Something strange is going on.
No, we're not talking about the planning session for the next "American Gladiators" show, but with the ratings for the soon-to-be relocated Cleveland Browns.
Does everyone know that they're coming here? Apparently not, since for the third straight week since their move was announced, Browns ratings here have been disappointing, or at least below what might reasonably expect.
According to numbers furnished by Barry Schiffer, the new ratings researcher at channels 45 and 54, and this week's sole and official "Media Watch" ratings provider, Sunday's Browns-Packers game on Channel 45 got a 6.8 rating and 16 share of the audience, 32 percent below the 10.0/23 for the Redskins-Seattle game on Channel 11.
Although audience levels for the Browns game built through the afternoon, they never surpassed the Redskins' contest in any quarter-hour during the day.
Meanwhile, the 4 p.m. game, in which Dallas thrashed Oakland, received a 13.4/23 on Channel 45.
The Browns' desultory performance the last three weeks, combined with some lingering guilt over the move, plus the basic fact that, well, the team isn't actually here yet, could explain the ratings funk. But it also makes one wonder whether assumptions about the team's viability in the local broadcast and advertising markets are accurate.
More golf, trucks for CBS
CBS has extended its deal with the PGA for the Presidents Cup, a biennial match-play tournament between teams of American and international golfers held in Ryder Cup off years to 1998. The network carried the first tournament last year from Northern Virginia, where next year's tournament will be held.
Also, the network announced that it has reached a deal to carry at least eight races from NASCAR's SuperTruck series over the next two years. Apparently, there's some logic to the move, as an estimated 120 million viewers watched all or part of 77 Winston Cup, SuperTruck and Grand National races during the NASCAR year.
The sweet science
What do Chris Byrd, Phil Jackson, Joseph Kiwanuka and Thomas Tate have in common? Besides the fact they're four guys you've probably never heard of, they'll be battling on USA's "Tuesday Night Fights" tonight at 9 p.m.
USA's blend of rising unknowns and, well, over-the-hill types has given it an edge over ESPN's "Top Rank Boxing" among the general populace and boxing insiders.
In a Ring magazine poll, 62 percent of fighters, managers, promoters, writers, trainers, announcers and commissioners said they prefer "Tuesday Night Fights" over "Top Rank Boxing," while the USA show is pulling in about 1.44 million households each week, compared with the 1.02 million a week for the ESPN program.
Glossing over facts
Not that we're picking on ESPN's Keith Olbermann or anything, but someone needs to tell him and his network that schools other than Connecticut play women's basketball. You wouldn't know that from watching "SportsCenter," where highlights and scores from non-Huskies games have been sparse so far.
Olbermann asserted the other night that the sport was just "dipping its toe in the water," and only has gotten that far because of UConn's unbeaten, championship season last year. Such players as Nancy Lieberman, Cheryl Miller and Sheryl Swoopes no doubt will be surprised to hear that.
The women's basketball community was elated to hear that ESPN had picked up the NCAA tournament and Final Four competition and is intending to raise the sport's visibility. It would be nice if they recognize that there 300 other schools that play the game.