In a Baltimore SUN profile, Michael Dresser examines Comsat
President & CEO Bruce Crockett, who has helped the satellite
telecom company assemble "an eclectic group of businesses" --
including the Nuggets and On-Command Video. Dresser: "It's all
been a little too eclectic for investors. Always wary of
uncertainty, Wall Street has punished Comsat for Mr. Crockett's
terrestrial ventures. From a 52-week high of $32.75, Comsat
stock has lost more than one-third of its value, hitting a low of
$19.375 last week. To some extent that reflects a general
weakness in the [telecom] sector, but its price-earnings-ratio of
11 is paltry, even by industry standards." But Crockett, who
hopes to add an NHL franchise in Denver, is "unapologetic about
Comsat's growing role in the high-risk, high-reward sports and
entertainment businesses": "There are some investors who would
rather see us just be a communications company. We would hope
over time to attract investors with different philosophies"
(Baltimore SUN, 11/20).
The Nashville Network, ESPN, CBS, and ABC will share
coverage in 1995 of the inaugural season of the NASCAR SuperTruck
Series by Craftsman. TNN will televise 10 of the events,
including the season's first and last races on February 5 and
October 27; ESPN will televise seven of the races, two in prime
time and three that are companion races to the NASCAR Winston Cup
events; CBS will cover three races during July as part of the
network's "Eye on Sports" program; and ABC will debut the series
on national broadcast television on April 22 (NASCAR).
Starting November 27, and for $49.95/month, the NFL and
DirectTV will make the league's "Sunday Ticket" package available
to fans with 18-inch satellite dishes, according to Leonard
Shapiro in the WASHINGTON POST. "Big dish owners have had it all
year," and -- so far -- approximately 200,000 big dish owners are
subscribers to "Sunday Ticket." Shapiro also reports that
DirecTV, a division of GM Hughes Electronics, currently has
"150,000 subscribers with the little dish, and the company is
selling between 2,000 and 3,000 RCA-made dishes a day"
(WASHINGTON POST, 11/19).
IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK: "When it comes to the subject of
pay-per-view television," most NFL officials "shake their heads
no, a thousand times no," according to Shapiro, who believes that
"if the 'NFL Sunday Ticket' looks like pay-per-view, sounds like
pay-per-view, and definitely costs like pay-per-view (okay,
bargain basement pay-per-view), it must be -- additive." Ron
Bernard, president of NFL Enterprises: "Anything we do in this
area is an additive service. In no way will we take anything
away from the viewer on free television. It's additive. In no
way will we do pay-per-view" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/19).
The MIAMI HERALD reports that Sunshine "is planning to
launch a third Florida sports network within the next 18 months."
According to Sunshine, "programming on the new network will
include women's sports and events that are pushed off Prime
Network by live pro sports" (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 11/20).
"The undercurrent of shrinking network television audiences
continues unabated," according to Tim Jones in this morning's
CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Since the '83-84 season, viewership has dropped
19% for ABC, 17% for NBC, and 12.6% for CBS. "The most recent
figures from Nielsen show a continued network viewing decline of
2.7 percent in the year ended last month. The cancellation of
baseball playoffs and the World Series likely hurt last month's
viewer count. There is, however, no evidence to suggest the
overall downward trend is reversing itself." Jones adds that
"sports is not automatically the savior of any network," in fact,
"as CBS learned with its money-losing contract with Major League
Baseball, sports is an anchor that can pull the ship under."
James Goss, media analyst with Duff & Phelps: "Sports
establishes an image but doesn't necessarily do a lot for the
bottom line" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/21).
VIACOM EYEING CBS? USA TODAY reports this morning that
Viacom "is taking a preliminary look at CBS." According to an
unnamed source, "Viacom is understood to have met within the past
two weeks with investment bankers who want it to buy CBS"
(Lieberman & Dorfman, USA TODAY, 11/21).