Rogers Communications, Canada's "largest cablecaster,"
will distribute "NFL Sunday Ticket" beginning next season,
and will hold the exclusive Canadian TV rights through the
'99 season, according to Etan Vlessing of the HOLLYWOOD
REPORTER. The price for the subscription package will be
announced just prior to the start of next season, but a
spokesperson for Rogers said it "would likely be in the same
range" as the $159 price charged in the U.S. by DirecTV
(HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 12/18). In Toronto, Shawna Richer
reports that the CFL "is trying to get in on" the Rogers/NFL
deal. CFL Chair & Rogers Multi-Media President John Tory
said that there is a clause in the deal that "allows adding
CFL games to the package." Rogers cable subscribers in
parts of Ontario will see a free nine-game preview of the
service this Sunday (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/18).
For Hollywood's international distributors and
exhibition partners, World Cup '98 "means box office
disaster as fans stay home to watch the games" on TV,
according to Christopher Pickard of VARIETY. This is
"forcing the entertainment community to come up with
contingency plans" for the key weekends of June 12-14, 19-21
and 26-28, and July 3-5 and 10-12. In some markets,
distributors and exhibitors will try counterprogramming, or
cut ticket prices to lure the few not watching soccer; "in
other parts of the world, the business is expected simply to
go into hibernation until the championship is awarded." In
addition, women's interest in soccer is a "complicating
factor when it comes to planning any form of
counterprogramming." Overall, 41 billion viewers are
expected to watch the World Cup games (VARIETY, 12/21).
AT HOME: Despite hosting the '94 Cup, "the U.S. seems
to remain blissfully unaware of the full impact of the Cup
outside its borders." Pickard notes that some countries
declare national holidays when their teams play. But Pickard
adds, "Chances are the U.S. media still underestimate the
interest in the games within America, especially given the
large immigrant population" (VARIETY, 12/21 issue).
In San Diego, Fritz Quindt reported that the Chargers
have signed a one-year deal with KFMB-FM making it their
flagship radio station, "officially ending an 11-year run
on" XTRA-AM. Although terms we not disclosed, Chargers
Owner Alex Spanos "confirmed" that the team was offered $15M
for five years earlier by XTRA and didn't resign. KMFB GM
Bob Bolinger said the contract "may evolve" into a multi-
year deal. Quindt added one "unique" item about the deal is
that Chargers games will be simulcast on KMFB-AM "when there
are no Padres or [SDSU] conflicts" (UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/18).
FAMILY MAN: Chicago's WGN announced that Chip Caray
will join his grandfather, Harry Caray, and Steve Stone in
the broadcast booth for 50 Cubs games during the '98 season
(CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/18). Caray will continue doing his
"MLB on Fox" Saturday assignment from June to through the
end of the season (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/18).
NOTES: The Broncos-49ers game on "MNF" earned a 40.7/60
overnight in the Bay Area (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/18).
....The LPGA's agreement with Mercury to sponsor seven
events on ESPN and ESPN2 is "more about exposure than
increased revenue," according to USA TODAY's Jerry Potter.
LPGA General Counsel Ty Votaw said that the series is a
"modified time buy," where Mercury and other sponsors will
pick up the expense. While the deal won't give the LPGA
increased TV revenue through rights fees, Votaw adds that it
helps financially because events will be able to sign
sponsors since they are being televised (USA TODAY, 12/18).
PAGE TURNERS: USA TODAY lists the top selling sports
books outside its top 50: No. 115) "Everest: Mountain
Without Mercy," by Broughton Coburn; No. 130) "A March To
Madness," by John Feinstein; No. 222) "The Climb: Tragic
Ambitions on Mt. Everest," by Anatoli Boukreev; No. 234)
"1998 Sports Almanac," by the SI editors (USA TODAY, 12/18).
CA-based Hunter Media has created the NFL Team Fan
Pack, an officially-licensed screen saver package with
trivia, stats, coaches, famous players, animated logos,
icons and sound bites for each NFL team. Engineered for
Windows 95, Windows 3.1 and Macintosh, the NFL Team Fan Pack
comes on a CD that features all 30 teams. The screen saver
offers three modules: Team Scrapbook, Greatest Games and
Stadium Mania. The package also includes a desktop
wallpaper function which allows the user to select from a
number of team photos/logos. The Fan Pack also comes with a
free month of Internet service from Sprint. Suggested
retail price for the Team Fan Pack is $27.95 (Hunter Media).
TCI President Leo Hindery said yesterday that the
upcoming NFL TV rights contract "will drive up cable rates
next year," according to Tim Jones of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.
Hindery said the NFL TV deal "will add more pressure to
cable rates, which this year went up an average" of 8.5%
nationally. Hindery predicted the resulting rate increase
will be "in the mid-single digits." Hindery said that
recent record sports contracts put cable operators "in a no-
win situation with their customers because the costs are
ultimately passed on in the form of higher rates." Hindery:
"These numbers are hurting my relationship with my
customers. It's everything that I can do to explain that
... it ain't me, buddy" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/18).
NBC has reached a new multi-year deal to continue its
coverage of the French Open tennis championships. The new
contract takes effect this May, when NBC will carry 17 hours
of coverage over two weekends (NBC Sports). NBC has covered
the French Open since '83 (THE DAILY).
WHEN WITH ROME: Fox Sports Net will premiere "The Last
Word," a nightly half-hour sports debate program featuring
Jim Rome and Wallace Matthews, on January 5. The show will
air Monday-Saturday at 12:00 midnight, and will be repeated
at 6:00pm the following day, Monday-Friday (FSN)....Fox
Sports announced it will broadcast three installments of
skiing's "Sprints, Bumps & Jumps Championships" beginning
December 21 from Steamboat Springs, CO. Ensuing broadcasts
will be February 7 and March 28. The event combines
elements of mogul and aerial freestyle skiing (Fox Sports).
THE GREAT OUTDOORS: The Outdoor Life Network will
feature exclusive coverage of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials
in Skiing, Speed Skating, Bobsled, Biathlon and Curling as
well as the U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup this January. The three-
week coverage, which will run from January 3-25, will
consist of 13 hours from the Trial events, and eight hours
from the U.S. Ski Team Cup....In other news, Outdoor Life
will also carry the '98 UCI World Mountain Bike
Championships, set to take place September 19-21 at Mont-
Sainte-Anne, Quebec. The network will offer 16.5 hours of
coverage over the three day event (Outdoor Life Network).
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright "approached
the NBA in November, asking if the league would supply
programming" to the Balkan area as "part of an effort to
help support war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina," according to
Langdon Brockinton of MEDIAWEEK. The NBA finalized a deal
with the OBN network, which reaches "about" 80% of the
Bosnian and Herzegovinan population, under which OBN will
air two NBA games per week as a well as the weekly half-hour
highlights show, "NBA Action." The first game "is expected"
to air "before the end of the month." The league currently
delivers league programming to neighboring Croatia, Serbia,
and Montenegro (Langdon Brockinton, MEDIAWEEK, 12/15 issue).
NBA NOTES: Brockinton also reports that NBC is "said to
have sold about" 90% of its NBA ad time for this season.
For February's All-Star Game, NBC has sold "all but about"
three or four 30-second spots, and is "said to be asking"
$450,000 for each of the remaining units. NBC is also
"getting ready to pitch" new four-year NBA sponsorship
packages to incumbent automotive sponsors, with the price
"likely" to "climb considerably." Also, Turner Sports has
moved "about" 90% of its regular season ad inventory, and
85% of its postseason time (MEDIAWEEK, 12/15 issue).