This week's cover story in BROADCASTING & CABLE examines the
"Foxification" of baseball, and what impact the network will have
on MLB. Steve McClellan profiles Fox's promotional strategy and
notes they will attempt to generate $195M in ad revenue in '96 --
with rights fees and promotional costs reaching $170M.
McClellan notes, "After agency commissions, baseball on Fox would
be hovering around break-even." These numbers assume Fox will be
able to generate rate-card prices of $35,000 per 30-second spot
in regular-season Saturday afternoons; $100,000 per unit in the
Divisional playoffs; $140,000 per unit in the LCS's and $320,000
per 30-second during the World Series. According to sources, Fox
is guaranteeing advertisers a 4.2 Saturday rating and has sold
about 50% of regular season inventory.
ON THE AIR: Fox Sports Exec Producer Ed Goren said the
network's on-air look "is going to take somewhat of a videogame-
graphics look," with "hot" animation. Fox plans on regionalizing
coverage with four games, as opposed to The Baseball Network,
which regionalized with as many as 14. Goren also said Fox will
not switch between games as much as TBN. A "Fox Box" score
indicator will be used, but producers have yet to determine how
much. Goren discussed other enhancements requiring MLB
cooperation, including miking players and the filming DH's
warming up (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/25 issue). Fox will have its
talent lineup completed within three weeks, with Goren saying he
would like to hire "a more animated personality" to work along
studio analyst Dave Winfield. James Brown is a possible studio
host (Minneapolis STAR-TRIBUNE, 3/26).
LOCAL STORY: In a separate B&C piece, Jim McConville reports
that advertisers are returning to local rights-holders after a
strike-marred '95 season. The Brewers and the Mariners' local
broadcast partner, KIRO-TV, both report ad sales up 20%, and
KTVU-TV in San Francisco says they could "post record sales
figures" in '96. Other stations reporting increased ad sales:
KSMO (Royals) and WJZ (Orioles). However, in Pittsburgh, Prime
Sports GM Bill Craig calls his $3M-a-year deal with the Pirates
"a loss leader," but notes that MLB anchors his network's summer
coverage. Officials from Marlins carrier WBFS say "the jury is
still out" for '96 (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/25).
AT&T will initially concentrate marketing of its DirecTV
programming service in Tampa Bay, Dallas, L.A. and Hartford.
However, anyone may purchase the system. AT&T unveiled TV ads
for the service during last night's Oscars (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES,
3/26) The service was also advertised in a full-page ad in this
morning's N.Y. Times (N.Y. TIMES, 3/26)....New World Television
will produce a new comedy to air on Fox this fall, "Fenway."
Based on a second-rate sports agency, the show is from Greg and
Jeff Nathanson, producers of "Bakersfield P.D." (BROADCASTING &
CABLE, 3/25 issue)....News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch unveiled a
new broadcast network yesterday aimed at the Chinese market.
Star TV is Murdoch's latest effort to break into the Chinese
market since the mid-80s (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/26)....Time Warner
issued preferred stock linked to its Time Warner Entertainment
venture Monday to help lower its debt by $1B ("Moneyline," CNN,
3/25). Analysts say the sale will help Time Warner raise cash
for an investment it otherwise won't be allowed to touch for two
more years (N.Y. TIMES, 3/26)....Rudy Martzke reports Ronnie Lott
is likely to join "Fox NFL Sunday" (USA TODAY, 3/26)....In the
wake of Michelle Tafoya's play-by-play work during Saturday's CBS
coverage, Richard Sandomir notes that eight of the nine ESPN
play-by-play announcers for the women's tournament are men (N.Y.
TIMES, 3/26)....Flextech plc, the UK-based cable and satellite
programming group 50.1% owned by TCI, acquired the remaining 61%
of the Family Channel (TCI)....The NFL is considering adding a
Thanksgiving night game during its next TV negotiations (USA
TODAY, 3/26)....In Toronto, Craig Daniels reports the NBA will
not take disciplinary action against Raptors forward Oliver
Miller for saying to Bulls center Bill Wennington on Canadian TV:
"I'll kick your white ass" (TORONTO SUN, 3/26)....In the Chicago
area, Ameritech is scaling back plans to offer cable service to
several suburbs. The company said Continental Cablevision has
exclusive rights to market several pay channels under an
grandfathered '88 agreement since ruled illegal (CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
3/26)....The NHL's playoff schedule will allow CBC to show
playoff doubleheaders with Canadian teams each night and for Fox
to show four American-based games on Sundays (GLOBE & MAIL,
3/26)....Red Sox and new carrier WABU-TV have reached an
agreement to enable viewers in Western MA to view all 75 games at
no additional cost (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/26).
Today: The National League. The following list comes from
the current issue of BROADCASTING & CABLE. NOTE: "YEAR" =
Status and length of deal. "RSN" = Regional sports network.
"SC" = SportsChannel (B&C, 3/25 issue).
NL-E STATION GAMES YEAR RIGHTS RSN GAMES YEAR RIGHTS
ATL WTBS 125 n/a n/a SportSouth 24 n/a n/a
FLA WBFS 50 4/4 $6.7M Sunshine 60 4/4 $3.7M
MTL SRC/Fr. 20 2/4 n/a RDS 40 1/4 $1.1M
TQS/Eng. 20 2/4 n/a TSN 25 1/4
NYM WWOR 77 5/5 n/a SC NY 75 10/30 $13M
PHI WPHL 84 4/5 n/a PRISM 42 4/5 n/a
SC PHI 25 4/5 n/a
CHI WGN 140 n/a n/a CHI/LAND 10 n/a n/a
CIN WSTR 46 1/3 n/a SC CINCI. 50 1/3 $4-5M
HOU KTXH 50+ 9/10 <$5M PRIME 75 11/15 $4M
PIT WPXI 15 1/1 n/a PRIME 60 1/3 $3M
STL KPLR 60 2/3+1 n/a PRIME 40 3/3 n/a
COL KWGN 96 4/5 n/a -- NO CABLE --
LA KTLA 46 4/5 $15.5M -- NO CABLE --
SD KFMB 55 2/3 $2M PRIME 40 3/5 $1.2M
SF KTVU 57 2/6 $5.5M SC PACIFIC 55 7/7 $4.2M
The Tyson-Bruno bout was purchased by an estimated 1.4
million homes, bringing in an estimated $55.9M in U.S. gross
revenues. Only the Tyson-McNeeley bout, with 1.5 million buys
and $63M in gross revenues, was bigger (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 3/26).
In England, 500,000 subscribers tuned in to the fight, paying
approximately $23 a piece. The fight was Britain's first PPV
experiment and was run through Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB network
(L.A. TIMES, 3/26).
Monday's VARIETY reported that ESPN President Steve
Bornstein will add ABC Sports to his responsibilities. In this
morning's USA TODAY, ABC VP/Communications Patty Matson, ABC
Sports Public Relations Dir Mark Mandel, ESPN's Chris LaPlaca and
ABC Sports President Dennis Swanson all declined comment.
Bornstein also refused comment, citing his friendship with
Swanson (USA TODAY, 3/26).