The Washington Redskins were not only trounced at RFK Stadium on Sunday, but also lost out among Baltimore television viewers, according to Nielsen figures released yesterday.
The Washington-Seattle Seahawks game, aired at 1 p.m. Sunday on Channel 2, drew a 5.2 rating and a 14 share, while the New York Giants-Philadelphia game, aired at the same time on Channel 45, got a 6.3 rating and a 17 share.
That's not as clear a victory as the Seahawks scored Sunday, but it is significant, since Redskins games beat all head-to-head competition each Sunday afternoon last season. The Dallas-Pittsburgh game on Channel 45 at 4 p.m. did a 7.4/17, and Monday night's San Francisco 49ers-Los Angeles Raiders game got a whopping 14.8/28 on Channel 13.
There are a few explanations for what happened here Sunday, including Fox's debut, which likely pulled in an audience of the curious to Channel 45. Also, total viewership could have been lower because of the Labor Day holiday and the weekend's spectacular weather.
Then again, the Redskins are expected to stink this year, and who wants to watch a lousy team in a boring league?
Sunday's Redskins game at New Orleans will prevent Baltimore viewers from seeing one of the best games on the NFL schedule this year, San Francisco at Kansas City, with a terrific story line, as Joe Montana meets his former 49ers teammates for the first time.
As explained here last week, the Baltimore market is considered a home market for the Redskins, since it is less than 75 miles from Washington. Under NFL broadcast rules, a home market must carry any road game, and since Fox carries the NFC and can show only one game this Sunday, Channel 45 must telecast the Redskins-Saints game at 4 p.m.
Direct your complaints to Val Pinchbeck Jr., NFL vice president of broadcasting and productions. Write him at 410 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022 or call (212) 758-1500.
By the way, Channel 2, which has the NFL doubleheader this weekend, will have the Miami-Green Bay game at 1 p.m. and the Houston-Dallas slugfest at 4 p.m. If you must have Joe Montana, Philadelphia is just two hours away.
In other ratings revelations, the CFL continued to do well here. Saturday's Baltimore-Shreveport contest on Channel 2 attracted a 5.0/10 against Channel 13's Notre Dame-Northwestern college game, which did a 3.6/7.
Channel 13's decision to pass up the Maryland-Duke football game might not have been wise. Its Saturday presentation of the Greater Milwaukee Open did a 1.5/5 and was the least watched sports program in town last weekend. Sunday's final round, however, slightly outperformed the U.S. Open on Channel 11.
As always, all ratings numbers come courtesy of Channel 11's Sharon Walz, official ratings supplier to "On the Air," who stresses that ratings measure the percentage of TV households watching a program, and shares are a percentage among homes where the television is in use.
Strange, but true
We're not making this up.
Tomorrow at 9 p.m. on pay-per-view, "the World Cup of fighting," the Ultimate Fighting Championship III, comes to your homes from the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, N.C.
All the bigwigs of the martial arts will be in attendance for this battle, the third of its type in a year. A tape of the second UFC is reportedly the best-selling non-theatrical tape in Japan.
For the uninformed martial-arts consumer, tomorrow night's odds-on favorite is Ken Shamrock, who missed UFC II because of a broken wrist, and hopes to meet two-time champion Royce Gracie of Brazil, who broke Shamrock's wrist in the first UFC. To get to Gracie, however, Shamrock will have to go through TC 6-foot-8, 610-pound Sumo wrestler named Yarbrough.
It doesn't get any better than this.