DETAILS OF NBC/TIME WARNER'S NEW FOOTBALL LEAGUE EMERGE
Architects for the proposed NBC/Time Warner football
league, which may debut in June of 2000, "are considering
having 10 to 12 franchises, a 10-week regular season and a
championship game around Labor Day," according to Peter King
of SI, who cites "sources familiar with discussions."
Rather than "engage in a bidding war with the NFL for
stars," the league "would create regional franchises stocked
primarily with former collegians who have a local following
and are willing to play for less than $100,000 a season."
Several "fan-friendly" elements also are being considered.
But King writes, "the last thing America needs is a new
sports league." A-B Corporate VP/Media & Sports Marketing
Tony Ponturo: "The big question is, Can NBC and Turner
create a league that will keep the 21- to 34-year-old male
at home on a weekend night? ... Baseball's growing stronger,
and the growth of sports is outdistancing the growth of
marketing dollars for advertisers. It'll be tough for the
new league, but certainly you'd have to give it a hearing
because of the brains of the people involved" (SI, 8/17).
MORE FROM THE TIME WARNER INSIDER: King also told USA
TODAY's Rudy Martzke: "I think the league definitely will
play. Should the NFL fear this? I don't think so, but they
should have worthy respect for some of the smartest men in
TV. While they say revenge (for losing the NFL) isn't part
of it, [NBC Sports Chair] Dick Ebersol and [Time Warner Vice
Chair] Ted Turner would like to see the NFL suffer in some
way" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 8/12).