SBD/14/Leagues Governing Bodies

THE NHL, FOX AND ESPN UNVEIL THEIR "YOUTH MOVEMENT"

     Officials from the NHL, Fox Broadcasting, ESPN, Anheuser-
Busch and Nike gathered yesterday to officially announce the
league's new broadcast TV deal with Fox and an extension of its
cable deal with ESPN.  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman cited
demographics as a key factor, declaring that hockey "is a perfect
match for Fox's younger, hipper audience":  "Fox is strong in the
18-34 age group and that's where we are strongest as well.  That
is where the future of our game lies" (Rob Longley, TORONTO SUN,
9/14).
     DETAILS:  Fox's premier telecast will the All-Star Game in
San Jose on January 21.  Fox will have exclusive rights to the
final two Sundays of the regular season and playoff games,
including a minimum of two Stanley Cup finals games and any Game
7 finals match-up.  In addition to about 100 regular season games
on ESPN and ESPN2, the cable net will have exclusive rights to
Games 2, 3, 5, and 6 of the finals and up to 12 games of the
conference finals.  Fox will reportedly pay $155M; ESPN's deal is
said to be worth $65M.   KEEPING THE REGIONALS HAPPY:  "Less
pleased" with the deal will be regional cable networks and local
outlets that carry the NHL.  With Fox aboard and ESPN's new
exclusivities, "they will have fewer games to produce and sell."
MSG Network President Doug Moss:  "It's disappointing.  But I
understand that Bettman is taking the league where everyone else
is going. ... It's great for hockey.  Great for the Rangers.  Not
so great for MSG" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 9/14).  Bettman:
"If we increase the fan base for NHL hockey, more people are
going to become interested in the vast bulk of games carried on
the regional networks" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/14).
     FOX SAYS "TOUGH" TO OTHER NETS:  Fox Sports President David
Hill, asked about concerns from other nets that Fox "doesn't
share their concern about making sure a sports deal is
profitable":  "What do I say to them?  I say that's tough" (Bob
Raissman, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/14).  Rudy Martzke asks about Fox:
"Can Wimbledon and baseball be far behind?"  (USA TODAY, 9/14).
In Baltimore, Milton Kent also sees Wimbledon and the 2000
Olympics in Sydney as potential properties Fox could bid for
(Baltimore SUN, 9/14).
     MARKETING PARTNERS:  NHL Senior VP & COO Stephen Solomon
credited Anheuser-Busch and Nike for signing on as marketing
partners before they knew what network the NHL would be on or
what the schedule would be.  Anheuser-Busch VP for Corporate
Media & Sports Marketing Tony Ponturo noted that A-B saw the NHL
as a great way to prevent new product "Ice Draft" from
experiencing a "sophomore jinx" (THE DAILY, 9/14).  Ponturo:
"Hockey, with access to customers aged 21-34, is where we want to
be" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/14).  Nike Dir of League Relations Doug Stamm
cited the "breadth of the sponsorship package" and the "perfect
fit" between his company and Fox.  Stamm noted opportunities at
home -- to spread the Nike/NHL street hockey program to each of
the NHL cities -- and internationally, through the NHL's new
agreement with the Int'l Ice Hockey Federation.  Asked if other
companies would have access to the same packages as A-B and Nike,
the NHL's Solomon said:  "We have every belief that they're just
the start of companies that are going to be part of this hockey
package.  And in fact, there's a tremendous amount of interest
out there from a variety of companies at this very moment" (THE
DAILY, 9/14).
     AD SALES:  Bettman said the sale of ad time on Fox will be a
"joint venture" between the league and Fox.  He noted that the
first two sales -- A-B and Nike -- came from the NHL:  "It's a
partnership, and ultimately we have control.  But it is a
partnership in terms of how we're going to try to execute it"
(THE DAILY, 9/14).
     PAY-PER-VIEW:  ESPN was also given the opportunity to launch
a pay-per-view plan that would allow cable viewers to watch games
from outside their market (N.Y. TIMES, 9/14).     REVIEWS:  "The
deal may be a sign of the NHL's increasing popularity" (Tom Ford,
TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/14).  "Don't look now, but the [NHL] is moving
into the mainstream of professional sports" (Jeff Gordon, ST.
LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/14).  In New York, Jay Greenberg called it
"fortuitous timing" for the NHL:  "We'd like to see some improved
overnights before becoming convinced that Fox has bought into
something big" (N.Y. POST, 9/14). "Can Bart Simpson's pocket
change save the [NHL's] smaller markets?" (Dave Fay, WASHINGTON
TIMES, 9/14).  Paul Kangas said Fox "is at it again" ("Nightly
Business Report," PBS, 9/13).  ESPN's Robin Roberts: "Apparently
Fox had a little money left over from acquiring NFL games"
("SportsCenter", 9/13).
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