SBD/16/Sports Industrialists

THE DAILY PRESENTS THE 3RD SPORTS INDUSTRIALIST OF THE YEAR

          When we look back on '97, one story in the sports
     industry clearly is the most interesting and consequential:
     the emergence of Fox Sports Net (FSN).  In just 12 months,
     FSN -- now with access to 58 million homes and the local
     cable rights to more than 65 NBA, MLB and NHL teams -- has
     created a new world order for sports on cable; helped
     advertisers better understand regional sports; changed the
     economics of local rights fees; and, begun to give chase to
     ESPN, the gold standard for cable sports programming.  
          But this quick ascent should be no surprise considering
     the vision, creativity and determination that News Corp. has
     shown when it comes to sports, entertainment and television.

     There are many people responsible for FSN and the entire Fox
     Sports portfolio, and ultimately, it all comes back to
     Rupert Murdoch.  But, we think that there is one executive
     aside from Murdoch who has driven the entire Fox Sports
     brand to its position of legitimacy and influence.  That
     executive and our choice to receive the 1997 SPORTS
     INDUSTRIALIST OF THE YEAR award is DAVID HILL.
          KING OF THE HILL: David Hill embodies every aspect of
     THE DAILY's vision for the sports industry and recognizes
     that sports is a global entertainment business.  His career
     in entertainment is based on his success in sports and, for
     that matter, the success of Fox Television is rooted in
     sports as well.
          Hill joined Fox Broadcasting in 1993 to create and run
     Fox Sports.  Under his direction, Fox Sports jumped off the
     drawing boards to become a full-fledged network sports
     division with rights to the NFL, NHL and MLB.  In '96, Hill
     was promoted to President & COO of Fox Television, and this
     September he was named Chair & CEO of Fox Broadcasting Co.,
     responsible for all distribution, programming, advertising
     sales, marketing and business affairs.  
          Still, Hill continues to serve as President of Fox
     Sports, Chair of FSN and co-Executive Producer of all Fox
     Sports productions.  This year he ranked No. 30 on
     ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's list of the "101 Most Powerful People
     in Entertainment," and he has been on THE SPORTING NEWS "100
     Most Powerful" list for the last three years.  Hill, Fox
     Sports and -- as a result -- Fox TV are all players.
          FOX ATTITUDE: Most would agree that Fox Sports knows
     how to "produce the big event" and has helped innovate
     television sports coverage.  While some criticize its "in
     your face" attitude as too over the top, Fox -- under Hill's
     leadership -- has positioned itself as an organization with
     a hip, edgy and forward-thinking sensibility.
          The Fox Box, FoxTrax, FoxBots, in-base microphones and
     the Catcher-Cam have all helped change prevailing notions
     about graphic and production values for sports on TV; Fox
     broadcast teams have depth and talent; Fox pre-game
     programming knows how to deliver key demos; Fox advertising
     campaigns -- ranging from Spike Lee's NHL spots to "Fox
     House '97" -- get attention; and Fox is smart about
     leveraging promotional relationships with corporate partners
     such as 7-Eleven, MasterCard, Anheuser-Busch, Miller and 
     Visa.  With an eye on the future, Fox is looking hard at
     virtual ads, as well as a branded retail merchandise effort.

