A "preliminary" plan for content on Comcast-Spectacor's
new sports network that launches in October includes
broadcasts of Flyers and Phillies games, according to Deni
Kasrel of the PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL. Additional
plans for the network, a joint venture with the Phillies,
call for "extensive" news coverage, profile shows focusing
on local athletes, team highlights and background magazine-
type shows, as well as minor league games, college games and
"extreme" sports. Network VP/Programming & Production Sam
Schroeder said the network will also "pay attention" to
lifestyle issues related to sports, such as nutrition and
exercise. Women's sports will also "receive a fair amount
of attention." Schroeder: "We're seeing more interest in
sports by women in general, so we'll have shows catering to
that audience" (PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/14 issue).
The U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) has
extended its contract with ABC Sports through the 2006-7
season. ABC Sports will continue to televise five USFSA
events including the U.S. Figure Skating Championships for
the next ten years (USFSA). ABC's current deal with the
USFSA ran through '99, but the network "anticipated a heated
bidding war," according to Stephen Battaglio of the
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. ABC Sports VP/Programming Lydia
Stephans says the network paid a "substantial" increase in
rights fees for the property. The deal gives ABC worldwide
TV rights and allows USFSA events to be aired on ESPN and
ESPN2. Stephans adds ABC will be able to sell marketing and
sponsorship opportunities to advertisers "wherever the
broadcasts air." Battaglio notes the USFSA will "also get
the marketing clout" of Disney to "cross-promote and
distribute the association's events. One possibility is
Disney staging USFSA events at its theme parks if they
provide skating facilities (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 4/17).
The N.Y. POST's Mara Mornell reviews the launch of
Sports Illustrated Women/Sport, writing that "SI's glossy
new sister" has articles that "are anything but cliche"
(N.Y. POST, 4/16). In Denver, Donna Carter reviews the
launch, noting the first issue "covers tough issues" (DENVER
POST, 4/15)....TVKO boxing analyst Larry Merchant apologized
yesterday for remarks he made Saturday night that a mariachi
band playing before a fight involving Oscar De La Hoya, who
is Mexican-American, was a "marketing ploy." Merchant: "I
made a mistake ... some remarks could've been, and were,
misunderstood. It was not my intent to offend anyone" (USA
TODAY, 4/17)....Time Warner posted a $35M profit in the
first quarter, compared to a $119M loss a year ago. CNN's
Lou Dobbs noted that "the purchase of Turner Broadcasting
and higher profits from its cable systems" helped boost
earnings. Time Warner finished trading yesterday up 3 1/8
at 43 7/8 ("Moneyline," 4/16)....USA TODAY's Michael
Hiestand noted that Fox in the future "hopes" to add a
camera moving along ice rinks for its NHL coverage. ESPN
"says it will eventually" use an overhead, moveable skycam,
"like ones NBC uses" on NBA telecasts (USA TODAY, 4/16).
MLB has issued "a ban" of live audio broadcasts via the
Internet while it "sorts out policies governing the matter,"
according to Peter Lewis of the SEATTLE TIMES. The ban,
which is "generally believed to be a temporary prohibition,"
went into effect Tuesday -- "though not universally" --
after MLBP asked all teams to refrain from broadcasting over
the Internet until MLB owners "consider a proposal to set
guidelines for such broadcasts." The decree prompted
Seattle's KIRO-AM to "pull the plug" on Tuesday's Mariners-
Indians cybercast, "which was met with virtually instant
online agitation." An MLB spokesperson could not be reached
for comment, but Mariners Dir of PR Dave Aust said draft
guidelines proposed to MLB owners "would enable clubs to
broadcast games over the Internet either at the club's own
Web site or through a radio-station site." Aust noted those
rules "haven't been approved yet" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/16).
SportsLine USA filed with the SEC for an IPO yesterday,
and will try to sell $40M of stock, according to David Poppe
of the MIAMI HERALD. While SportsLine USA didn't reveal how
many shares it would sell, or provide a price for the stock,
Poppe notes SportsLine USA "almost certainly envisions"
selling a minority of its 25.3 million outstanding shares.
The company has issued warrants to business partner CBS to
buy stock over the next five years at prices ranging from
$4-12, and at the $8 mid-range of that price SportsLine USA
could raise $40M by selling five million shares to the
public, giving new investors less than 17% ownership and
giving the company a stock market valuation in excess of
$240M (MIAMI HERALD, 4/17). Shares will trade on the NASDAQ
market under the symbol SPLN (Bloomberg/N.Y. POST, 4/17).
J.D. SIGNS UP: Hockey analyst John Davidson signed a
three-year deal with SportsLine USA's site on the World Wide
Web, CBS SportsLine, which includes Davidson answering e-
mail and contributing to SportsLine radio (SportsLine USA).