CBS and Fox to split Sunday Night NFL?

On this Wednesday, one rumor coming out of the NFL meetings in Maui is the possibility of ESPN obtaining the Monday Night Football package and CBS/Fox sharing the Sunday night NFL package. This has been gaining momentum with ABC refusing to pay more than the $550 million that it is currently paying for MNF. In fact, ABC is seeking a price cut, something will be impossible. The NFL is looking at a pricetag of close to $900 million for Monday Night Football. Cable appears to be the entity that can afford to pay that high price. The NFL is a loss leader for both Fox and ABC. CBS claims that it is making a profit thanks to the advertising money made through its Owned and Operated stations in Boston, New York, Miami, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Baltimore, but industry sources feel that is suspect.

In any event, the NFL is looking to give CBS the first half of the Sunday night season with Fox taking the bottom half after its coverage of the baseball postseason is over. This makes total sense as the league wants to reward both CBS and Fox for renewing their Sunday afternoon packages early and being loyal network partners. USA Today has the story.

Rudy Martzke has his regular Wednesday media column in USA Today and he has some news and notes, but the main gist of the story regards Jim Nantz. He’s working his 20th consecutive Final Four. You can tell who Martzke likes and dislikes. He has manlove for Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Marv Albert and Nantz. Martzke hates sideline reporters Jill Arrington and Lisa Guerrero. If you’re an up and comer, a line of approval of Martzke will go a long way with industry insiders. However, if you’re already established, his praise could go overboard. Martzke has done this media column since USA Today began in 1983 and his poison pen has been targeted at Joe Garagiola, Brent Musburger, Dennis Miller, Pat O’Brien and others. One has to take his attempts to play quotes of network executives off one another with a grain of salt.

ESPN’s original drama, “Tilt” has received better ratings than the NHL, but lower than its first original drama, “Playmakers”. Even though “Tilt” did decently, Ron Rapoport of the Chicago Sun-Times reports ESPN is considering canceling the show. The big surprise is not the fact that “Tilt” did better than the NHL, but the fact that ESPN is thinking about canceling the show. It got enough hype and there were people who did watch it, but apparently not enough for the Worldwide Leader’s tastes.

For those of you who have ESPNU on DirecTV or Adelphia Cable, the new network has signed an agreement with the NCAA to air various championships over the next eight years. This is a big thing for ESPNU which needs inventory. Here’s the press release.

In Charlotte, NC, viewers will have the opportunity to watch both Duke and North Carolina State in the NCAA Tournament at the same time on Friday. CBS has made arrangements to air both games. Similar arrangements have been made in Raleigh where NC State is located. The Charlotte Observer has more. And CBS Sports has its own release.

One last word regarding CBS’ coverage of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament comes from Newsday’s Steve Zipay. He on the whole has praise for the network, but also has some criticism for Gus Johnson.

That’s it for now.

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