CBS mum on new NFL ad rates

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Mel Karmazin, chairman-CEO, CBS station group, declined today to say how much NFL ad rates would increase under CBS' new 8-year, $4 billion deal that obtained rights to the National Football League's American Football Conference games. He said CBS would offer marketers NFL ad packages across all three media CBS owns: national TV, local TV and local radio.

CBS said the new contract allows the network to sell 59 in-game 30-second commercials, an increase of three 30-second spots over the current NFL contract with NBC. Mr. Karmazin added that, over the life of the NFL contract, CBS expects to get "over 3 billion promotional impressions" with men that CBS would otherwise have to pay for.

Most agency media executives predicted today that CBS Corp. will be unable to generate enough ad revenue from its telecasts of American Football Conference games to cover the cost of the package. A CBS executive contended that "between the network, our 12 owned stations--seven of which are in AFC cities--and the radio stations we own, there will be enough advertising revenue not only to cover the deal but make it profitable." CBS is paying 2 1/2 times what NBC paid per year for the package.

NBC, which gave up the AFC package, is reportedly after the Monday night NFL games, now on Walt Disney Co.'s ABC. NBC could be combining that bid with one for the NFL's cable TV package, perhaps with Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System as a partner, one sports media executive speculated. Currently, the NFL's cable package is split between Time Warner's Turner and Disney's ESPN.

A TV station executive said the Monday night package, while it may be more attractive to NBC than the Sunday AFC games, isn't as valuable to a local station in an AFC market. "We do three times the ratings on Sundays with the New England Patriots than 'Monday Night Football' does in this market," said Mike Carson, general manager of WHDH in Boston. Mr. Carson said football generates just 3% of the station's ad revenues.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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