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CBC "joined forces" with TSN yesterday to sign a "record" US$160M deal for Canadian broadcast rights to the next five Olympic Games, according to Longley & Buffery of the TORONTO SUN. The deal was "a huge win" for the two nets in what "has become a bitter battlefield" for sports rights in Canada. CTV and its planned all-sports network, CTV Sports, "were the losers" in the battle, since the Games "would have provided a solid foothold in the TV sports arena." CBC and TSN paid an average of US$32M per Games, which "eclipses" the previous Canadian high of US$20M, which CBC paid for the '96 Games. CBC Sports President Alan Clark said it would be "terrific if Toronto got" the 2008 Games, "but we didn't bid on that basis." Longley & Buffery add that the partnership means that Canadians "could see as much as" 800 hours of Games coverage through a combination of CBC, TSN, Newsworld, CBC French, and RDS networks (TORONTO SUN, 3/20). Longley adds that the partnership between CBC and TSN "has been in the works for some time," and working together "will help both networks" against CTV's "growing sports threat." With the "ratings success" of the Nagano Games, CBC's Clark is "convinced" that the future Games will be "an easy and profitable sell" (TORONTO SUN, 3/20).
PERSONALITIES: NBC has extended the contracts of lead golf analyst Johnny Miller and NBA analyst Bill Walton for four more years (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 3/20)....In SI, John Walters reviews Isiah Thomas' performance as an analyst on the "NBA on NBC," under the sub-head "Isiah Thomas Not An NBA All-Star Analyst -- Yet." Walters: "Despite his charismatic presence, Thomas has a soft voice that doesn't engage viewers ... [h]is energy level wavers during a telecast, and he says 'You know' too much." But Walters adds that Bob Costas once uttered an on-air expletive early in his career and adds, "He got better. So can Thomas" (SI, 3/23 issue)....Fox Sports President David Hill, on the net's decision to air a boxing match against Monday night's Academy Awards telecast: "We wanted a viable alternative for guys who don't want to see how many sequins are on the winning gown. What I hope happens is James Cameron scores a convincing win and we do well" (Baltimore SUN, 3/20). OTHER NOTES: At Wednesday's Penguins home game, "several" of the Civic Arena's message boards "touted" Marino Sports TV, the new cable network Pens co-Owners Roger Marino and Howard Baldwin plan to launch (PITTSBURGH POST- GAZETTE, 3/19)....The Tribune Co. "exercised its final option to boost its equity stake" in the WB Network, upping its share from 21.9% to 25% for $8M (DAILY VARIETY, 3/20). ...Fox Sports Net's "Baseball Thursday" returns on April 2. FSN will offer each of its RSNs one of two Thursday telecasts every week throughout the season (FSN)....WCVB-TV has renewed its three-year deal with the Patriots to air three preseason games, and will host an expanded, hour-long "Patriots Preview" show on Saturday mornings throughout next season (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/20)....In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes one of FSN's new Spike Lee-produced NHL promos "delights" in showing "footage of players having their heads smashed against the glass and sideboards," despite the fact that many of the league's players have suffered from concussions. Mushnick: "A Fox source said Wednesday that a top network sports executive was 'not pleased with Lee's seeing stars' spot -- nor that [FSN] chose to air it -- and that it would likely be pulled before the weekend" (N.Y. POST, 3/20).
The following lists ratings from last weekend's network sports events. All times are EST. The numbers are from the networks (THE DAILY).
EVENT DATE NET TIME RAT/SHR Soccer: Paraguay vs. USA3/14ABC3:00-5:30pm1.0/3 Horse Racing: Florida Derby3/14ABC5:30-6:00pm1.5/4 NCAA Men's Tournament3/14CBSnoon-2:30pm5.8/18 NCAA Men's Tournament3/14CBS2:30-5:00pm6.8/19 NCAA Men's Tournament3/14CBS5:00-7:11pm7.1/17 NCAA Men's Tournament3/14CBS7:11-9:00pm7.0/14 "NHL on Fox": regional games3/14FOX3:00-6:00pm1.6/5 Int'l 3-on-3 Gymnastics Champ.3/14NBC2:00-3:30pm2.0/6 PGA Tour: Honda Classic3/14NBC3:30-6:00pm2.4/7 CART: Grand Prix of Miami3/15ABC1:30-4:00pm1.9/5 MLS: United-Fusion3/15ABC4:00-6:00pm1.0/2 NCAA Men's Tournament3/15CBSnoon-2:15pm5.9/17 MCAA Men's Tournament3/15CBS2:15-4:45pm7.8/20 NCAA Men's Tournament3/15CBS4:45-7:20pm10.1/22 "NBA on NBC": UTAH-DET or MIA-ORL3/15NBC12:00-2:30pm2.4/7 PGA Tour: Honda Classic3/15NBC3:00-6:00pm3.1/8