SBD/6/Sports Media

RATINGS, PRODUCTION DO LITTLE TO SOOTHE TBN CRITICS

     The Baseball Network's coverage of Game 2 of the MLB
divisional playoffs drew a 10.7 national rating, up from
Tuesday's 10.3 (THE DAILY).  The two-night 10.5 average is off
15% from CBS' coverage of the first two nights of the '93 LCS and
equals the dip in NFL ratings when they went to the wild-card in
'78, according to Rudy Martzke.  With the markets of the eight
teams averaging a 24.2, NBC research figures that if only one
game were played in the 8-11pm time slot, the average would have
been only an 8.2.  BBDO's Steve Grubbs:  "If you televise all
four games separately, you'll have a dilution of audience levels
and advertising dollars.  At an 8 rating, would baseball remain a
special event for advertisers?  Probably not" (USA TODAY, 10/6).
     HAPPY NETWORKS:  In Washington, Leonard Shapiro writes
regionalization "is achieving one of its primary objectives" -- a
"healthy national rating" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/6).  In Ft.
Lauderdale, Rachel Alexander writes, "You may be suffering, but
for the networks, things couldn't be better."  ABC Sports
spokesperson Mark Mandel:  "This situation keeps the ratings
high, keeps advertising coming in and we have an exclusive
product" (Ft. Lauderdale SUN SENTINEL, 10/6).
     NOT-SO-HAPPY:  Barry Frank, MLB's chief TV negotiator, on an
NBC promo last night (probably from NBC's entertainment division)
that took a shot at ABC:  "It was a terribly low blow, a cheap
shot and I told NBC so.  You won't see it again" (Richard
Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 10/6).       MEDIA WRITERS KEEP SLASHING:
"The only good thing about The Baseball Network is the fact MLB
is pulling the plug" (Carlton Thompson, HOUSTON CHRONICLE,
10/6).... "Regionalization ... is an affront to the very people
baseball needs to win back" (Prentis Rogers, ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 10/6)...."The drama of the first two nights of
baseball's postseason has been overshadowed by the outrage over
the regionalized coverage" (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 10/6).
...."We can look forward to next year, when The Baseball Network
is history" (Randy Covitz, K.C. STAR, 10/6)...."Not only is
regionalization an artisic failure, but a financial flop" (Jack
Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/6).... "Before we bury The Baseball
Network, we should praise it ... for its productions" (Steve
Nidetz, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/6)....Front page headline in
Burlington, VT, where the Yankees-Mariners is coming over
Plattsburgh's WPTZ:  "Red Sox Fans Cursed by Coverage"
(BURLINGTON FREE PRESS, 10/3).
     ON THE BRIGHT SIDE:  "Then again, at least people are
talkin' baseball, and when was the last time this many people
cared?" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 10/6).
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