Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, August 03, 2012

Caesar: For ESPN Cards-Brewers, not Reds-Pirates, makes ratings sense

In TV ratings, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.

ESPN selected the Cardinals-Brewers contest for its “Sunday Night Baseball’’ telecast this week, thus showing the teams that are third and fourth in the National League Central instead of the showdown between first place Cincinnati and second-place Pittsburgh.

The Redbirds and Brewers began play Thursday a combined 23 games out of first place. Just 3 1/2 separated the Reds and Pirates.

The reason, ESPN programming vice president Julie Sobieski, is complex but the bottom line is that when the selections were being made long ago the rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series teams figured to draw better ratings than two clubs with a lesser national following.

...She said there is much internal discussion about the matter.

“There is never a week where we don’t have an active debate on any game we select,’’ she said. “We have a lot of discussion based on what might be a great story line. We also take a look at the ratings projections we get from our research group, (which has) a lot of history from all the years we’ve been in this business with baseball. .... There is a lot of discussion based on story lines vs. the ratings, and for this particular week we really felt with it being (Carlos) Beltran and (Ryan) Braun and the Cardinals’ national following this was really the game we needed to go after.’‘

Repoz Posted: August 03, 2012 at 07:45 AM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Bug Selig Posted: August 03, 2012 at 08:28 AM (#4199543)
“There is never a week where we don’t have an active debate on any game we select,’’


The most common form of debate:

"No, YOU call Bud and ask him why the Yankees and Sox can't play every Sunday."

\"######## - I called him last week."

   2. RichardMNixon Posted: August 03, 2012 at 08:41 AM (#4199547)
I've been watching Sunday Night baseball for 20+ years and from what I can remember, the Pirates have never been on it.
   3. Lujack Posted: August 03, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4199582)
According to this article, it's been since May 2002. Still the point remains.
link
   4. salvomania Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4199631)
Well, it's not as if the Pirates have anybody exciting that anyone would want to see.
   5. JJ1986 Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:28 AM (#4199636)
I love Carlos Beltran, but is he really a ratings draw for anyone?
   6. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:31 AM (#4199641)
when the selections were being made long ago


Isn't that the answer right there? At what point did it become obvious that this weekend's Reds-Pirates series would be a battle for the division lead? As recently as just a couple of weeks ago, I think people, if they'd noticed how the Pirates were doing at all, probably figured it was a fluke and they'd come crashing back to Earth any day now. If ESPN made this decision on, say, Wednesday night, then sure it's a bad and stupid decision. If they made this decision even a month ago Cards-Brewers seems pretty defensible.
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4199661)


Isn't that the answer right there? At what point did it become obvious that this weekend's Reds-Pirates series would be a battle for the division lead? As recently as just a couple of weeks ago, I think people, if they'd noticed how the Pirates were doing at all, probably figured it was a fluke and they'd come crashing back to Earth any day now. If ESPN made this decision on, say, Wednesday night, then sure it's a bad and stupid decision. If they made this decision even a month ago Cards-Brewers seems pretty defensible.


For June and July, ESPN must pick its Sunday telecasts no less than three weeks in advance of the game. It has a two-week window in August and September.


Now, I don't know if this is considered a June-July pick (when it had to be made) or an August-September one (when the game is played). Either way, in a strict pennant-significant sense, it would have been pretty clear this was more likely to be the better game than Cards-Crew. Of course, ESPN isn't making any picks strictly on the basis of pennant significance.
   8. Guapo Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4199690)
The Pirates and Reds have met 5 times in the postseason, which is tied for the most times two NL teams have played each other in the postseason (Astros-Braves and Phillies-Dodgers have also matched up 5 times)
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4199701)
The Pirates and Reds have met 5 times in the postseason, which is tied for the most times two NL teams have played each other in the postseason (Astros-Braves and Phillies-Dodgers have also matched up 5 times)


And there's a surprisingly real possibility the Reds-Bucs could take over solo first this year in all of baseballdom.

(By my reckoning, four is the mark in the AL - Yanks-Royals, Yanks-Twins, Red Sox-As, Red Sox-Angels).

   10. Nasty Nate Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4199706)
Now, I don't know if this is considered a June-July pick (when it had to be made) or an August-September one (when the game is played). Either way, in a strict pennant-significant sense, it would have been pretty clear this was more likely to be the better game than Cards-Crew. Of course, ESPN isn't making any picks strictly on the basis of pennant significance.


