CBS took a $55-million after-tax loss for its playoff and World Series coverage and a $115 million charge against earnings in the fourth quarter for losses during the remaining three years of its $1.06 billion contract. ESPN's games didn't draw ratings as high as promised, so ESPN had to give advertisers millions of dollars of additional free commercial time.
Then there is the sticky matter of not having a game on each week. Although ESPN, cable superstations, regional sports networks and local telecasts gave viewers more baseball than ever before last year, there still was the anger hurled at CBS for not having a game on each week. This season CBS will air 16 games during the 26-week regular season, limited because the network must cover golf, U.S. Open Tennis, college and NFL football.
PHOTO: COLOR, On the announcing deck for CBS is color man [Tim McCarver], left, and for ESPN, play-by-play man [Paul Olden]. / RICK LaBRANCHE; DRAWING: RON CHAN