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CBS yesterday pulled their five-year offer to split MLB coverage with Fox, according to Rudy Martzke of USA TODAY. CBS was expected to pay between $80-90M for a deal giving the network two World Series, but new owner Westinghouse "won't OK those numbers and a Thursday night regular season package." CBS "could remain" in the picture, and ABC and possibly NBC "might pay $70 million a year, but that would surely" bring Fox down from its $110M a year offer to $100M or lower. MLB officials had hoped to announce a new TV deal during the World Series, but that is now a remote possibility with news of CBS' withdrawal (USA TODAY, 10/25). JUST TAKING IN A BALLGAME? Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol sat together during last night's Game 3. The two were shown talking and laughing during NBC's broadcast. Ebersol was outfitted in full NBC Sports garb ("1995 World Series," NBC, 10/24). MLB NEWS & NOTES: It appears that Fox affiliates are "embracing" the possibility of baseball as a vehicle to "boost their profiles," according to Milton Kent in Baltimore. The stations may lose some revenue during the regular season, but the opportunity to present post-season and World Series games would "make baseball palatable" (Baltimore SUN, 10/25). On World Series coverage, Barry Horn in Dallas writes that from a "technical standpoint," the telecasts are a reminder that NBC and ABC "know how to produce baseball" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/24).
Terry Bradshaw will host SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's '95 SportsmAn of the Year prime-time special on December 10 on Fox (Fox Sports)....The State Farm Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic will be broadcast live on ESPN and ESPN2 on November 19 from Knoxville, TN. This year's field includes UConn, Louisiana Tech, UVA and Tennessee (State Farm)....Sports Illustrated is launching a series of live online pro football conferences on CompuServ with pro football writer Peter King. King will host the Packers Brett Favre this Thursday at 8:00pm (SI)...Modern Times Group AB, a subsidiary of Swedish media conglomerate Kinnevik, said yesterday it will start a commercial TV channel early next year with sports programming for satellite and cable broadcast in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The channel will be developed in cooperation with Trans World Int'l, the TV arm of IMG. Rights have been secured for European Cup Soccer, Italian Soccer League, Ice Hockey World Championships, the NFL, and U.S. Open tennis (MTG).
TCI Inc. is reportedly in talks with News Corp.'s Fox to join their TV sports operations in creating a "national rival" to ESPN. Terms of a deal "are sketchy," according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL, but sources say that Fox is in discussions to purchase a piece of Liberty Sports Inc., the sports programming division of TCI. The negotiations still have "unresolved issues" and could "fall apart." A deal could allow TCI to "wring more value" from Liberty's 14 regional cable channels, and an agreement could give Fox "a boost" with "attractive local games." A partnership with TCI's John Malone and News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch "would create a potent competitor to any sports programmer, but particularly ESPN" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/25). Fox and TCI may also "try to bring in" Cablevision Systems, which through its programming arm of Rainbow Holdings owns 10 key regional sports networks, including SportsChannel New York and half of MSG (VARIETY, 10/23 issue).
TVKO, the pay-per-view arm of Time Warner Sports, and its marketing partners will spend between $8-10M to promote the November 4 Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield fight, according to Langdon Brockinton of INSIDE MEDIA. Ads will be featured during the World Series, "Late Night with David Letterman," college football, and ESPN's "SportsCenter." National print ads -- including "full-page takeouts" in SI and USA TODAY -- and national and local radio ads will also run. In addition, a half- hour preview will run several times on HBO. Marketing partners include Budweiser, AT&T, Southwest Airlines, and Casio. Bud gets its logo on ring post and mat, while AT&T gets "opening and closing billboards" on the PPV telecast (INSIDE MEDIA, 10/18-31). SUMMERALL BACK AT RINGSIDE: Pat Summerall, former boxing champs Bobby Czyz and Sean O'Grady and Eric Clemons will join James Brown for Fox's coverage of the Tyson-Mathis fight on November 4. John Madden will also have one-on-one taped interviews with both fighters. Summerall will handle the "blow- by-blow" coverage for the whole telecast (Fox).