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Volume 24 No. 157

Sports Media

          The number of feature films on baseball is examined by
     VARIETY's Michael Fleming in his "Buzz" column.  Woody
     Harrelson will play former Red Sox P Bill Lee in "Almost
     Perfect Game," which Paramount "is now fast-tracking ... for
     a spring start, hopefully at Fenway Park."  Among other
     "promising hardball pics" is a Warner Bros. biopic of ex-
     White Sox Owner Bill Veeck that Bill Murray "hopes to star
     in."  Kevin Costner "wants to topline" a Mirage film called
     "For the Love of the Game," and Dwight Gooden's life story
     is being developed by Warner Bros (VARIETY, 10/13 issue).
          CUP O' JOE: VARIETY's Fleming also writes on Showtime's
     "Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way," which premieres
     tonight at 9:00pm ET.  Producer Norman Twain said Yankees
     Owner George Steinbrenner "shut us down and would not let us
     shoot in Yankee Stadium at all because he thought it would
     be a distraction.  Now, he didn't owe Showtime or us
     anything, but the organization certainly did not make it
     easy.  They had to look over the script and then cut every
     piece of profanity out of the picture.  Do you believe that
     in 1996, Paul O'Neill never says anything worse than the
     word 'hell' in the locker room?" (VARIETY, 10/13 issue).  In
     N.Y., TV critic Eric Mink calls the Showtime/Torre movie a
     "huge disappointment. ... sometimes cartoonish" (N.Y. DAILY
     NEWS, 10/16).  The TIMES' TV critic, Will Joyner, calls the
     movie "appealing," while being "slightly superficial" (Will
     Joyner, N.Y. TIMES, 10/17).

          The CBC's TV deal with the NHL is "virtually done and
     will be announced shortly," according to William Houston of
     the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL.  Sources put the deal at C$200-
     250M over five years and sources add the CBC will pay
     between C$40M-50M a year for its national package, "Hockey
     Night in Canada" (HNIC).  Houston writes the CBC was the
     "only over-the-air network" to bid for national NHL rights,
     but that the NHL and CBC "have not reached a cable
     agreement, tentative or otherwise" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/17). 
          ANALYSIS: Also in Toronto, David Shoalts writes that an
     NHL exec said the Maple Leafs' "continuing mediocrity" led
     the league to sign Labatt Brewing's deal with the CBC for
     HNIC, which was done in "a different manner than originally
     planned."  The Leafs recent performance has led to a drop in
     ratings and "there is a fear" at the league office that
     "further slides could lead to a massive hit" in TV revenue. 
     The league earlier had said it "wanted to split" the
     Canadian TV rights package into "smaller components and sell
     the promotional, broadcasting and advertising rates
     separately."  But Shoalts writes that the sale of HNIC
     sponsorship to Labatt and the CBC "makes it appear the
     package has only been split in two parts."  But when adding
     up the components of the national deal, Shoalts notes the
     total value of the national package could hit C$375M, which
     is C$44M more than was offered to the league by Molson for
     rights this summer (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/17). 

