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Fox will prepare for its "unprecedented" five hours of Super Bowl pre-game coverage by putting crews "not only in New Orleans," but in Green Bay and Foxboro, MA, for the next twelve days," according to Joanne Weintraub of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The crews will follow Packers, Patriots and their families, "compiling video diaries of both teams." Asked if a five-hour pre-game was too much, Fox Exec Producer Ed Goren said, "No, as long as Madison Avenue keeps buying, we'll keep doing it" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/14). IMG's Barry Frank, on the Super Bowl matchup: "Green Bay is going to be every bit as attractive as Dallas in the Super Bowl for Fox. The Packers have Brett Favre, Reggie White and tradition. And Bill Parcells leads the Patriots" (USA TODAY, 1/14). In Tampa, Pat Yasinskas notes "for the first time in recent memory, this one is going to be fun, in a refreshing sort of way ... [the teams] bring a youthful enthusiasm to Bourbon Street" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/14). NFL NEWS: The Packers' Santana Dotson will write a playoff journal for Superbowl.com (Tony Rome). ....CABLE WORLD's Alan Breznick reviews the NFL's regular-season ratings, "as national TV carriers are scratching their heads over a surprisingly disappointing pro football season." Breznick: "Back-to-back annual ratings declines may mean that the league's popularity has finally peaked after nearly four decades of steady growth" (CABLE WORLD, 1/13).
The Phoenix Gazette afternoon newspaper will print its final edition on Saturday. Phoenix Newspapers will continue to publish the morning Arizona Republic (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/14)....Former ESPN exec Roger Werner is featured in FORBES. Werner has started two CT-based sports channels, "Outdoor Life" and "Speedvision." Werner "believes the appetite for sports viewing is as insatiable as his own for participation." Werner: "Our rollout is constrained [only] by the industry's ability to add capacity" (FORBES, 1/27). ...The Orlando Sentinel and Time Warner Cable will launch a 24-hour local news channel on cable TV this fall. The station will offer local sports, news and weather to about 400,000 Time Warner subscribers in Central Florida (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/14).
Top Rank, Inc. plans a monthly series of live boxing events on DirecTV beginning February 12, according to Carl DiOrio of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. It would mark the first time fights are "exclusively transmitted via a satellite TV service." The monthly boxing series, called DirecTV Ringside, "marks the first original programming effort for DirecTV," and it will offer the series to subscribers on a PPV basis. Top Rank will produce DirecTV Ringside and will "use some of its video library for related boxing specials and promotions." Top Rank President Bob Arum said the deal won't affect his current relationship with HBO. In a separate deal, DirecTV agreed to carry the next three fights of Oscar De La Hoya (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 1/14).