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BROADCASTING & CABLE EXAMINES THE "FOXIFICATION" OF MLB
Published March 26, 1996
This week's cover story in BROADCASTING & CABLE examines the "Foxification" of baseball, and what impact the network will have on MLB. Steve McClellan profiles Fox's promotional strategy and notes they will attempt to generate $195M in ad revenue in '96 -- with rights fees and promotional costs reaching $170M. McClellan notes, "After agency commissions, baseball on Fox would be hovering around break-even." These numbers assume Fox will be able to generate rate-card prices of $35,000 per 30-second spot in regular-season Saturday afternoons; $100,000 per unit in the Divisional playoffs; $140,000 per unit in the LCS's and $320,000 per 30-second during the World Series. According to sources, Fox is guaranteeing advertisers a 4.2 Saturday rating and has sold about 50% of regular season inventory. ON THE AIR: Fox Sports Exec Producer Ed Goren said the network's on-air look "is going to take somewhat of a videogame- graphics look," with "hot" animation. Fox plans on regionalizing coverage with four games, as opposed to The Baseball Network, which regionalized with as many as 14. Goren also said Fox will not switch between games as much as TBN. A "Fox Box" score indicator will be used, but producers have yet to determine how much. Goren discussed other enhancements requiring MLB cooperation, including miking players and the filming DH's warming up (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/25 issue). Fox will have its talent lineup completed within three weeks, with Goren saying he would like to hire "a more animated personality" to work along studio analyst Dave Winfield. James Brown is a possible studio host (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 3/26). LOCAL STORY: In a separate B&C piece, Jim McConville reports that advertisers are returning to local rights-holders after a strike-marred '95 season. The Brewers and the Mariners' local broadcast partner, KIRO-TV, both report ad sales up 20%, and KTVU-TV in San Francisco says they could "post record sales figures" in '96. Other stations reporting increased ad sales: KSMO (Royals) and WJZ (Orioles). However, in Pittsburgh, Prime Sports GM Bill Craig calls his $3M-a-year deal with the Pirates "a loss leader," but notes that MLB anchors his network's summer coverage. Officials from Marlins carrier WBFS say "the jury is still out" for '96 (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/25).