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Athletic directors from the Big 12 voted in favor of playing an annual football championship with their first game scheduled for December 7, 1996, at the Trans World Dome in St. Louis. The agreement still has to be ratified by the college presidents, but is expected to pass with ease. The deal was expedited by ABC, which increased its bid from $2.5M to close to $4M, the amount it spends on the SEC championship. ABC "anticipates a blockbuster" (Tom Wheatley, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/16). In "exchange for the increased rights fee, ABC, rather than the conference, will take control of a title sponsor and the revenue it generates." A Big 12 source indicated the game could bring about $6.9M to the conference or about $575,000 per school. Although the ADs recommend rotating sites, they tabled consideration of a second site until their spring meeting citing many factors, including uncertainty over ownership of the Astrodome (Jonathan Feigen, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/16). The selection of St. Louis was unanimous. The city has pledged to sell out the 35,000 seats not reserved for Big 12 schools and officials, and will stage a Fanfest and other events around the game (ST. LOUIS POST- DISPATCH, 11/16).
Because ABC is required to televise golf's Skins Game on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, college football fans will only get to see one of the two premier matchups that day -- OSU- Michigan and FSU-Florida. The games will share the noon EST time period. OSU-Michigan will be seen in about 61% of the country, while FSU-Florida gets 39%. Both games will be available on pay- per-view for $9.95. ABC's Mark Mandel called the situation a "fluke" that "won't occur the rest of this decade," but "by no means is it an attempt for ABC Sports to gouge the public." Mandel said they considered changing FSU-Florida to prime time but "that didn't work" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 11/16). BIG 10 BOOST: ABC, which has rights to the Comp USA Citrus Bowl and the Rose Bowl, "stands to be the beneficiary of higher ratings and increased interest among advertisers" if Ohio State and Northwestern continue their successful seasons. The Citrus Bowl airs in the afternoon on January 1, followed by the Rose. One New York ad exec believe viewers will stay with ABC for both, citing the excitement generated by Northwestern. ABC has sold more than 80% of its commercial time for the Citrus Bowl and over 70% for the Rose (George Lazarus, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/16).
SFX Broadcasting, New York, has entered into agreement to purchase Liberty Broadcasting, owner and operator of 19 radio stations in six markets, for $223M. SFX will transfer 11 of the stations to Multi-Market Radio and retain stations in DC, Baltimore and Long Island (AD AGE ONLINE, 11/16).... ABC's Al Michaels, on whether he believes O.J. Simpson has any interest in returning to broadcasting: "I don't think at this point he does. I think there are a lot of other things he has to be concerned with right now -- the situation with his children, the pending civil litigation that will come his way right now" ("Up Close," ESPN, 11/15). ....TNT's 3.4 rating for Tuesday's Bulls-Magic game was its second highest all time regular-season NBA rating. With two appearances by Michael Jordan, TNT has a five-game rating of 2.1, up 29% from last year (USA TODAY, 11/16)....The '95 NASCAR Winston Cup, which ended Sunday, saw total viewership for the year exceed 91 million for their 31 point races. Combined cable ratings (ESPN, TNN, TBS) showed a 25% increase from '94 (NASCAR)....Sony has formed a alliance with Visa USA to create a global info/entertainment center on the World Wide Web (N.Y. TIMES, 11/16).
Wisconsin Independent Networks Sports has yet to televise any games nearly a year after getting approval for a $300,000 loan from the state. Network organizers had hoped to begin providing cable viewers with Wisconsin pro, college and high school sporting events "as early as February," but have yet to even take out the loan. Mike Hegan, one of the organizers of WINS and a TV analyst for the Indians, said they are still working on "trying to put something together." Hegan said organizers were "poised and ready to go" in February but were never able to get deals with cable companies and the Brewers and Bucks. But Vince Sweeney, who handles TV for the Univ. of WI, said they have not heard from WINS "in a while" and do not know "what happened to them" (WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL, 11/16).