If I RFTA correctly, they couldn't have even chosen Reds-Pirates 3 weeks in advance because apparently they have to deem a shortlist of games before the season starts, and the Reds-Pirates game wasn't one of their choices.
   11. Randy Jones Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4199708)
(By my reckoning, four is the mark in the AL - Yanks-Royals, Yanks-Twins, Red Sox-As, Red Sox-Angels).


Yankees have faced the Rangers 4 times also.
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4199712)

If I RFTA correctly, they couldn't have even chosen Reds-Pirates 3 weeks in advance because apparently they have to deem a shortlist of games before the season starts, and the Reds-Pirates game wasn't one of their choices.


I saw that, but I'm a little skeptical of its authenticity. They may very well make some potential shortlist, but unless there's a reason the teams need to know they're under consideration for a move (a possibility, but then it should have been more prominent in the explanation), I'm not sure why the initial short list matters.

If ESPN wanted the Reds-Pirates game to be the Sunday Night Game this week, I have no doubt it would have been, shortlist be damned.
   13. Guapo Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4199718)
I think Red Sox-Angels have met 5 times, actually (1986, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009). Also, the Indians and Red Sox have met 4 times (1995, 1998, 1999, 2007). And the Yankees and Rangers (1996, 1998, 1999, 2010).

   14. TDF, situational idiot Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4199722)
If I RFTA correctly, they couldn't have even chosen Reds-Pirates 3 weeks in advance because apparently they have to deem a shortlist of games before the season starts, and the Reds-Pirates game wasn't one of their choices.


I saw that, but I'm a little skeptical of its authenticity. They may very well make some potential shortlist, but unless there's a reason the teams need to know they're under consideration for a move (a possibility, but then it should have been more prominent in the explanation), I'm not sure why the initial short list matters.
FTA:
Teams are not allowed to appear more than five times, so there is strategy involved in picking the telecasts from Day 1.
But, as noted, the Rats haven't appeared on SNB in years; the Reds have been on twice this year but have no others scheduled. So there is no reason they can't alter that "stragegy" in this instance.
   15. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:54 AM (#4199732)
I guarantee that Norby would sooner drink a pint of urine from every man, woman, and child in Bristol than air a Pirates game in a discretionary slot, no matter how many games the team has won. It's not all that long ago that SportsCenter routinely didn't even bother to run highlights from the day's Pirates game, win or lose.
   16. Jim Wisinski Posted: August 03, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4199774)
I think the Rays have faced (and lost to) the Rangers in the playoffs the last seven years
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: August 03, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4199811)
If ESPN wanted the Reds-Pirates game to be the Sunday Night Game this week, I have no doubt it would have been, shortlist be damned.


Maybe, but why would the agreement have the scheduling limitations (shortlist, max games per team) if they can be cast aside at any point?
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: August 03, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4199823)
Maybe, but why would the agreement have the scheduling limitations (shortlist, max games per team) if they can be cast aside at any point?


I think, as TDF notes, the shortlist exists because the max games per team rule is ironclad. So the network lays out which teams it's considering for a specific night because it can only have so many nights where it features the Yankees, Red Sox, Phils, Cards etc., and thus must map out each and every Sunday night possibility to prevent having to show unappealing contests. But I don't imagine the shortlist would preclude some other team(s) that weren't in jeopardy of eclipsing the maximum (which would be the case of both the Reds and Pirates) from appearing.

I'm guessing the shortlist exists for internal purposes, and the ESPN spokesliar mentions it because she wants to avoid talking about the primary reason the network chose Cards-Brewers: successful teams from two of the smallest markets in baseball without a lot of recent success are not teams the network wants to showcase in prime time (particularly if there's a chance that one or both may fade by the time the game rolls around).

Like I said, if ESPN wanted this game to be the Sunday Night affair, I have no doubt it would have been. The shortlist wouldn't be a barrier to that.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4199855)
I think, as TDF notes, the shortlist exists because the max games per team rule is ironclad. So the network lays out which teams it's considering for a specific night because it can only have so many nights where it features the Yankees, Red Sox, Phils, Cards etc., and thus must map out each and every Sunday night possibility to prevent having to show unappealing contests.


