With little room to expand,our ratings super good, badIt...


February 05, 1993|By RAY FRAGER

With little room to expand,our ratings super good, bad

It would appear that Baltimore's Super Bowl ratings victory over two of our NFL expansion competitors is yet another boost for our chances to get a team.

But maybe there's a fly in the ointment. Or another shoe waiting to drop. Or maybe there's another shoe waiting to drop in the ointment, smooshing the fly. I don't know why it smooshed the fly; perhaps he'll die. Gosh, hope you weren't eating breakfast.

Anyway, the matter at hand is not shoes, ointment or flies, and why did you bring it up in the first place? We're talking ratings, the very lifeblood of this great land of ours, the foundation of our democracy, the defender of truth, justice and the American way, who, disguised as a mild-mannered reporter . . .

But I digress. You know, Super Bowl, Superman, it's all the same karma, man.

The Super Bowl drew a 40.1 rating and a 56 share in the Baltimore market, which was below the national Nielsen mark of 45.1/66, but still higher than that of Charlotte, N.C. (34.7/47), and St. Louis (33.4/53), two of Baltimore's four competitors for an NFL expansion team. The other two finalists, Memphis, Tenn., and Jacksonville, Fla., aren't set up for individual ratings measurement.

In fact, Baltimore beat out three NFL markets -- Minneapolis, Milwaukee and (heh, heh) Indianapolis -- in the ratings. Of the NFL's 26 markets (New York and Los Angeles each have two teams), 21 are measured by Nielsen. Those 21 markets averaged a 44.2 rating.

Here might be an indication of the problem for Baltimore.

Let's say that getting a team boosted Baltimore's interest in the NFL, as indicated by Super Bowl ratings, to the level that exists in the rest of the league. In fact, let's suppose that we're even a little more interested, say, up to a 45 rating. That's only a five-point jump.

Now, take either Charlotte or St. Louis -- please (Henny Youngman, 1946). Were those cities to get teams -- and I don't want that, so help me, Mr. Belgrad -- they would be likely to experience 10-point ratings jumps on Super Bowl day.

In order to get a team, then, we must look beyond our television sets. We have our publicly financed stadium. We have our strong fan base. We have right on our side.

And we always must remember that ratings measure the percentage of all television households watching a program. Likewise, we need to keep in mind that shares measure the percentage among homes where television is in use.

Leftover Supe

Because every Super Bowl telecast is filled with nuance, shades of meaning and layers that only uncover themselves after one reflects for a few days, and also because I'm not going to spend seven straight hours in front of the tube without getting more than one column out of it, here are additional thoughts on Sunday's game:

* Did I miss something? Several critics have praised Mike Ditka's performance on the pre-game and halftime shows (no, he wasn't out there with Michael Jackson). To me, it seemed like standard coach fodder, not delivered in a particularly compelling manner. Ditka's distinctive personality didn't seem to shine through. Anyway, he's probably just going to hold a microphone until he gets another coaching job.

* Did NBC kill music for Super Bowl pre-game shows into the foreseeable future? Warmed-over Eagles oldies and an off-key Fleetwood Mac hit weren't likely to get you boogeying around the clam dip.

* Pre-game host Bob Costas said last week that one of his frustrations with sportscasting is the time constraints. That showed during post-game interviews in the Cowboys locker room. Costas asked Ken Norton Jr. whether he would get in touch with his father, ex-heavyweight boxing champ Ken Norton. The Cowboys linebacker evaded the question, but, unless a viewer had heard about the estrangement of the senior and junior Nortons, he would be confused. In that format, Costas had no time to explain.

* Maybe analyst Bob Trumpy wanted to get a bunch of barroom arguments going when he said the Cowboys' Emmitt Smith "breaks more tackles for a 210-pound running back than any running back who ever played the game." Because he weighed less than 210, Walter Payton must be excluded.

Spanning the dial . . .

ESPN is carrying the NHL skills competition and the old-timers game tonight (7:30), the prelude to tomorrow's All-Star Game (3 p.m., channels 2, 4). In its promotions, ESPN has been featuring the Capitals' Al Iafrate, who will compete in the hardest shot and fastest skater events. NBC's coverage of the game tomorrow will include segments on the history of the Montreal Forum and the health problems of Mario Lemieux. . . . NBC swears that its football connection to Notre Dame has nothing to do with the fact that the two college basketball games the network is carrying this season feature the Irish. Tomorrow at 1 p.m. (channels 2, 4), Notre Dame (8-10) plays host to No. 5 Duke (16-3). Next week, the Irish face No. 2 Kentucky. I believe NBC, I really do.

Stop and think

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