Ravens gain a lot of ground, but still don't overwhelm field

Media Watch

November 19, 1996|By Milton Kent

Stop us if you've heard this before, but the results of last weekend's Ravens ratings were, shall we say, mixed.

As reported by Channel 13's Chris Mecchi, this week's sole and official "Media Watch" ratings provider, Sunday's Ravens-San Francisco game got an 18.7 rating with a 32 share of the audience for Channel 11.

That's a dramatic improvement from the previous week, when the 11.1/20 for the Jacksonville game was edged out by the 49ers-Dallas game. However, the 32 share was slightly under a third of the available audience, which is hard to figure out, considering that there was no football competition in the 4 p.m. time slot, though a taped skating exhibition on Channel 2, also airing at that time, did a 5.7/10.

Meanwhile, at 1 p.m. Sunday, the Redskins-Eagles game on Channel 45 did a 9.5/21, soundly thumping the Denver-New England contest, which did a 5.7/13, on Channel 11.

Here's to the winners

As expected, ESPN made out best at Saturday night's CableAce awards, copping six trophies, but lost out in two categories in major surprises.

Home Team Sports' production of the September 1995 game when Cal Ripken surpassed Lou Gehrig as baseball's most durable player, won the Ace for outstanding sports events special coverage, beating out, among others, ESPN's coverage of the same event.

Though its Orioles coverage had been nominated 12 years ago, Saturday's award marks the first time that HTS has won a CableAce, symbolic of excellence in the cable industry.

The other major sports surprise came as CNN's "Sports Tonight," the all-news network's nightly news program, beat out four ESPN nominees, including "SportsCenter," for best sports news series for its first win in that category.

Among ESPN's wins were for former Orioles radio announcer Jon Miller, selected for a second time as outstanding play-by-play announcer for his work on "Sunday Night Baseball"; Chris Berman, named for a fourth time as best sports host; NFL analyst Tom Jackson, selected for the first time as best commentator; and Roy Firestone, who was tapped as best program interviewer over such luminaries as Larry King and Howard Stern.

ESPN's Sunday night football series was named best sports series and its director, Marc Payton, was tapped as best director, the 11th straight time ESPN has won in that category. Finally, HBO captured two awards, as "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" was chosen best sports information series, and the documentary "Journey of the African-American Athlete" was selected best sports information special.

Making the big move

Five-time Emmy winner Chris Glass, who produced the Ripken game for HTS, has been named supervising producer at the regional sports network, effectively replacing Bill Brown, who left recently to take a high-ranking slot with Fox Sports.

Glass has worked his way up the ranks at HTS, joining the channel as an associate producer in 1986 and becoming a senior producer two years ago. In his current assignment, Glass, a UMBC graduate who began as an intern at Channel 13 in 1984, will supervise the producers, talent and production crew and all remote facilities.

Wager on hypocrisy

For the past couple of weeks, media organizations have beaten a path to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to get a piece of the betting scandal that has enveloped the Boston College football team while conveniently ignoring their responsibility in the mess.

Television and radio, of course, are filled with overt and shaded references to illegal betting and gambling, from the obnoxious infomercials with weaselly characters promising "locks" of the day if you'll just call their 900 numbers to the wink-wink presence of tipsters on the football pre-game shows, providing "inside" information.

Newspapers are no better. Virtually every newspaper, including this one, devotes space every day to publishing the point spreads that bettors use.

The NFL took a bold step a few years ago by banning the outright discussion of point spreads on pre-game shows, but ESPN, for example, got around it by moving that talk to the Sunday morning "SportsCenter," which airs just ahead of "NFL Countdown," thus circumventing the ban.

The NCAA tried to do something two years ago by refusing to allow newspapers that run point spreads to have credentials at the Final Four, but the papers cried that their First Amendment rights would be violated and the organization backed down.

For once, the NCAA should have stood its ground. The First Amendment doesn't give any media outlet the right to countenance, much less tacitly support, this type of betting, which is illegal outside of Nevada.

Pub Date: 11/19/96

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