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As the work stoppage in baseball continues, "baseball advertisers are growing increasingly concerned about the quality of product they're buying" and the TV ratings that will follow, according to a piece by INSIDE MEDIA's Langdon Brockington. After contacting 18 TV stations that hold local rights to teams in their markets to get "a fix on ad sales," Brockington reports mixed responses. Some stations characterize "sales as brisk," while others report "a lot of wait and sees." Some "wary advertisers" have been able to cut deals "containing protective contingency plans" should replacements be used -- those could include additional merchandise, guaranteed ratings, or supplemental spots to "satisfy the advertisers' ratings delivery." Many broadcasters are "flexible" by offering advertisers a two-tiered pricing structure, or allowing them to withdraw from the telecast if replacements are used. Whether or not people will watch is also disputed. BBDO Dir of Local Broadcasting Pete Stassi is seeking guarantees for his clients for a "monetary" refund "equivalent to a ratings decline." Stassi: "We won't buy otherwise." Anheuser-Busch has rating guarantees "chiseled into each of its contracts." Tony Ponturo, A-B's VP/Sports Marketing: "We have a guarantee of delivery; it makes it simple, and protects us." Some stations, such as San Diego's KFMB-TV, won't air replacement games. Nationally, The Baseball Network is yet to lose any "long-term" advertisers, and is reportedly signing on new sponsors (COWLES BUSINESS MEDIA, 1/30). NO REPLACEMENT RADIO IN TORONTO: The FAN 1430, the radio voice of the Blue Jays, announced that it will not broadcast games with replacement players (TORONTO STAR, 2/1). The Blue Jays' TV partners -- TSN, Baton Broadcasting and CBC -- "are taking a more cautious, pragmatic approach." TSN President Jim Thompson, noting that Labatt owns both the team and TSN, said it would not be a "collective decision": "Paul Beeston makes the decision for the Blue Jays, we make the decision for TSN and Labatt has to decide, as a sponsor of the product, what's best for them" (TORONTO SUN, 2/1).
Fox Sports announced its NHL regular-season schedule --a regionalized format starting on April 2 and carrying through the last five Sundays of the season. Fox will show a total of 28 games -- none involving any of the eight Canadian clubs. The only U.S. team that will not be shown is the Hartford Whalers. Fox Sports Dir of Media Relations Vince Wladika "makes no apologies": "We're rated via U.S. markets. We have to attract advertisers." Wladika said Fox will promote the NHL the same way it did with the NFL: "We need to get people who have never watched hockey before -- men, women and children." Wladika promised the network would "take the helmets off" NHL players (Len Hochberg, WASHINGTON POST, 2/1). Fox Sports Exec VP Tracy Dolgin denied reports that Fox offered to pay NHL players for promotional spots to air during Fox's broadcasts. Dolgin said Fox will use the spots to highlight players and explain the rules of the game. Dolgin: "We've got to teach people who the players are, how the game is played. It's missionary work" (Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY, 2/1).
The final rating for the Super Bowl was a 41.3 with a 62 share, officially ranking it 22nd out of the 29 Super Bowl games (N.Y. TIMES, 2/1)....Ticketmaster's entertainment magazine is scheduled to be out by the end of the year. The magazine, still untitled, will cover all events Ticketmaster serves -- entertainment, sporting and music events. Alan Citron, a former L.A. TIMES columnist, will oversee the project (COWLES BUSINESS MEDIA, 1/30)... "CBS This Morning" profiled the Boston Garden and the new Shawmut Center today. New Boston Garden Corp. President Larry Moulter: "Anybody that uses [the Shawmut Center] for a sporting event or a family event will feel at home" (CBS, 2/1)....Prime Sports Radio, the 24-hour all sports network, will go on air in Boston this month at a frequency of 890, just above all-sports WEEI-850. Prime Sports Radio has grown from 12 to 23 cities (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/1).... SportsChannel Ohio has moved to Coaxial Cable's Standard Service and Warner Cable's Variety Plus package in OH, increasing subscribers to 75,979 on Coaxial and 175,154 on Warner (GOULD MEDIA).