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 www.fila.com 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).