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12-06-2006, 11:15 PM
Brown: Win or lose, Steelers are hit in TV ratings

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, December 7, 2006


The Dallas Cowboys struck him as arrogant, even if he was too young to know what the word meant. And so the 11-year-old boy who lived in central New Jersey, about a half hour from the Meadowlands, started rooting for the other team in Super Bowl XIII.

That bore a love for the Steelers that is still going strong.

Brian Bauer's link to western Pennsylvania -- he is the general manager of an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course in central Florida -- is flimsy at best. But he could pass for someone that has been raised on pierogies and pop when he settles in front of his 50-inch TV for Steelers games.

He gets so animated cheering for the Steelers that his four young kids watch him for entertainment.

"They think I'm bananas," Bauer said laughing.

The Steelers make their fourth appearance this season on prime-time TV tonight when they play host to the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. In a small but significant way, Bauer is a big reason why the Steelers are also a favorite team of TV executives.

No other team in the NFL does better in its local TV market than the Steelers.

The black and gold appeal also extends far beyond Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas. Last season, for example, the Steelers-Broncos AFC Championship game topped the Rose Bowl by almost 3.5 million viewers, and in the latter, Texas beat USC for the national championship.

That AFC title game, according to the NFL and Nielsen Media Research, garnered the most viewers of any TV program (not including the Super Bowl) from September 2005 through January 2006.

The game even drew more viewers than the season finale of "American Idol" last May, according to the NFL and Nielsen Media Research.

The reality of this season -- the defending Super Bowl champions have scuffled to a 5-7 record and most likely won't make the playoffs -- has translated into a dip in ratings for Steelers games that CBS has broadcast nationally, said Rob Correa CBS Sports' senior vice president of programming.

"But," Correa added, "they will hold up better with a losing record than most teams. There seems to be Steelers fans anywhere."

The national following the franchise enjoys has been given a proper name, and the players are as aware of the Steelers Nation as TV executives.

"One of my first away games was in Cincy when Cincy was really struggling, and we had more fans there than Cincy did," starting defensive end Brett Keisel said of his rookie season in 2002. "It just blew me away."

Some are still blown away at the passion the Steelers stir.

After returning to his home in California following Super Bowl XL, outside linebacker Clark Haggans all but shook his head at the number of Steelers bumper stickers and shirts he saw on a regular basis.

"I'd be at the gym working out and seeing people waving Terrible Towels, getting hyped," Haggans said. "They're sitting there on the Stairmaster working out, and I'm sitting there like 'Whoa. What happened to the Raiders or the Chargers?' It's a worldwide following."

The Steelers' dynasty in the 1970s gave birth to that rabid and far-reaching following.

The Steelers won four Super Bowls that decade and nine players from those teams are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as coach Chuck Noll.

"They left such an indelible mark on the game with so many of the players on that team," said Fred Gaudelli, who produced Monday Night Football games for five years and is currently doing the same for NBC's Sunday night NFL telecasts. "I think the Steelers are symbolic of great defense and (coach Bill) Cowher's kept that tradition alive."

The Steelers' recent success, this season notwithstanding, and stars such as safety Troy Polamalu and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have bridged the divide between today and the glorious years of the '70s.

Consider that all four of the Steelers postseason games last season got more TV viewers than the season finales of "House," "CSI," "Desperate Housewives," and "Grey's Anatomy," according to the NFL and Nielsen Media Research.

The Steelers' enormous popularity can also be seen in places like Cave Creek, Ariz., which are as far away from Pittsburgh as they are off the beaten path.

Harolds Cave Creek Corral, which is about 45 minutes north of Phoenix, has the western motif going with cowboy boots hanging on the walls and county western bands entertaining patrons on weekends.

"Then on Sunday, it's 600 Steelers fans waving Terrible Towels and drinking Iron City beer," said Dan Piacquadio, one of the restaurant/bar's owners.

Piacquadio, Seton-La Salle High School Class of 1987, is a Pittsburgh-area transplant, and he started a Steelers bar two time zones away from here in the early 1990s.

It has grown to the point where "season tickets" are sold at the establishment for Steelers games. Forty of the 50 seats at the bar, in fact, are reserved for Steelers fans this season, Piacquadio said.

For last February's Super Bowl, the former Scott Township resident said he spent $45,000 on rental equipment, which included TVs, portable bathrooms and tents that covered 30,000 square feet.

"You can go anywhere," Piacquadio said, "and you'll find a Steelers bar."

Indeed there is one in Tulsa, Okla., and another in Tacoma, Wash., to name a few places.

Bauer could take his pick of Steelers bars on Florida's Space Coast, but he gets DirectTV so he can watch the team that even surpasses the New York Yankees, another of his childhood favorites, when it comes to rooting interest.

Initially enamored by the Steelers -- hey, they weren't the Cowboys -- Bauer has become what his wife might call obsessed after learning about the franchise's history and what it means to Pittsburgh.

"It's all football in that city," Bauer said. "They live it. They breath it."

TV loves it, and especially the Steelers.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_483035.html

SteelersWoman
12-07-2006, 10:05 AM
Great article!

Btrice
12-07-2006, 10:17 AM
This is a funny article considering tonights game is on the NFL Network and I think maybe 24 people in the country have it.

And here is a cookie in advance for anybody who posts nothing but a quote of this and "I have it.":
http://wiki.coolmon.org/files/cookie.jpg

Steelers
12-07-2006, 10:19 AM
I love the article. Steelers fans are one of a kind and a true asset to the NFL, something Goodell would do good to acknowledge.

stlrtruck
12-07-2006, 10:48 AM
This is a funny article considering tonights game is on the NFL Network and I think maybe 24 people in the country have it.

And here is a cookie in advance for anybody who posts nothing but a quote of this and "I have it.":
http://wiki.coolmon.org/files/cookie.jpg

Actually I think I make 25 but my cable provider doesn't carry the NFL Network Prime Time Package. Their excuse was the price the NFL Network wanted them to pay. However, if you have satellite, then they carry the NFL Network Prime Time Package! Go Figure....Steelers Bar here I come!

Btrice
12-07-2006, 12:22 PM
Actually I think I make 25 but my cable provider doesn't carry the NFL Network Prime Time Package. Their excuse was the price the NFL Network wanted them to pay. However, if you have satellite, then they carry the NFL Network Prime Time Package! Go Figure....Steelers Bar here I come!

Yeah I am SOL cause I dont go to bars anymore. Normally I can get around games being blacked out by grey-area legality means that I dont want to mention on here, but it doesn't work with the NFL Network.

That excuse is a pretty valid one if you've read any of the articles on it. The NFL is asking for an arm and a leg for cable's right to carry the station. Its time that Congress either made the NFL live up to its end of the deal they made back in the 60's in return for immunity from anti-trust suits or finally bust them out. Though supposedly there are to be congressional hearings about the NFL's exclusivity with DirectTV.