HBO Serves Up More Women's Coverage

Golf dominates this weekend's TV fare--NBC has most of the U.S. Open coverage, and there are 5 1/2 hours on ESPN today--but tennis soon moves into the spotlight.

More specifically, women's tennis.

Wimbledon begins Monday, and Ross Greenburg, HBO executive producer, said the pay-cable network's early-morning weekday coverage will devote more time to the women's matches.

HBO commentator Billie Jean King said she has been telling Greenburg for years that there is more interest in the women.

This year, she finally convinced him.

Said King: "Women's tennis is currently in the best shape it has ever been in its history."

For those yearning for the good old days of men's tennis, there is the Challenge senior tournament on CBS this weekend from the Palisades Club in Newport Beach. It features John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Yannick Noah and Bjorn Borg. Matches will be shown, delayed, at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

NBA FINALS WRAPUP

The NBA finals were a ratings success for NBC--the 22.3 for Game 6 was the highest ever for an NBA game--but not a critical one. An unlikely target for critics across the country was Bob Costas, who generally gets only acclaim.

The problem with Costas is that he hasn't done basketball since his Spirit of St. Louis days in the '70s. His style is more suited to baseball and he seemed out of place on basketball.

But give Costas credit for filling time with an off-the-top-of-his-head essay before NBC signed off Sunday night.

NEW LOOK FOR BOWLING

The Pro Bowlers Assn., which is making its annual tour stop in Lakewood for the AC Delco Classic this week, has undergone a make-over.

The PBA has gone from ABC to CBS and no longer do we get Chris Schenkel whispering into a microphone while a small crowd watches quietly. Gary Seibel and Marshall Holman call the action among cheering fans. And to help spruce things up, the pins are painted gold and weigh four ounces more than the old, standard ones.

The idea behind the changes was to get the sport's image out of the gutter and appeal more to the MTV crowd than the Lawrence Welk crowd.

Saturday's final will be on Channel 2 at noon.

BOXING BEAT

Channel 9, which recently won a local Emmy for its boxing coverage, offers another attractive Las Vegas fight card Saturday night at 8, featuring Juan Manuel Marquez against Juan Gerardo Cabrera. The card is also being shown nationally on USSB as a pay-per-view event. . . . To generate some interest in its Julio Cesar Chavez-Ken Sigurani pay-per-view fight next Thursday in Mashantucket, Conn., Top Rank announced that Chavez can earn a $250,000 bonus with a knockout. Chavez must get past Sigurani in order to fight Oscar De La Hoya on Sept. 25 in Las Vegas.

SHORT WAVES

CBS has hired ESPN's Bonnie Bernstein as a reporter for its "NFL Today" program and named Tim Brando as host of its "College Football Today" show. Brando replaces Jim Nantz, who moved over to "NFL Today." . . . CBS opens its college football season Sept. 5 with Ohio State at West Virginia at 5 p.m. CBS has UCLA-Miami on Sept. 26. Sean McDonough and Terry Donahue return as CBS' No. 1 announcing team. . . . NBC has named Ken Schanzer as president of sports while naming Dick Ebersol chairman. Schanzer, former executive vice president of sports, will still report to Ebersol, who is also chairman of the new Olympics division.

Channel 9 and the Lakers have a new agreement that runs through the 2004-2005 season. . . . Channel 9 televises the first of its two Sparks games Sunday at 6:30 p.m., when the Sparks play at Houston. Chick Hearn is doing the play by play, which should be interesting.

The recent ceremony in which Shaquille O'Neal donated $1 million for the establishment of technology centers at Boys & Girl Clubs nationwide will be part of Saturday's "NBA Inside Stuff" show on Channel 4 at 10:30 a.m. . . . Reggie Miller begins his role as a WNBA commentator for Lifetime when it televises the Washington Mystics and Utah Starzz today at 5 p.m.

Julie Foudy, who has been excelling as the in-studio commentator for ESPN during the World Cup, is co-captain of the U.S. women's national soccer team. She was a four-time All-American at Stanford, and her career at Mission Viejo High earned her honors as The Times' soccer player of the decade. . . . Ben Wright returns to television in a couple of weeks on the new syndicated show, "Golf 2000 With Peter Jacobsen."

