Baseball brought big ratings to Fox Sports this season. MLB telecasts drew higher numbers on both Fox and FS1, while several Fox Sports regional networks finished No. 1 in primetime ratings in their respective markets.
Here’s the breakdown: MLB on Fox telecasts enjoyed a 22 percent boost in viewership, with an average audience of 2.2 million compared to last season’s 1.9 million. Baseball broadcasts on FS1 increased by 22 percent, jumping to an average of 504,000 from 413,000.
Perhaps more impressive is the success of baseball telecasts on Fox Sports regional networks, which ranked first in average primetime ratings in six markets. We already covered how successful ratings for Royals games were in Kansas City, coming off a World Series appearance and finishing with the best record in the American League this season. Fox Sports Kansas City enjoyed a household rating of 12.33, a 90 percent increase over last season. That includes a 13.0 household rating in primetime.
Ratings were also big in St. Louis, where Fox Sports Midwest averaged a 10.0 rating (including 10.8 in primetime) for Cardinals game broadcasts, jumping from a 7.9 mark last season. This year’s rating also beats out the 9.4 FS Midwest Cardinals games drew in 2010.
For example, arguably the best bit of the entire film comes when Billy Beane, after Ferrell’s stint at shortstop with the Athletics, tells Ferrell he’s been traded. Ferrell, of course, doesn’t take the news well, and intercut with his reaction to Beane in the Athletics dugout is a (presumably facetious) long monologue by Ferrell about how Billy Beane is a blood-sucking liar who loves his numbers so much that he doesn’t care about heart or guts at all and doesn’t realize that players are people, and that presumably anytime you go visit him he’s watching “Moneyball”, which he probably likes to namedrop and watch with everybody he meets, since it’s about him. My description of this bit does not do it justice, and it gets a great callback at the end.
NESN is getting rid of the very entertaining and likable Don Orsillo. Orsillo is immensely popular among all the Red Sox fans I know. Do any of the Sox fans here disagree?
According to industry sources, Orsillo was never a favorite of Joseph Maar, NESN’s vice president of programming and production/executive producer who arrived at the network in July 2012. Last year, Maar implemented the policy of having its broadcasters — Orsillo and analyst Jerry Remy, in this case — take in-season breaks.
I’m really shocked by this news. Here’s Maar’s, and the Red Sox Twitter feeds, in case you want to voice your displeasure.
Brian Kenny and Rob Neyer are two of my favorite baseball analysts. These experiments need a lot of tweaking, however. The game is what’s important. Focus on the game and inject smart analysis. Making the analysis the focal point of the broadcast is just too much.
Charter Communications plans to soon begin offering the Los Angeles Dodgers TV channel, SportsNet LA, in Southern California, breaking the year-long impasse that has prevented thousands of baseball fans from watching their favorite team on TV.
“We are going to get the Dodgers on,” Charter Communications Chief Executive Tom Rutledge said Tuesday morning in an interview with the L.A. Times.
“We want the Dodgers on every outlet and we are committed to making that happen,” Rutledge said.
Dave Letterman had been hosting The Late Show for only four years in 1985 when he came up with “The First Annual Holiday Film Festival”. The idea was that Dave asked a number of notable figures to make short films, and he played them on the show.
Letterman grew up as a baseball fan in Indianapolis. Because Indiana doesn’t have a MLB team, and Indianapolis sounds like “Minneapolis”, Dave adopted Harmon Killebrew as one of his favorite players. So when “The First Annual Holiday Film Festival” idea came about, Dave called Harm and asked him to make one of the videos.
Harmon said no.
Harmon said, “No, thanks.”
But David insisted, and flew a camera crew out to Idaho along with $10,000 to cover production costs. Harmon gave in, and made a video for the show. The only problem was, Dave’s show went long, and after showing the videos by Bette Midler, Michael Keaton, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin and Harry Shearer, Harmon’s video got cut.
Letterman was mortified.
Dave called up Harmon and apologized, and promised to dedicate an entire show to Killebrew. Harmon was at this point even more reluctant than he had been earlier, but when Dave promised he would get Harmon’s favorite singer, Charley Pride, to sing for him, Harmon agreed.
On February 26, 1986, Dave Letterman had “Harmon Killebrew Night”.
