The possibility that the start of the NHL regular season "could be put on ice" would be a "severe blow" to CBC-TV, according to the network's head of sports, Alan Clark. Clark said that so far there is not "contingency plan" if a lockout occurs: "We must have hockey. Hockey wasn't broken so there was no need to fix it." Molstar Communications VP Ron Harrison, whose company produces "Hockey Night In Canada": "We are worried, but we are also helpless." Both Clark and Harrison mentioned the "added frustration that the current unrest creates, coming just when hockey fever is at an all-time high." CBC, which would have televised baseball's World Series, would not comment on what viewers would see if the hockey season is put on hold. TSN Public Relations officer Steve Rayment noted that unlike mainstream TV stations, TSN has "fewer fallback options in the case of a lockout": "For the NHL to go out in the wake of the baseball situation would be another blow to TSN" (MacLeod/Campbell/McKee, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/23). In the U.S., the Fox deal starts with the January, 1995 All-Star game. But if October 21's telecasts are not played on ESPN or ESPN2, the NHL will loose $2.7M in rights fees from ESPN (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 9/23).
ABC Sports reached a new multi-year agreement with the Triple Crown. ABC President Dennis Swanson: "The agreement also includes marketing and promotional rights." Swanson added: "We think it positions us better with the people we do business with to satisfy not just media buying, but the full range of opportunities being sought by our clients." In addition to the Triple Crown races, ABC has acquired the rights to package the Triple Crown for television. The network will provide marketing and promotional opportunities for sponsors, including hospitality, event tickets, and on-site exposure for its television sponsors (THE DAILY). FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS: In this morning's USA TODAY, Rudy Martzke writes that the $8M deal "signifies the new reality in TV sports rights fees," since ABC is willing to pay $1M more than last year for a property that has experienced a 23% ratings decline over the past six years. According to Martzke, the reason is the "prospect of hungry competitors CBS and Fox waiting to bid on the latest available property 'jewel'" (USA TODAY, 9/23). In New York, Steve Zipay also notes CBS and FOX's interest. ABC "exercised its negotiating exclusivity clause, effectively boxing them out from bidding." Using exculsivity clauses to protect programming rights "before they become a jump ball -- with CBS and Fox leaping in with big bucks -- might become a pattern" (NEWSDAY, 9/23).
CBS has announced the launch of "Eye on Skating," a series of six figure skating championships to run from November 24 through December 25. The schedule includes: The U.S. Ladies Outdoor Skating Challenge at Sun Valley (11/24 & 27); The Nikon Skating Championships (12/3-4); The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance World Team Skating Championships (12/10-11); The Vicks 44 North American Open Skating Championships (12/18; and the Canadian Professional Skating Championships (12/24-25). Skaters slated to compete include: Oksana Bayul, Kristi Yamaguchi, Brian Boitano, Vicktor Petrenko, Paul Wylie, and the team of Yekaterina Gordeyeva and Sergei Grinkov. David Winner will produce, Bob Fishman and Bob Matina will direct, and Verne Lundquist and Scott Hamilton will provide commentary (THE DAILY).
In this week's INSIDE MEDIA, Mike Reynolds reports that ESPN is looking for six $2M sponsors for its inaugural "Extreme Games" to run on ESPN and The Deuce between June 24 and July 2 in '95. ESPN VP of Business Development Tom Hagel: "We're looking for six 'gold' sponsors. We went out with proposals to our incumbent advertisers just after Labor Day, beginning with fast-food and soft drink clients because they had expressed the most interest since we announced the Extreme Games back in April." Reynolds says the "umbrella sponsorship" packages will control approximately 70% of the program inventory and include commercial time during 22 live hours on ESPN, 19 live hours on ESPN2, as well as seven hours to be re-aired in West Coast primetime. The "gold sponsors" will also "benefit from the association with 24 hours of programming on the networks leading up to the competition," promotional vignettes, on-site hospitality, and event signage. The Extreme Games is a first step by ESPN "to expand its reach beyond that of rights holder to event marketer, controlling everything from hospitality and course design to promotion and integrated marketing packages" (Mike Reynolds, INSIDE MEDIA, 9/21 issue). BRING ON THE 18-34 CONSUMERS: The Extreme Games, to be held in Newport, RI, will feature events in 9 "alternative sports": bungy jumping, mountain biking, sky surfing, windsurfing, kite- skiing, and barefoot jumping. "ESPN is estimating a 1.6 household rating for its universe, and a 0.9 rating within ESPN2's world" (INSIDE MEDIA, 9/21 issue). HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, ESPN: In a column this morning, Leonard Shapiro notes ESPN "has changed the viewing habits of most of America's sports fans is celebrating its [15th] anniversary this month." In addition to supplying "four times the 1,288 hours of [sports] coverage provided in 1979 by ABC, CBS, and NBC," Shapiro says that "ESPN has also made a significant impact in TV sports journalism, taking it into enterprise reporting where few major networks have dared to go" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23). ALSO FROM INSIDE MEDIA -- HOLA, SENOR: Marty O'Loughlin reports that JSA Publishing in Santa Monica, CA, will deliver "Mundo Deportivo" [Sports World] "door-to-door in plastic bags in census tracts with a minimum of 70 percent Hispanics." The bi- monthly publication will begin February and reach 1.2M Hispanic men in LA, NY, Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, El Paso, Houston, San Francisco, San Diego, and Dallas. "Editorially, the magazine will focus on sports that appeal most to Hispanic men, notably boxing, baseball, auto racing, and domestic and international soccer" (Marty O'Louglin, INSIDE MEDIA, 9/21 issue).
