SBD/21/Sports Media

FOX AFFILIATES CONCERNED OVER LOW NHL RATINGS

     Fox comes into its affiliate meeting this week "on somewhat
of a high," according to Joe Flint in VARIETY.  The network had
its strongest upfront sales ever, selling more than $1B of
primetime ad inventory for this fall.  But Fox's low ratings for
the NHL have affiliates "worried."  While most affiliates
(particularly those owned by Fox or New World) embrace the idea
of more sports, others question Fox's decision to buy rights to
the NHL.  One affiliate exec:  "I took movies off that got a 25
share for hockey which gets a 2 share and I have less ad time to
sell."  Some, however, said coverage went up against "basketball
and the return of Michael Jordan."  Fox Network Distribution
President Ken Solomon says the NHL needs to grow, adding that
basketball was "once a failure" and it took TV and the NBA to
build up the sport (VARIETY, 6/19-25 issue).
          NOT ALL BAD:  Fox Sports notes that its Stanley Cup
     coverage on Saturday, which got a 3.2 national rating, was
     the highest network hockey rating since the '90 NHL All-Star
     Game on NBC.  While reruns of "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman"
     and "Madman of the People" got overall better ratings than
     the NHL, Fox's coverage was the top-rated program for males
     younger than 55 (Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY, 6/21).
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NBA, NBC, News Corp./Fox, NHL, Media

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