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Volume 24 No. 156

Sports Media

     SITV will feature figure skater Christopher Bowman, a two-
time Olympian.  SPORTS ILLUSTRATED senior writer E.M. Swift
chronicles the rise and fall of Bowman who has been struggling to
"overcome years of substance abuse."  Bowman, who says he is now
clean and sober, is currently a skating instructor in MA.  The
program airs on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" this Saturday,
4:30pm EST (SITV)....ESPN's Dick Vitale said that NCAA basketball
players should get $150-200 a month:  "The bottom line is these
kids deserve it.  They're selling merchandise on campuses with
their jerseys, etc ... When you think of $1.7 billion paid for
the rights for the tournament and the money that's on the college
campuses with the merchandise we just talked about, they really
deserve it" ("SportsCenter," 3/16).

     The success Major Market Network (MMN) in starting up a
basketball unwired network is examined by INSIDE MEDIA's Wayne
Friedman & Langdon Brockington.  MMN, a division of Cox
Enterprises, is an unwired network that pools together ad
slots/spots from TV stations and/or regional cable networks and
packages them into a national advertising buy.  The company is
better known for its network for baseball.  According to MMN
VP/GM Jerry Puccio, the basketball network has "enjoyed modest
success.  Deals have been made with six advertisers," but Puccio
declined to identify the sponsors.  For the past few years
organizations such as Group W sports Marketing and Rainbow Sports
Sales "have been selling a variety of unwired basketball
networks, consisting primarily of regional cable networks."  But
the problem for some advertisers is that those unwired networks
are "largely dependent on cable time slots, on average they
garner" only 50% of U.S. TV households.  MMN promises 83-87%
reach, "thanks to healthy coverage via broadcast stations."  A
major component of the lineup is WGN-Chicago, which reaches 37%
of the country.  Every NBA team has signed up with MMN except the
Blazers and Jazz.  Both of those clubs' broadcast games are
completely sold out.  MMN promises a 5.5 Nielsen national rating,
selling each spot for $75,000.  "Media buyers say that if MMN can
deliver that rating," the cost-per-minute for its ads would be
comparable to those on NBC's NBA telecasts.  MMN has had a hard
time selling baseball this year.  So far Puccio has six incumbent
advertisers that bought packages at the normal rate, which is
$80,000 a spot for an 11 rating.  Last year, MMN signed up 25
advertisers, pulling in $12M (COWLES BUSINESS MEDIA, 3/16).

     CBS Sports President David Kenin said the network has told
the NFL of its "high interest" in a variety of NFL options.
Those options include going after NBC's AFC package in the next
negotiation, but as USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke notes, CBS has more
"viable options."  It could go after a new Thursday night package
of 17 games, the Sunday night TNT/ESPN cable package or, "less
likely," ABC's Monday Night package.  Kenin: "That's legitimate.
We have asked the NFL what it wants to do in its Monday and
Sunday night packages."  As for baseball, Kenin said CBS has made
sure that MLB knows of their interest (USA TODAY, 3/17).
     COLLEGE HOOPS ON TV:  According to Raycom, the Raycom/ABC
package of regional college basketball games won the annual
regular-season ratings sweepstakes over CBS' college basketball:
2.5 to 2.4.  Raycom notes that next year, the number of telecasts
on ABC will increase from 11 to 17.  The Raycom agreement with
ABC, which began in '91-92, was recently extended through 1999
(Raycom).  In New York, Richard Sandomir notes there is "relief"
at CBS that the regular college basketball season is over.  The
2.4 rating was the worst ever for the network.  The decline was
caused "largely by the increasing proliferation of college
basketball."  Len DeLuca, CBS Sports VP/Programming, said the
network will experiment with more quick "look-ins" at the
progress of other games, among them games produced by Raycom and
Jefferson-Pilot as well as producing three regional games.  And
as Sandomir notes, CBS must hope "that Indiana and Michigan
recapture their allure in the Big 10 conference" (N.Y. TIMES,
3/17).  Reviews of CBS' production of the first day of the NCAA
Tournament were positive in the N.Y. TIMES, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
and USA TODAY (3/17).
     HOW BOUT THE REST OF THE EYE?  Former QVC Chair Barry Diller
told CNBC that he has not teamed up with Disney to buy CBS from
Laurence Tisch.  Diller said the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER story that
had Diller in a partnership with Disney was "completely untrue"
(BLOOMBERG/N.Y. POST, 3/17).