A local public relations firm has quantified what we at "Media Watch" have suspected for a while: Fans really want a constant score box on the screen during games.
According to a national survey of 1,000 adults, conducted by Eisner & Associates last weekend, 54 percent of the total sample said they noticed and liked a box that shows the score and game situation on screen during games, and a whopping 76 percent of those who identified themselves as sports fans said they liked the box.
Fox was the first network to use a constant score, unveiling it with its NFL coverage in 1994. ESPN quickly added its version of the box, and ABC, albeit reluctantly, premiered its score box this year during college football.
At present, only CBS and NBC among the major sports carriers fail to use a score box, though there are rumors that CBS might add it this winter during college basketball coverage.
NBC, meanwhile, remains adamant that it will not place a box on screen during games. David Neal, the network's coordinating baseball producer, said before the World Series that NBC tries to avoid having "clutter" on screen and thus resists a box.
An interesting sidelight of the survey was that 31 percent of those surveyed indicated that the presence of the box causes them to switch channels more often, thus viewing fewer commercials.
Wizards of odds
So, the Washington NBA entry has gone and gussied up its look and given itself a new name, the Wizards. But will they fare better with a new appellation than say, Prince, the last big name to change identities in midstream?
In the short term, Turner analyst Hubie Brown said, he doesn't think so, especially with center Gheorghe Muresan out in the early going with an injury.
"This is going to have a major bearing on their season," said Brown. "You're taking a major guy out of the mix, and if he's not available over a long period of time, I want to know who's going to play and make those contributions."
Chimed in Bob Hill, the former San Antonio Spurs coach and the latest addition to the analysts' ranks: "To coach against this guy is very difficult. If he catches the ball, he shoots it quickly and he's hard to defend. He makes shots and he alters them on the other end. Without Muresan, it's going to be difficult for them to get out fast."
ESPN's Linda Cohn will earn her pay today, turning up on six of the conglomerate's entities in a 10 1/2 -hour shift.
In order, Cohn will anchor an hour of ESPNEWS at 1 p.m., then do a commentary for ESPN Radio. Next, she'll co-anchor "SportsCenter" on the mother ship, then take part in a live interview from the ESPN Club in Orlando. Down the stretch, Cohn will do a live chat on ESPN's SportsZone online service, do voice-over work for ESPN International, then wrap up the day by anchoring "NHL 2Night" on ESPN2.
Phi Beta Hoops
With roughly two weeks to go before the first tip-off, CBS and ESPN have released their 1997-98 college basketball regular-season schedules.
CBS, home of the men's Final Four, has 53 men's and women's games on its slate, which runs from the Dec. 6 premiere, pitting Kentucky against Indiana, through March 8, when it airs the tournament championships of the Southeastern and Big Ten conferences.
Among the highlights of the CBS package are an appearance by Coppin State, in a Dec. 13 meeting at Arizona, two appearances each by Duke and North Carolina, and the annual meeting between the Tennessee and Connecticut women in early January.
Meanwhile, ESPN and ESPN2 have announced a 306-game men's and women's schedule, with 197 games on ESPN and 109 on ESPN2.
As in the past, on the men's side, ESPN will carry games from the preseason and postseason National Invitation Tournament, the Maui Invitational, the Great Alaska Shootout, the Great Eight doubleheaders and the Rainbow Classic. Maryland will make five ESPN appearances, the first coming Nov. 14, when the Terps meet South Carolina in Minneapolis.
Once again, ESPN and ESPN2 will air Championship Week, which this season will include games from the new Big Ten tournament, as well as the title contests from the Big East, Atlantic 10 and Big 12. The ACC tournament also will be seen on ESPN, but not in this market.
ESPN2 will carry 20 women's regular-season games, including a Jan. 18 matchup between Maryland and North Carolina in College Park.
Closer to home, Home Team Sports commences its 88-game men's schedule on Nov. 11 with an NABC Classic doubleheader, with Providence meeting Temple in one game and Southern California taking on New Mexico in the second contest. The regional channel will carry one semifinal and the consolation and championship games from the Franklin Bank Classic on Dec. 7-8, with Maryland, Kansas, George Washington and Penn in the mix.
Pub Date: 10/30/97