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Volume 24 No. 156

Sports Media

     Fox Sports has promised to present a new approach when it
debuts the "NHL on Fox" on April 2, but there's nothing new about
the hockey promos Fox has been running, according to a senior
exec at ESPN.  Judy Fearing, ESPN's Senior VP of Marketing, says
the spots are a merely a copy of ESPN's two-year-old NHL
marketing campaign.  Fearing told THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY,
"When you look at it there's absolutely nothing new there.  That
to me is where we get a little concerned. ... We really feel that
we've set the standard, and that we've made a significant
investment in establishing a fresh and unique personality.  And
now we're being copied."  Fearing doubts that ESPN would consider
any legal action, and added that -- in the long run -- what's
good for hockey is good for ESPN.  Fearing:  "I guess if I step
back and try to look at the bigger picture I really hope that
they're successful.  Because if they are, more people are going
to be tuning into the sport of hockey -- and once they really
understand the game, they will all come over and watch it on
ESPN."  In response, Fox Sports spokesperson Lou Dermilio said:
"We think that ESPN does a fabulous job with their promos."  Fox
debuted their NHL promos during their prime-time programming in
recent months, while ESPN's spots, produced by Portland, OR-based
ad agency Wieden & Kennedy, have been running on the network
since in 1993, soon after ESPN regained rights to the NHL (THE
     AND NOW, BACK TO THE GAMES:  In Toronto, Rob Longley
profiles what to expect from Fox's game telecasts.  Besides the
score/clock box that the network debuted in its NFL telecast,
Longley notes that Fox "apparently lobbied the NHL" to increase
the length of intermissions from 15 to 18 minutes, and to allow
90-second ad timeouts during play, instead of 60-second timeouts
(TORONTO SUN, 3/24).

     Sunday's record rating for NBC's coverage of Michael
Jordan's return raised the network's season-to-date NBA average
to a 5.4 rating and a 13 share -- an 8% increase from last year
(NBC).  At one poiunt this season, NBC's regular-season NBA
rating was off 23% (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 3/24)....The MSG
Network will not air Yankee exhibition games today and tomorrow
"to protest the team's demand that MSG pay full price for
replacement games" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 3/24)....Dantia
Gould of Gould Media Services is publishing a report on Women's
Television Sports, due out March 31.  "Women's Television Sports"
assesses the state of women's sports and analyzes which sports
get TV coverage (Gould Media).