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NETWORKS: Regarding the NFL TV negotiations, NFL VP/ Communications Greg Aiello confirmed that the December 1 deadline for the incumbents' exclusive bargaining period has not been extended. Aiello: "At this point, we can now talk to other interested parties" (Steve Zipay, NEWSDAY, 12/2). Fox Sports President David Hill, on Fox's NHL coverage: "We're trying to get more access to NHL coaches. ... To the novice, hockey appears to be players skating where they want. But the coach is doing more than chewing gum behind the bench. There's strategy and tactics and we can do a better job of explaining that" (Steve Zipay, NEWSDAY, 12/2). GENERAL: WVNJ-AM, which syndicates One-On-One Sports radio in the NYC-area, was profiled by Christine Burke in the N.Y. POST. One-On-One President Chris Brennan, who also owns WVNJ, said that he "has seen listener interest in female sports increase, while female listenership has gone up from almost non-existent to about 25-30 percent of One- On-One's national audience" (N.Y. POST, 12/1)....In N.Y. Keith Kelly reports that the Wall Street Journal "is having a tough time finding a new star reporter for its sports biz page," after John Helyar left the sports department to do other investigative features (N.Y DAILY NEWS, 12/2).
Reuters Holdings PLC has launched SportsWeb, a free Internet site providing international sports news and pictures, according to Mary Huhn of the N.Y. POST. The site, at www.sportsweb.com, is a joint alliance between Reuters and Digital Equipment Corp. It "will garner revenue from sponsorships, advertising and merchandising." The site is also "an effort" to build the Reuters brand name. The first "major event" covered by SportsWeb will be the '98 World Cup soccer draw on Thursday (N.Y. POST, 12/2). CA- based Yahoo launched Yahoo Sports, marking its first "official sports news offering." The Sporting News will be the site's "primary source" of news (BRANDWEEK, 12/1 issue). LEAGUES A HIT: In Ft. Lauderdale, Sharon Robb reported that NFL.com "has had a record number of users" since its relaunch in August. The average number of users per day is 150,000, with the average number of pages viewed per day at 1.4 million (SUN-SENTINEL, 11/30). NBA.com recorded nearly 14 million page views the week of November 17, a 200% increase over the same week last year. The "Virtual GM" fantasy basketball game has signed up more than 65,000 players in the first three weeks (NBA.com).
MSG Network's week-long coverage of the WTA Chase Championships averaged a 0.74 in the New York area, the highest average for the event. The previous high was a 0.50 in '96. The final, on November 23, drew a 1.16, making it the highest-rated tennis match ever on MSG (THE DAILY). SWEEPS: For the 28-day period of November sweeps, CBS scored a 10.3/17, "edging out" NBC's 10.2/17. ABC received a 9.3/15, while Fox got a 8.0/13, according to Nielsen Media Research. NBC "dominated among adults 18-49," with a 6.9/18, but Fox "bagged an important second-place finish" with a 6.1/15 (Lisa de Moraes, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 12/2). MORE RATINGS NOTES: The NFL Oilers' Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys drew a 19.5/47 in Houston, "one of the highest ratings for any NFL game on Houston television this season" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/2)....The Skins Game on ABC fell 32% last weekend from '96. The two-day event averaged a 4.9, "off from" last year's 7.1 for Tiger Woods' debut in the event (USA TODAY, 12/2)....The latest CBC ratings show that Maple Leafs games on "Hockey Night in Canada," which averaged 1.1 million viewers last year, are drawing "about 800,000" this year (TORONTO SUN, 12/2).
IMG's TWI "is reviving its legendary made-for-TV sports program, 'The Superstars' for a 25th anniversary special," according to Jeff Jensen of AD AGE. The special "could serve as a springboard for a new ongoing property that TWI would market." TWI has bought time on ABC to air the 2-hour special on March 7, with Sea-Doo as an associate sponsor. Marketers in automotive and telecom "are being approached for title sponsorship," priced at $250,000. The title sponsor "will also have to claim 10 of 40 ad units," each priced at $30,000. Associate sponsors will be linked to individual challenges. Olympian Dan O'Brien and Cowboys RB Herschel Walker are the first athletes to agree to compete, and eight others "are being sought." Jensen also writes that past participants will be brought back "to reminisce." TWI is handling all ad sales (AD AGE, 12/1 issue).