Before getting to baseball’s dependence on the health of major cable companies, here is a brief look at some early season numbers. The first month of the season has seen big increases in viewership for national games on Fox Sports 1 and MLB Network, including double the amount of viewers aged 18 to 34 watching game on Fox Sports 1. The Chicago Cubs have doubled their ratings after their increased commitment in the offseason as well as the arrival of Kris Bryant. The Kansas City Royals have done the same coming off their World Series appearance. The Houston Astros have seen an increase in viewership after finally resolving their local disputes, at least as far as getting their games on all the local cable packages. The Arizona Diamondbacks have seen their highest ratings in a decade while the games of the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Diego Padres rank first in their broadcast territories among all shows. A recent article by Maury Brown at Forbes showed that baseball games beat playoff games from the NHL and NBA in many markets across the country.
The ratings so far this season are a great indicator of baseball’s popularity. Not only is baseball beating playoffs in other sports, it is also beating first-run shows on networks.
The most subversive thing I’ve ever read in the LA Times. Columnist Chris Erskine gives detailed instructions on how to mask your DNS to watch Dodger games on MLB.TV, avoiding antiquated blackout rules and telling Time Warner cable to…..well, who needs them anymore?
[Pete] Rose will serve FOX as a guest analyst for the MLB on FOX pregame show on FOX and FOX Sports 1 and will also appear on “MLB Whiparound,” “America’s Pregame” and “FOX Sports Live” on FOX Sports 1…
FOX officials say they are hiring Rose for his on-air presence and that he will make for compelling television regardless of how one views his controversial past.
The network’s move comes at a time when Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader with 4,256, has officially requested that new Commissioner Rob Manfred lift his lifetime ban from the sport…
FOX, a broadcast partner of Major League Baseball, did not require the sport’s permission to hire Rose. But network officials said they made baseball fully aware of their decision to audition Rose and then sign him to a contract.
“As a courtesy, FOX informed us that they were interviewing Pete Rose for an on-air studio position,” said Pat Courtney, baseball’s chief communications officer. “The decision to hire on-air talent for its telecasts rests solely with FOX.”
Rose said that he is not joining FOX with the idea that it will help him gain reinstatement.
“I don’t even worry about that. I’ve never thought about that,” Rose said. “I’m just trying to give back to baseball. Hopefully people will watch and I’ll make some good points that will help them understand the game more.
“I’m not concentrating or worrying about reinstatement. I’m worried about working, having fun. This will be fun for me. It won’t be like work. That’s the way I look at it.”
The GIF above cycles through some of the graphics that were used in the intro package that led into ABC 7’s broadcast of yesterday’s Cubs game. Did you catch all those errors? Here, let us slow things down for you.
To be fair, the season is still very young. Everyone’s still working out the kinks!
Adds Maury…“Pass the popcorn. The static’s on (again)”
File this one in the “broken record” department: prepare for yet another season of MLB’s blackout policy remaining in place.
The reason for the broken record? This story has been written repeatedly for years. A source at MLB said that for all practical purposes, the matter will likely not be addressed for the upcoming season.
For the uninitiated, the question is, “Why should I be concerned?” That depends on whether you are, or planning to, purchase MLB Extra Innings or subscribe to MLB.TV.
In a nutshell, there are two ways you can be hit with the “blackout blues”. National broadcast partners FOX and ESPN have exclusivity agreements in which no matter where you live, games are blacked out on MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV.
...And about the national blackout policy, any chance that happens soon? In speaking with sources close to the matter, when asked if the possibility it won’t be considered until contracts are renewed with ESPN and FOX, the reply was, “Probably.”
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission took a step that may lead to the elimination of all sports blackouts, of which the N.F.L.’s are the most notable. The commission said it was seeking public comment on eliminating its own rules that have effectively backstopped league policies by prohibiting cable and satellite operators from carrying a game already blacked out by local broadcast stations.
“We’re asking the government to get out of the business of propping up sports blackouts,” said Brian Frederick, executive director of the Sports Fans Coalition, which filed a petition in November to end the F.C.C.’s blackout rule with four other interest groups. “The F.C.C. has had the rule since the 1970s and has never taken a comprehensive look at it.”
This would be awesome, especially for all those poor baseball fans in Nevada.
One old sparky chair comes to mind! Picks up torch and pitchfork (sees Bon Iver won year-ender…throws away in disgust)...
But what if we discover that one of the players in the actual Hall of Fame did something far more abhorrent than using steroids or testosterone? Say, murder. Would the Hall of Fame seriously consider removing that player? I honestly don’t know.