          ESPN: ESPN has "dropped" Gary Miller from its World
     Series coverage in light of charges against him stemming
     from events at a Cleveland nightclub (NEWSDAY, 10/17).  In
     N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes that, "Regardless of the outcome
     of the case, Miller's not expected to lose his job, and, at
     worst, will face a suspension by ESPN" (N.Y. POST, 10/17).
     ...ESPN's "Outside The Lines -- Breaking the Line: Jackie
     Robinson's Legacy" has received Northeastern Univ.'s '97
     Excellence in Sports Journalism Award/Broadcast Media.  Also
     honored was the follow-up discussion, "ESPN Town Meeting:
     Sports in Black & White" (ESPN)....ESPN will broadcast the
     MLBPA Players Choice Awards on November 5 (MLBPA).
          TEAM NOTES: CO-based Web developer CCG Online was named
     by the Rockies to design its Web site, which will launch
     later this year at www.coloradorockies.com (AD AGE, 10/17).
     ...Red Sox telecasts on WABU-TV averaged a 5.7 rating this
     season, up 8% from '96.  The team's telecasts on NESN
     averaged a 2.4, up 20% from last season (BOSTON GLOBE,
     10/17)....The Magic "are making a serious move" into the
     Hispanic community this season with their first weekly
     Spanish radio show on WRMQ-AM (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/17).
          GENERAL: "Fox Sports News" takes an in-depth look at
     the role of religion in pro sports in a two-part "Spotlight"
     report, tonight and Monday (Fox)....The Corel WTA Tour is
     letting fans select its "Most Exciting Player" award for
     '97.  Voting can be done at corelwtatour.com, and on links
     to the Tennis Magazine site and on USA Today Online. 
     Balloting will run through early November, and the winner
     will be announced November 17 at the Chase Championships
     (THE DAILY)....SI Presents' "Pro Basketball '97" preview
     magazine is on newsstands.  The 160-page issue has a cover
     price of $5.95 and has 19 regional covers (SI).
          

          ESPN and MLS have reached a six-year TV deal through
     the 2003 season.  As part of the deal, ABC Sports will air a
     minimum of 12 telecasts a season, including the league
     opener, the All-Star Game and the MLS Cup.  ESPN will begin
     with 10 telecasts per year, with an eventual increase to 15.
     ESPN2 will show 25 matches in '98, with an eventual increase
     to 35 per year.  ESPN and MLS will continue to produce the
     league's pay subscription package (ESPN).
          DETAILS: The deal will pay the league $5M in '98 and
     the fee "could increase in subsequent years based on
     advertising revenue," according to Stephen Battaglio of the
     HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.  MLS Commissioner Logan called the deal
     "a huge step forward" for the league  (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER,
     10/17).  Joshua Prager of the WALL STREET JOURNAL writes
     that the deal "is the most extensive broadcasting package
     ever for professional soccer in the U.S."  The networks
     "won't pay broadcast-rights fees" to MLS, instead sharing
     costs and revenue generated from ad sales (WALL STREET
     JOURNAL, 10/17).  The league's first two seasons on ABC and
     ESPN have consisted of a time-buy (N.Y. TIMES, 10/17). 

          NBC will begin its coverage of the '97 World Series on
     Saturday at 7:30pm with Game One to begin at 8:05.  NBC's
     Bob Costas will handle play-by-play, with Joe Morgan and Bob
     Uecker providing analysis.  In N.Y., Steve Zipay writes that
     viewers can "expect a steady, more traditional telecast: no
     above-home plate camera angles or catcher-cams, no mikes on
     managers and coaches, and definitely no full-time, on-screen
     box with the score, inning and count" (NEWSDAY, 10/17).  In
     Philadelphia, Bill Fleischman writes that NBC "plans to
     limit its use of bells and whistles" for its World Series
     coverage, and will not use the score box.  NBC Producer
     David Neal: "We've been very consistent at NBC Sports that
     the score box is not for us, regardless of the sport. ... In
     my view, having the box in there constantly clutters the
     screen" (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 10/17). NBC will use 23 cameras,
     five more than its NLCS coverage (MIAMI HERALD, 10/17). 
          ANY GUESSES? NEWSDAY's Zipay adds that "insiders" say
     that NBC's ratings for the Indians-Marlins "likely will be
     even lower" than last year's 17.4 six-game average for Fox's
     Yankees-Braves series (NEWSDAY, 10/17).  But USA TODAY's
     Rudy Martzke writes the series "should average" an 18 rating
     if it reaches six games.  NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol:
     "If we get compelling games like the Indians-Orioles series,
     we'll get compelling ratings" (USA TODAY, 10/17).  
          OTHER: Based on its four primetime games, Fox's
     telecasts of the Indians-Orioles ALCS produced a 9.1/15
     final rating, up 8% over NBC's five-game ALCS in '96.  NBC's
     four primetime Marlins-Braves NLCS games earned a 9.9/18, up
     11% over Fox's seven-game NLCS in '96 (NEWSDAY, 10/17).
          WORLD (SERIES) WIDE WEB: MLB, MSNBC and NBC Sports
     continue to present mlbworldseries.com, the official Web
     site of the World Series (MSNBC).  Total Sports has created
     www.totalworldseries.com, where fans can access any
     information they choose during the game, including a Pitch
     Chart; Play By Play; Stat-Packed Line-Ups; Player Profiles;
     World Series History; and Umpire Analysis (Total Sports).  

