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After months of heavy criticism from baseball and media writers, The Baseball Network launches its regionalized playoff coverage on NBC tonight at 8pm EDT. ABC picks up divisional playoff coverage on Friday. The rundown of where each series will be shown (USA TODAY, 10/3): NOTE: States are listed by postal code. States with symbol (^) have some markets dedicated to other games. BOS-CLE (23%) NYY-SEA (20%) CIN-LA (27%) COL-ATL (30%) New England NJ, NY Philadelphia NC, TN Erie, PA AK, HI, OR, WA Pittsburgh Richmond Baltimore Lancaster, PA Johnstown, PA Roanoke Wash., DC Wilkes-Barre KY, WV, OH^ AL, GA, MS, SC Norfolk, VA C'ville, VA IL^, IN^ KS^, FL^, NE, Fort Myers Hagerstown, MD AZ^, CA, NV Springfield, MO MI, WI, MN, ND Evansville Waterloo, IA Peoria, IL Kansas City Davenport, IA St. Louis Des Moines Fort Wayne Miami Joplin, MO Sioux City, IA Cleveland Tampa CO, ID, MT, UT Columbus WY, AR, NM, OK Stubenville LA^, TX, SD Toledo Phoenix Youngstown South Bend Baton Rouge Fort Worth Amarillo THE GOOD: In Philadelphia, Mike Bruton writes, "On the eve of this not-so-grand experiment, it looks as if things might not be so terrible" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/3). In Washington, Tom Boswell writes, "Have pity on our fellow Americans. If they want MTV and Beverly Hills 90210, why not give them baseball in quadravision?" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/3). ESPN President Steve Bornstein: "Why don't we see the playoffs before they're criticized?" (USA TODAY, 10/3). In Atlanta, Prentis Rogers writes, "It is worth noting that little of the criticism directed at TBN has been aimed at the telecasts themselves" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 10/3). THE BAD: In Tampa, Doug Carlson writes the new TV format "likely will further tarnish the game's image" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/3). Astros Dir of Broadcasting Jamie Hildreth: "The Baseball Network was a good idea for the regular season but not so good for the playoffs. ... Any time you get a jewel event like the playoffs, it should be seen by the entire country" (Carlton Thompson, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/3). AND THE UGLY: NBC's Bob Costas: "The whole wild-card idea in concept and practice is so mindless it's best not to think about it if you plan to enjoy the games that remain" (Rudy martzke, USA TODAY, 10/3). THE WORD FROM TBN: In New York, Richard Sandomir notes that move toward regionalization "ignored such factors as the expanding nationalization" of the NBA playoffs. But TBN "must play the denationalized hand it was dealt." President Ken Schanzer: "We've been given a responsibility to broadcast the games regionally and, within that context, we tried to come up with a plan that makes it as exciting as possible" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/3). Coordinating producer John Filipelli: "Our goal is to make these telecasts as seamless as possible" (Steve Nidetz, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/3). NO DISH VIEWING: Restating his Monday report, Jim Baker notes that officials from NBC and TBN insist the satellite feed will remain scrambled on out-of-market games to protect regionalization (BOSTON HERALD, 10/3). WILL O.J. PRE-EMPT? The WASHINGTON POST reported this morning that NBC was considering a prime-time O.J. special, but NBC's Ed Markey tells THE DAILY that other than a special "Dateline" at 11:35pm EDT, he knew of no such plans. WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR: New MLB marketing exec Arlan Kantarian is said to be pursuing sponsorship deals for next season, which include MLB-based promos and time buys with the league's new media partners, according to Jeff Jensen of ADVERTISING AGE. Kantarian is said to be in the "critical stages" with Pizza Hut, while Anheuser-Busch has requested a meeting. A-B VP/Corporate Media & Sports Marketing Tony Ponturo: "From our standpoint, the playoffs and World Series will be a test to see just where the national appeal of baseball stands." A-B will run spots during ABC and NBC broadcasts, but nothing baseball-specific. The same goes for TBN sponsor Texaco. But GM (TBN's biggest sponsor) will air new Cal Ripken/Chevy Trucks ads (AD AGE, 10/2 issue). OVERNIGHTS ON AL WEST PLAYOFF: According to preliminary Nielsen overnight ratings for the Seattle and L.A. markets, the Mariners-Angels AL West playoff game on ESPN yesterday afternoon received a 2.8 in L.A. and a 4.5 in Seattle (Nielsen Sports Marketing Service). ONE LAST SHOT: David Letterman, on the NL playoff schedule: "The Dodgers will be at home against the Reds, the Braves will be at home playing the Rockies, and the Mets will be at home playing Mortal Kombat" (CBS, 10/2).
