Ratings for Orioles' opener 2nd-lowest in seven years

MEDIA WATCH

April 08, 1999|By Milton Kent

The ratings are back from Monday's Orioles season opener, and let's just say that they aren't as rosy as the on-the-field result.

The Orioles-Tampa Bay game on Channel 13 did a 13.2 Nielsen household rating and garnered a 29 share of the available audience, a goodly number to be sure, but the lowest Opening Day rating in five years, and the second-lowest in the past seven seasons.

Monday's game was off 5 percent from last year's 13.9/35, and continued a general trend of sliding ratings for Opening Day telecasts over the last seven years, from a high of 18.7/40 in 1994 to Monday's number.

Only the 1995 opener (9.7/25), which launched the season after the players' strike, drew fewer viewers than Monday's game. Add all that to a 29 percent drop in broadcast ratings from 1997 to last season, and it's enough to make one wonder if the Orioles' hammer in coming negotiations for a new over-the-air contract might be lightened considerably.

By the way, WJFK (1300 AM), which does not have Orioles radio rights, has nevertheless premiered a baseball talk show, "Bird Talk," which airs virtually every Orioles game, with a panel of rotating hosts, including Paul Mittermier, Stan "The Fan" Charles and Gary Stein.

Hole-in-one coverage

CNNSI.com, already the best overall sports Web site in the business, has outdone itself preparing for this weekend's Masters, with a dazzling text and graphics package that is superior to any other.

Start with a graphic look at each hole, not to mention specific drawings of the specific changes to each hole and 3-D peeks at specific areas, and you have a site that brings the coverage alive.

Provided, of course, you have a computer.

The tournament itself begins today with live cable coverage on USA, starting at 4 p.m., or until the Neanderthals that run Augusta National decide that the guinea pigs that run the treadmills that power the course have had enough work for the day.

Not to be left out, "SportsCenter" will air this morning's ceremonial first tee shot sometime during the 8 a.m. re-air of its overnight show. Gosh, breaking into taped stuff to show live events in the morning. What will they think of next?

Casting aside the weak

The recently released NFL schedule reflects how willing the league and its television "partners" are to leave the poor performers by the side of the road in search of ratings gold.

There used to be some sort of rule that each team got one nationally televised appearance, either on Sunday or Monday night, or in a featured late doubleheader game.

Yet, teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals are out of the mix for spotlight coverage. And while the Ravens get one national game, their home meeting with Kansas City on Thursday, Oct. 21, it's worth noting that it would go up against Game 5 of the World Series.

Meanwhile, you have to give it up to the league for jumping on the trendy bandwagon, as the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals, heretofore members of the football downtrodden, are splashed all over the Sunday and Monday night schedules, with a combined seven appearances between them.

Sugar's story

TNT and NBA Entertainment are combining to produce a one-hour documentary on the life and times of former guard Micheal Ray Richardson, titled "Whatever Happened to Micheal Ray" to air this fall.

Richardson, who at one time was one of the flashiest point guards to play in the league, with stints with the Knicks and Warriors, possessed a game so sweet he earned the nickname, "Sugar."

However, Richardson's career collapsed under the weight of a cocaine addiction that eventually marked him as one of the first players to be expelled from the NBA for drug use. Richardson continues to play overseas, and the documentary, still being filmed, will include his comeback attempts, as well as a first-person account of his travails.

Milton Kent can be reached via e-mail at mediawtchr@aol.com

Pub Date: 4/08/99

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