     Simply put, David Hill has built a great sports division. 
          YEAR IN REVIEW: But our SPORTS INDUSTRIALIST OF THE
     YEAR award is not just about historical achievement.  Recent
     success is a necessity and -- by any measure -- '97 was a
     staggering year for David Hill and Fox Sports.
          In JANUARY, Fox began its third season of NHL coverage
     with the 47th NHL All-Star Game; broadcast Super Bowl XXXI,
     the fourth-most watched TV program in history, earning a
     43.3 rating/65 share with 128.9 million viewers; and, joined
     with Globosat to launch a 24-hour sports channel in Brazil.
     In APRIL, Fox Sports televised the first live, primetime
     rodeo event on a national broadcast network.  In MAY, Fox   
     Sports opened its second season of MLB coverage and 
     broadcast Game One of the '97 Stanley Cup Finals, posting a
     4.0 rating/8 share, reaching 17.8 million viewers and
     yielding the most-watched game in NHL history.  
          In JUNE, Fox Sports and TCI's Liberty Media invested
     $850M to join forces with Cablevision's Rainbow Media
     Holdings to create a new national, regional and local
     supplier of sports programming.  The deal put FSN into 55
     million homes through 17 combined RSNs, with a stake in
     Madison Square Garden and holdings in Chicago, Florida, New
     England, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Ohio.  
          In JULY, Fox Sports broadcast its first MLB All-Star
     Game, winning the night with an 11.4 rating/21 share, while
     FSN acquired rights to the Red Wings and Pistons and formed
     Fox Sports Detroit.  In AUGUST, Fox Sports West and Anaheim
     Sports dismissed their legal actions against one another;
     Fox Sports Rocky Mountain agreed to pay $100M over seven
     years for rights to the Avalanche and Nuggets; Fox Sports
     broadcast its first tennis event; and, began its fourth
     season of NFL coverage.
          In SEPTEMBER, News Corp. reached an agreement with
     Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley to purchase the team for over
     $300M, while FSN inked a three-year deal with the ABL for up
     to 24 games a season and a Sunday night game of the week. 
     In OCTOBER, at the annual News Corp. meeting, Rupert Murdoch
     declared Fox Sports Net "the absolute key to our future";
     Fox Sports and The Marment Group launched a new national
     sports tracking poll; Fox and New Regency Productions signed
     a 15-year, $200M deal; and Fox/Liberty reached a deal to
     acquire a majority stake in FiT TV.
          In NOVEMBER, Fox Sports World made its debut as a 24-
     hour English-language int'l sports channel for basic cable
     and digital platforms; Fox Sports Net Online, with a zip
     code-based search capability, was added to foxsports.com;
     FSN aired The Tiger Woods Invitational; and, Fox Sports
     gained rights to the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl, enabling
     Fox to broadcast its first college football game in '99. 
          And, finally, in DECEMBER it was announced that
     SportsChannel Pacific, Chicago, New England, Ohio and New
     York will all be branded under the FSN name in early '98. 
     All in all, not bad for a network sports division that did
     not exist four years ago. 
          THE BIG PICTURE: When it launched in 1986, Fox
     Broadcasting had one show on 96 stations.  Today, Fox has
     more than 200 affiliates and programs every night in
     primetime, late night on Saturday, weekdays and Saturday and
     Sunday mornings.  Fox has also become a network with an eye
     for breakthrough shows, bringing to TV "The Simpsons,"
     "Married ... With Children," "Beverly Hills 90210,"
     "America's Most Wanted," "Cops," "In Living Color," "The X-
     Files" and "Ally McBeal."  And, during this year's November
     sweeps, Fox -- under Hill's leadership -- finished second
     among adults 18-49 years-old, which VARIETY called "a
     stunning achievement that signals to a once-skeptical
     industry that the upstart 'fourth network' is now more than
     just a legitimate primetime player."
          So, what does sports have to do with all this? 
     Everything.  David Hill has been the key to success for Fox
     Sports, and Fox Sports has been a critical component of the
     network's success in entertainment programming.  Even
     Murdoch himself has made it clear that "sports is the
     gatekeeper" and a central part of his own strategy for
     becoming the top global media company.
          While some News Corp. and Fox deals might not make
     sense on a quarter-to-quarter or short-term cash flow basis,
     Murdoch and his lieutenants run their business with a
     strategic vision and an eye on the entire planet.  News
     Corp. may rank fourth among the media giants, and Fox may be
     the fourth network in the U.S., but both these positions
     have been attained largely because of sports -- which means
     they have been attained because of David Hill.  We could not
     think of a more fitting recipient to receive our SPORTS
     INDUSTRIALIST OF THE YEAR award for 1997.  
          THANK YOU: THE DAILY would like to thank our many
     clients who took the time to nominate their peers and
     colleagues for this year's award.  We encourage you, and all
     of our subscribers, to participate again in '98 (THE DAILY).

Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug