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).