SBD/11/Sports Media

VIKING GAMES COULD BE BLACKED OUT AS GENERAL MILLS RUNS DRY

     For the last 12 years, every Viking home game in Minneapolis
has been on broadcast on local TV due to a unique fund from
General Mills.  The fund, which guaranteed home games would be
televised locally if 90% of the tickets were sold 72 hours before
the game, "ran dry last fall."  Now the Vikings and local
broadcast channels must face the same rules of every other NFL
team.  At the end of this season, WFTC-TV and KARE-TV teamed with
the Vikings to run promotions and ads to get fans to buy tickets,
and next fall that strategy will continue.  Local TV stations
will have to "expend more effort to air home games, and blackouts
might be costly to their images and incomes."  WTFC GM Rip
Riordan said his station is now budgeting money to guarantee
local broadcasts of some games next year, as Viking football
greatly increased the visibility of the Fox affiliate.  Vikings
Marketing Dir Kernal Buhler said the team will help the stations
identify which home games will be difficult to sell out, and are
working on ways to increase sales (Rachel Blount, Minneapolis
STAR-TRIBUNE, 1/10).
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