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THE DAY BASEBALL DIED: TBN HOPES TO FIGHT ON
Published September 15, 1994
It will "business as it was at ABC and NBC now that the baseball season has been canceled." Both nets, which were without baseball the last four years anyway, "will simply revert to regular prime-time programming to fill the baseball void." In forming The Baseball Network, ABC would have televised the first round of the playoffs and the World Series and NBC would have televised the two LCS. "The financial impact on both networks will be minimal." No one would say so, "but the resumption of the season probably would not have been welcome." ABC's prime- time has been gaining on CBS in the ratings and NBC is coming off a good ratings week (Larry Stewart, L.A. TIMES, 9/15). TV sports experts estimated that MLB lost about $100M in TV revenues by its decision to cancel the season (Lee Winfrey, PHILA. INQUIRER, 9/15). TBN will lose about $24M from unplayed regular season games (N.Y. TIMES, 9/15). ADVERTISERS: Major sponsors "are searching for alternative programming for their" ads. The problem is, "there aren't many good alternatives. Thanks to a boom in new products and a rebound in ad spending, the broadcast networks have already sold most of the choice slots" on many of the hit shows. GM, Texaco, Gatorade, Anheuser-Busch and MCI all had planned to advertise "heavily during the post-season" (Kevin Goldman, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/15). Louis Schultz of Lintas Media: "The longer the strike continues, the more difficult it will be for baseball to sell its product to advertisers next year, because they are going to be wary of the product" ("World News Tonight," ABC, 9/14). WHAT ABOUT '95? TBN spokesperson Ray Stallone "brushed off suggestions that he was using his cellular phone from a building ledge": "We have sales people in negotiations for 1995 as we speak" (Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY, 9/15). NEW LEAGUE: A network such as Fox or CBS "could serve as a catalyst to form a new league, though sources close to Fox management say it is leery of doing anything that would jeopardize its future attempts to make a deal" with MLB (Alan Truex, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/15). Former MLBPA Exec Dir Dick Moss, the main proponent of a new league, said the "goal is to field teams by April." He claims he's talked to investors about putting teams in eight to 12 cities" (Colin Miner, N.Y. POST, 9/15). Moss, taking a shot at Bud Selig: "I think as you see baseball reoragnized, Milwaukee will be left out" (Tom Haudricourt, MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 9/15). HOW'D WE GET HERE? John Helyar examines "how fear and loathing produced the standoff that wrecked the baseball season" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/15). DOES ANYBODY CARE? From the ESPN/Chilton Sports Poll: "The 1994 baseball season is now officially over. Do you care?" Yes 60%; No 40% ("SportsCenter," 9/14).