SBD/6/Sports Media

NHL WORK STOPPAGE POSES CHALLENGE FOR "NHL ON FOX"

     The work stoppage in the NHL has already "done severe
damage" to the league's "long-coveted, five-year, $155M national
TV deal with Fox."  Whether the season starts at all, the league
has "dug itself a deep hole, taking a huge step backward in its
quest to maximize desperately needed national TV exposure,"
according to Bob Raissman in this morning's N.Y. DAILY NEWS.
Some Fox affiliates are taking a "wait-and-see" approach. Lou
Abitablio, General Sales Manager of NYC's WNYW-TV:  "If we have
games in April, we still have time to get things together.  But
we haven't gone out on the street to sell advertising for hockey.
We can't until we know what we are selling."  The NHL "could have
counted on mega-doses of hype on Fox nightly prime-time sked and
would have gotten a major shot on the network's NFL telecasts.
Now even if the Puck Heads vote to end the lockout, the NFL
window is closed."  So don't expect a big hockey push during the
NFL Championship game on Fox, as Tracy Doglin, Exec VP/Marketing
for Fox Sports says:  "We haven't shot a thing.  There are no
promos sitting in my vault ready to come out during the NFC
Championship Game."  But while Dolgin admits the lost promotional
opportunities, he "is still confident of Fox's ability to sell
the game, even on short notice."  Dolgin: "We bought hockey for
the future. ... Hockey is not dead. Our marketing plan, all the
things we need to do to make hockey the sports of the 90's is
still the same" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/6).
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News Corp./Fox, NFL, NHL, Media

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