Games were golden in Baltimore, but Ravens viewers made a run

Media watch

August 06, 1996|By Milton Kent

Given the choice between watching local sports history and athletic competition of a global variety Saturday night, Baltimoreans linked arms with the world, but the decision wasn't clear-cut.

The penultimate night of Olympic competition from Atlanta, which included the men's basketball gold-medal game, posted a 13.8 rating and 26 share of the audience on Channel 11, according to Sharon Walz, the station's ratings researcher and this week's sole and official "Media Watch" ratings provider.

That was the lowest local posting of the Games, but easily understood, for at the same time, the Ravens were playing their inaugural game in Baltimore, an exhibition contest against Philadelphia, which drew a 10.4/18 for Channel 54.

Nationally, NBC announced that the Olympics averaged a 21.6 rating and 41 share, making these Summer Games the most widely watched in the United States since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, which averaged a 23.2/44.

This year's ratings were up 25 percent from the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, and the numbers for Sunday's closing ceremonies, a 21.8/40, were up 54 percent from the same event in Barcelona.

NBC is touting that these Games were the most-watched event in television history, with more than 206.5 million viewers catching some portion of their telecasts before Sunday, surpassing the 204 million that watched the 1994 Winter Olympics from Lillehammer, Norway, but, in fairness, there are more viewers now than there were two years ago.

Catching up

The sports media event with the most long-lasting significance that occurred during the Olympics was the creation of a new college football Bowl Alliance, with the Rose Bowl included, thanks to the machinations of ABC.

In the process, the heretofore sleeping giant network not only showed signs of arousal, but dealt a pretty big blow to its competitor, CBS, which had been counting on getting up to four national championship games over a six-year period under an original Bowl Alliance deal.

Instead, ABC officials used their exclusivity with the previously recalcitrant Rose Bowl to get them into a four-bowl mix, triggering a clause in the Alliance contract that reopened the process, and left CBS, which was looking to position itself as the network of college sports, out in the cold after 1998.

Though Tony Pettiti, an ABC Sports vice president, was publicly credited with engineering the network's first big sports deal since it was bought by Disney, you can't help but wonder what role former CBS Sports programming czar Len DeLuca had in all of this.

DeLuca, now at ESPN, an ABC subsidiary, helped engineer some of CBS' big deals with the colleges, including its football and basketball contracts, and was a good friend to college commissioners. It's hard to imagine that they would have made this deal without some input from DeLuca.

Meanwhile, Fox continues to spread its tentacles throughout the sporting landscape. You've heard about its bid to spirit the Orioles, Washington Bullets and Capitals away from Home Team Sports, but the network last week purchased a one-third share in the fledgling Golf Channel.

The network announced that it would work with the 2-year-old channel's staff to increase its presence and distribution as well as enhance production, marketing and promotion, but this could give Fox an opportunity to ease its way into the PGA, LPGA and Senior tours.

Making moves

Jerry Glanville, whose charms were long ago lost on these ears, has re-upped for another year in the booth for Fox football telecasts, the network announced yesterday.

Fox is expected to announce this week that former San Francisco 49ers safety Ronnie Lott will take over Jimmy Johnson's analyst slot in the network's NFL pre-game show.

CBS announced yesterday that Patrick McEnroe, brother of you-know-who, will join Pat O'Brien in the studio for the network's coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament later this month.

Saying somethin' stupid

The word from Fox was that lead baseball analyst Tim McCarver was going to tone down his corny puns and trim his tendency to over-analyze.

McCarver has done some of the latter, but he refuses to give up his amateurish attempts at stand-up comedy. One of his most unfortunate tries came during Saturday's Orioles-Cleveland Indians game, when after Jose Vizcaino laid down an excellent bunt, McCarver cracked, "For a guy from the Dominican Republic, that's perfect English."

Gosh, Timmy, got any observations about any other ethnic groups? How about keeping them to yourself in the future?

By the way, it might not be a great idea to invite Mel Proctor and Keith Olbermann to the same backyard barbecue, after Olbermann torched Proctor on the late "SportsCenter" the other night.

As Olbermann was narrating the highlights on the Indians' 14-2 pasting of the Orioles, the game's sound went up on Proctor's call of Kenny Lofton's remarkable catch of a B. J. Surhoff drive.

On the clip, Proctor called the catch the greatest he'd ever seen, "bar none," to which Olbermann retorted, "New to the country, are you Mel? It was a great catch, but the greatest?"

Now, now, boys. Play nice.

Pub Date: 8/06/96

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