Call it a ratings victory for the CFL, but is it love?

ON THE AIR

November 22, 1994|By MILTON KENT

Channel 2's Joe Lewin says the fact that Sunday's Baltimore-Winnipeg CFL Eastern Division title game beat out the Washington Redskins-Dallas Cowboys game in nearly head-to-head ratings competition proves that "Baltimore is in love with this team."

The margin of victory, however, suggests that it might be a little too soon to trot out the L-word.

The CFL game, which aired on Channel 2 at 1:30, drew an 11.5 rating and 25 share, while the Redskins garnered an 8.4/19 for Channel 45 at 1 p.m., according to Peter Leimbach, Channel 2's researcher and this week's official "On the Air" ratings supplier.

"We had two professional football games on the air Sunday, and Baltimore showed its preference," said a clearly pleased Lewin, Channel 2's vice president and general manager. "Here's the Redskins located 50 miles down the road playing the world champions. What can I say?"

Though the numbers for Sunday's game are impressive -- making it the fourth-most-viewed Sunday afternoon pro football game of the year -- and are roughly double what a limited package of regular-season games produced for Channel 2, let's not forget a few facts.

First, Sunday's CFL contest was a playoff game beamed into a market that had specific interest in watching it, going against an NFL game involving a team that viewers here reportedly strongly dislike.

Also, Sunday's Redskins ratings were only slightly below the 8.6/22 the first game with Dallas pulled in for Channel 45 in early October, and that game had no competition.

Finally, don't forget that on some Sundays, up to 40 percent of the Redskins audience in Baltimore is watching Washington's Channel 5. If that happened Sunday, the "competition" could have been a lot closer.

That just goes to show you that there's love and then there's love.

Sideline success

HBO has scored again with another winning documentary, "American Coaches: Men of Vision and Victory," which has its initial airing tonight at 9:30.

The hourlong program, narrated by New York Knicks coach Pat Riley and produced by the excellent team that created the wonderful pair of "When It Was A Game" baseball films, examines the lives and times of Red Auerbach, Woody Hayes, Vince Lombardi, Casey Stengel and John Wooden through the narration of contemporary coaches.

Radio waves

It's a good news, bad news kind of situation for Bruce Cunningham, who will be working Sunday afternoon's Grey Cup game on the radio.

But it won't be in his usual role as play-by-play announcer on WJFK (1300 AM), where he has called all 22 games. Instead, Cunningham will be doing pre-game, halftime and post-game honors for TSN radio, Canada's national sports radio outlet.

Because the league holds the radio rights to the title game, WJFK is on the outside looking in, though station officials reportedly are attempting to make arrangements to bring the game back to Baltimore airwaves.

"That's a real shame. If we had known that, we would have said goodbyes and thanked people," said Cunningham, the sports director and weekend anchor at Channel 45.

By the way, if Sunday's fourth-quarter game call by Cunningham and analysts Bruce Laird and Joe Washington sounded a little homerish, Cunningham pleads guilty with reasonable cause, saying the Winnipeg fans flew American flags upside down, threw snowballs at the bench and taunted the trio all day once they found out it was from Baltimore.

"I think there are two kinds of objectivity: network objectivity and local objectivity," said Cunningham. "With the networks, you have to be solid right down the line. With a local team, I think you can show a little more enthusiasm. I don't think it's out of line."

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