CBS's Thursday NCAA coverage will face NBC's top-rated
Thursday prime-time lineup and the World Figure Skating
Championships on ABC. In Atlanta, Prentis Rogers notes ABC's
decision to match figure skating against the hoops could have a
"significant impact" on CBS' ratings (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
3/20). In 1994, NBC carried the skating head-to-head with the
NCAA on CBS, beating basketball with a 10.4 rating, compared with
CBS's 8.5 (USA TODAY, 3/20).
ZERO-FOR-THE BIG TEN: Rogers notes another potential
ratings problem lies with the failure of the Big Ten to advance
any teams to the Sweet 16, since those schools "command 25
percent of the home market." CBS' Len DeLuca hopes the Big Ten's
absence will be nullified by the 7 teams left from the ACC and
Big East (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/20).
Comcast President Brian Roberts, on the deal to purchase
majority interest in the Flyers, 76ers and the city's two arenas:
"The potential synergies from our cable, cellular and electronic
retailing businesses with this new partnership seem limitless.
We expect over 350 events each year in the two arenas -- many of
these will be of interest to the 3 million cable homes in this,
the fourth largest ADI in the country" (Comcast). Flyers Owner
Ed Snider, a 34% partner with Comcast, comparing their deal to
MSG: "I see this as an incredible opportunity to make [this
partnership] the showcase sports and entertainment organization
in the country and across the world" (Les Bowen, PHILADELPHIA
DAILY NEWS, 3/20).
ANALYSIS: CNN's "Moneyline" reported that Comcast has over
750,000 subscribers in the Philadelphia area and will now have
greater leverage over competitors looking to fill cable channels.
Josephthal Lyon & Ross analyst Dennis McAlpine: "It assures
you're going to have product for your cable system and if you
can't keep monopolistic value of that programming, at least
you're going to get paid a heck of a lot of money by any
competitor" (CNN, 3/19). Shares of Comcast were up 1/4, closing
at 18 1/4 (CNBC, 3/19).
"BRAINSTORMING": One Comcast exec noted the possible ties
with their cellular business (free tickets for certain usage
levels) or through home shopping (Comcast owns QVC). The exec:
"QVC has always been interested in trying to develop some form of
regional shopping. What better way of putting a foundation
together ... than to have ownership of the teams" (Sokolove,
etc., PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/20).
LOCAL COVERAGE: The deal should lead to a Comcast-run all-
sports channel that would exclude SportsChannel Philadelphia and
PRISM from local distribution, according to Sam Donnelon of the
DAILY NEWS. But since SC's 76ers deal runs "into the next
century" and PRISM's Phillies contract runs through '97, Donnelon
notes, "It's not going to be that easy for Comcast to make PRISM
and SportsChannel go away. At least not right away." PRISM
Senior VP & GM Laureen Ong: "We are not just sitting here
blowing in the wind. Who is going to pay the rights fees we do?
... We have confidence that this is probably going to be a very
good thing for all of us" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/20). The
INQUIRER's Mike Bruton notes an MSG-style network is likely down
the road. But Snider said, "We have contracts that have to
expire and we're not saying that we won't go back with the people
we're working with if the deal that's offered is proper."
Broadcast rights for the 76ers and Flyers are up after this
season, but Comcast's Roberts promised there will be a "mix" of
broadcast and cable (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/20).
BEHOLD THE FUTURE: One NHL exec predicted cable and
broadcasting companies will own "most" of North American
franchises, or have major investments: "Sports is the cheapest,
most spontaneous, direct-type of programming in the world. Turn
the lights on and there you are. ... There's nothing like it when
programming demands exceed inventory" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
Fox has named former Giants catcher and coach Bob Brenly as
a game analyst for its baseball coverage. Brenly has previously
served as an analyst for Chicago's WGN radio and currently works
for San Francisco's KNBR-AM (Fox). In Baltimore, Milton Kent
reports that former O's Ken Singleton and Rick Dempsey are being
considered for other Fox positions (Baltimore SUN,
3/20)....Miami's WQAM sports announcer Phil Schoen will be ESPN's
primary play-by-play announcer for MLS coverage, while Washington
Univ. coach Ty Keough will handle analysis (USA TODAY,
3/20)....WFAN's Suzyn Waldman will work 13 Yankees broadcasts on
WPIX-TV this season. WPIX also will announce that Paul Olden
will handle eight games and Phil Rizzuto 20. WPIX's primary
announcers, Rick Cerone and Bobby Murcer, will call all 50 (N.Y.
