As with almost everything else in life, there are at least a couple of ways to look at last weekend's ratings, and how you view them probably depends on whether you think this is a baseball town or a football town waiting to find its television audience.
First, the numbers, as furnished by Sharon Walz, Channel 11's ratings researcher and this week's sole and official "Media Watch" ratings provider. The Ravens-Pittsburgh game, as seen on Channel 11, got a 16.6 household rating and a 36 share of the available audience.
The Ravens game was, by far, the most-watched program of the weekend, doubling the 8.7/18 number for the Dallas-New York Giants game that aired at 4 p.m. Sunday on Channel 45, and obliterating its direct football competition, the Washington-Chicago contest, also on Channel 45, which did a 2.7/6.
However, the Ravens audience for Sunday was smaller than the 18.9/48 for the previous week, the season opener against Oakland, and reflected a 25 percent drop in the share, the measure of the number of television sets that are actually on at a given time.
One need look no further than Camden Yards for an explanation. Sunday's Orioles game against Detroit garnered the over-the-air equivalent of a 4.8/10 on Home Team Sports, a rather impressive number considering that a third of the area doesn't get cable.
With the Orioles in the American League East and wild-card races, playing daytime Sunday games through the end of the season, the two teams should take a chunk out of each other's ratings at least through September.
By the way, the Ravens game did a 15.1/33 in Cleveland, according to Bill Scaffide, vice president and general manager of the NBC affiliate there, who reports that the ratings were likely blunted by an Indians game that aired on cable Sunday. Sound familiar?
Big Apple shutout
As it stands presently, all of next week's potentially pivotal Orioles-Yankees games will air on HTS, and not on channels 13 or 54, over-the-air stations that could present the contests to the widest possible audience.
The culprits are baseball's rules and the new fall television season. Broadcast outlets are prohibited from carrying games on Wednesday nights because of baseball's contract with ESPN, precluding either of the stations from showing that night's epic.
Meanwhile, as the networks begin sending their new fall offerings -- each more hilarious and dramatic than the one before it -- their affiliates are loath to pre-empt those shows. Channel 54's affiliation with the United Paramount Network and its Tuesday lineup wipes out the series opener, and Channel 13, now owned and operated by CBS, can't pass up that network's new shows on any of the three nights.
It would appear that the only possibility is Thursday's finale, provided Channel 54 officials are willing to delay "Hercules" and "Xena" for a time in favor of what could be the Orioles' biggest game of the year.
CBS is crowing over some pretty good numbers from the U.S. Open finals Sunday, helped no doubt by a rain delay that pushed the men's match into prime time.
Nonetheless, the network's 6.1/11 national rating was the best for the Open since 1990, and was up 13 percent from last year. Locally, the Sunday finales did well, getting a 4.1/8 for Channel 13.
Among the giants
HTS' coverage of last September's historic game during which Cal Ripken became the most durable player in baseball history has been nominated for a CableACE award, the cable industry's equivalent of the Emmy.
HTS, one of only two regional sports channels to be so honored, will face stiff competition in the sports special events coverage category, including ESPN's telecast of that game. Also nominated are ESPN's presentation of the Big East men's basketball championship game, an episode of HBO's "Boxing After Dark" series and TNT's broadcast of the NBA All-Star Saturday gala. The CableACE ceremony is set for Nov. 16 and will be carried on TNT.
On the subject of HTS, the channel will carry a tape of Game 1 of the World Cup of Hockey title series, pitting Canada against the United States, from Philadelphia tomorrow at noon. Game 2 of the best-of-three series will air live at 8 tomorrow night.
Pub Date: 9/11/96