Ch. 2's CFL telecast plants a seed to reap advertisers

ON THE AIR

October 25, 1994|By MILTON KENT

Channel 2 has announced that it will carry the Baltimore CFLs' regular-season finale against the Sacramento Gold Miners on Nov. 5 at 9 p.m., a move that could have long-term implications.

Joe Lewin, Channel 2's vice president and general manager, said the club and the station reached agreement last week for Channel 2 to telecast the game.

"It was a chance to do something for the community," said Lewin. "I think interest in the CFLs has blossomed and it should be a good game, and that's the real good news."

Though the Sacramento game previously had been on HTS' schedule, the club exercised an option to shop it to Channel 2, where it would find a larger audience.

In addition, Lewin said, from Channel 2's perspective, the team's willingness to pick up production costs made it "doable."

On the surface, Channel 2's decision would appear surprising since the game will air during the first full week of the important November ratings sweeps month.

During November, February, May and July, household and demographic ratings data are collected in the nation's 211 television markets, allowing stations to set advertising rates.

Typically, networks and local stations present their most attractive programming during sweeps months to entice the most viewers, and go full bore with promotions and contests to draw more folks to those shows.

The three most recent CFL contests to air on Channel 2 -- an Aug. 27 game at Hamilton, a Sept. 3 match at Shreveport, and a home game against Sacramento on Sept. 10 -- got respectable ratings, but not nearly as good as those for "Sweet Justice," the NBC drama that airs at 9 p.m. on the station.

But the coming affiliate swap has thrown all conventional wisdom out the window and made the game an attractive sell for Channel 2.

"Ratings tend not to be important when you're not going to have the same network at this time next year," said Lewin.

Besides that, a source at a rival station who requested anonymity said Channel 2, which will lose Sunday afternoon NFL coverage when it shifts to ABC in January, could be positioning itself to make the station more attractive to football advertisers next fall.

With NFC ratings on Channel 45 significantly lower than what Channel 11 had delivered last year, the source said Channel 2's sales crew could go to businesses looking to buy football time and promise solid demographics with a decidedly local product, provided, of course, the game does well.

Stopping the violence

Kudos to Fox for a series of 30-second public service announcements using NFL stars, including Dallas' Emmitt Smith, former Towson State star David Meggett of the New York Giants, Miami's Keith Jackson, Minnesota's Warren Moon and Kansas City's Marcus Allen, decrying urban violence.

Like everything else at Fox, the PSAs, which all end with the tag line, "Violence: Don't Play That Game," all are aimed at a youthful audience.

The spots have begun running intermittently during game and prime-time coverage.

Self-serving act

ESPN wasted no time last week dispatching a quote from Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, who presides over the O. J. Simpson double-murder trial.

According to a network news release, Ito, during a hearing last Thursday, said, "The problem we have, though, is that the coverage [of this case] is so pervasive, ESPN covers this case, and I might add, probably the most accurate and reasonable coverage I have seen, amazingly enough, but you can't turn on a football game without it being mentioned."

The total sports network continues to miss the big picture on this matter, and the faxing of this quote, even with Ito's back-handed compliment attached, only reinforces the point that ESPN isn't in this for a public service, but to pick up whatever ratings it can get in a story it has no business being a part of.

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