Ch. 2 hopes 'Battle' can win ratings war

Media Watch

November 19, 1998|By Milton Kent

In his mind's eye, Steve Gigliotti felt a piece of his Philadelphia childhood returning last November when the Towson men's basketball team shook mighty Michigan to its core at the Towson Center.

"What I saw there was the Palestra in 1970," said Gigliotti, Channel 2's vice president and general manager. "The place was rocking and that was and still is what's so neat about college basketball."

It's that kind of spirit that Gigliotti is hoping to capture in the telecast of "The Battle of Baltimore" tournament tonight and Saturday on his station.

Not long after arriving in town two years ago, Gigliotti set about trying to boost Channel 2's lagging ratings fortunes. One of the obvious ways was to raise the station's profile, and one of the easiest and most cost effective methods, given that the Orioles and Ravens were tied to other carriers, was to corner the market on local sports.

The station, which has originated its own Preakness Day telecasts since it became an ABC affiliate in 1995, went after the Towson-Michigan game last November, added college lacrosse and football to the menu this year and is expected to do more lacrosse next spring.

After last year's basketball game was the highest-rated program in last November's sweeps among men aged 18-34 -- the prized American demographic -- Gigliotti figured it was time to get the area's college teams together a la Philadelphia's renowned "Big Five" for a tournament and some television exposure.

"What I learned about the purity of college athletics was right there in the Big Five. You never took any of them for granted, for they would jump up and bite you. It was a wonderful thing for the colleges to be a part of," said Gigliotti.

The local athletic directors quickly latched on to a four-year deal with the station, and the tournament was born. Towson, Loyola and UMBC will play each year, with Morgan State and Coppin State, both members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, rotating in and out of the quartet.

Channel 2 is pre-empting two nights of network programming during the middle of the prized November sweeps, but Gigliotti says the "give and take" the station has with ABC makes this a good gamble.

And the advertisers have latched on as well, Gigliotti says. Tonight's semifinals pit Loyola against UMBC at 7, with Morgan and Towson meeting in the nightcap. The title game will be Saturday at 8 p.m.

Channel 2 sportscasters Scott Garceau and Keith Mills will call the action tonight and Saturday.

Parkway battle

It seems our Washington neighbors are more willing to take in the Ravens than Baltimoreans are to watch the Redskins, or at least for one week.

Sunday's Ravens-San Diego game did a 12.88 rating and got a 24 share of the audience on Washington's Channel 9, while the Redskins-Eagles game on Channel 45 here did an 8.0/17.

Of course, it bears noting that the Ravens game aired in Washington without direct competition in that time slot. Locally, the Ravens' rating on Channel 13 was the highest of the season, but still didn't approach the 21.4/46 that Channel 5 pulled in Washington for the Redskins game.

Live or Memorex

If you caught parts of the Monica Lewinsky-Linda Tripp tapes the other day, you may also have heard part of the television call of Game 5 of the 1997 Division Series between Cleveland and the New York Yankees in the background.

It seems that Tripp was watching the game, called by Fox's Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Bob Brenly, as she surreptitiously recorded her conversation with Lewinsky.

"It brings a whole new level to the three-man booth," Buck said. "I think less is more and trying to get in an analyst and basically a spy is tough work for a play-by-play guy. If you heard it, I tried to let it breathe a little so Linda could talk."

Week's ratings

The ratings for the top 10 most-watched sporting events on broadcast television in Baltimore during the past week (R-Rating; S-Share):

Event .. .. .. .. .. .. Day .. .. Ch. .. .. .. R/S

Ravens-S.D. .. .. .. .. Sun. .. . 13 .. .. 16.0/26

Chiefs-Broncos .. .. .. Mon. .. .. 2 .. ... 8.9/13

Eagles-'Skins .. .. ... Sun. .. . 45 .. ... 8.0/17

"Mon. Blast" .. .. .. . Mon. .. . 13 .. ... 6.4/10

Fig. skating .. .. .. . Sun. .. .. 2 .. .. . 4.9/9

Cowboys-Cards .. .. ... Sun. .. . 45 .. .. . 4.6/7

"NFL Today" .. .. .. .. Sun. .. . 13 .. . . 4.4/11

Navy-N. Dame .. .. .. . Sat. .. . 13 .. .. . 3.4/8

"Rav. Report" .. .. ... Sat. .. . 13 .. .. . 3.4/6

Golf .. .. .. .. .. ... Sat. .. . 11 .. .. . 3.2/8

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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