At least this will give TWC and the various LA cable operators—and Congress?!—another year to hammer out an arbitrated deal so that everyone in the Los Angeles market can actually enjoy the dulcet tones and exquisite stories of Vin Sully.
Fox Sports Detroit reports that since the beginning of the season on March 31, the average household rating for Tigers games is 7.5, which means that 7.5% of all the household with televisions in the Detroit DMA (i.e., TV market) are tuned to the Tigers game.
In prime time, the rating goes up to 8.4, which is 71% higher than WDIV (NBC), in second place with a 4.9.
For a city routinely called “Hockeytown”, that’s pretty amazing, and also pretty great.
In contrast to actual game broadcasts, the viewership for MLB Network has never been better.
The Awful Announcing blog reports that overall ratings for MLBN during Q2 2014 was the highest ever, averaging 206,000 viewers during primetime (Monday to Sunday 800pm to 1100pm Eastern) and 105,000 on average all day. (The primetime number is larger than the all day number because the figures represent number of viewers for an average quarter hour, and not the total number who tuned in during the whole time period.)
The author of the post speculates that it is diehards who are driving up all-day MLB Network viewing, while game broadcasts viewership is down because it is casual fans who are abandoning those. There might be something to that, but I wonder whether it’s not something more: that increasingly attention-challenged viewers are losing interest in committing to ever-lengthening game broadcasts, and instead are opting for the studio shows that summarize the sport and, during primetime, the up-to-fifteen games going on at once. This would be especially true if your team is not one of those playing at the time—even if you’re a diehard, why commit to a game you don’t care much about when you can pop onto MLB Network and see three entertaining guys sum up things for you?
The Yankees and Red Sox can’t play every week, to the chagrin of the people in charge of the MLB on Fox broadcast, and Fox paid for it with a 1.6 overnight HH rating. That’s down some -30% from the 2.3 the game between the Two Evil Empires generated the week before.
That 2.3 from last week is actually the only game that generated anything better than a 1.7 all year. By contrast, all seven of the first MLB on Fox broadcasts from 2013 scored better than that 1.7.
Houston (and every other major league city), we most definitely have a problem.
Maury Brown, a writer who freelances for Forbes magazine, has written an illuminating article about Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) in which the big reveal is that they are much more than simply the source for your MLB.TV broadcast. They are a multibillion dollar digital media and content infrastructure company that powers some of the better known video streaming sites across the Internet. Not only are they are into the delivery of their own baseball product, but also analytics (serving top websites such as Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and Baseball Reference); infrastructure (powering Disney’s WatchESPN and Time’s 120Sports.com); and ticketing (owners of Tickets.com) as well. Compared with other sports, they are way, way, WAY beyond the leading edge of integrating digital media into its business portfolio.
Joe Lucia, a writer at Awful Announcing, writes that he constantly inveighs against the practice of the various networks which carry MLB games of always featuring every Red Sox-Yankees matchups, to the degree that all nineteen matchups during the season are featured on one of the national networks.
Lucia believes this ultimately works to the detriment of the other 28 teams in that it trains viewers to treat a Red Sox-Yankees matchup as the only legitimately interesting matchup to watch. And he has a point: ratings show that the highest rated regular season MLB matchups are Red Sox-Yankees games, and that all other matchups drop off significantly in viewership.
It’s a circular problem: Red Sox-Yankees games get the best ratings so of course they are going to be featured which hurts interest in all other matchups, but even if the networks realize and want to cure the problem, showing other matchups at the expense of Red Sox-Yankees cost them money because of lower ratings, which diminishes the value of their MLB broadcasts, so to recoup the costs and make a profit they have to show the Red Sox-Yankees games, which reinforces the training of viewers to care only about that matchup and not watch any other matchup, and so on, and so on …
So what’s the solution? According to Lucia, maybe there isn’t one, or at least an obvious one.
At some point all things plateau. It’s anybody’s guess as to whether this truism applies to fan interest in the Detroit Tigers at the halfway point of the 2014 season.
According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Fox Sports Detroit reveals that 72 broadcasts into the season, the team is averaging a 7.53 household rating in 2014, versus 9.02 at the same point in 2013, a stunning -17% drop. This, despite the Tigers’ record being better now (1st place, 47-34, +4½ games) than at this time last year (2nd place, 43-38, ½ game behind). Nevertheless, Greg Hammaren, a Detroit media executive, states that the team is still on pace to lead all MLB teams in local TV ratings for at least the third straight year.
Hammaren also states that he is unsure why the ratings have gone down, although he speculates in the story that some of the loss could be attributed to the now three-week-old World Cup, which on the face of it doesn’t seem to pass the smell test, but might be possible in the spirit of “anything is possible”.
My own non-professional speculation, which I admit is coming completely out of my ear and is being offered with my Tiger fan goggles on, is that Michiganders might be getting a wee bit weary of supporting a team they’ve been hearing for years is one of the best in baseball and the leading favorites to win it all, yet who have not brought home even a single World Series title, and who couldn’t even get past an inferior Red Sox team they obviously outplayed in last year’s ALCS. I’m just spitballing here, though …
FWIW, Comerica Park attendance is also down, by -6.2%.
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You can also reach these, and all other databases, from the dropdown menus along the top of every page of the site.
Here is something I learned from a search online: I typed in “Jackie Robinson” and it turns out he did color for ABC TV broadcasts in 1965, appearing on 27 broadcasts. He worked opposite of three different PxP guys: Merle Harmon, Chris Schenkel, and Keith Jackson.
The first regular season Sunday Afternoon TBS game takes place this weekend with a 2:00pm (ET) matchup in which the Minnesota Twins (hey, surprise!) host the New York Yankees (oh, right, that’s why).
MLB on TBS broadcasts will continue weekly through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs, when TBS will air Wild Card round; take on two of the League Division Series; and one of the League Championship Series.
One extra twist starting this year: TBS will not force a blackout of, or be blacked out by, the local broadcast to protect an exclusivity by either. TBS will air the game locally in the Twins’ broadcast territory across from the Fox Sports North broadcast of the same game.