When the NFL completes its TV rights negotiations, a
combined $7B will be committed by five networks over the
next four years, according to Jones, Kirk & Hirsley of the
CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Jones, Kirk & Hirsley: "The competition
for pro football TV rights, which may be resolved within the
next two weeks, is a cutthroat, price-inflating game of
musical chairs. ... Therefore, the price for the rights will
likely be 50 percent higher than the $4.6 billion contract
awarded in 1993. ... Is the bidding crazy? Sure it is.
Stupid? Probably not, because in the media economy created
by televisionland, enormous leaps in sports rights contracts
are part of the game." Westinghouse Chair Michael Jordan:
"The sports business, you have to recognize, is a zero-
profit business. We all essentially run the sports business
at break-even. Hopefully." Jones, Kirk & Hirsley add that
for advertisers, football "is demonstrably the most
efficient way to reach men." FCB Senior VP/Dir of Media
Scot Butler: "Because prime time is eroding so quickly,
sports from an advertising standpoint becomes more
attractive. They [sports ratings] are holding steadier than
anything else out there" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/22).
ONLINE: AOL Studios, which has been "coming up with
snazzy online content targeted at mass TV audiences and
Internet surfers who may be bypassing AOL," is examined in
BUSINESS WEEK. Among AOL Studios' new content is the Real
Fans Sports Network, "expected early next year." AOL
Studios purchased Extreme Sports, which will relaunch as
"the core" of Real Fans (BUSINESS WEEK, 12/1)....Tiger Woods
will launch his new Web site and "Club Tiger," his new fan
club, on December 2 in Orlando, FL. The Web site is being
launched with SportsLine USA (AD AGE, 11/23).
GENERAL: In San Diego, Fritz Quindt ranks his top
football announcing teams, with Fox's Pat Summerall and John
Madden No. 1, followed by NBC's Dick Enberg, Phil Simms and
Paul McGuire and ESPN's Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann.
Quindt: "However, the gap between [Summerall and Madden] and
the creme de la networks has been closing, and the current
margin of brownie points between Nos. 1 and 3 is thinner
than Kate Moss" (UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/21)....In N.Y., Michael
Shain profiled Total Sports, which "has created its own
imprint" to publish its own books, and will release "Total
Hockey" next year. Total Sports is also negotiating with
the NBA to do a "Total Basketball." "Total Baseball"
Publisher John Thorn said that Total Sports, which merged
with NC-based Koz Sports last year, has combined revenues
"of less than" $10M, and that the new company will "extend
the concept" of the "Total Baseball" and "Total Football" to
non-team sports such as boxing, auto racing and "maybe even
chess" (N.Y. POST, 11/23)....The Canucks will televise four
regular season home games on PPV cable in British Columbia.
The four-game package will cost C$34.95, and single games
may be selected for C$9.95. The games will be sponsored by
Molson Canadian and be commercial free (VAN. SUN, 11/20).
The NHL announced a new Canadian cable agreement with
CTV Sports Net for English language cable telecast rights in
Canada. The four-year deal will take effect at the start of
next season. CTV will broadcast 27 regular-season games,
including two broadcasts for each of the Canadian teams, as
well as coverage of up to 14 first-round playoff games of
U.S.-based clubs (NHL). In Toronto, Rob Longley called the
deal "a stunning hit from behind" for incumbent rights
holder TSN, adding that CTV's new sports network "will gain
instant credibility in the Canadian TV marketplace."
Sources put the deal at C$60M (TORONTO SUN, 11/22).
DETAILS: NHL Senior VP & COO Steve Solomon said that
the CTV offer was "modestly higher" than the TSN offer. TSN
President Jim Thompson: "We lost it. We're obviously very
disappointed." When asked why TSN lost the rights, Thompson
said, "Don't know" (Rick Matsumoto, TORONTO STAR, 11/22).
Also in Toronto, David Shoalts called the deal "a
devastating blow" to TSN, and added that "there had been
complaints" from Western teams that TSN "was too Toronto-
oriented" in its programming. Insiders "believe TSN lost
the contract because it was unwilling to pay more than
[C]$10 million a year," and that CTV "had agreed to pay more
than" C$60M over four years (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/22). In
Montreal, Pat Hickey: "The question is whether [CTV] can
convince cable companies to buy the product and pass the
cost on to their viewers. The question is whether there are
enough advertising dollars to carry CTV Sports Network
during the days when there is no hockey" (GAZETTE, 11/23).