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Volume 24 No. 158

Sports Media

          The launch of ESPN Magazine was examined by CNN's
     Donald Van de Mark on "Moneyline."  In her introduction,
     CNN's Jan Hopkins called ESPN's bi-weekly "a direct attack
     on Sports Illustrated, pitting two of the best brand names
     of sports journalism against each other."  Van de Mark said
     SI "still dominates the business of sports journalism,"
     pulling in $500M a year "in ad revenue alone," but starting
     Wednesday when ESPN Magazine debuts, SI "faces its greatest
     challenge yet."  Newsday publishing columnist Paul Colford
     said that by advertising ESPN Magazine on ESPN "they've
     already entered the launch faze with something in the
     neighborhood of 300,000 subscribers."  ESPN Magazine "is
     targeting younger customers," and ESPN Magazine Publisher
     Michael Rooney said, "Sports has changed.  And it's not that
     the 18-34-year-old reader wants us to be irreverent, but he
     wants us to be a little more with it.  He wants us to have a
     little more fun.  It's just sports" ("Moneyline," CNN, 3/9).
          AD DETAILS: ESPN Magazine's debut issue will carry 107
     ad pages, which industry observer/Univ. of MS professor
     Samir Husni said ranks sixth in all-time magazine launches
     and first among sports title launches.  Among advertisers:
     Pontiac, Nike, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Nautica, adidas, AT&T,
     Columbia Sportswear, Ford and Nintendo (ESPN Magazine).

          Fox Sports World (FSWo) has reached a three-year deal 
     with the Australian Football League (AFL) under which FSWo
     gains exclusive rights to broadcast the AFL's Australian
     Rules Football games to North American audiences.  The
     agreement, which runs from '98 through the year 2000, gives
     FSWo exclusive TV rights to the AFL in all languages
     throughout the U.S. and Canada.  FSWo kicks off its '98 AFL
     coverage the week of March 23, and will feature weekly
     matches and highlight shows during the season, culminating
     with September's Grand Final (Fox Sports World).

          HBO's "Arli$$" recently completed shooting its first
     episode for the '98 season, one of 13 new telecasts which
     debut this June.  Guest appearances include U.S. women's
     hockey player Cammi Granato, the Patriots' Willie McGinest
     and NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer (THE DAILY). 

          SELECTION SHOW: CBS's NCAA men's tournament selection
     show on Sunday earned a 6.5 overnight rating, up 14% over
     last year's 5.7.  USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke attributes the
     ratings increase to the format change in which CBS "spaced
     out the announcement of each bracket," and host Greg Gumbel
     led a discussion of each "before moving on."  The fourth
     bracket "wasn't disclosed until 17 minutes into the show"
     (USA TODAY, 3/10).  In Denver, Todd Phiphers writes that
     CBS's new format "amounted to playing games with ESPN,"
     which ran a concurrent selection show but was "restricted
     from showing" brackets until they had been shown on CBS,
     which holds the announcement rights (DENVER POST, 3/10). 
     But on Long Island, Steve Zipay writes that CBS "could take
     some pointers from ESPN" regarding the telecast, and points
     out that CBS did not display teams' won-lost records, and
     did not run a "crawl" across the bottom of the screen for
     viewers tuning in late: "ESPN did both" (NEWSDAY, 3/10).
          OTHER NOTES: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir praises Jim
     Gray's interview of Don King on Showtime's PPV broadcast on
     Saturday.  Grey was "relentless" in asking King about the
     lawsuit Mike Tyson filed against him last week.  Sandomir:
     "Compare his tough style with the ingratiating questioning
     of Latrell Sprewell by Lesley Stahl on '60 Minutes'" (N.Y.
     TIMES, 3/10)....Fox Sports Net will air the '98 John R.
     Wooden Award, which honors the Men's college basketball
     player of the year, live from the L.A. Athletic Club on
     April 3 at 7:00pm ET (L.A. Athletic Club).

