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NFL analyst Paul Maguire will return to ESPN, joining Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann in a three-person booth for ESPN's "Sunday Night Football." He had been at NBC for the past 12 seasons (ESPN)....In Las Vegas, Matt Jacob reported that by next season, owners hope to negotiate a deal for a Triple-A "Game of the Week" to be nationally televised (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/5)....In Houston, Sunday's Bulls- Rockets earned an 11.6/22 overnight on KPRC. NASCAR's Texas 500 earned a 4.0/9 on KHOU in Houston (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/7)....Seattle-based National Mobile Television (NMT) has announced a partnership with Sony and MSG Network "that would make it the nation's first provider" of high- definition TV (HDTV) broadcasts (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/6).
NBC "is said to be in talks with ESPN, USA and Turner Broadcasting regarding exclusive cable rights to first-day action of the 2000 and 2002 Presidents Cup," according to Langdon Brockinton of MEDIAWEEK. In addition to airing Friday first-round matches, the cable partner "likely would televise a Presidents Cup preview, the opening ceremonies and late-night highlight shows." CBS has rights to this year's Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia. CBS airs the December 12 and 13 action, and ESPN will carry the opening day's play on December 11 (MEDIAWEEK, 4/6 issue). GOOOOAALLL! Spanish-language net Univision has sold "virtually all" of its ad time for this year's World Cup. Univision, which will televise every Cup match, has struck top-tier "gold" sponsorship deals -- said to be valued at about $6M apiece -- with A-B, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Honda and McDonald's. The "silver" sponsors -- put at about $4M each -- are Chevrolet, Nike and Sears. In '94, Univision averaged a 12.8 universe rating (835,000 homes) for its World Cup coverage (MEDIAWEEK, 4/6 issue). WNBA: The WNBA has signed two int'l TV deals. GEMS TV, which reaches 6 million households in 21 Latin American countries, signed a two-year deal to air a WNBA game and related programming each week throughout the season. Also, NTV+, a satellite-delivered network in Russia, has struck a new multiyear deal, agreeing to air 20 games and other programming. The WNBA begins its second season on June 11 with TV exposure in 165 countries (MEDIAWEEK, 4/6 issue).
For its MLB coverage, ESPN will continue to use "Bat Track," a two-dimensional animation that shows how a hitter's swing path and bat speed are related to pitch selection and speed. This season, "Bat Track" will be used on all ESPN "Sunday Night Baseball" telecasts, the Home Run Derby and select Division Series games (ESPN). FOR ALL YOU BASEBALL JUNKIES: In Montreal, Mitch Garber reviewed all 30 MLB team Web sites. He rated the Dodgers' site the best, giving honorable mentions to the Giants, Angels and Blue Jays. The Cubs' site is also a "must-visit" (Montreal GAZETTE, 4/5)....In Denver, Leyla Kokmen examined baseball on the Web, noting the "growing breed" of fans who make use of Web sites devoted to MLB "to quench their craving for news, scores, stats and standings." Jupiter Communications analyst Patrick Keane: "It's such a data- driven sport. ... The Web easily affords you to be able to bring it all together at once" (DENVER POST, 4/6)....Barnes & Noble has become a sponsor on Fastball.com, and is creating a virtual library on the site that will feature baseball-related books available from B&N (Fastball.com). ...Total Sports has re-designed its TotalBaseball.com site. It now features a searchable database of all 14,791 major leaguers, wire service coverage, situational stats for every current MLB player back to '82 and real-time cybercasts, which include updated out-of-town scores (Total Sports).