Good morning. It’s Thursday August 6, 2015, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

NBCSN is finally getting some Irish luck. NBC Sports Group unveiled its coverage plans for Notre Dame football this season, which will mark the school’s 25th season on NBC. The action kicks off on Sept. 5 with the Fighting Irish host Texas at 7:30p on NBC with the network’s schedule then running through Nov. 14 featuring opponents that include USC, Navy and Georgia Tech. Capping off the season will be NBCSN’s first-ever Notre Dame Football telecast as the team faces Boston College on Nov. 21. Talent is set to include Doug Flutie as lead analyst, along with play-by-play announcer Dan Hicks, and sideline reporter Kathryn Tappen. Meanwhile, Jonathan Vilma joins the broadcast team as a pre-game and halftime analyst which includes host Liam McHugh and fellow analyst Hines Ward.

“For more than two decades, Notre Dame Football has been one of the pillars of NBC Sports,” said NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus. “Since the formation of NBC Sports Group in 2011 — which combined broadcast, cable, digital, and regional assets — we’ve increased our Notre Dame content by presenting longer pre- and post-game shows, creating original programming, and expanding to college hockey. As we move forward, we’ll continue to explore how to bring more ‘Fighting Irish’ programming to fans.”


Across the pond, La Liga locked in a deal with Sky Sports for another three seasons of play thanks to a new broadcast agreement. Overall, the deal extends the partnership between Sky Sports and La Liga into its 20th year. “This is fantastic news for Sky Sports and strengthens our position as the first choice of sport in the UK and Ireland,” said Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports. “The agreement means our viewers can enjoy the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Bale and Neymar week in week out throughout the football season. Add to that the ‘El Clasico’ clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona in the league and Sky Sports viewers are sure to see some of the best football moments throughout the season. We’re proud to take our partnership with La Liga into its 20th year and remain the home of Spanish football for another three years.”

Bounce TV’s foray into boxing with Premier Boxing Champions  The Next Round on Sunday packed a punch. The card handed the channel with its highest single telecast ever as 1.6 million unique viewers tuned in over the course of the show. PBC – The Next Round returns Fri. Sept. 18 at 9p.

The NFL preseason opens the curtains on Sunday at 8p with NBC’s coverage of the NFL/Hall of Fame Game with the Steelers/Vikings. Al Michaels calls the game with Cris Collinsworth as analyst and Paul Burmeister on the sidelines, filling in for Michele Tafoya. Coverage will include interviews the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015, including RB Jerome Bettis and C Mick Tingelhoff.

Speaking of the NFL, Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice will serve as captains for the 2016 Pro Bowl, according to the league. The event will be played on Sunday, January 31 in Honolulu and carried live on ESPN.

FOX Sports will see Jamie Little make her FIM MotoGP World Championship hosting debut on Aug. 9 on FOX Sports 1 for coverage of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. Little will be joined by Ralph Sheheen on play-by-play, analyst Kevin Schwantz and pit reporter Jenny Taft. Coverage begins at 10a.

Golf Channel is slating 60+ hours toward the 2015 PGA Championship with news, analysis, highlights, interviews, etc. from Aug. 10-16. Anchoring coverage will be Golf Central’s Live From the PGA Championship wraparound news programming. In addition, Ryan Burr, Rich Lerner and Kelly Tilghman will anchor Golf Channel’s Live From the PGA Championship telecasts and will be joined by analysts Notah Begay, Brandel Chamblee, David Duval, Colin Montgomerie, Frank Nobilo, Arron Oberholser and Mark Rolfing.

Las Vegas and Quebec City have cleared level one and are now on “Phase II” of the NHL’s expansion process. According to potential Vegas owner Bill Foley, in an email to local supporters: “We are pleased to report that the NHL has invited us to participate in Phase II of the application process to secure an NHL team in Las Vegas. In this phase, we will be providing the League with additional information, including information about the Las Vegas market and the MGM AEG Arena being developed between Monte Carlo and New York New York. We will also be permitted access to information provided by the League that it deems important to us. We are hopeful that at the conclusion of this phase, the League will invite us to participate in Phase III."

On the local front. Yankee games continue to turn up the volume for YES Network, with Tuesday’s Red Sox/Yankees matchup ranking as the channel’s most-viewed Yankees telecast of the season, according to Nielsen, with an average of 414,000 Total Viewers  and a 4.17 average TV Household rating in the New York DMA.

Down the coast, the Phillies 6-2 win over the Dodgers on Tuesday handed Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia with its highest-rated game of the season. The battle scored a 5.27 household audience with a 6.45 peak and is up 73% compared to the season average. Since the All-Star Break, the Phillies are averaging a 3.8 HH rating for a 36% markup over the first half of the season.


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With less than a year before the 2016 Summer Olympics, NBC is projecting to once again break the $1 billion mark in ad sales. In a conference call with reporters earlier this week, Seth Winter, Executive Vice President of Ad Sales at NBC Sports, stated that the company was seeing sales pacing similarly to the 2012 London event which notched $1.3 billion, according to Kantar Media. Winter singled out auto marketers as being active, along with packaged goods, insurance marketers, movie studios, and fast-food restaurants. He also noted that NBCU has seen “good commitments” from the likes of BMW, United Airlines, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Nike, and Coca-Cola.

