SBD/28/Sports Media

DO PLAYOFFS BRING OUT THE BEST IN THE NETS THAT CARRY THEM?

          The NBA and NHL playoffs dominated this past weekend's
     TV sports coverage.  USA TODAY reports that Fox's NHL
     regional action on Sunday averaged a 2.3, down 8% from '97,
     while ESPN's ratings fell 38% to a .5 and ESPN2's "tumbled"
     29%, also to .5, for the first three nights of the playoffs
     (USA TODAY, 4/28).  In DC, Leonard Shapiro examines Fox's
     coverage of Sunday's Capitals-Bruins game under the header,
     "Upon Further Review, Fox, NHL, Got It Right."  Shapiro
     writes that "for the most part, Fox provided an ...
     outstanding broadcast, particularly on the production end." 
     He adds that viewers "were shown fabulous camera angles and
     replays galore," and notes that Fox's "ability to put
     microphones all over ... enhanced the coverage" (WASHINGTON
     POST, 4/28).  In Boston, Jim Greenidge reports that Sunday's
     Caps-Bruins game earned Fox's best-ever numbers in that
     market, posting an 8.2/17.  The rating peaked at 9.1 during
     the second overtime (Jim Greenidge, BOSTON GLOBE, 4/28).
          NBA ACTION: USA TODAY's reports that NBC's weekend
     playoff ratings dipped 6% to a 6.7.  While Sunday's rating
     was "about even" with the '97 number, Saturday's number
     dropped 12%.  TNT's Thursday/Friday NBA coverage jumped 21%
     from '97, to a 2.3 from 1.9 (USA TODAY, 4/28).  In Houston,
     David Barron writes that TNT's 2.9 rating for Rockets-Jazz
     Game One on Thursday is its highest number so far. 
     Saturday's Game Two of the Rockets-Jazz earned an 11.7/22
     local rating on Houston's KHTV (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/28). 
     In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reviews NBC's pairing of Doug
     Collins and Isiah Thomas on its No. 1 NBA broadcast team,
     calling it "flawed."  Thomas, writes Sandomir, "has improved
     since his awkward start ... [b]ut [he] is not a No. 1
     analyst, and no one should have expected him to be."  Noting
     that Collins was hired "because he became the best NBA
     analyst" at TNT, Sandomir asks, "Why hire the best only to
     make him split time with a rookie?" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/28). 
          CATCH AIR: Turner Sports will unveil the new
     SporTVision System technology, which measures a player's
     vertical leap, during tonight's Heat-Knicks broadcast from
     MSG.  Turner will also use the measuring system, known as
     AIRf/x, on tomorrow's Nets-Bulls game (SporTVision).

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