The Women's Basketball Association will begin its fourth season with a three-year TV deal with Liberty Sports. This year, the WBA expands its schedule to 36 games, with Liberty carrying 80 regular season games, the All-Star Game and the playoffs on its Prime Sports RSNs and the Women's Sports & Entertainment Network (WBA)....The Broncos topped the Rockies in the ratings Sunday. Broncos-Seahawks drew a 25 rating/47 share, while the Rockies wild card clincher drew a 17/33 (Colorado Springs GAZETTE TELEGRAPH, 10/3).... The Big East Conference has launched a site on the Web on ESPNET SportsZone (ESPN)....Int'l Skating Union President Ottavio Cinquanta announced the completion of the ISU's "multi-million dollar, worldwide" TV agreement yesterday, which will extend through '99. Networks involved include ABC (U.S.), CTV (Canada), TF/1 (France), and most likely EBU (Europe). Negotiations are ongoing in Japan, the Far East and Southeast Asia. The networks will have exclusive rights to the 11 ISU Championships, including the World and European Figure Skating Championships (ISU)....NESN has developed a site on the Web featuring info on the Bruins and Red Sox (GOULD MEDIA, 10/3)....Fox Sports has announced it '95-96 NHL schedule, which kicks off with the All-Star Game January 20. The Bruins, Blackhawks, Rangers, Flyers and Devils are the only teams to be featured every week (Fox).
NFL Dir of Communications Greg Aiello spoke to the ORLANDO SENTINEL regarding NBC's switch on Sunday to Jaguars-Oilers before the 1pm Dolphins-Bengals game had ended. Aiello: "Your fans hit us pretty good. The good news is that it won't happen again." Aiello was not referring to a change in policy -- only that the Jaguars (who have designated Orlando as their secondary market) will not follow the Dolphins for the rest of this season (Jerry Greene, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/3). Aiello and NBC's Ed Markey also clarified the situation in L.A., where the same game was abandoned for the Chargers. Markey had cited league policy, but said, "I stand corrected." Aiello: "It was, as we said at first, a miscommunication problem, and it won't happen again" (Larry Stewart, L.A. TIMES, 10/3). NFL FILES SUIT ON RENEGADE DISH USERS: The league filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Buffalo Monday against 30 bars, restaurants and bowling alleys charging that they showed games that were blacked out. The suit asks for $200,000 in damages from each establishment. Bills attorney Vincent Tobia believes there is a direct correlation between non-sellouts this year and illegal satellite broadcasts (AP/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/3).
The Bowe-Holyfield heavyweight fight will remain scheduled for November 4 at Caesars Palace, according to an announcement this morning by TVKO, Time Warner Sports, Caesars Palace, Spencer Promotions and Main/Events Monitor. The live pay-per-view event will begin at 9pm EST, with the main card scheduled to begin around 11:30pm. The event will go head-to-head with Fox's broadcast of Mike Tyson's second fight since being released from prison. The Bowe/Holyfield PPV special will carry a suggested retail price of $39.95. Time Warner Sports President Seth Abraham said they "were very pleased that our partners at Caesars, Spencer Promotions, Main Events/Monitor and the cable industry were able to re-affirm their commitment" (TVKO).