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Volume 24 No. 116

Sports Media

          While ABC and CBS want their affils to help pay for the
     new NFL deals, "some of those affiliates want to know what
     they will get in return -- beyond the rights to the games,"
     according to Stephen McClellan of BROADCASTING & CABLE.
     McClellan: "The answer is far from clear."  Some ABC affils
     say that "network program exclusivity, a contentious issue
     ... is among the issues tied to the NFL negotiations." 
     While ABC wants to "cross-pollinate their broadcast and
     cable outlets with resources, programs and talent," the
     affils "fear that such cross-pollination will lead to
     further network audience erosion."  Meanwhile, CBS sent a
     letter to its affils saying the net "expects them to make a
     'voluntary' contribution" of $40-50M, "preferably in cash,"
     to help defray the annual $500M NFL pact.  CBS said
     individual station contributions "are intended to be an
     equal percentage of every station's net revenue from the
     NFL, regardless of market size or AFC affiliation."  That
     percentage "could be" 30% or more of each station's NFL-
     derived net revenue.  CBS has even hired a "major" N.Y.-
     based media buyer to calculate revenue estimates for each of
     its affils.  But some affils "virtually rule out cash
     payments."  A "head of one major" group owner: "The real
     question is: If we start paying for network programming,
     what do we get in return?" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/9). 

          Following record site traffic levels set during the
     Winter Games, the next three weeks of NCAA basketball
     "promise to eclipse all previous totals on the Net,
     including the Super Bowl and World Series," according to
     BRANDWEEK's Steve Ditlea.  Total Sports is the producer and
     partner of the official NCAA Web site, www.Finalfour.net,
     and company President George Schlukbier called the NCAA
     tournament "the strongest affinity-based national sports
     event."  In '97, Total Sports generated "nearly 10 million
     page views and 2.5 million ad impressions" from its Final
     Four site.  This year, it "expects to triple the traffic
     with cybercasts of 63 men's games and 15 women's games in
     streaming audio and still pictures" (BRANDWEEK, 3/9 issue).
          TARGET DEMO: BRANDWEEK's Ditlea writes that "widespread
     office pools" and regional-only TV coverage in the
     tournament's early stages "makes the Web the medium of
     choice for the largely male, college-educated demographic
     attracted by this event (and the advertisers who seek
     them)."  The "busiest" times will be on Thursday and Friday
     for first-round games.  ESPN Assistant Managing Editor Jim
     Jenks called the "biggest usage time" from noon to 1:00pm
     ET, on weekdays, as Ditlea notes that "fans apparently feel
     little guilt in using workplace computers to access sports
     sites during lunch time" (BRANDWEEK, 3/9 issue).
          HIGHER LEARNING: The FANSonly Network said its '97
     royalty payments to its member university ADs totalled more
     than $200,000.  FANSonly also announced that Georgetown,
     Alabama, Ole Miss, UCLA and Washington are the newest
     members of the its group of college Web sites (FANSonly).
          ESPN'S CHALLENGE: ESPN SportsZone had 177,000 entrants
     in its tournament prediction contest last year, as well as
     "thousands more who used it for information and statistics." 
     This year, the site "expects more entries," and has "made
     preparations to deal with the traffic."  Its home page has
     "fewer graphics and other data this week so it will load
     faster for visitors" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 3/11).
          LISTEN UP: AudioNet, www.audionet, will have live play-
     by-play action of men's and women's NCAA tournament games,
     sponsored by Microsoft Corp. and CBS SportsLine (AudioNet).

          NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: ESPN Magazine was profiled in the
     "In Focus" section of today's USA TODAY.  ESPN Magazine Exec
     Editor John Walsh: "We have the mandate to be the print
     version of ESPN.  How do we translate that sensibility to a
     magazine?  By being the alternative, being exciting and fun
     to look at" (USA TODAY, 3/11).  In Chicago, Tim Jones on the
     launch: "ESPN will begin to find out if it can transfer that
     television popularity to a magazine" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE,3/11).
          NOTES: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke calls NBC's NBA analyst
     Isiah Thomas "a work in progress."  Thomas: "I don't mind
     the criticism, but give me a chance to show I can improve
     and do the job."  Martzke also reports that ESPN has renewed
     studio host Chris Fowler's contract "for about $500,000 a
     year" (USA TODAY, 3/11)....Sunshine Network and Orlando
     Predators Entertainment have reached a three-year marketing/
     promotional pact that grants the net exclusive telecast
     rights to AFL Predators games (Sunshine Network)....The NHL
     Panthers "received an angry reaction" when they "abruptly
     removed" hosts Joe Rose and Jeff DeForrest from coach Bryan
     Murray's weekly radio show on WQAM.  The team owns the show,
     and replaced the pair with play-by-play announcer Chris
     Moore and analyst Randy Moller, both team employees (MIAMI
     HERALD, 3/11)....The Marquee Group will produce ESPN2's
     coverage of the Swatch King of the Beach Invitational by
     P.S./StarGames volleyball tournament.  It will be aired as
     two one-hour shows in April (The Marquee Group).

          CBS Station Group Chair & CEO Mel Karmazin is profiled
     by Alan Deutschman of NEW YORK, who writes that while
     Michael Jordan holds the titles of CBS Chair & CEO, there is
     "no doubt that Karmazin is the de facto power at CBS."  Wall
     Street execs also "think it's only a matter of time before
     Karmazin is the de jure ruler as well."  Porter Bibb of
     Ladenburg, Thalmann: "Mel will not tolerate sharing the
     power.  Michael Jordan will be eaten alive by him."  While
     Karmazin "is known as an intimidating, imperious manager,
     widely feared by CBS employees, he seems to have the full
     support of the network's top talent" (NEW YORK, 3/16 issue). 
     

          Gillette has launched GilletteSoccer.com in conjunction
     with the company's sponsorship of the '98 World Cup.  The
     site, developed by Think New Ideas with Alta Vista and
     DoubleClick, will provide match results, team standings and
     other information.  Gillette banners are currently running
     on the Alta Vista search network (AD AGE DAILY, 3/11)....The
     NHL Blue Jackets' Web site has recorded nearly 560,000
     visits in its first month of operation.  While "more than
     half" the visitors are from Ohio, the site has logged hits
     from users in Russia, Japan, and the Czech Republic, among
     other countries (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/10).