          The Outdoor Life Network (OLN) will feature 73
     International Ski Federation World Cup events, including 41
     same-day Alpine races in its skiing lineup for the '97-98
     season.  Programming will include downhill skiing, giant
     slalom skiing, snowboarding, jumping and cross country
     races.  OLN will also broadcast five new ski magazine
     programs: "The Ride Guide"; "Skier's World"; "Real Action
     Winter"; "Ski School"; and "Ski Store" (OLN).

          The following lists overnight ratings from last     weekend's network sporting events.  All times are EDT.      ABC's NCAA football games were: OSU-PSU; USC-ASU; OK-TX; and     NCSU-GTU.  The numbers were gathered from the networks. 
EVENT
DATE
NET
TIME
RAT/SHR
NCAA Football: (Regional)
10/11
ABC
3:30-7:00pm
5.3/14
PGA Tour: Michelob Championship
10/11
CBS
1:00-3:00pm
0.9/3
"College Football Today"
10/11
CBS
3:00-3:30pm
2.0/6
NCAA Football: ND-PIT/UGA-TEN
10/11
CBS
3:30-7:00pm
2.9/8
AL Championship Series Game 3
10/11
FOX
4:00-9:00pm
6.6/16
NL Championship Series Game 4
10/11
NBC
7:30-10:30pm
5.5/11
IRL Racing Special
10/12
ABC
3:00-5:00pm
1.1/3
NASCAR: Winston Cup Diehard 500
10/12
CBS
12:30-4:00pm
4.5/12
PGA Tour: Michelob Championship
10/12
CBS
4:00-6:00pm
2.4/6
AL Championship Series Game 4
10/12
FOX
7:00-11:00pm
9.6/16
"Fox NFL Sunday"
10/12
FOX
12:00-1:00pm
3.4/11
"NFL on Fox" Game 1
10/12
FOX
1:00-4:00pm
9.3/24
"NFL on Fox" Game 2
10/12
FOX
4:00-7:00pm
7.2/16
NFL on NBC Pregame
10/12
NBC
12:00-1:00pm
2.9/9
"NFL on NBC" (Regional)
10/12
NBC
1:00-4:00pm
7.3/19
NL Championship Series Game 5
10/12
NBC
4:00-7:00pm
8.5/20

          The following lists World Series household rating     trends over the past twenty years (Nielsen Sports).     
YR
GMS TMS RAT/SHR
YR
GMS TMS RAT/SHR
'77
6
NYY-LAD
29.9/52
'87
7
MIN-STL
23.9/41
'78
6
NYY-LAD
32.7/56
'88
5
LAD-OAK
23.9/39
'79
7
PIT-BAL
28.0/51
'89
4
OAK-SFG
16.4/29
'80
6
PHI-KCR
32.8/56
'90
4
CIN-OAK
20.8/36
'81
6
LAD-NYY
30.0/49
'91
7
MIN-ATL
24.0/39
'82
7
STL-MIL
28.0/49
'92
6
TOR-ATL
20.2/34
'83
5
BAL-PHI
23.3/41
'93
6
TOR-PHI
17.3/30
'84
5
DET-SDP
22.9/40
'94
'85
7
KCR-STL
25.3/39
'95
6
ATL-CLE
19.5/33
'86
7
NYM-BOS
28.6/46
'96
6
NYY-ATL
17.4/28