SBD/30/Sports Media

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  • BLOCKBUSTER-VIACOM MERGER APPROVED BY SHAREHOLDERS

         Blockbuster Entertainment shareholders approved the
    company's merger with Viacom, but not without reservations.
    About 60% of the 255M eligible shares were cast in favor of the
    merger (Dupont & Finefrock, MIAMI HERALD, 9/30).  In New York,
    Martin Peers noted that Viacom's Sumner Redstone "is now the
    world's No. 2 media mogul."  95% of Viacom shareholders approved
    the deal.  The merger makes Viacom the 2nd biggest U.S.-based
    media company in the world, after Time Warner.  In just seven
    months, Redstone has taken Viacom from a $8.8B company to a $26B
    giant, following takeovers of Paramount and Blockbuster (N.Y.
    POST, 9/30). CNN interviewed Redstone and Viacom CEO Frank
    Biondi. Redstone: "We relentlessly refused to let the Blockbuster
    merger die."  Redstone denied "reports and rumors" that Viacom is
    looking to buy CNN.  Biondi pointed out the importance of having
    a net, but that the price of buying one would not be a "rational"
    purchase ("Moneyline," CNN, 9/29).
         WHAT'S NEXT FOR HUIZENGA?  Friends have speculated that
    Huizenga would initially focus on his sports teams.  But Huizenga
    notes: "You can't build a sports team."  He ideally would like to
    acquire a company with sales between $300M and $500M and double
    its size.  Huizenga:  "At that size, you can double and double
    and double again."  Some associates expect Huizenga to buy or
    start a cable network or broadcast TV station to showcase his
    sports teams.  Others close to him expect him to acquire from
    Viacom the planned 2,500-acre entertainment complex -- Wayne's
    World -- that Blockbuster wants to develop (WALL STREET JOURNAL,
    9/30).
    

    Print | Tags: Media, Time Warner, Viacom
  • HIESTAND LOOKS FOR BUSINESS NEWS THAT'S MEANINGFUL TO FANS

         Last week THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY reported on the
    OREGONIAN's decision to hire a full-time sports business writer.
    Well, there is one person who has been writing regular columns
    about the industry since 1989, and that is Michael Hiestand of
    USA TODAY.  THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY spent some time with
    Michael yesterday getting his take on the industry.  Excerpts
    from our conversation follow.  His column runs every Tuesday and
    Thursday.  Frequently, THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY will interview
    other people that cover sports as a business.  Look for those in
    the months ahead.
         THE DAILY:  How do you define the business of sports?
         HIESTAND:  The definition is fairly broad -- pretty much
    everything that happened outside of a game or event.  I do not
    write about why somebody went for a fourth down, or why someone
    is juggling their lineup in baseball.  The business angle looks
    at how you see the games, what products are available for you to
    buy, what research says about consumer behavior, generally what's
    new and different.
         THE DAILY: When you write about the sports industry you try
    to provide a national perspective.  What exactly do you look for
    in a story?
         HIESTAND:  We try to focus on news that is interesting not
    only to people in the sports business, but also to the average
    fan.  I think fans are becoming much more aware of the business
    side of sports, and that fans are hungry for information as they
    try to understand salary caps, television deals, and stadium
    construction.  We try to make the business issues accessible to
    anyone who reads our sports coverage.
         THE DAILY: So, your audience is really the fan?
         HIESTAND:  Ideally, I am writing for both and ideally there
    is news that is important for the industry and interesting to the
    fan, but -- bottom line -- I really do try to take a writing
    style that makes the issues accessible.  For example, when the
    baseball network was created, there were a lot of stories about
    why this was done in terms of television networks and how the
    advertising would work.  And that's all important, but when I
    wrote about it I broke it down a little bit for the viewer and
    said, "Okay, here's what you'll see and why you'll see it."
         THE DAILY:  If someone from the industry is coming to you
    with news, what should they know beforehand?
         HIESTAND:  To be honest, I'm pretty interested in hearing
    just about anything.   But, what I always ask is "What's new
    about your story, what's interesting about it, and why should
    people care."  I also look for news that has potential --
    sometimes you can give a little twist to what seems like a real
    insider's story, and make it interesting to just about anybody.
    And, if I don't use a specific item, I'll often forward it to
    somebody else in our sports department.
         THE DAILY:  This is a unique time for sports -- one sport is
    off the field, another is on its way. What do you think are some
    of the big picture implications?
         HIESTAND:   The big question for me is consumer behavior in
    the future -- will consumers change their behavior because they
    have become jaded about lockouts or strikes?  Will work stoppages
    have an affect on licensing and merchandising or the response to
    expansion teams.
         THE DAILY:  What is the impact on the demand for sports
    industry news?
         HIESTAND:   There are some people who might just throw up
    their hands and say this is all getting to be just like any other
    section of the paper: money and conflict.  But there are some
    people who are interested in this and they're saying, "What on
    earth is going on?" -- these people would like to find out more
    about issues like the salary cap.
         THE DAILY:  What are some of the industry trends you  will
    be following?
         HIESTAND:  Many of the trends that are interesting to me
    concern global marketing -- whether it is overseas expansion,
    merchandising, or television.  Also, pay-per-view television, the
    blurring of traditional sports and entertainment lines, and, in
    ticket sales and merchandising,  is there a limit on how high the
    ticket prices can go and how much sports merchandise people will
    buy?
    

    Print | Tags: Media
  • MEDIA MATING DANCE BETWEEN DISNEY AND ESPN

         Walt Disney World and ESPN will team up to develop studios
    at a new sports-themed resort where Disney guests can watch
    sports shows being broadcast, the two companies announced
    yesterday.  ESPN's sports club will highlight Disney's BoardWalk,
    a new 45-acre sports-themed resort to be located between EPCOT
    and Disney-MGM studios near Orlando.  The BoardWalk is scheduled
    to open in July 1996.  BoardWalk broadens Disney's emphasis on
    sports-related themes.  ESPN will periodically broadcast its
    regular shows, like SportsCenter, from the new studios.  In
    addition, ESPN plans to use the studios to do nightly reports
    during spring training.  ESPN spokesperson Rob Tobias: "We're
    expanding ESPN's brand name" (Lisa Backman, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/30).
         BATTLE OF SPORTS BARS:  The N.Y. POST reports this morning
    that Ken Griffey Jr., Andre Agassi, Joe Montana, Shaquille O'Neal
    and Wayne Gretzky are all partners with Planet Hollywood founder
    Robert Earl in the upcoming opening of the sports bar: Official
    All Star Cafe in New York.  The five athletes also plan to open
    their cafe in Orlando in March, 1995, more than a year before
    ESPN opens its studios in Disney (Paul Tharp, N.Y. POST, 9/30).
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Media, Walt Disney
  • MEDIA NOTES

         In her review of Ken Burns' "Baseball," Paula Span notes
    that ratings were high enough "to propel a mighty marketing
    effort for related products" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/30)....CBS stock
    fell for the second day in a row after the network fell to third
    place in viewership ratings.  It fell $16, to $320, NYSE trading
    (WASHINGTON POST, 9/30). ....HBO Sports President Seth Abraham
    says "neither NBC nor we will renew our Wimbledon deals in the
    exclusive" re-negotiating period which expires today.  Rudy
    Martzke notes both CBS and Fox/fX (Fox's cable channel) will
    likely be bidders (USA TODAY, 9/30).  Other possible bidders:
    Turner, USA Network, ABC and ESPN (N.Y. TIMES, 9/30).
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, CBS, ESPN, HBO, NBC, News Corp./Fox, Media, Time Warner, USA Networks, Viacom, Walt Disney
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