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Volume 24 No. 156

Sports Media

     ABC Sports Dir of Media Relations Mark Mandel responded tothe 41.2 overnight rating for Super Bowl XXIX:  "It's still theSuper Bowl.  People will watch no matter what, no matter who'splaying."  USA TODAY's Mike Hiestand notes that the rating mightdecrease when the rest of the country is figured in.  Theovernight rating is based on the top 32 media markets (54% of theU.S.), which include San Francisco and San Diego.  Still, GreyAdvertising Senior VP Jon Mandel insists the rating won't matterto advertisers:  "The issue is simple.  Where else can you buy a40 rating?"  Mandel adds that even with a different set-up, suchas matching the NFL's top two teams, he's not sure "how much more(TV ad) money they could extract from the market" (USA TODAY,1/31).     THE BREAKDOWN:  The overnights, by segment -- all times arep.m. EST (USA TODAY, 1/31):
4-5 (pregame)
5-5:30 (pregame)
5:30-5:50 (pregame)
5:50-6:21 (pregame)
WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR: One media buyer said the ratings "heldup well enough" that NBC will probably ask for between $1.2-1.3Mper 30-second next year, and probably get between $1.1M and $1.2M(Harry Berkowitz, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 1/31). BLOWOUT FACTOR: There are several calls this morning for achange in the NFL's playoff system, which would allow for theleague's top two teams to meet in the Super Bowl. USA TODAY'sLarry Weisman writes, "Our national religious holiday, Super BowlSunday, is rotten at the core. ... And the best way to bring thefocus back to football is to find a way of getting the two bestteams on the field." But Mike Hiestand writes that a No. 1 vs.No. 2 Super Bowl could "render the AFC, ultimately, irrelevant,"as well as "hurt earlier playoff attractions" (USA TODAY, 1/31).In New York, Thomas George expects "serious discussion" onchanging the playoff system. "The NFL does not like criticismand ridicule from the outside. Now more of that than ever isbeginning to swell from the inside. It starts with [NFLCommissioner] Tagliabue" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31). An editorial intoday's WASHINGTON POST calls for a Balanced Football Amendment,requiring the winning team to score three-fifths of the points(WASHINGTON POST, 1/31).

     In the latest issue of ELECTRONIC MEDIA, Lindsey Kelly
examines Primestar's attempt to "move from the shadows of its DBS
competitors."  James Gray, Chairman of Primestar Partners and
former Vice-Chairman of Time Warner, promises that Primestar will
be heard from a lot more this year.  Gray:  "We're going to ramp
up our visibility through marketing and advertising and expansion
of channels.  We are also going to have a big expansion of our
distribution network."  Primestar currently has an estimated
300,000 customers, with a monthly increase "averaging 20
percent."  Last July, the company launched a $55M advertising and
marketing campaign, and "is planning to increase its advertising
budget for 1995."  The campaign began Sunday with a 30-second
spot during the Super Bowl (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 1/30 issue).  AD
AGE's Bob Garfield gives Primestar 3 stars for its Super Bowl
spot (AD AGE, 1/30 issue).

     When SportsChannel New York switches from a pay service to a
standard basic service on March 1, it will be "a victory for the
Mets, Nets, Devils and Islander viewers," according to Richard
Sandomir in this morning's N.Y. TIMES.  SportsChannel's $12-14
fee will be gone in favor of a $1.24 monthly fee for adding
SportsChannel and the Sci-Fi Channel.  Time Warner NYC Cable
General Counsel Robert Jacobs said the move is to "meet demand,"
adding that the price "has been more than" many viewers could
afford.  Rainbow Programming, an affiliate of Cablevision, which
splits ownership of SportsChannel with NBC, had "pressed Time
Warner to make the shift."  Rainbow President Josh Sapan:  "We're
happy that the number of people who will see SportsChannel will
go from just 100,000 to 1 million" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31).
     OTHER TIME WARNER NEWS:  Time Warner and its CEO, Gerald
Levin, are profiled in this week's NEWSWEEK and this morning's
N.Y. POST.  As Levin begins his third year at Time Warner, "the
picture isn't as cheery as it seems."  Although Levin has been
trying to focus attention on a new network and interactive TV,
"Wall Street is more interested -- and concerned about -- his
continuing appetite for cable systems."  Time Warner's stock is
"about $10 lower than its peak over the past year" (Jonathan
Roberts, NEWSWEEK, 2/6 issue).  John Durie reports Wall Street is
"giving the thumbs down to Levin's long-term telephony plans,"
but writes, "The market is wrong to do so" (N.Y. POST, 1/31).

     ESPN2 will launch "NHL 2Night", a 30-minute hockey broadcast
that will run five nights a week at 11:30pm.   The show will
appear every night except Sunday and Monday, or when ESPN2 is
showing a live event.  ESPN Managing Editor Bob Eaton said the
show will be modeled off "Baseball Tonight":  "I think we will be
heavier on the highlights but we'll certainly do issue stories.
... We've made a network that has tried to cater to the hockey
audience.  This is the next logical step" (Joe Lapointe, N.Y.
TIMES, 1/31).