Of course, time plays a role here. Conlin just won the Spink Award. In the display in the Museum, he’s featured. If Conlin were dead, or if he’d won the award 10 years ago, this whole sordid affair might be a three-day story. But now? With Conlin still around? With an extra-big photo of him in the Museum? With Jerry Sandusky still running free?
Right now, everything is so raw. If given a chance, I suppose I would split the difference. I would not rescind Conlin’s Spink Award, but I would hasten to make him less visible in Cooperstown. We’ve got a new winner: Bob Elliott. Maybe it’s as easy as making him the center piece of the exhibit a few months earlier than scheduled.
Or maybe Conlin should simply be defrocked. I don’t have the answer yet. I do anticipate a spirited discussion. Which will be more than welcome.
Even though it’s the off-season for the MLB, the MLB Network is hard at work leveraging social media by curating off-season chatter through their programming — and now they’ve rolled out a brand new social media area inside of their state-of-the-art Studio 3 in New Jersey.
The social area of the studio serves up 108-inch touchscreens for MLB Network talent to interact with fans through Facebook polls, Twitter and email. MLB Network has over 98,000 followers on Twitter and over 350,000 likes on Facebook.
...LR: How will social media be incorporated into the studio? On air?
MB: Fans can be part of the discussion and chime in on all the latest Major League Baseball news and rumors leading up to the 2012 regular season. As it has done throughout 2011, MLB Network will continue to interact with viewers and post questions and display select responses on-air in each studio show – including “Hot Stove,” “Clubhouse Confidential” and “Intentional Talk” this offseason – either on the in-studio touchscreen monitor or on-screen in our social media “ticker.”
We also want to bring fans the best and newest info shared by players and media via social media, so MLB Network on-air personalities will discuss tweets on-air, whether it’s a breaking news story or a photo that a player posted from a recent vacation. During the various Jewel Events on the MLB calendar, like Spring Training, Opening Day, the All-Star Game, Trade Deadline, Postseason and Winter Meetings, we monitor hashtags to stay on top of the most talked about storylines and display tweets and stories reported on Twitter from baseball beat writers.
Lou Piniella, a fan favorite as both player and manager, is deep in negotiations and close to signing a deal to return to the Bombers as an analyst for the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network. He also will likely serve as a spring training instructor.
According to industry sources, Piniella will do a limited number of appearances for YES in the broadcast booth and studio.
Piniella would join YES’ cast of analysts that includes Ken Singleton, John Flaherty, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Al Leiter and play-by-play man Michael Kay.
...Now, sources said, Piniella wants to stay to baseball. It looks like the Yankees are providing that opportunity. This likely means Yankees fans will see Piniella in the YES booth when the Bombers play the Rays in 2012. The Yankees open the season April 6 in Tampa. Piniella should have a role in that telecast.
After leaving Tampa in 2006, Piniella spent a season working for Fox Sports on its major league baseball package.
Lifting from Mountaintop Motel Massacre’s sweet Evelyn here…“Please do not piss off Cardinal fans. They already are.”
Tim McCarver, that biased broadcaster, has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
From here on out, he’ll be referred to as a Hall of Famer.
But I’ll just call him Tim McCarver.
Because in my eyes, he is NOT a Hall of Famer. He is a dumbfounded broadcaster who, for whatever reason, has been on the air way too long.
...He is constantly negative toward the Cardinals and does not have any credibility. I can remember when he referred to former pitcher Donovan Osborne as Donovan “Os-burn.” Even during this past postseason, McCarver said the word strike was made up of five letters. Add all that to his sentence structure — that I’m sure makes English teachers squirm — that’s not excellence.
McCarver was a great ballplayer, I respect him for that. In that genre, he’s still not a Hall of Famer (didn’t have the numbers nor did he stand out), but he was certainly an impacting player for the teams he played on.
Losing out on the award this year is Texas Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel, who is the best descriptive broadcaster there is; McCarver’s former teammate Mike Shannon, who is the most unique broadcaster in the game; and a large number of others who were so much more deserving.
I haven’t been this riveted to a TV show since Roy Thinnes got a severe pinky cramp and had to hide it during a whole The Invaders episode!
The resistance from—I guess you could call it the long-established media, since mainstream applies to the internet these days—seems to be fading. Writers such as Keith Law or Dave Cameron at Fangraphs have BBWAA membership, which is a wonderful, progressive development. But there’s still that challenge of making sabermetrics accessible to the those who are skeptical or intimidated. How do you approach that challenge on the show?
