SBD/6/Leagues Governing Bodies

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              Despite a 26% drop in its NHL ratings this season, Fox
         is "expected to exercise its two-year option" after the '98-
         99 season, "albeit at a price lower than the current" $31M a
         year, according to USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke.  Fox Sports
         Exec Producer Ed Goren: "We're in internal discussions.  I
         regard this as an aberration year and still have a positive
         feeling about the NHL's future.  I was at CBS when it walked
         away from the NBA, something we shouldn't have let get
         away."  ABC Senior VP/GM Brian McAndrews said ABC would
         "discuss" the NHL if it became available (USA TODAY, 5/6).
              ICE CAPADES: In N.Y., Joe Lapointe writes that with its
         TV ratings "sagging" and a year remaining on its contracts
         with Fox and ESPN, the NHL "could face a worrisome marketing
         challenge for the Stanley Cup finals" if the Senators play
         the Oilers.  While such a final would be "good" for the two
         team, their "hockey-savvy cities" and Canadian pride, "what
         would Oilers-Senators do for the ratings" on Fox and ESPN?
         Fox Sports' Goren: "I don't even think you expect me to even
         answer that."  Lapointe writes that playoff ratings are down
         from '97 and the "trend could get worse as the tournament
         continues" and goes head-to-head with the NBA.  Individual
         stars in the playoffs are also "few and far between," but
         NHL Senior VP Steve Solomon said that the second-round
         "provides positive narrative elements."  Solomon, who called
         the ratings drop a "one-year blip," said that "there are
         smaller markets with big stories," pointing to goalie
         Dominik Hasek in Buffalo and the "storied" Canadiens 
         franchise (N.Y. TIMES, 5/6).  In Ottawa, Roy MacGregor:
         "Worse than this, it cannot get for Fox, which has just seen
         an entire winter of plummeting numbers.  Hockey Night in
         Canada, on the other hand, is about to see a ratings
         bonanza" (Roy MacGregor, OTTAWA CITIZEN, 5/6).  But in
         Toronto, William Houston reports that first-round ratings
         for "Hockey Night in Canada" were "mediocre."  "HNIC" drew
         920,000 and one million viewers for its first two games, but
         the audience dropped to an average of 910,000 for the next
         three games in prime time.  Meanwhile, TSN ratings were down
         5-10% from last year's playoffs (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/6).
              WISHING UPON A STAR: In Houston, Neil Hohlfeld writes,
         "Even in normal years, the NHL fights an uphill battle
         against the [NBA] for playoff coverage in most markets. 
         This year, it's really a David vs. Goliath story."  The NBA
         "still has nearly all of its megastars remaining in the
         playoffs," while the NHL's second-round began "without many
         of the league's marquee players."  Hohlfeld wonders if the
         public will "grow weary of the no-name" Senators, Oilers and
         Capitals "when Jordan and the Bulls are marching toward
         another, and possibly final, NBA championship?"  Hohlfeld:
         "On a national level among casual fans ... the NHL might be
         in for even less attention than it normally receives during
         playoff time" (Neil Hohlfeld, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/6).  
              MARKET-BY-MARKET: The following lists the U.S. media
         markets remaining in the NBA and NHL playoffs.  In the NHL,
         three of the eight teams remaining are in Canada and are not
         included in the ranking of market size (THE DAILY).
                 NBA PLAYOFF TEAMS             NHL PLAYOFF TEAMS
              TEAM           MKT SIZE       TEAM           MKT SIZE
              New York          1           Washington        7
              Los Angeles       2           Dallas            8 
              Chicago           3           Detroit           9
              Seattle          12           St. Louis        21
              Indiana          25           Buffalo          39 
              Charlotte        28           Edmonton         na
              Utah             36           Montreal         na
              San Antonio      38           Ottawa           na

    Print | Tags: ABC, CBS, Chicago Bulls, Edmonton Oilers, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Montreal Canadiens, NBA, NHL, Ottawa Senators, Viacom, Walt Disney, Washington Capitals
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