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Austin, Evert Sharing Tennis Analyst and Maternal Duties

February 29, 1996

When Tracy Austin said she’d just got back from Le Mans class, it sounded like she was taking up auto racing. Turns out, she’d just returned from her first 24 hours of Lamaze.

``When they start to talk to you about labor and all that breathing, you begin to realize it’s really going to happen,″ Austin said. ``And you wonder: How much is this really going to hurt?″

Austin’s first child is due April 17, which will make her available to work for NBC at Wimbledon later in the summer. It’s a good thing. For the third time, Austin will be filling in for Chris Evert, who also is pregnant.

``If she has 10 kids, it’ll mean good job security for me,″ Austin said.

Mary Carillo, who isn’t pregnant, will fill in for Evert in NBC’s coverage of two earlier tennis tournaments, the Family Circle Magazine Cup and the French Open. Austin will work the French Open for USA Network.

``It’s funny because Chris and I play on the Legends Tour together. I first announced that I was pregnant and would miss the first three events, then Chrissy announces that she’ll miss the next three, and they say, `Enough already!‴

Like this never happens on the Seniors Golf Tour.

OUT TAKES: Only 30 months old and already in more than 30 million homes _ as a cable baby, ESPN2 has been a tad precocious.

``I think we’re a little ahead of schedule,″ said John Wildhack, senior vice president of programming at ESPN.

As it becomes available in almost half the homes that already get ESPN, ESPN2 is about to undergo some changes, as well. On Friday, ESPN2 will begin to scroll scores across the bottom of the screen from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. ET weekdays and 1 p.m.-7 a.m. weekends. It will be called ``Bottom Line2.″

``The resolution is terrific. It takes up a small amount of space, yet it’s very readable,″ Wildhack said.

Then, in July, ESPN2 will block out a five-hour period, beginning at 1 p.m. ET, devoted exclusively to sports news. Building on the success of ``SportsCenter,″ the new show will have a different set, a different look and different anchors. But, like the morning ``SportsCenter,″ it will be repeated throughout the afternoon, updated as needed.

ESPN and ESPN2 together will give viewers 13 1/2 hours of straight news, giving the two networks an effective counter to the CNN-Sports Illustrated plan to launch a 24-hour, all-sports news network by December.

``Both these ideas were discussed at length for a significant period of time,″ Wildhack said, ``well before the announced launch of CNN-SI.

``The feedback that we have received is that there is an insatiable appetite for sports news and information out there. Because of `SportsCenter’ and our other specialty shows, we’re perceived as the leader. This is a natural extension of what we’ve developed over the past 16 years.″ ...

Event Entertainment Inc. of Los Angeles and Gelb Promotions of Atlantic City, N.J., have combined to form a satellite sports network specifically for bars and restaurants, and it will make its debut on Wednesday, March 13 with the first in a monthly series of boxing matches. The new network will be called Event Entertainment Satellite Network, and cost bars with C-band satellite dishes from $3,500 to $4,500 per year, depending on their size.

``Bars and restaurants asked for this,″ said Rick Kulis, president of Event Entertainment, a regular pay-per-view and closed circuit distributor of fights. ``What they told us was, `Hey, we love these events, but they’re usually on Friday and Saturday nights when we’re packed. Give us something to bring people in during the week. If it’s exclusive to us, we’d be interested.‴

The new network has a three-year agreement with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. to supply the fights, which will be seen only on these telecasts or on pay-per-view by those who have the 18-inch, digital satellite dishes.

So far, Kulis said the network has contacted 1,000 bars and restaurants and has signed up 250.

``Our goal over the next three years is to approach at least 5,000 bars,″ Kulis said. ``There are currently 10,000 bars signed up for `NFL Sunday Ticket,′ so we have a lot of growth potential.″

Kulis said the plan eventually is to supply nightly telecasts that will include other sports events as well as entertainment. On July 20, for example, the network will present the Three Tenors Concert from Atlantic City.

That’s Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and the other guy.

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