SBD/10/Sports Media

EARLY OVERNIGHTS FOR "NBA ON NBC" HAS RATINGS DOWN 21%

          For complete overnight ratings of the opening weekend
     of the NBA playoffs on NBC, see (#29).  MEDIAWEEK's John
     Consoli reports that heading into the first round, NBC was
     about 85% sold out of its playoff ad inventory, which
     accounts for about 80% of the network's annual NBA ad
     revenue.  Turner Sports has sold about 90% of its NBA post-
     season inventory.  NBA is "slightly behind" last year's
     sales effort, while Turner is "at about the same level as
     last year."  NBC's playoff inventory "is said to be
     generating" 10% increases over last year (MEDIAWEEK, 5/10).
          IS SMALL MARKET MATCHUP A NIGHTMARE? In N.Y., Mike Wise
     wrote that a Pacers-Jazz NBA Final would be "a prime-time
     nightmare" for NBC, as the two "small-market, veteran teams"
     would "seem to point to fewer viewers."  However, NBC
     "contends that it is not playing favorites."  NBC Sports
     Chair Dick Ebersol: "I'm a big believer that for the finals
     to work, you have to have stories.  With Reggie Miller and
     Larry Bird, you have ready-made stars."  NBC Sports
     VP/Information Ed Markey: "The two most important factors  
     -- in order -- are story line and length of series.  Market
     size is gravy" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/9).  In Atlanta, Prentis
     Rogers wrote that NBC and Turner "finally can loosen their
     ties" because, "despite the lockout, the shortened season"
     and the "underachieving" Lakers, the NBA's TV partners "have
     arrived at the postseason with their core viewership
     intact."  But "both know the postseason is where success or
     failure ultimately will lie" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/8).
          GOING EASY ON THE HYPE, GIVING IT A REST: USA TODAY's
     Michael Hiestand writes that NBC "deserves credit for
     avoiding too much hype" during its telecasts of this past
     weekend's first round NBA playoff games.  Hiestand: "NBC
     could have gone overboard in frantically trying to hook
     viewers.  Instead, it was credible" (USA TODAY, 5/10).    

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