Athletic directors from the Big 12 voted in favor of playing
an annual football championship with their first game scheduled
for December 7, 1996, at the Trans World Dome in St. Louis. The
agreement still has to be ratified by the college presidents, but
is expected to pass with ease. The deal was expedited by ABC,
which increased its bid from $2.5M to close to $4M, the amount it
spends on the SEC championship. ABC "anticipates a blockbuster"
(Tom Wheatley, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/16). In "exchange for
the increased rights fee, ABC, rather than the conference, will
take control of a title sponsor and the revenue it generates." A
Big 12 source indicated the game could bring about $6.9M to the
conference or about $575,000 per school. Although the ADs
recommend rotating sites, they tabled consideration of a second
site until their spring meeting citing many factors, including
uncertainty over ownership of the Astrodome (Jonathan Feigen,
HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/16). The selection of St. Louis was
unanimous. The city has pledged to sell out the 35,000 seats not
reserved for Big 12 schools and officials, and will stage a
Fanfest and other events around the game (ST. LOUIS POST-
Because ABC is required to televise golf's Skins Game on
Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, college football fans will only
get to see one of the two premier matchups that day -- OSU-
Michigan and FSU-Florida. The games will share the noon EST time
period. OSU-Michigan will be seen in about 61% of the country,
while FSU-Florida gets 39%. Both games will be available on pay-
per-view for $9.95. ABC's Mark Mandel called the situation a
"fluke" that "won't occur the rest of this decade," but "by no
means is it an attempt for ABC Sports to gouge the public."
Mandel said they considered changing FSU-Florida to prime time
but "that didn't work" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 11/16).
BIG 10 BOOST: ABC, which has rights to the Comp USA Citrus
Bowl and the Rose Bowl, "stands to be the beneficiary of higher
ratings and increased interest among advertisers" if Ohio State
and Northwestern continue their successful seasons. The Citrus
Bowl airs in the afternoon on January 1, followed by the Rose.
One New York ad exec believe viewers will stay with ABC for both,
citing the excitement generated by Northwestern. ABC has sold
more than 80% of its commercial time for the Citrus Bowl and over
70% for the Rose (George Lazarus, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/16).
SFX Broadcasting, New York, has entered into agreement to
purchase Liberty Broadcasting, owner and operator of 19 radio
stations in six markets, for $223M. SFX will transfer 11 of the
stations to Multi-Market Radio and retain stations in DC,
Baltimore and Long Island (AD AGE ONLINE, 11/16).... ABC's Al
Michaels, on whether he believes O.J. Simpson has any interest in
returning to broadcasting: "I don't think at this point he does.
I think there are a lot of other things he has to be concerned
with right now -- the situation with his children, the pending
civil litigation that will come his way right now" ("Up Close,"
ESPN, 11/15). ....TNT's 3.4 rating for Tuesday's Bulls-Magic game
was its second highest all time regular-season NBA rating. With
two appearances by Michael Jordan, TNT has a five-game rating of
2.1, up 29% from last year (USA TODAY, 11/16)....The '95 NASCAR
Winston Cup, which ended Sunday, saw total viewership for the
year exceed 91 million for their 31 point races. Combined cable
ratings (ESPN, TNN, TBS) showed a 25% increase from '94
(NASCAR)....Sony has formed a alliance with Visa USA to create a
global info/entertainment center on the World Wide Web (N.Y.
Wisconsin Independent Networks Sports has yet to televise
any games nearly a year after getting approval for a $300,000
loan from the state. Network organizers had hoped to begin
providing cable viewers with Wisconsin pro, college and high
school sporting events "as early as February," but have yet to
even take out the loan. Mike Hegan, one of the organizers of
WINS and a TV analyst for the Indians, said they are still
working on "trying to put something together." Hegan said
organizers were "poised and ready to go" in February but were
never able to get deals with cable companies and the Brewers and
Bucks. But Vince Sweeney, who handles TV for the Univ. of WI,
said they have not heard from WINS "in a while" and do not know
"what happened to them" (WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL, 11/16).