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DETAILS OF NBC/TIME WARNER'S NEW FOOTBALL LEAGUE EMERGE
Published August 13, 1998
Architects for the proposed NBC/Time Warner football league, which may debut in June of 2000, "are considering having 10 to 12 franchises, a 10-week regular season and a championship game around Labor Day," according to Peter King of SI, who cites "sources familiar with discussions." Rather than "engage in a bidding war with the NFL for stars," the league "would create regional franchises stocked primarily with former collegians who have a local following and are willing to play for less than $100,000 a season." Several "fan-friendly" elements also are being considered. But King writes, "the last thing America needs is a new sports league." A-B Corporate VP/Media & Sports Marketing Tony Ponturo: "The big question is, Can NBC and Turner create a league that will keep the 21- to 34-year-old male at home on a weekend night? ... Baseball's growing stronger, and the growth of sports is outdistancing the growth of marketing dollars for advertisers. It'll be tough for the new league, but certainly you'd have to give it a hearing because of the brains of the people involved" (SI, 8/17). MORE FROM THE TIME WARNER INSIDER: King also told USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke: "I think the league definitely will play. Should the NFL fear this? I don't think so, but they should have worthy respect for some of the smartest men in TV. While they say revenge (for losing the NFL) isn't part of it, [NBC Sports Chair] Dick Ebersol and [Time Warner Vice Chair] Ted Turner would like to see the NFL suffer in some way" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 8/12).