More On Baseball Attendance

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but hey, you all raised the issue on ratings, not me, the McPaper, USA Today had a sports front cover story
on that very subject. Here are some bits from story:

“Yet outside the city confines of St. Louis and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, there has been precious little interest. None of Fox’s broadcasts has drawn better than a 9.2 rating, the second lowest since the Nielsen ratings started tracking the Series in 1984.”

“It is a problem baseball has wrestled with for decades: Programming options proliferate and attention spans shrink. But rights fees to broadcast baseball games have steadily increased, and Commissioner Bud Selig is highly confident that trend will continue. Fox’s contract to broadcast baseball games expires in 2013. Negotiations on a new deal would begin next year.

“Let me tell you, the people who count are the ones who are bidding for the rights,” Selig says. “And we’ve never had so much competition for our next postseason television contract”

“Indeed, baseball scored a modest victory by trumping the NFL head-to-head in ratings Sunday and Monday night; the Baltimore Ravens-Jacksonville Jaguars game was the lowest-rated in Monday Night Football history (5.8). Still, the TV ratings are barely ahead of last year’s Rangers-Giants World Series, which produced an all-time ratings low.”

“”The reality is that we continue to minimize the World Series,” high-powered baseball agent Scott Boras says. “It’s become something where there is no reason for even the industry to show up at the event. When that is happening and they’re doing other things that are more important, you know there is something wrong with the World Series.”

“Yet in baseball-crazed Boston, where the Red Sox have won two World Series titles since 2004, there’s more concern about who had the dark meat and who ate the white meat in the clubhouse this season than the outcome of the World Series.

The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune skipped coverage of Game 5, opting not to replace news reporters dispatched to cover news conferences involving the Red Sox’s and Cubs’ new general managers.

“Boston is one of the most provincial towns in the country when it comes to their sports teams,” Globe baseball columnist Nick Cafardo said. “And right now, nobody cares about the World Series in Boston.”

“Carpenter says, “why don’t we build a ballpark just for the World Series, like in Las Vegas. It’ll be great weather. And everybody will get to come.

“And let’s change our playoff system, too. Everybody gets so excited about a do-or-die game. So what if we go ahead and allow twice as many teams in the playoffs, let 16 or 24 teams in, and you play the best-two-of-three all of the way through. Sudden death, bring it!”

“”Still, it’s not doom and gloom. We have won every night in prime time. Our sales guys sold our (advertising) earlier than ever. There is tremendous amount of value to a network having a World Series.”

The days of the monster rating, such as the 38.9 rating for Game 7 of the 1986 World Series between the Red Sox and New York Mets, likely are over. ”

So there you have it. Ratings are watched, not just on PTS but everywhere. The world has indeed changed, there is way more competition for the entertainment eyeball. I guess in a sense the networks are a lot like the owners themselves. Despite all the rhetoric, there’s an idiot out there who will overpay for an asset. In the end the used car salesman Selig laughs all the way to the bank. It’s the one time the fan doesn’t get screwed. Someone overpays for rights, we get coverage up the ying yang, but the truth is few really care.

I love the ideas for change. I loathe the Selig mentality of that’s not good for the fans. You want another reason why the NFL is the greatest show on earth? The NFL’s premiere event is it’s championship; the Superbowl. That’s where the parties are, that’s where the sponsors are. MLB (like the NHL by the way) blows it on the All Star Game. The All-star game is the event; a meaningless game.

Personally, I think the product is fine. I don’t think there are a ton of compelling characters anymore, but that could easily be a sign of my aging. I think the TV experience in most cases is better than that which you get live and as a result fewer people are all that interested in baseball. It used to be about going to the games. Now, in most cases (save for the big major markets) that’s not the case.

In the end it doesn’t appear to matter. Networks will pay top dollar and the owners will keep pocketing it.


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