For years, the Ravens quietly tried to make the case to the NFL that Baltimore-Washington would function best as a single television market.
The current system -- in which the Redskins and Ravens have separate markets -- left some Ravens fans, in effect, behind enemy lines. The Ravens said in 2010 that about 12 percent of their personal seat license holders have residences in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia or Montgomery or Prince George's counties -- the domain of the Redskins. Those fans used to complain that they couldn’t see all of Baltimore's games on TV.
The Ravens say that's been changing. The change isn't because the TV territories have been shifted. Rather, it's because Washington television -- and we're primarily talking about WUSA, the CBS affiliate -- has become very Ravens-friendly.
The Ravens have proved quite popular in Washington. Consider the Super Bowl, which, according to Ravens president Dick Cass, earned a 56.9 rating and an 80 share in the Washington market. That means 56.9 percent of TVs were tuned in to the big game -- and 80 percent of TVs in use were dialed in.
The only markets with better numbers than Washington for that Ravens-49ers Super Bowl were Baltimore and New Orleans, where the game was held. It even beat San Francisco.
Washington doesn't always like conceding that it's interested in the Ravens. It's as if some Redskins fans feel they're diluting their allegiance to the home club by following a neighbor. But there's clearly Ravens interest in the Washington area -- and vice-versa.
I was thinking about all this as I wrote a story for Sunday's paper about the relationship between the Orioles and Nationals.
For those interested, here (from an old story I wrote) is how the NFL system works:
A team's principal market must televise every game except home contests that don't sell out. Teams also have secondary markets that generally show their away games and have the option to show their home games. Washington is a secondary market for the Ravens, as Baltimore is for the Redskins.