SBD/1/Sports Media

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  • CABLE WANTS A PIECE OF DIRECT SATELLITE PIE

         The latest issue of VARIETY examines the cable industry's
    complaints about the out-of-town sports packages available
    through direct satellite TV.  While federal regulations prevent
    cable systems from making exclusive deals with single cable
    networks such as ESPN or CNN, all networks are offered on DBS
    systems, representing "potentially serious competition to cable
    down the road."  Thus, DBS "suffers from no constraints in
    securing rights" to out-of-market games.  While several cable
    operators say they would want to offer similar league packages,
    VARIETY's John Dempsey notes at least three reasons why pro
    sports leagues have "deprived cable" of their out-of-market
    games:  1) The broadcast networks claim that if those homes with
    cable could tune out of a national sports telecast and log into
    an out-of-market game, the Nielsen ratings might fall off so much
    that advertisers "would lose interest" in supporting network
    coverage;  2) Most cable systems "don't have anywhere near" the
    channel capacity that DBS does;  3) Most cable operators are not
    convinced that the games will offer significant revenue.  Dempsey
    writes that by '98, when the exclusivity deal between the leagues
    and DBS distributors will have expired, analysts are projecting
    that a "majority of cable operators will be doubling and tripling
    their channel capacity, setting aside a dozen or more channels
    for pay-per-view" (VARIETY, 8/28-9/3 issue).
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Nielsen, Media, Time Warner, Walt Disney
  • CALL IN THE LAWYERS: TURNER, TCI, TIME WARNER IN AGREEMENT?

         A formal offer by Time Warner to buy Turner Broadcasting for
    an estimated $8.5B in stock "could be made early next week as key
    participants have reached agreement on the broad outlines of a
    deal," according to sources familiar with the talks cited in
    today's L.A. TIMES.  Key points:  the terms sought by TCI Chair
    John Malone, who holds approx. 20% in TBS, and how Time Warner
    Chair Gerald Levin will protect himself against his two newest
    stockholders, Ted Turner and Malone (Sallie Hofmeister, L.A.
    TIMES, 9/1).  The N.Y. TIMES reports that some senior Time Warner
    execs, including HBO Chair Michael Fuchs, are said to be wary of
    how much power Turner will have in the new combined company (Mark
    Landler, N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).  The ATLANTA CONSTITUTION reports that
    Turner's Atlanta-based operations would remain there and not move
    to New York.  Turner is expected to continue to run CNN and his
    other businesses (Kloer & Haddad, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/1).
    

    Print | Tags: HBO, Media, TBS/TNT, Time Warner
  • IS USTA'S ASKING PRICE TOO HIGH FOR CBS TO KEEP OPEN RIGHTS?

         CBS must decide by Tuesday whether it wants to renew for
    five more years as broadcaster of the U.S. Open.  But, Richard
    Sandomir notes in this morning's N.Y. TIMES, "if CBS does not
    double what it now pays, it will lose another high-profile sports
    property."  The USTA, working with IMG as its agent, wants an
    average of $38M for its next five-year deal, up from about $19M.
    If CBS rejects that, bidding is open to the other broadcast nets
    with Fox "expected to be the strongest competitor."  If another
    net does not offer what the USTA is seeking, CBS has the right to
    match and renew through 2000.  CBS Sports President David Kenin:
    "Obviously, we'd like to keep it, but we have to do the right
    deal.  They're asking for a dramatic increase.  It's an important
    event, but it's not as important to our affiliates as it is to
    us."  David Winner, Coordinating Producer of the tournament:
    "Not keeping it sends a message to the sports department that we
    don't matter very much.  I'd be shocked if we don't renew it."
    CBS Sports Senior VP Rick Gentile:  "We can't afford to lose
    anything.  We don't have the luxury of having any properties to
    replace it with.  Forty hours of tennis is a lot to take out of
    your arsenal."  The decision rests with CBS Chair Laurence Tisch,
    not prospective buyer Westinghouse (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).  Phil
    Mushnick writes that CBS is in a "bad spot as it's being forced
    to overbid" to keep the tournament (N.Y. POST, 9/1).
         WORLDWIDE COVERAGE:  ProServ Television, which is exclusive
    domestic and international marketer for the U.S. Open, has
    announced that 147 countries are taking coverage from the
    tourney, up 8% from last year (PSTV).
    

