ABC is expected to emerge as the top-rated broadcast network
in prime time when the '94-95 season ends Sunday night, "but
overall, the three-network share of the TV audience dropped
significantly in the period." The three major networks combined
-- ABC, NBC and CBS -- drew just 57% of the TV-viewing audience
this season, down significantly from 61% last season. Basic
cable services "benefited most from" the networks' loss. David
Poltrack, CBS Exec VP in charge of ratings, blames the decline on
the lack of big events, such as the Olympics and the World
Series. CBS fared the worst among, down 21% from last year. In
fact, among adults 18-49, CBS is expected to finish a close
fourth behind Fox in ratings. Fox's ratings growth is the best
for that network since it expanded its prime-time schedule to
seven nights (Elizabeth Jensen, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/14).
ON THE HEELS OF THAT: Cap Cities/ABC, GE and News Corp.,
"boosted by a buoyant advertising market, expect to report
strong" 1st quarter earnings gains. CBS posted a 68% decline in
its 1stQ net income (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/14).
America Online and the Capitals announced yesterday that the
team now has a site on the online service. With the launch of
"Washington Capitals Online," the team becomes the first pro team
to have a dedicated area on a commercial online service. By
accessing the site, users can order merchandise and tickets, and
receive information about the team, including player photos and
breaking news. Users will also be able to discuss the team with
other fans (Capitals).
ESPN and the Big 12 have reached a multi-year agreement that
gives ESPN, ESPN2, and Creative Sports exclusive rights to all
men's basketball games for five years. The agreement calls for
the Big 12 to be televised on ESPN's Big Monday during conference
play from January to March, additional non-conference and
conference appearances on ESPN and ESPN2, and primetime and
weekend afternoon games syndicated by Creative Sports. ESPN and
Creative Sports also hold the rights to the Big 12 tournament.
The Big 12 begins play in '96 when Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and
Texas Tech join Big Eight schools Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State,
Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State
(ESPN). CBS has "expressed an interest" in televising the Big 12
championship (Steve Richardson, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/13).
REALLY BIG MONDAY? The WAC and ESPN are "close" to
finalizing a new basketball TV package, with money reportedly
"all that stands in the way" of a deal. The WAC would reportedly
join Big Monday and receive selected prime-time exposures on
Thursday and Saturday. Also included is a six-game women's
schedule on ESPN. WAC Commissioner Karl Benson: "It's a good
package. It addresses our need for increased exposure and it
provides a national outlet for our women's programs" (Joe Baird,
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 4/13).
ABC will debut its four-part woman's sports series -- "A
Passion to Play" -- on Sunday at 3:00pm EDT. Nike, State Farm
and Tampax are all helping underwrite the series. Sunday's
episode features Eastern European champions Nadia Comaneci and
Katarina Witt "evolving from state-supported athletes, used as
ads for socialism, into world-class capitalists" (Michael
Hiestand, USA TODAY, 4/14). The second episode looks at African-
American women in sports, the third examines women's involvement
in extreme sports such as rock climbing and kayaking, and the
last episode will look at motherhood and sports (Terry Blount,
HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/14). ESPN/ABC's Robin Roberts, who hosts
the show, was interviewed with Nadia Comaneci on "Good Morning
America." Roberts: "It takes putting something on consecutively
every weekend on ABC to see these women in this role." Noting
UConn's win, Roberts added: "It's a perfect time to glorify
women in sports" (ABC, 4/14).
HEY, MEDIA JUNKIES: C-SPAN will air a panel discussion on
the future of TV tomorrow at 11am EDT, featuring top industry
execs. The April 4 program was taped in New York. Panelists
include: Cap Cities/ABC COO Robert Iger, Viacom CEO Frank
Biondi, HBO CEO Michael Fuchs, Comcast President Brian Roberts,
NBC CEO Robert Wright, New Media Co. CEO Howard Stringer and New
World Entertainment Chair Brandon Tartikoff (John Carmody,
WASHINGTON POST, 4/14).
The day after the agreement between the Rams and the NFL
allowing the team's move to St. Louis, the national reaction
centers around the ramifications for Fox. In New York, Richard
Sandomir reports on some of the reasons L.A.-based Fox Sports
wanted the team to stay. Sandomir: "Now Fox lacks a National
Football Conference home team for entertaining clients. ... And
KTTV, the Fox-owned Los Angeles station, will lose the local
Rams-oriented advertising revenues that flowed directly to the
Fox bottom line." Sandomir reports that the league will argue
against a Fox rebate, noting the doubleheader possibilities in
L.A. and the added Rams home games Fox can now air in sold-out
St. Louis. But Sandomir calls the Raiders "the clearest
beneficiary" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/14). In Washington, Leonard Shapiro
writes that Fox, despite its well-publicized objections to losing
the No. 2 media market, "could also be a big winner in this move.
Fox can now ask for a rebate on its initial four-year $1.58
billion contract after losing about 4 percent of its potential
audience." Estimates on Fox's compensation range anywhere from
$47M to $250M. However, Shapiro notes, "It's not as if the Rams
had been a hot TV property in recent years," and now Fox can air
games of "the far more popular" 49ers and Cowboys in L.A.
Shapiro also points out that the move will help Fox "jump-start"
one of its newest affils, St. Louis' KTVI, which switches to Fox
for the start of the '95 season (WASHINGTON POST, 4/14).