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Fox/Liberty Networks' purchase of a one-third stake in Speedvision and Outdoor Life Networks is for about $100M, according to John Dempsey of DAILY VARIETY. Roger Werner, who will stay on as President & CEO of the networks, said that a clause in the new deal allows Fox/Liberty to increase its stake to a majority ownership in the nets after three years. Speedvision reaches about 14.5 million cable and satellite homes, and Outdoor Life about 13.5 million. Werner said that Speedvision will be spending more money to bid on NASCAR races (John Dempsey, DAILY VARIETY, 3/27).
FINAL FOUR: Valparaiso coach Homer Drew, UCLA coach Steve Lavin and George Washington coach Mike Jarvis will be in the studio for CBS's Final Four coverage of the men's NCAA Tournament (CBS Sports)....CBS will devote a 15-minute segment about the gambling in college sports, during its "Road to the Final Four" show at 4:00pm ET Saturday (USA TODAY, 3/27). ...ESPN's NCAA women's Tournament coverage is now down 11% from last year, to 0.8, after being off more than 20% a week ago. The 13 games on ESPN2 are up from 0.3 to 0.4. USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke writes that Robin Roberts, Mimi Griffin and Rebecca Lobo "have proven to be an effective ESPN studio team" (USA TODAY, 3/27)....CBS Sports signed a three-year extension for Coach's Edge, a sports media company specializing in animation for use by broadcast, the Internet and coaches, to be its exclusive supplier of animation for college basketball (Coach's Edge). PROGRAMMING: Fox will televise about 1,400 MLB games this season, including about 1,200 on its 22 Fox Sports Net RSNs (L.A. TIMES, 3/27)....ESPN plans to unveil a new graphic, "BatTrack," to determine how fast the bat is being swung in relation to how fast the ball is being thrown (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/27)....A's Manager Art Howe, 3B coach Ron Washington and OF Jason Giambi will wear microphones today for their game against the D'Backs, to air on Fox Sports Bay Area (Fox Sports Bay Area)....Former Pistons coach Doug Collins makes his NBC debut Sunday, joining Bob Costas and Isiah Thomas for the Spurs-Pacers game (L.A. TIMES, 3/27). ...Fox Sports World and Fox Sports Americas have reached a three-year deal with the Int'l Tennis Federation to air exclusive coverage of all non-USA team Davis Cup matches in the U.S., beginning in April (Fox Sports World)....In DC, UPN affil WDCA-TV will televise six Sunday WNBA Mystics games live this summer (Mystics). NOTES: Casey Martin reached a collaborative agreement with Craig Wolff, a Columbia Univ. journalism professor and former N.Y. Times reporter, to write a book on Martin. The target date for publication is spring '99 (USA TODAY, 3/27). ...Pending legislation that may outlaw online fantasy sports leagues which charge an admission fee and award prizes is expected to reach the floor of the Senate sometime this spring. Opponents "are trying to get parts of the bill rewritten before then" (AD AGE, 3/27)....Fastball.com added new programming for the '98 MLB season, including All-Star Game and World Series promos and the addition of live chat sessions with MLB players (Fastball.com).
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 NCAA Division II Championship3/21CBS12:30-3:00pm2.5/8 NCAA Men's Tournament: AZ/Utah3/21CBS3:30-6:00pm6.4/17 NCAA Men's Tournament: UNC/Uconn3/21CBS6:00-8:00pm8.15/19 "NHL on Fox": regional games3/21FOX3:00-6:00pm1.5/5 Senior PGA Tour: Legends3/21ABC2:00-4:30pm1.2/4 IRL: Phoenix 200 Qualifying3/21ABC5:30-6:00pm1.3/3 Senior PGA Tour: Legends3/22ABC2:00-4:00pm1.3/3 IRL: Phoenix 2003/22ABC4:00-6:00pm1.9/4 NCAA Men's Tournament: Stan/RI3/22CBS2:30-5:00pm6.9/18 NCAA Men's Tournament: Duke/UK3/22CBS5:00-7:30pm11.5/24 "NBA on NBC": ATL-DET or UTAH-NY3/22NBC12:30-3:40pm3.4/9 PGA Tour: Bay Hill Invitational3/21NBC3:00-6:00pm2.5/7 PGA Tour: Bay Hill Invitational3/22NBC3:40-6:00pm3.7/9
RATINGS NOTES: In N.Y., Richard Huff reports that combined ratings for cable programming were up 14% for the first quarter of '98, and for the traditional season that began in September, cable is up 13% compared to the previous year. Conversely, during the first quarter, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox's ratings were down 3%. For the season the Big Four are off 4% (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/27)....In Miami, in the past two weeks, NHL Panthers games against the Oilers and Blackhawks on SportsChannel "generated awful 0.3 ratings." The 0.3 ranked among SportsChannel's lowest ratings for game coverage in March. The Panthers are averaging a 0.8 for the season on SportsChannel (MIAMI HERALD, 3/27)....NBC is averaging a 5.1/13 for its NBA coverage this season, up 2% through the same point last year (THE DAILY).