          NBC "has decided to drop out of college basketball
     altogether" after this season to focus on the NBA, according
     to Langdon Brockinton of MEDIAWEEK.  An NBC Sports
     spokesperson: "Our commitments are concentrated on the NBA." 
     NBC has had a "limited" college basketball schedule since it
     acquired the rights to the NBA in '90, "primarily" involving
     Notre Dame games the past few years, and with the "glut" of
     college basketball games on the airwaves these days, its
     exit "should have negligible impact."  However, Brockinton
     writes that "the overabundance of telecasts is a primary
     reason for college b-ball's ratings lethargy on the
     broadcast networks."  NBC's four broadcasts this season, for
     example, averaged a 1.1 rating -- down 35% from a 1.7 for
     six broadcasts last season (MEDIAWEEK, 3/9 issue).
          NCAA TOURNAMENT: Brockinton also reports that CBS has
     sold "about" 95% of its commercial time for the NCAA
     Tournament.  Newcomers "said to be among" CBS's roster
     include IBM, Volvo, Taco Bell, MGM, NEC, Nextel, Walker
     Mufflers, BMW, Isuzu, Conseco and Uniden.  Another newcomer,
     Microsoft, will sponsor a new on-air enhancement called Data
     Bank, featuring stats and other game info.  Brockinton adds
     that "word is" the sold NCAA inventory "does not include any
     Olympics makegood spots resulting from CBS' Winter Games
     ratings underdelivery."  Media buyers said that "it remains
     to be seen" whether some of the remaining 5% of the
     inventory may be used for makegoods (MEDIAWEEK, 3/9).

          Several Internet stocks saw "record gains" Monday and
     SportsLine USA "did remarkable business," according to
     CNBC's Don Dahler.  SportsLine USA saw "its stock price
     increase recently over 220% from a year-low of seven to a
     close [on Monday] of 31 11/16."  Dahler added that sports
     "may be leading the charge to Internet advertising in the
     near future, with the 1998 World Cup expected to cause
     record Internet usage" ("The Edge," CNBC, 3/9).
          CAN U JETER? Yankees SS Derek Jeter will take questions
     at on Wednesday from 8:00 to 9:00am ET (Fila).

          Ahmad Rashad has extended his deal by four years to co-
     host "NBA Inside Stuff," and will add the additional title
     of Exec Producer.  Rashad will also serve as Exec Producer
     for NBA Entertainment-produced specials.  NBAE VP/
     Programming & Broadcasting Gregg Winik will also serve as an
     Exec Producer for "Inside Stuff" and NBAE specials (NBAE).
          SIMILAR "STUFF" FOR NFL? BRANWEEK's Terry Lefton
     reports that some "shoulder" programming which the NFL is
     requiring of its TV partners under their recent deals "has
     come to light."  During the season, ESPN2 will air "Football
     Tonight," a daily news/highlights show, and CBS is "working
     with the league" to develop a "year-round youth-oriented
     football show a la NBC's NBA Inside Stuff."  Lefton: "Expect
     the league to package this kind of programming with its
     corporate sponsorship deals" (BRANDWEEK, 3/9 issue).
          F-1 NOTES: SpeedVision will offer live coverage of the
     16 races in the '98 F-1 World Championship, which began last
     week with the Grand Prix of Australia.  The 16 broadcasts,
     which will each consist of a half-hour preview show followed
     by two hours of live coverage, concludes with the Japanese
     Grand Prix on October 31 (SpeedVision).  SpeedVision joins
     Fox Sports Net in taking over F-1 TV rights from ESPN, and
     on SPEEDNET, Bill Koenig writes that the deal "was so
     sudden" FSN "didn't even have announcers" at Saturday's
     Australian Grand Prix event, and used SpeedVision's audio
     feed.  The Australian event had been on ESPN2's schedule
     "until last week even though the two sides [ESPN/F-1] hadn't
     wrapped a deal" for '98.  ESPN spokesperson Dave Nagle: "We
     made an aggressive bid to retain the F-1 rights.  We are
     very disappointed" (Bill Koenig, SPEEDNET, 3/10).