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ESPN Magazine said that it exceeded 400,000 in paid circulation for its first two issues, after guaranteeing a rate base of 350,000. Paid subscriptions for the two issues totaled more than 225,000, with newsstand sales averaging 175,000. ESPN Magazine said its guaranteed rate base will increase to 500,000 in September, with another hike to 700,000 scheduled for January '99 (ESPN Magazine). AS ADS GO...: AD AGE's Anne Marie Kerwin reported that ESPN Magazine had a "whopping" 107 ad pages in its inaugural issue, and since then has been averaging 54 ad pages an issue. Publisher Michael Rooney said that he "was pleased with the breadth of advertisers," which include American Honda, Tommy Hilfiger, IBM, Microsoft and Nike among others. But Kerwin noted that ESPN "still faces rivals that are delivering many more eyeballs to advertisers," including SI, Sport and The Sporting News, which have circulations of 3.2 million, 750,000 and 500,000, respectively (AD AGE, 6/1).
TCI Chair John Malone said that "he's heard some cable operators -- not TCI -- may sue" if Disney tries to shift some of the costs of its $550M ABC Monday night package to ESPN's Sunday night telecasts, according to Bradley Johnson of AD AGE. ESPN is "hiking" its charges to cable operators to cover its $600M NFL deal, but a spokesperson for the net said "there will be no transfer of costs" (AD AGE, 6/1). ESPN WEST CARRIAGE IN JEOPARDY? In CA, Barbara Kingsley writes that with ESPN West set to launch in September, some cable companies "aren't sure they'll carry the new station" due to cost. Kingsley: "[I]t's fair to say that [the] new channel will cost big money ... as sports programming rights fees spiral ever-upward" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 6/1). ALL EARS: AD AGE's Chuck Ross reports that Disney is "in talks" to acquire "up to a" 40% stake in Excite Inc. The talks are part of Disney's Web strategy that would make all its Web sites, which include ESPN SportsZone, NFL.Com and NBA.Com, available through an "umbrella site," to be called "D Guide or Go Online" (AD AGE, 6/1). ESPN Internet Ventures VP/Marketing & Business Development Steve Kalin is profiled by Jeff Jensen of AD AGE. While the structure at Disney's new Buena Vista Internet Group has "yet to be finalized," Jensen wrote that Kalin "likely will focus" on new business development in the new setup (AD AGE, 6/1).
Turner Sports and the PGA of America announced a seven- year extension, through 2005, for exclusive cable rights to The PGA Championship and The PGA Grand Slam of Golf annually. The deal calls for 18 hours of PGA Championship coverage and eight hours of PGA Grand Slam coverage annually. Beginning in '99, TBS's PGA Championship coverage will also feature a Wednesday preview show (Turner)....Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, who complained Sunday about Fox's electronically enhanced pucks, "backed off" yesterday and said he "wasn't coming down on the puck," but that, on Sunday, the ice "was the problem" (USA TODAY, 6/2)....NBC MLB analyst Bob Uecker is leaving the net due to a back problem. Uecker will continue his radio play-by-play duties with the Brewers (USA TODAY, 6/2)....Boston Globe Assistant Managing Sports Editor Don Skwar said reader reaction to the paper's Spanish game stories of Red Sox P Pedro Martinez's home starts are running "about" 60-40 in favor, but said that "no spike in circulation has been detected" (MEDIAWEEK, 6/1)....In S.F., C.W. Nevius writes under the header, "Some Tinkering Could Let NHL Translate To TV." Nevius suggest that carriers covering hockey should install "cameras above the ice" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/2)....In Boston, Jim Baker wrote that Fox's Catcher-Cam should be used only on replays and said that when it's used live, "you can't tell whether a pitch is a ball or strike" and when it's hit, it is difficult to "follow it" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/1).
NBC's coverage of the Bulls-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals Game Seven earned a final national rating of 19.1/33, making it the highest non-NBA Finals rated basketball broadcast ever, and the seventh-highest NBA game in history. NBC estimates that 61 million people saw all or part of the game, making it the most watched NBA game in history, topping the 60 million for last year's Game Five of the Bulls-Jazz Finals. Through 21 telecasts, NBC's NBA Playoffs average is 7.6/20, up 4% from last year's 7.3/19 (THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke reports that NBC, which took in $10M more in ad sales due to the seven-game series, will receive "more than" $20M per game for the Bulls-Jazz Finals (USA TODAY, 6/2). Sunday's game drew a 50.2/69 in Indianapolis and a 43.8/65 in Chicago. The game drew a 35.0/57 in Salt Lake City (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/2). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes that the final 15 minutes of the game was seen by 78% of Chicago households watching TV at the time (SUN-TIMES, 6/2). Only three NBA games have topped a 20.0 national final rating, and all were part of a Finals series: '88 Pistons-Lakers Game 7; '93 Bulls-Suns Game 6; and '97 Bulls-Suns Game 5 (AP/ESPN SportsZone, 6/2). FINALS NOTES: The United Center will provide live TV feeds for games played in Salt Lake. The events, called "Bulls Bashes," are open to the public and cost $10 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/2)....CNBC will feature a 30 minute post-game wrap-up show of all Finals games starting tomorrow. Hannah Storm will anchor, with Ahmad Rashad and Jim Gray conducting interviews (NBC). In N.Y., Richard Huff reports that NBC affils "are okay" with the CNBC post-game show, as NBC will promote the affils' local news as well as the post-game in- game before signing off the air (DAILY NEWS, 6/2)....Also in N.Y., Richard Sandomir asks, "When will NBC realize that no matter how close [Ahmad] Rashad is to [Michael] Jordan, he is doing a disservice to viewers by not asking pertinent questions of Jordan (or anyone else) in the short time available in the post-game frenzy?" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/2). ...CBS's David Letterman: "Did you see Bob Costas on the game [Sunday night]? Let me ask you something in all seriousness. Is he getting shorter?" ("Late Show," 6/1).