As we thought, Sunday's Orioles-Detroit game, airing on Home Team Sports, did some serious hurt to the ratings of the Ravens-Houston contest.
The Orioles game posted the broadcast equivalent of a 5.3 rating and attracted a 13 share of the audience, up from the previous Sunday's 4.8/10, while the Ravens did a 13.3/33, down from the 16.6/36 the week before. The Ravens will have Sunday off, but the Fox doubleheader on Channel 45 and the single offering on NBC (Channel 11) are likely to take a hit from the Orioles-Toronto game, again on HTS.
Speaking of Orioles ratings (and we were), the average for the year's 35 telecasts on Channel 13 is in, thanks to that station's ratings czar, Chris Mecchi, who cheerfully reports that the numbers are up from last year.
This year's Orioles package on Channel 13 -- now completed -- did a 13.2/24, up from the 11.4/22 average of 1995. Oddly enough, the average of games on Channel 54 was about even, from a 8.2/17 last year to a 7.8/17 in 1996, although, with two games left, during the final series in Toronto next weekend, that average should rise.
One last thought: With all due respect to HTS and its splendid telecasts of the Orioles, there's something really, really wrong when all three games in a series as important as the one against the Yankees can't be seen by a mass, meaning broadcast, audience.
Placing home games exclusively on cable to protect the local gate is understandable, but road games should be telecast on cable sparingly unless there are serious extenuating circumstances.
Someone should have moved at least one of these games to either Channel 13 or 54, so that fans all over the area, not just the ones wired for cable, could see a piece of the biggest series in seven years.
A Classic lineup
City cable carrier TCI will add the Classic Sports Network, a 24-hour channel of vintage sports programming, to its round-the-clock lineup on Oct. 7 at channel 72, replacing Prime Sports Showcase. TCI also will add the Fox News Channel, CNN-like all-news network, on the same date.
The votes are in
A survey of 33 football and sports television writers has chosen Fox and ESPN as the best in NFL coverage. The poll, conducted for Satellite DIRECT magazine, selected Fox for best overall coverage, ahead of ABC. John Madden and Howie Long were chosen best game and pre-game analysts, respectively.
ESPN's Chris Berman was picked as best pre-game show host, by a wide margin, over NBC's Greg Gumbel and Fox's James Brown, and Berman's show, "NFL Countdown," blitzed Fox and NBC.
ABC's Al Michaels was named best play-by-play man, ahead of Pat Summerall.
While none of us were watching or paying attention, some people at the networks apparently got together and passed a rule that you can't mention the name of competitors on the NFL pre-game shows, even when you're trashing their work.
For instance, on Sunday, NBC's Will McDonough disparaged a report from ESPN's Chris Mortenson from the previous week that the Colts might leave Indianapolis for Cleveland, without mentioning Mortenson or his network by name.
By the way, one of McDonough's reasons to pooh-pooh the story was that the Colts have a long-term, seemingly "unbreakable" lease. We would remind Will that the Browns still had two years remaining on their lease with Cleveland when they moved to Baltimore.
The other, sillier example took place on Fox's show. Newcomer Ronnie Lott defended fellow Southern California alum Keyshawn Johnson, who has taken some media hits for his attitude in New York, referring to one of Johnson's critics, ESPN's Joe Theismann, not by name, but as "the guy from Notre Dame."
If you hadn't seen or heard Theismann call Johnson a "jerk," you could have surmised from Lott's nebulous comment that Paul Hornung had made the remark.
Lott never pulled back in delivering hits as a player and he shouldn't have done so Sunday.
ESPN dominated the sports end of the CableACE nominations announced last week, garnering a record 28, including seven for its NFL programming and six for baseball.
ESPN received all five nominations in the sports-events coverage series category, and four of five nominations in the play-by-play, directing and sports news series categories.
Pub Date: 9/19/96