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In Los Angeles, Steve Weinstein examines Fox's first year of covereage of the NFL, writing that "the many-pronged payoffs from that massive investment have been both triumphal and disappointing." John Mansell, senior analyst for Paul Kagan & Associates, notes that Fox will lose "as much as half a billion dollars over the course of the four-year deal with the NFL." But, Mansell adds that what the network has succeeded in doing is to "build a major domestic and international network, by attracting stronger affiliates in major markets all over the country." Ratings for Fox/NFC games are down 5% from last season on CBS, while NBC/AFC games are up about 13%. Weinstein writes, "Part of Fox's problem may be the on-field competition this season. The AFC has it; the NFC -- though it boasts of pro football's two best teams -- doesn't." However, Fox has won the war of the pregame shows "by a wide margin" (L.A. TIMES, 12/22).
Liberty Sports, Inc. has reached agreement with the NCAA's newest, but as yet unnamed, athletic conference -- giving Liberty Sports national and regional telecasts rights to live football beginning in 1996 through 2000. The conference has ten universities, including Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Southern Miss, and Tulane. Lane Rawlings, President of University of Memphis and Chair of the new conference: "The Liberty Sports agreement provides the new conference with instant credibility. In addition to revenue, conference members will gain national and regional television exposure each week that will benefit their football programs" (Liberty).
Sony Corp. of America will enter the market for 18-inch satellite dishes and receivers as early as June, challenging Thomson Consumer Electronics Inc. "in what has become one of the consumer-electronics industry's fastest-growing product areas." Sony will unveil their dish at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next month. The satellite system now being sold is manufactured exclusively by RCA owner Thomson. The exclusivity period ends in December 1995, or after RCA has sold one million units -- whichever comes first. RCA has already sold more than 500,000 units, and the company estimates surpassing one million units sometime in mid-1995. It is unclear whether Sony's entry will result in lower prices for consumers. One industry analyst: "They aren't known for making low-cost goods" (Jeffrey Trachtenberg, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/23).