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The criticism continues of The Baseball Network's regionalized playoff coverage -- Divisional and League Championship playoff games all played simultaneously with fans seeing only one. In Boston, Jack Craig -- who calls the setup the "final insult of The Baseball Network" --reports that in the time since the strike "a few owners inquired about cable, but the top network carriers, NBC and ABC, nixed the idea, not wanting their advertising rates skewed by far cheaper spots available on cable." One cable exec who spoke with acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on the possibility of putting some games on cable "came away with a better understanding on how the PR disaster has come to be. He said Selig did not comprehend the long reach major cable channels have with sports fans" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/26). AD SALES: TBN has sold about 75-80% of commercial time for its playoff broadcasts, according to a number of ad agency execs cited by INSIDE MEDIA. One newcomer to TBN is McDonald's (INSIDE MEDIA, 9/20-10/3 issue). THE PLACE TO GO? CBS Radio will broadcast games simultaneously -- four games during the Divisional Playoffs and two games during the LCS (CBS Radio).
The $7.5B Turner-Time Warner merger may face another lawsuit. Continental Cablevision is considering action to secure the same terms received by TCI in exchange for its shares in TBS (N.Y. POST, 9/26). Meanwhile, US West, which has already filed suit over the deal, is considering joining the Baby Bells involved in Tele-TV. That move could violate US West's "non- compete" clause in its partnership with Time Warner (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/26)....HBO Sports will debut "Rebels with a Cause: The Story of the American Football League" in December. Fox's John Madden is serving as a consultant on the project (HBO)....Tom Marsillo, Local Sales manager at SportsChannel New York, reports that ad sales for the Devils are up 10%. Among the newcomers buying time: PaineWebber, SkyTel and Six Flags/Great Adventure. Renewals include: A-B, Discover, GMC Trucks, American Airlines, Volvo and the U.S. Postal Service (INSIDE MEDIA, 9/20-10/3). ....Grant Hill makes an appearance on NBC's Saturday morning series "Hang Time" on October 7 (NBC)....Steve Zipay notes that NFL officials are "touchy" about anything related to gambling -- and that includes the Taco Bell spots on the Hakeem-Shaq match-up which ran during NFL games Sunday. The ads had a "Trump Taj Mahal" logo. Zipay notes that Fox's promos for Tyson-Mathis will have an "MGM Grand" logo (NEWSDAY, 9/26)....Chronicle Publishing, owner of the San Francisco Chronicle, said it has no plans to sell its interest in the paper to Hearst (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/26)....MCI is petitioning Congress and the FCC to have an auction for the last remaining license to provide DBS. Analysts estimate the license could bring in as much as $300M. MCI would then join DirecTV, Primestar and USSB in DBS business (WASHINGTON POST, 9/26)....CBS is expected to renew its U.S. Open contract with the rights fee averaging $30M a year (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 9/26).... WGN will use its home page on the World Wide Web for another "webcast" of a Cubs game Thursday at 1pm CDT. Address: http://www. wgntv.com (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/26).
With the Kings' recent move to cable in Sacramento and surrounding areas, only three NBA teams are without cable packages -- the Pacers, Bucks and Clippers -- and that list could soon shorten to two. According to the INDIANAPOLIS STAR, the Pacers are reportedly working on deals with at least two cable companies in the Indianapolis area to provide broadcasts of 20-30 games. Of the Pacers' 82 games, 30 are committed to WTTV-TV and five to NBC. Cable could pick up as many as 30 of the remaining games. However, with the Pacers reporting a $3.1M loss in '93- 94, a cable deal is not believed to be "the difference between them making money and not making money," according to Patrick Early, President of Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board, which operates Market Square Arena. Pacers Dir of Broadcasting Larry Mago expects cable to provide "significant" revenue, but should the team make deals with all cable companies within their 75-mile radius broadcast rights area at 15 cents monthly per subscriber (the figure cited by several local cable execs), they are only looking at $1M or more. In addition, the team is negotiating on a share of revenues from ads sold during the broadcasts. Local media buyer Diane Nichols-Hayde said a 30- second spot during games on WTTV go for as much as $1,200, but she had no estimate for how much those rates would be on cable (Mary Francis, INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/26). GROUP W EXPANDS ITS NBA FAMILY: Group W Sports Marketing has signed a multi-year agreement with the Bucks to handle national and local TV ad sales for all Bucks games, which are carried on WVTV-TV in Milwaukee. WVTV will carry 35 regular season games and playoff games. Production responsibilities will also be handled by GWSM as part of the agreement (Group W Sports Marketing).
Reviews are in for NBC's handling of the Ryder Cup. In New York, Richard Sandomir calls the event "the perfect televised golf tournament" and says "NBC's production usually captured its essence." He does note, however, that NBC's on-course reporters "faltered in some of their interview work" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/26). In Boston (where NBC got its top rating -- a 7.3 overall), Jack Craig writes, "Blessed are the announcers who say little and shun adjectives, and that was the case in spades for all of the Ryder Cup telecasts" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/26). GOLF DIGEST Senior Editor Peter McCleery, in a piece carried on The Microsoft Network, writes that NBC Producer Tommy Roy "basically needed to show more golf and eliminate some of the fluff." McCleery also was critical of NBC's interviewers, writing, "Too bad [SI's Rick] Reilly can't stick around to do interviews of players, because NBC's other crew members are hopeless" (The Microsoft Network). Jimmy Roberts: "It was three days of pure sport, with hardly a logo to be found" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/25).