SBD/30/Leagues Governing Bodies

JILTED NETWORKS MAY HAVE BIG PLANS: NBC, TBS TALK FOOTBALL

          NBC and TBS, "shut out" of the NFL's recent TV deals,
     "might decide to combine their considerable resources and
     start their own pro football league," according to Rogers &
     Pasquarelli of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  In a statement
     released yesterday, TBS said it was "speaking to" NBC "about
     the possibility" of starting a new league.  The early
     "working title" is the "Fan Appreciation League."  NFL
     VP/Communications Greg Aiello said the NFL had "no comment
     and no reaction."  However, Patriots Owner Robert Kraft and
     Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen, both members of the NFL's
     broadcast committee, reacted to the news, with Kraft saying
     "[W]hen CBS got shut out [on the NFL contract], it talked
     about the same thing and nothing ever happened."  Bowlen:
     "You never say never, but there are a lot of bones out there
     of leagues that attempted to compete with the NFL" (ATLANTA
     CONSTITUTION, 1/30).  The two are considering a league that
     would play Sunday afternoons in the fall, "competing
     directly with the NFL," according to Pope & Shapiro of the
     WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Pope & Shapiro write that an
     NBC/Turner "alliance would have an edge in its programming
     and vast distribution network" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/30).
          SOUR GRAPES OR REAL ALTERNATIVE? USA TODAY's Rudy
     Martzke reports that the league would consist of 10-12 teams
     and begin play in '99.  Players "would come from" the CFL, a
     "few NFL stars, taxi-squaders and late training-camp cuts." 
     TV "possibilities" include NBC with a Sunday doubleheader
     and TNT "having one, or possibly two" prime-time games a
     week, while cities "could include" N.Y., Chicago, L.A.,
     Atlanta, Boston and "possibly" teams in other markets with
     NBC O&Os, such as DC and Miami (USA TODAY, 1/30).
          FEASIBILITY STUDIES: The Marquee Group's Mike Trager
     projects that NBC could achieve a 2-3 rating for the league,
     which "likely would take a ratings point away" from NFL
     broadcasts, equating to a 10% drop.  That drop would affect
     CBS' "ability to make a profit" because it would base its ad
     rates on a 10 rating.  Trager: "The issue is, can they sell
     the ad inventory in the (year's) fourth quarter, when
     there's already so much pro football inventory?" (Rudy
     Martzke, USA TODAY, 1/30).  In S.F., Glenn Dickey said that
     for a new league, the old AFL "must be the model."  Dickey
     said he would be "surprised if a new league doesn't start
     within the next couple of years" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/30).  

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