I suspect your skepticism is right in general (then why I still arguing?) but having a shortlist makes it harder, not easier, to comply with the max games per team rule.
   20. BWV 1129 Posted: August 03, 2012 at 10:36 PM (#4200327)
I would buy a timing explanation as to why you'd pick this game over the alternative, but I don't buy the ratings excuse. ESPN does not simply provide us a supply of games, its hype machine also creates demand. ESPN is as much a marketer of sports as it is a sports news agency. If you can't market the season McCutchen is having, you should get out of the business of marketing seasons.

But of course they can. But they don't. If they're even trying, it's lost on me, as I gave up on ESPN being a legit news reporting agency years ago, and they exist on my radar as little as I can manage.
   21. McCoy Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:02 PM (#4200336)
No matter what kind of season McCutchen is having he is still on the Pirates and no matter how great you are you are still only doing one or two interesting things a game in baseball.
   22. Magnum RA Posted: August 03, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4200365)
ESPN has been too busy at Jets training camp to really give this much thought.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: August 04, 2012 at 02:35 AM (#4200400)
But of course they can. But they don't. If they're even trying, it's lost on me, as I gave up on ESPN being a legit news reporting agency years ago, and they exist on my radar as little as I can manage.


Espn put all of it's marketing eggs in one basket, the rivalry between a historically great team, and a historically mediocre team. When the Red Sox post a less than stellar season as it does throughout it's history, ESPN was caught with their pants down. They haven't marketed players or other rivalries in over a decade(I would say the first season of Ichiro) that they don't really know how to do that anymore(if they ever did). I despise basketball and the NBA, but realistically in the 80's and early 90's they knew how to market players. Of course there are about a half dozen games each night that you could easily market, and in case of the Pirates, you could even market their lack of exposure on the espn stage. "Come watch the Pirates, who haven't been on Sunday night baseball since 2003, come see what they are doing that has made us here in Bristol stand up and take notice, led by MVP front runner McCutchen, see them battle the reds for first place in the NL Central" (or whatever)

   24. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: August 04, 2012 at 03:00 AM (#4200401)
cfb,

I think there's some accuracy to what you're saying, but only some. I think the bigger issue is that regular season baseball is flat-out just a regional sport due to the sheer volume of games. And that ESPN is not particularly well equipped to cover regional sports effectively. I mean even the MLB Network has its issues in that regard, and they've got the whole damned network devoted to baseball.

I think that problem causes them to fall back on Yankees v Red Sox more than they probably should, but it isn't by any means _all_ they cover.
   25. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: August 04, 2012 at 08:46 AM (#4200421)
And if the Pirates make the playoffs, they'll be stuck in the early time slots, no one will watch them, and MLB and the Northeast Corridor Amen Corner will say, "See, baseball needs the Yankees and Red Sox to be strong, it's better for business."

ESPN is the Ebola virus of sports.
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: August 05, 2012 at 12:16 AM (#4200738)
I think that problem causes them to fall back on Yankees v Red Sox more than they probably should, but it isn't by any means _all_ they cover.


Nope they also cover the Cowboys, Favre, Patriots, Lakers, Celtics etc. But they have pretty much forgot the other teams. When MLB Network came out, I decided to spend a week or so comparing the coverage from mlb vs ESPN and MLB averaged nearly the exact same minutes per broadcast on all the non-west coast teams, while ESPN was average a full third of their broadcast exclusively to the AL East. It wasn't comparable. I understand that the West coast is going to get shorted to an extent, but the disparity between the two broadcasts was noticeable. Which I found to be funny, because about 5 years before that, I had made some comments about ESPN overly pushing the Yankees/Red Sox and decided to time it, and I was wrong, at least on baseball tonight for the week I did it, almost every team was given the same amount of time(again the west coast teams were last in this regards)

   27. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: August 05, 2012 at 12:33 AM (#4200743)
ESPN has been too busy at Jets training camp to really give this much thought.


I don't watch espn much at all and definitely turn it off when nfl comes on, but is this really getting out of hand? I heard someone talking about it and wondered if it is accurate. That makes sense, the team that has won 2 out of the last 5 SBs should probably get ignored when you have the dominant Jets to talk about.
   28. TerpNats Posted: August 05, 2012 at 12:39 AM (#4200745)
What's ESPN's schedule window for Sunday nights as compared with TBS's for Sunday afternoons? I was pleasantly surprised to see the Washington at Milwaukee game on last week (not that I saw the TBS telecast, since I get MASN), but I sense Turner has a bit more flexibility. (For example, it carried Stephen Strasburg's second MLB start in Cleveland in June 2010.)

