Category Archives: Television

Network TV Broadcast Database is Updated Through 6/30/14

Tony Miller, our network TV broadcast expert, has updated the Network TV database through this past Monday.

You can download the updated CSV file from here:

NETWORK TV BROADCASTS

Or you can search through the table online, here on this site:

SEARCHABLE NETWORK TV BROADCASTS

The latter option may take up to a few minutes to load, depending on your Internet speed, so please be a little patient.

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.

 

MLB on TBS Returns to the Air on July 6

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.

Read more here:

MLB ON TBS IS BACK ON JULY 6

 

 

Fox Hits Season High Rating for Red Sox/Yankees Tile, but Still Down for the Season

Even though MLB on Fox’s Saturday night matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees achieved their high-water ratings mark for the season with a 2.3, beating the previous season high of 1.6, it was still down -8% from high of 2.5 from both last year and 2012.

This proves once again: you want ratings?  You want Boston and the Bronx, then.

FOX Hits Season-High Overnight For Sox/Yanks, But Still Down

How To Improve TV Ratings For Nationally Televised Games

Steve Lepore is mostly an NHL media guy, writing about that pucking sport for SB Nation and Awful Announcing, as well as being a correspondent for SiriusXM radio’s NHL Network.

But Lepore does write about other sports and topics, and he has in fact recently written an article for Awful Announcing about the problem, as he sees it, that Baseball has as a national broadcast property.

Lepore proffers a cogent hypothesis as to why nationally televised baseball games continue to suffer in the ratings—e.g., ratings for one network are down double digit percents in 2014 versus last year—and makes suggestions to fix it.

It’s a good read and I would recommend giving it a look, but I can give you some spoilers here.

The two biggest problems, as Lepore sees it:

  • There are simply too many national games on TV: ESPN airs them on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays; Fox has Saturdays; TBS has Sunday afternoons in the second half of the season; and MLB Network picks up the remaining days.  Yet in this era of game ubiquity through vehicles like MLB.TV and Extra Innings, why watch a national game with a so-so matchup over a game involving a team you actually care about?
  • Baseball has what Lepore might term a “matchups problem”, concentrating too much on both (1) showing traditional big market teams which had pulled good numbers in the past, and (2) trying to be fair and featuring as many of the 29 American teams as they can.

Lepore’s suggestions for Baseball to fix this state of affairs:

  • Dump Saturday national broadcasts, which is a relic of viewership patterns from over a half a century ago, since people simply do not watch live TV on Saturdays, period.
  • Develop exclusive national broadcast game events on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the season, with all other games played during the day, and split those nights between ESPN and Fox (or more exactly, their new FS1 property).
  • Keep schedules flexible in order to choose top matchups for those Monday and Thursday games, making the decision roughly two weeks out, rather than committing to certain games and teams at the beginning of the season, when no one knows what the color of the season is going to be.

These may not make for “must see TV”, necessarily, but Lepore believes these changes could drive better ratings than Baseball gets for nationally televised games today.

Read the full article here:

RETHINKING BASEBALL ON NATIONAL TELEVISION

Ratings for MLB and College Ball on ESPN: Good

Where Fox is flailing, ESPN apparently is succeeding.

On the major league level, Fox’s Saturday night games slate has so far registered viewer interest level in the range of , but ESPN Sunday Night Baseball is getting a  from viewers, averaging a 1.3 household rating, which translates to 2 million total viewers.

Astute readers might note that the Fox number (which you can see by clicking on the “meh” icon above) is actually bigger than the ESPN number, but remember that Fox is a broadcast network with practically 100% penetration and greater ratings expectations based on its heritage and place on the dial, while ESPN is available in only about 87% of households and lives in triple digit land on most systems.

Last Sunday’s game was likely helped by the US-Portugal World Cup soccer (or “fútbol”, if you prefer) match, as the Rangers-Angels drew a 2.9, best number since a Yankees-Red Sox tilt from last August.  Or maybe more people watched so they could espy the primo Yu Darvish-Mike Trout matchup.  You’re a baseball fan—you decide.  We just report.

On the college front, the College World Series final between Vanderbilt and Virginia helped the Worldwide Leader (in more ways than one, apparently) to a viewership number of 2.4 million, best since 2009’s LSU/Texas final.  The game was, in fact, the third most-watched baseball game of any kind on ESPN all year, trailing only two games of the major league variety.

