Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
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ESPN will rebroadcast Game 4 of the Stanley Cup on Saturday, June 15, from 7:30-10:30pm EST with extra interviews and highlights (NHL)....The IHL Griffins have announced an agreement with WZZM and WWMT that will provide Western MI hockey fans with televised coverage of at least 10 Griffins games during the '96- '97 season. WZZM will broadcast five games while WWMT will carry at least five other games (Griffins).....USA TODAY's Rudy Matzke notes Fox's "disappointing" MLB ratings are 21% below CBS's numbers for '93, and "more disappointing news" for Fox was last week's 1.6 rating for Fox's "In the Zone" and 1.2 for their pregame show (USA TODAY, 6/14).
NBC, which is selling 30-second ad spots for an average of $300,000 during the NBA Finals, would miss out on at least $15M in potential ad revenue if the Bulls win the NBA Championship tonight, according to the N.Y. POST. Rights fees for NBC's four- year contract with the NBA, which runs through '98, are based on each postseason series averaging five games. According to one ad exec who works with NBC, sponsors received "multi-million dollars" when the Bulls swept the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. NBC would have suffered a similar loss if the Bulls had swept the Sonics. The network figures to "break even" if the Bulls win tonight, but would profit if the series is extended. While over the length of a four-year deal, the "gains and losses" from a single game are "less clear," NBC Sports VP Ed Markey notes, "There would be an impact if for four years all the conference championships and the Finals were sweeps" (Mark McLaughlin, N.Y. POST, 6/14). Rudy Martzke notes a Game 5 is worth $10M to NBC. On the Sonics' win that forced Game 5, NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol joked: "All the accountants at NBC have severe hangovers after a wild night of partying" (USA TODAY, 6/14). A RATINGS GAME: Michael Hirsley writes from Chicago that NBC's 18.1 national rating for Game 4 was up 21% from last year's Game 4, and the Bulls/Sonics average for four games is 16.1. That is second only to the '93 Bulls/Suns Finals, which averaged a 17.1 through four games. Hirsley also notes SportsChannel and CNBC have been "locked in local cable ratings battles." CNBC's ratings have ranged from .2 to 3.2, while SportsChannel has done between 1.7 and 8.6. NBA Research shows ratings on Mexico's TV- Azteca are 17.4, representing 2.5 million viewers, nearly triple last year's audience. In Canada, CTV's 4.4 rating represents 500,000 viewers and a 62% increase from '95 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/14).
Prime Sports and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a multi- year deal expanding the RSN's coverage of the Cardinals to 50 regular season games a year starting in '97 season. The RSN reaches more than 800,000 cable homes throughout its Midwest region, and should near the 1 million subscriber mark later this year. Prime Sports has signed Ron Gant to appear in the "I Play for Prime Sports" promo campaign currently airing in the Midwest (Prime).
News from NBC's U.S. Open coverage is focused on comments made by analyst Johnny Miller. In a teleconference before the play began, Miller addressed his commentary style: "Some of the players view me as a bit of a traitor. I try to look at everything I do as what's good for the game and what's entertaining to the public. We at NBC treat everybody the same. We treat them as the top pros they are, but we don't try to build them up any more than they deserve." Miller responded to criticism from Greg Norman, who has claimed Miller is too hard in his analysis of Tour players. Miller on Norman: "I feel I've been fair to Greg Norman. I say he's the best player in the world, but I've also said he's had a lot of miscues down the stretch in majors. He's been treated really, really specially by CBS" (Bill Fleischman, PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 6/14). But the N.Y. TIMES' Richard Sandomir notes, "Miller may not have seen how NBC promotes its sports properties. Everything it broadcasts resonates with the star treatment" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/14). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke also claimed NBC treated Tiger Woods' "blowup on the final holes as softly as CBS did Greg Norman's Masters collapse" (USA TODAY, 6/14). Phil Mushnick writes that "CBS is thrilled with Miller. Word had been out that NBC had a chance to carry The Masters. Miller's words could end that. The big TV winner from NBC's U.S. Open, this week, could be CBS" (N.Y. POST, 6/14). But in Ft. Lauderdale, Rachel Alexander backs Miller, adding to "expect, finally, some honest coverage, at least by golf's kid-glove standards" (FT. LAUDERDALE SUN- SENTINEL, 6/14). MARR SIGNS: Dave Marr, who joined NBC Sports golf coverage last year, agreed to a new multi-year deal (NBC).