Tony Romo is now part of team Under Armour. ESPN writes that Romo entered an endorsement deal with the brand and joins the likes of Tom Brady and Cam Newton on the roster.

Competitor Group announced a sponsorship extension with Brooks Running Company that runs through 2020. The continued partnership keeps Brooks as the official running footwear, apparel and sports bra of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. Brooks will become presenting sponsor of all Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K events and also create an official Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series footwear and apparel line.


Universal Sports Network is giving the OTT treatment to the upcoming Rugby World Cup 2015, launching WatchRWC2015, a digital streaming PPV platform. The service will offer fans live streaming and on-demand access to all of the six-week tournament’s 48 matches in the U.S. and U.S. territories and will be located at UniversalSports.com/WatchRugby for $199.99 or individual matches at $27.95 per game. “Universal Sports Network will offer more access points to watch the Rugby World Cup in the United States than ever before,” said Scott Brown, President of Universal Sports Network. “This new over-the-top product enables us to deliver one of the biggest sporting events in the world across multiple platforms allowing fans to follow every minute of the action from England.”

The Women’s Tennis Association is bringing in SAP SE to develop SAP Tennis Analytics software that will allow players and coaches in professional tennis to access real-time performance data during live match play. The data will begin with the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University. Features include: side-by-side comparisons of the full list of match stats for both players, updated every 15 seconds; scoring data that analyzes player’s service performance, success rate in closing out a game while serving and number of break points saved; and tracking data which shows player’s serve direction and placement on the court, contact point for returning a serve and placement of rally shots.

The launch of Facebook’s new live-broadcasting feature is already serving as an instrument for a slew of athletes. With only celebrities and public figures allowed to access the tool, early adapters include the likes of Serene Williams and WWE’s Paul “Triple H” Levesque. Levesque, for example, did a Q&A with fans yesterday about the upcoming NXT TakeOver event the night before SummerSlam at Barclays Center.

CBS Sports’ announced that full coverage of the PGA Championship on Saturday and Sunday will be streamed live on CBSSports.com. Throughout the week, the site will also feature additional on-demand video content, round-by-round updates, and a viewing guide with course information.


DraftKings is working with ESPN for the start of the company’s $10 Million Guaranteed Millionaire Maker Fantasy Football Contest, slated to take place during Week One of the NFL season. While the grand prize winner will walk away with $2 Million from DraftKings, ESPN will team up with DraftKings to award the ESPN Fantasy Football League Manager player “who secures the highest number of fantasy points in the DraftKings Week One Millionaire Maker” an additional $1 Million to split between all members of his or her season-long 2015 ESPN Fantasy Football League Manager league. Players can now enter the contest via www.draftkings.com/espn.

Microsoft is getting deeper into the e-sports biz, according to the Seattle Times. The company is raising the prize pool of a competition among players of its Halo video game series to a cool $1 million. The company made the announcement on Tuesday at Gamescom.

Electronic Arts announced that EA Sports FIFA 16 will offer New Ways to Play in its two most popular modes: FIFA Ultimate Team and Career Mode. FIFA Ultimate Team introduces FUT Draft, a “brand new way for fans to test their team building skills and compete with some of the best football players in the world.” Meanwhile, Career Mode is adding two features: Pre-season Tournaments and Player Training. “We are delivering unprecedented depth and innovation to the franchise this season by bringing several new ways to play across Career Mode, Ultimate Team, and through the introduction of twelve Women’s National Teams,” said David Rutter, VP and GM, EA Sports FIFA. “We think fans are going to be equally as excited with all the new ways as they have been with the gameplay in FIFA 16. From hands-on gameplay events across the world, we’ve heard resoundingly positive feedback on the balanced and exciting experience we are building in FIFA 16.”


Dodgers/Phillies on MLB Network at 1p.







ON THIS DAY in 1890: Cy Young pitches his first major league baseball game.

In The Know:

What league featured the Los Angeles Express, Houston Gamblers and Washington Federals as franchises? (Email Chris-Sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Which MLB player was known as “The Big Hurt”? Answer: Frank Thomas. Kudos: Mitch Burg-Impact Communications/ Israel; Teddy Coleman/Teddy Coleman Media/NY; Graham Wills-EPIX/NY; Glenn Horine-Iona College/NY; David Weinberg-The Paley Center For Media/NY; Rick Alessandri-Univision Communications/NY; Michael G. Hawkins-Francis Marion University/Florence; Howard Goldberg-Ithaca College/Livingston; Matt Rothman-ESPN/Bristol; Dan Parisi-Rowland Publishing/Tallahassee; Derek Crownover-Dickinson Wright-Music Row/Nashville; Steve McNair-KUBE TV/Houston; Robert Teinowitz-Live Action Media/Chicago; Lisa Fikeys-Zimmerman/Chicago; Bob Chasse-Professional Bull Riders/Pueblo; Scott Sarra -Universal Sports Network/Denver; Jack Neumann University of Calgary Dinos 5th Quarter Alumni/Calgary; Michael Jaquet-U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association/Park City; Mike Pinckes-PGA TOUR/Carlsbad; Bryan Geidt-RevShare/Temecula; Rick Pike-InterMedia Advertising/Woodland Hills; Anne Wettig-Fox Cable Networks/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for

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