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Nine of the ten largest metropolitan dailies lost weekday circulation during the more recent reporting period, according to data released yesterday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Publishers "blamed several factors, including higher newsstand prices and the baseball and hockey labor disputes." Of the ten largest dailies, only the Boston Globe did not lose weekday readers, instead showing a small average daily increase. The top losers: Newsday (-7.03%), San Francisco Chronicle (-5.18%), N.Y. Daily News (-5.0%), Chicago Sun Times (-4.34%), L.A. Times (- 4.18%), Detroit Free Press (-3.39%), Philadelphia Inquirer (- 3.15%), Newark Star-Ledger (-2.83%), Miami Herald (-2.29%), Minneapolis Star-Tribune (-1.86%), Washington Post (-1.41%), N.Y. Times (-1.38%), Chicago Tribune (-.87%), Detroit News (-.55%), and Houston Chronicle (-.55%) (William Glaberson, N.Y. TIMES, 5/2). The largest increases in circulation wer shown by the N.Y. Post, Denver Post, Arizona Republic and San Diego Union Tribune (N.Y. POST, 5/2).
ESPN2 has hit the 20 million home mark 18 months after its launch. According to A.C. Nielsen, ESPN2 expanded its distribution more than any other cable network in '94, and now reaches 21.1 million homes. ESPN2 recently announced a new commitment to motorsports coverage, including a Sunday-evening motorsports recap show that will begin in the fall and expand to daily coverage next February (ESPN2).
Liberty Sports Inc., the sports programming division of TCI, will begin production on four new series this month and ultimately roll out 56 hours of original programming per week during the next two years. The programming will be offered through its regional networks, homevideo and int'l and domestic broadcast syndication (DAILY VARIETY, 5/2). "The Body Squad" and "Fit & Famous" head the Liberty lineup, with 30- and 60-minute shows "designed to reach the female audience by focusing on exercise and lifestyle issues." The other two new shows are children's shows, "Total Rush" and "Fast Track" (GOULD MEDIA SERVICES).
NBC's five weekend NBA playoff telecasts gained an overnight rating of 7.8, up from 6.7 a year ago. The late Sunday Hornets/Bulls game drew an 11.4, up 52% from last year (N.Y. TIMES, 5/2)....Among the nation's 33 top TV markets, 18 drew higher ratings for the Celtics' Game 2 win over the Magic than Boston's NBC affiliate. One NBC exec to the BOSTON GLOBE's Jack Craig: "What's going on up there?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/2)....Penn State will reportedly change radio networks next year to WGMP-AM, which also carries the school's basketball telecasts (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/2). ....MCA, under new owner Edgar Bronfman, is reportedly pursuing HBO CEO Michael Fuchs. The N.Y. POST also floats a Bronfman-Michael Ovitz-Barry Diller bid for CBS (N.Y. POST, 5/2)....A meeting between NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol and ABC Sports President Dennis Swanson led to the decision that ABC will carry the MLB All-Star Game on July 11. The Al-Star Game "won't be linked to postseason coverage." ....ACOG President Billy Payne on NBC's Olympic deal: "I was disappointed we only got $456 million (from NBC) for the U.S. TV rights. I thought they were worth more and I believe the ad sales are beginning to show that. ... Having said that, NBC's been a great partner" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 5/2).