SBD/12/Leagues Governing Bodies

NHL SHOOTS AND SCORES WITH FOX BROADCAST DEAL

     The NHL Board of Governors is expected to ratify today a
$155M, five-year TV deal with Fox, marking the first time the
league will have regular season, playoff, and Stanley Cup finals
games broadcast on a regular basis since the '74-'75 season.  A
joint NHL/Fox news conference in New York is scheduled for
tomorrow (mult., 9/10-12).  Smith Barney media analyst Bill
Meyers told THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY this morning:  "The NHL
hasn't had a significant presence on broadcast television.  So,
this is as important for the league as it is for Fox" (DAILY
sources, 9/12).
     HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:  Final details have not been made
public, but Fox, which reaches 90M homes, will reportedly kick-
off its hockey schedule with the January 21 All-Star Game; air at
least 12 games of the week on Sunday afternoons through April 9;
cover a playoff game weekly; and air a number of Stanley Cup
Finals games in prime time.  Coverage may be regionalized (mult.,
9/10-12). "Fox will also...be guaranteed exclusive national
rights to a Stanley Cup Game 7, should one be played" (Phil
Mushnick, N.Y. POST, 9/12).
     REVENUE SHARING:  The deal "reportedly assures $31M annually
to the NHL under a unique financing plan in which the league will
sell and keep advertising revenue until it reaches its guarantee.
If it falls short, Fox would make up the difference.  If it
exceeds the total, the league and Fox will share that revenue"
(Jack Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/10).
     THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS:  18-34 year olds are the name of
the game and "Fox also has pledged an extensive promotional
campaign for a sport whose demographic of younger viewers also
fits nicely with the network's audience" (Leonard Shapiro,
WASHINGTON POST, 9/10).
     SUDS AND DUDS:  Anheuser-Busch and Nike are major backers,
according to Stars President Jim Lites:  "They were already in
and said if you do network television, we will make this level of
commitment.  [Commissioner Gary Bettman] was then able to go into
the networks with those commitments and make it happen" (Barry
Horn, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/10).
     FOX HUNT:  The NHL deal "is further evidence that Murdoch is
determined to be a player in the bidding war for every major
sports franchise" (Jim Benson, VARIETY, 9/9). "As it did in
December when it won the rights to broadcast NFL games for four
seasons, Fox again outbid CBS," which made a final offer of
$150M.  NBC and ABC did not bid at all, and Fox Chair Rupert
Murdoch "personally negotiated the NHL deal" (Barry Horn, DALLAS
MORNING NEWS, 9/10).  Smith Barney's Bill Meyers, in an interview
this morning:  "It adds the 'S' to Fox Sports" (DAILY sources,
9/12).
     ESPN REAX:  The NHL has reportedly extended its deal with
ESPN for two years and will allow the cable network to "televise
late-round playoff games in home markets" (Rudy Martzke, USA
TODAY, 9/12).  In a statement released Friday, ESPN -- which has
completed two years of its five-year, $80M cable deal with the
NHL -- expressed approval of the Fox contract:  "We have been
saying all along we have been working closely with the NHL in its
continuous efforts to obtain a broadcast network agreement in
return for certain contract modifications, including greater
exclusivity.  We agree that greater broadcast network exposure
will benefit all involved" (Barry Horn, DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
9/10).
     LIGHTNING GOVERNOR DAVID LEFEVRE:  "If the product goes well
and picks up more viewers than expected, the package could
increase even further" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/10).
     CAPITALS PRESIDENT DICK PATRICK:  "This adds to our exposure
and gives the perception in this country that hockey is becoming
a national sport as opposed to a regional one as it has been in
the past.  If we're hard to find on TV, we're not major league,
and that's more important than the finances of the deal"
(WASHINGTON POST, 9/10).
     TIMING IS EVERYTHING:  The Fox deal comes amid reports of a
threatened work stoppage, so "the question now becomes whether
revenue from the Fox deal would be enough to help avert a player
walkout" (Jim Benson, VARIETY, 9/9).
     HELSINKI ACCORD:  According to a source of THE SPORTS
BUSINESS DAILY, an agreement reached in Finland over the weekend
between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation
provides a framework for NHL players to go to the Olympics, as
well as a possible joint NHL/IIHF Pan-European "Super-League"
(DAILY sources, 9/12).
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