What’s the Answer?

By RobG

World Series ratings down – a constant refrain on the airwaves and in print. It’s a hot point for me, enough to share with you and to hear your thoughts.

I heard about World Series ratings again yesterday on Sportsnet 590 The FAN (boy that’s a mouthful). Jeff Blair ended his interview with Bob McCown in the 4:00 segment on Prime Time Sports on Monday with “nobody’s watching”. This has been a familiar theme on PTS. Last week when Darren Rovell and McCown were having their weekly chat, we heard that the average age of this year’s World Series viewer is 53 years old.

The point is we keep hearing that World Series ratings aren’t good, but when is someone going to do some heavy lifting on this issue. It’s too easy to lob the “nobody’s watching” softball. The common theme is the dreaded lack of big market team in the series. Translation – no Yankees or no Red Sox means nobody will watch. You hear a similar argument when golf ratings are questioned – the Tiger Woods factor. Frankly, the casual viewer that drops in to watch when the Yankees are in the World Series, or when Tiger is on the tube aren’t the core fan that baseball or golf need to worry about.

Baseball’s ratings problem is deeper then the lack of a sexy World Series matchup. On one side of the equation is the empirical data, such as the expanded channel universe, the resulting fragmented viewing habits, and an aging demographic. On the other side is what is MLB doing to answer these challenges? We hear little from them about it. The media could do a better job of holding Bud Selig’s feet to the fire regarding the negative trend. Is MLB considering earlier start times in an attempt to secure younger viewers? What other tactics, if any, are under consideration? They still have time to right the ship, as there are plenty of boomers still tuned in, but the challenge is clear.

This is the “heavy lifting” type of interview and analysis McCown is capable of. I think baseball is near and dear to him. We’ve heard him reflect on being a Dodger fan when they were in Brooklyn. He has many strong contacts in baseball – Faye Vincent, Stan Kasten, and Paul Beeston to name a few. Stephen Brunt certainly brings much to the table with his perspective. Rovell and Michael Hiestand are excellent weekly guests on PTS. All involved could add more to the discussion instead of the usual banter followed by stating the obvious.

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