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  • ARE ESPN AND MLB HEADED FOR AN IN-SEASON "DIVORCE?"

              MLB and ESPN are "headed for a messy, in-season
         divorce," with Turner Sports possibly "assuming custody of
         ESPN's national cable TV baseball rights," according to
         Sherman & Mushnick in Saturday's N.Y. POST.  After ESPN
         acquired the entire NFL Sunday night schedule, it announced
         that it would move its September Sunday night MLB games to
         ESPN2.  But sources told Sherman & Mushnick that "if Sunday
         nights in September don't include baseball on ESPN, MLB will
         seek to immediately void" its six-year, $255M deal with
         ESPN, which is due to expire after the '99 season.  The same
         sources said that MLB "has inquired as to Turner's interests
         in the MLB package, an inquiry that was met with an
         enthusiastic response."  A Turner spokesperson declined
         comment, but said that Turner "has always held a high and
         active regard" for MLB (N.Y. POST, 5/9).  Mushnick writes
         today that an ESPN spokesperson said yesterday that the
         network "is committed to maintaining its contracted
         relationship with MLB in spite of a growing concern that
         baseball will seek to void its contract" (N.Y. POST, 5/11). 
              OLBERMANN'S TAKE: In his SportsFan Radio Network
         commentary, Keith Olbermann says that ESPN's "Baseball
         Tonight," the "only" sports newscast permitted to show MLB
         highlights of games in-progress, "is part of the network's
         deal with baseball and would presumably also go away" if the
         deal is voided.  Olbermann also says that the "disaster for
         ESPN shows how quickly one can go from buddies to enemies in
         baseball, or vice versa."  Olbermann: "Disney, which owns
         ESPN, was the fair-haired boy.  Fox, which owns the Dodgers,
         was the upstart.  Turner, which owns the Braves, used to be
         the pariah.  Now Disney and ESPN are bums, Fox, the
         veterans, and Turner, the savior" (SportsFan Radio, 5/11).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, ESPN, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Media, Time Warner, Walt Disney
  • L.A. TIMES' STEWART QUESTIONS NBC SPORTS ON PLAYOFF COVERAGE

              As the Pacers' lead grew during the overtime period
         against the Knicks yesterday, Larry Stewart of the L.A.
         TIMES questions why NBC stayed until the conclusion of the
         game and didn't switch viewers in the L.A. and Seattle
         markets to the Sonics-Lakers game already in progress.  NBC
         Sports VP Ed Markey: "You can't have it both ways.  You
         can't please two masters.  We were committed to stay with
         the game that people across the country had already invested
         2 1/2 hours in."  Markey, when asked about using a split
         screen: "NBC never uses split screens on anything.  The
         problem is you're trying to please too many people and you
         end up not pleasing anyone" (L.A. TIMES, 5/11).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBC, New York Knicks, Media
  • MEDIA NOTES

              MINOR COVERAGE: Celtics G Greg Minor, on his son,
         Khalid, featured on SI's cover to highlight a story on pro
         athletes having children out-of-wedlock: "It's horrifying. 
         What's he going to feel like 15 years from now?" (BOSTON
         GLOBE, 5/9).  Len Elmore, attorney/ESPN basketball analyst,
         was the Guest Columnist in Sunday's N.Y. DAILY NEWS and
         wrote on the paternity issue.  Elmore: "I am particularly
         frustrated with African-American male athletes who, despite
         their lives of privilege, fail to understand and heed the
         mistakes of the past while continuing to repeat them. ...
         They bear a greater responsibility to be role models, not to
         our children, but their own" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/10).
              NOTES: In L.A., Century Communications began carrying
         Fox Sports West 2 on most of its cable systems in the
         evenings and on weekends, leading to a full-scale launch on
         July 15.  The move leaves Comcast, which mainly serves
         Orange County, as the only "major holdout" not to carry FSW
         2 (L.A. TIMES, 5/8)....In Toronto, William Houston wrote
         that while "Hockey Night In Canada" relies heavily on
         tradition, the show "arguably, needs a new star."  Houston
         added that its declining ratings "may also be attributable
         to the show's predictability. ... To reach new viewers, the
         show needs fresh ideas" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/9)....ESPN has
         dropped the X-Venture outdoor event from its X Games. 
         Research showed that the X-Venture earned 20% lower ratings
         than other events (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/9)....In N.Y.,
         Maria Ricapito profiled SLAM magazine and called the title,
         with a circulation of 192,000, "the People magazine of
         basketball."  SLAM Dir of Advertising & Promotion Ronnie
         Zeidel: "We're not the hoop magazine for the 45-year-old
         couch potato.  The most important thing to these kids is
         basketball, fashion and girls -- in that order" (N.Y. TIMES,
         5/10)....With ESPN's "SportsCenter" approaching its 20,000th
         broadcast, Phil Mushnick questioned some of the network's
         recent research and statistics and wrote, "Too many
         SportsCenter staffers, past and current, in front of the
         camera and behind the scenes, don't know what the heck
         they're talking about. ... And these days, more time is
         spent writing one-liners and hunting for same-day clips of
         athletes who showed off for the TV cameras so they might be
         seen on SportsCenter" (N.Y. POST, 5/10)...."The SportsJerks
         NBA Tour," a six-part series on Comedy Central, premiered
         Saturday.  Co-Producer Danny DeVito said that "SportsJerks"
         could evolve into a regular series in which its two
         characters follow other sports (N.Y. POST, 5/9). 
       