    Print | Tags: CBS, IMG, News Corp./Fox, Media, USTA, Viacom
  • MEDIA NOTES

         The Timberwolves and KFAN-AM announced that the two had
    reached agreement to have the station continue to serve as the
    team's flagship radio station (Wolves)....Thanks to a simulcast
    agreement with WSUN-AM, the Magic are returning to WFNS-AM.
    WFNS, the Lightning's flagship station, dropped the Magic last
    year because of hockey conflicts.  This year, when the two teams
    play on the same night, the Magic will be on WFNS and the
    Lightning on WSUN (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/1)....In addition to carrying
    Cal Ripken's record-tying and record-breaking games next week,
    HTS will air a special one-hour tribute, "Hats Off To Cal."  HTS
    viewers will also be able to send congratulatory notes to Ripken
    through HTS's home page on the Web -- address:
    http://www.htssports.com (HTS). ....CTV has applied for a license
    to sell PPV sports and special events on DBS.  They would
    guarantee a minimum of 20% Canadian content and games "not
    otherwise available" (TORONTO STAR, 9/1)....The NLRB ruled that
    the strike against Detroit newspaper workers was the result of an
    unfair labor practice.  If upheld, workers would be entitled to
    get their jobs back, while the dispute is settled (CHICAGO
    TRIBUNE, 9/1)...."The Sharp Jets/Giants Report" debuts on MSG
    Network September 4.  The show is sponsored by Sharp Electronics
    (MSG)....The Tyson-McNeeley fight will gross more than $96M
    worldwide, including a record $63M for U.S. PPV.  SET calculates
    that the fight was purchased by 1.52 million homes, also a record
    (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/1)....The Fabulous Sports Babe makes
    her TV debut on The Deuce on September 18 at 1pm EDT (ESPN2).
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Comcast-Spectacor, ESPN, Madison Square Garden, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Jets, Orlando Magic, Palace Sports & Entertainment, RDV Sports, Media, Tampa Bay Lightning, Walt Disney
  • WHAT'S UP ON THE WEB? THE NFL GOES IT ALONE

         John Helyar examines the sports presences on the World Wide
    Web, summing up the current state of affairs by noting that
    ESPNET's SportsZone has only one advertiser, Gatorade.  Helyar
    writes, "Lots of content but little revenue; lots of potential
    future multimedia breakthroughs but some maddening present-day
    technological flaws; lots of players in this brave new world but
    few likely winners."  Gene DeRose, who heads the online research
    firm, Jupiter Communications:  "This is a medium that's even more
    conducive to sports than television.  In terms of statistics, up-
    to-the-minute scores, and ability to focus in on the specific
    players and teams, it's just made for the very focused attention
    of fans."  The following players have aligned:  ESPN-Starwave-
    Microsoft; SportsLine USA-IMG; Baseball-MCI, the NHL-America
    Online, and the NBA said to be "SportsZone bound."  But the NFL
    has chosen the independent route (the NFLPA is working with
    SportsLine).  The NFL's "Team NFL," which does have promotional
    partnerships with SportsZone and Time Warner's Pathfinder, will
    offer play-by-play progress reports on each game -- a feature the
    league "promises to zealously reserve for itself and bar other
    sports services from transmitting."  NFL Enterprises VP Ann
    Kirschner, who is heading Team NFL:  "As a programmer, you have
    much more flexibility this way; you look how you choose to look"
    (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/1).
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, IMG, Microsoft, NBA, NFL, NHL, Media, Time Warner, Walt Disney
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