SBJ/February 4 - 10, 2002/Media

NBC fills up on restaurant ads as its Olympics goal draws nearer

The restaurant category has helped NBC get within striking distance of its goal of selling $720 million in advertising for its Olympic telecasts. The network recently completed deals with Applebee's, the nation's largest casual dining chain, Brinker International's Chili's Grill & Bar, and the Papa John's pizza chain, sources say. They join longtime Olympic sponsor and advertiser McDonald's Corp.

Chili's recently launched a new campaign from GSD&M of Austin, Texas, that features singing group 'N Sync and will run during the Olympic Games.

An NBC spokesperson said that, as of early last week, NBC had sold 95 percent of its Olympic inventory, which includes slots on the main network, CNBC and MSNBC.

Some skepticism remains among media buyers who note that NBC was reporting a 90 percent-plus sellout level three months ago. But, in general, most are convinced that by now NBC is close to achieving its goal.

NBC also closed another deal with a movie studio, adding New Line Cinema to a list that includes Warner Bros., Sony, Universal and DreamWorks

 NEW NBA OFFERINGS: An array of new NBA ancillary programming will hit cable Saturday, the day before the All-Star Game. The new offerings include a one-hour MTV telecast of a celebrity basketball game under the name "Nestlé Crunch NBA Rock N Jock" at 1 p.m., featuring several big-name recording acts and "Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz.

A one-hour Allen Iverson special dubbed "Allen Iverson: The Answer" will air on TNT at 6 p.m., promoting the release of a new Iverson DVD and VHS tape available in stores the day before. Sega Sports is the presenting sponsor of the TNT show.

In all, the league reports that about 150 hours of programming related to the All-Star Game will hit television screens, including about 100 hours on NBA TV — the new name the league is quietly phasing in for TV.

Six networks, including TNT, BET and Nickelodeon, will simultaneously air the "NBA All-Star Read to Achieve Celebration" at 11 a.m. Saturday. A showcase for the league's primary community relations effort this season, it will replace last year's NBA "Team Up Celebration," which supported a different community program. Ahmad Rashad will host this year's show, and Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias, Muniz and all-stars from the NBA and WNBA will make appearances.

During All-Star Weekend, the league will welcome 21 foreign television networks that will do courtside reporting. Many will focus on the five foreign-born players who have been selected to appear in the All-Star Game. 

Discreet's Frost systems
creates 3-D graphics
for TV broadcasts.

  FROST 3 IS IT FOR NOW: Frost, a state-of-the-art 3-D graphics computer system used by Fox Sports and ABC Sports, has been updated for the third and possibly last time. Discreet, the division of San Rafael, Calif-based Autodesk Inc. that markets Frost, will ship Frost 3 in about a month, but the company says it won't invest another dime in developing a fourth prototype unless Frost 3 gets market penetration beyond that of its predecessors.

"There has not been a clear-cut strong decision made from the company that Frost is dead, but it is in hold mode," said a Discreet spokesman. He noted that the shelf life of Frost 3 will likely be at least two years, and Discreet will continue to service the product.

Andy Bernstein can be reached at

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