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CBS announced an agreement with its affils to share the cost of the network's new NFL package, and in N.Y., Bill Carter wrote that the deal is "the first time a network has received direct financial help" from affils to help pay for programming. Several CBS execs said that the net "expects to realize between" $40-50M from the arrangement, and while that is less than 10% of the $500M CBS will pay the NFL each year of the deal, it "represents a significant shift in the relationship" between the net and its affils. Carter wrote that the formula of payment "is a complicated one," with CBS receiving "cash and some commercial time" during NFL games from the stations, and the stations getting more prime time commercial spots. CBS "also helped win favor" by insuring that CBS affils "will maintain exclusivity for most of the network's shows." NBC and ABC "have had serious disputes" with affils over the second use of programming on cable networks owned by the net, but CBS agreed that most of its programs will play only on CBS for 12 months (N.Y. TIMES, 5/30). In L.A., Sallie Hofmeister reported that affils will give CBS an ad spot during the "Late Show" with David Letterman and two spots during "This Morning" to sell nationally. Affils will get back one spot in prime time each night to sell locally (L.A. TIMES, 5/30).
Fox Sports Exec Producer Ed Goren discussed the net's relationship with the Dodgers with Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. When asked about any predisposed favoritism toward the Fox-owned Dodgers, Goren said, "I'm not convinced the Dodgers in the World Series may be best for Fox Sports. Atlanta isn't bad. The Chicago Cubs? If you told me tomorrow we'd have a World Series with the Yankees and the Cubs, you think I'd be disappointed? ... I feel no different about the Dodgers than I do [Rupert Murdoch's] Times of London." Goren, on Fox's handling of the Dodgers being put "under a microscope," while alluding to Disney's ownership of ESPN and the Angles: "Put it this way, if we covered (the Dodgers) Opening Day -- which we don't -- I could not have Joe Buck acting as master of ceremonies at Dodger Stadium. ... It's critical we (the network) maintain a distance from [the Dodgers] operation" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/31). MORE ON FOX: Fox's MLB season debut earned a 4.0/12 overnight rating and USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes that Fox "had plenty of production wrinkles that, at the very least, make baseball games seem like they move along faster than they really do." Hiestand adds that Fox "seems motivated" about MLB since its Dodgers acquisition and notes that during Sunday's NHL broadcast, Fox's John Davidson promoted an upcoming Dodgers game on Fox and wondered who would pitch "for us" (Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY, 6/1). BOWMAN DOESN'T PUCKER-UP: Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman "criticized" the FoxTrax puck used Sunday, saying it was "bouncing like a ball." Bowman: "I hope the NHL is researching that puck." But NHL VP/Hockey Operations Brian Burke downplayed the criticism: "Everyone didn't make it an issue -- Scotty Bowman did. If it wasn't that, it would have been something else" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/1). Due to the computer chip, the puck can't be frozen, and Bowman said, "I can't believe the NHL would use a puck that's not 100 percent like the other one." In Dallas, Rick Gosselin notes that the NHL "carefully omitted Bowman's quotes from its post-game quote sheets" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/1).
NBC'S GAME SEVEN: In Toronto, Rob Longley writes that the "urgency" of last night's Pacers-Bulls Game Seven "was captured brilliantly by NBC in just about every way" (TORONTO SUN, 6/1). In Chicago, Michael Hirsley writes that NBC's Bob Costas and Isiah Thomas "clicked as a team Sunday better than they have in the past" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/1). NOTES: The growth of Internet advertising was examined by CNBC's Amanda Grove, who reported, "One of the fastest growing areas for Internet ads is sports Web sites." A "majority" of CBS SportsLine's revenue comes from ads and its revenue was nearly $7M in the first quarter of '98 and its stock "has tripled" since it went public last November. ("The Edge," CNBC, 5/29)....WDZK-AM in Hartford became Radio Disney's 25th outpost this week, becoming CT's first kids radio station. One program on the station is "ESPN Sports for Kids" (HARTFORD COURANT, 5/30)....The Reds Radio Network (RRN), which in '77 totalled 115 stations, now has 50. Flagship station WLW Assistant Program Dir & RRN Coordinator Dave Armbruster says the "nature of the business nowadays means not being as concerned with having a huge number of stations." Armbruster: "If a station drops now, we don't necessarily re-add, because we want to give stations exclusivity in that market" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/31).
BSkyB's hopes for its new digital TV service "were dealt a blow" on Friday, when soccer's Premier League "rejected a proposal from the company to show live games" on a PPV basis next season, according to Harverson & Newman of the FINANCIAL TIMES. BSkyB "had proposed" offering subscribers to its 200 new digital satellite channels 144 Premier games via PPV, with the revenue being split equally with the league's 20 clubs. Soccer "has been a key driver of subscription for BSkyB, and the company had hoped" to use live PPV matches to "persuade customers to sign up to digital." But at the annual meeting, the Premier League Chair "rejected" the plan (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/30). The FINANCIAL TIMES' "Lex Column" wrote that the Premier League's decision "certainly does not put the digital launch at risk." The clubs may "sign up" if the "terms are sweetened," and they will experiment "with pay-per-view because they want it to succeed" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/30).