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All eleven IRL events in '98 will have live coverage under agreements between the IRL and ABC, CBS, ESPN & TNN. The '98 broadcast schedule adds TNN, which will broadcast four Saturday night races all during primetime. CBS will broadcast three Sunday races, and ABC will broadcast four races, including the Indy 500. ESPN will continue to air practice and qualifications for the Indy 500 (IRL).
ABL Reign rookie Kate Starbird is writing occasional diary entries for ESPN SportsZone. Her first piece is currently on the service (THE DAILY)....TWI's "College Football Preview Show" will air its 16th bowl edition in national syndication during the last two weeks of December. Over 170 stations have signed on to air the show, representing 90% of the country and all 40 top markets (TWI) ....Fox Sports is expected to name former Lightning coach Terry Crisp as an analyst for its NHL broadcast team. He "will likely be paired" with play-by-play man Kenny Albert (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 12/3)....CBC Sports head Alan Clark said he will suggest to the CFL during their renegotiations that "the league switch to Saturday afternoons for its post-Labor Day schedule." Clark cites dropping ratings and the "popularity" of the NFL (TORONTO SUN, 12/3)....NC-based Raycom Sports, with IVS Marketing, a subdivision of ISL Marketing, will debut IMadGINE, a virtual advertising marketing technology. It will debut during the '97 Harris Teeter Pepsi Challenge in Charlotte Friday and Saturday (Raycom)....Global TV producer/distributor Sport Int'l has acquired the Latin American rights to the '98 Goodwill Games from Warner Bros. Int'l TV Distribution (THE DAILY).
The relationship between sports and TV was examined in an extensive front-page story by Seplow & Storm in today's PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Seplow & Storm: "Sports, perhaps more than any other aspect of American life, has been changed by television. It has made sports a multibillion- dollar industry. In the process, athletes have been transformed from mere heroic figures, able to throw farther and run faster than other mortals, into highly skilled, highly paid commodities, props to boost ratings and sell advertising. That's why the networks concentrate so hard on profiles of Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, Ken Griffey Jr. and Tiger Woods. The television-sports partnership depends on personalities to keep fan interest high." In '96, sports coverage "consumed" 2,100 hours of time on the four networks -- 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year -- not counting ESPN and other cable networks (PHILADELPHIA INQURIER, 12/4). PARTNERS: THE INQURIER's Seplow & Storm: "Virtually no experience is as commonly shared on such a mass basis. ... Sports and television have developed such a symbiotic relationship that neither can live without the other." NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol: "[I]n our society, outside of the Oscars, no major event will get you a large audience but baseball postseason, the Olympics, the NBA championship, the Super Bowl, and a few golf events. We use that to put our other wares on the shelf" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/4).
Lifetime TV will broadcast the first national telecast of a women's ice hockey game December 17 at 8:00pm ET when the USA Hockey Women's National Team plays the Canadian National Team. The live telecast will be aired from Gutterson Fieldhouse at the Univ. of VT in Burlington, VT. The game is part of the Three Nations Cup. Play-by-play will be called by Devils broadcaster Mike Emrick. Mike Eruzione will serve as a sideline reporter. Beginning Sunday, Lifetime will also air one-minute vignettes that feature members of the U.S. women's team discussing their goals. Featured players include: Lisa Brown-Miller, Vicki Movsessian, Stephanie O'Sullivan, Angela Ruggerio and Sarah Tueting. Head coach Ben Smith also is featured. The vignettes will run until the start of the Nagano Games on the cable network (Lifetime TV). SPONSOR SUPPORT: General Mills' Colombo Yogurt brand, an official sponsor of the '97-98 U.S. women's hockey team, has pledged as much as $50,000 in additional support. For every cup of Colombo Yogurt purchased between December 3 and the start of the Olympics, Colombo will donate a portion of the proceeds from sales to the team (General Mills).