SBD/4/Sports Media

CBS' FIESTA BOWL COVERAGE MET WITH MIXED REVIEWS

     Although CBS "won a battle" when No. 1 Nebraska met No. 2
Florida in the Fiesta Bowl, the blowout "cost the network in the
ratings war," according to Barry Horn of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS.
With the lopsided contest, CBS, which had hoped its national
championship would match ratings of the '87 national title Fiesta
Bowl, "fell considerably short of its expectations" with a 18.8
rating and a 31 share (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/4).  NEWSDAY's
Steve Zipay writes the "Tostitos were baked, and CBS got fried."
But Zipay adds,  "Some of CBS' wounds were self-inflicted."
Zipay calls the telecast "embarrassingly below par, from
production to relentless entertainment promotions to programming
decisions."  Zipay:  "Too many cooks were involved in the
telecasts: the entertainment division, the prime-time division
(via Bill Cosby's cameos), the late-night division (via David
Letterman's awkward halftime cheerleading) and ad sales."  Zipay
notes during the starting lineups, two logos appeared of Tostitos
and MasterCard -- "a cardinal sin in marketing."  CBS Sports
VP/Programing Len Deluca:  "CBS Sports is just part of the CBS
family."  Zipay: "Too bad that at times on Tuesday, the family
appeared dysfunctional" (NEWSDAY, 1/4).  USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke
notes the 18.8 was 18% below the 23 rating CBS had guaranteed
many advertisers, "forcing CBS to give 'make-good' ads to
sponsors, eight of which occurred in the second half."  Jon
Mandel of Grey Advertising doubts CBS will profit on the $26M
paid in rights fees for the Orange and Fiesta Bowls, but Mandel
believes the Bowl Alliance needs time to grow.  Martzke cites
Boomer Esiason's work during the pregame and at halftime as one
of the few "bright spots" (USA TODAY, 1/4).  In Atlanta, Prentis
Rogers criticizes the announcing team of Jim Nantz and Terry
Donahue:  "Maybe CBS should have brought people like Montel
Williams and Bill Cosby into the booth rather than interview them
on the sideline or use them in corny pregame features" (ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 1/3).
     SEE YOU THIS MARCH:  Make-goods to advertisers may come
during CBS' Final Four coverage (Steve Zipay, NEWSDAY, 1/4).
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