SBD/18/Sports Media

HEADING INTO SECOND YEAR, GOLF CHANNEL SEES HOPEFUL SIGNS

     The Golf Channel, celebrating its first anniversary, is
featured in USA TODAY.  TGC is "finally ... beginning to climb,
perhaps not walking as steadily as hoped, but at least on its
feet after some faltering steps," according to Steve Hershey.
Access to the channel and the initial cost proved troublesome at
first, but the network is optimistic a new distribution strategy
will work.  Jon Mandel, Senior VP at Grey Advertising, said what
"hurt them was starting with a pay basis ... They may have upset
potential customers."   Golf Channel President & CEO Joe Gibbs
recently altered the pricing system and made deals with "three
major cable companies" to improve distribution, while ending
their year with 1.4 million subscribers.  Gibbs:  "The pricing
just wasn't working.  If we had understood the rate table at the
beginning we would have gone in another direction."  Now Gibbs
said they will leave it up the cable companies to "market us to
their best advantage."  As far as commercial advertising, Gibbs
said his "goal it to hold commercials to six minutes an hour,"
even though they could run more (USA TODAY, 1/18).  The Golf
Channel is also examined by Dave Shedloski of GOLFWEEK, who
writes Gibbs will continue to try to increase viewership and
fundraising, "scouring the nation's fairways for about $50
million" on top of the original investment of $120M.  Gibbs:
"Turner spent $300 million before CNN broke even, so we don't
think our expenditures are out of line" (GOLFWEEK, 1/13 issue).
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