SBD/16/Sports Media

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              Cable operators "are stepping up their battle" against
         ESPN's move to raise programming fees 20% to help pay for
         its NFL contract, according to Steve Donohue of ELECTRONIC
         MEDIA.  TCI, TCA Cable TV, Cable ONE, Charter Communications
         and Falcon Cable "have explored the feasibility of moving"
         ESPN from basic or expanded basic carriage to a new,
         separately-priced tier which would also include other sports
         programmers.  TCA Cable TV has had "preliminary internal
         discussions" about placing ESPN, Fox Sports Southwest, The
         Golf Channel and Speedvision in a sports tier.  While such a
         tier "would reduce" operators' ESPN programing costs, "many
         say that contractual and technical issues make it very
         difficult to make a new sports tier a reality."  In
         addition, some MSOs said that ESPN "has rejected ideas" to
         move off of basic service.  But ESPN VP/Affil Relations Sean
         Bratches said that ESPN "hasn't been approached by operators
         requesting a new sports tier," and that the network has
         reached agreements with "well over" 90% of its carriers on
         contract extensions, despite the cost of carrying ESPN
         increasing on August 1 from $.87 a subscriber per month to
         $1.07 per subscriber per month (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 6/15). 

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NFL, Media, Walt Disney

              Sunday night's Bulls-Jazz Game Six earned a 22.3/38
         final national rating, making it the highest rated NBA
         broadcast in history.  The game was watched by an estimated
         72 million viewers, which also establishes a new all-time
         record for an NBA telecast.  In addition, Sunday's rating
         means the '98 Finals averaged an 18.7/33 rating, making it
         the highest rated Finals ever, 4% better than the previous
         high of 17.9/33 for the Bulls-Suns Final in '93.  This year
         also saw an 11% jump from last year's 16.8/30 average (THE
         DAILY).  Friday night's Game Five earned a 19.8/37 final
         rating for NBC.  Its estimated audience of 60.9 million
         viewers makes it the third-most-viewed NBA telecast in
         history, behind Sunday night's game and last month's Pacers-
         Bulls Game Seven, which drew 61.4 million viewers (NBC).
              OTHER NUMBERS: In Chicago, Game Six earned a 52.1
         rating on the local NBC affil, "making it the most watched
         event in Chicago for the year" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/16).  
              CABLE READY: CNBC's "NBA Finals Post-Game Specials,"
         which aired after each Finals game broadcast, averaged a 1.0
         rating, a 30% increase from last year's .74 average (CNBC).
              GOOD MARKS FOR NBC: In Boston, Jim Baker called NBC's
         Game Six telecast "loaded," adding it "caught all the drama"
         of the game (BOSTON HERALD, 6/15). In N.Y., Bob Raissman
         writes that NBC's broadcast team "must be complimented for 
         -- especially down the stretch -- letting the game breathe. 
         [Isiah] Thomas, [Bob] Costas, and Doug Collins correctly
         kept their calls to a minimum late in the fourth quarter,
         allowing viewers to feel the moment" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS,
         6/16).  Also in N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that Hannah
         Storm's work during the Finals "made it clear that [she] is
         one of sports' best studio hosts" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/16).
              ROBERTO PANNED: In Utah, Scott Pierce reviewed NBC's
         broadcast under the header, "NBC Ignored Its Own
         Observations, Analysis."  Concerning two apparent miscues by
         the refs involving the shot clock, Pierce wrote, "At the
         very least, shouldn't the events in Sunday's game have
         elicited a discussion about ... some sort of official review
         of the videotape?"  More Pierce: "Costas and the other
         members of the NBC broadcast team were left looking as if
         their special relationships with the Bulls and the NBA were
         more important to them than any sort of vague journalistic
         integrity they might have" (DESERET NEWS, 6/16).  In Boston,
         Howard Manly: "It might just be time to bring Marv Albert
         back ... because his replacement, 'I, Bob Costas,' has taken
         the simple game of basketball and made it his own pulpit"
         (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/16).  In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that
         Costas "is not Albert.  His voice doesn't match the rhythms
         of basketball as faithfully as Albert's did."  While Costas
         is "prepared," and "rarely makes mistakes ... his style
         seems more suited to baseball" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/16).
              THE UGLY: Jazz F Karl Malone "blasted" the Jazz radio
         announcers on team-owned KFAN-AM yesterday and "threatened
         to get them fired for criticizing him during the NBA Finals. 
         Malone: "Either they shake that station up at KFAN with the
         two experts they got on that, or they've got to do something
         else with me.  So it's me or them."  The announcers, David
         Locke and former Jazz coach Tom Nissalke, declined comment
         (Michael Lewis, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/16).
              SOMEBODY STOP HIM! TIME looks at John Tesh's "NBA on
         NBC" theme song.  Tesh said that the melody, called
         "Roundball Rock," has the "same pace as a fast break -- 120
         feet a minute."  He added that he is "thinking of doing a
         rap version of the song next year" (TIME, 6/22 issue).

