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Volume 24 No. 115

Sports Media

          Fox/Liberty Networks' purchase of a one-third stake in
     Speedvision and Outdoor Life Networks is for about $100M,
     according to John Dempsey of DAILY VARIETY.  Roger Werner,
     who will stay on as President & CEO of the networks, said
     that a clause in the new deal allows Fox/Liberty to increase
     its stake to a majority ownership in the nets after three
     years.  Speedvision reaches about 14.5 million cable and
     satellite homes, and Outdoor Life about 13.5 million. 
     Werner said that Speedvision will be spending more money to
     bid on NASCAR races (John Dempsey, DAILY VARIETY, 3/27).

          FINAL FOUR: Valparaiso coach Homer Drew, UCLA coach
     Steve Lavin and George Washington coach Mike Jarvis will be
     in the studio for CBS's Final Four coverage of the men's
     NCAA Tournament (CBS Sports)....CBS will devote a 15-minute
     segment about the gambling in college sports, during its
     "Road to the Final Four" show at 4:00pm ET Saturday (USA
     TODAY, 3/27). ...ESPN's NCAA women's Tournament coverage is
     now down 11% from last year, to 0.8, after being off more
     than 20% a week ago.  The 13 games on ESPN2 are up from 0.3
     to 0.4.  USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke writes that Robin Roberts,
     Mimi Griffin and Rebecca Lobo "have proven to be an
     effective ESPN studio team" (USA TODAY, 3/27)....CBS Sports
     signed a three-year extension for Coach's Edge, a sports
     media company specializing in animation for use by
     broadcast, the Internet and coaches, to be its exclusive
     supplier of animation for college basketball (Coach's Edge). 
          PROGRAMMING: Fox will televise about 1,400 MLB games
     this season, including about 1,200 on its 22 Fox Sports Net
     RSNs (L.A. TIMES, 3/27)....ESPN plans to unveil a new
     graphic, "BatTrack," to determine how fast the bat is being
     swung in relation to how fast the ball is being thrown (WALL
     STREET JOURNAL, 3/27)....A's Manager Art Howe, 3B coach Ron
     Washington and OF Jason Giambi will wear microphones today
     for their game against the D'Backs, to air on Fox Sports Bay
     Area (Fox Sports Bay Area)....Former Pistons coach Doug
     Collins makes his NBC debut Sunday, joining Bob Costas and
     Isiah Thomas for the Spurs-Pacers game (L.A. TIMES, 3/27).
     ...Fox Sports World and Fox Sports Americas have reached a
     three-year deal with the Int'l Tennis Federation to air
     exclusive coverage of all non-USA team Davis Cup matches in
     the U.S., beginning in April (Fox Sports World)....In DC,
     UPN affil WDCA-TV will televise six Sunday WNBA Mystics
     games live this summer (Mystics).
          NOTES: Casey Martin reached a collaborative agreement
     with Craig Wolff, a Columbia Univ. journalism professor and
     former N.Y. Times reporter, to write a book on Martin.  The
     target date for publication is spring '99 (USA TODAY, 3/27).
     ...Pending legislation that may outlaw online fantasy sports
     leagues which charge an admission fee and award prizes is
     expected to reach the floor of the Senate sometime this
     spring.  Opponents "are trying to get parts of the bill
     rewritten before then" (AD AGE, 3/27)....Fastball.com added
     new programming for the '98 MLB season, including All-Star
     Game and World Series promos and the addition of live chat
     sessions with MLB players (Fastball.com).

          The following lists ratings from last weekend's network     sports events.  All times are EST.  The numbers are from the     networks (THE DAILY). 
EVENT DATE NET TIME RAT/SHR
NCAA Division II Championship
3/21
CBS
12:30-3:00pm
2.5/8
NCAA Men's Tournament: AZ/Utah
3/21
CBS
3:30-6:00pm
6.4/17
NCAA Men's Tournament: UNC/Uconn
3/21
CBS
6:00-8:00pm
8.15/19
"NHL on Fox": regional games
3/21
FOX
3:00-6:00pm
1.5/5
Senior PGA Tour: Legends
3/21
ABC
2:00-4:30pm
1.2/4
IRL: Phoenix 200 Qualifying
3/21
ABC
5:30-6:00pm
1.3/3
Senior PGA Tour: Legends
3/22
ABC
2:00-4:00pm
1.3/3
IRL: Phoenix 200
3/22
ABC
4:00-6:00pm
1.9/4
NCAA Men's Tournament: Stan/RI
3/22
CBS
2:30-5:00pm
6.9/18
NCAA Men's Tournament: Duke/UK
3/22
CBS
5:00-7:30pm
11.5/24
"NBA on NBC": ATL-DET or UTAH-NY
3/22
NBC
12:30-3:40pm
3.4/9
PGA Tour: Bay Hill Invitational
3/21
NBC
3:00-6:00pm
2.5/7
PGA Tour: Bay Hill Invitational
3/22
NBC
3:40-6:00pm
3.7/9

RATINGS NOTES: In N.Y., Richard Huff reports that combined ratings for cable programming were up 14% for the first quarter of '98, and for the traditional season that began in September, cable is up 13% compared to the previous year. Conversely, during the first quarter, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox's ratings were down 3%. For the season the Big Four are off 4% (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/27)....In Miami, in the past two weeks, NHL Panthers games against the Oilers and Blackhawks on SportsChannel "generated awful 0.3 ratings." The 0.3 ranked among SportsChannel's lowest ratings for game coverage in March. The Panthers are averaging a 0.8 for the season on SportsChannel (MIAMI HERALD, 3/27)....NBC is averaging a 5.1/13 for its NBA coverage this season, up 2% through the same point last year (THE DAILY).