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Volume 24 No. 117

Sports Media

          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).