SBJ/June 18 - 24, 2001/This Weeks Issue

ABC seeking big bucks for ads on Bighorn

ABC Sports is seeking about $150,000, sources said, for a 30-second spot on its live prime-time broadcast of the Lincoln Financial Group Battle at Bighorn, a one-round, alternate-shot match pitting Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam against David Duval and Karrie Webb on July 30.

Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales, would not divulge the asking price. He did say, however, that almost 80 percent of the broadcast's advertising time has been sold.

Lincoln Financial was also the title sponsor of last year's prime-time Battle at Bighorn, which matched Woods against Sergio Garcia. Erhardt declined to divulge the cost of this year's title sponsorship, but industry sources said the price tag is about $3 million.

ESPN ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales has signed several advertisers for this year's event that did not buy commercial time on last year's Woods vs. Garcia match. Those advertisers include British Airways, National Car Rental, Siemens and the Williams Cos. Among those returning this year are MasterCard International, Titleist, Callaway Golf Co. and Coors Brewing Co., which again will have exclusivity in the beer category.

"I think [the event] is going to have very broad, mass appeal," Erhardt said. "It's going to bring in the Tiger audience, but it's also going to bring in casual golf viewers and sports fans in general."

ABC is estimating an 8.0 Nielsen household ratings average for the made-for-TV event, which is scheduled to tee off from the Canyons Course at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., at 8 p.m. ET.

Last summer's Woods-Garcia duel delivered a 7.6 household ratings average, up 10 percent from the 6.9 average generated the previous year by the inaugural prime-time match that featured Woods vs. Duval.

Erhardt said next month's event, a partnership of IMG and ABC Sports, is attracting interest from companies that are not traditional golf advertisers — sponsors looking to reach either the adult demographic or female viewers.

"That's because it's in prime time and because it has a male/female crossover appeal," he said.

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