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Volume 24 No. 112

Sports Media

     The Baseball Network received a 6.5 rating and a 13 share in
Nielsen overnight ratings for its Saturday night debut of
"Baseball Night in America."  Viewership is down 13.3% from last
year's opener (Steve Zipay, NEWSDAY, 7/18). ....One NBC exec,
reiterating that the net is not interested in bidding on
baseball:  "It's not like we're losing something -- it's more
like, 'Yippie!'  Baseball is a declining sport" (ELECTRONIC
MEDIA, 7/17 issue)....HBO Sports has announced the hiring of
Nicole Watson, a reporter and host for Turner Sports, to join the
"Inside the NFL" team as a reporter.  Also, HBO's July 30 edition
of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" includes a piece on Lenny
Dykstra produced by two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple (HBO).
The Dykstra piece includes his comments on the strike and his
belief that letting Fay Vincent go as commissioner was baseball's
"biggest mistake" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/18).

     ABC SPORTS:  Cap Cities/ABC and Stella Interactive Inc. have
announced a partnership to "produce and develop a series of
interactive college sports CD-ROM reference titles in conjunction
with ABC Sports."  The "College Sports Series" features ABC's
Keith Jackson hosting an "interactive tour" through the archives
of six teams.  Stella Interactive has licensing agreements with
Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, Florida State and Penn
State.  The disks will be available in August and September (Cap
Cities/ABC).
     NBC SPORTS:  RealTime Sports, NBC Sports and NBC Digital
Publishing have announced the release of "The '95-96 NFL
Interactive Yearbook" -- called the "ultimate multimedia guide to
the NFL."  Hosting will be NBC analyst Phil Simms.  The
"Yearbook" will feature stats, '94 reviews, '95 previews, info on
the expansion teams, merchandise sales, and a "free online
service to provide seamless downloading of the latest NFL
statistics and previews" (NBC).
     SI FOR KIDS:  SI For Kids has launched a site on the World
Wide Web as an "integral part" of Pathfinder's "Kid's Stuff" --
an area on the net dedicated to kids.  Located at
http://www.pathfinder.com/SIFK, the SI For Kids site includes a
home page, features from that month's issue, a sports quiz,
contributions from readers, an Olympic countdown, and stories on
games and software (SI for Kids).
     DIGITAL SHAQ:  Microsoft Chair Bill Gates and Shaquille
O'Neal unveil Shaq World, an online feature on the soon-to-be-
launched Microsoft Network, at a Microsoft Multimedia Conference
today near L.A.  Featured:  Stats for the Magic and other NBA
teams, the "Shaq Paq" for kids, Shaq's diary, "The Show" -- a
look at Shaq's entertainment ventures, and a "Cyber Shop."  Shaq
World, designed by Magnet Interactive Studios, will carry ads,
but no sponsors have been announced (Dottie Enrico, USA TODAY,
7/18).

     Westinghouse Electric Corp. is planning to make a bid to buy
CBS from Chair Laurence Tisch, according to multiple reports this
morning.  Yesterday, CBS' stock jumped 4 1/8 after CNBC financial
analyst Dan Dorfman reported that Westinghouse was preparing a
bid for $83 a share.  Tisch, who has publicly maintained that the
net is not for sale, has been said to holding out for at least
$80 a share.  The N.Y. TIMES, which reports that the deal would
be for about $5.8B in cash, adds that the deal "has its logic"
(Geraldine Fabrikant, N.Y. TIMES, 7/18).  The WALL STREET JOURNAL
cautions that "talks could continue for a long time," and that
the offer could be used by Tisch to "start an auction." Merging
CBS and Westinghouse, however, would create the largest TV
station group in the U.S., covering 32% of TV homes
(Jensen/Narisetti, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/18).  USA TODAY lists
the positives and negatives, noting that four of Group W's
stations are CBS affils.  However, Barry Diller, another long-
rumored CBS suitor, "is said to be telling friends that a deal
with Group W would set CBS back 10 years" (David Lieberman, USA
TODAY, 7/18).
     LABATT BROADCAST ARM FINALLY SOLD:  Belgian Brewer Intrebrew
S.A. confirmed the sale of Labatt Communications Inc. (LCI) to a
consortium led by LCI management for about C$605M, according to
this morning's FINANCIAL POST.  LCI's assets include TSN -- The
Sports Network, 80% of the Discovery Channel, 25% of Viewer's
Choice pay-per-view, Dome Productions, the Rep Shoppe, an ad
sales agency, 35% in NTN Canada, an interactive TV company, and
RDS, the French-language sports channel.  Investors in the LCI
group include Stephen Bronfman (28.6%), pension fund manager
Caisse de depot and placement du Quebec (28.6%), Reitman's Ltd.
(21%), and ABC/Cap Cities' ESPN (20%).  The path is now clear for
finalization of Labatt's sale to Intrebrew, with other non-
brewery assets, the Blue Jays, Argonauts and 42% of SkyDome also
likely to be sold (Paul Brent, FINANCIAL POST, 7/18).       FOX
AFFILS NOT SOLD ON BASEBALL:  Fox will have a "hard sell" to get
affiliates to buy into the concept of Saturday afternoon
baseball, according to BROADCASTING & CABLE.  Fox affils
contacted by B&C said that Saturday games "would fly in the face
of Fox's 'less-is-more' philosophy, which touts fewer hours of
network programming so that stations can take full advantage of
local and syndication programming and sales opportunities."
Affiliate execs in twelve markets said they all experienced
revenue losses from Fox's Sunday afternoon NHL coverage (Steve
McClellan, B&C, 7/17 issue).

     "In the 1995-96 NFL marketplace, it is the sellers -- the
networks -- who reign," according to Langdon Brockinton in INSIDE
MEDIA.  Just before July 4, ABC, NBC and Fox have already sold
nearly 90% of their "respective inventory" for the upcoming
season, and demand is so strong that NFL ad time has "commanded
substantial rate hikes -- generally, 12-18 percent on a cost per
thousand basis -- over last season's prices."
     THE COST:  Some media buyers report that Fox is now asking
advertisers for a "whopping" $600,000 per 30-second on the
network's NFC Championship Game.  Fox's "goal is to make the
value of the NFC Championship more proportionately equivalent to
the worth of the Super Bowl."  Likewise, NBC has sold close to
all of its playoff ad time and 85% of Super Bowl XXX ad time.
Despite the AFC's rating resurgence last year, Fox is still
charging "a bit more than NBC for commercial time: on average,
$130,000-$140,00 per :30, versus $120,000-$130,000."  Monday
Night Football on ABC will go from $275,000 to $300,000 per 30-
second.  Overall, Fox reportedly may have surpassed its '94-95
NFL ad revenue total of $275M, and NBC and TNT are not far
behind.
     WHO'S IN THE MIX:  Domestic automakers continue to spend
heavily, as do computer marketers and credit card companies.  IBM
has a deal with Fox, and AmEx has renewed deals with both NBC and
Fox to be the sole credit card advertiser during playoff
coverage.  New companies, such as Volkswagen -- who will spend
$10M on Fox this season -- have also "flooded the gridiron
marketplace."  Some auto brands, such as Ford, Chrysler, GM, and
Toyota/Lexus -- signed four-year agreements with ABC and NBC
before last season after the league signed a new TV deal, "thus
the two networks locked in a lot of auto money for the long
term."  One agency exec:  "Advertisers that cut multiyear deals
must be feeling pretty happy.  And the people who moved early in
the market did a little better pricewise -- especially if they
bought before the primetime marketplace moved in earnest"
(Langdon Brockinton, INSIDE MEDIA, 7/12 issue).