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Manitoba-based CanWest Global Communications, headed by NHL Jets suitor Izzy Asper, said yesterday that it is "counting itself out of any bidding war for John Labatt Ltd.'s broadcasting properties," according to this morning's FINANCIAL POST. But industry sources believe CanWest may still be a potential bidder, and some say the firm has already offered C$550M for The Sports Network and The Discovery Channel. CanWest Deputy Dir of Corporate Development Greg Gilhooly: "Not true." Gilhooly said they were rebuffed on their bids for the stations, and consider themselves only a "buyer of last resort." Sources say the remaining bidders include Vancouver-based Western International Communications Ltd. (WIC), Toronto-based Baton Broadcasting and a group led by current TSN management (Michael Urlocker, FINANCIAL POST, 6/15). In Vancouver, David Baines notes that WIC "has the financial capacity" -- the company showed C$100M in cash flow in '94 and projects C$120M for '95 -- but also notes that "there is no assurance TSN will maintain its monopoly" (VANCOUVER SUN, 6/17).
The NHL's decision to carry Stanley Cup playoff games in the afternoon "has been a ratings bust" for CBC, according to the CANADIAN PRESS. Only two of seven matinee games have drawn more than 1 million viewers. CBC Sports spokesperson Susan Proctor: "Evening numbers on the whole are about a million higher." NHL VP of Broadcasting Glenn Adamo: "We're trying to grow this sport on a whole bunch of levels in both countries. ... [But] there are weights on both sides that we have to keep playing with" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 6/15)....When it comes to lower ad revenue for MLB broadcasters, "radio has been hit harder than TV," according to ADWEEK. The Marlins' WQAM-AM has seen a 40% drop in ad sales from '94, according to Exec Dir of Sales Ray Perry. But Ted Ewanciw of HTS, the regional sports network arm of Group W Sports Marketing and Orioles cable outlet, reports that they are all sold out. In fact, Group W Senior VP & GM Bob Kunath cites a 7- 10% increase in O's ad revenues (ADWEEK, 6/12 issue)....Primestar Partners President & CEO John Cusick resigned last week. Primestar Chair Jim Gray will act as CEO until a new president is found (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 6/12 issue). Primestar will serve as video supplier to this week's U.S. Open. Coverage of the tournament will be shown on 200 on-site TVs via Primestar's satellite service (Primestar)....ESPN's June 19 edition of "Outside the Lines" focuses on the phenomenon and impact of sports talk radio (ESPN)....Starting today, tennis fans will be able to access information on Wimbledon on a World Wide Web site jointly established by the All England Lawn Tennis Club and IBM. Address: http://www.wimbledon.org (IBM).
When it comes to TV viewership, "other sports just can't compete" with the NFL, according to an analysis of the sport in the current ADWEEK. Glenn Macnow writes, "The game practically sells itself. The product is so good, the demographics so strong, that the best way to broadcast the NFL is just to turn on the cameras and stay out of the way." Weeks before the NFL selling season opens, sources from the five nets that carry the league predict ad rates 15-20% above '94. Factors cited: Increased competition among advertisers, last year's high ratings, Fox's "strengthening" in many markets, and residual effects of the baseball strike. Fox President of Sales Jon Nesvig: "It could be the best market since 1975-76." Sources say TNT has raised rates about 20%, putting the cost of a 30- second spot on the smallest network carrying the NFL at around $75,000. Fox looks to benefit from last year's "wait-and-see" strategy, which allowed sponsors to sign on for one year rather than the usual four-year deals. Given the market, one media buyer predicted Fox "will now go after people hammer and tong." Fox typically charged $110,000 per 30-second last year. The '95 season should also be "profitable" for NBC, which has rights to Super Bowl XXX as well as the L.A. market to itself with the Rams gone (ADWEEK, 6/12 issue).