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Living in Browns Town

By RD Heldenfels Published: September 11, 2006

You would expect Saturday night's battle between Ohio State and Texas to be huge with sports fans anywhere. And it certainly was in Buckeye-heavy Northeast Ohio, where more than 27 percent of local homes with television on average were tuned to the game.

But more remarkable was the performance by the Browns in their season opener on Sunday afternoon -- outside of prime time, and on a day when the weather encouraged people to get outside, and in a game where the Browns often stank. (The bride and I snarled repeatedly at the plays called in short-yardage situations.)

That game also exceeded 27 percent of the audience and was within a few decimal points of the Buckeyes' rating, according to Nielsen overnight estimates. Indeed, when you look at the peak audience for each telecast, the Browns did slightly better than Ohio State, maxing out at 32.4 percent of local TV homes, while Ohio State-Texas topped out at 32.2.

Those numbers are so close in a system based on estimates of viewership, they amount to statistical tie.

And nothing else on Saturday or Sunday got close to those ratings. The next most watched prime-time local broadcast was NBC's prime-time Colts-Giants football telecast, the much hyped ''battle of the brothers.'' While the game won prime time on Sunday, its 13.8 rating was still about half of what the two football games managed.

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