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"Just 13 months ago Fox had never so much as televised a live sporting event. Now the Fox name crops up every time an event comes up for bid," writes E.M. Swift in this week's issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Describing the network as "a major player in sports since landing the rights to the National Football Conference in 1993," Swift examines the recent deal with Don King to broadcast the November 4 Tyson-Mathis bout. He notes that "Murdoch, who acts globally while others just talk it," will also carry the fight in the UK over his Sky TV satellite service. Swift also cites sources who say the deal stipulates Fox will also get the rights to a dozen more King-promoted fights. Fox Sports President David Hill: "Underpromise, overdeliver. That's the sports division's credo." Swift also writes that Fox's hockey broadcasts next year will see a computer enhancement of the televised image of the puck. In the final stages of development, the system would make the puck appear slightly larger and three dimensional. NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol, on Fox's NFL approach: "It's like they decided ESPN is doing football for football people. NBC has carved out a niche in news and information gathering. So they took the entertainment angle." Swift: "Guess what sports fans? The entertainment angle is selling" (SI, 9/25 issue). LETTERMAN'S TOP TEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT BEING A FOURTH-PLACE NETWORK: 10) People can't say your show sucks, because they haven't seen it; 9) You can address all of your viewers by name; 8) Once TV Guide decides to stop listing your shows, the magazine is lighter and easier to carry; 7) Heartwarming feeling when canned goods arrive from local grade schools; 6) Get to use inspiring chant: "We're No. 4"; 5) Fourth ain't so bad -- I mean imagine you're the fourth handsomest guy in the world -- you'd be pretty damn handsome!; 4) Don't get that paranoid feeling that people are watching you; 3) New slogan: "If networks were Beatles, we'd be Ringo!; 2) Andy Rooney gets a lot of sympathy sex; 1) You have reached maximum sucking potential (CBS, 9/20).
The Sacramento Kings have announced that the team will televise an additional 25 games on local cable this season via the Kings Broadcasting Network with the debut of Kings Cable Television (KCTV), a product of a partnership with Group W Sports Marketing. Prior to this deal, the Kings were one of four NBA teams without a cable package with the Pacers, Bucks and Clippers. The 25 cable games will be in addition to the 35 games carried over-the-air on flagship KPWB-TV. Group W will offer Kings games to each local cable system in the team's "marketing territory" -- including Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and other communities (Kings).
The dual-channel experiment on Tuesday's Phillies-Marlins game by PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia had many voting for the "conventional" broadcast. While the game was shown regularly on PRISM, SportsChannel featured a "three-screen" broadcast offering insights into coaching and managerial strategy. Sam Donnellon writes, "Instead of making us feel like we were there, the multiscreen approach often created a lack of intimacy, and perspective. ... But give SportsChannel credit for trying something new in a sport dominated by ideas older than infield dirt" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 9/20)....International Figure Skating magazine plans to go public and offer shareholders a chance to control one-third of the business. $50 will buy a lifetime subscription to IFS and 100 shares (INSIDE MEDIA ONLINE)....The boards of Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner meet in New York today to consider the proposed $8B merger. The best- case scenario could have both boards approving the deal tomorrow (N.Y. POST, 9/21). According to the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, TCI Chair John Malone would receive Turner's 44% stake in SportSouth as part of his compensation as a 21% shareholder in TBS (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/21).
The Ryder Cup, the U.S. vs. Europe match play tournament held every two years, will be carried on USA Network on Friday (with 10 hours beginning at 8am EDT) and NBC on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's NBC coverage will be wrapped around Notre Dame football, while Sunday will start at 9am and end at 3:30pm, to be followed by the NFL. NBC Exec Producer Tommy Roy, on the different pace from regular tour events: "You're not bouncing around from shot to shot as you would a stroke-play tournament. You stay with a group or match. You slow it down for the viewer and set up stories and situations" (GOLFWEEK, 9/16-22 issue). SPONSORS: Ping is the sole equipment sponsor, with 18 spots on USA coverage and six a day on NBC. Titleist and Foot-Joy are also counting on the Ryder Cup for a fourth-quarter boost, as they are the official ball, glove and shoe sponsors (Jayne Hynes, GOLFWEEK, 9/16-22 issue). CYBER CUP: NBC Sports is providing online coverage of the Ryder Cup from its NBC SuperNet Sports area on The Microsoft Network and from NBC's Web Site ("NBC HTTV"). In addition to stats, player bios, course layouts, and continual score updates, accessers will be able to "Ask the Announcers" questions via e- mail. The site be rached at http://www.NBC.com or http://www.GOLF.com (NBC Sports). OTHER PRE-MATCH NOTES: Collin Montgomerie, who is "emerging as the leader" of the European team, believes a loss could damage the European Tour. Montgomerie: "There's been so much build-up and, if we lose, everything will go flat again" (NEWSDAY, 9/18)....USA Network analyst Peter Kostis: "This is the only event in golf that you can compare to the Olympics. ... This is pure golf. The players don't get any money and they're not allowed to wear any product logos. It's a hugely different environment" (USA Network)....NEWSWEEK's Mark Starr, on Ryder Cup mania: "Evidently, there are now enough of us to justify the kind of coverage that the networks have trouble extending to political conventions" (NEWSWEEK, 9/25 issue).