Former Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy has been hired as
a color analyst by ESPN (Sean McAdam, Providence JOURNAL-
BULLETIN, 3/18). Kennedy, who is still being paid by the
Red Sox, will work west coast games for ESPN "as well as
some radio." He will make his debut on the Phillies-Dodgers
game on April 1, and will work the Red Sox-Angels opener on
April 2 (Gordon Edes, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19). Former MLB
pitcher Joe Magrane has also been added to ESPN's "Wednesday
Night Baseball" telecasts. He will make his debut on April
1 for the Twins-Tigers (ESPN).
Fox Sports is adding rodeo and skiing to its weekend
sports line-up for the first time. Fox will air the
"Wrangler Bull Riders Only World Championship" on Saturday,
April 5, and the "Sprint Bumps & Jumps Championships" skiing
competition on Sunday, April 20 (Fox Sports).
SADDLE UP: Bull Riders Only CEO Shaw Sullivan, who
predicts a 4.2 rating for the event: "Only the boys at Fox
are crazy enough to do this." Fox Sports Exec VP Tracy
Dolgin: "For the Fox generation, there are other things than
music videos. You have a guy trying to hang onto a wild,
multithousand-pound animal, and the bull's trying to throw
him off and stomp him to death" (MEDIAWEEK, 3/17).
MORE DISTRIBUTION: Fox Sports Americas and the Int'l
Channel reached a deal to broadcast an int'l sports block to
Int'l Channel viewers. The Int'l Channel offers multiple
language basic programming to more than seven million
subscribers in the U.S. and Latin America. Each int'l
sporting event will air in its native language in a block
that is branded under the Fox Sports Americas banner (FSA).
SI's Steve Lopez writes on the Flyers libel suit
against Philadelphia WIP-AM under the header, "Put Up Or
Shut Up." Lopez: "Some observers think this could do for
talk radio what Carol Burnett did for supermarket tabloids.
When the comedian won a $1.6 million libel judgement against
the National Enquirer, it prompted a flood of other suits by
celebrities. ... And if the Flyers lose in court? Sports
could end up making professional wrestling look like a high
art form" (SI, 3/24 issue)....Detroit Free Press sports
columnist Mitch Albom has won first place in sports writing
in the National Headliner Awards. The L.A. Times' Bill
Plaschke finished second and the Wall Street Journal's Roger
Thurow was third (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 3/19)....USA TODAY's
Rudy Martzke writes that PGA Tour officials, "opposed to
Fox's proposal to incorporate FoxTrax hockey puck technology
into golf balls, will remain with ABC, NBC and CBS in new
deals that likely will increase from $45 million annually
over four years to about $70 million" (USA TODAY,
3/19)....IL-based One-on-One Sports Network has bought WXLX-
AM in the New York area, part of a $45M deal that includes
AM stations in Miami and Los Angeles. All three stations
will be converted to sports. In the New York market, WXLX
will go up against WFAN (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/19)....The
Broncos' Shannon Sharpe is a spokesperson for Cyberforce, an
Internet access provider that rivals AOL. Sharpe joins
"several NFL players," including the Packers' Sean Jones,
the Bills' Andre Reed, and the Raiders' Tim Brown, as
members of the NV-based service (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/19).
Although CBS' ratings of the NCAA Men's Basketball
Tournament first and second rounds are up over the
tournament's last few years, it "has interrupted momentum
built by CBS Entertainment," according to USA TODAY's Rudy
Martzke. CBS had won the previous two weeks in primetime
ratings, but was second last week when ratings dropped 6%.
During the first three nights of the tournament -- Thursday,
Friday and Saturday -- CBS' ratings were down 12% from the
previous week. CBS Sports President Sean McManus says he is
"concerned," adding, "We'll figure out a way for the
tournament to work financially so it won't be a financial
albatross in the future." But Grey Advertising's Jon Mandel
says the tournament "is more than a couple of games in
primetime. You're bringing an audience to the set you might
not have" (USA TODAY, 3/19).
MACHO MEN: Numbers from Nielsen Media showed CBS' NCAA
coverage "more than doubled" the net's regularly scheduled
Thursday average among men 25-54 and men 18-49. CBS won
Friday night among men 25-54, and was No. 2 among men 18-49.
On Saturday, CBS won the night among homes and total
viewers. It "also took the night in adults 25-54 and all
key male demos" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 3/19).
PPV PLUG: In Orlando, Alan Schmadtke: "If you looked
closely at the first- and second-round NCAA Tournament
games, you noticed plenty of fans disguised as empty seats.
Sadly, welcome to the era of television. Suggestion for the
NCAA: pay-per-view. Unlike the one-time event like boxing,
nobody's going to get ripped off paying for the NCAA
Tournament, particularly when you are guaranteed of seeing
the game(s) you want" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/19).
In the current MEDIAWEEK, Senior Editors Burghi & Katz
handicap 25 "emerging networks to see which ones stand the
best chance to break out of the pack and become
moneymakers." Burgi & Katz: "Some eternal verities: those
networks with corporate pull will make it to market more
easily. But a good idea, such as Classic Sports Network,
can still make it past the media giants that control the
service at the top of the list." The following lists the
rankings for sports related channels:
CLASSIC SPORTS NET (Tied for No. 4): "Its independent
status could hurt the network's distribution in a world
dominated by mediaconglomerates." ESPNEWS (Tied for No. 4):
"Of the two all-sports news services, this one is more
likely to thrive. The question is, does anyone want an all-
sports news service? Good ownership and decent promotional
muscle." CNN/fn (No. 8): "The niche is already well served
by CNBC." CNN/SI (No. 10): "Widely considered to be less
compelling to agencies and operators than its competitor.
Deep pockets and Sports Illustrated's loyal readership could
help." SPEEDVISION (Tied for No. 11): "Definitely has sex
appeal (fast cars, boats and planes). It's a very narrow
niche and one that's found in bits and pieces on other
nets." GOLF CHANNEL (Tied for No. 18): "Subscribers have
been hard to come by. The net corrected a flawed
distribution strategy which marketed it as a mini-pay. Now
as a basic channel with $50 million in Fox money, the future
looks a bit brighter" (MEDIAWEEK, 3/17).
CLASS OF '95: BROADCASTING & CABLE's Joe Schlosser
reviews "Cable's Class Of 1995: A Look At How The Major
Cable Launches Of That Year Have Fared," which includes The
Golf Channel, CSN and Speedvision. Projections for year-end
'97 subscribers: CSN with 15-20 million; TCG with 14.5
million; Speedvision with 14 million (B&C, 3/17 issue).