POST, 3/20)....CBS has lined up Pete Carril of Princeton, Mike
Krzyzewski of Duke and Jim Harrick of UCLA as studio analysts for
this weekend's coverage (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/20).
Prime Sports West is reportedly working on rights deals with
the Diamondbacks and Phoenix's yet-to-be-named NHL team (CABLE
WORLD, 3/18 issue)....The new women's magazine from Conde Nast
Publications will be titled "Conde Nast Sports for Women." The
magazine, initially called named "Jump," is due to premiere in
'97 (AD AGE ONLINE, 3/20)....ESPN will air the new Haka Bowl,
live from New Zealand. The three-year deal with the bowl begins
with this year's December 26 matchup between the Pac-10 third
place finisher and an at-large participant (USA TODAY,
3/20)....The Japanese Olympic Committee will open a home page on
the internet (KYODO NEWS, 3/19)....IBM will be sole sponsor of
the "NBC Interactive Viewer's Guide" to the '96 Olympic Games," a
CD-ROM featuring Olympic info (AD AGE ONLINE, 3/20).
Tommy Morrison will do a live chat session on ESPNET
SportsZone today at 3:00pm EST (ESPNET)....On March 25, Prodigy
will host Mike Douchant, author of "Encyclopedia of College
Basketball" (Prodigy)....This week is "International Week" on
NBA.com, as the league Web site will host several foreign NBA
players on chat-lines, including: Dino Radja, Vlade Divac, Rick
Smits and Detlef Schrempf (NBA).
Fox Sports, which has already secured GM as a sponsor for
its MLB games, is "on the prowl" to lure other auto sponsors,
along with fast food and drug marketers. INSIDE MEDIA's
Brockinton & Reynolds report Fox has made proposals to several
import auto companies, including Nissan, Toyota, Honda and
Mitsubishi, with one asking price at $12M. The packages include
three 30-second spots on each regular season broadcast, along
with three 30-second spots in post-season games. Fox is also
offering packages that run from $8M-$12M for similar regular
season opportunities and one less postseason spot per game. Fox
is said to be seeking an additional domestic auto partner, but
whether Ford or Chrysler has any interest "is unclear."
Meanwhile, GM is also reportedly close to a major deal with NBC.
INSIDE MEDIA also reports Fox "was on the verge" of a deal with
Pizza Hut, and is also said to be pitching other fast-food
outlets, including Red Lobster, Burger King, McDonald's and
Wendy's. In the "highly competitive" antacid category, Fox is
"close" to extensive baseball deals with Warner-Lambert, which
will introduce Zantac 75 OTC next month, and Johnson & Johnson,
producers of Pepcid AC (INSIDE MEDIA, 3/20 issue).
OTHER MLB NOTES: Similar to its NHL tie-ins, 7-Eleven will
make MLB-themed Super Big Gulp cups available in July and August.
The cups will contain MLB and Fox logos and the network's
baseball schedule. In addition, 7-11 will run a MLB promotion
with players featured on phone cards. Also,
ESPN and Sherwin-Williams have struck a deal to give the paint
maker commercial time on its "Wednesday Night Baseball"
broadcasts this season (INSIDE MEDIA, 3/20 issue).
Buying into the vision that the Web will break down
geographical and cultural barriers and create virtual communities
on-line, Reebok's Planet Reebok Web site is one of the first
attempts to use sports as a unifying theme. Found at
http://www.planetreebok.com, the site has an active bulletin
board, called "Between Us," and live chats -- with past
appearances by Frank Thomas, Roger Clemens and Yankees players
transcripted. Yesterday, the site was promoting the company's
cross-promotional efforts with MCA/Universal's new movie, "Ed,"
with "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc. Other key themes are women's
sports, with a page devoted to the Women's Sports Foundation and
Reebok's Versa Training line both featured prominently. On the
Olympics, Reebok and SI are combining to offer journals from
Olympic athletes. The Heart & Sole page offers bios of Reebok-
backed Olympic track athletes. The Sports & Fitness page offers
training tips and a charter on coaching. One interesting feature
was a link to MIT's StockMaster service, which tracked the
company's stock. Planet Reebok offers plenty of content for
sports and fitness enthusiasts. But, as with any Web site, the
challenge is to keep the info fresh (THE DAILY).