    

    Print | Tags: Boston Celtics, Comcast-Spectacor, ESPN, NBA, News Corp./Fox, Sports Illustrated, Media, Walt Disney
  • MSG GOES ONE ON ONE WITH RADIO STATION, BUT IT'S NOT WFAN

              MSG "ignored the Knicks' radio flagship, WFAN, to sell
         ad space on in-arena give-away playoff towels to the new
         radio sports kid on the block, One on One Sports," according
         to Phil Mushnick of the N.Y. POST.  Sources say that MSG
         charged One on One $20,000 for the promo, which Mushnick
         called "hardly a lot of money to take in exchange for
         ticking off your radio partner, unless that was part of the
         plan."  The act "has exacerbated a poor relationship between
         MSG and WFAN," a relationship that "could be severed next
         spring when the station's Knick and Ranger rights expire." 
         While MSG is "already threatening" to launch a radio
         network," Mushnick wrote that this also "might be posturing
         to get an edge in negotiations" (N.Y. POST, 5/10).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks, Media
  • NASDAQ LINKS WITH CBS NFL SHOW; NFL SALES STILL SOFT

              NASDAQ "has struck a multiyear deal with CBS" to
         sponsor its NFL halftime show, according to sources of
         Langdon Brockinton of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL.  NASDAQ has
         also renewed its title sponsorship of CBS's college football
         coverage.  The two deals together are valued at $15-20M per
         year.  Under the terms of each deal, NASDAQ will get
         category-exclusivity and will air multiple 30-second spots
         per telecast (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/11).
              MARKET SHARE: DAILY VARIETY's Rich Katz reports that
         the NFL's TV network partners "are trying a variety of new
         sales tactics" as they try to increase NFL ad prices by 20%,
         but media buyers "believe they'll be able to hold price
         hikes to single digits."  No deals have been signed since
         CBS inked Honda/Acura to be its first advertiser last month. 
         One media buyer: "It's pretty slow going."  Katz reports
         that buyers said that "one signal the networks are nervous
         they'll be stuck with unsold, high-priced NFL inventory is
         that the webs will likely try to package pro football with
         primetime upfront inventory."  Katz writes that while buyers
         expect Fox and CBS to package their NFL games with the
         primetime upfront, they "expect an even more strenuous push"
         from ABC for "Monday Night Football."  ABC is also trying to
         maximize ad time by packaging "MNF" with ESPN's Sunday night
         package, along with other NFL-related vehicles, including
         ESPN2 and Classic Sports Network programming, as well as
         ESPN Magazine and ESPN SportsZone (DAILY VARIETY, 5/11).
    
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, CBS, ESPN, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Media, Viacom, Walt Disney
  • TEAM MEDIA NOTES: BLAZERS' WHITSITT SAYS DECISION IS FINAL

              The Blazers "are not reconsidering their decision" to
         remove Bill Schonely from its radio play-by-play, according
         to Steve Brandon of the Portland OREGONIAN.  Blazers
         President Bob Whitsitt: "I think that was pretty well
         decided last summer. ... I think the whole situation is
         unfortunate for everybody" (Portland OREGONIAN, 5/8).
              NHL RATINGS: The Sharks earned a 5.9 rating on Fox
         Sports Bay Area for their final first-round playoff game
         against the Stars.  Up until then, ratings had averaged
         around a 2.0 (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/9)....Fox Sports Southwest
         reported its top two ratings of the season for coverage of
         the Stars first round games against the Sharks.  Game Two
         earned a 3.9 total rating and 7.5 cable rating.  Game Six
         earned a 3.6 total overall, and a 6.9 cable rating. 
         Regular-season Stars games drew an average of 0.7, with a
         1.3 cable rating (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/9).
    
    

    Print | Tags: Dallas Stars, News Corp./Fox, NHL, San Jose Sharks, Southwest Sports Group, Media
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