With the two-week ESPN window for August and September, I can see two possibilities for the Nationals to be shown -- Sept. 2 at home vs. St. Louis and Sept. 16 at Atlanta. Of course, if the Yanks and Bosox are playing on either of those dates, all bets are off.
   29. TerpNats Posted: August 05, 2012 at 12:45 AM (#4200748)
I despise basketball and the NBA, but realistically in the 80's and early 90's they knew how to market players.
It helped that two of them (Bird and Johnson) were on traditional powers dating back to the league's early years, while the third (Jordan) was playing for a team in the nation's third-largest market. If Bird had played for the Pacers, Johnson for the Spurs and Jordan for the Hawks, the marketing would have been considerably tougher, even if their teams had posted similar success to what actually happened.
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: August 05, 2012 at 12:46 AM (#4200749)
With the two-week ESPN window for August and September, I can see two possibilities for the Nationals to be shown -- Sept. 2 at home vs. St. Louis and Sept. 16 at Atlanta. Of course, if the Yanks and Bosox are playing on either of those dates, all bets are off.


I imagine St Louis is probably pretty close to reaching the limit for their number of times allowed to be shown.
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: August 05, 2012 at 01:11 AM (#4200752)

Espn put all of it's marketing eggs in one basket, the rivalry between a historically great team, and a historically mediocre team.



The Red Sox aren't the Yankees, but they have the second-best WP in AL history (.517, just a hair behind your Cards and a full 8 percentage points ahead of AL No. 3, Cleveland). I know you want the Sox to have been historically dreadful, just as you want to pretend they never had any fans outside of Boston before 2004, but simply repeating them doesn't make either true.

Of course, the idea that Bristol has put too many of its eggs in the Northeastern Corridor basket is obviously true. But I blame MLB as much as I do the suits at ESPN (or Fox).




   32. Nasty Nate Posted: August 05, 2012 at 02:00 AM (#4200754)
And if the Pirates make the playoffs, they'll be stuck in the early time slots, no one will watch them, and MLB and the Northeast Corridor Amen Corner will say, "See, baseball needs the Yankees and Red Sox to be strong, it's better for business."


If they make the LCS there is no place to hide them - but just their luck they could be one and done with this stupid new playoff system
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: August 05, 2012 at 02:51 AM (#4200758)
The Red Sox aren't the Yankees, but they have the second-best WP in AL history (.517, just a hair behind your Cards and a full 8 percentage points ahead of AL No. 3, Cleveland). I know you want the Sox to have been historically dreadful, just as you want to pretend they never had any fans outside of Boston before 2004, but simply repeating them doesn't make either true.


The Cubs have a .513 winning percentage.....not sure if all time winning percentage is a mark of what I would call a historically good team. But if winning percentage was indicative of a historic team/rivalry, then the Dodgers and Giants, you know baseball's real best rivalry, should have been ESPN's focus all of these years, both have better winning percentage than the Red Sox(and Cardinals). (Yes I know the west coast issue hindered that)

From 1920-1990, the Red Sox made 6 post season appearances. 1 fewer than the Cubs in that time frame.(and as a Cardinal fan, we have a rivalry with the Cubs, but it's not this overhyped nonsense that ESPN has made the Red Sox/Yankeess rivalry into) I'm sorry but the rivalry is in the fevered imagination of Red Sox fans who are using a few good years in the 70's and the massive monetary push that the Red Sox finally enjoyed taking advantage of in the 90's to foster this myth of a historic rivalry. The only reason a rivalry exists is proximity, that is enough to make the fans bitter towards each other, but it's not enough to push it to Lakers/Celtics or Giants/Dodgers proportion that ESPN seems to want to make it.

If they make the LCS there is no place to hide them - but just their luck they could be one and done with this stupid new playoff system

At the end of the season, if the Pirates are in the playoffs, it's going to be because of the new system.
   34. SoSH U at work Posted: August 05, 2012 at 07:55 AM (#4200769)

The Cubs have a .513 winning percentage.....not sure if all time winning percentage is a mark of what I would call a historically good team. But if winning percentage was indicative of a historic team/rivalry, then the Dodgers and Giants, you know baseball's real best rivalry, should have been ESPN's focus all of these years, both have better winning percentage than the Red Sox(and Cardinals). (Yes I know the west coast issue hindered that)

You're conflating two different things. Are the Red Sox historically on par with the Yankees (or Dodgers or Giants)? No they are not. Are they histroically medicore, as you claimed? No they are not.

