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Under Review

BETTOR TV Are Americans ready for a 24-hour channel devoted to
gambling? The founders of Casino and Gaming Television are
betting on it and aiming to be in a million homes next year, 20
million by 2008. CGTV will cover sports through the lens of
would-be bettors but won't accept wagers. Will the channel
encourage gambling? "We don't feel we're creating this colossal
demand for gaming. That demand exists," says CGTV president Nick
Rhodes, who was part of the team that built Speed Channel and the
Outdoor Life Network. CGTV cofounders Robert Carlsson and David
Hawk, both investment bankers, were inspired by the popularity of
poker shows such as the Travel Channel's World Poker Tour and by
the more than 50 million Americans who gambled in casinos last
year. Rhodes says CGTV is positioning itself as a gaming
"lifestyle network." In addition to analysis of sporting events,
shows will include Winning Hand, in which poker experts give
tips, and Dusk 'til Dawn, which takes viewers on a tour of Las
Vegas, Monaco and other gambling spots. "Our intent is to become
the single source for the fantasy and sports gamer," says Rhodes.
The biggest hurdle may be persuading advertisers to roll the
dice. "I don't think it's the environment in which most
advertisers want to put their ads," says Larry Novenstern,
director of national broadcast at Deutsch Inc. ad agency. A
hopeful Carlsson disagrees. "Even NBC has a Las Vegas show," he
says, "[Gaming] has become mainstream. It isn't taboo anymore."

LIFT FROM LEBRON ESPN's opening game, LeBron James and the
Cavaliers against the Kings, drew a 2.8 rating, or 2.49 million
households. Only one of ESPN's 69 regular-season games last
season did better: the Jan. 17, 2003, matchup of Shaquille O'Neal
and Yao Ming, which got a 3.8. --R.D.