SBD/13/Sports Media

THE ECONOMIST SAYS WHILE FSN IS GAINING, ESPN WILL SURVIVE

          THE ECONOMIST profiles Fox Sports Net and its "clever"
     regional approach to sports TV and writes that it "is
     beginning to inflict some nasty wounds on Disney's ESPN,
     which has dominated American sports programming for nearly
     20 years."  But it notes that ESPN "is not about to drift
     into financial difficulty.  As cable TV goes digital, there
     will be more space for more sports networks, and there is
     probably still demand for more sports.  ESPN has a
     stunningly successful brand, and Disney's master-marketers
     are thinking up ways to use it. ... Still, [News Corp.'s
     Rupert] Murdoch and [Liberty Media's John] Malone look like
     [they will make] a lot of money out of Fox Sports Net --
     money that would, if ESPN had seized its opportunity, have
     been Disney's" (THE ECONOMIST, 8/8 issue).
          WILL FOX PASS? In Dallas, Barry Horn writes that if
     Disney's NHL TV rights bid "is such a bad deal, how come Fox
     and its own cable brethren are thinking about making their
     own inflated bid?  One thing is certain: whoever gets the
     NHL won't lose as much money on that deal as the networks
     will on the" $17.6B NFL TV deal (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/13).

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