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Le bore de France? Viewers avoid soccer

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Soccer may not be as attractive to local TV viewers as basketball or football, but it is about as popular as golf.

Well, you take what you can get.Sunday's World Cup match between the United States and Iran averaged a 4.3 rating and a 13 share. (A rating point represents about 6,900 homes; a share point equals 1 percent of the homes actually watching TV at a particular time.)

While those numbers aren't anything to get particularly excited about - that's actually fewer people than watched "Doug Miller Outdoors" during the May sweeps - it's not bad. ABC's coverage of the soccer game on Ch. 4 nearly equaled the ratings that NBC's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament (a 4.6/14) on Sunday afternoon.

Nationally, the news is less good. The numbers were somewhat higher nationally but down considerably from what ABC did with the 1994 World Cup games.

And the network has to be just thrilled that there won't be an American presence in the second round. That will do wonders for an already largely apathetic public.

IT'S ALL IN THE HYPE: An actual conversation (pretty much) that recently took place in the Pierce home immediately following one of those NBC commercials about how the U.S. Open is golf's "premiere event."

"I thought the Master's was the biggest golf tournament," said TV critic's wife.

"The Master's is on CBS," said TV critic.

"Oh," said TV critic's wife.

RATINGS ON ICE: Increased exposure has not meant increased interest for the National Hockey League.

ESPN, which aired 32 regular-season games this season, saw its ratings fall 29 percent as compared to last season. The three Stanley Cup finals games the cable network telecast were off by 37 percent.

Fox's finals numbers, meanwhile, were down 17 percent.

There are any number of explanations for this, ranging from the teams involved to the weather, but the fact remains that pro hockey is still struggling to make an impact with American TV viewers.

WHOOPS: Perhaps Ch. 2's Dave Fox was suffering from the lingering effects of that network affiliation switch that occurred here a couple of years ago.

Fox told viewers that the "big news" in the NFL is that "football is back on NBC."

Actually, the NFL will no longer be seen on NBC. Football will be back on CBS - the network that owns Ch. 2 and pays Fox's salary.