SBD/17/Sports Media

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         ESPN stopped selling inventory for a few days two weeks ago,
    a move "indicative of the most robust sports marketplace in
    recent years."  Jack Bonanni, Senior VP/Ad Sales at ESPN, said
    the "flow of business was more than we could handle."  Bonanni
    noted the return of the NHL had a "major impact" on the network's
    schedule, and that "complicated matters."  One ad exec said ESPN
    "doesn't have a state-of-the-art system to manage their
    inventory" and that led to a hiatus to account for sale
    inventory.  Other media buyers speculated the network was
    "reassessing" their pricing.  But Bonanni insists the
    interruption was strictly due to a "re-inventorying" process that
    has been done in the past.  ESPN's sales "underscores the
    strength of the sports TV marketplace these days -- from the
    seller's perspective."  Ad time on all sports on broadcasts and
    cable outlets is "moving briskly," if not sold out, and spending
    on sports TV is up "significantly for numerous categories,"
    including automotive, computer, and telecommunications
    (Brockington & Reynolds, COWLES BUSINESS/INSIDE MEDIA, 2/16).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NHL, Media, Walt Disney

         The Maple Leafs are "ready to cash in on their popularity"
    as negotiations continue for the team's local TV rights,
    according to Rob Longley in today's TORONTO SUN.  Sources said
    Leafs Owner Cliff Fletcher is seeking $15M per season, a figure
    that would top the Blue Jays' current $12M deal.  IMG, which is
    negotiating for the Leafs, has been in talks with Molson, which
    owns exclusive national TV rights to the NHL in Canada.  Talks
    with Molson "haven't exactly been smooth, but for the time being
    at least, the brewery is the only major player.  If it wins the
    rights, Molson will then vend the games to the station or
    stations that will carry them."  While Molson may be involved as
    a sponsor, it is possible Molson's production wing, Molstar, "may
    have a reduced presence in a new deal."  Fletcher reportedly
    wants to see the team take a more active role in the production
    of the games.  Longley writes the presence of IMG is "a
    potentially intimidating one for the rights holders."  IMG has a
    large presence in sports marketing throughout the world, and is
    "becoming aggressively involved with certain NHL teams,"
    including the Leafs (TORONTO SUN, 2/17).

    Print | Tags: IMG, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NHL, Media, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs

         Charles Barkley will attend a special court dedication on
    this weekend's NBA "Inside Stuff."  Nike has made a basketball
    court made of recycled sneakers for Phoenix's youth (NBA
    Entertainment)....ABC Sports signed a multiyear contract with
    Raycom for the Pigskin Classic.  ABC spokesman Mark Mandel: "We
    consider ourselves the network of college football."....With a
    "resurgence of interest" in boxing, due largely to the popularity
    of George Foreman, HBO will telecast three boxing matchups in the
    month of March.  It is the most shows since HBO added boxing to
    its lineup (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/17)....Fox Chair Chase Carey
    denies speculation that the network's losses from football could
    climb to $500M by the time the 4-year, $1.58B contract
    concludes....Sandy Grossman will be Fox's NHL director (Rudy
    Martkze, USA TODAY, 2/17)

    Print | Tags: ABC, HBO, NBA, NHL, Nike, Media, Walt Disney

         TV sponsors for the Phillies are "getting restless -- and
    they might be in line for rebates," according to this morning's
    PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.  Phillies VP/Marketing Dennis Mannion said
    no sponsors have pulled out, but "we have quite a few in a sit-
    and-wait pattern.  We weren't naive.  We knew it would come down
    to this."  WPHL-TV GM Randy Smith said his stations are working
    with each Phillies sponsor to sort our any problems that "might
    arise because of decreased ratings" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER,

    Print | Tags: Philadelphia Phillies, Media
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