TV SPORTS MARKETPLACE: TOO CROWDED OR FEEDING HUNGRY FANS?
Published January 13, 1997
The "crowded" sports TV marketplace is examined by Bruce Orwall of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Orwall: "Is anybody watching this stuff? Niche markets they may be, but fans' hunger for a wealth of sports programming shows no sign of abating. Certainly, big money is betting it won't." While some "critics may complain about the surfeit of sports, veteran TV sports programmers say they've heard it all before." ABC Sports President/ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein: "Everyone's concerned that we're slicing the pie thinner. Our experience has been that we have expanded the pie." The JOURNAL's Orwall notes "the actual viewership of cable sports programs isn't reliably tracked. But some see the audience expanding in surprising ways." ITT Corp. President Robert Bowman, who is introducing WBIS+ in New York, a sports and business network, said they are "finding more and more women watching and talking to their children about sports" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/13). ITT BETS ON WBIS: ITT's "forays into entertainment" are profiled in BUSINESS WEEK under the header, "Is Showbiz No Biz for ITT?" Lesly & Grover write that "even before it hits the air, WBIS+'s future is cloudy." Although it "seems like a winner," ITT's CEO Rand Araskog is "counting on cable distribution for the broadcast station under 'must carry' rules. But the U.S. Supreme Court may soon revoke must- carry. ... That would leave Araskog to duke it out" with the likes of News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch "to win space for WBIS+ on crowded cable systems" (BUSINESS WEEK, 1/20).