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Published October 3, 1995
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).