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Volume 24 No. 117

Sports Media

          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).