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A computer program called "Coach's Edge" will be used by CBS Sports in its coverage of the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. "Coach's Edge" has been used by CBS analyst Billy Packer to explain key plays on-screen. The program was designed by Chris Davis, who sells it out of his house in Lawrence, KS. Davis has sold more than 250 copies at $200 each. Davis approached Packer and CBS Coordinating Producer Bob Dekas last December and showed them the program, and two week's later it made its CBS debut on the KU-Indiana game. Other clients include Duke University and the Univ. of North Carolina. The Milwaukee Bucks also use the system and hope to have it on sidelines during games next year on laptop computers (Mark Davis, K.C. STAR, 3/13).
Phil Rizzuto announced he will return to WPIX-New York to call 31 of the station's 50 Yankee games. Rizzuto had announced his retirement last August (NEWSDAY, 3/13)....ESPN received a 2.4 rating for their NCAA "Selection Show," down 29% from last year (USA TODAY, 3/13)....Fox officially announced Dave Winfield as their MLB studio analyst. Winfield: "When I was a rookie in baseball, I made a million errors. I hope I don't do that now" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/13)....Jay Larkin, Exec Producer of SET, Showtime's PPV arm, is upset that neither Frank Bruno nor Mike Tyson have made themselves more available to the media in advance of Saturday's fight. Larkin: "The success of this promotion rests on a very few shoulders and if they are nowhere to be found" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/13)....Time Warner and U.S. West will meet in court today to hear U.S. West's suit to stop the proposed TBS-Time Warner merger (N.Y. POST, 3/13).... Raybin Communications has been named one of the media partners of Pinnacle All-Star FanFest. As part of the deal, Raybin Sports Collectors Show will offer daily FanFest information on its Web site. Address: http://www. sportscollectors.com (Pinnacle).
The "NFL on NBC" pre-game show will be expanded to a one- hour weekly format next year. The show will air at 12:00 noon each Sunday, marking the first time NBC Sports will present a weekly hour-long studio pre-game show for an entire season. NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol said the move could not have "been accomplished without the extensive cooperation we received from our affiliates across the country and our own news division" (NBC Sports). Ebersol told USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand the move is "something I've clearly stated for the last two years that we'd never do." But he said affiliates have been offered a five- minute window in the show's first half-hour for their own program inserts. Ebersol also said NBC will never use the running on- screen score like Fox, adding that 90% of viewers say the only reason they liked it was it allowed them to catch the score and turn the game off. Ebersol: "My No. 1 responsibility is building big audiences" (USA TODAY, 3/13). NBC has promised five minutes of commercial time to local stations to sell as their own to make up revenue (Baltimore SUN, 3/13). NBC Sports Exec Producer Tom Roy is expected to be named NBC's new No. 1 game producer (USA TODAY, 3/13).
The most successful sports-related ventures on the World Wide Web have been related to big-ticket events -- and the NCAA basketball tournament is one of the biggest. The intense interest and fast pace of the early rounds is a perfect match for the real-time nature of the medium, with the interactive draw of filling out a tournament pool also a natural. The top sports online services seem to have figured this out, as all have major tournament sites. 1) ESPNET's SportsZone has the "Tournament Challenge," presented by Pizza Hut. The winner gets a trip to next year's Final Four. The Zone's site -- found at http:// ESPNET.sportszone.com -- also has in-depth reports on each of the 64 teams. 2) SportsLine USA has its "March Medley" contest with a $1,000 cash prize to the winner. There are also team reports for subscribers. Address: http://www. sportsline.com. 3) The Sports Network will unveil its live Java Sportswire during the tournament bringing constantly updated scores ticker-style. Address: http://www. sportsnetwork.com. 4) CBS has a March Madness site with its own pool -- "The Final Four Challenge," sponsored by Microsoft. Other features at http://www.CBS.com/sports/ marchmadness are a trivia quiz, the "virtual pressroom" with news releases and background info, and a fan poll. 5) CNN's sports site -- http://www.cnn.com/sports/index.html --leads with the final NCAA poll and has a front-page button for its tourney site. Inside are stories and the brackets. 6) USA Today has a special section -- "The Big Dance" -- found at http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketba/sktfront. The main feature is a coaches forum -- including Rick Pitino and Roy Williams -- with answers posted tonight. 7) For "personalized" e-mail updates on the games and your favorite teams, head to Mercury Mail Inc.'s "It's Madness" site at http://www.merc.com/madness.html (THE DAILY).