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BASEBALL STRIKE LEAVES TELEVISION EXECUTIVES WITH QUESTIONS
Published February 1, 1995
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).