Baltimore returns snub with less NFL viewing


Say this for Baltimoreans: We aren't afraid to buck the trend.

While NFL viewership across the country appears to be up, people in the Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin seem to be finding other things to occupy themselves.

Through the first six weeks of the season, Baltimore football viewing levels are down, but not enough to cause mass hysteria.

For instance, "Monday Night Football" on Channel 13 is averaging a 14.3 rating and 25 share, which is pretty good, but not as good as the 16.9/28 through the same period last year.

NFC games last season, which aired on Channel 11, averaged a 10.2/29, but have slumped to a 6.7/15 on the new carrier, Channel 45. Only Channel 2, which airs the AFC, has shown improvement, from an 8.8/20 last year to a 9.4/21.

"I'm a little perplexed," said Peter Leimbach, Channel 2's research director and this week's official "On the Air" ratings supplier.

Frankly, so are we. After all, it isn't as if there were other professional programming alternatives, what with baseball and PTC hockey suffering labor pains, and basketball at least a month away.

There are a few explanations, such as the recent spate of pleasant late summer/early fall weather that might have sent some outdoors, or the lousy play of the Washington Redskins, or blowouts in games that were expected to be entertaining, such as Houston-Pittsburgh or last Sunday's Arizona-Dallas.

Or maybe, just maybe, folks in Charm City are taking last fall's expansion disaster more to heart than one could expect. Whatever the reason, it's a pretty fair bet that with colder weather on the way, the football numbers should get back to normal.

As for last weekend, the Miami Dolphins once again solidified their hold on Baltimore viewers. Their 1 p.m. game with Buffalo on Channel 2 rolled out an 11.0/28. The 28 share was the highest of the year for any Sunday afternoon game and matched two Monday night games.

The 4 p.m. Kansas City-San Diego game did an 11.2/22 for Channel 2, pummeling the Cardinals-Cowboys contest on Channel 45, which did a paltry 3.7/8.

In other ratings developments, Saturday's Notre Dame-Boston College battle did a 4.2/15 for Channel 13 at noon, and its 3:30 game, Illinois-Ohio State, got a 6.4/18.

Soccer preview

Gary Stein's "City Sports Scene" gets a head start on the Spirit's upcoming season with a preview show, airing today at 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and tomorrow morning at 9:30 on city cable channel 44.

Stein chats with new Spirit coach Dave MacWilliams and players John Parry, Kevin Sloan and Lance Johnson from Du Burns Arena, along with three minutes of highlights from last weekend's McDonogh-Mount St. Joseph football game.

Teeing off at McCord

Apparently Tom Watson thinks as much of CBS golf commentator Gary McCord as Augusta National officials do.

Watson, in an April 11 letter to CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian, ripped into McCord, calling him "the Howard Stern of TV golf."

McCord was bounced from next April's Masters for comments branded as irreverent by Augusta National officials.

Watson's letter to Chirkinian was printed in the November issue of Golf Digest, which came out Monday.

"It is sad that he so degraded the last [golf] telecast of Pat Summerall," wrote Watson. "He is the Howard Stern of TV golf and you should be ashamed, rather than champion his 'irreverent' behavior. Get rid of him, now."

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