliate partners – New Jersey-based Service Electric Broadband Cable, Pennsylvania-based Hotwire Communications and Alaska-based GCI. ONE World Sports also announced the completion of the authentication process for current affiliate, RCN. These newest affiliations were enabled under ONE World Sports’ January 2015 agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC).
MLB Network spotlights the life of Harry Caray on Feb. 2 at 9p, Holy Cow! The Story of Harry Caray, the latest edition of MLB Network Presents. William Petersen narrates the one-hour program, which documents Carey’s career and how his legacy still resonates throughout the game today.
RSNs!! Is your work up to snuff? If so, make sure to enter our special categories for you at the Cynopsis Sports Awards, including RSN of the Year, Live Coverage of a Sporting Event, Dedicated Coverage and Marketing Campaign. Make your work go global with a win! Enter now at http://www.cynopsis.com/event/2015-sma
On the local front, MSG Networks saw Tuesday night’s Knicks game against the Oklahoma City Thunder score a 4.17 HH rating to mark the highest-rated Knicks game on MSG in more than three years. So far during the 2015-16 season, the channel is averaging a HH rating of 2.17, up 31% from the first 45 games of the 2014-15 season.
Meanwhile, CSN Bay Area scored its highest-rated game telecast in the history of the network with a 16.08 TV household rating for its coverage of the Warriors win over the Spurs. The telecast averaged approximately 399,508 households in the SF DMA. Meanwhile, CSN Bay Area Digital set a network record with 2.9 million minutes streamed and 66K live starts for the Warriors-Spurs game on CSNBayArea.com and via NBC Sports Live Extra.
RIP to Barney Hall, whose 50-year broadcast career brought NASCAR to millions of radio listeners. “The entire NASCAR family extends its condolences to the family, friends and fans of Barney Hall, a NASCAR broadcasting giant for more than 50 years,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. “Barney’s impeccable delivery and incredible storytelling skills left an indelible mark on the sport that he so clearly loved. His legacy remains through an honor that rightly carries his name the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. It will remain a constant reminder of the skill and passion that Barney brought to his work.”
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION
With Super Bowl 50 set for the Bay Area, Visa is leveraging its home-court advantage with a slate of activations throughout the week designed to play up its offerings as a technology company with long ties to the NFL. “Visa has been a long-time partner of the NFL, having the Super Bowl in our backyard gives us a great opportunity to do exciting activation that showcases our role as a technology company,” Lara Balazs, Senior Vice President, Head of North America Marketing at Visa told Cynopsis Sports. “It was important to us to bring something special this year, and something that will cut through the clutter and is unique, innovative, and coincides with our technology-driven brand.” Activations include:
Visa Digital Skyline Projections at its HQ on One Market Street, lighting up the skyline with a dynamic and technologically innovative display facing Super Bowl City and the beautiful bay with hours of programming throughout the week.
Outfitting Levi’s Stadium with nearly 700 NFC-enabled POS terminals that encourage the use of mobile payments and chip technology, while also helping to drive Visa brand awareness and preference.
In-seat ordering using Visa Checkout
Speaking of the Super Bowl, Amazon opened the doors to its first-ever Super Bowl ad, showcasing the Echo speaker and its virtual assistant, Alexa. The 30-second teaser spot features Alec Baldwin planning a Super Bowl party with Dan Marino, and subsequently ordering snacks, a chef, an architect, and cheerleaders for their soiree.
Sports Illustrated is bringing back the SI Swimsuit fan festivals to help launch this year’s franchise. The tour launches Feb. 15 -16 in New York with “Swim City” hosted at the Altman Building before hitting Miami Beach at Lummus Park from Feb. 17-18. Last year’s festivities drew more than 65,000 fans and both of this year’s events will see appearances by the 2016 SI Swimsuit model cast; live Q&As; autograph sessions; music from live DJs spinning; a Schick Hydro Barbershop with free shaves and the chance to get a shave from an SI Swimsuit model; a Lane Bryant Swimsuit Lifestyle Bungalow with photo booths, fun social sharing opportunities and a digital shop; a Smith & Forge Cider House with games such as shuffleboard; a VIP Lexus Lounge that will double as a social hub; SI Swimsuit merchandise for sale; and more exclusive experiences from SI Swimsuit partners.
DIGITAL & STREAMING
NFL Digital Media has its Super Bowl plans, announcing content across NFL Now, NFL.com, NFL Mobile from Verizon, SuperBowl.com, etc. Starting Monday, the company will produce NFL Now Live: Super Bowl 50 while Colleen Wolfe and Marc Istook anchoring coverage from The Huddle, the NFL’s social media command center. The Rich Eisen Show also returns to the Super Bowl with a week’s worth of shows originating from the Presidio of San Francisco. The company is also launching both the new Road to 50 app for fans in the San Francisco Bay Area showcasing all of the Super Bowl celebrations in the local area as well as the Super Bowl Stadium App, which offers fans the ability to explore transportation options and events at GameDay Fan Plaza Presented by SAP. During the game, fans can also use the app to watch Super Bowl commercials, watch instant replays from four different camera angles and explore interactive stadium maps.
StatMuse, an interactive sports media platform powered by natural language search, locked in a $10 million Series A investment with participation from Techstars, The Walt Disney Company (through a subsidiary), Allen & Co., Greycroft Partners, Promus Ventures, Haas Portman, Deep Fork Capital, and Bee Partners. In addition, the investment round includes the likes of former NBA commissioner David Stern and United Talent Agency. “Sports is, by itself, the international language, but StatMuse has taken a giant leap forward, transforming sports statistics into meaningful, storytelling prose,” said Stern.
DGital Media and partner Yahoo Sports announced the launch of “The Vertical Podcast with JJ Redick,” a new audio offering featuring Clippers guard J.J. Redick. The podcast, part of “The Vertical Podcast with Woj,” will publish new episodes each Tuesday, along with regular breaking news reports throughout the year. The deal will see Redick become the first active NBA athlete to host a regular podcast.
Peter Diamond was promoted to Executive Vice President, Programming, NBC Olympics. He will continue to oversee programming NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Olympic Games and work on a regular basis with the international Olympic-sport federations and the national governing bodies of Olympic sports in the United States. Diamond will work at his 17th Olympic Games this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is more than any executive in U.S. television history. “Peter Diamond has been the architect of NBC’s hugely successful Olympic programming schedule for nearly 30 years,” said NBC Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell. “His unparalleled knowledge of Olympic sports and his relationships within the world sporting community have helped us grow the Games in the U.S. to unprecedented levels of coverage and popularity.”
Omnigon announced the promotions of five employees to senior roles. Among those promoted, within the Commercial organization, include Becki Wronko Civello to Vice President, Client Services, Manish Dayal to Vice President, Client Engagement and Managing Director, Los Angeles office, and Joanna Solowey to Vice President, Marketing.
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