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, NBA, NBC, Phoenix Suns, Seattle Storm, Media, Utah Jazz

              The case concerning's Viacom's suit against the Red Sox
         and Bruins, its partners in NESN, over rights fees
         inequities and compensation if NESN goes from premium pay
         status to basic cable, goes to an arbitration hearing this
         week.  In Boston, Jim Baker wrote that the outcome, "in
         addition to addressing Viacom's dissatisfaction," may set
         the stage for more moves, including Fox Sports New England
         becoming a more aggressive bidder for local rights (BOSTON
         HERALD, 6/14)....The NHL Kings signed a new three-year radio
         deal with CBS-owned KRLA-AM, making it the team's new
         flagship.  KRLA will carry all Kings games beginning this
         season, and the deal marks the end of the Kings' eight-year
         relationship with San Diego-based XTRA (Kings)....N.Y.'s
         WCBS-TV sports anchor Warner Wolf "found himself at a loss
         for words" yesterday "when his dentures popped out on live
         TV."  Wolf eventually replaced the bridge and finished his
         report: "I've been on the air for 38 years and that's the
         worst thing that's ever happened to me" (N.Y. POST, 6/16).

    Print | Tags: Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, CBS, Los Angeles Kings, Media, Viacom

              The Senators signed a 10-year broadcasting and play-by-
         play deal with the new Ottawa Sports Radio, OSR 1200, which
         will be the city's first all-sports radio station.  OSR will
         begin carrying Senators games next season (Senators). 
              YEAR-ROUND EXPOSURE: Although financial terms were not
         released, Senators President Roy Mlakar said that the deal
         ranks "among the top-10 in radio rights deals for NHL
         teams."  The Senators had been carried by CFRA radio, and
         although a year still remained on that deal, the team
         "negotiated to dissolve that contract" in order to sign with
         OSR (David Naylor, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/16).  In Ottawa,
         Ken Warren writes that the new pact "makes the Senators the
         major player on OSR and in position to control how much
         Senators coverage is on the air" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 6/16). 
         OSR, which will be owned by Calgary-based Rawlco
         Communications, will debut in early September and will "also
         be known as Ottawa Senators Radio" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 6/16).
              MAJOR LEAF DEAL: The Maple Leafs "are on the verge" of
         announcing a new five-year deal with Molson worth about
         C$23M a season.  In Toronto, Rob Longley reports the deal,
         which would give Molson the rights to 50-55 mid-week Leafs
         games, "is expected" to be for a minimum of five years, with
         the brewery holding an option to extend.  Molson would sell
         the broadcast rights to TSN "and retain a promotional
         presence."  Longley adds that if the deal is completed, TSN,
         which recently lost the rights to "HNIC," will be "back into
         NHL hockey in a big way" (TORONTO SUN, 6/16).

    Print | Tags: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NHL, Ottawa Senators, Media, Toronto Maple Leafs
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