SBD/1/Sports Media

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).
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ESPN, Nielsen, Media, Time Warner, Walt Disney

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