SBD/18/Sports Media

INT'L OPERATORS SEARCH FOR WORLD CUP COUNTERPROGRAMMING

          For Hollywood's international distributors and
     exhibition partners, World Cup '98 "means box office
     disaster as fans stay home to watch the games" on TV,
     according to Christopher Pickard of VARIETY.  This is
     "forcing the entertainment community to come up with
     contingency plans" for the key weekends of June 12-14, 19-21
     and 26-28, and July 3-5 and 10-12.  In some markets,
     distributors and exhibitors will try counterprogramming, or
     cut ticket prices to lure the few not watching soccer; "in
     other parts of the world, the business is expected simply to
     go into hibernation until the championship is awarded."  In
     addition, women's interest in soccer is a "complicating
     factor when it comes to planning any form of
     counterprogramming."  Overall, 41 billion viewers are
     expected to watch the World Cup games (VARIETY, 12/21).
          AT HOME: Despite hosting the '94 Cup, "the U.S. seems
     to remain blissfully unaware of the full impact of the Cup
     outside its borders."  Pickard notes that some countries
     declare national holidays when their teams play. But Pickard
     adds, "Chances are the U.S. media still underestimate the
     interest in the games within America, especially given the
     large immigrant population" (VARIETY, 12/21 issue). 

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