SBD/19/Sports Media

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  • FOREMAN-MOORER FIGHT OFF, AGAIN. THIS TIME FOR GOOD?

         Time Warner Sports President Seth Abraham confirmed a report
    that the George Foreman-Michael Moorer fight for February 29 at
    Madison Square Garden if off, according to Greg Logan of NEWSDAY.
     The dispute is over the language of the contract between the two
    sides (NEWSDAY, 1/19).  Bob Arum, promoter for Foreman's so-
    called "retirement bout," said provisions inserted by Time Warner
    made it "impossible" to go ahead with the event (PHILADELPHIA
    INQUIRER, 1/19).  ESPN's Charley Steiner:  "In the end, the
    demands of Foreman and his promoter Bob Arum could not or would
    not be satisfied by Time Warner, which would have televised the
    fight on pay-per-view.  And while Time Warner says it is hopeful
    of rescheduling the rematch, the reality is Foreman turned 47
    last week and the sands through his hour glass have dwindled to a
    precious few grains" ("SportsCenter," 1/18).  Logan calls losing
    the fight a "blow" to MSG's bid to rebuild its boxing business
    (NEWSDAY, 1/19).
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, ESPN, Madison Square Garden, Media, Time Warner, Walt Disney
  • FOX TRAX: THE BEST THING FOR HOCKEY SINCE THE CURVED STICK?

         In a demonstration yesterday at Boston's FleetCenter, site
    of the 46th NHL All-Star Game, Fox Sports unveiled "FoxTrax," a
    new system that will allow the puck to "appear graphically
    enhanced" on NHL broadcasts.  Fox Sports President David Hill
    said the innovation "will help us keep our commitment to the
    league to attract new and young fans alike."  NHL Senior VP & COO
    Stephen Solomon calls it a "technological breakthrough" that is
    "not only a visual bonus but also an informational bonanza" (Fox
    Sports).
         HOW DOES IT WORK?  Special pucks are prepared, with
    miniature computer hardware inserted inside the puck.  Working
    with sensors placed around the rink, special camera and mobile
    production equipment (the "Puck Truck"), and an in-arena PC, the
    visual effects to the TV viewer are a "translucent glow" around
    the puck and a "comet trail" that appears when the puck is shot
    at certain speeds.  In addition, speeds can be translated to an
    on-screen graphic.  During the All-Star broadcast, the "comet
    tail" will appear on all shots traveling over 75 mph.  The pucks
    run on a battery that is good for 10 minutes of "on time."  They
    are no good when the battery runs out (Fox Sports).
         "WORK IN PROGRESS":  At the Boston news conference
    yesterday, all sides stressed the developmental nature of the
    technology.  Hill:  "If this works, it is going to be a
    demonstration.  If it doesn't, it is an experiment.  We are in
    the very early stages of this idea. ... It is a work in
    progress."  Solomon:  "This is the first phase of what I suspect
    will be a couple more years of development."  The puck will be
    employed during the rest of the regular-season in one regional
    Fox game per week.  There was no mention about the playoffs.
    Fifty of the pucks will be used on Saturday night, with changes
    made during TV timeouts if needed and retrieval necessary for
    those that go in the stands.  Experiments with both a blue dot
    and a subtle white overlay will be conducted during the game (THE
    DAILY).
              LOVE IT OR HATE IT?  Fox won't reveal the cost of the
    puck, but the Silicon Graphics computers alone cost $120,000
    (Kevin Maney, USA TODAY, 1/19). NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay estimates
    the cost at about $2M.  He writes hockey "purists will mock it.
    The kids will think it is fun" (NEWSDAY, 1/19).  Richard Sandomir
    calls the comet "fun" and writes while the "effects are not the
    greatest technological advance in TV history ... they should
    improve" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/19).  Phil Mushnick calls the puck "wild"
    and "pretty cool" (N.Y. POST, 1/19).  In Boston, Jim Baker writes
    his first reaction was "laughter. ... Purists and veteran viewers
    don't need this" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/19).  The BOSTON GLOBE's Dan
    Shaughnessy says to "give Fox credit for trying. ...
    Unfortunately, Fox is only contributing to the dumbing down of
    America" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/19).  In Detroit, Tim Kiska writes that
    the NHL and Fox "have turned hockey into something out of Sega.
    But whether the sport that calls itself the coolest game on Earth
    is getting any cooler is open to debate" (DETROIT NEWS, 1/19).
    In Toronto, self-described purist Bob McKenzie says the puck
    "sucks.  It doesn't enhance the game.  It alters it. ... If you
    love video games, you'll love this new puck."  He does write that
    "many came away impressed" from the demonstration (TORONTO STAR,
    1/19).  TORONTO SUN's Rob Longley:  "Can you say Sega?
    Predictably the NHL ... is defensive of the new technology"
    (TORONTO STAR, 1/19).   Alan Adams of the CANADIAN PRESS writes
    that the puck "is not easy to get used to," and believes it will
    divert viewers' attention from the play away from the puck
    (CP/MONTREAL GAZETTE, 1/19).
    

    Print | Tags: News Corp./Fox, NHL, Media
  • MEDIA NOTES

         Fox's aggressive foray into sports TV is profiled in a
    lengthy feature by Sam Donnellon in today's PHILADELPHIA DAILY
    NEWS.  Fox Sports President David Hill, asked if Fox would ever
    try to alter a sports league's structure:   "I've always felt
    that television should commentate on the game and show it in its
    best possible way and work in a partnership with the league.  But
    I believe our business is broadcasting and the league's business
    is running the sports" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/19)....Sean
    McDonough will not return as the Red Sox's TV announcer next
    season because the team's new broadcast outlet has asked him to
    take a 60% salary cut.  McDonough earned around $300,000 for his
    work on WSBK games last year.  McDonough also works for CBS
    Sports in a contract that pays him $600,000 (Jack Craig, BOSTON
    GLOBE, 1/18)....Former A's broadcaster Lon Simmons will announce
    25 to 30 games on KTVU next season for the Giants.  The A's
    didn't renew the 72-year-old Simmons' contract at the end of last
    season (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/19)....Veteran CBS producer
    Frank Chirkinian's golf schedule has been "pared down to eight
    tournaments this year," while his '97 schedule is "undetermined."
    CBS Sports President David Kenin said Chirkinian fought it, "but
    we needed to do a planned sharing of his responsibilities"
    (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 1/19)....NBC Sports has signed
    golf analyst Johnny Miller to a five-year extension (USA TODAY,
    1/19)....CNBC President Roger Ailes resigned yesterday from the
    NBC-owned network.  He will be succeeded by William Bolster,
    President and GM of NBC-owned WNBC-TV (WALL STREET JOURNAL,
    1/19)....The Tribune Co. completed its $95M purchase of Houston
    station KHTV from Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment.  KHTV is
    an affiliate of Time Warner's WB Network, of which Tribune holds
    a minority stake (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/19)....For the first time,
    Super Bowl play-by-play will be broadcast in the Navajo language.
    KTTN-AM in Arizona is expected to broadcast the game to 250,000
    or more people (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 1/19)....TNT will premiere
    "The Super Bowl at 30:  Big Game America," an hour-long special
    from NFL Films and the Turner Network, on Monday at 8pm ET
    (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/18).
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Red Sox, CBS, NBC, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Oakland Athletics, Media, TBS/TNT, Time Warner, Viacom
  • U.S. 500 GETS AIR TIME ON ESPN, GOES UP AGAINST INDY 500

         ESPN will carry live coverage of the first running of the
    U.S. 500 at the Michigan International Speedway on May 26, the
    same day ABC covers the Indianapolis 500.  ESPN will provide 3
    1/2 hours of live coverage beginning at 2:00pm ET. The Indy 500
    will start at 12:00pm ET, meaning the races in part will go head
    to head (IndyCar).  CART teams and drivers who make up the
    IndyCar Series have chosen to run a 500-mile race at Michigan on
    the dame day of the Indy 500 because of a dispute with Tony
    George, President of the Indianapolis track and founder of the
    Indy Racing League (THE DAILY).
         REACTION:  ABC Sports spokesperson Mark Mandel said their
    plans won't change in the face of competition from the U.S. 500
    and ESPN.  Mandel said ABC has "one race [Indy 500], ESPN has the
    other."  He said ABC was not surprised by the announcement,
    adding only, "The Indy 500 has got the tradition and is on a
    network and will have a much better rating.  There is no question
    about that."  IRL spokesperson Bob Walters said that "obviously"
    Cap Cities/ABC, (owners of ESPN) "weren't that interested in
    covering the race since they didn't make the announcement
    earlier."   Walters said that Cap Cities/ABC might have felt
    "compelled" to show the race "since they couldn't sell it" to any
    other network.  Walters didn't wish to criticize the deal, adding
    "we are trying to focus on what we are doing.  The Indy 500 is a
    tremendous promotional avenue."  There will be close to 80 hours
    of Indy 500 programming in the month of May on ESPN, ESPN2 and
    ABC.  ABC will broadcast all five IRL events. All IndyCar teams
    and drivers are still invited to compete in the Indy 500.  ESPN
    was unavailable for comment (THE DAILY).
         ALL IN THE FAMILY:  While both ESPN and ABC are owned by Cap
    Cities-ABC, itself soon to be owned by Disney, the rights to all
    CART races are held by OCC, Ohlmeyer Communications.  OCC is, in
    turn, owned by ESPN, which buys the time for CART races to get on
    air.  INDY CAR RACING MAGAZINE:  "When efforts to place the race
    on a broadcast network failed, ESPN was the logical choice" (ICR,
    1/18).
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Champ Car World Series, ESPN, Int'l Speedway Corp., IndyCar, Media, Walt Disney
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