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Roy Tucker
10-17-2006, 05:19 PM
Interesting notes towards the end about next year's TV format and possible wild card changes...

http://www.latimes.com/sports/printedition/la-sp-bbratings17oct17,1,612097,full.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-sports

Fewer Eyes on Baseball's Prize
Postseason TV ratings plummet, thanks in part to rain and short series. Selig insists it's all good.
By Larry Stewart, Times Staff Writer
October 17, 2006


The television ratings for postseason baseball on Fox appear to be dropping faster than a Tom Glavine sinker.

The five first-round games televised by the network averaged a 4.9 rating, down from last year's 6.6.

Game 2 of the National League Championship Series between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night couldn't beat an old game show. Or even a new one.

Game 4 Sunday night came in No. 4, well behind the front-runner, "Desperate Housewives."

Commissioner Bud Selig, who keeps a close eye on baseball's ratings, doesn't feel desperate, though.

"Under the circumstances, we're pleased with the overall ratings," he said Monday. "And now we've got a chance of having a seven-game series with the Mets and Cardinals. It takes time to build to a climax, and so far we've had a lot of short series."

Two of the four first-round series ended in three-game sweeps, and the other two were over in four games. And then the Detroit Tigers swept the Oakland Athletics in the American League Championship Series.

Short series may not build drama or a bigger audience, but they don't necessarily mean bad news for Fox financially. The many pitching changes that have occurred so far have allowed Fox to air more commercials. An average 30-second prime time spot is believed to go for $185,000.

Still, viewer numbers haven't looked great.

Game 2 of the NLCS Friday night drew a 6.1 national rating, down slightly from a 6.2 for the comparable game last year. But that Friday night game was beaten by two NBC game shows. A new one, "1 vs. 100," drew a 7.8/13. "Deal or No Deal" got a 7.3/13.

Saturday night's Game 3 drew an overnight 5.7, which compares with a 6.5 for Game 4 of the 2005 American League Championship Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Angels.

Sunday's Game 4 got only a 6.4 national Nielsen overnight rating with a 10 share. The comparable game last year Game 5 of the ALCS got an overnight 8.8/14.

But Game 4 also was up against tough competition. "Desperate Housewives" on ABC got a 13.6/19, CBS' "60 Minutes," which featured a much-publicized report on the Duke lacrosse scandal, received a 12.9 overnight rating, and CBS' "Without a Trace" got a 10.8.

"Every year, MLB's postseason faces the toughest competition in all of television and consistently holds its own against any program on any network," said Dan Bell, vice president for communications at Fox Sports.

"And just as important, each game attracts the coveted, hard-to-reach male demographic audience."

Even so, rain in New York last week and St. Louis on Monday night hasn't helped. The postponement of Game 1 of the NLCS in New York led to programming changes.

Instead of having a split national telecast last Wednesday which, according to Bell, would have attracted a better rating the network ended up with an unplanned day game Friday. That spot went to Game 3 of the ALCS between the A's and Tigers. The Mets-Cardinals Game 2 again went prime time.

Another factor in the declining ratings is that the Dodgers and New York Yankees, big-market teams with national followings, were eliminated in the first round. Tom Lasorda, who was hired by Major League Baseball to do ads promoting the postseason, said Monday that a Yankees-Dodgers World Series would have drawn a large television audience.

"Those two teams would have linked the nation," the Hall of Fame manager said, quickly adding that he believes the World Series can still do well.

"The Tigers are an amazing story, the way they have come back. I think it would be better if the Mets get in, but St. Louis is a great, interesting team."

In the national ratings for the second round through Friday, Fox was down 15% from a year ago. And the network was off 7% in the overnight ratings through the weekend.

Overnight ratings cover 55 of the nation's largest markets. National ratings for the weekend games were not available Monday.

"In a perfect world, yes, we'd like the ratings to be better," Selig said. "But by every other barometer that we measure our success, everything is so positive. We set attendance records throughout baseball and local ratings overall were up."

In Los Angeles, the Dodgers averaged a 1.7 on FSN Prime Ticket this season, up from a 1.3 last year, and averaged a 2.4 on Channel 9, up from a 2.1. The Dodgers' over-the-air station last year was Channel 13.

After this season, Fox will be cutting back on its postseason baseball coverage, partially because of the competition it faces in the fall and also to give its own fall entertainment lineup more early exposure.

Under a new contract that takes effect next fall, Fox will not televise the first round of the playoffs and will televise only one league championship series, plus the World Series. TBS has the first round and the carrier of the other league championship series has not been determined.

Selig addressed two other issues that could affect ratings over the long haul, both of which he said will be discussed with owners during baseball's winter meetings in December.

One issue is a change in the format for the first round to make it more challenging for wild-card teams. One way to do that, he said, would be to give a wild-card team only one home game in the best-of-five series.

The other issue to be reviewed involves playing at least one World Series game during the day. The problem with that, he said, is ratings. Night games, even on the weekends, get better ratings because more people are watching television.

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larry.stewart@latimes.com

TOBTTReds
10-17-2006, 05:53 PM
One issue is a change in the format for the first round to make it more challenging for wild-card teams. One way to do that, he said, would be to give a wild-card team only one home game in the best-of-five series.

The other issue to be reviewed involves playing at least one World Series game during the day. The problem with that, he said, is ratings. Night games, even on the weekends, get better ratings because more people are watching television.


I personally feel like these are both bad ideas. I understand the idea of wild card teams getting one home game, but if a wild card team is as bad as people make them out to be, they would get smashed in the first round any way.