KTVU-TV and the S.F. Giants are expected to extend their 36- year relationship for another five years, a deal which was threatened by Rupert Murdoch's "now-dormant bid" to buy NBC- affliiate KRON-TV. If KRON had gone to Fox, KTVU would have been NBC's "only realistic alternative" -- and "networks and baseball don't mix these days. ... NBC doesn't like KRON's pre-emptions for A's games, and the KRON-A's deal reportedly was an impediment to Murdoch." While both the A's and KRON claim to be happy with the deal, which was done at a timne when the Giants seemed headed to St. Petersburg. But the A's "aren't doing KRON much good. There won't be many places for the A's to go if KRON doesn't re- enlist." The A's deal with KRON is up in five years. With the team for sale, "problems with the next TV contract contract could discourage proespective buyers" (Colin Seymour, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/23)....Buddy Ryan is reportedly looking to go after ESPN analyst Phil Simms as Cardinals QB and inquired about his availiability. Simms: "I can't say waht I'll do until I hear what it's about" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/22).
GE and NBC have 45 days to buy into Madison Square Garden for $250M, according to this morning's NEW YORK POST. Cablevision, which just joined with ITT to pay over $1B for MSG, "have offered half its stake -- in other words a quarter of MSG - - to NBC to help bankroll that deal." About $180M would be required in cash, the rest in stock or debt, according to terms of the deal contained in a filing with the SEC. Under the terms of a 1989 agreement between NBC and Cablevision's Rainbow Programming Holdings Corp., NBC is entitled to participate in new Cablevision programming ventures. Cablevision's Norm Fein: "They are partners in most of our programming ventures. In the course of normal business where we got into a new venture, they would have the option to participate" (Paul Tharp, N.Y. POST, 9/23). UNCERTAINTY FOR DISNEY? One possible suitor for NBC is Walt Disney, and this morning's NEW YORK TIMES reports that Disney "is suffering the consequences" of Jeffrey Katzenberg's departure -- and that even the company's "interest in acquiring the NBC television network from General Electric ... has been shadowed by the departure." Industry observers are reportedly "watching Disney as if passing a car wreck," and a wide range of the company's arms -- including the studio and theater divisions, interactive games, and marketing -- are troubled. One Disney producer: "It's an incredibly distressed organization. When someone as powerful as Jeffrey leaves, insecurity in the ranks takes a tremendous toll" (Weinraub & Fabrikant, N.Y. TIMES, 9/23).
This year's Enterprise Rent-A-Car "Skills Challenge," produced by NBC Sports and SNI Sports Network, will originate October 15-16 from the Pointe-Hilton Resort in Phoenix, and feature three new sponsors: Motorola, NASDAQ, and Toyota. Returning sponsors include Enterprise, Buick, and MCI. Don Roennigke, SNI VP and General Sales Mngr: "Overall sales for the Skills Challenge have been excellent. Sponsors recognize this as an established event with growth ratings. They also appreciate that both NBC Sports and SNI are willing to work with our advertisers to design a completely integrated sponsorship package." The Skills Challenge features PGA pros Hale Irwin, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Phil Mickelson, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Weiskopf, and Peter Jacobsen testing their golf skills. In '92 and '93 the program originated from Orlando (THE DAILY).