Read more here:

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Up; Hits Season High Thanks to World Cup

College World Series Final Sees Increases on ESPN (includes nifty six year historical viewership table)

One Option for Cubs in Post-WGN-TV World: Run Their Own Multicast Channel

Ed Sherman has written a couple of pretty good articles, both at his website and in the Chicago Tribune, about what the Cubs might do if they opt out of their agreement WGN-TV to carry 70-75 games per year: operate their own multicast channel.

(To be clear, this is a different deal than the WGN radio situation, in which the Cubs dumped ‘GN for WBBM-AM and the CBS promotional muscle behind it.)

A multicast channel is what “over the air” (OTA) TV has become in the wake of the move to all digital television for US stations in 2009.  Now the main TV channels are all “dash ones” (e.g., 2-1, 5-1, 7-1, etc.), and many of these channels carry subchannels (e.g., 5-2, 5-3, etc.) that feature additional programming, usually old TV shows and movies, cooking shows, or infomercials.

With options for OTA relatively scant—the Cubs can’t move the games over to Comcast SportsNet Chicago (CSN) because, frankly, CSN doesn’t want ’em, and no channel that’s a network affiliate can be expected to take them on—the Cubs would either have to go to a another local channel with less reach (such as WCIU-TV 26 or WPWR-TV 50); go crawling back to WGN and accept their newly suggested arrangement with less guaranteed money and more revenue sharing; or, again, start their own multicast channel, which sounds cool at first thought but would have the potential problem of not getting sufficient carriage by satellite and cable providers to warrant the startup and operational expense.

The Cubs have seemed to put themselves in a fairly bad bind, and the underlying reason for the bind is that, to be blunt, the Cubs suck (or at least they are perceived to suck), sporting one of the worst records in the majors this year.  Add to that the huge gamble being taken by the club to allow the big league club to flounder while relying on certain recent draft picks to take them to the Promised Land, a gamble that have led a lot of longtime Cubs fans to cool their ardor toward the team, and the prospects for the Cubs to generate significant TV revenue looks a lot more iffy now than it did when they presumably sketched out the idea on a bar napkin at a quarter to two in the morning one night some years ago.

Here are links to Sherman’s articles:

Cubs exploring multicast TV outlets for games

Multicast station? Cubs could leave WGN TV for highly unconventional outlet

Report: Weak Ratings for MLB on Fox So Far in 2014

From Sports Business Daily comes the news that it’s not all good for Fox as far as MLB’s appeal as a TV program is concerned so far this year.

Saturday regional MLB games earned a 1.6 overnight rating, which is -22% lower than last year’s 2.2 and -39% lower than 2012’s 2.6.  The 1.6 is the third lowest ever for a primetime MLB game on Fox, and the two lower numbers came from broadcasts earlier this year.

Read more at:

Sports Media Watch

Sports Business Daily (subscription required)

Here’s a Nice Feature Piece on Vin Scully

Here’s a link to a lovely long-form feature by Cee Angi about he who is arguably, although increasingly inarguably, the greatest broadcaster in the history of baseball:

We’ve Been Friends Long Enough You’ll Understand’: Vin Scully, Baseball’s Longest-Tenured and Most Eloquent Broadcaster, is Still Looking To Make a Connection

What struck us most while reading this piece is that, even after sixty-five years of calling games, Mr. Scully is still as dedicated to the prep work of each broadcast as he ever has been.

Here’s our favorite inexplicable photo from the piece:

 

We don’t know why, either.

Here is a bonus video of Mr. Scully at work, from April 1984:

Chicago Broadcast Update: And the Hits Just Keep Coming?

This morning’s Chicago Tribune has a front page story on the potential for the Cubs moving their broadcast (i.e., over-the-air) games, currently on WGN-TV, to another station in the market beginning with 2015.  Possible other TV affiliates, according to the article, might include WPWR-TV (channel 50) and WCIU-TV (channel 26), the latter of which already carries eight overflow Cubs games on behalf of WGN-TV.

I don’t believe the article is breaking any news here, since last year the Cubs exercise their right to pull out of the current WGN-TV deal after the 2014 season, given the current rash of ever-escalating rights deal being signed by teams.  But given the events of the last few days, the paper saw fit to make hay on the story and resurrect to take advantage of exquisite timing.

That said, it is valid to bring up, and the article points out why: for a supposedly big market team that is the darling of so many fans across the country, let alone the city and the state, the Cubs make far less per game on TV rights than other teams of its size.  For example, the article points out that the Los Angeles Dodgers make about $2 million per game in TV rights on their new deal, while the Cubs make just $500,000 per game that runs on Comcast SportsNet, their RSN partner, and about half that for games running on WGN and WCIU, which makes up about half the schedule.

Read all about it here:

Chicago Cubs seeking new TV home, may leave WGN-TV