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Universal Sports Heads to Boston For Marathon and Message of Hope

After last year’s tragedy, the 2014 Boston Marathon will be much more than a race.

Exclusive U.S. rights-holder Universal Sports Network’s plans encompass a live pre-race show from the finish line on Boylston Street on April 19 and, two days later on Patriots’ Day, six hours of live race coverage. The April 21 event will be streamed live at www.universalsports.com/boston.

Honoring the perseverance and triumph of the human spirit, the network also will air 15 video vignettes under the “Run as One” banner — the theme of its promo campaign — in which the subjects, including survivors, first responders, medical personnel and race officials, relate their personal stories of the 2013 Boston bombings and their belief in hope in the aftermath.

Universal Sports commissioned Boston production company Moody StreetTV to create the shorts, which were filmed in January and February, including the finale, a conversation with David “Big Papi” Ortiz from the Red Sox’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla.

Other interviewees include ex-New England Patriot and cancer survivor Joe Andruzzi, marathon father-and-son team Dick and Rick Hoyt, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and David King, a surgeon who completed last year’s race and then went straight to Massachusetts General and immediately began operating on victims.

Other tales come from Marc Fucarile, who after finishing the 2013 race, stood near the finish line on Boylston Street, before the explosion took his right leg. He’s now focused on showing his son and others that he can still lead an active life.

David McGillivray’s story is also on tape. In 1973, he promised to run the race every year as a commitment to his late grandfather and, since becoming the event’s race director in 1988, he has been the last person to complete the 26-mile-plus trek each year. Last April 26, he maintained his promise, finishing his 41st Boston Marathon 11 days after the disrupted race began.

Universal Sports will roll out the vignettes, on-air and online, starting March 10 and continuing through April 21.

Some 60 million pay TV subscribers will get a chance to see the network’s “Run as One” series, Boston Marathon coverage, and other Olympic and action sports fare via a freeview from affiliates including DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Cox Communications, Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber during the week leading up to and the day of the race.

Disney: A New Take On Kids Upfronts

With the kids upfronts in full swing this week, one network has decided to pull its popular family-friendly upfront presentations for more intimate meetings with advertiser clients.

Disney Channel will forgo its annual showcase in New York, at which advertisers and their families were able to meet and greet the network’s tween-targeted stars. Past upfront presentations featured such kids’ favorites as Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and China Anne McClain.

Instead, Disney will host several meetings with clients in New York, L.A., Chicago and San Francisco to discuss upcoming programming strategies.

Disney officials said the decision to conduct smaller upfront meetings is the result of an “assessment” of where the marketplace is, and what clients and agencies have said they would value most during the kids upfront.

Disney told The Wire that at client and agency meetings, Disney Media plans to tout linear and non-linear platforms, including Disney XD, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, the Watch Disney app, Disney.com and Radio Disney, and how those properties together provide an avenue to reach kids and families. The Disney Media sales and marketing team will also highlight upcoming properties it’s selling across multiple media platforms, including The Radio Disney Music Awards, Disney XD’s fall series Star Wars Rebels and Disney Channel’s 2015 original movie Descendants.

Disney also will tout advertiser-supported Watch DXD and Watch Disney Channel apps, which have been downloaded 20 billion times and have delivered delivered 1.5 billion video views since launching in June 2012.

Disney Channel competitor Nickelodeon will offer a traditional upfront presentation March 13 in New York at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.

— R. Thomas Umstead

Scripps: Three’s Company For Property Brothers

In what has become a rite of late winter, Scripps Networks Interactive executives last week visited with The Wire to discuss Madison Avenue, industry trends and programming updates in front of their annual upfront tour, which will travel to eight cities, including New York on April 22 at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

This time around the conversation veered toward one of The Wire’s favorite shows, HGTV’s The Property Brothers. And Kathleen Finch, president of HGTV, DIY and Great American Country, did not disappoint, revealing … drum roll please: A third Scott brother will join 6-foot-four-inch twins Jonathan and Drew Scott for the second season of spinoff competition series Brother vs. Brother when it bows in June.

Older brother J.D. will provide fans with a secondscreen experience, offering viewers behind-the-scenes access to the show while sharing some dirt on his younger siblings. In videos appearing exclusively on HGTV.com, J.D., a founding member of Canadian sketch comedy ensemble YFG, a member of Loose Moose Improv and a noted celebrity impersonator, will interview Jonathan, Drew and their contestants throughout the season.

With J.D. at the helm, cameras will get up-close and personal with the twins, sharing such secrets as how much time Jonathan spends on his hair and supplying views of Drew with bed head.

HGTV officials said on-air prompts during the show — which pits Jonathan’s contracting skills against Drew’s realestate chops as their teams look to execute the smartest home renovation and score the biggest property-value increase to capture a $50,000 grand prize — will drive viewers to the website to learn more about the twins and their guests.

— Mike Reynolds