Fiesta ratings are favorable, but not fabulous

Media Watch

January 04, 1996|By Milton Kent

CBS officials are doing a modified dance of joy over the ratings from the Fiesta Bowl national championship football game, getting the highest Tuesday night prime-time ratings of the season, but a number that could have been higher.

The Nebraska-Florida game, the first title game out of the newly formed Bowl Alliance, did an 18.8 rating with a 31 share of the national audience, which, at times, numbered more than 63 million, according to CBS estimates.

"If we can do a virtually competitive number with an Orange Bowl that was competitive to the end, with a 62-24 game that was 35-10 at halftime, I think we have a very bright future with the Alliance," Len DeLuca, CBS senior vice president of programming, said yesterday.

While the 18.8/31 number is the best CBS has done on a Tuesday since the 1994 Winter Olympics, it is below the 20 rating the network promised advertisers and is likely to be lower than the Rose Bowl, whose final national ratings are to be released later today.

DeLuca, whose network has obtained the rights to two of the three Alliance games (Orange and Fiesta) over the next six years, said the performances of the Fiesta and Rose this year make it less likely that we'll see a formal playoff to decide a national champion.

"We're all prospering very well and it's going to make it very hard to do something beyond the whole opposition at the [NCAA] presidential level to a playoff," said DeLuca.

Locally, the Fiesta Bowl did a 15.1/25 for Channel 13, according to Chris Mecchi, Channel 13's ratings researcher and this week's sole and official "Media Watch" ratings provider, placing it ahead of the Rose Bowl, which got a 10.7/17 on Channel 2.

In an interesting twist, the best football numbers of the weekend, and for that matter, the entire season, were posted Sunday on Channel 11, where the Colts-Chargers playoff game did a 20/35.

Taking stock in NASCAR

In Ned Jarrett's mind, it's not by accident that TNN's stock car wrap-up show, "Inside NASCAR," is expanding by 30 minutes to an hour, starting Saturday at 5 p.m.

Jarrett, who was host of "Inside Winston Cup Racing," the 30-minute predecessor, said the fans demanded the expansion.

"As I got around the country, the most-asked question I kept getting was, 'When are you going to go to an hour?' " said the genial Jarrett. "Race fans are so hungry for more news and information. There's lots going on and we needed a bigger show to tell them about it."

The new show, which will re-air Sundays at 10 a.m., will look at doings not only in the flagship NASCAR series, the Winston Cup circuit, but also in the Busch and Supertruck series.

This boomlet in interest is pretty heady stuff for Jarrett, who was a champion driver 30 years ago, long before people outside of the Southeast cared about stock cars.

"It's absolutely amazing the support we're getting. It used to be such a redneck sport, or at least that was the perception. People looked down their nose at us," said Jarrett. "Now, it's not uncommon at all to see some of the bigwigs from some of the biggest corporations showing up at races."

Sounds of Thunder

Joel Smith and Brendan Kelly are the winners of the Baltimore Thunder's ad-hoc search for play-by-play and commentary voices for the indoor lacrosse team's 1996 schedule, to be aired on WJFK (1300 AM).

Smith, the play-by-play man, is the sports director for the University of Maryland's student radio station, WMUC; calls football, basketball, baseball and lacrosse there, and was the public address announcer for the Washington Warthogs indoor soccer team.

Kelly, who does color, was a two-time college All-American at Johns Hopkins, where he was a member of the 1987 national championship team. He played for four years in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League with the now-defunct Pittsburgh Bulls.

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