RADIO DAZE

The Kings' move from XTRA 690 to KRLA 1110 makes sense for several reasons, says the team's marketing chief, John Cimperman. KRLA provides a stronger signal in the San Fernando Valley, there won't be any conflicts with USC basketball and the move to a CBS-owned station provides more promotional opportunities on other CBS-owned stations such as KNX, KFWB, ARROW 93, KROQ, KRTH 101, and the WAVE. As a group, they account for 50% of L.A. listening audience. . . . Complaints about XTRA 1150's signal in the Valley are still reaching our desk, but reader James M. Thompson of Sylmar says anyone calling the Dodger postgame show to complain about it can't get on the air. . . . XTRA 690 has completed its USC football announcing team. The main team, as reported earlier, will be Lee Hamilton and Paul McDonald, with former wide receiver John Jackson on the sidelines and John Fricke and former defensive tackle Tim Ryan handling the pre- and postgame shows.

IN CLOSING

Joey Haim, formerly the more uncouth of the two "SportsGods" on XTRA 1150, has filed a suit against the station and the Dodgers for his dismissal in December. It would make more sense if the station were suing Haim for damaging its reputation.

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What Los Angeles Is Watching

A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for June 13-14 , including sports on cable networks:

SATURDAY

*--*

Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Soccer: World Cup, South Korea-Mexico 34 6.5 19 Baseball: Colorado at Dodgers 11 4.4 12 Soccer: World Cup, Netherlands-Belgium 34 4.2 13 Soccer: World Cup, Netherlands-Belgium 7 3.2 9 Baseball: Angels at Texas 9 2.8 6 Soccer: World Cup, Spain-Nigeria 34 2.7 7 Hockey: Stanley Cup, Detroit at Washington 11 1.9 4 Boxing: Freddie Norwood-Genaro Rios 7 1.8 5 Basketball: WNBA, New York at Houston 4 1.8 5 Bowling: Showboat Invitational 2 1.4 4 Golf: Senior BellSouth Classic 4 1.2 4 Golf: PGA Buick Classic 2 1.1 3

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*

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Cable Network Rating Share Boxing: De La Hoya-Charpentier HBO 4.0 8 Soccer: World Cup, South Korea-Mexico ESPN2 2.0 6 Soccer: World Cup, Spain-Nigeria ESPN2 0.7 4 Horse racing: 2Day at the Races ESPN2 0.3 1 Horse racing: Hollywood Park Live FSW 0.2 1 Horse racing: Hollywood Park Today FSW 0.2 0 Golf: LPGA Oldsmobile Classic ESPN 0.2 0 Baseball: Montreal at Atlanta TBS 0.2 0 Baseball: San Francisco at San Diego FX 0.2 0

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*

SUNDAY

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Over-the-air Channel Rating Share Basketball: NBA finals, Chicago at Utah 4 26.0 47 Basketball: WNBA, Sparks at Phoenix 4 3.6 10 Soccer: World Cup, Yugoslavia-Iran 34 3.2 10 Golf: PGA Buick Classic 2 2.8 18 Soccer: World Cup, Jamaica-Croatia 34 3.0 9 Soccer: World Cup, Jamaica-Croatia 7 3.0 8 Soccer: World Cup, Argentina-Japan 34 1.9 13 Auto racing: NASCAR Miller Lite 400 2 1.9 6 Golf: Senior BellSouth Classic 4 1.7 5 Soccer: World Cup, Yugoslavia-Iran ESPN 1.4 4 Horse racing: Shoemaker Breeders' Cup 2 1.6 4

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*

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Cable Network Rating Share Baseball: Colorado at Dodgers FSW2 1.3 4 Soccer: World Cup, Argentina-Japan ESPN 0.8 5 Boxing: Floyd Mayweather-Tony Pep ESPN2 0.7 1 Baseball: Chicago at Philadelphia WGN 0.4 1 Golf: LPGA Oldsmobile Classic ESPN 0.4 1 Auto racing: NASCAR Pikes Peak 250 ESPN 0.3 1 Baseball: Montreal at Atlanta TBS 0.3 1 Baseball: Baltimore at Toronto ESPN 0.2 0

*--*

WEEKDAY RATINGS: Soccer--World Cup, U.S.-Germany, Monday, Ch. 7, 4.6/15; Ch. 34, 3.2/11.

Note: Each full rating point represents 50,092 L.A. households. Cable ratings reflect the entire market even though cable is in only 63% of L.A. households.

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