SBD/8/Sports Media

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              NBA COVERAGE/RATINGS: NBC's overnight ratings for Game
         Two of the NBA Finals was a 17.7, up 7% from last year.  In
         Chicago, Michael Hirsley writes that the national rating
         "should be the second-highest NBA Finals Game 2 rating, and
         could surpass the current highest, Bulls-Lakers Game 2 in
         1991" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/8)....In Salt Lake, John Youngren
         wrote that NBC's Isiah Thomas "all but disappeared during
         the crucial fourth quarter of Game 2 -- deferring to NBC
         colleague Doug Collins."  But "overall, NBC offered an
         objective and dramatic look at the Jazz and Bulls" for
         Friday's game (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/6)....NBC Sports
         President Dick Ebersol predicts that a Michael Jordan-less
         NBA on NBC would see little decline in its regular-season
         ratings "because it makes the regular season, in many ways,
         more competitive."  Ebersol: "The Finals, obviously, it will
         have an impact.  Michael, probably more than any athlete in
         any sport, is a draw for the casual fan" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES,
         6/8)....For more on select weekend ratings, see (#27).
              BELMONT REVIEWS: ABC's Belmont telecast earned a 6.5/17
         rating, up 5% from last year's 6.2/16 (THE DAILY). USA
         TODAY's Rudy Martzke gives ABC's Belmont Stakes coverage an
         "A-" (USA TODAY, 6/8)....On Long Island, Steve Zipay writes
         that ABC "handled the wild finish and post-race questions
         with aplomb" (NEWSDAY, 6/7)....But in Houston, David Barron
         writes, "ABC, to be kind, struggled Saturday" and noted
         Lesley Visser's microphone going out in a post-race
         interview with trainer Bob Baffert (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/8). 
         For more on the Belmont Stakes, see (#21).  
              NOTES: USA TODAY's Lieberman & Wells report that WB and
         Fox "appear to be the big winners as the advertising sales
         rush for television's upcoming prime-time season wraps up." 
         Ad rates are up "at least" 12% at the WB and about 8% at
         Fox.  Meanwhile, Grey Advertising's Jon Mandel said, "The
         whole sports market is squishy right now" (USA TODAY, 6/8).
         ...In Miami, Barry Diller's WAMI-TV, which will broadcast 40
         Heat games next season, switches formats today, from Home
         Shopping Network to news, talk and entertainment. WAMI will
         air a live, 30-minute weeknight sports show called
         "Sportstown" at 10:00pm and plans other sports programming
         as well (MIAMI HERALD, 6/7).  BUSINESS WEEK notes the re-
         launch of Diller's WAMI and notes that when viewers watch
         Heat games Diller also "intends to pitch them team
         merchandise."  Other possible deals for Diller "could
         include one" with the NBA to run its new league store in New
         York City, which "could lead" to NBA product sales over his
         shopping channels, as well (BUSINESS WEEK, 6/15 issue).  

    Print | Tags: ABC, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, NBA, NBC, Media, Utah Jazz, Walt Disney

              Fox's spring affiliates meeting "adjourned Friday with
         no deal in place for the affiliates to help shoulder the
         cost" of Fox's new $4.4B NFL package, according to Jenny
         Hontz of DAILY VARIETY.  The "main stumbling block is Fox's
         unwillingness to link discussions about network programming
         exclusivity to talks over financing the NFL package." 
         Affils "want assurances they'll get NFL and other
         programming exclusively for both analog and digital TV
         broadcasts."  Another "sticking point" is that Fox wants a
         one-year deal, while the affils "want a longer, more iron-
         clad agreement covering the entire length of the NFL
         contract."  Meanwhile, Fox TV Chair & CEO Chase Carey told
         affils that total sports rights fees will approach $1B in
         annual expense, an increase of more than 50% over the
         current year.  Despite the cost, Hontz writes that Carey
         "picked on NBC for letting football go away because they
         said the economics didn't justify it."  Carey: "When all is
         said and done, that will go down as one of the defining
         moments of recent network history" (DAILY VARIETY, 6/8).
              STILL A JUGGERNAUT: CNBC's Don Dahler reported on
         ESPN's ratings dip, and possible lowered earnings
         expectations on Wall Street for Disney.  Jeffrey Logsdon of
         Cruttenden Roth: "If you're lowering your numbers on Disney,
         and you're using ESPN as kind of a flag to raise, you're
         probably throwing the baby out with the bathwater."  Dahler:
         "ESPN is like Michael Jordan -- still a long way ahead of
         the pack, even though they may have lost a step or two." 
         ESPN is still the 7th highest rated cable network, and 5th
         highest in the 18-49 demographic ("The Edge," CNBC, 6/5).

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