Saturday, November 19, 2011

On This Day, November 19th: NBA Lockout Day 142 & Gloomy Times for Sunshine



1998:

I'm sure your average person could care less about television networks, but they're victims in this ordeal as well. Nice job, Jerry Greene. 



It's the lost eyeballs, not lost basketballs, that hurts Jim Liberatore, Sunshine Network general manager.

You know how well you're coping without the Orlando Magic and the rest of the NBA (``No Basketball League''). And based on all the polls, you're probably coping pretty well.

But over at Sunshine Network, Liberatore is not the happiest guy in the world - because you may not be watching.

And it's not lost financial profit that concerns him, at least not directly. It's a little more complicated than that.

``The rights fees are so high that we don't make a ton of money from the Magic any way,'' Liberatore said, ``but, of course, we're not making a cent right now.

``It's the loss of eyeballs that hurts.''

Sounds painful to me, but let Liberatore explain ...

``The Magic would give us ratings of 5 to 8, meaning 50,000 to 80,000 viewers, and we could promote our other programming during the games. That's a huge marketing loss, which diminishes the value of the station.''

Sunshine was going to televise 44 games, mostly from the Orlando Arena, this season. Meanwhile, over at WKCF-Channel 18, the original schedule called for 25 Magic games, mostly away.

Dave Ward, WKCF programming director, is out of town this week, so I didn't get his input.

But WKCF is in a different position than Sunshine as it carries the Magic TV Network broadcasts. That means it's the Magic who sell the advertising and make the profit - if they had anything to sell.

Back at Sunshine, they are trying to keep advertisers satisfied by giving them more display for their bucks during broadcasts of college basketball and other events.

And finding programming to schedule hasn't been much of a problem.

Still, Liberatore worries about losing one of the network's cornerstones. He lists the Big Five as the Magic/Heat, the Lightning, Florida, Florida State and Central Florida.
``It's like losing a finger.''

Eeeeeuuuuuu. Eyeballs, fingers - this lockout is making Liberatore positively morbid. And he's normally a happy guy.

But wait ... He closed by saying something truly horrible. Don't read any more unless you are strong enough to watch an old Army film on the dangers of ``social diseases'' without flinching.

``What's it like to be going into December without the NBA for us?'' Liberatore said, setting us up: ``It's like you putting out the newspaper each day without a sports section.''
Hush your mouth!

I know you're unhappy, Jim, but that's no call for talking like that. Of course there will always be a sports section, just like there will always be a baseball team in Brooklyn, a pro football team in Los Angeles and a World Series.

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