I dont know if I understand the need for a day WS game. I think it would take some of the glow (literally and figuritively) away from the game. The WS to me has to be played at night, but that is all I have known.

Cedric
10-17-2006, 06:19 PM
I personally feel like these are both bad ideas. I understand the idea of wild card teams getting one home game, but if a wild card team is as bad as people make them out to be, they would get smashed in the first round any way.

I dont know if I understand the need for a day WS game. I think it would take some of the glow (literally and figuritively) away from the game. The WS to me has to be played at night, but that is all I have known.

All baseball games in a perfect world should be played during the day. I'm not naive though, I realize the need for night baseball. If I could get one day World Series game I would be thrilled though.

KronoRed
10-17-2006, 06:26 PM
One home game in 5 for wild card teams? why not just dump the wild card and give 1 team a first round bye if you want to punish them.

Cedric
10-17-2006, 06:30 PM
One home game in 5 for wild card teams? why not just dump the wild card and give 1 team a first round bye if you want to punish them.

I can only wish there was no wildcard.

I'm sure overall it's helped the game of baseball in more ways than hurt it, but I'm still totally against the Wild Card. Forcing a 162 game season into a 50/50 situation is just weird to me. But hey, I also hate the idea of March Madness.

Strikes Out Looking
10-17-2006, 07:58 PM
Rather than play one WS game during the day, why don't they start them earlier? Like 7 or 7:30. Those of us in the Eastern time zone can't follow an entire series, when games start well after 8 and end after midnight and then function in the rest of our lives.

I guess the reason they don't do this is that it is too easy, something an ex-used car salesman just can't figure out.

Unassisted
10-17-2006, 10:08 PM
Rather than play one WS game during the day, why don't they start them earlier? Like 7 or 7:30. Those of us in the Eastern time zone can't follow an entire series, when games start well after 8 and end after midnight and then function in the rest of our lives.
Not everyone lives in the Eastern timezone. 7:00 Eastern is 4:00 Pacific. Most of the desirable viewers (to advertisers) in that timezone will still be at work.

Even in my timezone, I have trouble watching a game that starts at 6:00 on a weekday. Other things in life, like eating dinner tend to take priority.

macro
10-18-2006, 12:19 AM
Seeing these numbers really makes it clear how the plethora of TV offerings has fragmented the audience. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, there were three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS). Anyone watching TV was watching one of these three, except for maybe the few who might choose PBS or the local independent station. Today there are so many channels, that any one network does well to get 10% of the overall audience.

Back in the 70s and 80s, baseball's postseason was a big deal around our house. For two weeks or so, we watched nothing else. Today, I must confess, that I only casually flip over to the baseball postseason games in-between commercials on the program I'm watching on another network. Things ain't like they used to be.

As for punishing the wildcard by giving them only one home game, I agree with you guys that it's a bad idea. What if the wildcard team wins 100 games but loses the division to a team that wins 101, and faces a division winner that won, say, 85 games? Is it right that they should face such a disadvantage against a team that they beat by 15 games in the regular season?

Is there no end to the bad ideas that come from MLB and Selig?

George Foster
10-18-2006, 12:32 AM
All baseball games in a perfect world should be played during the day. I'm not naive though, I realize the need for night baseball. If I could get one day World Series game I would be thrilled though.

All weekend World Series Games should be played during the day..why? for the kids. How many 9 year olds can stay up until midnight to watch a game?
Baseball complains about football taking over, well...it has...why? Most college games are played during the day on Sat, and most pro games are played during the day on Sun. I don't hear the NFL complaining about the ratings on Sunday at 1pm or at 4pm.

If you want more kids interested in baseball and watching baseball play more games while they are not in bed..

Redsland
10-18-2006, 09:33 AM
Not everyone lives in the Eastern timezone...Most of the desirable viewers (to advertisers) in that timezone will still be at work.

Even in my timezone, I have trouble watching a game that starts at 6:00 on a weekday.
True, but the same can be said of Bud's push for a WS day game.

Strikes Out Looking
10-18-2006, 01:14 PM
Not everyone lives in the Eastern timezone. 7:00 Eastern is 4:00 Pacific. Most of the desirable viewers (to advertisers) in that timezone will still be at work.

Even in my timezone, I have trouble watching a game that starts at 6:00 on a weekday. Other things in life, like eating dinner tend to take priority.

Playoff games last at least 3 hours. A game starting at 7:30 EDT, would be in prime time everywhere but the west coast. And kids could watch as well. I don't understand why it can't be tried for at least 1-2 games in the WS or even the LCS.

lollipopcurve
10-18-2006, 02:16 PM
What if the wildcard team wins 100 games but loses the division to a team that wins 101, and faces a division winner that won, say, 85 games? Is it right that they should face such a disadvantage against a team that they beat by 15 games in the regular season?

Exactly. Could easily happen. It's astonishing they'd consider something like this.

Jpup
10-18-2006, 03:10 PM
Look at the college football ratings. A lot of people who would watch the baseball playoffs are watching college football on Saturdays and the NFL is killing them on Sunday. The audience is largely the same IMO.

top6
10-18-2006, 06:14 PM
What they should do is realign back into four total divisions and have 2 wild card teams in each league. Then both rounds of the playoffs should be best of 7, but round 1 starts with the wild card team down 1-0.


PS - Also go back to a balanced schedule. In a dream world they'd get rid of interleague play as well, but we know that's not happening.