Next month's Boston Marathon will feature "the most
sophisticated minute-by-minute monitoring ever in a road
race, with electronic sensors tracking the progress of
runners every 5 kilometers, then instantaneously feeding
that information to TV viewers and Web site watchers,"
according to Larry Tye of the BOSTON GLOBE. At 5K
intervals, runners will cross 25-foot rubber mats that
contain electronic equipment capable of recognizing the
computer chip in their shoes and recording their time to
that point. That information will be fed to the three local
TV stations covering the race live. Through the official
Web site, bostonmarathon.org, Internet watchers will be able
to monitor the times at each 5K mark for race leaders, and
should be able to get information on any entrant by plugging
in the name or race number. The new setup "is not unduly
expensive, adding $50,000 to the $50,000 organizers paid for
the less extensive computer tracking system they have used
the last two years" (Larry Tye, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/31).
KNOCKED OUT: "USA Tuesday Night Fights" will end its
17-year run on USA Network on August 25. USA Net President
& CEO Kay Koplovitz said it is "focused on reaching a
younger demographic and feel the time is right for a shift
in our targeted audience" (USA Sports). "Tuesday Night
Fights" is averaging a 1.9 rating this season in USA's cable
universe of 73 million households (N.Y. POST, 3/31).
NOTES: Comedy Central will air some behind-the-scenes
specials leading up to the NBA Finals, hosted by "two young
comedians who love basketball" (USA TODAY, 3/31)....In
GOLFWEEK, "The Forecaddie" hears that Tiger Woods "declined
a request to be on the premier cover of fledgling ESPN
Magazine alongside fellow sports phenoms Kobe Bryant,
Kordell Stewart, Alex Rodriguez and Eric Lindros" (GOLFWEEK,
3/28)....In N.Y., Rich Katz reports that Nielsen Media has
formed a "new service to better help its national advertiser
clients deliver more effective campaigns and respond more
quickly to competition" (DAILY VARIETY, 3/31).
THE GREAT OUTDOORS: As part of Fox/Liberty's one-third
purchase of Speedvision and Outdoor Life, TCI, Liberty's
parent, has agreed to expand its limited distribution of the
nets on its systems. TCI, which offers the two nets about
500,000 subscribers each, has committed to increase that
"about eightfold" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/30 issue). Times
Mirror (TM) and Outdoor Life Network are currently
developing a weekly 28-hour themed programming block, set to
premiere tomorrow (MEDIAWEEK, 3/30 issue).
MLB "plans to present several audio Webcasts of games"
on its Web site at majorleaguebaseball.com beginning early
this season, with the number of games carried increasing as
pennant races peak at season's end, according to Richard
Tedesco of BROADCASTING & CABLE. Although a similar plan
was in place last season and "never came to pass," MLB Dir
of New Media Alex Kam said that he "hopes to have a deal in
place soon" for Webcasts of "several key games" each day on
the site. Last year, AudioNet acted as host for some MLB
teams' Webcasts, and is "considered a leading candidate" to
partner with MLB. But Kam indicated that MLB also "was open
to some form of partnership deal" with a sports Web designer
such as Starwave "if such a deal could be struck." Along
with the audiocasts, the MLB Web site will host daily mid-
afternoon chats with players "as well as other exclusive
features" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 3/30 issue).
Filmmaker Michael Moore was a guest on the "Late Show"
with David Letterman. Wearing a Red Wings cap, Moore
discussed Nike's reaction to his film, "The Big One."
Moore: "They've been threatening and they're upset."
Letterman: "And you ask [Nike Chair Phil Knight] to open a
Nike plant in Flint, your hometown, to help the economy
there, and if he did that would you then take some stuff out
of the interview?" Moore: "No, I still wouldn't do it."
But Moore said that if Knight decides to build a factory in
Flint before the film's opening on April 10, "Miramax has
offered to go in and actually put a little epilogue in at
the end of the film, showing Phil with a golden shovel."
Letterman: "I believe that the reason people ... take the
labor to other countries is that it's less expensive. But I
just heard on the radio that a new pair of Air Jordans is a
$150 a pair. So how much more expensive could they possibly
be?" Moore: "Well, they're paying these kids over there
$.40 an hour to work on assembly lines, teenage girls. And
there's shoe companies here, like Hush Puppies and New
Balance, that make their shoes in this country. Maybe they
don't make as much of a profit, but they still make a profit
and they employ people" ("Late Show," CBS, 3/30).
OUTSIDE THE LINES: Most of ESPN's "Outside the Lines"
on Thursday examines labor conditions at Nike's and Reebok's
subcontracted factories in Vietnam, according to Richard
Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. Nike escorted ESPN's crew at
its plant, while Reebok "allowed free access." Host Bob Ley
said that adidas would not cooperate. Ley: "[W]e'll raise
questions about whether the conditions are safe and whether
the workers are getting paid what they were promised to be
paid. There are serious questions about the environmental
safety of some of the workers." At Nike's plant, Ley saw
two incidents of physical contact between supervisors and
workers, "which was surprising given that they knew we'd be
there" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 3/31).
Nielsen Sports Marketing reports that CBS's coverage of
last night's NCAA men's final earned a 17.1/26 overnight
rating. Since this number is an overnight, it may differ
from later reports (THE DAILY).
NOTHING BUT NET: Final Four.net had 108,500,000 hits
for the tournament and 43 million page views. The hits
nearly tripled the 34 million hits of last year. The site
had a million visits since March 12 (THE DAILY).