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ESPN will have live coverage of Cal Ripken's record-breaking game on September 6, as well as the post-game ceremonies. In addition, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" will examine Ripken's streak on September 5, including a feature on the marketing of Ripken (ESPN)....MSG Network's "SportsDesk" will move from 11:00pm to 10:30pm EDT beginning September 1. The show will also expand from 15 minutes to 30 minutes (MSG Network)....In announcing the Mets' two-year extension with WFAN-AM, Mets GM Joe McIlvaine promised one of the station's execs: "I guarantee you, your ratings are going to go up" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/29)....The Patriots highest rating for a preseason game was a 14.2 for the opener against the Lions, not "anywhere near" the 18 rating the team had hoped for. Patriots Marketing Dir Dan Kraft noted that they did top the Red Sox, who are in a pennant race (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/29)....Howie Rose, who moves from calling the Rangers on WFAN to the Islanders on SportsChannel next season, on the Islanders' new look: "I like the colors, but the logo can use a little work" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/29)....Fox Sports President David Hill is forecasting a ratings victory for the AFC on NBC: "Our top NFC teams are playing on NBC. We lose Dallas the first three weeks. In week three, NBC gets San Francisco-New England. NBC should be popping champagne corks" (USA TODAY, 8/29)....SportSouth celebrates its fifth anniversary today by announcing that it has reached the 4.8 million subscriber mark. SportSouth VP & General Sales Manager Steve Pechman cites a 90% renewal rate for sponsors on the network (SportSouth)....An AD AGE editorial reacts to the letter sent from five members of Congress to Time Warner urging Sports Illustrated to drop cigarette ads, noting that other issues (gansta rap) may be involved. AD AGE: "If it's a matter of these five Democrats smelling Time Warner blood, then going after SI simply because some of its readers aren't old enough to smoke smacks of unsportsmanlike conduct" (AD AGE, 8/28 issue)....ELECTRONIC MEDIA's Wayne Walley writes that few in the PPV industry expect Tyson-McNeeley to "give the sport or PPV a permanent black eye." But EM Publisher Ron Aldridge writes, "I can see the day coming when viewers, stung in a costly way by their own gullibility, won't accept any PPV pitch, even for a good event" (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 8/28).
The NFL has created a "new" Internet site -- Team NFL, formerly known as NFL Sidelines -- on the World Wide Web. The site can be found at http://nflhome.com. The six sections: Reports on all 30 teams, NFL Newswire, a library of records and statistics, an area for kids, team-oriented bulletin boards and chat rooms, and schedules of events and broadcast listings (NFL). The site will incorporate advertising sponsorships. Last year's NFL online effort, designed to cover the NFL draft, was sponsored by Coca-Cola, Visa and Reebok. Team NFL will be cross-promoted with the NFL's "Pledge Allegiance" campaign (AD AGE, 8/28 issue). MORE FOOTBALL ON THE WEB: Directions on how to link up to the Internet coverage of the Oregon Ducks' September 9 game against the Fighting Illini can be found at http:// goducks.com. The game will be simultaneously "cybercast" on the Internet, as well as on TV and radio. The title sponsor is Sierra On-Line, with Bank of America and Gatorade also involved (UO's Warsaw Center). The Portland OREGONIAN writes that UO "clearly is at the forefront of a powerful movement" and that other schools are "sure to follow suit" (Jeff Manning, Portland OREGONIAN, 8/28). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes that UO is planning two other Internet games this fall, with getting the online sponsors mentioned on the TV and radio broadcasts a key issue that needs to be addressed (USA TODAY, 8/29). HOW "NOT TO DO IT"? USA Today Online was launched in April at $14.95 per month, but now the majority of the service is free with the expanded sports coverage available at $12.95 per month. USA Today Information Services VP & GM Lorraine Cichowski: "We are trying to get our price down and know that it's high." Adam Schoenfeld, an analyst at Jupiter Communications: "USA Today is now the model of how not to do it. Their philosophy was flawed at the outset ... and that may necessitate a reconfiguration. Most of the revenue on the Web is coming through ads, not subscriptions" (Jane Hodges, ADVERTISING AGE, 8/28 issue).