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DirecTV, the CA company that sells programming for the 18- inch home satellite dishes, "is close to a deal" that will offer subscribers 200 NHL games for $59. Company spokesperson Linda Brill said the company has upgraded its software to improve the ability to transmit "fast-moving sports." Brill: "Some technical experts are much more supportive than they were initially." Meanwhile, Brill said the number of subscribers has grown to 350,000, up from 220,000 before Christmas. Brill: "We're hooking up about 3,000 a day" (Steve Zipay, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 1/24).
The return of "Hockey Night in Canada" to the CBC brought big ratings -- including 1.646M viewers on Friday. Three of the four games shown last weekend topped last year's average audience (TORONTO SUN, 1/25)....DAILY VARIETY reported yesterday that Viacom might pull "Melrose Place" off Fox Broadcasting and switch it to Viacom's United Paramount Network. Insiders yesterday at Viacom "played down the report" (N.Y. POST, 1/25)....New World Communications shares rose $.75 cents over news that investor George Soros had acquired a 5.43% stake in the "fast growing media-company" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/25).
NBC Sports and Streetball Partners have created The Golf Skills Challenge National Tour, an amateur golf skills competition patterned after Golf's professional Skills Challenge. The competitions will consist of nine separate events using golfing skills from driving to putting. The '95 tour will stop in 7 cities, with up to 31 cities expected to be on the tour by '98 (NBC/Streetball). OTHER PEACOCK NEWS: NBC is paying $50M to buy "Jurassic Park" and could charge advertisers up to $650,000 per half minute of commerical time when the movie runs in May. Ford has already confirmed its sponsorship of the show, purchasing seven :30 spots for $4.5M. NBC's purchase, along with "Schindler's List," is an attempt for broadcast networks to "regain a portion of the movie franchise" (Kevin Goldman, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/25).
TCI and Viacom reached a "prelimary agreement to settle ongoing litigation" between the two companies. The possible settlement hinges on a "new affliation agreement that covers" TCI's long term carriage of two Viacom cable channels -- Showtime and The Movie Channel. Viacom had filed suit against TCI in September, claiming TCI "engaged in anti-competitive behavior" in trying to force the networks into a pay television service controlled by TCI. The specifics of the agreement were not announced (BLOOMBERG NEWS SERVICE/N.Y. POST, 1/25).