CBS expands horizons with Internet move

In one of the first big deals of his freshly-minted tenure, CBS Sports President Sean McManus has joined his division with one of the nation's largest Internet publishers, SportsLine USA.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. service will be re-titled "CBS SportsLine" immediately to reflect the purchase of 22 percent of the company by Westinghouse, CBS' parent, in a deal that could be worth more than $100 million over the next five years.


"We're thrilled about this new association," said McManus. "This was an amazing opportunity for us."

As Internet and World Wide Web usage expands, the connection between a broadcast network and a sports server such as SportsLine is seen as critical, since interested parties tend to be younger males with money to spend.


ESPN's SportsZone, for instance, has proven to be so popular that Disney, the corporate parent of both ESPN and ABC, is reportedly looking to invest at least $80 million in Starwave, the company that runs SportsZone. NBC is expected to create a sports site through its partnership with Microsoft, leaving Fox and CNN without a sports link.

CBS will use SportsLine to promote its sports programming, beginning most notably with next week's NCAA tournament. McManus said the network's commentators would likely participate in chats and would provide some news-gathering resources.

Michael Levy, president of the three-year-old SportsLine, said the service, which has 40,000 subscribers who pay $4.95 per month, will be able to provide video and audio links. Levy said he intends to beef up infrastructure to ensure that the service can handle the anticipated crush.

"I've worked hard with our technical staff to make sure that what happened to AOL [America Online] doesn't happen to us," said Levy, who added that Cal Ripken has joined as a baseball spokesman.

Done deal

Some 13 months after the deal was announced, the International Olympic Committee and NBC formally signed off yesterday on the back end of a contract that will give the Peacock Network American telecast rights to the Summer Games of 2004 and 2008 and the Winter Games of 2006.

NBC, which will also telecast the Olympics of 2000 and 2002 under a previous deal, will pay out $2.3 billion for the three Games package and will be allowed to call itself "America's Olympic Network," after CBS telecasts the 1998 Winter Games from Nagano, Japan.

In addition, the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee announced that the USOC will receive at least $72 million more from the NBC contract as a result of a tinkering in the formula used to determine how much the American Olympic committee receives from the broadcast network.


Billy the Goat

So, we hear that CBS basketball analyst Billy Packer, who has never been shy about shooting off his mouth, called the NBA the "enemy of basketball" and accused the league of the "remorseless plundering and seduction of college underclassmen" the other day in New York.

Gee, you don't suppose that old Billy has a little conflict of interest on this issue, huh? You see, so long as the best talent bolts early for the pros, CBS' regular-season and tournament ratings suffer.

Packer's act, which has long been transparent, is particularly see-through on this one. Once again, Packer's been caught in full hypocrisy, with his money-grubbing slip showing.

And speaking of stupidity, who's the numbskull at CBS who's trying to get press seating taken away at the regionals and the Final Four so he can push more screaming corporate lackeys into the good seats in the interest of better-looking television?

Don't these morons know that newspapers are, in effect, providing free publicity for their tournament coverage, and that if writers aren't at the tournament, they'd be off someplace else, like baseball spring training? The next thing you know, they won't want writers at their golf tournaments, NASCAR races and the Winter Olympics.


Sometimes, they just don't get it.

Pub Date: 3/06/97