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Volume 24 No. 159

Sports Media

          An NCAA men's basketball tournament of "buzzer-beaters,
     upsets and feel-good stories" has helped CBS to its highest
     ratings for the event in four years, according to the
     HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.  Through Sunday's regional finals, CBS's
     NCAA men's coverage averaged a 6.2/13, 1% higher than last
     year's 6.1/14 and the "best since" '94's 6.6/15.  Three of
     last weekend's games "posted gains" from the previous year. 
     Saturday's UConn-UNC game earned an 8.2, up 9% from '97,
     while Sunday's Stanford-URI received a 6.4, up 5%, and Duke-
     Kentucky recorded a 9.9, up 11%.  The Duke-Kentucky game was
     the "highest rated regional final since" Michigan-Arkansas
     got a 10.1 in '94 (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 3/24).  In Dallas,
     Richard Alm notes that, due to the viewer demos for the
     tournament, CBS "isn't complaining about the" $213M rights
     fee it is paying for '98.  The average tourney watchers have
     incomes 30% higher than the national average, and 70% own
     their own homes.  Also, 40% of the audience are women, "high
     for sports events."  CBS Sports VP/Programming Mike Aresco:
     "Young, college-educated men are a very hard to reach
     demographic segment.  And this, by far, is the best vehicle
     to reach them" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/24).
          CBS NOTES: In N.Y., Bob Raissman calls CBS's production
     on Duke-KY "first-rate," and adds "so was the call of Jim
     Nantz and Billy Packer" (N.Y DAILY NEWS, 3/24).  Also in
     N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes on Packer:  "If the full
     measure of an analyst is whether a viewer learns something
     ... Packer gets high marks" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/24).  But in
     Boston, Howard Manly writes that the presence of ex-coaches
     Al McGuire and Dean Smith in the net's lineup "may be good
     for name recognition but lousy for insightful analysis. 
     Neither criticizes his coaching brethren" (BOSTON GLOBE,
     3/24).  Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley will join CBS on
     this weekend's coverage of the men's Final Four (CBS). 

          TV/VIDEO: Evander Holyfield will defend his WBA
     heavyweight title against Henry Akinwande on June 6 at MSG. 
     Showtime will handle PPV distribution for the fight (N.Y
     DAILY NEWS, 3/24)....BROADCASTING & CABLE's John Higgins
     writes that Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan's interest in
     buying the Yankees may stem from SportsChannel's experience
     in Philadelphia, where Comcast took control of the 76ers and
     Flyers and launched Comcast SportsNet.  One media exec:
     "Chuck learned his lesson in Philadelphia" (BROADCASTING &
     CABLE, 3/23)....After CBS "failed to offer" Marcus Allen the
     job he sought with the network, Allen will return to the
     Chiefs for the final year of his contract (K.C. STAR, 3/24).
          PUBLISHING: In Akron, Michael Weinreb reviews ESPN
     Magazine, calling it SI "for slackers."  Weinreb: "What I
     want from a sports magazine is simple: Compelling writing,
     great photography.  The Magazine has that.  Now I wish they
     would cool it with the inside jokes" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL,
     3/24)....The Sporting News' VP/Sales Jay Burzon told AD
     AGE's James Brady that after TSN's December relaunch, ad
     pages are up 89% in January (AD AGE, 3/23 issue).

          In its ongoing effort to "expand globally," the NFL has
     inked "several" new TV-rights deals overseas, signed new
     sponsors for its NFL Europe League (NFLE), and set "new"
     int'l TV programming plans for the '98-99 season, according
     to Langdon Brockinton of MEDIAWEEK.  German net SAT.1 has
     become an NFL TV partner, and will televise a season preview
     show, the '99 Super Bowl, and a weekly NFLE highlights show. 
     In the U.S., NFLE gets weekly coverage on FSN and DirecTV,
     with the Fox network carrying NFLE's June 14 title game. 
     Puma, Nabisco and Monsanto have reportedly bought ad time on
     FSN's NFLE coverage, and "some" official NFL sponsors will
     "likely get inventory" on FSN "as part of their packages." 
     NFLE also has new TV deals with Spain's TV3, Holland's
     Veronica and FSWo.  NFLE has signed a two-year sponsorship
     with German footwear company Deichmann, and Kellogg and
     Ericsson have signed teams sponsorships with the London
     Monarchs and Rhein Fire, respectively.  In other news, NFL
     Int'l (NFLI) will intro new NFL Films-produced programs for
     overseas airing next season, including "Rules of the Game,"
     a series of 30-second "vignettes explaining the basics of
     pro football." NFLI will also make "several" prime-time
     specials available internationally (MEDIAWEEK, 3/23).