Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
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TSN and the Expos have finally agreed to a new, one-year contract calling for at least 25 games to be telecast by the cable network. According to TSN President Jim Thompson, there will be more games telecast if they can fit them into the schedule and if the Blue Jays agree to increase the limit on the number of Expos games permitted into the Toronto market. The limit now is 25. The Expos will also appear 25 times on French TV (TORONTO STAR, 4/19). NO BULL: The Bulls will switch radio stations, signing a 5-year deal with WMVP Radio beginning in '96-97. After five years on WMAQ, the Bulls join the White Sox and Blackhawks on the 24-hour sports station (USA TODAY, 4/19).
ABC's "Monday Night Football" was the fifth rated TV show for '94-'95, watched by an average 16.9 million households (24.4 million people) per game. Fox Entertainment Group President John Matoian said their "biggest challenge" is to make their NFL lead- ins pay off for Sunday prime time. Among the candidates to follow the NFL is an all-star sports "challenge" produced by Twentieth Television. Fox saw their overall rating for the season jump from 7.2 to 7.7. CBS fell from 14.0 to 11.1, NBC is up from 11.0 to 11.5, and ABC, while winning the year, fell from 12.4 to 12.0 (N.Y. POST, 4/19)....Primestar will launch a $100M marketing campaign next week to "build brand awareness" against its DBS competitors, such as DirecTV. The campaign, created by Adler Boschetto Peebles & Partners, will "play up the service's affordability" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/19)....NBC got a 7.9 for Sunday's Bulls-Knicks game, a 44% increase from last year at this time. Overall, NBC's NBA ratings are up 15%. Monday's Bulls- Heat gave TBS its season-high with a cable rating of a 3.2, double the season average for TBS' NBA cablecasts (Prentis Rogers, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/19)....ABC's "Day One" will feature America3 head Bill Koch on Thursday, a report "not expected to reflect positively on Koch" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/18).
Rumors of Joe Montana moving from the sideline to the press box or studio continue on the day after his retirement ceremony. In Atlanta, Prentis Rogers reports that of the three broadcast networks, NBC "has shown the most interest in Montana," with rumors of a $750,000 offer which the network has denied. Rogers notes that TNT has an opening due to the departure of Lawrence Taylor. However, Turner Sports Exec Producer Mike Pearl "sounded reluctant" to put the studio role "in the hands of a rookie." Pearl also said TNT's partial coverage could be a factor: "I'm not sure how appealing a half-season will be to him." ESPN spokesperson Dave Nagle, on the spot vacated by Phil Simms: "If Joe wants to talk, we'll talk" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/19). Montana says he is not interested in becoming an analyst, but "is looking into a television job." Montana: "They say 'never say never,' but I don't expect that [taking an analyst job] to take place." The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS reports Montana could sign with NBC "as early as next week, probably in a part-time regular season 'NFL Live' role like Joe Gibbs'" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/19). Al Michaels: "Television can be very, very frustrating. There's no scoreboard at the end of the game. This is not going to satisfy Joe Montana -- trust me" ("Up Close," ESPN, 4/18). Appearing with Lynn Swann on "Good Morning America," Montana called TV a possibility as well as working with the NFL, but said his only immediate plans are to become part of an IndyCar team, with details coming next week (ABC, 4/19).