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DESPITE SKETCHY DETAILS, MEDIA CHIMES IN ON TURNER/NBC PLAN
Published February 2, 1998
NBC and TBS' proposed new football league would "sell franchises to investors and attempt to attract national auto, airline, beverage and technology advertisers with the promise of high-profile, if low-rated, telecasts," according to Steve Zipay of NEWSDAY. It "appeared likely" that Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner "would be approached" to invest in the league, although he could not be reached for comment. Steinbrenner is close to TBS Sports President Harvey Schiller (NEWSDAY, 1/31). Turner and NBC said it would be "at least" eight weeks before feasibility studies on a league would be complete. In L.A., Scott Hettrick reports that talk of a new league comes as NFL Europe "has had trouble building an audience in the [U.S], with Fox even considering drastically scaling back coverage" from its 30 games on FX last year (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/2). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir added that NBC would broadcast games on Sunday afternoons and Turner on Sunday nights. Although details "are few," it appears the two networks are "aiming at creating a single-entity league that may sell investors some type of local operating agreements" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31). REAX: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote that a GE/Turner- backed league could be "launched, sustained and grow at maximum exposure, at minimum risk and on the relative cheap." Mushnick: "[T]his isn't as crazy as it sounds at first blush" (N.Y. POST, 2/1). Paul Kagan Senior Sports Analyst John Mansell added that with advertisers like Coca- Cola "already somewhat reticent about stepping up and paying what the NFL is now asking ... it's feasible, although it's obviously highly risky" that the league could succeed. Mansell: "[T]here are a lot more stadiums now, particularly in major markets" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/31). But in N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote that a new league would "dilute the talent level more, drive up salaries and put more football on television than you have talking lawyer-heads. Sounds like a little slice of heaven, doesn't it?" (DAILY NEWS, 2/1). In St. Pete, Hubert Mizell writes that the league "would infringe significantly on college football" and hopes "the idea will fade away rapidly" (ST. PETE TIMES, 2/2). In Houston, Dale Robertson: "[T]here's hardly a crying need for a full league's worth of more crummy football" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/2). Ryan Schinman, VP of NJ-based Worldwide Team Sports, on a new league: "It's a joke" (CNBC, 1/30).