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The ATP Tour and Eurosport, the sports broadcaster that reaches 160 million people in 37 European countries, have reached a 4-year agreement that will provide comprehensive week-to-week coverage of the ATP Tour. The agreement, which begins in '96, features daily coverage of the Super 9 and ATP Tour World Championship, weekly coverage of the ATP Tour Magazine Show and includes coverage of the culminating rounds of more than 50 tournaments. To insure the largest possible audience, the agreement between Eurosport and the ATP Tour also provides for other members of the European Broadcast Union and major national broadcasters throughout Europe to obtain rights to weekend coverage of the Super 9. This deal comes on the heels of the Tour's new multiyear agreement with ESPN and ESPN2 (ATP).
CBS' ratings for college basketball are averaging 2.9, down slightly from last year. This past weekend, UConn-Villanova received a 2.4 and 6 share. The game lost out to both of ABC's Saturday offerings, the Pro Bowlers Tour (3.3/9 share) and Wide World of Sports (4.0/10), as well as NBC's golf coverage (2.5/8). Milton Kent offers a theory: "The glut of games simply has diluted the market by the time CBS gets on the air Saturdays and Sundays" (Baltimore SUN, 2/22)....The Family Channel is broadening its sponsorship of NASCAR Winston Cup by developing a weekly half-hour program titled "RaceWeek." Airing Fridays at 11:00pm and Saturdays at 11:30am, "RaceWeek" will debut March 10 (Family Channel)....In Dallas, John Kirkpatrick examines TCI's move into the Dallas cable community. In '88, TCI did not control any cable systems in the area. But if TCI succeeds in buying systems in Ft. Worth and other cities, TCI would serve close to 580,000 subscribers, making Dallas-Ft. Worth the MSO's largest market (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/21). In other TCI news, a report in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL notes that a consortium of companies that includes TCI is emerging as a serious bidder for the cable systems of Sammons Enterprises. Sammons controls some 78 cable systems scattered in 18 states (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/22)....The U.S. House voted to repeal a tax break favoring minority broadcasters, potentially dooming Viacom's planned $2.3B cable TV sale to a minority controlled company. The bill still has to pass the Senate (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/22)....Fox's NHL promos began running this week during the network's prime time shows. The 30-second spots feature NHL stars explaining some of the rules of the game (Steve Zipay, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 2/20).
A WI investor group is trying to raise $4M to start a nationally syndicated sports radio network this summer. The new venture, SportsAmerica Radio Network, would provide an array of sports programming akin to ESPN, according to organizers of the venture. Rather than forcing an affiliate to choose between SportsAmerica Radio Network and ESPN Radio, the company proposes to enable affiliates to run programs from both. The "backbone" of the network will be the "stable of broadcasters it expects to employ," including former CBS NFL analyst Irv Cross, former Packers announcer Ray Scott, NBC and Rockies broadcaster Charlie Jones and Fox's Kevin Harlan among others. The network will sign up 25-35 stations by the time it starts, and expects to enroll up to 200 stations by its third or fourth year (Lee Bergquist, MILWAUKEE SENTINEL, 2/20).
Turner Broadcasting reported sharply improved earnings for the 4th Quarter and profit from '94 overall. TBS reported a 160% jump in profits for the 4thQ. TBS Exec VP Terence McGuirk: "We're emerging into the sunlight after a couple of tough years. We're hitting on all cylinders. All of our core businesses are growing at double digits." The improvement partly reflects Turner's move into Hollywood with the acquisitions of New Line Cinema and Castle Rock Entertainment. Benefiting from live coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial, CNN also performed well. As for '95, TBS execs said they expect a "duller but more profitable year." CNN International is the only new channel Turner has planned (Charles Haddad, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/22).