Share this article

print logo

CHANNEL 4'S BASEBALL BLACKOUT IS STRICTLY BUSH LEAGUE

IN YET another bush-league move, Channel 4 is bypassing the CBS Baseball Game of the Week today for the second straight Saturday.

WIVB-TV could be making local baseball history by declining to carry the New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox today.

I don't recall any local affiliate skipping its network's major league baseball games for two straight weekends.

Channel 4 also is making some national history.

According to a CBS spokesperson, Channel 4 was the only affiliate in the country to drop baseball last Saturday and will be the only affiliate to skip today's game, too.

Why is the King World station dropping baseball?

Do you really have to ask?

To run paid programming, silly.

"We're not carrying the games this month and we're looking at them on an individual basis after that," Channel 4's Twila Henneberger said. "There is minimal interest in viewership of baseball, plus a lot of opportunities to watch all week and during the evenings. Interest on part of the advertisers is not there, either."

Channel 4 had vowed before the season to carry CBS' entire Saturday schedule of 16 games. Of course, Channel 4 vowed to carry more of its college basketball schedule than it carried, too.

The decision to drop baseball for two weeks came about a week after CBS appeared to fail in its bid to keep the sport after this season. It helps validate the argument that few care about Saturday telecasts.

Channel 4 really is just preparing Western New Yorkers for baseball's new deal with NBC and ABC, which eliminates Saturday games in 1994.

In 1990, CBS reduced the Saturday package from 26 to 16 games, which angered baseball purists. However, the Saturday games have slipped severely in the ratings, averaging about a 3.0 rating in four broadcasts this season.

Channel 4 now is telling the baseball fan that 16 games is too many in the regular season.

Besides being embarrassing to Channel 4 and its sports department, the pre-emptions also don't do much to further the suggestion that Buffalo deserves major league baseball.

It might be pretty difficult for Rich Products to argue that this is a major league baseball city when Buffalo has the only CBS affiliate in the country that prefers pitching in infomercials to those in games.

Pay-per-view for baseball?

The proposed new baseball deal, which regionalizes playoff coverage starting in 1994, has led to speculation that baseball is headed to pay-per-view down the road.

The networks and the league deny this.

David Alworth, director of broadcasting, major league baseball, told Broadcasting Magazine that it doesn't look as though there will be a pay-per-view element in any national baseball contract any time soon.

"It's not a viable strategy for us," Alworth said of PPV. "The teams are proving this for us on their own."

The San Diego Padres, who began local PPV a decade ago, attract between 10,000 and 18,000 buys for a typical game, the magazine said. The Cincinnati Reds and the Minnesota Twins are the only other teams currently offering PPV.

Robitaille blasts Fuhr

Some notes retrieved from the cutting room floor: Mike Robitaille can't be accused of being a homer anymore. Robitaille, who was dropped from the Sabres TV crew but resurfaced on a post-game show on Empire, drilled Sabres goaltender Grant Fuhr immediately after the club was eliminated by Montreal.

When a caller said Fuhr was a "little off" in the series, Robitaille quickly corrected him by saying: "I thought he was a lot off."

While praising Fuhr for his work in the Boston series, Robitaille added that Fuhr would have been the first one to admit his play was sub-par against Montreal. Robitaille's candid remarks were especially eye-opening in comparison to remarks made by Sabres TV analyst Jim Lorentz.

While Lorentz was making excuses for Fuhr on the last goal of the series, Robitaille succinctly said: "You've got to stop a shot from there."

Bills make deal with Ch. 7

The Bills, who put a preseason game on cable's Empire Sports Network last season, have reversed field and made a deal with Channel 7 to carry the two road preseason games this season that aren't being carried by any network. Channel 7 will carry the preseason game with Detroit on July 30 and a preseason game with Tampa Bay on Aug. 21 at Orlando. It previously made a deal to simulcast the Kansas City game Aug. 12 that is being carried on TNT.

Rich still has a 'Dream'

Empire is now running a four-part series, "The Major League Dream," each Friday night through May 28. In it, Bison owner Bob Rich Jr. tells us he still is interested in major league baseball. Are there any other cynics out there who wonder if he is just interested in keeping that idea afloat because he fears the Bisons attendance will slip further if major league talk is ended?

There are no comments - be the first to comment