NBC plans post-football future

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NBC President Dick Ebersol said today NBC had determined that ad rates on the new National Football League contract for the American Football Conference could rise about 10%. That was one of the factors considered when the network passed on the package, Mr. Ebersol told a meeting of NBC affiliates in New Orleans this morning. CBS bought the NFL package for $500 million per year. Mr. Ebersol added that when the network then bid for "Monday Night Football," its business plan foresaw ad increases of up to 20%. He said he will search for a "truly valuable sports franchise" to fill the Sunday programming gap, and if neither NBC Sports nor NBC News could fill the time period, the network might give the time back to the affiliates. He said offering NBA basketball games in the fourth quarter was not an option because they get "pulverized" by college football in the ratings, and that the auto companies, beer companies and shoe marketers that pay major dollars to advertise on the NBA on NBC would not like to compete against college football, where these advertisers also have a major presence.

NBC advertising and promotion chief John Miller told the affiliates it was going to be difficult to promote to men without football, and that NBC was planning to increase its spending on basic cable, sports media, outdoor and magazines to advertise its shows. He also unveiled a $1 million matching fund for co-op advertising with the affiliates to promote NBC's new season this fall.

Finally, NBC Network President Neil Braun confirmed previous reports that NBC is putting together a business plan to enter into long-term partnership agreements with affiliates. Mr. Braun did not reveal details of the plan, other than to say its purpose would be to invest in new businesses that would be beneficial to both the network and the affiliates, and to say that it would also be a way to finance big event TV programming in the future.

Copyright January 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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