I don't know any Red Sox fan who would claim they're anywhere near the Yankees, historically speaking. I don't think any non fanboy Red Sox partisan who would claim the club's rivalry with the Yanks eclipses the Dodgers-Giants (though both those clubs, like the Sox) had long fallow periods as well. But one can understand the Red Sox are not the Yankees while still recognizing where they realistically fit historically. Your descriptions above this did not do that.
   35. Nasty Nate Posted: August 05, 2012 at 11:34 AM (#4200846)
From 1920-1990, the Red Sox made 6 post season appearances.


Also, between 1904-1911, 1947-1966, and 1976-1985, and 1987, and 2010-present they had no postseason appearances at all. Whoa!
   36. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4200888)
I sense Turner has a bit more flexibility.


Well, of course they do. They have a non-exclusive right to broadcast one game nationally in a time slot when there are usually at least a half a dozen to choose from. ESPN has to give teams advance notice to move the start time of a Sunday game to their exclusive 8 PM eastern time-slot.
   37. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 05, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4200894)
No matter what happened today, I'm sure the Pirates and Reds will get plenty of exposure over the next 2-3 months, and deservedly so. Recognition always lags achievement.
   38. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: August 05, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4200911)
The Sunday night preference of the network seems to be
1) Yankees
2) Red Sox
3) Dodgers
4) Cardinals
5) Rangers or Angels

It seems like everytime I look the Cardinals are on. I understand that they are the defending champs, etc, but since Pujols is gone and the team is average, I don't understand. Particularly since the networks would put Hitler on if they thought it would get them one tenth more of a point; as NBC has shown with their idiotic prime time backstory crap on the Olympics. I would rather see the Pirates and Reds.
   39. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 05, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4200936)
It seems like everytime I look the Cardinals are on.


Since teams are not allowed to appear more than five times, the Cardinals actually are not on every time you look (unless you only watch once a month). I think St Louis has been on four times so far this season, so you won't have to put up with them any more after tonight.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn)
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogDoug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
(100 - 12:15pm, Apr 16)
Last: bigglou115

Jim's Lab NotesWe're Moved! (And Burst.net can bite me!)
(89 - 12:14pm, Apr 16)
Last: zack

NewsblogMinuteman News Center: Giandurco: This means WAR
(20 - 12:13pm, Apr 16)
Last: Doris from Rego Park

NewsblogAstros To Promote George Springer
(1 - 12:11pm, Apr 16)
Last: KT's Pot Arb

NewsblogOTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments
(1289 - 12:09pm, Apr 16)
Last: snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster)

NewsblogVerducci: Overuse of young pitchers fueling MLB's Tommy John surgery problem
(16 - 12:08pm, Apr 16)
Last: KT's Pot Arb

NewsblogGothamist: Yankee Stadium Is Selling Nachos In A Helmet For $20
(53 - 12:04pm, Apr 16)
Last: Canker Soriano

NewsblogNightengale: Pujols nears 500 home runs...and no one seems to care
(20 - 12:00pm, Apr 16)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(847 - 11:44am, Apr 16)
Last: DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta."

NewsblogOMNICHATTER: Wednesday April 16, 2014
(3 - 11:41am, Apr 16)
Last: SoCalDemon

NewsblogBud Selig calls replay start 'remarkable'
(17 - 11:32am, Apr 16)
Last: Ulysses S. Fairsmith

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-16-2014
(6 - 11:30am, Apr 16)
Last: Mike Emeigh

NewsblogKimbrel given night off with soreness in shoulder | braves.com: News
(16 - 11:02am, Apr 16)
Last: Russ

NewsblogOT: The NHL is finally back thread, part 2
(130 - 10:47am, Apr 16)
Last: Fear is Moses Taylor's Bacon Bits

NewsblogOT: NBA Monthly Thread - April 2014
(216 - 10:18am, Apr 16)
Last: Fear is Moses Taylor's Bacon Bits

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.7020 seconds
52 querie(s) executed