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  • ABC RUNS FOR THE ROSES ON SATURDAY; DRAW DEBACLE STILL NEWS

              ABC will have "more than 26 manned cameras" and the
         ability to shoot from 75 positions at Churchill Downs for
         its coverage of Saturday's Kentucky Derby, according to
         Prentis Rogers of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION.  Event Producer
         Curt Gowdy Jr. said the net "will attempt to have a jockey-
         cam" if it can obtain permission (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
         5/1).  Gowdy also hopes to have wireless mikes on "as many
         as" four riders (Michael Hirsley, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/1).
              DRAWING FLAWS? Wednesday's Derby draw mix-up on ESPN is
         still in the news.  In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes that the
         "ESPN-aided butchering" of the draw is "more evidence of
         sports TV's misguided, arrogant desire to both cover and
         conduct a news event" (N.Y. POST, 5/1).  Also in N.Y., Bob
         Raissman writes that Churchill Downs President Tom Meeker
         "never should have given ESPN the opportunity to run the
         draw. ... TV has too much control over sports already" (N.Y.
         DAILY NEWS, 5/1).  In St. Pete, Ernest Hooper faults ESPN
         for becoming "part of a story it simply was supposed to
         cover" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/1).  In San Antonio, Tim
         Price called it a "made-for-TV mess" (EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/1).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Churchill Downs Inc., ESPN, Media, Walt Disney
  • ARE ESPN EXECS READY TO HEAR AN EARFUL FROM CABLE OPERATORS?

              Cable operators are ready to "vent their frustration"
         to ESPN execs at next week's NCTA Cable '98 Show in Atlanta
         over the net's proposed 20% rate increase following its
         $4.8B NFL deal, according to Scott Hettrick of the HOLLYWOOD
         REPORTER.  Operators "are ready to exact their pound of
         flesh" from ESPN and Disney, and "cite several points of
         leverage at their disposal," including "stonewalling the
         launch" of ESPNEWS, ESPN West, Classic Sports Network, and
         "even" Toon Disney.  Hettrick adds that the "repercussions"
         may even affect the Disney Channel's ongoing efforts to
         convert to a basic service, and that some "major" cable
         companies "have warned ESPN to tread carefully" in the realm
         of rate increases as cable costs "are again drawing the ears
         of legislators."  An ESPN spokesperson said that the net is
         "responding" to the concerns and "has instituted new
         incentives and adjusted packaging discounts," among them
         "flexibility in subscriber count."  ESPN also offers
         discounts for positioning their channels side-by-side and
         for lower channel placement (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/1).
              TOO MANY ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD: In Philadelphia, Lynn
         Zinser writes that ESPN is providing its viewers with "such
         a steady diet" of Angels telecasts, "they are close to
         qualifying as a food group."  Although over the years ESPN
         has "done a better job than any other network at maintaining
         its credibility," the net "runs headlong into image
         problems" with its Angels coverage.  Zinser: "[I]t can't
         erase the perception that it's doing Disney's bidding when
         it floods the airwaves with Disney's team."  Fox, which also
         broadcasts MLB games and recently purchased the Dodgers, has
         a "built-in buffer" regarding conflicts of interests,
         because its MLB contract limits any team's number of
         appearances to nine.  Fox Senior VP/Communications Vince
         Wladika: "That's there to prevent us from doing what it
         appears ESPN is doing."  Zinser adds that ESPN "also has a
         limit" on how many times a team can appear, but the net
         "won't say what it is" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/1).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: LA Angels, Anaheim Sports, ESPN, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Media, Walt Disney
  • BLAZERS' DECISION ON RADIO ANNOUNCER'S FUTURE ANGERS AFFILS

