Two network sports presidents said this week that they probably will not bid for U.S. television rights for the 1994 World Cup, which will be played in the United States for the first time.

ABC Sports President Dennis Swanson said the network will bid for selected games, but not the entire tournament. NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol added, "Given the ratings, I don't think anyone will go for it."

"There are 52 games and I don't think any network will be interested in that," Swanson said. "But if the financial deal is right, we would be interested in a few games."

Kevin O'Malley, a senior vice president for Turner Broadcasting, and Swanson hinted that the rights may be split between groups. ABC and ESPN or NBC and SportsChannel America, which recently agreed to a four-year contract to show 300 hours of soccer programming, are potential partners.

Turner Broadcasting's TNT cable network is showing this year's Cup, and despite low ratings (2 percent share), O'Malley said "we've probably done a little better than we expected." Part of the problem was the large number of weekday afternoon games.

Univision, which reaches 90 percent of the U.S. Hispanic community, has received very good ratings, Cup coordinator Mal Karwoski said.

Meanwhile, 2.75 of Ireland's 3.5 million residents (79 percent) watched the Italy-Ireland quarterfinal match.


Seconds before it returned from a commercial break Tuesday, TNT missed Italy's first-half goal against Argentina. Ironically, a portion of TNT's commercial block is used to promote its upcoming NFL coverage.


NBC and USA Network have worked out a deal to show the 1991 and 1993 Ryder Cup, a biennial golf series between teams from the United States and Europe.