SBJ/June 4 - 10, 2001/No Topic Name

WNBA spreading into New Zealand and South Africa for the first time

The WNBA, whose fifth season got under way last week, has signed first-time international television-rights deals with such networks as New Zealand's Saturn Sport, South Africa's e.TV, Serbia's ANEM TV and Montenegro's RTVM.

"We anticipate having additional international agreements [in place] during the season," said Scott Levy, senior director of international television for the NBA and WNBA.

In fact, the WNBA is in discussions with several potential broadcast partners from Latin America, the Middle East and Hungary.

Outside the United States, the WNBA has rights deals with 46 telecasters, which together reach 167 countries in 23 languages. Last season's scorecard: 45 international telecasters, 158 countries and 23 languages.

The WNBA's deal with Saturn Sport, a cable and satellite network, marks the first time that the league has struck an agreement with a New Zealand-based telecaster. (WNBA games also reach New Zealand via ESPN International.) Under terms of its two-year deal, Saturn Sport will air WNBA games and "WNBA Action," a weekly 30-minute game-highlights show.

ANEM TV and RTVM have each signed one-year deals to broadcast playoff games. For its part, e.TV has opted to air "WNBA Action," but no games.

In addition to signing new TV partners, the WNBA has cut a first-time rights deal with Mexican radio network Superdeportiva. Under its two-year pact, the network has agreed to broadcast the WNBA championship series.

The league also renewed its TV-rights deals with China broadcaster Shanghai Oriental Television and Italy's Tele+, a cable and satellite network. The Tele+ agreement, for WNBA games and "WNBA Action," is a two-year extension. Shanghai's deal, for WNBA postseason play, is a one-year renewal.

 FOX MLB AD DEAL: Radio Shack has signed a Major League Baseball advertising deal with Fox Sports that includes commercial time on Fox's coverage of the regular season, All-Star Game and postseason, including the World Series, sources said.

Under terms of its deal, Radio Shack secured multiple spots on each of Fox's regular-season MLB telecasts. In addition, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company, whose current advertising slogan is "You've Got Questions, We've Got Answers," is sponsoring the "Trivia Question" segment on every Fox MLB broadcast this season. 

  U.S. OPEN GOLF SALES: NBC Sports, as of early last week, had sold virtually all the ad time for its broadcasts of the men's U.S. Open Golf Championship, sources said.

The Grand Slam tournament will take place June 14-17 at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.

On average, 30-second spots on NBC's final-round broadcast are going for $200,000 to $240,000 apiece, while units on the network's third-round coverage are going for $160,000 to $190,000 each, sources said. NBC wouldn't discuss its pricing.

  NBC/TNT NASCAR AD SALES: Applebee's and Outback Steakhouse have signed NASCAR advertising deals with NBC/TNT. As part of its deal, Applebee's will be the on-air presenting sponsor of a Busch Series race in Darlington, S.C., on Sept. 1. That race will air on TNT.

  WOMEN'S COLLEGE HOOPS: Tennessee will meet N.C. State and Duke will face Louisiana Tech in the fifth annual Honda Elite 4 women's college basketball doubleheader, scheduled to take place Dec. 2 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Tennessee-N.C. State matchup, airing on ESPN, is set to start at 1 p.m. ET, while the Duke-Louisiana Tech game, airing on ESPN2, is slated to tip off at 3:30 p.m. ET. Intersport Television will produce both telecasts.

  INDY NUMBERS: ABC generated a 5.3 overnight household ratings average for its Indianapolis 500 broadcast (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET May 27) — 18 percent above the 4.5 overnight average for the network's broadcast of last year's Indy 500 (11 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.) and 6 percent above the 5.0 overnight average for its coverage of the '99 race (11 a.m. to 3:36 p.m.). Last year's Indy 500 was delayed three hours by rain, and the actual race took place from 3 to 6:15 p.m. ET.

For this year's race segment (noon to 4 p.m.), ABC delivered a 5.8 overnight average — up 7 percent vs. the 5.4 overnight average for last year's race segment (3 to 6:15 p.m.) and up 9 percent vs. the 5.3 overnight average for the '99 race segment (noon to 3:36 p.m.).

Langdon Brockinton can be reached at lbrockinton@amcity.com.

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