              At least five affils of the Trail Blazers radio network
         "are considering reducing or eliminating game coverage
         because of Bill Schonely's pending departure as the team's
         play-by-play announcer," according to Jeff Manning of the
         Portland OREGONIAN.  More than 20 of the 31 stations in the
         radio network "have written letters" to the team "protesting
         its decision to replace Schonely."  Manning wrote that the
         Blazers "are learning firsthand about the unique emotional
         bond that a longtime announcer has with fans," and that in a
         league where players consistently change teams, Schonely "is
         the Blazers."  Last year, Blazers Senior VP/Marketing
         Operations Harry Hutt signed Schonely to a three-year deal
         which called for him to do play-by-play in only the first
         year.  Hutt's logic was to give Schonely one "triumphal
         year" and then "move him out," but the plan "backfired" when
         Schonely "went public with his unhappiness about the pending
         reassignment."  Hutt: "Unfortunately, due to a lot of
         misconceptions, things got contentious."  Manning reported
         that one of those "misconceptions" is that after this year,
         Schonely will be out of broadcasting.  Schonely will be used
         in specials and halftime shows (OREGONIAN, 4/30).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Portland Trail Blazers, Media, Vulcan Ventures
  • DISNEY WISHES UPON A STARWAVE, BUYS REMAINDER OF NET COMPANY

              Disney has exercised its option to purchase Paul
         Allen's remaining interest in Starwave Corporation.  Last
         year, Disney made an initial investment in Seattle-based
         Starwave and formed two joint-venture Web sites, ESPN
         SportsZone and ABCNews.com.  Starwave and the two sites will
         now become part of Buena Vista Internet Group (BVIG),
         Disney's Internet initiative arm.  As part of BVIG, all
         existing Starwave sites will continue and Starwave's offices
         will serve as the core technology developers for all of
         BVIG.  Starwave Chair & CEO Mike Slade will become BVIG
         President, while Patrick Naughton will serve as Chief
         Technology Officer, and Tom Phillips will run the ESPN
         sports group (Walt Disney Co.).  BVIG Chair Jake Winebaum
         will continue in that role (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/1). 
              DETAILS: In L.A., Martin Peers reports that Disney had
         owned 30% of Starwave, and its acquisition of the remaining
         70% is "believed to value" Starwave at "more than" $300M. 
         Although terms were not disclosed, Allen was believed to
         have held about 56% of Starwave before yesterday's deal, and
         "likely walked away" with more than $150M.  Peers writes
         that the pact gives Disney the "ability to group its sites
         together and offer advertising space in packages across a
         range of sites" (DAILY VARIETY, 5/1).  On Tuesday, before
         the Starwave deal was announced, Disney Chair Michael Eisner
         spoke at the Society of American Business Editors and
         Writers conference and said that his company wants to be "an
         aggressive competitor on the Internet."  Eisner:
         "Eventually, content will prevail on the Internet just like
         it's prevailing now on cable [TV]" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 4/30).
    
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Media, Walt Disney
  • MEDIA NOTES

              In N.Y., Bill Carter writes that NBC has taken the
         "first steps" toward becoming the first broadcast net to
         establish a "regular business in direct marketing to viewers
         through toll-free phone numbers."  Last week, NBC withheld
         two 30-second spots during its miniseries "Merlin" and "used
         them to market the sale of videocassettes of the film."  The
         experiment was "so successful" that the net plans to "begin
         aggressively seeking similar opportunities in other
         programs" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/1)....Fox Sports West 2 and Century
         Communications confirmed their deal putting FSW2 on Century
         systems throughout L.A.  Century said that it "has no plans
         as yet" to add other Fox channels such as Fox Sports World
         or Fox Sports Americas (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/1)....Although
         official numbers were not released, Houston's Warner Cable
         said that PPV orders for Wednesday's Rockets-Jazz Game Three
         were "significantly higher" than a year ago.  Suggested
         retail price for the telecasts is $19.95 (HOUSTON CHRONICLE,
         5/1)....The Football Network, "a basic cable channel that
         will show nothing but football," is planning a late August
         or early September launch (AP/S.F. EXAMINER, 4/29).
         ...Jefferson Bank will sponsor a new sports business report
         to begin airing on Philadelphia's Comcast SportsNet (CSN)
         today.  The weekly news feature, called "Sport$ense," will
         air during CSN's Friday "SportsNITE" telecast, and again on
         Monday morning's SportsRISE show (CSN)....NBA Video's new
         "NBA Hardwood Heroes" hit stores Tuesday.  The tape focuses
         on 11 of the game's top players and carries a suggested
         retail price of $14.98.  NBA Video also released "NBA Wired
         For Sound," which documents conversations between coaches
         and players on and off the court.  SRP is $14.98 (NBAE).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Comcast-Spectacor, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBC, News Corp./Fox, Media, Utah Jazz
  • RATINGS FOR LAST WEEKEND'S NETWORK SPORTING EVENTS

