SBD/13/Sports Media

TV SPORTS MARKETPLACE: TOO CROWDED OR FEEDING HUNGRY FANS?

          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). 

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