Kenny: “That’s always the challenge in knowing where the line is. I want any baseball fan to be able to tune into the show and have a passing knowledge of statistics to be able to watch the show and enjoy it. So I really take my time and take particular care to explain the methodology and to explain what some of these new analytical tools are and how they are used and why they work.
At the same time, I stress this is not math class, a lot of times I try to say, hey, this is wins above replacement. Try not to get caught up in what goes into the number, just look at what the numbers are telling us. We can look at OPS, we can look at weighted on-base average, let’s see what all the evidence is telling us. I don’t get caught up in one number because there is no magic number. A fan is already looking at the numbers. How do you know someone is a good hitter? He hits .300. He drives in 100 runs. Those are metrics. They’re just not the best possible metrics to analyze production and project future performance. There are other numbers for that and we’re going to teach people what they are and how to use them.”
...Before I let you go, I have to ask since he’s one of my favorite players and his Hall of Fame candidacy is cause of sabermetricians: Does Tim Raines belong in the Hall of Fame?
According to Spencer Fordin of MLB.com, Legendary Pictures announced yesterday that Harrison Ford will play Hall of Fame Dodgers’ executive Branch Rickey in a biopic about Jackie Robinson.
Many prominent actors have been mentioned for the role of Rickey over the years, including Robert Redford this past April, but Ford was apparently their top choice. His work in “Cowboys and Aliens” probably put him over the top.
As for Robinson, he’ll be played by the relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman. The 27-year-old has appeared in television shows such as “Lincoln Heights” and NBC’s “Persons Unknown.”
The film, which is appropriated titled “42,” is being written and directed by Brian Helgeland of “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River” renown.
Shia LaBeouf will play Branch Rickey’s son who takes over the movie for no reason.
The Angels have agreed to a new deal with Fox Sports worth at least $3 billion and expected to cover 20 years, two parties familiar with the deal said Thursday. The parties declined to be identified because the deal has yet to be officially announced.
Spokesmen for Fox and the Angels declined to comment.
Moreno last year opted out of a 10-year, $500-million contract with Fox, according to sports media consultant and former NBA TV President Ed Desser.
Desser, testifying Thursday in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy case, said the Angels and Fox agreed at the time to a one-year extension while the parties negotiated a new deal.
The Rangers agreed with Fox last year on a new contract worth an average of $80 million per year. The Angels’ deal is expected to top that in average annual rights fees — the rejected Dodgers’ deal had an average annual rights fee of about $85 million — and include an ownership stake in FSW.
The timing of this with the Pujols signing is curious. I wonder if Arte prodded Fox into upping the rights fees once he had Pujols in the fold. This would be much cooler if Fox was paying for an investment in the team, than Arte taking his windfall and turning around and spending it.
Regional sports networks. Twelve months ago Moreno was complaining about Carl Crawford money (seven years, $142 million.) What changed? He lined up a new local TV deal that could pay him almost twice the current annual rate of $50 million—even with the second-worst ratings in baseball. Sports programming is hot. It provides loads of content and, most importantly, content that is DVR-proof. Most sports programming is consumed live, not time-shifted, and that’s increasingly valuable to advertisers who prefer their ads actually be seen and not zapped. There is a reason the Rangers, who were in bankruptcy a year ago, and the Angels, who kept coming up short on free agents, are now superpowers—they lined up state-of-the-art massive TV deals. Once it was new ballparks that created the hierarchy of spending power in baseball. Now RSNs are the new oil wells. Next up at the TV windfall game: the Dodgers.
Sandy Alderson. The Mets GM had the two best lines of the meetings, first, in response to Reyes whining about not being wooed by the Mets, said, “Maybe I should have sent him a box of chocolates,” and then later, noting two of the three biggest contracts in baseball history (Alex Rodriguez and Pujols) were handed out at the same Dallas hotel, said, “There must be a strain of Legionnaire’s disease here.”
St. Louis fans. They don’t get to watch Pujols chase records and burnish his legacy as a Cardinals icon. But don’t blame the ballclub or even Pujols. Pujols essentially became too good and too expensive for the size of the market—particularly one that hasn’t cashed in yet on the new RSN boom like the Angels and Rangers. St. Louis still has six years left on its local TV deal. They could also start their own RSN, paralleling what the Yankees and Red Sox have done, but St. Louis ranks 24th out of the 30 media markets measured by Neilsen. The Cardinals might not have enough eyeballs for the TV calculus to work.
Hanley Ramirez. He was a problem when he was playing the position he wanted, shortstop. Do the Marlins really believe he will go peacefully to third base? Don’t rule out the possibility of a trade.