              The following lists ratings from last weekend's network
         sporting events.  All times are ET.  The numbers are from
         the networks (THE DAILY). 
    
    
    EVENT DATE NET TIME RAT/SHR
    MLS: Clash-MetroStars
    4/25
    ABC
    2:00-4:00pm
    0.9/3
    NASCAR: Touchstone Energy 300
    4/25
    ABC
    4:00-6:00pm
    1.9/6
    CBS Sports Spect: Penn Relays
    4/25
    CBS
    2:00-3:00pm
    1.1/4
    PGA Tour: Greater Greensboro
    4/25
    CBS
    3:00-6:00pm
    2.3/7
    "NBA on NBC": Cavaliers-Pacers
    4/25
    NBC
    12:30-3:30pm
    3.6/13
    "NBA on NBC": Spurs-Suns
    4/25
    NBC
    3:30-6:00pm
    4.5/14
    NASCAR: Die Hard 500
    4/26
    ABC
    1:00-5:00pm
    5.7/15
    Supercross Motorcycles
    4/26
    ABC
    5:00-6:00pm
    3.5/8
    US Men's Clay Court Championship
    4/26
    CBS
    1:00-4:00pm
    1.2/3
    PGA Tour: Greater Greensboro
    4/26
    CBS
    4:00-6:30pm
    3.4/8
    "NHL on Fox": Regional Playoffs
    4/26
    FOX
    2:00-5:00pm
    1.8/5
    "NBA on NBC": Knicks-Heat
    4/26
    NBC
    12:30-3:00pm
    4.8/14
    "NBA on NBC": Blazers-Lakers
    4/26
    NBC
    3:00-5:30pm
    6.0/15
    "NBA on NBC": Nets-Bulls
    4/26
    NBC
    5:30-8:00pm
    8.6/18

    MORE RATINGS: Through Wednesday, the 20 NBA playoff game broadcasts on Turner Sports' TNT and TBS have earned a 2.5 rating, up 9% from the 2.3 it received a year ago (THE DAILY). As of Friday night, Turner will have broadcast a record 26 first round NBA playoff games, pushing its total for this year's playoffs over 40 games (Turner Sports). Wednesday's Rockets-Jazz game earned a 3.9 TNT rating, tying Game One of the Nets-Bulls series for TNT's highest playoff numbers this year (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/1). NBC's five-game playoff rating average is 5.5, down 8% from last year's 6.0 (NEWSDAY, 5/1)....Fox Sports Northwest (FSNW) earned a 5.6 rating for its "Mariners Warm Up" pregame show on April 22, the show's highest ever opening month number. For April, "Mariners Warm Up" averaged a 2.8, a 21% increase from last year's average of 2.2 (FSNW).

    Print | Tags: ABC, Cablevision, CBS, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, MLS, NASCAR, NBA, NBC, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, News Corp./Fox, NHL, PGA Tour, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Seattle Mariners, Media, TBS/TNT, Time Warner, Utah Jazz, Viacom, Walt Disney, YankeeNets
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