Strike puts ABC in rough

NEW YORK — The NABET strike that knocked out ABC’s golf coverage on Saturday may leave the network on the hook for $3 million in ad revenues.

Sources say that’s the value of ad inventory for the 2-1/2-hour PGA Tour championship that was supposed to air at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday, until a surprise 24-hour grievance strike by the technical unit forced ABC off the air (Daily Variety, Nov. 3).

Although sports events are routinely delayed due to weather, the strike-induced pre-emption of an event that indeed took place was unprecedented in the network’s history.

Instead, the Alphabet web aired a rerun of the final round from the 1995 PGA Tour, and while ratings won’t be available until Thursday, they will no doubt come in lower than the live tourney’s would have.

ABC wouldn’t comment, but sales execs were said to be approaching advertisers who bought spots in the tour, estimated at $50,000 for each of the roughly 60 spots aired during the 150-minute span. (ABC aired the final round of the PGA Tour on Sunday as scheduled).

Under typical ad contracts, networks must seek permission from advertisers to run spots in unscheduled replacement programming, which in this case wasn’t possible, because the network learned of the strike only hours before airtime. Otherwise, ad spots run are considered free placements, and the webs must negotiate cash refunds or replacement spots to air in other programming.

“Technically we wouldn’t have to pay for them,” said Steve Grubbs, senior VP at BBDO Worldwide. “We bought apple pie, not coconut cream.”

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