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Minutes” until the game was over; and it fed right into the “Sixty Minutes.”
That's where I think the bite will come. But even that is manageable with smart promotion
and good programming. But the loss of the NFL is the more serious of the two problems.
The NFL is only on for part of the season, so that isn't the end of the world. But Sunday
afternoon belonged to CBS back almost, I guess, forty years--because we started the NFL on
television with just a few stations in the very early days. And gradually, as the NFL built
and we built, we had a franchise which was very important, and to the affiliates a rather
prestigious product--more so in the middle-sized markets than in the very big markets. If
you were the owner of a station in Denver and you were used to going to the country club for
lunch or brunch on Sunday, your friends would all know they were going to be watching your
station, because that's where the important football game was. And now that affiliate's lost
caste, so to speak, in the country club.
How did that happen? How did the loss really come about? What do you attribute it to?
I don't know; I wasn't privy to any of the strategic conversations. But football was
not a great money-maker; it was more a circulation builder. It was, for a period of time--I'm
going back now to, I would say, the period 1965 to 1970--I think the books would show that it
was a very profitable schedule. But as the football owners knew what we were making, they
kept pressing and pressing, knowing reasonably well that we couldn't walk away from it. So
they pushed us right up to the last nickel, and it was not as profitable as it had been.
And CBS, in its own way, had gone to the stations and said: “Well, now, instead of paying you
to carry the games, because they're so important to you as well as to us, we're going to cut
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