Though 3 playoff games are hit, overall figures are discouraging


The Baseball Network concept of regionalized playoff telecasts remains a critical bomb, but the viewing public seems a lot more willing to forgive than scribes or telecasters, though not completely.

Three of the games in the league championship series broadcast last week landed in the top 14 of the most widely viewed shows of the week, and if Baltimore's preliminary figures for the sixth game of the American League series are any gauge, Tuesday's Cleveland-Seattle finale may have done impressive business.

ABC's telecasts last Tuesday and Wednesday were No. 1 on their respective nights, and eighth and 14th in the overall weekly ratings. Tuesday's Indians-Mariners sixth game, which did a 15.0 national rating with a 24 share of the audience, probably will reach next week's top 20.

And yet, the six-game average of 13.1/22 is the second-lowest prime-time average in the 26-year history of league championship series telecasts, placing just ahead of the 12.7 average for CBS in 1992. It's enough to make you wonder just how TBN is going to deliver the 20 rating it promised advertisers for the World Series.

Locally, playoff numbers have stayed about on course with the national averages, according to Chris Mecchi, Channel 13's ratings researcher and this week's sole and official "Media Watch" ratings provider.

From a 10.9/19 for last Saturday's game to a whopping 18.6/27 Tuesday -- the second-most widely viewed baseball game of the year in Baltimore, behind the night a certain shortstop made sports history -- the Cleveland-Seattle playoff series has delivered for channels 2 and 11 roughly the same ratings the Orioles provided during the regular season, proving Baltimore to be a strong baseball town.

Reality check

Another addendum to that bogus USA Today story from Tuesday, declaring that baseball, Fox and CBS had hooked up (( on a four-year telecast contract:

Given the tremendous losses CBS suffered during its last foray into baseball, and what the owners did to ABC and NBC with the Baseball Network travesty, could anyone in their right mind expect either CBS or Fox to sign a deal before the players and owners reach a labor agreement?

Yes, network executives can be foolish at times, but either CBS Sports chief David Kenin or his Fox counterpart, David Hill, deserve to be unemployed if they commit their network's money and programming time to baseball before receiving ironclad assurances that the game's players will be on the field for the long term.

Rappin' with Jack

TNT analyst Mark May, who drew a paycheck from Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke for years, when he played for the team, has what the network is calling an "exclusive" interview with the cantankerous Cooke, to be shown during the "Pro Football Tonight" pre-game show for tonight's Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game at 7.

The network is billing this as a "rare" talk with Cooke, who reportedly expounds on instant replay, today's players and other topics. Those of us in the Baltimore-Washington area, however, know that there aren't many things that JKC does more frequently than talk.

Stuff you might have missed

The most notable personnel move over the two weeks that the "Media Watch" column was dark was CBS' signing of Sean McDonough to an exclusive long-term contract for which terms were not disclosed.

McDonough, 33, who was lead baseball announcer for CBS for three years, likely will be the No. 2 voice in CBS' forthcoming college football package, as well as continuing to call college basketball.

McDonough will stay with the Boston Red Sox as their television voice, and will do some work for ESPN until his current contract expires.

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