IBM, which is sponsoring Superbowl.com for a second
year, paid "an estimated" $1M to host the official game
site, according to Mary Huhn of the N.Y. POST. Last year,
Superbowl.com drew over 2 million page views on game day
alone. Huhn adds that this year, there are 21 million
households with Internet access, compared to 15 million a
year ago, so companies "are expecting a dramatic increase in
traffic." Superbowl.com will sell official game merchandise
using IBM Net.commerce software for the first time. Huhn
also previewed Super Bowl Internet plans for ESPN SportsZone
and CBS.SportsLine (N.Y. POST, 1/22). USA TODAY noted that
Superbowl.com will also allow fans to choose their own
camera angles to receive updated photos of the game,
including the one from the blimp (USA TODAY, 1/21).
WEB: NHL ICE announced NHL.com averaged nearly five
million daily hits over All-Star Weekend (NHL ICE)....The
Flyers' John LeClair has launched his own Web site at
JohnLeClair.net. Proceeds from the site, which will be
maintained and operated by PA-based sportslinc.com, will
benefit the John LeClair Foundation in VT (aYs Sports
Marketing)....Speedway Motorsports launched its Web site
last week at www.speedwaymotorsports.com. The site was
designed by Atlanta-based iXL (Speedway Motorsports).
NOTE: The Phillies will name former P Larry Andersen to
their TV-radio broadcast team today. He will replace the
late Richie Ashburn (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/22).
Cable companies are "outraged" over last week's $17.6B
NFL TV rights deal, according to Susan Slusser of the S.F.
CHRONICLE. And there "have been suggestions among cable
operators that ABC underpaid ($550 million a year) for
'Monday Night Football' while sister Disney company ESPN
overpaid for Sunday-night rights ($600 million) -- so that
the costs could be dumped onto cable customers." TCI CEO &
President Leo Hindery: "I have it on pretty good evidence
that they moved things from the left pocket to the right
pocket. And nobody has proved to me that the Sunday-night
package should be more expensive than the Monday-night
package." A recent trade publication reported "an unnamed
Disney executive, overheard at a party" as saying, "I called
the NFL and said, 'Go easy on ABC and sock it to ESPN,
because we can pass it on.'" ESPN VP/Sales & Marketing
George Bodenheimer: "I read that, and it's inaccurate, to
say the least. ... I don't think anyone puts stock in
unattributed comments" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/22).
RAISE RATES/DROP SERVICE? Hindery said cable operators
feel "more and more entitled" to ask questions about the NFL
deal, "because all we can do about it is drop the service or
raise the rates." Slusser: "But what cable operator is
going to drop ESPN? It is considered a must have outlet."
ESPN's Bodenheimer: "Everyone would like to pay less for
everything. But this is a good long-term investment for
ESPN and for cable operators." He added ESPN will have more
NFL programming to create ad opportunities for operators.
Slusser adds that operators "might get a bit of a break from
TNT, which reportedly is considering lowering its cable fees
now that it no longer has the NFL" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/22).
NBC's Greg Gumbel, who will serve Sunday as the host of
the Super Bowl, agreed to a five-year deal averaging $1.75M
a year with CBS, according to USA TODAY. Gumbel will serve
as CBS' No. 1 play-by-play man for AFC football, and will
"probably" work with Phil Simms. NBC's Cris Collinsworth
has agreed to a five-year deal with Fox "for about" $1M a
year and will join its NFL pre-game show (USA TODAY, 1/22).
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL: NBC "is promising an 'inside-the-
helmet'" view on Sunday, as the net will utilize the latest
in real-time 3D graphics, putting the viewer "behind the
quarterback's face mask." Assisting NBC is CA-based Silicon
Graphics Inc. (Glenn Lovell, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/21).
SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR....: NBC will hold a "final
fiesta" after its Sunday Super Bowl telecast, which will
feature Donna Summer. In N.Y., Neal Travis reports that the
post-game celebration is "appropriately" called "The 'Last
Dance' Party" (Neal Travis, N.Y. POST, 1/22).